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Title: The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 07, No. 43, May, 1861 Creator
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. 43, May, 1861 Creator" ***

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THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY.

A MAGAZINE OF LITERATURE, ART, AND POLITICS.

VOL. VII.--MAY, 1861.--NO. XLIII.


AGNES OF SORRENTO.


CHAPTER I.

THE OLD TOWN.


The setting sunbeams slant over the antique gateway of Sorrento, fusing
into a golden bronze the brown freestone vestments of old Saint Antonio,
who with his heavy stone mitre and upraised hands has for centuries kept
watch thereupon.

A quiet time he has of it up there in the golden Italian air, in
petrified act of blessing, while orange lichens and green mosses from
year to year embroider quaint patterns on the seams of his sacerdotal
vestments, and small tassels of grass volunteer to ornament the folds
of his priestly drapery, and golden showers of blossoms from some more
hardy plant fall from his ample sleeve-cuffs. Little birds perch and
chitter and wipe their beaks unconcernedly, now on the tip of his nose
and now on the point of his mitre, while the world below goes on its way
pretty much as it did when the good saint was alive, and, in despair of
the human brotherhood, took to preaching to the birds and the fishes.

Whoever passed beneath this old arched gateway, thus saint-guarded,
in the year of our Lord's grace--, might have seen under its shadow,
sitting opposite to a stand of golden oranges, the little Agnes.

A very pretty picture was she, reader.--with such a face as you
sometimes see painted in those wayside shrines of sunny Italy, where the
lamp burns pale at evening, and gillyflower and cyclamen are renewed
with every morning.

She might have been fifteen or thereabouts, but was so small of stature
that she seemed yet a child. Her black hair was parted in a white
unbroken seam down to the high forehead, whose serious arch, like that
of a cathedral-door, spoke of thought and prayer. Beneath the shadows of
this brow lay brown, translucent eyes, into whose thoughtful depths one
might look as pilgrims gaze into the waters of some saintly well, cool
and pure down to the unblemished sand at the bottom. The small lips had
a gentle compression which indicated a repressed strength of feeling;
while the straight line of the nose, and the flexible, delicate nostril,
were perfect as in those sculptured fragments of the antique which the
soil of Italy so often gives forth to the day from the sepulchres of the
past. The habitual pose of the head and face had the shy uplooking grace
of a violet; and yet there was a grave tranquillity of expression, which
gave a peculiar degree of character to the whole figure.

At the moment at which we have called your attention, the fair head is
bent, the long eyelashes lie softly down on the pale, smooth cheek; for
the Ave Maria bell is sounding from the Cathedral of Sorrento, and the
child is busy with her beads.

By her side sits a woman of some threescore years, tall, stately, and
squarely formed, with ample breadth of back and size of chest, like the
robust dames of Sorrento. Her strong Roman nose, the firm, determined
outline of her mouth, and a certain energy in every motion, speak the
woman of will and purpose. There is a degree of vigor in the decision
with which she lays down her spindle and bows her head, as a good
Christian of those days would, at the swinging of the evening bell.

But while the soul of the child in its morning freshness, free from
pressure or conscience of earthly care, rose like an illuminated mist
to heaven, the words the white-haired woman repeated were twined with
threads of worldly prudence,--thoughts of how many oranges she had
sold, with a rough guess at the probable amount for the day,--and her
fingers wandered from her beads a moment to see if the last coin had
been swept from the stand into her capacious pocket, and her eyes
wandering after them suddenly made her aware of the fact that a handsome
cavalier was standing in the gate, regarding her pretty grandchild with
looks of undisguised admiration.

"Let him look!" she said to herself, with a grim clasp on her
rosary;--"a fair face draws buyers, and our oranges must be turned into
money; but he who does more than look has an affair with me;--so gaze
away, my master, and take it out in buying oranges!--_Ave, Maria! ora
pro nobis, nunc et,_" etc., etc.

A few moments, and the wave of prayer which had flowed down the quaint
old shadowy street, bowing all heads as the wind bowed the scarlet
tassels of neighboring clover-fields, was passed, and all the world
resumed the work of earth just where they left off when the bell began.

"Good even to you, pretty maiden!" said the cavalier, approaching the
stall of the orange-woman with the easy, confident air of one secure
of a ready welcome, and bending down on the yet prayerful maiden the
glances of a pair of piercing hazel eyes that looked out on each side of
his aquiline nose with the keenness of a falcon's.

"Good even to you, pretty one! We shall take you for a saint, and
worship you in right earnest, if you raise not those eyelashes soon."

"Sir! my lord!" said the girl,--a bright color flushing into her smooth
brown cheeks, and her large dreamy eyes suddenly upraised with a
flutter, as of a bird about to take flight.

"Agnes, bethink yourself!" said the white-haired dame;--"the gentleman
asks the price of your oranges;--be alive, child!"

"Ah, my lord," said the young girl, "here are a dozen fine ones."

"Well, you shall give them me, pretty one," said the young man, throwing
a gold piece down on the stand with a careless ring.

"Here, Agnes, run to the stall of Raphael the poulterer for change,"
said the adroit dame, picking up the gold.

"Nay, good mother, by your leave," said the unabashed cavalier; "I make
my change with youth and beauty thus!" And with the word he stooped down
and kissed the fair forehead between the eyes.

"For shame, Sir!" said the elderly woman, raising her distaff,--her
great glittering eyes flashing beneath her silver hair like tongues of
lightning from a white cloud, "Have a care!--this child is named for
blessed Saint Agnes, and is under her protection."

"The saints must pray for us, when their beauty makes us forget
ourselves," said the young cavalier, with a smile. "Look me in the face,
little one," he added;--"say, wilt thou pray for me?"

The maiden raised her large serious eyes, and surveyed the haughty,
handsome face with that look of sober inquiry which one sometimes sees
in young children, and the blush slowly faded from, her cheek, as a
cloud fades after sunset.

"Yes, my lord," she answered, with a grave simplicity,--"I will pray for
you."

"And hang this upon the shrine of Saint Agnes for my sake," he added,
drawing from his finger a diamond ring, which he dropped into her hand;
and before mother or daughter could add another word or recover from
their surprise, he had thrown the corner of his mantle over his shoulder
and was off down the narrow street, humming the refrain of a gay song.

"You have struck a pretty dove with that bolt," said another cavalier,
who appeared to have been observing the proceeding, and now, stepping
forward, joined him.

"Like enough," said the first, carelessly.

"The old woman keeps her mewed up like a singing-bird," said the second;
"and if a fellow wants speech of her, it's as much as his crown is
worth; for Dame Elsie has a strong arm, and her distaff is known to be
heavy."

"Upon my word," said the first cavalier, stopping and throwing a glance
backward,--"where do they keep her?"

"Oh, in a sort of pigeon's nest up above the Gorge; but one never sees
her, except under the fire of her grandmother's eyes. The little one
is brought up for a saint, they say, and goes nowhere but to mass,
confession, and the sacrament."

"Humph!" said the other, "she looks like some choice old picture of Our
Lady,--not a drop of human blood in her. When I kissed her forehead, she
looked into my face as grave and innocent as a babe. One is tempted to
try what one can do in such a case."

"Beware the grandmother's distaff!" said the other, laughing.

"I've seen old women before," said the cavalier, as they turned down the
street and were lost to view.

Meanwhile the grandmother and granddaughter were roused from the mute
astonishment in which they were gazing after the young cavalier by a
tittering behind them; and a pair of bright eyes looked out upon, them
from beneath a bundle of long, crimson-headed clover, whose rich carmine
tints were touched to brighter life by setting sunbeams.

There stood Giulietta, the head coquette of the Sorrento girls, with her
broad shoulders, full chest, and great black eyes, rich and heavy as
those of the silver-haired ox for whose benefit she had been cutting
clover. Her bronzed cheek was smooth as that of any statue, and showed a
color like that of an open pomegranate; and the opulent, lazy abundance
of her ample form, with her leisurely movements, spoke an easy and
comfortable nature,--that is to say, when Giulietta was pleased; for it
is to be remarked that there lurked certain sparkles deep down in her
great eyes, which might, on occasion, blaze out into sheet-lightning,
like her own beautiful skies, which, lovely as they are, can thunder
and sulk with terrible earnestness when the fit takes them. At present,
however, her face was running over with mischievous merriment, as she
slyly pinched little Agnes by the ear.

"So you know not yon gay cavalier, little sister?" she said, looking
askance at her from under her long lashes.

"No, indeed! What has an honest girl to do with knowing gay cavaliers?"
said Dame Elsie, bestirring herself with packing the remaining oranges
into a basket, which she covered trimly with a heavy linen towel of her
own weaving. "Girls never come to good who let their eyes go walking
through the earth, and have the names of all the wild gallants on
their tongues. Agnes knows no such nonsense,--blessed be her gracious
patroness, with Our Lady and Saint Michael!"

"I hope there is no harm in knowing what is right before one's eyes,"
said Giulietta. "Anybody must be blind and deaf not to know the Lord
Adrian. All the girls in Sorrento know him. They say he is even greater
than he appears,--that he is brother to the King himself; at any rate, a
handsomer and more gallant gentleman never wore spurs."

"Let him keep to his own kind," said Elsie. "Eagles make bad work in
dovecots. No good comes of such gallants for us."

"Nor any harm, that I ever heard of," said Giulietta. "But let me see,
pretty one,--what did he give you? Holy Mother! what a handsome ring!"

"It is to hang on the shrine of Saint Agnes," said the younger girl,
looking up with simplicity.

A loud laugh was the first answer to this communication. The scarlet
clover-tops shook and quivered with the merriment.

"To hang on the shrine of Saint Agnes!" Giulietta repeated. "That is a
little too good!"

"Go, go, you baggage!" said Elsie, wrathfully brandishing her spindle.
"If ever you get a husband, I hope he'll give you a good beating! You
need it, I warrant! Always stopping on the bridge there, to have cracks
with the young men! Little enough you know of saints, I dare say! So
keep away from my child!--Come, Agnes," she said, as she lifted the
orange-basket on to her head; and, straightening her tall form, she
seized the girl by the hand to lead her away.



CHAPTER II.

THE DOVE-COT.


The old town of Sorrento is situated on an elevated plateau, which
stretches into the sunny waters of the Mediterranean, guarded on all
sides by a barrier of mountains which defend it from bleak winds and
serve to it the purpose of walls to a garden. Here, groves of oranges
and lemons,--with their almost fabulous coincidence of fruitage with
flowers, fill the air with perfume, which blends with that of roses and
jessamines; and the fields are so starred and enamelled with flowers
that they might have served as the type for those Elysian realms sung by
ancient poets. The fervid air is fanned by continual sea-breezes, which
give a delightful elasticity to the otherwise languid climate. Under
all these cherishing influences, the human being develops a wealth and
luxuriance of physical beauty unknown in less favored regions. In the
region about Sorrento one may be said to have found the land where
beauty is the rule and not the exception. The singularity there is not
to see handsome points of physical proportion, but rather to see those
who are without them. Scarce a man, woman, or child you meet who has not
some personal advantage to be commended, while even striking beauty is
common. Also, under these kindly skies, a native courtesy and gentleness
of manner make themselves felt. It would seem as if humanity, rocked
in this flowery cradle, and soothed by so many daily caresses and
appliances of nursing Nature, grew up with all that is kindliest on the
outward,--not repressed and beat in, as under the inclement atmosphere
and stormy skies of the North.

The town of Sorrento itself overhangs the sea, skirting along rocky
shores, which, hollowed here and there into picturesque grottoes, and
fledged with a wild plumage of brilliant flowers and trailing vines,
descend in steep precipices to the water. Along the shelly beach, at
the bottom, one can wander to look out on the loveliest prospect in the
world. Vesuvius rises with its two peaks softly clouded in blue and
purple mists, which blend with its ascending vapors,--Naples and the
adjoining villages at its base gleaming in the distance like a fringe
of pearls on a regal mantle. Nearer by, the picturesque rocky shores of
the island of Capri seem to pulsate through the dreamy, shifting mists
that veil its sides; and the sea shimmers and glitters like the neck
of a peacock with an iridescent mingling of colors: the whole air is a
glorifying medium, rich in prismatic hues of enchantment.

The town on three sides is severed from the main land by a gorge two
hundred feet in depth and forty or fifty in breadth, crossed by a bridge
resting on double arches, the construction of which dates back to
the time of the ancient Romans. This bridge affords a favorite
lounging-place for the inhabitants, and at evening a motley assemblage
may be seen lolling over its moss-grown sides,--men with their
picturesque knit caps of scarlet or brown falling gracefully on one
shoulder, and women with their shining black hair and the enormous pearl
earrings which are the pride and heirlooms of every family. The present
traveller at Sorrento may remember standing on this bridge and looking
down the gloomy depths of the gorge, to where a fair villa, with its
groves of orange-trees and gardens, overhangs the tremendous depths
below.

Hundreds of years since, where this villa now stands was the simple
dwelling of the two women whose history we have begun to tell you. There
you might have seen a small stone cottage with a two-arched arcade
in front, gleaming brilliantly white out of the dusky foliage of an
orange-orchard. The dwelling was wedged like a bird-box between two
fragments of rock, and behind it the land rose rocky, high, and steep,
so as to form a natural wall. A small ledge or terrace of cultivated
land here hung in air,--below it, a precipice of two hundred feet down
into the Gorge of Sorrento. A couple of dozen orange-trees, straight
and tall, with healthy, shining bark, here shot up from the fine black
volcanic soil, and made with their foliage a twilight shadow on the
ground, so deep that no vegetation, save a fine velvet moss, could
dispute their claim to its entire nutritious offices. These trees were
the sole wealth of the women and the sole ornament of the garden; but,
as they stood there, not only laden with golden fruit, but fragrant with
pearly blossoms, they made the little rocky platform seem a perfect
Garden of the Hesperides. The stone cottage, as we have said, had an
open, whitewashed arcade in front, from which one could look down into
the gloomy depths of the gorge, as into some mysterious underworld.
Strange and weird it seemed, with its fathomless shadows and its wild
grottoes, over which hung, silently waving, long pendants of ivy, while
dusky gray aloes uplifted their horned heads from great rock-rifts, like
elfin spirits struggling upward out of the shade. Nor was wanting the
usual gentle poetry of flowers; for white iris leaned its fairy pavilion
over the black void like a pale-cheeked princess from the window of some
dark enchanted castle, and scarlet geranium and golden broom and crimson
gladiolus waved and glowed in the shifting beams of the sunlight. Also
there was in this little spot what forms the charm of Italian gardens
always,--the sweet song and prattle of waters. A clear mountain-spring
burst through the rock on one side of the little cottage, and fell with
a lulling noise into a quaint moss-grown water-trough, which had been in
former times the sarcophagus of some old Roman sepulchre. Its sides were
richly sculptured with figures and leafy scrolls and arabesques, into
which the sly-footed lichens with quiet growth had so insinuated
themselves as in some places almost to obliterate the original design;
while, round the place where the water fell, a veil of ferns and
maiden's-hair, studded with tremulous silver drops, vibrated to its
soothing murmur. The superfluous waters, drained off by a little channel
on one side, were conducted through the rocky parapet of the garden,
whence they trickled and tinkled from rock to rock, falling with a
continual drip among the swaying ferns and pendent ivy-wreaths, till
they reached the little stream at the bottom of the gorge. This parapet
or garden-wall was formed of blocks or fragments of what had once been
white marble, the probable remains of the ancient tomb from which the
sarcophagus was taken. Here and there a marble acanthus-leaf, or the
capital of an old column, or a fragment of sculpture jutted from under
the mosses, ferns, and grasses with which prodigal Nature had filled
every interstice and carpeted the whole. These sculptured fragments
everywhere in Italy seem to whisper from the dust, of past life and
death, of a cycle of human existence forever gone, over whose tomb the
life of to-day is built.

"Sit down and rest, my dove," said Dame Elsie to her little charge, as
they entered their little inclosure.

Here she saw for the first time, what she had not noticed in the heat
and hurry of her ascent, that the girl was panting and her gentle bosom
rising and falling in thick heart-beats, occasioned by the haste with
which she had drawn her onward.

"Sit down, dearie, and I will get you a bit of supper."

"Yes, grandmother, I will. I must tell my beads once for the soul of the
handsome gentleman that kissed my forehead to-night."

"How did you know that he was handsome, child?" said the old dame, with
some sharpness in her voice.

"He bade me look on him, grandmother, and I saw it."

"You must put such thoughts away, child," said the old dame.

"Why must I?" said the girl, looking up with an eye as clear and
unconscious as that of a three-year old child.

"If she does not think, why should I tell her?" said Dame Elsie, as she
turned to go into the house, and left the child sitting on the mossy
parapet that overlooked the gorge. Thence she could see far off, not
only down the dim, sombre abyss, but out to the blue Mediterranean
beyond, now calmly lying in swathing-bands of purple, gold, and orange,
while the smoky cloud that overhung Vesuvius became silver and rose in
the evening light.

There is always something of elevation and parity that seems to come
over one from being in an elevated region. One feels morally as well as
physically above the world, and from that clearer air able to look down
on it calmly with disengaged freedom. Our little maiden, sat for a few
moments gazing, her large brown eyes dilating with a tremulous lustre,
as if tears were half of a mind to start in them, and her lips apart
with a delicate earnestness, like one who is pursuing some pleasing
inner thought. Suddenly rousing herself, she began by breaking the
freshest orange-blossoms from the golden-fruited trees, and, kissing and
pressing them to her bosom, she proceeded to remove the faded flowers of
the morning from before a little rude shrine in the rock, where, in a
sculptured niche, was a picture of the Madonna and Child, with a locked
glass door in front of it. The picture was a happy transcript of one of
the fairest creations of the religious school of Florence, done by one
of those rustic copyists of whom Italy is full, who appear to possess
the instinct of painting, and to whom we owe many of those sweet
faces which sometimes look down on us by the way-side from rudest and
homeliest shrines.

The poor fellow by whom it had been painted was one to whom years before
Dame Elsie had given food and shelter for many months during a lingering
illness; and he had painted so much of his dying heart and hopes into it
that it had a peculiar and vital vividness in its power of affecting the
feelings. Agnes had been familiar with this picture from early infancy.
No day of her life had the flowers failed to be freshly placed before
it. It had seemed to smile down sympathy on her childish joys, and to
cloud over with her childish sorrows. It was less a picture to her than
a presence; and the whole air of the little orange-garden seemed to be
made sacred by it. When she had arranged her flowers, she kneeled down
and began to say prayers for the soul of the young gallant.

"Holy Jesus," she said, "he is young, rich, handsome, and a king's
brother; and for all these things the Fiend may tempt him to forget his
God and throw away his soul. Holy Mother, give him good counsel!"

"Come, child, to your supper," said Dame Elsie. "I have milked the
goats, and everything is ready."


CHAPTER III.

THE GORGE.


After her light supper was over, Agnes took her distaff, wound with
shining white flax, and went and seated herself in her favorite place,
on the low parapet that overlooked the gorge.

This ravine, with its dizzy depths, its waving foliage, its dripping
springs, and the low murmur of the little stream that pursued its way
far down at the bottom, was one of those things which stimulated her
impressible imagination, and filled her with a solemn and vague delight.
The ancient Italian tradition made it the home of fauns and dryads, wild
woodland creatures, intermediate links between vegetable life and that
of sentient and reasoning humanity. The more earnest faith that came in
with Christianity, if it had its brighter lights in an immortality of
blessedness, had also its deeper shadows in the intenser perceptions it
awakened of sin and evil, and of the mortal struggle by which the human
spirit must avoid endless woe and rise to endless felicity. The myths
with which the colored Italian air was filled in mediaeval ages no
longer resembled those graceful, floating, cloud-like figures one sees
in the ancient chambers of Pompeii,--the bubbles and rainbows of human
fancy, rising aimless and buoyant, with a mere freshness of animal life,
against a black background of utter and hopeless ignorance as to man's
past or future. They were rather expressed by solemn images of
mournful, majestic angels and of triumphant saints, or fearful, warning
presentations of loathsome fiends. Each lonesome gorge and sombre dell
had tales no more of tricky fauns and dryads, but of those restless,
wandering demons who, having lost their own immortality of blessedness,
constantly lie in wait to betray frail humanity, and cheat it of that
glorious inheritance bought by the Great Redemption.

The education of Agnes had been one which rendered her whole system
peculiarly sensitive and impressible to all influences from the
invisible and unseen. Of this education we shall speak more particularly
hereafter. At present we see her sitting in the twilight on the
moss-grown marble parapet, her distaff, with its silvery flax, lying
idly in her hands, and her widening dark eyes gazing intently into the
gloomy gorge below, from which arose the far-off complaining babble of
the brook at the bottom and the shiver and sigh of evening winds
through the trailing ivy. The white mist was slowly rising, wavering,
undulating, and creeping its slow way up the sides of the gorge. Now it
hid a tuft of foliage, and now it wreathed itself around a horned clump
of aloes, and, streaming far down below it in the dimness, made it seem
like the goblin robe of some strange, supernatural being.

The evening light had almost burned out in the sky: only a band of vivid
red lay low in the horizon out to sea, and the round full moon was just
rising like a great silver lamp, while Vesuvius with its smoky top began
in the obscurity to show its faintly flickering fires. A vague agitation
seemed to oppress the child; for she sighed deeply, and often repeated
with fervor the Ave Maria.

At this moment there began to rise from the very depths of the gorge
below her the sound of a rich tenor voice, with a slow, sad modulation,
and seeming to pulsate upward through the filmy, shifting mists. It was
one of those voices which seem fit to be the outpouring of some spirit
denied all other gifts of expression, and rushing with passionate fervor
through this one gate of utterance. So distinctly were the words spoken,
that they seemed each one to rise as with a separate intelligence out of
the mist, and to knock at the door of the heart.

  Sad is my life, and lonely!
  No hope for me,
  Save thou, my love, my only,
  I see!

  Where art then, O my fairest?
  Where art thou gone?
  Dove of the rock, I languish
  Alone!

  They say thou art so saintly,
  Who dare love thee?
  Yet bend thine eyelids holy
  On me!

  Though heaven alone possess thee,
  Thou dwell'st above,
  Yet heaven, didst thou but know it,
  Is love.

There was such an intense earnestness in these sounds, that large tears
gathered in the wide, dark eyes, and fell one after another upon the
sweet alyssum and maiden's-hair that grew in the crevices of the marble
wall. She shivered and drew away from the parapet, and thought of
stories she had heard the nuns tell of wandering spirits who sometimes
in lonesome places pour forth such entrancing music as bewilders the
brain of the unwary listener, and leads him to some fearful destruction.

"Agnes!" said the sharp voice of old Elsie, appearing at the
door,--"here! where are you?"

"Here, grandmamma."

"Who's that singing this time o' night?"

"I don't know, grandmamma."

Somehow the child felt as if that singing were strangely sacred to
her,--a _rapport_ between her and something vague and invisible, which
might yet become dear.

"Is't down in the gorge?" said the old woman, coming with her heavy,
decided step to the parapet, and looking over, her keen black eyes
gleaming like dagger-blades info the mist. "If there's anybody there,"
she said, "let them go away, and not be troubling honest women with any
of their caterwauling. Come, Agnes," she said, pulling the girl by the
sleeve, "you must be tired, my lamb! and your evening-prayers are always
so long, best be about them, girl, so that old grandmamma may put you to
bed. What ails the girl? Been crying! Your hand is cold as a stone."

"Grandmamma, what if that might be a spirit?" she said. "Sister Rosa
told me stories of singing spirits that have been in this very gorge."

"Likely enough," said Dame Elsie; "but what's that to us? Let 'em sing!
--so long as we don't listen, where's the harm done? We will sprinkle
holy water all round the parapet, and say the office of Saint Agnes, and
let them sing till they are hoarse."

Such was the triumphant view which this energetic good woman took of the
power of the means of grace which her church placed at her disposal.

Nevertheless, while Agnes was kneeling at her evening-prayers, the old
dame consoled herself with a soliloquy, as with a brush she vigorously
besprinkled the premises with holy water.

"Now, here's the plague of a girl! If she's handsome,--and nobody wants
one that isn't,--why, then, it's a purgatory to look after her. This one
is good enough,--none of your hussies, like Giulietta: but the better
they are, the more sure to have fellows after them. A murrain on that
cavalier,--king's brother, or what not!--it was he serenading, I'll be
bound. I must tell Antonio, and have the girl married, for aught I see:
and I don't want to give her to him either; he didn't bring her up.
There's no peace for us mothers. Maybe I'll tell Father Francesco about
it. That's the way poor little Isella was carried away. Singing is of
the Devil, I believe; it always bewitches girls. I'd like to have poured
some hot oil down the rocks: I'd have made him squeak in another tone, I
reckon. Well, well! I hope I shall come in for a good seat in paradise
for all the trouble I've had with her mother, and am like to have with
her,--that's all!"

In an hour more, the large, round, sober moon was shining fixedly on
the little mansion in the rocks, silvering the glossy darkness of the
orange-leaves, while the scent of the blossoms arose like clouds about
the cottage. The moonlight streamed through the unglazed casement, and
made a square of light on the little bed where Agnes was sleeping,
in which square her delicate face was framed, with its tremulous and
spiritual expression most resembling in its sweet plaintive purity some
of the Madonna faces of Frà Angelico,--those tender wild-flowers of
Italian religion and poetry.

By her side lay her grandmother, with those sharp, hard, clearly cut
features, so worn and bronzed by time, so lined with labor and care, as
to resemble one of the Fates in the picture of Michel Angelo; and even
in her sleep she held the delicate lily hand of the child in her own
hard, brown one, with a strong and determined clasp.

While they sleep, we must tell something more of the story of the little
Agnes,--of what she is, and what are the causes which have made her
such.


CHAPTER IV.

WHO AND WHAT.


Old Elsie was not born a peasant. Originally she was the wife of
a steward in one of those great families of Rome whose state and
traditions were princely. Elsie, as her figure and profile and all her
words and movements indicated, was of a strong, shrewd, ambitious, and
courageous character, and well disposed to turn to advantage every gift
with which Nature had endowed her.

Providence made her a present of a daughter whose beauty was wonderful,
even in a country where beauty is no uncommon accident. In addition to
her beauty, the little Isella had quick intelligence, wit, grace, and
spirit. As a child she became the pet and plaything of the Duchess whom
Elsie served. This noble lady, pressed by the _ennui_ which is always
the moth and rust on the purple and gold of rank and wealth, had,
as other noble ladies had in those days, and have now, sundry pets:
greyhounds, white and delicate, that looked as if they were made of
Sèvres china; spaniels with long silky ears and fringy paws; apes and
monkeys, that made at times sad devastations in her wardrobe; and a most
charming little dwarf, that was ugly enough to frighten the very owls,
and spiteful as he was ugly. She had, moreover, peacocks, and macaws,
and parrots, and all sorts of singing-birds, and falcons of every breed,
and horses, and hounds,--in short, there is no saying what she did not
have. One day she took it into her head to add the little Isella to the
number of her acquisitions. With the easy grace of aristocracy, she
reached out her jewelled hand and took Elsie's one flower to add to her
conservatory,--and Elsie was only too proud to have it so.

Her daughter was kept constantly about the person of the Duchess, and
instructed in all the wisdom which would have been allowed her, had she
been the Duchess's own daughter, which, to speak the truth, was in
those days nothing very profound,--consisting of a little singing and
instrumentation, a little embroidery and dancing, with the power of
writing her own name and of reading a love-letter.

All the world knows that the very idea of a pet is something to be
spoiled for the amusement of the pet-owner; and Isella was spoiled in
the most particular and circumstantial manner. She had suits of apparel
for every day in the year, and jewels without end,--for the Duchess was
never weary of trying the effect of her beauty in this and that costume;
so that she sported through the great grand halls and down the long
aisles of the garden much like a bright-winged hummingbird, or a
damsel-fly all green and gold. She was a genuine child of Italy,--full
of feeling, spirit, and genius,--alive in every nerve to the
finger-tips; and under the tropical sunshine of her mistress's favor she
grew as an Italian rose-bush does, throwing its branches freakishly over
everything in a wild labyrinth of perfume, brightness, and thorns.

For a while her life was a triumph, and her mother triumphed with her at
an humble distance. The Duchess had no daughter, and was devoted to her
with the blind fatuity with which ladies of rank at times will invest
themselves in a caprice. She arrogated to herself all the praises of her
beauty and wit, allowed her to flirt and make conquests to her heart's
content, and engaged to marry her to some handsome young officer of her
train, when she had done being amused with her.

Now we must not wonder that a young head of fifteen should have been
turned by this giddy elevation, nor that an old head of fifty should
have thought all things were possible in the fortune of such a favorite.
Nor must we wonder that the young coquette, rich in the laurels of a
hundred conquests, should have turned her bright eyes on the son and
heir, when he came home from the University of Bologna. Nor is it to be
wondered at that this same son and heir, being a man as well as a duke's
son, should have done as other men did,--fallen desperately in love with
this dazzling, sparkling, piquant mixture of matter and spirit, which no
university can prepare a young man to comprehend,--which always seemed
to run from him, and yet always threw a Parthian shot behind her as she
fled. Nor is it to be wondered at, if this same duke's son, after a week
or two, did not know whether he was on his head or his heels, or whether
the sun rose in the east or the south, or where he stood, or whither he
was going.

In fact, the youthful pair very soon came into that dream-land where are
no more any points of the compass, no more division of time, no more
latitude and longitude, no more up and down, but only a general
wandering among enchanted groves and singing nightingales.

It was entirely owing to old Elsie's watchful shrewdness and address
that the lovers came into this paradise by the gate of marriage; for the
young man was ready to offer anything at the feet of his divinity, as
the old mother was not slow to perceive.

So they stood at the altar, for the time being a pair of as true lovers
as Romeo and Juliet: but then, what has true love to do with the son of
a hundred generations and heir to a Roman principality?

Of course, the rose of love, having gone through all its stages of bud
and blossom into full flower, must next begin to drop its leaves. Of
course. Who ever heard of an immortal rose?

The time of discovery came. Isella was found to be a mother; and then
the storm burst upon her and drabbled her in the dust as fearlessly as
the summer-wind sweeps down and besmirches the lily it has all summer
been wooing and flattering.

The Duchess was a very pious and moral lady, and of course threw her
favorite out into the street as a vile weed, and virtuously ground her
down under her jewelled high-heeled shoes.

She could have forgiven her any common frailty;--of course it was
natural that the girl should have been seduced by the all-conquering
charms of her son;--but aspire to _marriage_ with their house!--pretend
to be her son's _wife_! Since the time of Judas had such treachery ever
been heard of?

Something was said of the propriety of walling up the culprit alive,--a
mode of disposing of small family-matters somewhat _à la mode_ in those
times. But the Duchess acknowledged herself foolishly tender, and unable
quite to allow this very obvious propriety in the case.

She contented herself with turning mother and daughter into the streets
with every mark of ignominy, which was reduplicated by every one of her
servants, lackeys, and court-companions, who, of course, had always
known just how the thing must end.

As to the young Duke, he acted as a well-instructed young nobleman
should, who understands the great difference there is between the tears
of a duchess and those of low-born women. No sooner did he behold his
conduct in the light of his mother's countenance than he turned his
back on his low marriage with edifying penitence. He did not think it
necessary to convince his mother of the real existence of a union whose
very supposition made her so unhappy, and occasioned such an uncommonly
disagreeable and tempestuous state of things in the well-bred circle
where his birth called him to move. Being, however, a religious youth,
he opened his mind to his family-confessor, by whose advice he sent a
messenger with a large sum of money to Elsie, piously commending her and
her daughter to the Divine protection. He also gave orders for an entire
new suit of raiment for the Virgin Mary in the family-chapel, including
a splendid set of diamonds, and promised unlimited candles to the altar
of a neighboring convent. If all this could not atone for a youthful
error, it was a pity. So he thought, as he drew on his riding-gloves
and went off on a hunting-party, like a gallant and religious young
nobleman.

Elsie, meanwhile, with her forlorn and disgraced daughter, found a
temporary asylum in a neighboring mountain-village, where the poor,
bedrabbled, broken-winged song-bird soon panted and fluttered her little
life away.

When the once beautiful and gay Isella had been hidden in the grave,
cold and lonely, there remained a little wailing infant, which Elsie
gathered to her bosom.

Grim, dauntless, and resolute, she resolved, for the sake of this
hapless one, to look life in the face once more, and try the battle
under other skies.

Taking the infant in her arms, she travelled with her far from the scene
of her birth, and set all her energies at work to make for her a better
destiny than that which had fallen to the lot of her unfortunate mother.

She set about to create her nature and order her fortunes with that sort
of downright energy with which resolute people always attack the problem
of a new human existence. This child _should be happy_; the rocks on
which her mother was wrecked she should never strike upon,--they were
all marked on Elsie's chart. Love had been the root of all poor Isella's
troubles,--and Agnes never should know love, till taught it safely by a
husband of Elsie's own choosing.

The first step of security was in naming her for the chaste Saint Agnes,
and placing her girlhood under her special protection. Secondly, which
was quite as much to the point, she brought her up laboriously in habits
of incessant industry,--never suffering her to be out of her sight, or
to have any connection or friendship, except such as could be carried on
under the immediate supervision of her piercing black eyes. Every night
she put her to bed as if she had been an infant, and, wakening her again
in the morning, took her with her in all her daily toils,--of which, to
do her justice, she performed all the hardest portion, leaving to the
girl just enough to keep her hands employed and her head steady.

The peculiar circumstance which had led her to choose the old town
of Sorrento for her residence, in preference to any of the beautiful
villages which impearl that fertile plain, was the existence there of
a flourishing convent dedicated to Saint Agnes, under whose protecting
shadow her young charge might more securely spend the earlier years of
her life.

With this view, having hired the domicile we have already described,
she lost no time in making the favorable acquaintance of the
sisterhood,--never coming to them empty-handed. The finest oranges of
her garden, the whitest flax of her spinning, were always reserved as
offerings at the shrine of the patroness whom she sought to propitiate
for her grandchild.

In her earliest childhood the little Agnes was led toddling to the
shrine by her zealous relative; and at the sight of her fair, sweet,
awe-struck face, with its viny mantle of encircling curls, the torpid
bosoms of the sisterhood throbbed with a strange, new pleasure, which
they humbly hoped was not sinful,--as agreeable things, they found,
generally were. They loved the echoes of her little feet down the damp,
silent aisles of their chapel, and her small, sweet, slender voice, as
she asked strange baby-questions, which, as usual with baby-questions,
hit all the insoluble points of philosophy and theology exactly on the
head.

The child became a special favorite with the Abbess, Sister Theresa, a
tall, thin, bloodless, sad-eyed woman, who looked as if she might have
been cut out of one of the glaciers of Monte Rosa, but in whose heart
the little fair one had made herself a niche, pushing her way up
through, as you may have seen a lovely blue-fringed gentian standing in
a snow-drift of the Alps with its little ring of melted snow around it.

Sister Theresa offered to take care of the child at any time when the
grandmother wished to be about her labors; and so, during her early
years, the little one was often domesticated for days together at the
Convent. A perfect mythology of wonderful stories encircled her, which
the good sisters were never tired of repeating to each other. They
were the simplest sayings and doings of childhood,--handfuls of such
wild-flowers as bespread the green turf of nursery-life everywhere, but
miraculous blossoms in the eyes of these good women, whom Saint Agnes
had unwittingly deprived of any power of making comparisons or ever
having Christ's sweetest parable of the heavenly kingdom enacted in
homes of their own.

Old Jocunda, the porteress, never failed to make a sensation with her
one stock-story of how she found the child standing on her head and
crying,--having been put into this reversed position in consequence of
climbing up on a high stool to get her little fat hand into the vase of
holy water, failing in which Christian attempt, her heels went up and
her head down, greatly to her dismay.

"Nevertheless," said old Jocunda, gravely, "it showed an edifying turn
in the child; and when I lifted the little thing up, it stopped crying
the minute its little fingers touched the water, and it made a cross on
its forehead as sensible as the oldest among us. Ah, sisters! there's
grace there, or I'm mistaken."

All the signs of an incipient saint were, indeed, manifested in the
little one. She never played the wild and noisy plays of common
children, but busied herself in making altars and shrines, which she
adorned with the prettiest flowers of the gardens, and at which she
worked hour after hour in the quietest and happiest earnestness. Her
dreams were a constant source of wonder and edification in the Convent,
for they were all of angels and saints; and many a time, after hearing
one, the sisterhood crossed themselves, and the Abbess said, _"Ex oribus
parvulorum."_ Always sweet, dutiful, submissive, cradling herself every
night with a lulling of sweet hymns and infant murmur of prayers, and
found sleeping in her little white bed with her crucifix clasped to her
bosom, it was no wonder that the Abbess thought her the special favorite
of her divine patroness, and, like her, the subject of an early vocation
to be the celestial bride of One fairer than the children of men, who
should snatch her away from all earthly things, to be united to Him in a
celestial paradise.

As the child grew older, she often sat at evening, with wide, wondering
eyes, listening over and over again to the story of the fair Saint
Agnes:--How she was a princess, living in her father's palace, of such
exceeding beauty and grace that none saw her but to love her, yet of
such sweetness and humility as passed all comparison; and how, when a
heathen prince would have espoused her to his son, she said, "Away from
me, tempter! for I am betrothed to a lover who is greater and fairer
than any earthly suitor,--he is so fair that the sun and moon are
ravished by his beauty, so mighty that the angels of heaven are his
servants"; how she bore meekly with persecutions and threatenings and
death for the sake of this unearthly love; and when she had poured out
her blood, how she came to her mourning friends in ecstatic vision, all
white and glistening, with a fair lamb by her side, and bade them weep
not for her, because she was reigning with Him whom on earth she had
preferred to all other lovers. There was also the legend of the fair
Cecilia, the lovely musician whom angels had rapt away to their choirs;
the story of that queenly saint, Catharine, who passed through the
courts of heaven, and saw the angels crowned with roses and lilies, and
the Virgin on her throne, who gave her the wedding-ring that espoused
her to be the bride of the King Eternal.

Fed with such legends, it could not be but that a child with a
sensitive, nervous organization and vivid imagination should have grown
up with an unworldly and spiritual character, and that a poetic mist
should have enveloped all her outward perceptions similar to that
palpitating veil of blue and lilac vapor that enshrouds the Italian
landscape.

Nor is it to be marvelled at, if the results of this system of education
went far beyond what the good old grandmother intended. For, though a
stanch good Christian, after the manner of those times, yet she had not
the slightest mind to see her grand-daughter a nun; on the contrary,
she was working day and night to add to her dowry, and had in her eye
a reputable middle-aged blacksmith, who was a man of substance and
prudence, to be the husband and keeper of her precious treasure. In a
home thus established she hoped to enthrone herself, and provide for the
rearing of a generation of stout-limbed girls and boys who should grow
up to make a flourishing household in the land. This subject she had
not yet broached to her grand-daughter, though daily preparing to do
so,--deferring it, it must be told, from a sort of jealous, yearning
craving to have wholly to herself the child for whom she had lived so
many years.

Antonio, the blacksmith to whom this honor was destined, was one of
those broad-backed, full-chested, long-limbed fellows one shall often
see around Sorrento, with great, kind, black eyes like those of an ox,
and all the attributes of a healthy, kindly, animal nature. Contentedly
he hammered away at his business; and certainly, had not Dame Elsie
of her own providence elected him to be the husband of her fair
grand-daughter, he would never have thought of the matter himself; but,
opening the black eyes aforenamed upon the girl, he perceived that she
was fair, and also received an inner light through Dame Elsie as to the
amount of her dowry; and, putting these matters together, conceived a
kindness for the maiden, and awaited with tranquillity the time when he
should be allowed to commence his wooing.



REST AND MOTION.


Motion and Rest are the two feet upon which existence goes. All action
and all definite power result from the intimacy and consent of these
opposite principles. If, therefore, one would construct any serviceable
mechanism, he must incorporate into it, and commonly in a manifold way,
a somewhat passive, a somewhat contrary, and, as it were, inimical to
action, though action be the sole aim and use of his contrivance. Thus,
the human body is penetrated by the passive and powerless skeleton,
which is a mere weight upon the muscles, a part of the burden that,
nevertheless, it enables them to bear. The lever of Archimedes would
push the planet aside, provided only it were supplied with its
indispensable complement, a fulcrum, or fixity: without this it will not
push a pin. The block of the pulley must have its permanent attachment;
the wheel of the locomotive engine requires beneath it the fixed rail;
the foot of the pedestrian, solid earth; the wing of the bird rests upon
the relatively stable air to support his body, and upon his body to gain
power over the air. Nor is it alone of operations mechanical that the
law holds good: it is universal; and its application to pure mental
action may be shown without difficulty. A single act of the mind is
represented by the formation of a simple sentence. The process consists,
first, in the mind's _fixing upon and resting in_ an object, which
thereby becomes the subject of the sentence; and, secondly, in
predication, which is movement, represented by the verb. The reader will
easily supply himself with instances and illustrations of this, and need
not, therefore, be detained.

In the economy of animal and vegetable existence, as in all that Nature
makes, we observe the same inevitable association. Here is perpetual
fixity of form, perpetual flux of constituent,--the ideas of Nature
never changing, the material realization of them never ceasing to
change. A horse is a horse through all the ages; yet the horse of to-day
is changed from the horse of yesterday.

If one of these principles seem to get the start, and to separate
itself, the other quickly follows. No sooner, for example, does any
person perform an initial deed, proceeding purely (let us suppose) from
free will, than Nature in him begins to repose therein, and consequently
inclines to its repetition for the mere reason that it has been once
done. This is Habit, which makes action passive, and is the greatest of
labor-saving inventions. Custom is the habit of society, holding the
same relation to progressive genius. It is the sleeping partner in the
great social firm; it is thought and force laid up and become
fixed capital. Annihilate this,--as in the French Revolution was
attempted,--and society is at once reduced to its bare immediate force,
and must scratch the soil with its fingers.

Sometimes these principles seem to be strictly hostile to each other and
in no respect reciprocal, as where habit in the individual and custom in
society oppose themselves bitterly to free will and advancing thought:
yet even here the special warfare is but the material of a broader and
more subtile alliance. An obstinate fixity in one's bosom often serves
as a rock on which to break the shell of some hard inclosed faculty.
Upon stepping-stones of our _slain_ selves we mount to new altitudes. So
do the antagonisms of these principles in the broader field of society
equally conceal a fundamental reciprocation. By the opposition to
his thought of inert and defiant custom, the thinker is compelled to
interrogate his consciousness more deeply and sacredly; and being
cut off from that sympathy which has its foundation in similarity of
temperaments and traditions, he must fall back with simpler abandonment
upon the pure idea, and must seek responses from that absolute nature of
man which the men of his time are not human enough to afford him. This
absolute nature, this divine identity in man, underrunning times,
temperaments, individualities, is that which poet and prophet must
address: yet to speak _to_ it, they must speak _from_ it; to be heard
by the universal heart, they must use a universal language. But
this marvellous vernacular can be known to him alone whose heart is
universal, in whom even self-love is no longer selfish, but is a pure
respect to his own being as it is Being. Well it is, therefore, that
here and there one man should be so denied all petty and provincial
claim to attention, that only by speaking to Man as Man, and in the
sincerest vernacular of the human soul, he can find audience; for thus
it shall become his need, for the sake of joy no less than of duty, to
know himself purely as man, and to yield himself wholly to his immortal
humanity. Thus does fixed custom force back the most moving souls, until
they touch the springs of inspiration, and are indued with power: then,
at once potent and pure, they gush into history, to be influences, to
make epochs, and to prevail over that through whose agency they first
obtained strength.

Thus, everywhere, through all realms, do the opposite principles of Rest
and Motion depend upon and reciprocally empower each other. In every
act, mechanical, mental, social, must both take part and consent
together; and upon the perfection of this consent depends the quality
of the action. Every progress is conditioned on a permanence; every
permanence _lives_ but in and through progress. Where all, and with
equal and simultaneous impulse, strives to move, nothing can move, but
chaos is come; where all refuses to move, and therefore stagnates, decay
supervenes, which is motion, though a motion downward.

Having made this general statement, we proceed to say that there are two
chief ways in which these universal opposites enter into reciprocation.
The first and more obvious is the method of alternation, or of rest
_from_ motion; the other, that of continuous equality, which may be
called a rest _in_ motion. These two methods, however, are not mutually
exclusive, but may at once occupy the same ground, and apply to the same
objects,--as oxygen and nitrogen severally fill the same space, to the
full capacity of each, as though the other were absent.

Instances of the alternation, either total or approximative, of these
principles are many and familiar. They may be seen in the systole and
diastole of the heart; in the alternate activity and passivity of the
lungs; in the feet of the pedestrian, one pausing while the other
proceeds; in the waving wings of birds; in the undulation of the sea; in
the creation and propagation of sound, and the propagation, at least,
of light; in the alternate acceleration and retardation of the earth's
motion in its orbit, and in the waving of its poles. In all vibrations
and undulations there is a going and returning, between which must exist
minute periods of repose; but in many instances the return is simply a
relaxation or a subsidence, and belongs, therefore, to the department of
rest. Discourse itself, it will be observed, has its pauses, seasons of
repose thickly interspersed in the action of speech; and besides these
has its accented and unaccented syllables, emphatic and unemphatic
words,--illustrating thus in itself the law which it here affirms.
History is full of the same thing; the tides of faith and feeling now
ascend and now subside, through all the ages, in the soul of humanity;
each new affirmation prepares the way for new doubt, each honest doubt
in the end furthers and enlarges belief; the pendulum of destiny swings
to and fro forever, and earth's minutest life and heaven's remotest star
swing with it, rising but to fall, and falling that they may rise again.
So does rhythm go to the very bottom of the world: the heart of Nature
pulses, and the echoing shore and all music and the throbbing heart and
swaying destinies of man but follow and proclaim the law of her inward
life.

The universality and mutual relationship of these primal principles
have, perhaps, been sufficiently set forth; and this may be the place to
emphasize the second chief point,--that the perfection of this mutuality
measures the degree of excellence in all objects and actions. It
will everywhere appear, that, the more regular and symmetrical their
relationship, the more beautiful and acceptable are its results. For
example, sounds proceeding from vibrations wherein the strokes and
pauses are in invariable relation are such sounds as we denominate
_musical._ Accordingly all sounds are musical at a sufficient distance,
since the most irregular undulations are, in a long journey through the
air, wrought to an equality, and made subject to exact law,--as in
this universe all irregularities are sure to be in the end. Thus, the
thunder, which near at hand is a wild crash, or nearer yet a crazy
crackle, is by distance deepened and refined into that marvellous bass
which we all know. And doubtless the jars, the discords, and moral
contradictions of time, however harsh and crazy at the outset, flow
into exact undulation along the ether of eternity, and only as a pure
proclamation of law attain to the ear of Heaven. Nay, whoso among men is
able to plant his ear high enough above this rude clangor may, in like
manner, so hear it, that it shall be to him melody, solace, fruition,
a perpetual harvest of the heart's dearest wishes, a perpetual
corroboration of that which faith affirms.

We may therefore easily understand why musical sounds _are_ musical, why
they are acceptable and moving, while those affront the sense in which
the minute reposes are capricious, and, as it were, upon ill terms with
the movements. The former appeal to what is most universal and cosmical
within us,--to the pure Law, the deep Nature in our breasts; they fall
in with the immortal rhythm of life itself, which the others encounter
and impugn.

It will be seen also that verse differs from prose as musical sounds
from ordinary tones; and having so deep a ground in Nature, rhythmical
speech will be sure to continue, in spite of objection and protest, were
it, if possible, many times more energetic than that of Mr. Carlyle. But
always the best prose has a certain rhythmic emphasis and cadence: in
Milton's grander passages there is a symphony of organs, the bellows of
the mighty North (one might say) filling their pipes; Goldsmith's flute
still breathes through his essays; and in the ampler prose of Bacon
there is the swell of a summer ocean, and you can half fancy you hear
the long soft surge falling on the shore. Also in all good writing,
as in good reading, the pauses suffer no slight; they are treated
handsomely; and each sentence rounds gratefully and clearly into rest.
Sometimes, indeed, an attempt is made to react in an illegitimate way
this force of firm pauses, as in exaggerated French style, wherein the
writer seems never to stride or to run, but always to jump like a frog.

Again, as reciprocal opposites, our two principles should be of equal
dignity and value. To concede, however, the equality of rest with motion
must, for an American, be not easy; and it is therefore in point to
assert and illustrate this in particular. What better method of doing so
than that of taking some one large instance in Nature, if such can
be found, and allowing this, after fair inspection, to stand for all
others? And, as it happens, just what we require is quite at hand;--the
alternation of Day and Night, of sleep and waking, is so broad, obvious,
and familiar, and so mingled with our human interests, that its two
terms are easily subjected to extended and clear comparison; while also
it deserves discussion upon its own account, apart from its relation to
the general subject.

Sleep is now popularly known to be coextensive with Life,--inseparable
from vital existence of whatever grade. The rotation of the earth
is accordingly implied, as was happily suggested by Paley, in the
constitution of every animal and every plant. It is quite evident,
therefore, that this necessity was not laid upon, man through some
inadvertence of Nature; on the contrary, this arrangement must be such
as to her seemed altogether suitable, and, if suitable, economical.
Eager men, however, avaricious of performance, do not always regard it
with entire complacency. Especially have the saints been apt to set up
a controversy with Nature in this particular, submitting with infinite
unwillingness to the law by which they deem themselves, as it were,
defrauded of life and activity in so large measure. In form, to be
sure, their accusation lies solely against themselves; they reproach
themselves with sleeping beyond need, sleeping for the mere luxury and
delight of it; but the venial self-deception is quite obvious,--nothing
plainer than that it is their necessity itself which is repugnant to
them, and that their wills are blamed for not sufficiently withstanding
and thwarting it. Pious William Law, for example, is unable to disparage
sleep enough for his content. "The poorest, dullest refreshment of the
body," he calls it,... "such a dull, stupid state of existence, that
even among animals we despise them most which are most drowsy."
You should therefore, so he urges, "begin the day in the spirit of
renouncing sleep." Baxter, also,--at that moment a walking catalogue
and epitome of all diseases,--thought himself guilty for all sleep he
enjoyed beyond three hours a day. More's Utopians were to rise at very
early hours, and attend scientific lectures before breakfast.

Ambition and cupidity, which, in their way, are no whit less earnest and
self-sacrificing than sanctity, equally look upon sleep as a wasteful
concession to bodily wants, and equally incline to limit such concession
to its mere minimum. Commonplaces accordingly are perpetually
circulating in the newspapers, especially in such as pretend to a
didactic tone, wherein all persons are exhorted to early rising, to
resolute abridgment of the hours of sleep, and the like. That Sir Walter
Raleigh slept but five hours in twenty-four; that John Hunter, Frederick
the Great, and Alexander von Humboldt slept but four; that the Duke of
Wellington made it an invariable rule to "turn out" whenever he felt
inclined to turn over, and John Wesley to arise upon his first awaking:
instances such as these appear on parade with the regularity of militia
troops at muster; and the precept duly follows,--"Whoso would not be
insignificant, let him go and do likewise." "All great men have been
early risers," says my newspaper.

Of late, indeed, a better knowledge of the laws of health, or perhaps
only a keener sense of its value and its instability, begins to
supersede these rash inculcations; and paragraphs due to some discreet
Dr. Hall make the rounds of the press, in which we are reminded that
early rising, in order to prove a benefit, rather than a source of
mischief, must be duly matched with early going to bed. The one, we are
told, will by no means answer without the other. As yet, however, this
is urged upon hygienic grounds alone; it is a mere concession to the
body, a bald necessity that we hampered mortals lie under; which
necessity we are quite at liberty to regret and accuse, though we cannot
with safety resist it. Sleep is still admitted to be a waste of time,
though one with which Nature alone is chargeable. And I own, not without
reluctance, that the great authority of Plato can be pleaded for this
low view of its functions. In the "Laws" he enjoins a due measure
thereof, but for the sake of health alone, and adds, that the sleeper
is, for the time, of no more value than the dead. Clearly, mankind would
sustain some loss of good sense, were all the dullards and fat-wits
taken away; and Sancho Panza, with his hearty, "Blessings on the man
that invented sleep!" here ekes out the scant wisdom of sages. The
talking world, however, of our day takes part with the Athenian against
the Manchegan philosopher, and, while admitting the present necessity of
sleep, does not rejoice in its original invention. If, accordingly, in a
computation of the length of man's life, the hours passed in slumber are
carefully deducted, and considered as forming no part of available time,
not even the medical men dispute the justice of such procedure. They
have but this to say:--"The stream of life is not strong enough to keep
the mill of action always going; we must therefore periodically shut
down the gate and allow the waters to accumulate; and he ever loses more
than he gains who attempts any avoidance of this natural necessity."

As medical men, they are not required, perhaps, to say more; and we will
be grateful to them for faithfully urging this,--especially when we
consider, that, under the sage arrangements now existing, all that the
physician does for the general promotion of health is done in defiance
of his own interests. We, however, have further questions to ask. Why is
not the life-stream more affluent? Sleep _is_ needful,--but _wherefore_?
The physician vindicates the sleeper; but the philosopher must vindicate
Nature.

It is surely one step toward an elucidation of this matter to observe
that the necessity here accused is not one arbitrarily laid upon us _by_
Nature, but one existing _in_ Nature herself, and appertaining to the
very conception of existence. The elucidation, however, need not pause
at this point. The assumption that sleep is a piece of waste, as being a
mere restorative for the body, and not a service or furtherance to the
mind,--this must be called in question and examined closely; for it is
precisely in this assumption, as I deem, that the popular judgment goes
astray. _Is_ sleep any such arrest and detention of the mind? That it is
a shutting of those outward gates by which impressions flow in upon the
soul is sufficiently obvious; but who can assure us that it is equally
a closing of those inward and skyward gates through which come
the reinforcements of faculty, the strength that masters and uses
impression? I persuade myself, on the contrary, that it is what Homer
called it, _divine_,--able, indeed, to bring the blessing of a god; and
that hours lawfully passed under the pressure of its heavenly palms are
fruitful, not merely negatively, but positively, not only as recruiting
exhausted powers, and enabling us to be awake again, but by direct
contribution to the resources of the soul and the uses of life; that, in
fine, one awakes farther on in _life_, as well as farther on in _time_,
than he was at falling asleep. This deeper function of the night, what
is it?

Sleep is, first of all, a filter, or sieve. It strains off the
impressions that engross, but not enrich us,--that superfluous
_material_ of experience which, either from glutting excess, or from
sheer insignificance, cannot be spiritualized, made human, transmuted
into experience itself. Every man in our day, according to the measure
of his sensibility, and with some respect also to his position, is
_mobbed_ by impressions, and must fight as for his life, if he escape
being taken utterly captive by them. It is our perpetual peril that
our lives shall become so sentient as no longer to be reflective or
artistic,--so beset and infested by the immediate as to lose all
amplitude, all perspective, and to become mere puppets of the present,
mere Chinese pictures, a huddle of foreground without horizon, or
heaven, or even earthly depth and reach. It is easy to illustrate this
miserable possibility. A man, for example, in the act of submitting
to the extraction of a tooth, is, while the process lasts, one of the
poorest poor creatures with whose existence the world might be taunted.
His existence is but skin-deep, and contracted to a mere point at that:
no vision and faculty divine, no thoughts that wander through eternity,
now: a tooth, a jaw, and the iron of the dentist,--these constitute, for
the time being, his universe. Only when this monopolizing, enslaving,
sensualizing impression has gone by, may what had been a point of pained
and quivering animality expand once more to the dimensions of a human
soul. Kant, it is said, could withdraw his attention from the pain of
gout by pure mental engagement, but found the effort dangerous to
his brain, and accordingly was fain to submit, and be no more than
a toe-joint, since evil fate would have it so. These extreme cases
exemplify a process of impoverishment from which we all daily suffer.
The external, the immediate, the idiots of the moment, telling tales
that signify nothing, yet that so overcry the suggestion of our deeper
life as by the sad and weary to be mistaken for the discourse of life
itself,--these obtrude themselves upon us, and multiply and brag and
brawl about us, until we have neither room for better guests, nor
spirits for their entertainment. We are like schoolboys with eyes out at
the windows, drawn by some rattle of drum and squeak of fife, who would
study, were they but deaf. Reproach sleep as a waste, forsooth! It is
this tyrannical attraction to the surface, that indeed robs us of time,
and defrauds us of the uses of life. We cannot hear the gods for the
buzzing of flies. We are driven to an idle industry,--the idlest of all
things.

And to this description of loss men are nowadays peculiarly exposed.
The modern world is all battle-field; the smoke, the dust, the din fill
every eye and ear; and the hill-top of Lucretius, where is it? The
indispensable, terrible newspaper, with its late allies, the Titans and
sprites of steam and electricity,--bringing to each retired nook,
and thrusting in upon each otherwise peaceful household, the crimes,
follies, fears, solicitudes, doubts, problems of all kingdoms and
peoples,--exasperates the former Scotch mist of impressions into a
flooding rain, and almost threatens to swamp the brain of mankind. The
incitement to thought is ever greater; but the possibility of thinking,
especially of thinking in a deep, simple, central way, is ever less.
Problems multiply, but how to attend to them is ever a still greater
problem. Guests of the intellect and imagination accumulate until the
master of the house is pushed out of doors, and hospitality ceases from
the mere excess of its occasion. That must be a greater than Homer who
should now do Homer's work. He, there in his sweet, deep-skied Ionia,
privileged with an experience so simple and yet so salient and powerful,
might well hope to act upon this victoriously by his spirit, might hope
to transmute it, as indeed he did, into melodious and enduring human
suggestion. Would it have been all the same, had he lived in our
type-setting modern world, with its multitudinous knowledges, its
aroused conscience, its spurred and yet thwarted sympathies, its new
incitements to egotism also, and new tools and appliances for egotism
to use,--placed, as it were, in the focus of a vast whispering-gallery,
where all the sounds of heaven and earth came crowding, contending,
incessant upon his ear? One sees at a glance how the serious thought and
poetry of Greece cling to a few master facts, not being compelled to
fight always with the many-headed monster of detail; and this suggests
to me that our literature may fall short of Grecian amplitude, depth,
and simplicity, not wholly from inferiority of power, but from
complications appertaining to our position.

The problem of our time is, How to digest and assimilate the Newspaper?
To complain of it, to desire its abolition, is an anachronism of the
will: it is to complain that time proceeds, and that events follow each
other in due sequence. It is hardly too bold to say that the newspaper
_is_ the modern world, as distinct from the antique and the mediaeval.
It represents, by its advent, that epoch in human history wherein
each man must begin, in proportion to his capability of sympathy and
consideration, to collate his private thoughts, fortunes, interests with
those of the human race at large. We are now in the crude openings of
this epoch, fevered by its incidents and demands; and one of its tokens
is a general exhaustion of the nervous system and failure of health,
both here and in Europe,--those of most sensitive spirit, and least
retired and sheltered from the impressions of the time, suffering most.
All this will end, _must_ end, victoriously. In the mean time can we not
somewhat adjust ourselves to this new condition?

One thing we can and must not fail to do: we can learn to understand and
appreciate Rest. In particular, we should build up and reinforce the
powers of the night to offset this new intensity of the day. Such,
indeed, as the day now is has it ever been, though in a less degree:
always it has cast upon men impressions significant, insignificant, and
of an ill significance, promiscuously and in excess; and always sleep
has been the filter of memory, the purifier of experience, providing a
season that follows closely upon the impressions of the day, ere yet
they are too deeply imbedded, in which our deeper life may pluck away
the adhering burrs from its garments, and arise disburdened, clean, and
free. I make no doubt that Death also performs, though in an ampler and
more thorough way, the same functions. It opposes the tyranny of memory.
For were our experience to go on forever accumulating, unwinnowed,
undiminished, every man would sooner or later break down beneath it;
every man would be crushed by his own traditions, becoming a grave to
himself, and drawing the clods over his own head. To relieve us of these
accidental accretions, to give us back to ourselves, is the use,
in part, of that sleep which rounds each day, and of that other
sleep--brief, but how deep!--which rounds each human life.

Accordingly, he who sleeps well need not die so soon,--even as in the
order of Nature he will not. He has that other and rarer half of a good
memory, namely, a good forgetting. For none remembers so ill as he that
remembers all. "A great German scholar affirmed that he knew not what
it was to forget." Better have been born an idiot! An unwashed
memory,--faugh! To us moderns and Americans, therefore, who need
above all things to forget well,--our one imperative want being a
simplification of experience,--to us, more than to all other men, is
requisite, in large measure of benefit, the winnowing-fan of sleep,
sleep with its choices and exclusions, if we would not need the offices
of death too soon.

But a function of yet greater depth and moment remains to be indicated.
Sleep enables the soul not only to shed away that which is foreign,
but to adopt and assimilate whatever is properly its own. Dr. Edward
Johnson, a man of considerable penetration, though not, perhaps, of a
balanced judgment, has a dictum to the effect that the formation of
blood goes on during our waking hours, but the composition of tissue
during those of sleep. I know not upon what grounds of evidence
this statement is made; but one persuades himself that it must be
approximately true of the body, since it is undoubtedly so of the soul.
Under the eye of the sun the fluid elements of character are supplied;
but the final edification takes place beneath the stars. Awake, we
think, feel, act; sleeping, we _become_. Day feeds our consciousness;
night, out of those stores which action has accumulated, nourishes the
vital unconsciousness, the pure unit of the man. During sleep, the valid
and serviceable experience of the day is drawn inward, wrought upon by
spiritual catalysis, transmitted into conviction, sentiment, character,
life, and made part of that which is to attract and assimilate all
subsequent experience. Who, accordingly, has not awaked to find some
problem already solved with which he had vainly grappled on the
preceding day? It is not merely that in the morning our invigorated
powers work more efficiently, and enable us to reach this solution
immediately _after_ awaking. Often, indeed, this occurs; but there are
also numerous instances--and such alone are in point--wherein the work
is complete _before_ one's awakening: not unfrequently it is by the
energy itself of the new perception that the soft bonds of slumber are
first broken; the soul hails its new dawn with so lusty a cheer,
that its clarion reaches even to the ear of the body, and we are
unconsciously murmuring the echoes of that joyous salute while yet the
iris-hued fragments of our dreams linger about us. The poet in the
morning, if true divine slumber have been vouchsafed him, finds his
mind enriched with sweeter imaginations, the thinker with profounder
principles and wider categories: neither begins the new day where
he left the old, but each during his rest has silently, wondrously,
advanced to fresh positions, commanding the world now from nobler
summits, and beholding around him an horizon beyond that over which
yesterday's sun rose and set. Milton gives us testimony very much in
point:--

  "My celestial patroness, who deigns
  Her nightly visitation unimplored,
  And dictates to me slumb'ring."

Thus, in one important sense, is day the servant of night, action the
minister of rest. I fancy, accordingly, that Marcus Antoninus may give
Heraclitus credit for less than his full meaning in saying that "men
asleep are then also laboring"; for he understands him to signify only
that through such the universe is still accomplishing its ends. Perhaps
he meant to indicate what has been here affirmed,--that in sleep one's
personal destiny is still ripening, his true life proceeding.

But if, as the instance which has been under consideration suggests,
these two principles are of equal dignity, it will follow that the
ability to rest profoundly is of no less estimation than the ability to
work powerfully. Indeed, is it not often the condition upon which great
and sustained power of action depends? The medal must have two sides.
"Danton," says Carlyle, "was a great nature that could rest." Were not
the force and terror of his performance the obverse fact? I do not
now mean, however true it would be, to say that without rest physical
resources would fail, and action be enfeebled in consequence; I mean
that the soul which wants the attitude of repose wants the condition of
power. There is a petulant and meddlesome industry which proceeds from
spiritual debility, and causes more; it is like the sleeplessness and
tossing of exhausted nervous patients, which arises from weakness, and
aggravates its occasion. As few things are equally wearisome, so few are
equally wasteful, with a perpetual indistinct sputter of action, whereby
nothing is done and nothing let alone. Half the world _breaks_ out with
action; its performance is cutaneous, of the nature of tetter. Hence is
it that in the world, with such a noise of building, so few edifices are
reared.

We require it as a pledge of the sanity of our condition, and consequent
wholesomeness of our action, that we can withhold our hand, and
leave the world in that of its Maker. No man is quite necessary to
Omnipotence; grass grew before we were born, and doubtless will continue
to grow when we are dead. If we act, let it be because our soul has
somewhat to bring forth, and not because our fingers itch. We have in
these days been emphatically instructed that all speech not rooted in
silence, rooted, that is, in pure, vital, silent Nature, is
poor and unworthy; but we should be aware that action equally
requires this solemn and celestial perspective, this issue out of the
never-trodden, noiseless realms of the soul. Only that which comes from
a divine depth can attain to a divine height.

There is a courage of withholding and forbearing greater than any other
courage; and before this Fate itself succumbs. Wellington won the
Battle of Waterloo by heroically standing still; and every hour of that
adventurous waiting was heaping up significance for the moment when at
length he should cry, "Up, Guards, and at them !" What Cecil said of
Raleigh, "He can toil terribly," has been styled "an electric touch";
but the "masterly inactivity" of Sir James Mackintosh, happily
appropriated by Mr. Calhoun, carries an equal appeal to intuitive sense,
and has already become proverbial. He is no sufficient hero who in the
delays of Destiny, when his way is hedged up and his hope deferred,
cannot reserve his strength and bide his time. The power of acting
greatly includes that of greatly abstaining from action. The leader of
an epoch in affairs should therefore be some Alfred, Bruce, Gustavus
Vasa, Cromwell, Washington, Garibaldi, who can wait while the iron of
opportunity heats at the forge of time; and then, in the moment of its
white glow, can so smite as to shape it forever to the uses of mankind.

One should be able not only to wait, but to wait strenuously, sternly,
immovably, rooted in his repose like a mountain oak in the soil; for
it may easily happen that the necessity of refraining shall be most
imperative precisely when, the external pressure toward action is most
vehement. Amid the violent urgency of events, therefore, one should
learn the art of the mariner, who, in time of storm lies to, with sails
mostly furled, until milder gales permit him again to spread sail
and stretch away. With us, as with him, even a fair wind may blow so
fiercely that one cannot safely run before it. There are movements with
whose direction we sympathize, which are yet so ungoverned that we lose
our freedom and the use of our reason in committing ourselves to
them. So the seaman who runs too long before the increasing gale has
thereafter no election; go on he must, for there is death in pausing,
though it be also death to proceed. Learn, therefore, to wait. Is there
not many a one who never arrives at fruit, for no better reason than
that he persists in plucking his own blossoms? Learn to wait. Take time,
with the smith, to raise your arm, if you would deliver a telling blow.

Does it seem wasteful, this waiting? Let us, then, remind ourselves that
excess and precipitation are more than wasteful,--they are directly
destructive. The fire that blazes beyond bounds not warms the house,
but burns it down, and only helps infinitesimally to warm the wide
out-of-doors. Any live snail will out-travel a wrecked locomotive, and
besides will leave no trail of slaughter on its track. Though despatch
be the soul of business, yet he who outruns his own feet comes to the
ground, and makes no despatch,--unless it be of himself. Hurry is the
spouse of Flurry, and the father of Confusion. Extremes meet, and
overaction steadfastly returns to the effect of non-action,--bringing,
however, the seven devils of disaster in its company. The ocean storm
which heaps the waves so high may, by a sufficient increase, blow them
down again; and in no calm is the sea so level as in the extremest
hurricane.

Persistent excess of outward performance works mischief in one of two
directions,--either upon the body or on the soul. If one will not
accommodate himself to this unreasonable quantity by abatement of
quality,--if he be resolute to put love, faith, and imagination into
his labor, and to be alive to the very top of his brain,--then the body
enters a protest, and dyspepsia, palsy, phthisis, insanity, or somewhat
of the kind, ensues. Commonly, however, the tragedy is different from
this, and deeper. Commonly, in these cases, action loses height as it
gains lateral surface; the superior faculties starve, being robbed of
sustenance by this avarice of performance, and consequently of supply,
on the part of the lower,--they sit at second table, and eat of
remainder-crumbs. The delicate and divine sprites, that should bear the
behests of the soul to the will and to the houses of thought in the
brain her intuitions, are crowded out from the streets of the cerebral
cities by the mob and trample of messengers bound upon baser errands;
and thus is the soul deprived of service, and the man of inspiration.
The man becomes, accordingly, a great merchant who values a cent, but
does not value a human sentiment; or a lawyer who can convince a jury
that white is black, but cannot convince himself that white is white,
God God, and the sustaining faiths of great souls more than moonshine.
So if the apple-tree will make too much wood, it can bear no fruit;
during summer it is full of haughty thrift, but the autumn, which brings
grace to so many a dwarfed bush and low shrub, shows it naked and in
shame.

How many mistake the crowing of the cock for the rising of the sun,
albeit the cock often crows at midnight, or at the moon's rising, or
only at the advent of a lantern and a tallow candle! And yet what
a bloated, gluttonous devourer of hopes and labors is this same
precipitation! All shores are strown with wrecks of barks that went too
soon to sea. And if you launch even your well-built ship at half-tide,
what will it do but strike bottom, and stick there? The perpetual
tragedy of literary history, in especial, is this. What numbers of young
men, gifted with great imitative quickness, who, having, by virtue of
this, arrived at fine words and figures of speech, set off on their
nimble rhetorical Pegasus, keep well out of the Muse's reach ever
after! How many go conspicuously through life, snapping their smart
percussion-caps upon empty barrels, because, forsooth, powder and ball
do not come of themselves, and it takes time to load!

I know that there is a divine impatience, a rising of the waters of love
and noble pain till they _must_ overflow, with or without the hope of
immediate apparent use, and no matter what swords and revenges impend.
History records a few such defeats which are worth thousands of ordinary
victories. Yet the rule is, that precipitation comes of levity.
Eagerness is shallow. Haste is but half-earnest. If an apple is found
to grow mellow and seemingly ripe much before its fellows on the same
bough, you will probably discover, upon close inspection, that there is
a worm in it.

To be sure, any time is too soon with those who dote upon Never. There
are such as find Nature precipitate and God forward. They would have
effect limp at untraversable distances behind cause; they would keep
destiny carefully abed and feed it upon spoon-victual. They play duenna
to the universe, and are perpetually on the _qui vive_, lest it escape,
despite their care, into improprieties. The year is with them too fast
by so much as it removes itself from the old almanac. The reason is that
_they_ are the old almanac. Or, more distinctly, they are at odds with
universal law, and, knowing that to them it can come only as judgment
and doom, they, not daring to denounce the law itself, fall to the trick
of denouncing its agents as visionaries, and its effects as premature.
The felon always finds the present an unseasonable day on which to be
hanged: the sheriff takes another view of the matter.

But the error of these consists, not in realizing good purposes too
slowly and patiently, but in failing effectually to purpose good at
all. To those who truly are making it the business of their lives to
accomplish worthy aims, this counsel cannot come amiss,--TAKE TIME.
Take a year in which to thread a needle, rather than go dabbing at the
texture with the naked thread. And observe, that there is an excellence
and an efficacy of slowness, no less than of quickness. The armadillo
is equally secure of his prey with the hawk or leopard; and Sir Charles
Bell mentions a class of thieves in India, who, having, through
extreme patience and command of nerve, acquired the power of motion
imperceptibly slow, are the most formidable of all peculators, and
almost defy precaution. And to leave these low instances, slowness
produced by profoundness of feeling and fineness of perception
constitutes that divine patience of genius without which genius does not
exist. Mind lingers where appetite hurries on; it is only the Newtons
who stay to meditate over the fall of an apple, too trivial for the
attention of the clown. It is by this noble slowness that the highest
minds faintly emulate that inconceivable deliberateness and delicacy of
gradation with which solar systems are built and worlds habilitated.

Now haste and intemperance are the Satans that beset virtuous Americans.
And these mischiefs are furthered by those who should guard others
against them. The Rev. Dr. John Todd, in a work, not destitute of merit,
entitled "The Student's Manual," urges those whom he addresses to study,
while about it, with their utmost might, crowding into an hour as much
work as it can possibly be made to contain; so, he says, they will
increase the power of the brain. But this is advice not fit to be given
to a horse, much less to candidates for the graces of scholarly manhood.
I read that race-horses, during the intervals between their public
contests, are permitted only occasionally and rarely to be driven at
their extreme speed, but are assiduously made to _walk_ several hours
each day. By this constancy of _moderate_ exercise they preserve health
and suppleness of limb, without exhaustion of strength. And it appears,
that, were such an animal never to be taken from the stable but to be
pushed to the top of his speed, he would be sure to make still greater
speed toward ruin. Why not be as wise for men as for horses?

And here I desire to lay stress upon one point, which American students
will do well to consider gravely,--_It is a_ PURE, _not a strained and
excited, attention which has signal prosperity._ Distractions, tempests,
and head-winds in the brain, by-ends, the sidelong eyes of vanity, the
overleaping eyes of ambition, the bleared eyes of conceit,--these are
they which thwart study and bring it to nought. Nor these only, but all
impatience, all violent eagerness, all passionate and perturbed feeling,
fill the brain with thick and hot blood, suited to the service of
desire, unfit for the uses of thought. Intellect can be served only by
the finest properties of the blood; and if there be any indocility
of soul, any impurity of purpose, any coldness or carelessness, any
prurience or crude and intemperate heat, then base spirits are sent down
from the seat of the soul to summon the sanguineous forces; and these
gather a crew after their own kind. Purity of attention, then, is the
magic that the scholar may use; and let him know, that, the purer it is,
the more temperate, tranquil, reposeful. Truth is not to be run down
with fox-hounds; she is a divinity, and divinely must he draw nigh who
will gain her presence. Go to, thou bluster-brain! Dost thou think to
learn? Learn docility first, and the manners of the skies. And thou
egotist, thinkest thou that these eyes of thine, smoky with the fires of
diseased self-love, and thronged with deceiving wishes, shall perceive
the essential and eternal? They shall see only silver and gold, houses
and lands, reputes, supremacies, fames, and, as instrumental to these,
the forms of logic and seemings of knowledge. If thou wilt discern the
truth, desire IT, not its accidents and collateral effects. Rest in the
pursuit of it, putting _simplicity of quest_ in the place of either
force or wile; and such quest cannot be unfruitful.

Let the student, then, shun an excited and spasmodic tension of brain,
and he will gain more while expending less. It is not toil, it is morbid
excitement, that kills; and morbid excitement in constant connection
with high mental endeavor is, of all modes and associations of
excitement, the most disastrous. Study as the grass grows, and your old
age--and its laurels--shall be green.

Already, however, we are trenching upon that more intimate relationship
of the great opposites under consideration which has been designated
Rest _in_ Motion. More intimate relationship, I say,--at any rate,
more subtile, recondite, difficult of apprehension and exposition, and
perhaps, by reason of this, more central and suggestive. An example
of this in its physical aspect may be seen in the revolutions of the
planets, and in all orbital or circular motion. For such, it will be
at once perceived, is, in strictness of speech, _fixed and stationary_
motion: it is, as Sir Isaac Newton demonstrated, an exact and equal
obedience, in the same moment, to the law of fixity and the law of
progression. Observe especially, that it is not, like merely retarded
motion, a partial neutralization of each principle by the other, an
imbecile Aristotelian compromise and half-way house between the two;
but it is at once, and in virtue of the same fact, perfect Rest _and_
perfect Motion. A revolving body is not hindered, but the same impulse
which begot its movement causes this perpetually to return into itself.

Now the principles that are seen to govern the material universe are
but a large-lettered display of those that rule in perfect humanity.
Whatsoever makes distinguished order and admirableness in Nature makes
the same in man; and never was there a fine deed that was not begot of
the same impulse and ruled by the same laws to which solar systems are
due. I desire, accordingly, here to take up and emphasize the statement
previously made in a general way,--that the secret of perfection in
all that appertains to man--in morals, manners, art, politics--must
be sought in such a correspondence and reciprocation of these great
opposites as the motions of the planets perfectly exemplify.

It must not, indeed, be overlooked or unacknowledged, that the planets
do not move in exact circles, but diverge slightly into ellipses. The
fact is by no means without significance, and that of an important kind.
Pure circular motion is the type of perfection in the universe as
a _whole_, but each part of the whole will inevitably express its
partiality, will acknowledge its special character, and upon the
frankness of this confession its comeliness will in no small degree
depend; nevertheless, no sooner does the eccentricity, or individuality,
become so great as to suggest disloyalty to the idea of the whole,
than ugliness ensues. Thus, comets are portents, shaking the faith of
nations, not supporting it, like the stars. So among men. Nature is
at pains to secure divergence, magnetic variation, putting into every
personality and every powerful action some element of irregularity
and imperfection; and her reason for doing so is, that irregularity
appertains to the state of growth, and is the avenue of access to higher
planes and broader sympathies; still, as the planets, though not moving
in perfect circles, yet come faithfully round to the same places, and
accomplish _the ends_ of circular motion, so in man, the divergence must
be special, not total, no act being the mere arc of a circle, and yet
_revolution_ being maintained. And to the beauty of characters and
deeds, it is requisite that they should never seem even to imperil
fealty to the universal idea. Revolution perfectly exact expresses only
necessity, not voluntary fidelity; but departure, _still deferential to
the law of the whole_, in evincing freedom elevates its obedience
into fealty and noble faithfulness: by this measure of eccentricity,
centricity is not only emphasized, but immeasurably exalted.

But having made this full and willing concession to the element of
individuality in persons and of special character in actions, we are at
liberty to resume the general thesis,--that orbital rest of movement
furnishes the type of perfect excellence, and suggests accordingly the
proper targe of aspiration and culture.

In applying this law, we will take first a low instance, wherein the
opposite principles stand apart, rather upon terms of outward covenant,
or of mere mixture, than of mutual assimilation. _Man_ is infinite;
_men_ are finite: the purest aspect of great laws never appears in
collections and aggregations, yet the same laws rule here as in the
soul, and such excellence as is possible issues from the same sources.
As an instance, accordingly, of that ruder reciprocation which may
obtain among multitudes, I name the Roman Legion.

It is said that the success of the armies of Rome is not fully accounted
for, until one takes into account the constitution of this military
body. It united, in an incomparable degree, the different advantages
of fixity and fluency. Moderate in size, yet large enough to give the
effect of mass, open in texture, yet compact in form, it afforded to
every man room for individual prowess, while it left no man to his
individual strength. Each soldier leaned and rested upon the Legion,
a body of six thousand men; yet around each was a space in which his
movements might be almost as free, rapid, and individual as though he
had possessed the entire field to himself. The Macedonian Phalanx was a
marvel of mass, but it was mass not penetrated with mobility; it could
move, indeed could be said to have an existence, only as a whole;
its decomposed parts were but _débris_. The Phalanx, therefore, was
terrible, the constituent parts of it imbecile; and the Battle of
Cynocephalae finally demonstrated its inferiority, for the various
possible exigencies of battle, to the conquering Legion. The brave
rabble of Gauls and Goths, on the other hand, illustrated all that
private valor, not reposing upon any vaster and more stable strength,
has power to achieve; but these rushing torrents of prowess dashed
themselves into vain spray upon the coordinated and reposing courage of
Rome.

The same perpetual opposites must concur to produce the proper form and
uses of the State,--though they here appear in a much more elevated
form. Rest is here known as _Law_, motion as _Liberty_. In the true
commonwealth, these, so far from being mutually destructive or
antagonistic, incessantly beget and vivify each other; so that Law
is the expression and guaranty of Freedom, while Freedom flows
spontaneously into the forms of Justice. Neither of these can exist,
neither can be properly _conceived of_, apart from its correlative
opposite. Nor will any condition of mere truce, or of mere mechanical
equilibrium, suffice. Nothing suffices but a reciprocation so active and
total that each is constantly resolving itself into the other.

The notion of Rousseau, which is countenanced by much of the
phraseology, to say the least, of the present day, was, indeed, quite
contrary to this. He assumed freedom to exist only where law is not,
that is, in the savage state, and to be surrendered, piece for piece,
with every acknowledgment of social obligation. Seldom was ever so
plausible a doctrine equally false. Law is properly _the public
definition of freedom and the affirmation of its sacredness and
inviolability as so defined_; and only in the presence of it, either
express or implicit, does man become free. Duty and privilege are one
and the same, however men may set up a false antagonism between them;
and accordingly social obligation can subtract nothing from the
privilege and prerogative of liberty. Consequently, the freedom which is
defined as the negation of social duty and obligation is not true regal
freedom, but is that worst and basest of all tyrannies, the tyranny of
pure egotism, masked in the semblance of its divine contrary. That,
be it observed, is the freest society, in which the noblest and most
delicate human powers find room and secure respect,--wherein the
loftiest and costliest spiritualities are most invited abroad by
sympathetic attraction. Now among savages little obtains appreciation,
save physical force and its immediate allies: the divine fledglings of
the human soul, instead of being sweetly drawn and tempted forth, are
savagely menaced, rudely repelled; whatsoever is finest in the man,
together with the entire nature of woman, lies, in that low temperature,
enchained and repressed, like seeds in a frozen soil. The harsh,
perpetual contest with want and lawless rivalry, to which all
uncivilized nations are doomed, permits only a few low powers, and those
much the same in all,--lichens, mosses, rude grasses, and other coarse
cryptogamous growths,--to develop themselves; since these alone can
endure the severities of season and treatment to which all that would
clothe the fields of the soul must remain exposed. Meanwhile the utmost
of that wicked and calamitous suppression of faculty, which constitutes
the essence and makes the tragedy of human slavery, is equally effected
by the inevitable isolation and wakeful trampling and consequent
barrenness of savage life. Liberty without law is not liberty; and the
converse may be asserted with like confidence.

Where, then, the fixed term, State, or Law, and the progressive term,
Person, or Freewill, are in relations of reciprocal support and mutual
reproduction, there alone is freedom, there alone public order. We were
able to command this truth from the height of our general proposition,
and closer inspection shows those anticipations to have been correct.

But man is greater than men; and for the finest aspect of high laws, we
must look to individual souls, not to masses.

What is the secret of noble manners? Orbital action, always returning
into and compensating itself. The gentleman, in offering his respect to
others, offers an equal, or rather the same, respect to himself; and his
courtesies may flow without stint or jealous reckoning, because they
feed their source, being not an expenditure, but a circulation.
Submitting to the inward law of honor and the free sense of what befits
a man,--to a law perpetually made and spontaneously executed in his
own bosom, the instant flowering of his own soul,--he commands his own
obedience, and he obeys his own commanding. Though throned above all
nations, a king of kings, yet the faithful humble vassal of his own
heart; though he serve, yet regal, doing imperial service; he escapes
outward constraint by inward anticipation; and all that could he rightly
named as his duty to others, he has, ere demand, already discovered, and
engaged in, as part of his duty to himself. Now it is the expression of
royal freedom in loyal service, of sovereignty in obedience, courage in
concession, and strength in forbearance, which makes manners noble. Low
may he bow, not with loss, but with access of dignity, who bows with an
elevated and ascending heart: there is nothing loftier, nothing less
allied to abject behavior, than this grand lowliness. The worm, because
it is low, cannot be lowly; but man, uplifted in token of supremacy, may
kneel in adoration, bend in courtesy, and stoop in condescension. Only a
great pride, that is, a great and reverential repose in one's own being,
renders possible a noble humility, which is a great and reverential
acknowledgment of the being of others; this humility in turn sustains a
higher self-reverence; this again resolves itself into a more majestic
humility; and so run, in ever enhancing wave, the great circles of
inward honor and outward grace. And without this self-sustaining
return of the action into itself, each quality feeding itself from its
correlative opposite, there can be no high behavior. This is the reason
why qualities loftiest in kind and largest in measure are vulgarly
mistaken, not for their friendly opposites, but for their mere
contraries,--why a very profound sensibility, a sensibility, too,
peculiarly of the spirit, not of nerve only, is sure to be named
coldness, as Mr. Ruskin recently remarks,--why vast wealth of good
pride, in its often meek acceptance of wrong, in its quiet ignoring
of insult, in its silent superiority to provocation, passes with
the superficial and petulant for poverty of pride and mere
mean-spiritedness,--why a courage which is not partial, but _total_,
coexisting, as it always does, with a noble peacefulness, with a noble
inaptness for frivolous hazards, and a noble slowness to take offence,
is, in its delays and forbearances, thought by the half-courageous to
be no better than cowardice;--it is, as we have said, because great
qualities revolve and repose in orbits of reciprocation with their
opposites, which opposites are by coarse and ungentle eyes misdeemed to
be contraries. Feeling transcendently deep and powerful is unimpassioned
and far lower-voiced than indifference and unfeelingness, being wont
to express itself, not by eloquent ebullition, but by extreme
understatement, or even by total silence. Sir Walter Raleigh, when at
length he found himself betrayed to death--and how basely betrayed!--by
Sir Lewis Stukely, only said, "Sir Lewis, these actions will not turn to
your credit." The New Testament tells us of a betrayal yet more quietly
received. These are instances of noble manners.

What actions are absolutely moral is determined by application of the
same law,--those only which repose wholly in themselves, being to
themselves at once motive and reward. "Miserable is he," says the
"Bhagavad Gita," "whose motive to action lies, not in the action itself,
but in its reward." Duty purchased with covenant of special delights is
not duty, but is the most pointed possible denial of it. The just man
looks not beyond justice; the merciful reposes in acts of mercy; and
he who would be bribed to equity and goodness is not only bad, but
shameless. But of this no further words.

Rest is sacred, celestial, and the appreciation of it and longing for
it are mingled with the religious sentiment of all nations. I cannot
remember the time when there was not to me a certain ineffable
suggestion in the apostolic words, "There remaineth, therefore, a rest
for the people of God." But the repose of the godlike must, as that of
God himself, be _infinitely_ removed from mere sluggish inactivity;
since the conception of action is the conception of existence
itself,--that is, of Being in the act of self-manifestation. Celestial
rest is found in action so universal, so purely identical with the great
circulations of Nature, that, like the circulation of the blood and the
act of breathing, it is not a subtraction from vital resource, but is,
on the contrary, part of the very fact of life and all its felicities.
This does not exclude rhythmic or recreative rest; but the need of such
rest detracts nothing from pleasure or perfection. In heaven also, if
such figure of speech be allowable, may be that toil which shall render
grateful the cessation from toil, and give sweetness to sleep; but right
weariness has its own peculiar delight, no less than right exercise;
and as the glories of sunset equal those of dawn, so with equal, though
diverse pleasure, should noble and temperate labor take off its sandals
for evening repose, and put them on to go forth "beneath the opening
eyelids of the morn." Yet, allowing a place for this rhythm in the
detail and close inspection even of heavenly life, it still holds true
on the broad scale, that pure beauty and beatitude are found there only
where life and character sweep in orbits of that complete expression
which is at once divine labor and divine repose.

Observe, now, that this rest-motion, as being without waste or loss, is
a _manifested immortality_, since that which wastes not ends not; and
therefore it puts into every motion the very character and suggestion of
immortal life. Yea, one deed rightly done, and the doer is in heaven,
--is of the company of immortals. One deed so done that in it is _no_
mortality; and in that deed the meaning of man's history,--the meaning,
indeed, and the glory, of existence itself,--are declared. Easy,
therefore, it is to see how any action may be invested with universal
significance and the utmost conceivable charm. The smaller the realm and
the humbler the act into which this amplitude and universality of spirit
are carried, the more are they emphasized and set off; so that, without
opportunity of unusual occasion, or singular opulence of natural power,
a man's life may possess all that majesty which the imagination pictures
in archangels and in gods. Indeed, it is but simple statement of fact to
say, that he who rests _utterly_ in his action shall belittle not only
whatsoever history has recorded, but all which that poet of poets,
Mankind, has ever dreamed or fabled of grace and greatness. He shall
not peer about with curiosity to spy approbation, or with zeal to defy
censure; he shall not know if there be a spectator in the world; his
most public deed shall be done in a divine privacy, on which no eye
intrudes,--his most private in the boundless publicities of Nature; his
deed, when done, falls away from him, like autumn apples from their
boughs, no longer his, but the world's and destiny's; neither the
captive of yesterday nor the propitiator of to-morrow, he abides simply,
majestically, like a god, in being and doing. Meanwhile, blame and
praise whirl but as unrecognized cloudlets of gloom or glitter beneath
his feet, enveloping and often blinding those who utter them, but to him
never attaining.

It is not easy at present to suggest the real measure and significance
of such manhood, because this age has debased its imagination, by the
double trick, first, of confounding man with his body, and next, of
considering the body, not as a symbol of truth, but only as an agent in
the domain of matter,--comparing its size with the sum total of physical
space, and its muscular power with the sum total of physical forces. Yet

  "What know we greater than the soul?"

A man is no outlying province, nor does any province lie beyond him.
East, West, North, South, and height and depth are contained in his
bosom, the poles of his being reaching more widely, his zenith and nadir
being more sublime and more profound. We are cheated by nearness and
intimacy. Let us look at man with a telescope, and we shall find no star
or constellation of sweep so grand, no nebulae or star-dust so provoking
and suggestive to fancy. In truth, there are no words to say how either
large or small, how significant or insignificant, men may be. Though
solar and stellar systems amaze by their grandeur of scale, yet is true
manhood the maximum of Nature; though microscopic and sub-microscopic
protophyta amaze by their inconceivable littleness, yet is mock manhood
Nature's minimum. The latter is the only negative quantity known to
Nature; the former the only revelation of her entire heart.

In concluding, need I say that only the pure can repose in his
action,--only he obtain deliverance by his deed, and after deliverance
from it? The egotism, the baseness, the partialities that are in our
performance are hooks and barbs by which it wounds and wearies us in the
passage, and clings to us being past.

Law governs all; no favor is shown; the event is as it must be; only he
who has no blinding partiality toward himself, who is whole and one with
the whole, he who is Nature and Law and divine Necessity, can be blest
with that blessedness which Nature is able to give only by her presence.
There is a labor and a rest that are the same, one fact, one felicity;
in this are power, beauty, immortality; by existence as a whole it is
always perfectly exemplified; to man, as the eye of existence, it is
also possible; but it is possible to him only as he is purely man,--only
as he abandons himself to the divine principles of his life: in other
words, this Sabbath remaineth in very deed to no other than the people
of God.

       *       *       *       *       *


LIGHTS OF THE ENGLISH LAKE DISTRICT.


At the opening of the present century, the Lake District of Cumberland
and Westmoreland was groaned over by some residents as fast losing its
simplicity. The poet Gray had been the first to describe its natural
features in an express manner; and his account of the views above
Keswick and Grasmere was quoted, sixty years since, as evidence of
the spoiling process which had gone on since the introduction of
civilization from the South. Gray remarked on the absence of red roofs,
gentlemen's houses, and garden-walls, and on the uniform character of
the humble farmsteads and gray cottages under their sycamores in the
vales. Wordsworth heard and spoke a good deal of the innovations which
had modified the scene in the course of the thirty years which elapsed
between Gray's visits (in 1767-69) and his own settlement in the Lake
District; but he lived to say more, at the end of half a century, of the
wider and deeper changes which time had wrought in the aspect of the
country and the minds and manners of the people. According to his
testimony, and that of Southey, the barbarism was of a somewhat gross
character at the end of the last century; the magistrates were careless
of the condition of the society in which they bore authority; the clergy
were idle or worse,--"marrying and burying machines," as Southey told
Wilberforce; and the morality of the people, such as it was, was
ascribed by Wordsworth, in those his days of liberalism in politics, to
the state of republican equality in which they lived. Excellent, fussy
Mr. Wilberforce thought, when he came for some weeks into the District,
that the Devil had had quite time enough for sowing tares while the
clergy were asleep; so he set to work to sow a better seed; and we find
in his diary that he went into house after house "to talk religion to
the people." I do not know how he was received; but at this day the
people are puzzled at that kind of domestic intervention, so unsuitable
to their old-fashioned manners,--one old dame telling with wonder, some
little time since, that a young lady had called and sung a hymn to
her, but had given her nothing at the end for listening. The rough
independence of the popular manners even now offends persons of a
conventional habit of mind; and when poets and philosophers first came
from southern parts to live here, the democratic tone of feeling and
behavior was more striking than it is now or will ever be again.

Before the Lake poets began to give the public an interest in the
District, some glimpses of it were opened by the well-known literary
ladies of the last century who grouped themselves round their young
favorite, Elizabeth Smith. I do not know whether her name and fame have
reached America; but in my young days she was the English school-girls'
subject of admiration and emulation. She had marvellous powers of
acquisition, and she translated the Book of Job, and a good deal from
the German,--introducing Klopstock to us at a time when we hardly knew
the most conspicuous names in German literature. Elizabeth Smith was an
accomplished girl in all ways. There is a damp, musty-looking house,
with small windows and low ceilings, at Coniston, where she lived with
her parents and sister, for some years before her death. We know, from
Mrs. Elizabeth Hamilton's and the Bowdlers' letters, how Elizabeth and
her sister lived in the beauty about them, rambling, sketching, and
rowing their guests on the lake. In one of her rambles, Elizabeth sat
too long under a heavy dew. She felt a sharp pain in her chest, which
never left her, and died in rapid decline. Towards the last she was
carried out daily from the close and narrow rooms at home, and laid in a
tent pitched in a field just across the road, whence she could overlook
the lake, and the range of mountains about its head. On that spot now
stands Tent Lodge, the residence of Tennyson and his bride after their
marriage. One of my neighbors, who first saw the Lake District in early
childhood, has a solemn remembrance of the first impression. The tolling
of the bell of Hawkeshead church was heard from afar; and it was tolling
for the funeral of Elizabeth Smith. Her portrait is before me now,--the
ingenuous, child-like face, with the large dark eyes which alone show
that it is not the portrait of a child. It was through her that a large
proportion of the last generation of readers first had any definite
associations with Coniston.

Wordsworth had, however, been in that church many a time, above twenty
years before, when at Hawkeshead school. He used to tell that his mother
had praised him for going into the church, one week-day, to see a woman
do penance in a white sheet. She considered it good for his morals. But
when he declared himself disappointed that nobody had given him a penny
for his attendance, as he had somehow expected, his mother told him he
was served right for going to church from such an inducement. He spoke
with gratitude of an usher at that school, who put him in the way
of learning the Latin, which had been a sore trouble at his native
Cockermouth, from unskilful teaching. Our interest in him at that
school, however, is from his having there first conceived the idea of
writing verse. His master set the boys, as a task, to write a poetical
theme,--"The Summer Vacation"; and Master William chose to add to it
"The Return to School." He was then fourteen; and he was to be double
that age before he returned to the District and took up his abode there.

He had meantime gone through his college course, as described in his
Memoirs, and undergone strange conditions of opinion and feeling in
Paris during the Revolution; had lived in Dorsetshire, with his faithful
sister; had there first seen Coleridge, and had been so impressed by the
mind and discourse of that wonderful young philosopher as to remove to
Somersetshire to be near him; had seen Klopstock in Germany, and lived
there for a time; and had passed through other changes of residence and
places, when we find him again among the Lakes in 1779, still with his
sister by his side, and their brother John, and Coleridge, who had never
been in the District before.

As they stood on the margin of Grasmere, the scene was more like what
Gray saw than what is seen at this day. The churchyard was bare of the
yews which now distinguish it,--for Sir George Beaumont had them planted
at a later time; and where the group of kindred and friends--the
Wordsworths and their relatives--now lie, the turf was level and
untouched. The iron rails and indefensible monuments, which Wordsworth
so reprobated half a century later, did not exist. The villas which stud
the slopes, the great inns which bring a great public, were uncreated;
and there was only the old Roman road where the Wishing-Gate is, or the
short cut by the quarries to arrive by from the South, instead of the
fine mail-road which now winds between the hills and the margin of
the lake. John Wordsworth guided his brother and Coleridge through
Grisedale, over a spur of Helvellyn, to see Ullswater; and Coleridge has
left a characteristic testimony of the effect of the scenery upon him.
It was "a day when light and darkness coexisted in contiguous masses,
and the earth and sky were but one. Nature lived for us in all her
wildest accidents." He tells how his eyes were dim with tears, and
how imagination and reality blended their objects and impressions.
Wordsworth's account of the same excursion is in as admirable contrast
with Coleridge's as their whole mode of life and expression was, from
first to last. With the carelessness of the popular mind in such cases,
the British public had already almost confounded the two men and their
works, as it soon after mixed up Southey with both; whereas they were
all as unlike each other as any three poets could well be.

Coleridge and Wordsworth were both contemplative, it is true, while
Southey was not: but the remarkable thing about Coleridge was the
exclusiveness of his contemplative tendencies, by which one set of
faculties ran riot in his mind and life, making havoc among his powers,
and a dismal wreck of his existence. The charm and marvel of his
discourse upset all judgments during his life, and for as long as his
voice remained in the ear of his enchanted hearers; but, apart from the
spell, it is clear to all sober and trained thinkers that Coleridge
wandered away from truth and reality in the midst of his vaticinations,
as the _clairvoyant_ does in the midst of his previsions, so as to
mislead and bewilder, while inspiring and intoxicating the hearer or
reader. He recorded, in regard to himself, that "history and particular
facts lost all interest" in his mind after his first launch into
metaphysics; and he remained through life incapable of discerning
reality from inborn images. Wordsworth took alarm at the first
experience of such a tendency in himself, and relates that he used to
catch at the trees and palings by the roadside to satisfy himself of
existences out of himself; but Coleridge encouraged this subjective
exclusiveness, to the destruction of the balance of his mind and the
_morale_ of his nature. He was himself a wild poem; and he discoursed
wild poems to us,--musical romances from Dreamland; but the luxury to
himself and us was bought by injury to others which was altogether
irreparable, and pardonable only on the ground that the balance of his
mind was destroyed by a fatal intellectual, in addition to physical
intemperance. In him we see an extreme case of a life of contemplation
uncontrolled by will and unchecked by action. His faculty of will
perished, and his prerogative of action died out. His contemplations
must necessarily be worth just so much the less to us as his mental
structure was deformed,--extravagantly developed in one direction, and
dwarfed in another.

The singularity in Wordsworth's case, on the other hand, is that his
contemplative tendencies not only coexisted with, but were implicated
with, the most precise and vivid apprehension of small realities. There
was no proportion in his mind; and vaticination and twaddle rolled
off his eloquent tongue as chance would have it. At one time he would
discourse like a seer, on the slightest instigation, by the hour
together; and next, he would hold forth with equal solemnity, on the
pettiest matter of domestic economy. I have known him take up some
casual notice of a "beck" (brook) in the neighborhood, and discourse
of brooks for two hours, till his hearers felt as if they were by the
rivers of waters in heaven; and next, he would talk on and on, till
stopped by some accident, on his doubt whether Mrs. Wordsworth gave a
penny apiece or a half-penny apiece for trapped mice to a little girl
who had undertaken to clear the house of them. It has been common to
regret that he held the office of Stamp-Distributor in the District; but
it was probably a great benefit to his mind as well as his fortunes. It
was something that it gave him security and ease as to the maintenance
of his family; but that is less important than its necessitating a
certain amount of absence from home, and intercourse with men on
business. He was no reader in mature life; and the concentration of his
mind on his own views, and his own genius, and the interests of his home
and neighborhood, caused some foibles, as it was; and it might have been
almost fatal, but for some office which allowed him to gratify his love
of out-door life at the same time that it led him into intercourse
with men in another capacity than as listeners to himself, or peasants
engrossed in their own small concerns.

Southey was not contemplative or speculative, and it could only have
been because he lived at the Lakes and was Coleridge's brother-in-law
that he was implicated with the two speculative poets at all. It has
been carelessly reported by Lake tourists that Southey was not beloved
among his neighbors, while Wordsworth was; and that therefore the latter
was the better man, in a social sense. It should be remembered that
Southey was a working man, and that the other two were not; and,
moreover, it should never be for a moment forgotten that Southey worked
double-tides to make up for Coleridge's idleness. While Coleridge was
dreaming and discoursing, Southey was toiling to maintain Coleridge's
wife and children. He had no time and no attention to spare for
wandering about and making himself at home with the neighbors. This
practice came naturally to Wordsworth; and a kind and valued neighbor he
was to all the peasants round. Many a time I have seen him in the road,
in Scotch bonnet and green spectacles, with a dozen children at his
heels and holding his cloak, while he cut ash-sticks for them from the
hedge, hearing all they had to say or talking to them. Southey, on the
other hand, took his constitutional walk at a fixed hour, often reading
as he went. Two families depended on him; and his duty of daily labor
was not only distinctive, but exclusive. He was always at work at home,
while Coleridge was doing nothing but talking, and Wordsworth was
abroad, without thinking whether he was at work or play. Seen from the
stand-point of conscience and of moral generosity, Southey's was the
noblest life of the three; and Coleridge's was, of course, nought.
I own, however, that, considering the tendency of the time to make
literature a trade, or at least a profession, I cannot help feeling
Wordsworth's to have been the most privileged life of them all. He had
not work enough to do; and his mode of life encouraged an excess of
egoism: but he bore all the necessary retribution of this in his latter
years; and the whole career leaves an impression of an airy freedom and
a natural course of contemplation, combined with social interest and
action, more healthy than the existence of either the delinquent or the
exemplary comrade with whom he was associated in the public view.

I have left my neighbors waiting long on the margin of Grasmere. That
was before I was born; but I could almost fancy I had seen them there.

I observed that Wordsworth's report of their trip was very unlike
Coleridge's. When his sister had left them, he wrote to her, describing
scenes by brief precise touches which draw the picture that Coleridge
blurs with grand phrases. Moreover, Wordsworth tells sister Dorothy that
John will give him forty pounds to buy a bit of land by the lake, where
they may build a cottage to live in henceforth. He says, also, that
there is a small house vacant near the spot.--They took that house;
and thus the Wordsworths became "Lakers." They entered that well-known
cottage at Grasmere on the shortest day (St. Thomas's) of 1799. Many
years afterwards, Dorothy wrote of the aspect of Grasmere on her arrival
that winter evening,--the pale orange lights on the lake, and the
reflection of the mountains and the island in the still waters. She
had wandered about the world in an unsettled way; and now she had cast
anchor for life,--not in that house, but within view of that valley.

All readers of Wordsworth, on either side the Atlantic, believe
that they know that cottage, (described in the fifth book of the
"Excursion,") with its little orchard, and the moss house, and the
tiny terrace behind, with its fine view of the lake and the basin of
mountains. There the brother and sister lived for some years in a very
humble way, making their feast of the beauty about them. Wordsworth was
fond of telling how they had meat only two or three times a week; and he
was eager to impress on new-comers--on me among others--the prudence of
warning visitors that they must make up their minds to the scantiest
fare. He was as emphatic about this, laying his finger on one's arm to
enforce it, as about catching mice or educating the people. It was vain
to say that one would rather not invite guests than fail to provide for
them; he insisted that the expense would be awful, and assumed that his
sister's and his own example settled the matter. I suppose they were
poor in those days; but it was not for long. A devoted sister Dorothy
was. Too late it appeared that she had sacrificed herself to aid and
indulge her brother. When her mind was gone, and she was dying by
inches, Mrs. Wordsworth offered me the serious warning that she gave
whenever occasion allowed, against overwalking. She told me that Dorothy
had, not occasionally only, but often, walked forty miles in a day to
give her brother her presence. To repair the ravages thus caused she
took opium; and the effect on her exhausted frame was to overthrow her
mind. This was when she was elderly. For a long course of years, she
was a rich household blessing to all connected with her. She shared her
brother's peculiarity of investing trifles with solemnity, or rather,
of treating all occasions alike (at least in writing) with pedantic
elaboration; but she had the true poet's, combined with the true woman's
nature; and the fortunate man had, in wife and sister, the two best
friends of his life.

The Wordsworths were the originals of the Lake _coterie,_ as we have
seen. Born at Cockermouth, and a pupil at the Hawkeshead school,
Wordsworth was looking homewards when he settled in the District. The
others came in consequence. Coleridge brought his family to Greta Hall,
near Keswick; and with them came Mrs. Lovell, one of the three Misses
Fricker, of whom Coleridge and Southey had married two. Southey was
invited to visit Greta Hall, the year after the Wordsworths settled at
Grasmere; and thus they became acquainted. They had just met before, in
the South; but they had yet to learn to know each other; and there was
sufficient unlikeness between them to render this a work of some time
and pains. It was not long before Southey, instead of Coleridge, was
the lessee of Greta Hall; and soon after Coleridge took his departure,
leaving his wife and children, and also the Lovells, a charge upon
Southey, who had no more fortune than Coleridge, except in the
inexhaustible wealth of a heart, a will, and a conscience. Wordsworth
married in 1802; and then the two poets passed through their share of
the experience of human life, a few miles apart, meeting occasionally on
some mountain ridge or hidden dale, and in one another's houses, drawn
closer by their common joys and sorrows, but never approximating in
the quality of their genius, or in the stand-points from which they
respectively looked out upon human affairs. They had children, loved
them, and each lost some of them; and they felt tenderly for each other
when each little grave was opened. Southey, the most amiable of men in
domestic life, gentle, generous, serene, and playful, grew absolutely
ferocious about politics, as his articles in the "Quarterly Review"
showed all the world. Wordsworth, who had some of the irritability and
pettishness, mildly described by himself as "gentle stirrings of the
mind," which occasionally render great men ludicrously like children,
and who was, moreover, highly conservative after his early democratic
fever had passed off, grew more and more liberal with advancing years.
I do not mean that he verged towards the Reformers,--but that he became
more enlarged, tolerant, and generally sympathetic in his political
views and temper. It thus happened that society at a distance took up
a wholly wrong impression of the two men,--supposing Southey to be an
ill-conditioned bigot, and Wordsworth a serene philosopher, far above
being disturbed by troubles in daily life, or paying any attention to
party-politics. He showed some of his ever-growing liberality, by the
way, in speaking of this matter of temper. In old age, he said that the
world certainly does get on in minor morals: that when he was young
"everybody had a temper"; whereas now no such thing is allowed;
amiability is the rule; and an imperfect temper is an offence and a
misfortune of a distinctive character.

Among the letters which now and then arrived from strangers, in the
early days of Wordsworth's fame, was one which might have come from
Coleridge, if they had never met. It was full of admiration and
sympathy, expressed as such feelings would be by a man whose analytical
and speculative faculties predominated over all the rest. The writer
was, indeed, in those days, marvellously like Coleridge,--subtile in
analysis to excess, of gorgeous imagination, bewitching discourse, fine
scholarship, with a magnificent power of promising and utter incapacity
in performing, and with the same habit of intemperance in opium. By
his own account, his "disease was to meditate too much and observe too
little." I need hardly explain that this was De Quincey; and when I have
said that, I need hardly explain further that advancing time and closer
acquaintance made the likeness to Coleridge bear a smaller and smaller
proportion to the whole character of the man.

In return for his letter of admiration and sympathy, he received an
invitation to the Grasmere valley. More than once he set forth to avail
himself of it; but when within a few miles, the shyness under which in
those days he suffered overpowered his purpose, and he turned back.
After having achieved the meeting, however, he soon announced his
intention of settling in the valley; and he did so, putting his wife
and children eventually into the cottage which the Wordsworths had now
outgrown and left. There was little in him to interest or attach a
family of regular domestic habits, like the Wordsworths, given to active
employment, sensible thrift, and neighborly sympathy. It was universally
known that a great poem of Wordsworth's was reserved for posthumous
publication, and kept under lock and key meantime. De Quincey had so
remarkable a memory that he carried off by means of it the finest
passage of the poem,--or that which the author considered so; and
he published that passage in a magazine article, in which he gave
a detailed account of the Wordsworths' household, connections, and
friends, with an analysis of their characters and an exhibition of their
faults. This was in 1838, a dozen years before the poet's death. The
point of interest is,--How did the wronged family endure the wrong? They
were quiet about it,--that is, sensible and dignified; but Wordsworth
was more. A friend of his and mine was talking with him over the fire,
just when De Quincey's disclosures were making the most noise, and
mentioned the subject. Wordsworth begged to be spared hearing anything
about them, saying that the man had long passed away from the family
life and mind, and he did not wish to disturb himself about what could
not be remedied. My friend acquiesced, saying, "Well, I will tell you
only one thing that he says, and then we will talk of something else. He
says your wife is too good for you." The old man's dim eyes lighted up
instantly, and he started from his seat, and flung himself against
the mantel-piece, with his back to the fire, as he cried with loud
enthusiasm, "And that's _true! There_ he is right!"

It was by his written disclosures only that De Quincey could do much
mischief; for it was scarcely possible to be prejudiced by anything he
could say. The whole man was grotesque; and it must have been a singular
image that his neighbors in the valley preserved in their memory. A
frail-looking, diminutive man, with narrow chest and round shoulders and
features like those of a dying patient, walking with his hands behind
him, his hat on the back of his head, and his broad lower lip projected,
as if he had something on his tongue that wanted listening to,--such was
his aspect; and if one joined company with him, the strangeness grew
from moment to moment. His voice and its modulations were a perfect
treat. As for what he had to say, it was everything from odd comment on
a passing trifle, eloquent enunciation of some truth, or pregnant
remark on some lofty subject, down to petty gossip, so delivered as to
authorize a doubt whether it might not possibly be an awkward effort
at observing something outside of himself, or at getting a grasp of
something that he supposed actual. That he should have so supposed was
his weakness, and the retribution for the peculiar intemperance which
depraved his nature and alienated from their proper use powers which
should have made him one of the first philosophers of his age. His
singular organization was fatally deranged in its action before it could
show its best quality, and his is one of the cases in which we cannot be
wrong in attributing moral disease directly to physical disturbance; and
it would no doubt have been dropped out of notice, if he had been able
to abstain from comment on the characters and lives of other people.
Justice to them compels us to accept and use the exposures he offers us
of himself.

About the time of De Quincey's settlement at Grasmere, Wilson, the
future CHRISTOPHER NORTH, bought the Elleray estate, on the banks of
Windermere. He was then just of age,--supreme in all manly sports,
physically a model man, and intellectually, brimming with philosophy and
poetry. He came hither a rather spoiled child of fortune, perhaps; but
he was soon sobered by a loss of property which sent him to his studies
for the bar. Scott was an excellent friend to him at that time; and so
strong and prophetic was Wilson's admiration of his patron, that he
publicly gave him the name of "The Great Magician" before the first
"Waverley Novel" was published. Within ten years from his getting a
foothold on Windermere banks, he had raised periodical literature to a
height unknown before in our time, by his contributions to "Blackwood's
Magazine"; and he seemed to step naturally into the Moral Philosophy
Chair in Edinburgh in 1820. Christopher North has perhaps conveyed to
foreign, and untravelled English, readers as true a conception of our
Lake scenery and its influences in one way as Wordsworth in another.
The very spirit of the moorland, lake, brook, tarn, ghyll, and ridge
breathes from his prose poetry: and well it might. He wandered alone for
a week together beside the trout-streams and among the highest tarns. He
spent whole days in his boat, coasting the bays of the lake, or floating
in the centre, or lying reading in the shade of the trees on the
islands. He led with a glorious pride the famous regatta on Windermere,
when Canning was the guest of the Boltons at Storrs, and when Scott,
Wordsworth, and Southey were of the company; and he liked almost as well
steering the packet-boat from Waterhead to Bowness, till the steamer
drove out the old-fashioned conveyance. He sat at the stern,
immovable, with his hand on the rudder, looking beyond the company of
journeymen-carpenters, fish- and butter-women, and tourists, with a
gaze on the water-and-sky-line which never shifted. Sometimes a learned
professor or a brother sportsman was with him; but he spoke no word, and
kept his mouth peremptorily shut under his beard. It was a sight worth
taking the voyage for; and it was worth going a long round to see him
standing on the shore,--"reminding one of the first man, Adam," (as was
said of him,) in his best estate,--the tall, broad frame, large head,
marked features, and long hair; and the tread which shook the ground,
and the voice which roused the echoes afar and made one's heart-strings
vibrate within. These attributes made strangers turn to look at him on
the road, and fixed all eyes on him in the ball-room at Ambleside, when
any local object induced him to be a steward. Every old boatman and
young angler, every hoary shepherd and primitive housewife in the
uplands and dales, had an enthusiasm for him. He could enter into the
solemnity of speculation with Wordsworth while floating at sunset on the
lake; and not the less gamesomely could he collect a set of good fellows
under the lamp at his supper-table, and take off Wordsworth's or
Coleridge's monologues to the life. There was that between them which
must always have precluded a close sympathy; and their faults were just
what each could least allow for in another. Of Wilson's it is enough to
say that Scott's injunction to him to "leave off sack, purge, and live
cleanly," if he wished for the Moral Philosophy Chair, was precisely
what was needed. It was still needed some time after, when, though a
Professor of Moral Philosophy, he was seen, with poor Campbell, leaving
a tavern one morning, in Edinburgh, haggard and red-eyed, hoarse and
exhausted,--not only the feeble Campbell, but the mighty Wilson,--they
having sat together twenty-four hours, discussing poetry and wine with
all their united energies. This sort of thing was not to the taste of
Wordsworth or Southey, any more than their special complacencies were
venerable to the humor of Christopher North. Yet they could cordially
admire one another; and when sorrows came over them, in dreary
impartiality, they could feel reverently and deeply for each other. When
Southey lost his idolized boy, Herbert, and had to watch over his insane
wife, always his dearest friend, and all the dearer for her helpless
and patient suffering under an impenetrable gloom,--when Wordsworth was
bereaved of the daughter who made the brightness of his life in his old
age,--and when Wilson was shaken to the centre by the loss of his wife,
and mourned alone in the damp shades of Elleray, where he would allow
not a twig to be cut from the trees she loved,--the sorrow of each moved
them all. Elleray was a gloomy place then, and Wilson never surmounted
the melancholy which beset him there; and he wisely parted with it
some years before his death. The later depression in his case was in
proportion to the earlier exhilaration. His love of Nature and of genial
human intercourse had been too exuberant; and he became incapable of
enjoyment from either, in his last years. He never recovered from an
attack of pressure on the brain, and died paralyzed in the spring of
1854. He had before gone from among us with his joy; and then we heard
that he had dropped out of life with his griefs; and our beautiful
region, and the region of life, were so much the darker in a thousand
eyes.

While speaking of Elleray, we should pay a passing tribute of gratitude
to an older worthy of that neighborhood,--the well-known Bishop of
Llandaff, Richard Watson, who did more for the beauty of Windermere than
any other person. There is nothing to praise in the damp old mansion
at Calgarth, set down in low ground, and actually with its back to the
lake, and its front windows commanding no view; but the woods are the
glory of Bishop Watson. He was not a happy prelate, believing himself
undervalued and neglected, and fretting his heart over his want of
promotion; but be must have had many a blessed hour while planting
those woods for which many generations will be grateful to him. Let
the traveller remember him, when looking abroad from Miller Brow, near
Bowness. Below lies the whole length of Windermere, from the white
houses of Clappersgate, nestling under Loughrigg at the head, to the
Beacon at the foot. The whole range of both shores, with their bays
and coves and promontories, can be traced; and the green islands are
clustered in the centre; and the whole gradation of edifices is seen,
from Wray Castle, on its rising ground, to the tiny boat-houses, each
on its creek. All these features are enhanced in beauty by the Calgarth
woods, which cover the undulations of hill and margin beneath and
around, rising and falling, spreading and contracting, with green
meadows interposed, down to the white pebbly strand. To my eye, this
view is unsurpassed by any in the District.

Bishop Watson's two daughters were living in the neighborhood till two
years ago,--antique spinsters, presenting us with a most vivid specimen
of the literary female life of the last century. They were excellent
women, differing from the rest of society chiefly in their notion that
superior people should show their superiority in all the acts of their
lives,--that literary people should talk literature, and scientific
people science, and so on; and they felt affronted, as if set down among
common people, when an author talked about common things in a common
way. They did their best to treat their friends to wit and polite
letters; and they expected to be ministered to in the same fashion. This
was rather embarrassing to visitors to whom it had never occurred to
talk for any other purpose than to say what presented itself at the
moment; but it is a privilege to have known those faithful sisters, and
to have seen in them a good specimen of the literary society of the last
century.

There is another spot in that neighborhood which strangers look up to
with interest from the lake itself,--Dovenest, the abode of Mrs. Hemans
for the short time of her residence at the Lakes. She saw it for the
first time from the lake, as her published correspondence tells, and
fell in love with it; and as it was vacant at the time, she went into it
at once. Many of my readers will remember her description of the garden
and the view from it, the terrace, the circular grass-plot with its one
tall white rose-tree. "You cannot imagine," she wrote, in 1830, "how I
delight in that fair, solitary, neglected-looking tree." The tree is not
neglected now. Dovenest is inhabited by Mrs. Hemans's then young friend,
the Rev. R.P. Graves; and it has recovered from the wildness and
desolation of thirty years ago, while looking as secluded as ever among
the woods on the side of Wansfell.

All this time, illustrious strangers were coming, year by year, to visit
residents, or to live among the mountains for a few weeks. There was
Wilberforce, spending part of a summer at Rayrigg, on the lake shore.
One of his boys asked him, "Why should you not buy a house here? and
then we could come every year." The reply was characteristic:--that it
would be very delightful; but that the world is lying, in a manner,
under the curse of God; that we have something else to do than to enjoy
fine prospects; and that, though it may be allowable to taste the
pleasure now and then, we ought to wait till the other life to enjoy
ourselves. Such was the strait-lacing in which the good man was forever
trying to compress his genial, buoyant, and grateful nature.--Scott came
again and again; and Wordsworth and Southey met to do him honor. The
tourist must remember the Swan Inn,--the white house beyond Grasmere,
under the skirts of Helvellyn. There Scott went daily for a glass of
something good, while Wordsworth's guest, and treated with the homely
fare of the Grasmere cottage. One morning, his host, himself, and
Southey went up to the Swan, to start thence with ponies for the ascent
of Helvellyn. The innkeeper saw them coming, and accosted Scott with
"Eh, Sir! ye're come early for your draught to-day!"--a disclosure which
was not likely to embarrass his host at all. Wordsworth was probably the
least-discomposed member of the party.--Charles Lamb and his sister once
popped in unannounced on Coleridge at Keswick, and spent three weeks in
the neighborhood. We can all fancy the little man on the top of Skiddaw,
with his mind full as usual of quips and pranks, and struggling with the
emotions of mountain-land, so new and strange to a Cockney, such as he
truly described himself. His loving readers do not forget his statement
of the comparative charms of Skiddaw and Fleet Street; and on the spot
we quote his exclamations about the peak, and the keen air there, and
the look over into Scotland, and down upon a sea of mountains which made
him giddy. We are glad he came and enjoyed a day, which, as he said,
would stand out like a mountain in his life; but we feel that he could
never have followed his friends hither,--Coleridge and Wordsworth,--and
have made himself at home. The warmth of a city and the hum of human
voices all day long were necessary to his spirits. As to his passage at
arms with Southey,--everybody's sympathies are with Lamb; and he
only vexes us by his humility and gratitude at being pardoned by the
aggressor, whom he had in fact humiliated in all eyes but his own. It
was one of Southey's spurts of insolent bigotry; and Lamb's plea for
tolerance and fair play was so sound as to make it a poor affectation in
Southey to assume a pardoning air; but, if Lamb's kindly and sensitive
nature could not sustain him in so virtuous an opposition, it is well
that the two men did not meet on the top of Skiddaw.--Canning's visit to
Storrs, on Windermere, was a great event in its day; and Lockhart tells
us, in his "Life of Scott," what the regatta was like, when Wilson
played Admiral, and the group of local poets, and Scott, were in the
train of the statesman. Since that day, it has been a common thing for
illustrious persons to appear in our valleys. Statesmen, churchmen,
university-men, princes, peers, bishops, authors, artists, flock hither;
and during the latter years of Wordsworth's life, the average number
of strangers who called at Rydal Mount in the course of the season was
eight hundred.

During the growth of the District from its wildness to this thronged
state, a minor light of the region was kindling, flickering, failing,
gleaming, and at last going out,--anxiously watched and tended, but to
little purpose. The life of Hartley Coleridge has been published by his
family; and there can, therefore, be no scruple in speaking of him here.
The remembrance of him haunts us all,--almost as his ghost haunts his
kind landlady. Long after his death, she used to "hear him at night
laughing in his room," as he used to do when he lived there. A peculiar
laugh it was, which broke out when fancies crossed him, whether he was
alone or in company. Travellers used to look after him on the road, and
guides and drivers were always willing to tell about him; and still
his old friends almost expect to see Hartley at any turn,--the little
figure, with the round face, marked by the blackest eyebrows and
eyelashes, and by a smile and expression of great eccentricity. As we
passed, he would make a full stop in the road, face about, take off his
black-and-white straw hat, and bow down to the ground. The first glance
in return was always to see whether he was sober. The Hutchinsons must
remember him. He was one of the audience, when they held their concert
under the sycamores in Mr. Harrison's grounds at Ambleside; and he
thereupon wrote a sonnet,[A] doubtless well known in America. When I
wanted his leave to publish that sonnet, in an account of "Frolics with
the Hutchinsons," it was necessary to hunt him up, from public-house
to public-house, early in the morning. It is because these things are
universally known,--because he was seen staggering in the road, and
spoken of by drivers and lax artisans as an alehouse comrade, that I
speak of him here, in order that I may testify how he was beloved and
cherished by the best people in his neighborhood. I can hardly speak
of him myself as a personal acquaintance; for I could not venture on
inviting him to my house. I saw what it was to others to be subject to
day-long visits from him, when he would ask for wine, and talk from
morning to night,--and a woman, solitary and busy, could not undertake
that sort of hospitality; but I saw how forbearing his friends were, and
why,--and I could sympathize in their regrets when he died. I met him
in company occasionally, and never saw him sober; but I have heard from
several common friends of the charm of his conversation, and the beauty
of his gentle and affectionate nature. He was brought into the District
when four years old; and it does not appear that he ever had a chance
allowed him of growing into a sane man. Wordsworth used to say that
Hartley's life's failure arose mainly from his having grown up "wild
as the breeze,"--delivered over, without help or guardianship, to the
vagaries of an imagination which overwhelmed all the rest of him. There
was a strong constitutional likeness to his father, evident enough to
all; but no pains seem to have been taken on any hand to guard him from
the snare, or to invigorate his will, and aid him in self-discipline.
The great catastrophe, the ruinous blow, which rendered him hopeless, is
told in the Memoir; but there are particulars which help to account for
it. Hartley had spent his school-days under a master as eccentric as he
himself ever became. The Rev. John Dawes of Ambleside was one of the
oddities that may be found in the remote places of modern England. He
had no idea of restraint, for himself or his pupils; and when they
arrived, punctually or not, for morning school, they sometimes found the
door shut, and chalked with "Gone a-hunting," or "Gone a-fishing," or
gone away somewhere or other. Then Hartley would sit down under the
bridge, or in the shadow of the wood, or lie on the grass on the
hill-side, and tell tales to his schoolfellows for hours. His mind was
developed by the conversation of his father and his father's friends;
and he himself had a great friendship with Professor Wilson, who always
stood by him with a pitying love. He had this kind of discursive
education, but no discipline; and when he went to college, he was at the
mercy of any who courted his affection, intoxicated his imagination, and
then led him into vice. His Memoir shows how he lost his fellowship at
Oriel College, Oxford, at the end of his probationary year. He had been
warned by the authorities against his sin of intemperance; and he bent
his whole soul to get through that probationary year. For eleven months,
and many days of the twelfth, he lived soberly and studied well. Then
the old tempters agreed in London to go down to Oxford and get hold of
Hartley. They went down on the top of the coach, got access to his room,
made him drunk, and carried him with them to London; and he was not to
be found when he should have passed. The story of his death is but too
like this.

[Footnote A:

SONNET

TO TENNYSON, AFTER HEARING ABBY HUTCHINSON SING "THE MAY-QUEEN" AT
AMBLESIDE.

  I would, my friend, indeed, thou hadst been
  here
  Last night, beneath the shadowy sycamore,
  To hear the lines, to me well known before,
  Embalmed in music so translucent clear.
  Each word of thine came singly to the ear,
  Yet all was blended in a flowing stream.
  It had the rich repose of summer dream,
  The light distinct of frosty atmosphere.
  Still have I loved thy verse, yet never knew
  How sweet it was, till woman's voice invested
  The pencilled outline with the living hue,
  And every note of feeling proved and tested.
  What might old Pindar be, if once again
  The harp and voice were trembling with his
  strain!
]

His fellowship lost, he came, ruinously humbled, to live in this
District, at first under compulsion to take pupils, whom, of course, he
could not manage. On the death of his mother, an annuity was purchased
for him, and paid quarterly, to keep him out of debt, if possible. He
could not take care of money, and he was often hungry, and often begged
the loan of a sixpence; and when the publicans made him welcome to what
he pleased to have, in consideration of the company he brought together,
to hear his wonderful talk, his wit, and his dreams, he was helpless in
the snare. We must remember that he was a fine scholar, as well as a
dreamer and a humorist; and there was no order of intellect, from the
sage to the peasant, which could resist the charm of his discourse. He
had taken his degree with high distinction at Oxford; and yet the old
Westmoreland "statesman," who, offered whiskey and water, accepts the
one and says the other can be had anywhere, would sit long to hear what
Hartley had to tell of what he had seen or dreamed. At gentlemen's
tables, it was a chance how he might talk,--sublimely, sweetly, or with
a want of tact which made sad confusion. In the midst of the great
black-frost at the close of 1848, he was at a small dinner-party at
the house of a widow lady, about four miles from his lodgings. During
dinner, some scandal was talked about some friends of his to whom he
was warmly attached. He became excited on their behalf,--took Champagne
before he had eaten enough, and, before the ladies left the table, was
no longer master of himself. His host, a very young man, permitted some
practical joking: brandy was ordered, and given to the unconscious
Hartley; and by eleven o'clock he was clearly unfit to walk home alone.
His hostess sent her footman with him, to see him home. The man took him
through Ambleside, and then left him to find his way for the other two
miles. The cold was as severe as any ever known in this climate; and it
was six in the morning when his landlady heard some noise in the porch,
and found Hartley stumbling in. She put him to bed, put hot bricks to
his feet, and tried all the proper means; and in the middle of the day
he insisted on getting up and going out. He called at the house of a
friend, Dr. S----, near Ambleside. The kind physician scolded him for
coming out, sent for a carriage, took him home, and put him to bed. He
never rose again, but died on the 6th of January, 1849. The young host
and the old hostess have followed him, after deeply deploring that
unhappy day.

It was sweet, as well as sorrowful, to see how he was mourned.
Everybody, from his old landlady, who cared for him like a mother, to
the infant-school children, missed Hartley Coleridge. I went to his
funeral at Grasmere. The rapid Rotha rippled and dashed over the stones
beside the churchyard; the yews rose dark from the faded grass of the
graves; and in mighty contrast to both, Helvellyn stood, in wintry
silence, and sheeted with spotless snow. Among the mourners Wordsworth
was conspicuous, with his white hair and patriarchal aspect. He had
no cause for painful emotions on his own account; for he had been a
faithful friend to the doomed victim who was now beyond the reach of his
tempters. While there was any hope that stern remonstrance might rouse
the feeble will and strengthen the suffering conscience to relieve
itself, such remonstrance was pressed; and when the case was past hope,
Wordsworth's door was ever open to his old friend's son. Wordsworth
could stand by that open grave without a misgiving about his own share
in the scene which was here closing; and calm and simply grave he
looked. He might mourn over the life; but he could scarcely grieve at
the death. The grave was close behind the family group of the Wordsworth
tombs. It shows, above the name and dates, a sculptured crown of thorns
and Greek cross, with the legend, "By thy Cross and Passion, Good Lord,
deliver me!"

One had come and gone meantime who was as express a contrast to Hartley
Coleridge as could be imagined,--a man of energy, activity, stern
self-discipline, and singular strength of will. Such a cast of character
was an inexplicable puzzle to poor Hartley. He showed this by giving his
impression of another person of the same general mode of life,--that
A.B. was "a monomaniac about everything." It was to rest a hard-worked
mind and body, and to satisfy a genuine need of his nature, that Dr.
Arnold came here from Rugby with his family,--first, to lodgings for an
occasional holiday, and afterwards to a house of his own, at Christmas
and Midsummer, and with the intention of living permanently at Fox How,
when he should give up his work at Rugby.

He was first at a house at the foot of Rydal Mount, at Christmas, 1831,
"with the road on one side of the garden, and the Rotha on the other,
which goes brawling away under our windows with its perpetual music. The
higher mountains that bound our view are all snow-capped; but it is all
snug, and warm, and green in the valley. Nowhere on earth have I ever
seen a spot of more perfect and enjoyable beauty, with not a single
object out of tune with it, look which way I will." He built Fox How,
two or three years later, and at once began his course of hospitality by
having lads of the sixth form as his guests,--not for purposes of study,
but of recreation, and, yet more, to give them that element of education
which consists in familiarity with the noblest natural scenery. The hue
and cry which arose when he showed himself a reformer, in Church matters
as in politics, followed him here, as we see by his letters; and it was
not till his "Life and Correspondence" appeared that his neighbors here
understood him. It has always been difficult, perhaps, for them to
understand anything modern, or at all vivacious. Everybody respected Dr.
Arnold for his energy and industry, his services to education, and his
devotedness to human welfare; but they were afraid of his supposed
opinions. Not the less heartily did he honor everything that was
admirable in them; and when he was gone, they remembered his ways, and
cherished every trace of him, in a manner which showed how they would
have made much of him, if their own timid prejudices had not stood in
the way. They point out to this day the spot where they saw him stand,
without his hat, on Rotha bridge, watching the gush of the river
under the wooded bank, or gazing into the basin of vapors within the
_cul-de-sac_ of Fairfield,--the same view which he looked on from his
study, as he sat on his sofa, surrounded by books. The neighbors show
the little pier at Waterhead whence he watched the morning or the
evening light on the lake, the place where he bathed, and the tracks in
the mountains which led to his favorite ridges. Everybody has read his
"Life and Correspondence," and therefore knows what his mode of life was
here, and how great was his enjoyment of it. We have all read of the
mountain-trips in summer, and the skating on Rydal Lake in winter,--and
how his train of children enjoyed everything with him, as far as they
could. It was but for a few years; and the time never came for him to
retire hither from Rugby. In June, 1842, he had completed his fourteenth
year at Rugby, and was particularly in need, under some harassing cares,
of the solace and repose which a few hours more would have brought him,
when he was cut off by an illness of two hours. On the day when he was
to have been returning to Fox How, some of his children were travelling
thence to his funeral. His biographer tells us how strong was the
consternation at Rugby, when the tidings spread on that Sunday morning,
"Dr. Arnold is dead." Not slight was the emotion throughout this valley,
when the news passed from house to house, the next day. As I write, I
see the windows which were closed that day, and the trees round the
house,--so grown up since he walked among them!--and the course of the
Rotha, which winds and ripples at the foot of his garden. I never saw
him, for I did not come here till two years after; but I have seen his
widow pass on into her honored old age, and his children part off into
their various homes, and their several callings in life,--to meet in
the beloved house at Fox How, at Christmas, and at many another time.

This leaves only Southey and the Wordsworths; and their ending was not
far off. The old poet had seen almost too much of these endings. One
day, when I found a stoppage in the road at the foot of Rydal Mount,
from a sale of furniture, such as is common in this neighborhood every
spring and autumn, I met Mr. Wordsworth,--not looking observant and
amused, but in his blackest mood of melancholy, and evidently wanting to
get out of the way. He said he did not like the sight: he had seen so
many of these sales; he had seen Southey's, not long before; and these
things reminded him how soon there must be a sale at Rydal Mount. It was
remarked by a third person that this was rather a wilful way of being
miserable; but I never saw a stronger love of life than there was in
them all, even so late in their day as this. Mrs. Wordsworth, then past
her three-score years and ten, observed to me that the worst of living
here was that it made one so unwilling to go. It seems but lately that
she said so; yet she nursed to their graves her daughter and her husband
and his sister, and she herself became blind; so that it was not hard
"to go," when the time came.

Southey's decline was painful to witness,--even as his beloved wife's
had been to himself. He never got over her loss; and his mind was
decidedly shaken before he made the second marriage which has been so
much talked over. One most touching scene there was when he had become
unconscious of all that was said and done around him. Mrs. Southey had
been careless of her own interests about money when she married him, and
had sought no protection for her own property. When there was manifestly
no hope of her husband's mind ever recovering, his brother assembled the
family and other witnesses, and showed them a kind of will which he had
drawn up, by which Mrs. Southey's property was returned to herself,
intact. He said they were all aware that their relative could not, in
his condition, make a will, and that he was even unaware of what they
were doing; but that it was right that they should, pledge themselves by
some overt act to fulfil what would certainly have been his wish. The
bowed head could not be raised, but the nerveless hand was guided to
sign the instrument; and all present agreed to respect it as if it
were a veritable will,--as of course they did. The decline was full of
painful circumstances; and it must have been with a heart full of sorrow
that Wordsworth walked over the hills to attend the funeral.

The next funeral was that of his own daughter Dora,--Mrs. Quillinan. A
story has got about, as untrue as it is disagreeable, that Dora lost
her health from her father's opposition to her marriage, and that
Wordsworth's excessive grief after her death was owing to remorse. I can
myself testify to her health having been very good for a considerable
interval between that difficulty and her last illness; and this is
enough, of itself, to dispose of the story. Her parents considered
the marriage an imprudent one; but after securing sufficient time for
consideration, they said that she must judge for herself; and there were
fine qualities in Mr. Quillinan which could not but win their affection
and substantial regard. His first wife, a friend of Dora Wordsworth's,
was carried out of the house in which she had just been confined, from
fire in the middle of the night; she died from the shock; and she died
recommending her husband and her friend to marry. Such is the understood
history of the case. After much delay they did marry, and lived near
Rydal Mount, where Dora was, as always, the light of the house, as long
as she could go to it. But, after a long and painful decline, she died
in 1847. Her husband followed soon after Wordsworth's death. He lies in
the family corner of Grasmere churchyard, between his two wives. This
appeared to be the place reserved for Mrs. Wordsworth, so that Dora
would lie between her parents. There seemed now to be no room left for
the solitary survivor, and many wondered what would be done; but all had
been thought of. Wordsworth's grave had been made deep enough for two;
and there his widow now rests.

There was much vivid life in them, however clearly the end was
approaching, when I first knew them in 1845. The day after my arrival at
a friend's house, they called on me, excited by two kinds of interest.
Wordsworth had been extremely gratified by hearing, through a book of
mine, how his works were estimated by certain classes of readers in the
United States; and he and Mrs. Wordsworth were eager to learn facts and
opinions about mesmerism, by which I had just recovered from a
long illness, and which they hoped might avail in the case of a
daughter-in-law, then in a dying state abroad. After that day, I met
them frequently, and was at their house, when I could go. On occasion of
my first visit, I was struck by an incident which explained the ridicule
we have all heard thrown on the old poet for a self-esteem which he was
merely too simple to hide. Nothing could be easier than to make a quiz
of what he said to me; but to me it seemed delightful. As he at once
talked of his poems, I thought I might; and I observed that he might
be interested in knowing which of his poems had been Dr. Channing's
favorite. Seeing him really interested, I told him that I had not been
many hours under Dr. Channing's roof before he brought me "The Happy
Warrior," which, he said, moved him more than any other in the
whole series. Wordsworth remarked,--and repeated the remark very
earnestly,--that this was evidently applicable to the piece, "not as
a poem, not as fulfilling the conditions of poetry, but as a chain of
extremely valuable _thoughts_." Then he repeated emphatically,--"a chain
of extremely _valuable_ thoughts!" This was so true that it seemed as
natural for him to say it as Dr. Channing, or any one else.

It is indisputable that his mind and manners were hurt by the prominence
which his life at the Lakes--a life very public, under the name of
seclusion--gave, in his own eyes; to his own works and conversation; but
he was less absorbed in his own objects, less solemn, less severed from
ordinary men than is supposed, and has been given out by strangers, who,
to the number of eight hundred in a year, have been received by him with
a bow, asked to see the garden-terraces where he had meditated this and
that work, and dismissed with another bow, and good wishes for their
health and pleasure,--the host having, for the most part, not heard, or
not attended to, the name of his visitor. I have seen him receive in
that way a friend, a Commissioner of Education, whom I ventured to take
with me, (a thing I very rarely did,) and in the evening have had a
message asking if I knew how Mr. Wordsworth could obtain an interview
with this very gentleman, who was said to be in the neighborhood. All
this must be very bad for anybody; and so was the distinction of having
early chosen this District for a home. When I first came, I told my
friends here that I was alarmed for myself, when I saw the spirit of
insolence which seemed to possess the cultivated residents, who really
did virtually assume that the mountains and vales were somehow their
property, or at least a privilege appropriate to superior people
like themselves. Wordsworth's sonnets about the railway were a mild
expression of his feelings in this direction; and Mrs. Wordsworth,
in spite of her excellent sense, took up his song, and declared with
unusual warmth that green fields, with daisies and buttercups, were as
good for Lancashire operatives as our lakes and valleys. I proposed that
the people should judge of this for themselves; but there was no end to
ridicule of "the people from Birthwaite" (the end of the railway, five
miles off). Some had been seen getting their dinner in the churchyard,
and others inquiring how best to get up Loughrigg,--"evidently, quite
puzzled, and not knowing where to go." My reply, "that they would know
next time," was not at all sympathized in. The effect of this exclusive
temper was pernicious in the neighborhood. A petition to Parliament
against the railway was not brought to me, as it was well known that
I would not sign it; but some little girls undertook my case; and the
effect of their parroting of Mr. Wordsworth, about "ourselves" and "the
common people" who intrude upon us, was as sad as it was absurd. The
whole matter ended rather remarkably. When all were gone but Mrs.
Wordsworth, and she was blind, a friend who was as a daughter to her
remarked, one summer day, that there were some boys on the Mount in
the garden. "Ah!" said Mrs. Wordsworth, "there is no end to those
people;--boys from Birthwaite!--boys from Birthwaite!" It was the Prince
of Wales, with a companion or two.

The notion of Wordsworth's solemnity and sublimity, as something
unremitting, was a total mistake. It probably arose from the want of
proportion in his mind, as in his sister's, before referred to. But he
relished the common business of life, and not only could take in, but
originate a joke. I remember his quizzing a common friend of ours,--one
much esteemed by us all,--who had a wonderful ability of falling asleep
in an instant, when not talking. Mr. Wordsworth told me of the extreme
eagerness of this gentleman, Mrs. Wordsworth, and himself, to see the
view over Switzerland from the ridge of the Jura. Mrs. Wordsworth could
not walk so fast as the gentlemen, and her husband let the friend go on
by himself. When they arrived, a minute or two after him, they found him
sitting on a stone in face of all Switzerland, fast asleep. When Mr.
Wordsworth mimicked the sleep, with his head on one side, anybody
could have told whom he was quizzing.--He and Mrs. Wordsworth, but too
naturally impressed with the mischief of overwalking in the case of
women, took up a wholly mistaken notion that I walked too much. One day
I was returning from a circuit of ten miles with a guest, when we
met the Wordsworths. They asked where we had been. "By Red Bank to
Grasmere." Whereupon Mr. Wordsworth laid his hand on my guest's arm,
saying, "There, there! take care what you are about! don't let her lead
you about! I can tell you, she has killed off half the gentlemen in the
county!"--Mrs. Hemans tells us, that, before she had known him many
hours, she was saying to him, "Dear me, Mr. Wordsworth! how can you be
so giddy?"

His interest in common things never failed. It has been observed that
he and Mrs. Wordsworth did incalculable good by the example they
unconsciously set the neighborhood of respectable thrift. There are no
really poor people at Rydal, because the great lady at the Hall, Lady Le
Fleming, takes care that there shall be none,--at the expense of great
moral mischief. But there is a prevalent recklessness, grossness, and
mingled extravagance and discomfort in the family management, which, I
am told, was far worse when the Wordsworths came than it is now. Going
freely among the neighbors, and welcoming and helping them familiarly,
the Wordsworths laid their own lives open to observation; and the
mingled carefulness and comfort--the good thrift, in short--wrought as
a powerful lesson all around. As for what I myself saw,--they took a
practical interest in my small purchase of land for my abode; and Mr.
Wordsworth often came to consult upon the plan and progress of the
house. He used to lie on the grass, beside the young oaks, before the
foundations were dug; and he referred me to Mrs. Wordsworth as the best
possible authority about the placing of windows and beds. He climbed to
the upper rooms before there was a staircase; and we had to set Mrs.
Wordsworth as a watch over him, when there was a staircase, but no
balustrade. When the garden was laid out, he planted a stone-pine
(which is flourishing) under the terrace-wall, washed his hands in the
watering-pot, and gave the place and me at once his blessing and some
thrifty counsel. When I began farming, he told me an immense deal about
his cow; and both of them came to see my first calf, and ascertain
whether she had the proper marks of the handsome short-horn of the
region. The distinctive impression which the family made on the minds
of the people about them was that of practical ability; and it was
thoroughly well conveyed by the remark of a man at Rydal, on hearing
some talk of Mrs. Wordsworth, a few days after the poet's death:
--"She's a gay [rare] clever body, who will carry on the business as
well as any of 'em."

Nothing could be more affecting than to watch the silent changes in Mrs.
Wordsworth's spirits during the ten years which followed the death of
her daughter. For many months her husband's gloom was terrible, in the
evenings, or in dull weather. Neither of them could see to read much;
and the poet was not one who ever pretended to restrain his emotions,
or assume a cheerfulness which he did not feel. We all knew that the
mother's heart was the bereaved one, however impressed the father's
imagination might be by the picture of his own desolation; and we saw
her mute about her own trial, and growing whiter in the face and smaller
from month to month, while he put no restraint upon his tears and
lamentations. The winter evenings were dreary; and in hot summer days
the aged wife had to follow him, when he was missed for any time, lest
he should be sitting in the sun without his hat. Often she found him
asleep on the heated rock. His final illness was wearing and dreary to
her; but there her part was clear, and she was adequate to it. "You
are going to Dora," she whispered to him, when the issue was no longer
doubtful. She thought he did not hear or heed; but some hours after,
when some one opened the curtain, he said, "Are you Dora?" Composed and
cheerful in the prospect of his approaching rest, and absolutely without
solicitude for herself, the wife was everything to him till the last
moment; and when he was gone, the anxieties of the self-forgetting woman
were over. She attended his funeral, and afterwards chose to fill her
accustomed place among the guests who filled the house. She made tea
that evening as usual; and the lightening of her spirits from that time
forward was evident. It was a lovely April day, the 23d, (Shakspeare's
birth--and death-day,) when her task of nursing closed. The news spread
fast that the old poet was gone; and we all naturally turned our eyes up
to the roof under which he lay. There, above and amidst the young green
of the woods, the modest dwelling shone in the sunlight. The smoke went
up thin and straight into the air; but the closed windows gave the place
a look of death. There he was lying whom we should see no more.

The poor sister remained for five years longer. Travellers, American
and others, must remember having found the garden-gate locked at Rydal
Mount, and perceiving the reason why, in seeing a little garden-chair,
with an emaciated old lady in it, drawn by a nurse round and round the
gravelled space before the house. That was Miss Wordsworth, taking her
daily exercise. It was a great trouble, at times, that she could not be
placed in some safe privacy; and Wordsworth's feudal loyalty was put to
a severe test in the matter. It had been settled that a cottage should
be built for his sister, in a field of his, beyond the garden. The plan
was made, and the turf marked out, and the digging about to begin,
when the great lady at the Hall, Lady Le Fleming, interfered with a
prohibition. She assumed the feudal prerogative of determining what
should or should not be built on all the lands over which the Le
Flemings have borne sway; and her extraordinary determination was, that
no dwelling should be built, except on the site of a former one! We
could scarcely believe we had not been carried back into the Middle
Ages, when we heard it; but the old poet, whom any sovereign in Europe
would have been delighted to gratify, submitted with a good grace, and
thenceforth robbed his sister's feet, and coaxed and humored her at
home,--trusting his guests to put up with the inconveniences of her
state, as he could not remove them from sight and hearing. After she was
gone also, Mrs. Wordsworth, entirely blind, and above eighty years of
age, seemed to have no cares, except when the errors and troubles of
others touched her judgment or sympathy. She was well cared for by
nieces and friends. Her plain common sense and cheerfulness appeared
in one of the last things she said, a few hours before her death. She
remarked on the character of the old hymns, practical and familiar,
which people liked when she was young, and which answered some purposes
better than the sublimer modern sort. She repeated part of a child's
hymn,--very homely, about going straight to school, and taking care of
the books, and learning the lesson well,--and broke off, saying, "There!
if you want to hear the rest, ask the Bishop o' London. _He_ knows it."

Then, all were gone; and there remained only the melancholy breaking up
of the old home which had been interesting to the world for forty-six
years. Mrs. Wordsworth died in January, 1859. In the May following, the
sale took place which Wordsworth had gloomily foreseen so many years
before. Everything of value was reserved, and the few articles desired
by strangers were bought by commission; and thus the throng at the sale
was composed of the ordinary elements. The spectacle was sufficiently
painful to make it natural for old friends to stay away. Doors and
windows stood wide. The sofa and tea-table where the wisest and best
from all parts of the world had held converse were turned out to be
examined and bid for. Anybody who chose passed the sacred threshold; the
auctioneer's hammer was heard on the terrace; and the hospitable parlor
and kitchen were crowded with people swallowing tea in the intervals of
their business. One farmer rode six-and-thirty miles that morning to
carry home something that had belonged to Wordsworth; and, in default of
anything better, he took a patched old table-cover. There was a bed
of anemones under the windows, at one end of the house; and a bed of
anemones is a treasure in our climate. It was in full bloom in the
morning; and before sunset, every blossom was gone, and the bed was
trampled into ruin. It was dreary work! The two sons live at a distance;
and the house is let to tenants of another name.

I perceive that I have not noticed the poet's laureateship. The truth
is, the office never seemed to belong to him; and we forgot it, when
not specially reminded of it. We did not like to think of him in
court-dress, going through the ceremonies of levee or ball, in his
old age. His white hair and dim eyes were better at home among the
mountains.

There stand the mountains, from age to age; and there run the rivers,
with their full and never-pausing tide, while those who came to live and
grow wise beside them are all gone! One after another, they have lain
down to their everlasting rest in the valleys where their step and their
voices were as familiar as the points of the scenery. The region has
changed much since they came as to a retreat. It was they who caused the
change, for the most part; and it was not for them to complain of it;
but the consequence is, that with them has passed away a peculiar
phase of life in England. It is one which can neither be continued
nor repeated. The Lake District is no longer a retreat; and any other
retreat must have different characteristics, and be illumined by some
different order of lights. The case being so, I have felt no scruple in
asking the attention of my readers to a long story, and to full details
of some of the latest Lights of the Lake District.



PINK AND BLUE.


Everybody knows that a _departing_ guest has the most to say. The touch
of the door-knob sends to his lips a thousand things which _must_ be
told. Is it strange, then, that old people, knowing they have "made out
their visit," and feeling themselves brimful of wisdom and experience,
should wish to speak from the fulness of their hearts to those whom they
must so shortly leave?

Nobody thinks it strange. The world expects it, and, as a general thing,
bears it patiently. Knowing how universal is this spirit of forbearance,
I should, perhaps, have forever held my peace, lest I might abuse
good-nature, had it not been for some circumstances which will be
related a little farther on.

My little place of business (I am the goldsmith of our village) has long
been the daily resort of several of my particular cronies. They are men
of good minds,--some of them quite literary; for we count, as belonging
to our set, the lawyer, the schoolmaster, the doctor, men of business,
men of no business, and sometimes even the minister. As may be supposed,
our discussions take a wide range: I can give no better notion of _how_
wide than to say that we discuss everything in the papers. Yesterday
was a snow-storm, but the meeting was held just the same. It was in the
afternoon. The schoolmaster came in late with a new magazine, from which
he read, now and then, for the general edification.

"Ah!" said he, "if this be true, we can all write for the papers."

"How's that?" we asked.

"Why, it says here, that, if the true experience of any human heart were
written, it would be worth more than the best tale ever invented."

It was a terribly stormy day. The snow came whirling against the two
windows of my shop, clinging to the outside, making it twilight within.
I had given up work; for my eyes are not what they were, and I have to
favor them. Nobody spoke for a while; all had been set to thinking.
Those few words had sent us all back, back, back, thirty, forty, fifty
years, to call up the past. We were gazing upon forms long since
perished, listening to voices long ago hushed forever. Could those forms
have been summoned before us, how crowded would have been my little
shop! Could those voices have been heard, how terrible the discord, the
cries of the wretched mingling with the shouts of the happy ones! There
was a dead silence. The past was being questioned. Would it reply?

At last some one said,--

"Try it."

"But," said another, "it would fill a whole book."

"Take up one branch, then; for instance, our--well, our courting-days.
Let each one tell how he won his wife."

"But shall we get any money by it?"

"To be sure we shall. Do you think people write for nothing? '_Worth
more_' are the very words used; 'worth more' _what?_ Money, of course."

"But what shall we do with all our money?"

"Buy a library for the use of us all. We will draw lots to see who shall
write first; and if he succeeds, the others can follow in order."

And thus we agreed.

I was rather sorry the lot fell upon me; for I was always bashful, and
never thought much of myself but once. I think my bashfulness was mostly
owing to my knowing myself to be not very good-looking. I believe that I
am not considered a bad-looking old man; indeed, people who remember me
at twenty-five say that I have grown handsome every year since.

I do not intend giving a description of myself at that age, but shall
confine myself principally to what was suggested by my friend, as above
mentioned,--namely, how I won my wife.

It is astonishing how a man may be deluded. Knowing, as I did, just the
facts in the case, regarding my face and figure, yet the last day of the
year 1817 found me in the full belief that I was quite a good-looking
and every way a desirable young man. This was the third article in my
creed. The second was, that Eleanor Sherman loved me; and the first,
that I loved her. It is curious how I became settled in the third
article by means of the second.

I had spent hours before my looking-glass, trying to make it give in
that I was good-looking. But never was a glass so set in its way. In
vain I used my best arguments, pleaded before it hour after hour,
re-brushed my hair, re-tied my cravat, smiled, bowed, and so forth, and
so forth. "Ill-looking and awkward!" was my only response. At last it
went so far as to intimate that I had, with all the rest, a _conceited_
look. This was not to be borne, and I withdrew in disgust. The
argument should be carried on in my own heart. Pure reasoning only was
trustworthy. Philosophers assured us that our senses were not to be
trusted. How easy and straightforward the mental process! "Eleanor loves
me; therefore I cannot look ill!"

It was on the last day of the year I have mentioned, that, just having,
for the fortieth time, arrived at the above conclusion, I prepared to go
forth upon the most delightful of all possible errands. All day I had
been dwelling upon it, wondering at what hour it would be most proper to
go. At three o'clock, I arrayed myself in my Sunday-clothes. I gave a
parting glance of triumph at my glass, and stepped briskly forth upon
the crispy snow. I met people well wrapped up, with mouth and nose
covered, and saw men leave working to thrash their hands. It must have
been cold, therefore; but I felt none of it.

Her house was half a mile distant. 'T was on a high bank a little back
from the road, of one story in front, and two at the sides. It was what
was called a single house; the front showed only two windows, with a
door near the corner. The sides were painted yellow, the front white,
with a green door. There was an orchard behind, and two poplar-trees
before it. The pathway up the bank was sprinkled with ashes. I had
frequently been as far as the door with her, evenings when I waited upon
her home; but I had never before approached the house by daylight,--that
is, any nearer than the road. I had never _said_ anything; it wasn't
time; but I had given her several little things, and had tried to be her
beau every way that I knew.

Before I began to notice her, I had never been about much with the
young folks,--partly because I was bashful, and partly because I was so
clumsy-looking. I was more in earnest, therefore, than if I had been
in the habit of running after the girls. After I began to like her,
I watched every motion,--at church, at evening meetings, at
singing-school; and a glance from her eye seemed to fall right upon my
heart. She had been very friendly and sociable with me, always thanked
me very prettily for what little trifles I gave her, and never refused
my company home. She would put her hand within my arm without a moment's
hesitation, chatting all the while, never seeming in the least to
suspect the shiver of joy which shot through my whole frame from the
little hand upon my coat-sleeve.

I had long been pondering in my mind, in my walks by day and my
lyings-down at night, what should be the next step, what _overt act_
I might commit; for something told me it was not yet time to _say_
anything.

What could have been more fortunate for my wishes, then, than the
project set on foot by the young people, of a grand sleighing-party on
New-Year's evening? They were mostly younger than myself, especially the
girls. Eleanor was but seventeen, I was twenty-three. But I determined
to join this party, and it was to invite Eleanor that I arrayed myself
and set forth, as above mentioned. It was a bold step for a bashful
man,--I mean now the _inviting_ part.

I had thought over, coming along, just what words I should use; but, as
I mounted the bank, I felt the words, ideas, and all, slipping out at
the ends of my fingers. If it had been a thickly settled place, I should
not have thought much about being watched; but, as there was only
one house in sight, I was sure that not a motion was lost, that my
proceedings would be duly reported, and discussed by the whole village.
All these considerations rendered my situation upon the stone step at
the front-door very peculiar.

I knew the family were in the back part of the house; for the shutters
of the front-room were tightly closed, as, indeed, they always were,
except on grand occasions. Nevertheless, knocking at the front-door
seemed the right thing to do, and I did it. With a terrible choking in
my throat, and wondering all the while _who_ would come to open, I did
it. I knocked three times. Nobody came. Peddlers, I had observed in like
cases, opened the outside door and knocked at the inner. I tried this
with no better result. I then ventured to open the inner door softly,
and with feelings of awe I stood alone in the spare-room.

By the light which streamed in through the holes in the tops of the
shutters I distinguished the green painted chairs backed up stiffly
against the wall, the striped homespun carpet, andirons crossed in the
fireplace, with shovel and tongs to match, the big Bible on the table
under the glass, a _waxwork_ on the high mahogany desk in the corner,
and a few shells and other ornaments upon the mantelshelf.

The terrible order and gloom oppressed me. I felt that it was no slight
thing to venture thus unbidden into the spare-room,--the room set apart
from common uses, and opened only on great occasions: evening-meetings,
weddings, or funerals. But, in the midst of all my tribulation, one
other thought would come,--I don't exactly like to tell it, but then
I believe I promised to keep nothing back;--well, then, if I must,--I
thought that this spare-room was the place where Eleanor would make up
the fire, when--when I was far enough along to come regularly every
Sunday night. With that thought my courage revived. I heard voices in
the next room, the pounding of a flat-iron, and a frequent step across
the floor. I gave a loud rap. The door opened, and Eleanor herself
appeared. She had on a spotted calico gown, with a string of gold beads
around her neck. She held in her hand a piece of fan coral. I felt
myself turning all colors, stammered, hesitated, and believed in my
heart that she would think me a fool. Very likely she did; for I really
suppose that she never, till then, thought that I _meant anything_.

She contrived, however, to pick out my meaning from the midst of the odd
words and parts of sentences offered her, and replied that she would let
me know that evening. As she did not invite me to the kitchen, the only
thing left me to do was to say good-afternoon and depart. I don't know
which were the queerest,--my feelings in going up or in coming down the
bank.

When fairly in the road, happening to glance back at the house, I saw
that one half of a shutter was open, and that a man was watching me. He
drew back before I could recognize him. That evening was singing-school.
That was why I went to invite Eleanor in the afternoon. I was afraid
some other fellow would ask her before school was out.

When I got there, I found all the young folks gathered about the stove.
Something was going on. I pressed in, and found Harry Harlow. He had
been gone a year at sea, and had arrived that forenoon in the stage from
Boston. They were all listening to his wonderful stories.

When school was over, I stepped up close to Eleanor and offered my arm.
She drew back a little, and handed me a small package. Harry stepped up
on the other side. She took his arm, and they went off slowly together.
I stood still a moment to watch them. When they turned the corner, I
went off alone. Confounded, wonder-struck, I plunged on through the
snow-drifts, seeing, feeling, knowing nothing but the package in my
hand. I found mother sitting by the fire. She and I lived together,--she
and I, and that was all. I knew I should find her with her little round
table drawn up to the fire, her work laid aside, and the Bible open. She
never went to bed with me out.

I didn't want to tell her. I wouldn't for the world, if I could have had
the opening of my package all to myself. She asked me if I had fastened
the back-door. I sat down by the fire and slowly undid the string. A
silver thimble fell on the bricks. There was also an artificial flower
made of feathers, a copy of verses headed "To a Pair of Bright Eyes,"
cut from the county newspaper, a cherry-colored neck-ribbon, a
smelling-bottle, and, at the bottom, a note. I knew well enough what was
in the note.

"MR. ALLEN,--

"I must decline your invitation to the sleigh-ride; and I hope you will
not be offended, if I ask you not to go about with me any more. I think
you are a very good young man, and, as an acquaintance, I like you very
much.

"Respectfully yours,

"ELEANOR SHERMAN.

"P.S.--With this note you will find the things you have given me."

I took the iron tongs which stood near, picked up the thimble and
dropped it into the midst of the hot coals, then the flower, then the
verses, then the ribbon, then the smelling-bottle, and would gladly have
added myself.

My mother and I were everything to each other. We two were all that
remained of a large family. I had always confided in her; but still I
was sorry that I had opened the package there. I might have taken it to
my chamber. But then she would have known, she _must_ have known from my
manner, that something was wrong with me. I think, on the whole, I was
glad to have her know the worst. I knew that my mother worshipped me;
but she was not one of those who let their feelings be seen on common
occasions. I gave her the note, and no more was needed. She tried to
comfort me, as mothers will; but I would not be comforted. It was my
first great heart-trouble, and I was weighed down beneath it. She drew
me towards her, I leaned my head upon her shoulder, and was not ashamed
that she knew of the hot tears upon my cheeks. At last I heard her
murmuring softly,--

"Oh, what shall I do? He is all I have, and he is so miserable! How can
I bear his sorrow?"

I think it was the recollection of these words which induced me
afterwards to hide my feelings, that she might not suffer on my account.

The next day was clear and bright. The sleighing was perfect. I was
miserable. I had not slept. I could not eat. I dared not go into the
village to encounter the jokes which I was certain awaited me there.
Early in the evening, just as the moon rose, I took my stand behind a
clump of trees, half-way up a hill, where I knew the sleighs must pass.

There I stood, feeling neither cold nor weariness, waiting, watching,
listening for the sleigh-bells. At last I heard them, first faintly,
then louder and louder, until they reached the bottom of the hill.
Slowly they came up, passing, one after another, by my hiding-place.
There were ten sleighs in all. She and Harry were in the fourth. The
moon shone full in their faces, and his looked just as I had often felt;
but I had never dared to show it as Harry did. I felt sure that he would
kiss her. A blue coverlet was wrapped around them, and he was tucking it
in on her side. The hill was steep just there, so that they were obliged
to move quite slowly. They were talking earnestly, and I heard my name.
I was not sure at first; but afterwards I knew.

"I never thought of his being in earnest before. He is a great deal
older than I, and I never thought that anybody so homely and awkward as
he could suppose"--

"Jingle, jingle, jingle," and that was all I heard. I held myself still,
watched the sleighs disappear, one after another, over the brow of the
hill, listened till the last note of the last bell was lost in the
distance, then turned and ran.

I ran as if I had left my misery behind, and every step were taking me
farther from it. But when I reached home, there it was, aching, aching
in my heart, just the same as before. And there it stayed. Even now, I
can hardly bear to think of those terrible days and nights. But for my
mother's sake I tried to seem cheerful, though I no longer went about
with the young folks. I applied myself closely to my business, sawed my
mother's wood for exercise, learned to paint, and read novels and poetry
for amusement.

Thus time passed on. The little boys began to call themselves young men,
and me an old _bach_; and into this character I contentedly settled
down. My wild oats, of which I had had but scant measure, I considered
sown. My sense of my own ill-looks became morbid. I hardly looked at a
female except my mother, lest she'd think that I "_could suppose_."
The old set were mostly married off. Eleanor married the young sailor.
People spoke of her as being high-tempered, as being extravagant,
spending in fine clothes the money he earned at the risk of his life. I
don't know that it made any difference to my feelings. It might. At the
time she turned me off, I think I should have married her, knowing she
had those faults. But she removed to the city, and by degrees time and
absence wore off the edge of my grief. My mother lost part of her little
property, and I was obliged to exert myself that she might miss none of
her accustomed comforts. She was a good mother, thoughtful and tender,
sympathizing not only in my troubles, but in my every-day pursuits, my
work, my books, my paintings.

When I was about thirty, Jane Wood came to live near us. Her mother and
young sister came with her. They rented a small house just across the
next field from us. Although ours, therefore, might have been considered
an infected neighborhood, yet I never supposed myself in the slightest
danger, because I had had the disease. Nevertheless, having an abiding
sense of my own ugliness, I should not have ventured into the immediate
presence of the Woods, _except_ on works of necessity and mercy.

The younger sister was taken very ill with the typhus fever. It was
customary, in our village, for the neighbors, in such cases, to be very
helpful. Mother was with them day and night, and, when she could not go
herself, used to send me to see if they wanted anything, for they had no
men-folks.

I seldom saw Jane, and when I did, I never looked at her. I mean, I did
not look her full in the face. It was to her mother that I made all my
offers of assistance.

This habit of shunning the society of all young females, and
particularly of the Wood girls, was by no means occasioned by any fears
in regard to my own safety. Far from it. I considered myself as one set
apart from all mankind,--set apart, and fenced in, by my own personal
disadvantages. The thought of my caring for a girl, or of being cared
for by a girl, never even occurred to me. "Taboo," so far as I was
concerned, was written upon them all. The marriage state I saw from afar
off. Beautiful and bright it looked in the distance, like the Promised
Land to true believers. Some visions I beheld of its beautiful angels
walking in shining robes; strains of its sweet melody were sometimes
wafted across the distance; but I might never enter there. It was no
land of promise to me. A gulf, dark and impassable, lay between. And
beside all this, as I have already intimated, I considered myself out of
danger. My life's lesson had been learned. I knew it by heart. What more
could be expected of me?

But, after all, we can't go right against our natures; and it is not the
nature of man to look upon the youthful and the elderly female exactly
in the same light. The feelings with which they are approached are
essentially different, whether he who approaches be seventeen or
seventy. Thus, in conversing with the old lady Wood, I was quite at
my ease. When the invalid began to get well, I often carried her nice
little messes, which my mother prepared, and was generally lucky enough
to find Mrs. Wood,--for I always went in at the back-door. She asked me,
one day, if I could lend Ellen something to read,--for she was then just
about well enough to amuse herself with a book, but not strong enough to
work. Now I always had (so my mother said) a kind and obliging way with
me, and had, besides, a great pride in my library. I was delighted that
anybody wanted to read my books, and hurried home to make a selection.

That very afternoon, I took over an armful. Nobody was in the kitchen;
so I sat down to wait. The door of the little keeping-room was open, and
I knew by their voices that some great discussion was going on. I tipped
over a cricket to make them aware of my presence. The door was opened
wide, and Mrs. Wood appeared.

"Now here is Mr. Allen," she exclaimed. "Let us get his opinion."

Then she took me in, where they were holding solemn council over a straw
bonnet and various colored ribbons. She introduced me to Ellen, whom I
had never before met. She was a merry-looking, black-eyed maiden, and
the roses were already blooming out again upon her cheeks. She was very
young,--not more than fifteen or sixteen.

"Now, Mr. Allen," said Jane, (she was not so bashful to me as I was to
her,) "let us have your opinion upon these trimmings. Remember, though,
that pink and blue can't go together."

She turned her face full upon me, and I looked straight into her eyes.
I really believe it was the first time I had done so. They were
beautifully blue, with long dark lashes. She had been a little excited
by the discussion, and her cheeks were like two roses. A strange
boldness came over me.

"How can I remember that," I answered, "when I see in your face that
pink and blue _do_ go together?"

Never, till within a few years, could I account for this sudden
boldness. I have now no doubt that I spoke by what spiritualists call
"impression." We were all surprised, and I most of all. Jane laughed,
and looked pinker than before. She would as soon have expected a
compliment from the town pump, and I felt it.

I knew nothing of bonnets, but I had studied painting, and was a judge
of colors. I made a selection, and could see that they were again
surprised at my good taste. I then offered my books, spoke of the
different authors, turned to what I thought might particularly please
them, and, before I knew it, was all aglow with the unusual excitement
of conversation. I saw that they were not without cultivation, and that
they had a quick appreciation of literary merit.

And thus an acquaintance commenced. I called often, for it seemed a
pleasant thing to do. As my excuse, I took with me my books, papers,
and all the new publications which reached me. I always thought they
appeared very glad to see me.

Being strangers in the place, they saw but little company, and it seemed
to be nothing more than my duty to call in now and then in a neighborly
way. I talked quite easily; for among books I felt at home. They talked
easily, too; for they (I say it in no ill-natured way) were women. They
began to consider my frequent calling as a matter of course, and always
smiled upon me when I entered. I felt that they congratulated themselves
upon finding me out. They had penetrated the ice, and found open sea
beyond. I speak of it in this way, because I afterwards overheard Ellen
joking her sister about discovering the Northwest Passage to my heart.

This was in the fall of the year, when the evenings were getting quite
long. They were fond of reading, but had not much time for it. I was
fond of reading, and had many long evenings at my disposal. It followed,
therefore, that I read aloud, while they worked. With the "Pink and
Blue" just opposite, I read evening after evening. At first I used to
look up frequently, to see how such and such a passage would strike her;
but one evening Ellen asked me, in a laughing, half-saucy sort of way,
why I didn't look at _her_ sometimes to see how _she_ liked things. This
made me color up; and Jane colored up, too. After that I kept my eyes on
my book; but I always knew when she stopped her work and raised her
head at the interesting parts, and always hoped she didn't see the red
flushes spreading over my face, and always wished, too, that she would
look away,--for, somehow, my voice would not go on smoothly.

Those red flushes were to myself most mysterious. Nevertheless, they
continued, and even appeared to be on the increase. At first, I felt
them only while reading; then, upon entering the room; and at last
they began to come before I got across the field. Still I felt no real
uneasiness, but, on the contrary, was glad I could be of so much use to
the family. Never before was the want of men-folks felt so little by a
family of women-folks. I did errands, split kindling, dug "tracks," (_i.
e._, paths in the snow,) and glued broken furniture.

I always thought of Jane as "Pink and Blue." Sometimes I thought from
her manner that she would a little rather I wouldn't come so often. I
thought she didn't look up at me so pleasantly as she used to at first,
and seemed a little stiff; but, as I had a majority in my favor, I
continued my visits. I always had one good look at her when I said
good-night; but it made the red come, so that I had to hurry out before
she saw. It seemed to me that her cheeks then looked pinker than ever,
and the two colors, pink and blue, seemed to mingle and float before my
eyes all the way home. "Pink and blue," "pink and blue." How those two
little words kept running in my head, and, I began to fear, in my heart
too!--for no sooner would I close my eyes at night than those delicate
pink cheeks and blue eyes would appear before me. They haunted my
dreams, and were all ready to greet me at waking.

I was completely puzzled. It reminded me of old times. Seemed just like
being in love again. Could it be possible that I was liable to a second
attack?

One night I took a new book and hurried across the field to the Woods',
for I never was easy till I saw "Pink and Blue" face to face; and
then,--why, then, I was not at all easy. I felt the red flushes coming
long before I reached the house. As soon as I entered the room, I felt
that she was missing. I must have looked blank; for Mrs. Wood began
to explain immediately, that Jane was not well, and had gone to
bed;--nothing serious; but she had thought it better for her not to
sit up. I remained and read as usual, but, as it seemed to me, to bare
walls. I had become so accustomed to reading with "Pink and Blue" just
opposite, to watching for the dropping of her work and the raising of
her eyes to my face, that I really seemed on this occasion to be reading
to no purpose whatever. I went home earlier than usual, very sober and
very full of thought. My mother noticed it, and inquired if they were
well at Mrs. Wood's. So I told her about Jane.

That night my eyes were fully opened. I was in love. Yes, the old
disease was upon me, and my last state was worse than my first,--just as
much so as Jane was superior to Eleanor. The discovery threw me into
the greatest distress. Hour after hour I walked the floor, in my own
chamber, trying to reason the love from my heart,--but in vain; and at
length, tossing myself on the bed, I almost cursed the hour in which I
first saw the Woods. I called myself fool, dolt, idiot, for thus running
my head a second time into the noose. It may seem strange, but the
thought that she might possibly care for me never once occurred to my
mind. Eleanor's words in the sleigh still rang in my ears: "I never
thought that anybody so homely and awkward could suppose"--No, I must
not "suppose." Once, in the midst of it all, I calmed down, took a
light, and, very deliberately walking to the glass, took a complete view
of my face and figure,--but with no other effect than to settle me more
firmly in my wretchedness. Towards morning I grew calmer, and resolved
to look composedly upon my condition, and decide what should be done.

While I was considering whether or not to continue my visits at the
Woods', I fell asleep just where I had thrown myself, outside the bed,
in overcoat and boots. I dreamed of seeing "Pink and Blue" carried off
by some horrid monster,--which, upon examination, proved to be myself.
The sun shining in my face woke me, and I remembered that I had decided
upon nothing. The best thing seemed to be to snap off the acquaintance
and quit the place. But then I could not leave my mother. No, I must
keep where I was,--and if I kept where I was, I must keep on at the
Woods',--and if I kept on at the Woods', I should keep on feeling just
as I did, and perhaps--more so. I resolved, finally, to remain where
I was, and to take no abrupt step, (which might cause remark,) but
to break off my visits gradually. The first week, I could skip one
night,--the next, two,--and so on,--using my own judgment about tapering
off the acquaintance gradually and gracefully to an imperceptible point.
The way appearing plain at last, how that _unloving_ might be made easy,
I assumed a cheerful air, and went down to breakfast. My mother looked
up rather anxiously at my entrance; but her anxiety evidently vanished
at sight of my face.

It did not seem to me quite right to forsake the Woods that morning; for
some snow had fallen during the night, and I felt it incumbent upon me
to dig somewhat about the doors. With my trousers tucked into my boots,
I trod a new path across the field. It would have seemed strange not to
go in; so I went in and warmed my feet at the kitchen-fire. Only Mrs.
Wood was there; but I made no inquiries. Not knowing what to say, I rose
to go; but, just at that minute, the mischievous Ellen came running out
of the keeping-room and wanted to know where I was going. Why didn't I
come in and see Jane? So I went in to see Jane, saying my prayers, as I
went,--that is, praying that I might not grow foolish again. But I did.
I don't believe any man could have helped it. She was reclining upon
a couch which was drawn towards the fire. I sat down as far from that
couch as the size of the room would allow. She looked pale and really
ill, but raised her blue eyes when she said good-morning; and then--the
hot flushes began to come. She looked red, too, and I thought she had
a settled fever. I wanted to say something, but didn't know what. Some
things seemed too warm, others too cold. At last I thought,--"Why,
_anybody_ can say to anybody, 'How do you do?'" So I said,--

"Miss Wood, how do you do, this morning?"

She looked up, surprised; for I tried hard to stiffen my words, and had
succeeded admirably.

"Not very unwell, I thank you, Sir," she replied; but I knew she was
worse than the night before. My situation grew unbearable, and I rose to
go.

"Mr. Allen, what do you think about Jane?" said Ellen. "You know about
sickness, don't you? Come, feel her pulse, and see if she will have a
fever." And she drew me towards the lounge.

My heart was in my throat, and my face was on fire. Jane flushed up, and
I thought she was offended at my presumption. What could I do? Ellen
held out to me the little soft hand; but I dared not touch it, unless I
asked her first.

"Miss Wood," I asked, "shall I mind Ellen?"

"Of course you will," exclaimed Ellen. "Tell him yes, Jane."

Then Jane smiled and said,--

"Yes, if he is willing."

And I took her wrist in my thumb and finger. The pulse was quick and the
skin dry and hot. I think I would have given a year's existence to clasp
that hand between my own, and to stroke down her hair. I hardly knew how
I didn't do it; and the fear that I should made me drop her arm in
a hurry, as if it had burned my fingers. Ellen stared. I bade them
good-morning abruptly, and left the room and the house. "This, then," I
thought, as I strode along towards the village, "is the beginning of the
ending!"

That evening, I felt in duty bound to go, as a neighbor, to inquire for
the sick. I went, but found no one below. When Ellen came down, she said
that Jane was quite ill. I remained in the keeping-room all the evening,
mostly alone, asked if I could do anything for them, and obtained some
commissions for the next day at the village.

Jane's illness, though long, was not dangerous,--at least, not to her.
To me it was most perilous, particularly the convalescence; for then I
could be of so much use to her! The days were long and spring-like. Wild
flowers appeared. She liked them, and I managed that she should never be
without a bunch of them. She liked paintings, and I brought over my own
portfolio. She must have wondered at the number of violets and roses
therein. The readings went on and seemed more delicious than ever. I
owned a horse and chaise, and for a whole week debated whether it would
be safe for me to take her to drive. But I didn't; for I should have
been obliged to hand her in, to help her out, and to sit close beside
her all alone. All that could never be done without my betraying myself.
But she got well without any drives; and by the latter part of April,
when the evenings had become very short, I thought it high time to begin
to skip one. I began on Monday. I kept away all day, all the evening,
and all the next day. Tuesday evening, just before dark, I took the path
across the field. The two girls were at work making a flower-garden.
"Pink and Blue" had a spade, and was actually spading up the ground. I
caught it from her hand so quickly that she looked up almost frightened.
Her face was flushed with exercise; but her blue eyes looked tired. How
I reproached myself for not coming sooner! At dark, I went in with them.
We took our accustomed seats, and I read. "Paradise regained" was what I
kept thinking of. Once, when I moved my seat, that I might be directly
opposite Jane, who was lying on the coach, I thought I saw Ellen and her
mother exchange glances. I was suspected, then,--and with all the pains
I had taken, too. This rather upset me; and what with my joy at being
with Jane, my exertions to hide it, and my mortification at being
discovered, my reading, I fear, was far from satisfactory.

The next morning I went early to the flower-garden, and, before anybody
was stirring, had it all hoed and raked over, so that no more hard work
could be done there. I didn't go in. Thursday night I went again, and
again Saturday night. The next week I skipped two evenings, and the
next, three, and flattered myself I was doing bravely. Jane never asked
me why I came so seldom, but Ellen did frequently; and I always replied
that I was very busy. Those were truly days of suffering. Nevertheless,
having formed my resolution, I determined to abide by it. God only knew
what it cost me. On the beautiful May mornings, and during the long
"after tea," which always comes into country-life, I could watch them,
watch her, from my window, while the planting, watering, and weeding
went on in the flower-garden. I saw them go in at dark, saw the light
appear in the keeping-room, and fancied them sitting at their work,
wondering, perhaps, that nobody came to read to them.

One day, when I had not been there for three days and nights, I
received, while at work in my shop, a sudden summons from home. My
mother, the little boy said, was very sick. I hurried home in great
agitation. I could not bear the thought that sickness or death should
reach my dear mother. Mrs. Wood met me at the door, to say that a
physician had been sent for, but that my mother was relieved and there
was no immediate danger. I hurried to her chamber and found--Jane by
her bedside. For all my anxiety about my mother, I felt the hot flush
spreading over my face. It seemed so good to see her taking care of my
mother! In my agitation, I caught hold of her hand and spoke before I
thought.

"Oh, Jane," I whispered, "I am so glad you are here!"

Her face turned as red as fire. I thought she was angry at my boldness,
or, perhaps, because I called her Jane.

"Excuse me," said I. "I am so agitated about mother that I hardly know
what I am about."

When the doctor came, he gave hopes that my mother would recover; but
she never did. She suffered little, but grew weaker and weaker every
day. Jane was with her day and night; for my mother liked her about her
bed better than anybody. Oh, what a strange two weeks were those! My
mother was so much to me, how could I give her up? She was the only
person on earth who cared for me, and she must die! Yet side by side in
my heart with this great grief was the great joy of living, day after
day, night after night, under the same roof with Jane. By necessity
thrown constantly with her, feeling bound to see that she, too, did not
get sick, with watching and weariness,--yet feeling myself obliged to
measure my words, to keep up an unnatural stiffness, lest I should break
down, and she know all my weakness!

At last all was over,--my mother was dead. It is of no use,--I never can
put into words the frenzied state of my feelings at that time. I had not
even the poor comfort of grieving like other people. I ground my teeth
and almost cursed myself, when the feeling would come that sorrow for
my mother's death was mingled with regrets that there was no longer any
excuse for my remaining in the same neighborhood with Jane. I reproached
myself with having made my mother's death-bed a place of happiness; for
my conscience told me that those two weeks had been, in one sense, the
happiest of my life.

By what I then experienced I knew that our connection must be broken off
entirely. Half-way work had already been tried too long. Sitting by the
dead body of my mother, gazing upon that face which, ever since I could
remember, had reflected my own joys and sorrows, I resolved to decide
once for all upon my future course. I was without a single tie. In all
the wide world, not a person cared whether I lived or died. One part of
the wide world, then, was as good for me as another. There was but one
little spot where I must not remain; all the rest was free to me. I took
the map of the world. I was a little past thirty, healthy, and should
probably, accidents excepted, live out the time allotted to man. I
divided the land mapped out before me into fifteen portions. I would
live two years in each; then, being an old man, I would gradually draw
nearer to this forbidden "little spot," inquire what had become of the
Woods, and settle down in the same little house, patiently to await my
summons. My future life being thus all mapped out, I arose with calmness
to perform various little duties which yet remained to be done before
the funeral could take place.

Beautiful flowers were in the room; a few white ones were at my mother's
breast. Jane brought them. She had done everything, and I had not even
thanked her. How could I, in that stiff way I had adopted towards her?

My father was buried beneath an elm-tree, at the farthest corner of the
garden. I had my mother laid by his side. When the funeral was over,
Mrs. Wood and her daughters remained at the house to arrange matters
somewhat, and to give directions to the young servant, who was now my
only housekeeper. At one time I was left alone with Jane; the others
were up stairs. Feeling that any emotion on my part might reasonably be
attributed to my affliction, I resolved to thank her for her kindness. I
rushed suddenly up to her, and, seizing her hand, pressed it between my
own.

"I want to thank you, Jane," I began, "but--I cannot."

And I could not, for I trembled all over, and something choked me so
that I could not speak more.

"Oh, don't, Mr. Allen!" she said; and the tone in which she uttered the
words startled me.

It seemed as if they came from the very depths of her being. Feeling
that I could not control myself, I rushed out and gained my own chamber.
What passed there between myself and my great affliction can never be
told.

In a week's time all was ready for my departure. I gave away part of the
furniture to some poor relations of my father's. My mother's clothing
and the silver spoons, which were marked with her maiden name, I locked
up in a trunk, and asked Mrs. Wood to take care of it. She inquired
where I was going, and I said I didn't know. I didn't, for I was not to
decide until I reached Boston. I think she thought my mind was impaired
by grief, and it was. I spent the last evening there. They knew I was to
start the next forenoon in the stage, and they really seemed very sober.
No reading was thought of. Jane had her knitting-work, and Mrs. Wood
busied herself about her mending. The witchy little Ellen was quite
serious. She sat in a low chair by the fire, sometimes stirring up the
coals and sometimes the conversation. Jane appeared restless. I feared
she was overwearied with watching and her long attendance on my mother,
for her face was pale and she had a headache. She left the room several
times. I felt uneasy while she was out; but no less so when she came
back,--for there was a strange look about her eyes.

At last I summoned all my courage and rose to depart.

"I will not say good-bye," I said, in a strange, hollow voice; "I will
only shake hands, and bid you good-night."

I shook hands with them all,--Jane last. Her hand was as cold as clay. I
dared not try to speak, but rushed abruptly from the house. Another long
night of misery!

When I judged, from the sounds below stairs, that my little servant had
breakfast ready, I went down and forced myself to eat; for I was feeling
deathly faint, and knew I needed food. I gave directions for the
disposition of some remaining articles, and for closing the house, then
walked rapidly towards the public-house in the village, where my trunks
had already been carried. I was very glad that I should not have to pass
the Woods'. I saw the girls out in their garden just before I left, and
took a last long look, but was sorry I did; it did me no good.

I was to go to Boston in the stage, and then take a vessel to New York,
whence I might sail for any part of the world. When I arrived at the
tavern, the Boston stage was just in, and the driver handed me a letter.
It was from the mate of the vessel, saying that his sailing would be
delayed two days, and requesting me to take a message from him to his
family, who lived in a small village six miles back from what was called
the stage-road. I went on horseback, performed my errand, dined with the
family, and returned at dark to the inn. After supper, it occurred to me
to go to the Woods' and surprise them. I wanted to see just what they
were doing, and just how they looked,--just how _she_ looked. But a
moment's reflection convinced me that I had much better not. But be
quiet I could not, and I strolled out of the back-door of the inn, and
so into a wide field behind. There was a moon, but swift dark clouds
were flying across it, causing alternate light and shadow. I strayed
on through field and meadow, hardly knowing whither I went, yet with a
half-consciousness that I should find myself at the end by my mother's
grave. I felt, therefore, no surprise when I saw that I was approaching,
through a field at the back of my garden, the old elm-tree. As I drew
near the grave, the moon, appearing from behind a cloud, showed me the
form of a woman leaning against the tree. She wore no bonnet,--nothing
but a shawl thrown over her head. Her face was turned from me, but I
knew those features, even in the indistinct moonlight, and my heart gave
a sudden leap, as I pressed eagerly forward. She turned in affright,
half screamed, half ran, then, recognizing me, remained still as a
statue.

"Mr. Allen, you here? I thought you were gone," she said, at last.

"Jane, you here?" said I. "You ought not; the night is damp; you will
get sick."

Nevertheless, I went on talking, told what had detained me, described
my journey and visit, and inquired after her family, as if I had been a
month absent. I never talked so easily before; for I knew she was not
looking in my face, and forgot how my voice might betray me. I spoke of
my mother, of how much she was to me, of my utter loneliness, and even
of my plans for the future.

"But I am keeping you too long," I exclaimed, at last; "this evening air
is bad; you must go home."

I walked along with her, up through the garden, and along the road
towards her house. I did not offer my arm, for I dared not trust myself
so near. The evening wind was cool, and I took off my hat to let it blow
upon my forehead, for my head was hot and my brain in a whirl. We came
to a stop at the gate, beneath an apple-tree, then in full bloom. I
think now that my mind at that time was not--exactly sound. The severe
mental discipline which I had forced upon myself, the long striving to
subdue the strongest feelings of a man's heart, together with my real
heart-grief at my mother's death, were enough, certainly, to craze any
one. I _was_ crazy; for I only meant to say "Good-bye," but I said,
"Good-bye, Jane; I would give the world to stay, but I must go." I
thought I was going to take her hand; but, instead of that, I took her
face between my own two hands, and turned it up towards mine. First I
kissed her cheeks. "That is for the pink," I said. Then her eyes. "And
that is for the blue. And now I go. You won't care, will you, Jane, that
I kissed you? I shall never trouble you any more; you know you will
never see me again. Good-bye, Jane!"

I grasped her hand tightly and turned away. I thought I was off, but she
did not let go my hand. I paused, as if to hear what she had to say. She
had hitherto spoken but little; she had no need, for I had talked with
all the rapidity of insanity. She tried to speak now, but her voice was
husky, and she almost whispered.

"Why do you go?" she asked.

"Because I _must_, Jane," I replied. "I _must_ go."

"And _why_ must you go?" she asked.

"Oh, Jane, don't ask me why I must go; you wouldn't, if you knew"--

There I stopped. She spoke again. There was a strange tone in her voice,
and I could feel that she was trembling all over.

"_Don't_ go, Henry."

Never before had she called me Henry, and this, together with her strong
emotion and the desire she expressed for me to stay, shot a bright
thought of joy through my soul. It was the very first moment that I
had entertained the possibility of her caring for me. I seemed another
being. Strange thoughts flashed like lightning across my mind. My
resolve was taken.

"Who cares whether I go or stay?" I asked.

"_I_ care," said she.

I took both her hands in mine, and, looking full in her face, said, in a
low voice,--

"Jane, _how much_ do you care?"

"A whole heart full," she replied, in a voice as low and as earnest as
my own.

She was leaning on the fence; I leaned back beside her, for I grew sick
and faint, thinking of the great joy that might be coming.

"Jane," said I, solemnly, "you wouldn't _marry me_, would you?"

"Certainly not," she replied. "How can I, when you have never asked me?"

"Jane," said I, and my voice sounded strange even to myself, "I hope you
are not trifling;--you never would dare, did you know the state I am in,
that I _have_ been in for--oh, so long! But I can't have hidden all my
love. Can't you see how my life almost is hanging upon your answer?
Jane, do you love me, and will you be my wife?"

"Henry," she replied, softly, but firmly, "I _do_ love you. I have loved
you a long, long time, and I shall be proud to be your wife, if--you
think me worthy."

It was more than I could bear. The sleepless nights, the days of almost
entire fasting, together with all my troubles, had been too much for me.
I was weak in body and in mind.

"Oh, Jane!" was all I could say. Then, leaning my head upon her
shoulder, I cried like a child. It didn't seem childish then.

"Oh, but, Henry, I won't, then, if you feel so badly about it," said
she, half laughing. Then, changing her tone, she begged me to become
calm. But in vain. The barriers were broken down, and the tide of
emotion, long suppressed, must gush forth. She evidently came to this
conclusion. She stood quiet and silent, and at last began timidly
stroking my hair. I shall never forget the first touch of her hand upon
my forehead. It soothed me, or else my emotion was spent; for, after a
while, I became quite still.

"Oh, Jane," I whispered, "my sorrow I could bear; but this strange
happiness overwhelms me. Can it be true? Oh, it is a fearful thing to be
so happy! How came you to love me, Jane? You are so beautiful, and I--I
am so"----

"You are so good, Henry!" she exclaimed, earnestly,--"too good for me!
You are a true-hearted, noble soul, worthy the love of any woman. If you
weren't so bashful," she continued, in a lower tone, "I should not say
so much; but--do you suppose nobody is happy but yourself? There is
somebody who scarcely more than an hour ago was weeping bitter tears,
feeling that the greatest joy of her life was gone forever. But now her
joy has returned to her, her heart is glad, she trembles with happiness.
Oh, Henry, 'it is a fearful thing to be so happy!'"

I could not answer; so I drew her close up to me. She was mine now, and
why should I not press her closely to my heart,--that heart so brimful
of love for her? There was a little bench at the foot of the apple-tree,
and there I made her sit down by me and answer the many eager questions
I had to ask. I forgot all about the dampness and the evening air.
She told how her mother had liked me from the first,--how they were
informed, by some few acquaintances they had made in the village, of my
early disappointment, and also of the peculiar state of mind into which
I was thrown by those early troubles; but when she began to love me she
couldn't tell. She had often thought I cared for her,--mentioned the day
when I found her at my mother's bedside, also the day of the funeral;
but so well had I controlled my feelings that she was never sure until
that night.

"I trust you will not think me unmaidenly, Henry," said she, looking
timidly up in my face. "You won't think worse of me, will you, for--for
almost offering myself to you?"

There was but one answer to this, and I failed not to give it. 'Twas a
very earnest answer, and she drew back a little. Her voice grew lower
and lower, while she told how, at my shaking hands the night before, she
almost fainted,--how she longed to say "Stay," but dared not, for I was
so stiff and cold: how could she say, "Don't go, Mr. Allen; please stay
and marry me"?--how she passed a wretched night and day, and walked out
at evening to be alone,--how she felt that she could go nowhere but to
my mother's grave,--and, finally, how overwhelmed with joy she was when
I came upon her so suddenly.

All this she told me, speaking softly and slowly, for which I was
thankful; for I liked to feel the sweet words of healing, dropping one
by one upon my heart.

In the midst of our talk, we heard the front-door of the house open.

"They are coming to look for me," said Jane. "You will go in?"

Hand in hand we walked up the pathway. We met Ellen half-way down. She
started with surprise at seeing me.

"Why, Mr. Allen!" she exclaimed, "I thought you a hundred miles off.
Why, Jane, mother was afraid you had fallen down the well."

She tripped gayly into the house.

"Mother!" she called out,--"you sent me for one, and I have brought you
two."

Jane and I walked in hand in hand; for I would not let her go. Her
mother looked surprised, but well pleased.

"Mrs. Wood," said I, "Jane has asked me to stay, and I am going to."

Nothing more was needed; our faces told the rest.

"Now Heaven be praised," she replied, "that we are still to have you
with us! I could not help thinking, that, if you only knew how much we
cared for you, you would not have been in such a hurry to leave us." And
she glanced significantly towards Jane.

The rest of the evening was spent in the most interesting explanations.
I passed the night at the village inn, as I had intended,--passed it,
not in sleep, but in planning and replanning, and in trying to persuade
myself that "Pink and Blue" was my own to keep.

The next day I spent at the Woods'. It was the first really happy day of
my life. In the afternoon, I took a long walk with Jane, through green
lanes, and orchards white and fragrant with blossoms. In the evening,
the family assembled, and we held sweet council together. It was decided
unanimously, that, situated as I was, there was no reason for delaying
the wedding,--that I should repossess myself of the furniture I had
given away, by giving new in exchange, the old being dearer to both Jane
and myself,--and, finally, that our wedding should be very quiet, and
should take place as soon as Jane could be got ready. Through it all I
sat like one in a dream, assenting to everything, for everything seemed
very desirable.

As soon as possible, I reopened my house, and established myself there
with the same little servant. It took Jane about a month to get ready,
and it took me some years to feel wholly my own happiness.

The old house is still standing; but after Mrs. Wood died, and Ellen was
married, we moved into the village; for the railroad came very near us,
cutting right through the path "across the field." I had the bodies of
my father and mother removed to the new cemetery.

My wife has been to me a lifelong blessing, my heart's joy and comfort.
They who have not tried it can never know how much love there is in a
woman's heart. The pink still lingers on her cheek, and her blue eye has
that same expression which so bewitched me in my younger days. The spell
has never been broken. I am an old man and she is an old woman, and,
though I don't do it before folks, lest they call us two old fools, yet,
when I come in and find her all alone, I am free to own that I do hug
and kiss her, and always mean to. If anybody is inclined to laugh, let
him just come and see how beautiful she is.

Our sons are away now, and all our daughters are married but one. I'm
glad they haven't taken her,--she looks so much as her mother did when I
first knew her. Her name is Jane Wood Allen. She goes in the village by
the name of Jennie Allen; but I like Jane better,--Jane Wood.

That is a true account of "How I won my wife."



POMEGRANATE-FLOWERS.


  The street was narrow, close, and dark,
  And flanked with antique masonry,
  The shelving eaves left for an ark
  But one long strip of summer sky.
  But one long line to bless the eye--
  The thin white cloud lay not so high,
  Only some brown bird, skimming nigh,
  From wings whence all the dew was dry
  Shook down a dream of forest scents,
  Of odorous blooms and sweet contents,
  Upon the weary passers-by.

  Ah, few but haggard brows had part
  Below that street's uneven crown,
  And there the murmurs of the mart
  Swarmed faint as hums of drowsy noon.
  With voices chiming in quaint tune
  From sun-soaked hulls long wharves adown,
  The singing sailors rough and brown
  Won far melodious renown,
  Here, listening children ceasing play,
  And mothers sad their well-a-way,
  In this old breezy sea-board town.

  Ablaze on distant banks she knew,
  Spreading their bowls to catch the sun,
  Magnificent Dutch tulips grew
  With pompous color overrun.
  By light and snow from heaven won
  Their misty web azaleas spun;
  Low lilies pale as any nun,
  Their pensile bells rang one by one;
  And spicing all the summer air
  Gold honeysuckles everywhere
  Their trumpets blew in unison.

  Than where blood-cored carnations stood
  She fancied richer hues might be,
  Scents rarer than the purple hood
  Curled over in the fleur-de-lis.
  Small skill in learned names had she,
  Yet whatso wealth of land or sea
  Had ever stored her memory,
  She decked its varied imagery
  Where, in the highest of the row
  Upon a sill more white than snow,
  She nourished a pomegranate-tree.

  Some lover from a foreign clime,
  Some roving gallant of the main,
  Had brought it on a gay spring-time,
  And told her of the nacar stain
  The thing would wear when bloomed again.
  Therefore all garden growths in vain
  Their glowing ranks swept through her brain,
  The plant was knit by subtile chain
  To all the balm of Southern zones,
  The incenses of Eastern thrones,
  The tinkling hem of Aaron's train.

  The almond shaking in the sun
  On some high place ere day begin,
  Where winds of myrrh and cinnamon
  Between the tossing plumes have been,
  It called before her, and its kin
  The fragrant savage balaustine
  Grown from the ruined ravelin
  That tawny leopards couch them in;
  But this, if rolling in from seas
  It only caught the salt-fumed breeze,
  Would have a grace they might not win.

  And for the fruit that it should bring,
  One globe she pictured, bright and near,
  Crimson, and throughly perfuming
  All airs that brush its shining sphere.
  In its translucent atmosphere
  Afrite and Princess reappear,--
  Through painted panes the scattered spear
  Of sunrise scarce so warm and clear,--
  And pulped with such a golden juice,
  Ambrosial, that one cannot choose
  But find the thought most sumptuous cheer.

  Of all fair women she was queen,
  And all her beauty, late and soon,
  O'ercame you like the mellow sheen
  Of some serene autumnal noon.
  Her presence like a sweetest tune
  Accorded all your thoughts in one.
  Than last year's alder-tufts in June
  Browner, yet lustrous as a moon
  Her eyes glowed on you, and her hair
  With such an air as princes wear
  She trimmed black-braided in a crown.

  A perfect peace prepared her days,
  Few were her wants and small her care,
  No weary thoughts perplexed her ways,
  She hardly knew if she were fair.

  Bent lightly at her needle there
  In that small room stair over stair,
  All fancies blithe and debonair
  She deftly wrought on fabrics rare,
  All clustered moss, all drifting snow,
  All trailing vines, all flowers that blow,
  Her daedal fingers laid them bare.

  Still at the slowly spreading leaves
  She glanced up ever and anon,
  If yet the shadow of the eaves
  Had paled the dark gloss they put on.
  But while her smile like sunlight shone,
  The life danced to such blossom blown
  That all the roses ever known,
  Blanche of Provence, Noisette, or Yonne,
  Wore no such tint as this pale streak
  That damasked half the rounding cheek
  Of each bud great to bursting grown.

  And when the perfect flower lay free,
  Like some great moth whose gorgeous wings
  Fan o'er the husk unconsciously,
  Silken, in airy balancings,--
  She saw all gay dishevellings
  Of fairy flags, whose revellings
  Illumine night's enchanted rings.
  So royal red no blood of kings
  She thought, and Summer in the room
  Sealed her escutcheon on their bloom,
  In the glad girl's imaginings.

  Now, said she, in the heart of the woods
  The sweet south-winds assert their power,
  And blow apart the snowy snoods
  Of trilliums in their thrice-green bower.
  Now all the swamps are flushed with dower
  Of viscid pink, where, hour by hour,
  The bees swim amorous, and a shower
  Reddens the stream where cardinals tower.
  Far lost in fern of fragrant stir
  Her fancies roam, for unto her
  All Nature came in this one flower.

  Sometimes she set it on the ledge
  That it might not be quite forlorn
  Of wind and sky, where o'er the edge,
  Some gaudy petal, slowly borne,
  Fluttered to earth in careless scorn,
  Caught, for a fallen piece of morn
  From kindling vapors loosely shorn,
  By urchins ragged and wayworn,
  Who saw, high on the stone embossed,
  A laughing face, a hand that tossed
  A prodigal spray just freshly torn.

  What wizard hints across them fleet,--
  These heirs of all the town's thick sin,
  Swift gypsies of the tortuous street,
  With childhood yet on cheek and chin!
  What voices dropping through the din
  An airy murmuring begin,--
  These floating flakes, so fine and thin,
  Were they and rock-laid earth akin?
  Some woman of the gods was she,
  The generous maiden in her glee?
  And did whole forests grow within?

  A tissue rare as the hoar-frost,
  White as the mists spring dawns condemn,
  The shadowy wrinkles round her lost,
  She wrought with branch and anadem,
  Through the fine meshes netting them,
  Pomegranate-flower and leaf and stem.
  Dropping it o'er her diadem
  To float below her gold-stitched hem,
  Some duchess through the court should sail
  Hazed in the cloud of this white veil,
  As when a rain-drop mists a gem.

  Her tresses once when this was done,
 --Vanished the skein, the needle bare,--
  She dressed with wreaths vermilion
  Bright as a trumpet's dazzling blare.
  Nor knew that in Queen Dido's hair,
  Loading the Carthaginian air,
  Ancestral blossoms flamed as fair
  As any ever hanging there.
  While o'er her cheek their scarlet gleam
  Shot down a vivid varying beam,
  Like sunshine on a brown-bronzed pear.

  And then the veil thrown over her,
  The vapor of the snowy lace
  Fell downward, as the gossamer
  Tossed from the autumn winds' wild race
  Falls round some garden-statue's grace.
  Beneath, the blushes on her face
  Fled with the Naiad's shifting chase
  When flashing through a watery space.
  And in the dusky mirror glanced
  A splendid phantom, where there danced
  All brilliances in paler trace.

  A spicery of sweet perfume,
  As if from regions rankly green
  And these rich hoards of bud and bloom,
  Lay every waft of air between.
  Out of some heaven's unfancied screen
  The gorgeous vision seemed to lean.
  The Oriental kings have seen
  Less beauty in their daïs-queen,
  And any limner's pencil then
  Had drawn the eternal love of men,
  But twice Chance will not intervene.

  For soon with scarce a loving sigh
  She lifts it off half unaware,
  While through the clinging folds held high,
  Arachnean in a silver snare
  Her rosy fingers nimbly fare,
  Till gathered square with dainty care.
  But still she leaves the flowery flare
 --Such as Dame Venus' self might wear--
  Where first she placed them, since they blow
  More bounteous color hanging so,
  And seem more native to the air.

  Anon the mellow twilight came
  With breath of quiet gently freed
  From sunset's felt but unseen flame.
  Then by her casement wheeled in speed
  Strange films, and half the wings indeed
  That steam in rainbows o'er the mead,
  Now magnified in mystery, lead
  Great revolutions to her heed.
  And leaning out, the night o'erhead,
  Wind-tossed in many a shining thread,
  Hung one long scarf of glittering brede.

  Then as it drew its streamers there,
  And furled its sails to fill and flaunt
  Along fresh firmaments of air
  When ancient morn renewed his chant,--
  She sighed in thinking on the plant
  Drooping so languidly aslant;
  Fancied some fierce noon's forest-haunt
  Where wild red things loll forth and pant,
  Their golden antlers wave, and still
  Sigh for a shower that shall distil
  The largess gracious nights do grant.

  The oleanders in the South
  Drape gray hills with their rose, she thought,
  The yellow-tasselled broom through drouth
  Bathing in half a heaven is caught.
  Jasmine and myrtle flowers are sought
  By winds that leave them fragrance-fraught.
  To them the wild bee's path is taught,
  The crystal spheres of rain are brought,
  Beside them on some silent spray
  The nightingales sing night away,
  The darkness wooes them in such sort.

  But this, close shut beneath a roof,
  Knows not the night, the tranquil spell,
  The stillness of the wildwood ouphe,
  The magic dropped on moor and fell.
  No cool dew soothes its fiery shell,
  Nor any star, a red sardel,
  Swings painted there as in a well.
  Dyed like a stream of muscadel
  No white-skinned snake coils in its cup
  To drink its soul of sweetness up,
  A honeyed hermit in his cell.

  No humming-bird in emerald coat,
  Shedding the light, and bearing fain
  His ebon spear, while at his throat
  The ruby corselet sparkles plain,
  On wings of misty speed astain
  With amber lustres, hangs amain,
  And tireless hums his happy strain;
  Emperor of some primeval reign,
  Over the ages sails to spill
  The luscious juice of this, and thrill
  Its very heart with blissful pain.

  As if the flowers had taken flight
  Or as the crusted gems should shoot
  From hidden hollows, or as the light
  Had blossomed into prisms to flute
  Its secret that before was mute,
  Atoms where fire and tint dispute,
  No humming-birds here hunt their fruit.
  No burly bee with banded suit
  Here dusts him, no full ray by stealth
  Sifts through it stained with warmer wealth
  Where fair fierce butterflies salute.

  Nor night nor day brings to my tree,
  She thought, the free air's choice extremes,
  But yet it grows as joyfully
  And floods my chamber with its beams,
  So that some tropic land it seems
  Where oranges with ruddy gleams,
  And aloes, whose weird flowers the creams
  Of long rich centuries one deems,
  Wave through the softness of the gloom,--
  And these may blush a deeper bloom
  Because they gladden so my dreams.

  The sudden street-lights in moresque
  Broke through her tender murmuring,
  And on her ceiling shades grotesque
  Reeled in a bacchanalian swing.
  Then all things swam, and like a ring
  Of bubbles welling from a spring
  Breaking in deepest coloring
  Flower-spirits paid her minist'ring.
  Sleep, fusing all her senses, soon
  Fanned over her in drowsy rune
  All night long a pomegranate wing.

       *       *       *       *       *


THE PRAIRIE STATE.


On the head-waters of the Wabash, near Lake Erie, we first meet with
those grassy plains to which the early French explorers of the West gave
the name of Prairies. In Southern Michigan, they become more frequent;
in the State of Indiana, still more so; and when we arrive in Illinois,
we find ourselves in the Prairie State proper, three-quarters of its
territory being open meadow, or prairie. Southern Wisconsin is partly of
this character, and, on crossing the Mississippi, most of the surface of
both Iowa and Minnesota is also prairie.

Illinois, with little exception, is one vast prairie,--dotted, it is
true, with groves, and intersected with belts of timber, but still one
great open plain. This State, then, being the type of the prairie lands,
a sketch of its history, political, physical, and agricultural, will
tolerably well represent that of the whole prairie region.

The State of Illinois was originally part of Florida, and belonged to
Spain, by the usual tenure of European title in the sixteenth century,
when the King of France or Spain was endowed by His Holiness with half
a continent; the rights of the occupants of the soil never for a moment
being considered. So the Spaniard, in 1541, having planted his flag at
the mouth of the Mississippi, became possessed of the whole of the vast
region watered by its tributary streams, and Illinois and Wisconsin
became Spanish colonies, and all their native inhabitants vassals of His
Most Catholic Majesty. The settlement of the country was, however,
never attempted by the Spaniards, who devoted themselves to their more
lucrative colonies in South America.

The French missionaries and fur-traders found their way from Canada into
these parts at an early day; and in 1667 Robert de la Salle made his
celebrated explorations, in which he took possession of the territory of
Illinois in behalf of the French crown. And here we may remark, that the
relations of the Jesuits and early explorers give a delightful picture
of the native inhabitants of the prairies. Compared with their savage
neighbors, the Illini seem to have been a favored people. The climate
was mild, and the soil so fertile as to afford liberal returns even to
their rude husbandry; the rivers and lakes abounded in fish and fowl;
the groves swarmed with deer and turkeys,--bustards the French called
them, after the large gallinaceous bird which they remembered on the
plains of Normandy; and the vast expanse of the prairies was blackened
by herds of wild cattle, or buffaloes. The influence of this fair and
fertile land seems to have been felt by its inhabitants. They came to
meet Father Marquette, offering the calumet, brilliant with many-colored
plumes, with the gracious greeting,--"How beautiful is the sun, O
Frenchman, when thou comest to us! Thou shalt enter in peace all our
dwellings." A very different reception from that offered by the stern
savages of Jamestown and Plymouth to John Smith and Miles Standish!
So, in peace and plenty, remained for many years this paradise in the
prairies.

About the year 1700, Illinois was included in Louisiana, and came under
the sway of Louis XIV., who, in 1712, presented to Anthony Crozat the
whole territory of Louisiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin,--a truly royal
gift!

The fortunate recipient, however, having spent vast sums upon the
territory without any returns, surrendered his grant to the crown a
few years afterwards; and a trading company, called the Company of the
Indies, was got up by the famous John Law, on the basis of these lands.
The history of that earliest of Western land-speculations is too well
known to need repetition; suffice it to say, that it was conducted upon
a scale of magnificence in comparison with which our modern imitations
in 1836 and 1856 were feeble indeed. A monument of it stood not many
years ago upon the banks of the Mississippi, in the ruins of Fort
Chartres, which was built by Law when at the height of his fortune, at
a cost of several millions of livres, and which toppled over into the
river in a recent inundation.

In 1759 the French power in North America was broken forever by Wolfe,
upon the Plains of Abraham; and in 1763, by the Treaty of Paris, all the
French possessions upon this continent were ceded to England, and the
territory of the Illinois became part of the British empire.

Pontiac, the famous Ottawa chief, after fighting bravely on the French
side through the war, refused to be transferred with the territory; he
repaired to Illinois, where he was killed by a Peoria Indian. His tribe,
the Ottawas, with their allies, the Pottawattomies and Chippewas,
in revenge, made war upon the Peorias and their confederates, the
Kaskaskias and Cahoklas, in which contest these latter tribes were
nearly exterminated.

At this time, the French population of Illinois amounted to about three
thousand persons, who were settled along the Mississippi and Illinois
rivers, where their descendants remain to this day, preserving a
well-defined national character in the midst of the great flood of
Anglo-American immigration which rolls around them.

Illinois remained under British rule till the year 1778, when George
Rogers Clarke, with four companies of Virginia rangers, marched from
Williamsburg, a distance of thirteen hundred miles, through a hostile
wilderness, captured the British posts of Kaskaskia and Cahokia, and
annexed a territory larger than Great Britain to the new Republic. Many
of Colonel Clarke's rangers, pleased with the beauty and fertility of
the country, settled in Illinois; but the Indians were so numerous and
hostile, that the settlers were obliged to live in fortified stations,
or block-houses, and the population remained very scanty for many years.

In 1809 Illinois was made into a separate Territory, and Ninian Edwards
appointed its first Governor.

During the War of 1812, Tecumseh, an Indian chief of remarkable ability,
endeavored to form a coalition of all the tribes against the Americans,
but with only partial success. He inflicted severe losses upon them,
but was finally defeated and slain at the Battle of the Thames, leaving
behind him the reputation of being the greatest hero and noblest patriot
of his race.

In 1818, Illinois, then having a population of about forty-five
thousand, was admitted into the Union. The State was formed out of that
territory which by the Ordinance of 1787 was dedicated to freedom; but
there was a strong party in the State who wished for the introduction
of slavery, and in order to effect this it was necessary to call a
convention to amend the Constitution. On this arose a desperate contest
between the two principles, and it ended in the triumph of freedom.
Among those opposed to the introduction of slavery were Morris Birkbeck,
Governor Coles, David Blackwell, Judge Lockwood, and Daniel P. Cook.
It was a fitting memorial of the latter, that the County of Cook,
containing the great commercial city of Chicago, should bear his name.
The names of the pro-slavery leaders we will leave to oblivion.

In 1824 the lead mines near Galena began to be worked to advantage,
and thousands of persons from Southern Illinois and Missouri swarmed
thither. The Illinoisans ran up the river in the spring, worked in the
mines during the summer, and returned to their homes down the river in
the autumn,--thus resembling in their migrations the fish so common in
the Western waters, called the Sucker. It was also observed that great
hordes of uncouth ruffians came up to the mines from Missouri, and it
was therefore said that she had vomited forth all her worst population.
Thenceforth the Missourians were called "Pukes," and the people of
Illinois "Suckers."

From 1818 to 1830, the commerce of the State made but small progress.
At this time, there were one or two small steamboats upon the Illinois
River, but most of the navigation was carried on in keel-boats. The
village merchants were mere retailers; they purchased no produce, except
a few skins and furs, and a little beeswax and honey. The farmers along
the rivers did their own shipping,--building flat-boats, which, having
loaded with corn, flour, and bacon, they would float down to New
Orleans, which was the only market accessible to them. The voyage was
long, tedious, and expensive, and when the farmer arrived, he found
himself in a strange city, where all were combined against him, and
often he was cheated out of his property,--returning on foot by a long
and dangerous journey to a desolate farm, which had been neglected
during his absence. Thus two crops were sometimes lost in taking one to
market.

The manners and customs of the people were simple and primitive. The
costume of the men was a raccoon-skin cap, linsey hunting-shirt,
buck-skin leggings and moccasons, with a butcher-knife in the belt.
The women wore cotton or woollen frocks, striped with blue dye and
Turkey-red, and spun, woven, and made with their own hands; they went
barefooted and bareheaded, except on Sundays, when they covered the head
with a cotton handkerchief. It is told of a certain John Grammar, for
many years a representative from Union County, and a man of some note
in the State councils, though he could neither read nor write, that in
1816, when he was first elected, lacking the necessary apparel, he and
his sons gathered a large quantity of hazel-nuts, which they took to
the nearest town and sold for enough blue strouding to make a suit of
clothes. The pattern proved to be scanty, and the women of the household
could only get out a very bob-tailed coat and leggings. With these Mr.
Grammar started for Kaskaskia, the seat of government, and these he
continued to wear till the passage of an appropriation bill enabled him
to buy a civilized pair of breeches.

The distinctions in manners and dress between the higher and lower
classes were more marked than at present; for while John Grammar wore
blue strouding, we are told that Governor Edwards dressed in fine
broadcloth, white-topped boots, and a gold-laced cloak, and rode about
the country in a fine carriage, driven by a negro.

In those days justice was administered without much parade or ceremony.
The judges held their courts mostly in log houses or in the bar-rooms of
taverns, fitted up with a temporary bench for the judge, and chairs for
the lawyers and jurors. At the first Circuit Court in Washington County,
held by Judge John Reynolds, the sheriff, on opening the court, went out
into the yard, and said to the people, "Boys, come in; our John is going
to hold court." The judges were unwilling to decide questions of law,
preferring to submit everything to the jury, and seldom gave them
instructions, if they could avoid it. A certain judge, being ambitious
to show his learning, gave very pointed directions to the jury, but
they could not agree on a verdict. The judge asked the cause of their
difference, when the foreman answered with great simplicity,--"Why,
Judge, this 'ere's the difficulty: the jury wants to know whether that
'ar what you told us, when we went out, was r'aly the law, or whether it
was on'y jist your notion."

In the spring of 1831, Black Hawk, a Sac chief, dissatisfied with the
treaty by which his tribe had been removed across the Mississippi,
recrossed the river at the head of three or four hundred warriors, and
drove away the white settlers from his old lands near the mouth of the
Rock River. This was considered an invasion of the State, and Governor
Reynolds called for volunteers. Fifteen hundred men answered the
summons, and the Indians were driven out. The next spring, however,
Black Hawk returned with a larger force, and commenced hostilities by
killing some settlers on Indian Creek, not far from Ottawa. A large
force of volunteers was again called out, but in the first encounter the
whites were beaten, which success encouraged the Sacs and Foxes so much
that they spread themselves over the whole of the country between the
Mississippi and the Lake, and kept up a desultory warfare for three or
four months against the volunteer troops. About the middle of July, a
body of volunteers under General Henry of Illinois pursued the Indians
into Wisconsin, and by forced marches brought them to action near the
Mississippi, before the United States troops, under General Atkinson,
could come up. The Indians fought desperately, but were unable to stand
long before the courage and superior numbers of the whites. They escaped
across the river with the loss of nearly three hundred, killed in the
action, or drowned in the retreat. The loss of the Illinois volunteers
was about thirty, killed and wounded.

This defeat entirely broke the power of the Sacs and Foxes, and they
sued for peace. Black Hawk, and some of his head men, were taken
prisoners, and kept in confinement for several months, when, after a
tour through the country, to show them the numbers and power of the
whites, they were set at liberty on the west side of the Mississippi. In
1840 Black Hawk died, at the age of eighty years, on the banks of the
great river which he loved so well.

After the Black-Hawk War, the Indian title being extinguished, and the
country open to settlers, Northern Illinois attracted great attention,
and increased wonderfully in wealth and population.

In 1830, the population of the State amounted to 157,445; in 1840, to
476,183; in 1850, to 851,470; in 1860, to 1,719,496.

       *       *       *       *       *

Situated in the centre of the United States, the State of Illinois
extends from 37° to 42° 30' N. latitude, and from 10° 47' to 14° 26' W.
longitude from Washington. The State is 378 miles long from North to
South, and 212 miles broad from East to West. Its area is computed at
55,408 square miles, or 35,459,200 acres, less than two millions of
which are called swamp lands, the remaining thirty-three millions being
tillable land of unsurpassed fertility.

The State of Illinois forms the lower part of that slope which embraces
the greater part of Indiana, and of which Lake Michigan, with its
shores, forms the upper part. At the lowest part of this slope, and of
the State, is the city of Cairo, situated about 350 feet above the
level of the Gulf of Mexico, at the confluence of the Ohio and the
Mississippi; hence, the highest place in Illinois being only 800 feet
above the level of the sea, it will appear that the whole State, though
containing several hilly sections, is a pretty level plain, being, with
the exception of Delaware and Louisiana, the flattest country in the
Union.

The State contains about twenty-five considerable streams, and brooks
and rivulets innumerable. There are no large lakes within its borders,
though it has some sixty miles of Lake Michigan for its boundary on the
east. Small clear lakes and ponds abound, particularly in the northern
portion of the State.

As to the quality of the soil, Illinois is divided as follows:--

First, the alluvial land on the margins of the rivers, and extending
back from half a mile to six or eight miles. This soil is of
extraordinary fertility, and, wherever it is elevated, makes the best
farming land in the State. Where it is low, and exposed to inundations,
it is very unsafe to attempt its cultivation. The most extensive tract
of this kind is the so-called American Bottom, which received this name
when it was the western boundary of the United States. It extends from
the junction of the Kaskaskia and Mississippi, along the latter, to the
mouth of the Missouri, containing about 288,000 acres.

Secondly, the table-land, fifty to a hundred feet higher than the
alluvial; it consists principally of prairies, which, according to their
respectively higher or lower situations, are either dry or marshy.

Thirdly, the hilly sections of the State, which, consisting alternately
of wood and prairie, are not, on the whole, as fertile as either the
alluvial or the table-land.

There are no mountains in Illinois; but in the southern as well as the
northern part, there are a few hills. Near the banks of the principal
rivers the ground is elevated into bluffs, on which may be still found
the traces left by water, which was evidently once much higher than
it now is; whence it is inferred, that, where the fertile plains of
Illinois now extend, there must once have been a vast sheet of water,
the mud deposited by which formed the soil, thus accounting for the
great fertility of the prairies.

       *       *       *       *       *

As we have said, the entire area of Illinois seems at one period to
have been an ocean-bed, which has not since been disturbed by any
considerable upheaval. The present irregularities of the surface are
clearly traceable to the washing out and carrying away of the earth. The
Illinois River has washed out a valley about two hundred and fifty feet
deep, and from one and a half to six miles wide. The perfect regularity
of the beds of mountain limestone, sandstone, and coal, as they are
found protruding from the bluffs on each side of this valley, on the
same levels, is pretty conclusive evidence that the valley itself owes
its existence to the action of water. That the channels of the rivers
have been gradually sunken, we may distinctly see by the shores of the
Upper Mississippi, where are walls of rock, rising perpendicularly,
which extend from Lake Pepin to below the mouth of the Wisconsin, as if
they were walls built of equal height by the hand of man. Wherever the
river describes a curve, walls may be found on the convex side of it.

The upper coal formation occupies three-fifths of the State, commencing
at 41° 12' North latitude, where, as also along the Mississippi, whose
banks it touches between the places of its junction with the Illinois
and Missouri rivers, it is enclosed by a narrow layer of calcareous
coal. The shores of Lake Michigan, and that narrow strip of land, which,
commencing near them, runs along the northern bank of the Illinois
towards its southwestern bend, until it meets Rock River at its mouth,
belong to the Devonian system. The residue of the northern part of the
State consists of Silurian strata, which, containing the rich lead mines
of Galena in the northwest corner of the State, rise at intervals into
conical hills, giving the landscape a character different from that of
the middle or southern portion. Scattered along the banks of rivers, and
in the middle of prairies, are frequently found large masses of granite
and other primitive rocks. Since the nearest beds of primitive rocks
first appear in Minnesota and the northern part of Wisconsin, their
presence here can be accounted for only by assuming that at the time
this region was covered with water they were floated down from the
North, enclosed and supported in masses of ice, which, melting, allowed
the rocks to sink to the bottom. A still further proof of the presence
of the ocean here in former times is to be found in the sea-shells which
occur upon many of the higher knolls and bluffs west of the Mississippi
in Iowa.

Illinois contains probably more coal than any other State in the Union.
It is mined at a small depth below the surface, and crops out upon the
banks of most of the streams in the middle of the State. These mines
have been very imperfectly worked till within a few years; but it is
found, that, as the work goes deeper, the quality of the coal improves,
and in some of the later excavations is equal to the best coals of Ohio
and Pennsylvania, and will undoubtedly prove a source of immense wealth
to the State.

The two northwestern counties of the State form a part of the richest
and most extensive lead region in the world. During the year 1855, the
product of these mines, shipped from the single port of Galena, was
430,365 pigs of lead, worth $1,732,219.02.

Copper has been found in large quantities in the northern counties, and
also in the southern portion of the State. Some of the zinc ores are
found in great quantities at the lead mines near Galena, but have not
yet been utilized. Silver has been found in St. Clair County, whence
Silver Creek has derived its name. It is said that in early times the
French sunk a shaft here, from which they obtained large quantities of
the metal. Iron is found in many parts of the State, and the ores have
been worked to considerable extent.

Among other valuable mineral products may be mentioned porcelain and
potter's clay, fire clay, fuller's earth, limestone of many varieties,
sandstone, marble, and salt springs.

       *       *       *       *       *

Illinois has an average temperature, which, if compared with that of
Europe, corresponds to that of Middle Germany; its winters are more
severe than those of Copenhagen, and its summers as warm as those of
Milan or Palermo. Compared with other States of the Union, Northern
Illinois possesses a temperature similar to that of Southern New York,
while the temperature of Southern Illinois will not differ much from
that of Kentucky or Virginia. By observations of the thermometer during
twenty years, in the southern part of the State, on the Mississippi, the
mercury, once in that period, fell to-25°, and four times it rose above
100°, Fahrenheit.

The prevailing winds are either western or southeastern. The severest
storms are those coming from the west, which traverse the entire space
between the Rocky Mountains and the Atlantic coast in forty-eight hours.

There are on an average eighty-nine rainy days in the year; the quantity
of rain falling amounts to forty-two inches,--the smallest amount
being in January, and the largest in June. The average number of
thunder-storms in a year is forty-nine; of clear days, one hundred and
thirty-seven; of changeable days, one hundred and eighty-three; and of
days without sunshine, forty-five.

       *       *       *       *       *

The vegetation of the State forms the connecting link between
the Flora of the Northeastern States and that of the Upper
Mississippi,--exhibiting, besides the plants common to all the States
lying between the Mississippi and the Atlantic Ocean, such as are,
properly speaking, natives of the Western prairies, not being found
east of the Alleghany Mountains. Immense grassy plains, interlaced with
groves, which are found also along the watercourses, cover two-thirds of
the entire area of the State in the North, while the southern part is
garnished with heavy timber.

No work which we have seen gives so good an account of the Flora of the
prairies as the one by Frederick Gerhard, called "Illinois as it is." We
have been indebted to this work for a good deal of valuable matter, and
shall now make some further extracts from it.

"Before we finally turn our backs on the last scattered houses of the
village, we find both sides of the road lined with ugly worm-fences,
which are overtopped by the various species of Helianthus, Thistles,
Biennial Gaura, and the Illinoisian Bell-flower with cerulean blossoms,
and other tall weeds. Here may also be found the coarse-haired
_Asclepias tuberosa_, with fiery red umbels, the strong-scented _Monarda
fistulosa_, and an umbelliferous plant, the grass-like, spiculated
leaves of which recall to mind the Southern Agaves, the _Eryngo._ Among
these children of Nature rises the civilized plant, the Indian Corn,
with its stalks nearly twelve feet high."

"Having now arrived at the end of the cultivated lands, we enter upon
the dry prairies, extending up the bluffs, where we meet the small
vermilion Sorrel _(Rumex acetosella)_ and Mouse-ear, which, however, do
not reside here as foreigners, but as natives, like many other plants
that remind the European of his native country, as, for instance, the
Dandelion _(Taraxacum officinale)_; a kind of Rose, _(Rosa lucida,)_
with its sweet-scented blossoms, has a great predilection for this dry
soil. With surprise we meet here also with many plants with hairy,
greenish-gray leaves and stalk-covers, as, for instance, the _Onosmodium
molle, Hieracium longipilum, Pycnanthemum pilosum, Chrysopsis villosa,
Amorpha canescens, Tephrosia Virginiana, Lithospermum canescens;_
between which the immigrated Mullein _(Verbuscum thapsus)_ may be found.
The pebbly fragments of the entire slope, which during spring-time
were sparingly covered with dwarfish herbs, such as the _Androsace
occidentalis, Draba Caroliniana, Plantago Virginica, Scutellaria
parvula,_ are now crowded with plants of taller growth and variegated
blossoms. _Rudbeckia hirta_, with its numerous radiating blossoms of a
lively yellow, and the closely allied _Echinacea purpurea_, whose long
purple rays hang down from a ruddy hemispherical disc, are the most
remarkable among plants belonging to the genus _Compositoe_, which
blossom early in summer; in the latter part of summer follow innumerable
plants of the different species,_Liatris, Vernonia, Aster, Solidago,
Helianthus, etc."_

"We approach a sinuous chasm of the bluffs, having better soil and
underwood, which, thin at first, increases gradually in density.
Low bushes, hardly a foot high, are formed by the American Thistle,
_(Ceanothus Americanus,)_ a plant whose leaves were used instead of tea,
in Boston, during the Revolution. Next follow the Hazel-bush, _(Corylus
Americana,)_ the fiery-red _Castilleja coccinea,_ and the yellow
Canadian Louse-wort; the _Dipteracanthus strepens_, with great blue
funnel-shaped blossoms, and the _Gerardia pedicularia_, are fond of
such places; and where the bushes grow higher, and the _Rhus glabra,
Zanthoxylum Americanum, Ptelea trifoliata, Staphylea trifolia,_ together
with _Ribes-Rubus Pyrus, Cornus, and Cratoegus,_ form an almost
impenetrable thicket, surrounded and garlanded by the round-leaved,
rough Bindweed, _(Smilax rotundifolia,)_ and _Dioscorea villosa_, the
Climbing Rose, _(Rosa setigera,) Celastrus scandens_, remarkable for its
beautiful red fruits, _Clematis Virginiana, Polygonum, Convolvulus, and
other vines, these weedy herbs attempt to overtop the bushes."

"We now enter upon the illimitable prairie which lies before us, the
fertile prairie, in whose undulating surface the moisture is retained;
this waits for cultivation, and will soon be deprived of its flowery
attire, and bear plain, but indispensable grain. Those who have not yet
seen such a prairie should not imagine it like a cultivated meadow, but
rather a heaving sea of tall herbs and plants, decking it with every
variety of color.

"In the summer, the yellow of the large _Composite_ will predominate,
intermingled with the blue of the Tradescantias, the fiery red of the
Lilies, (_Lilium Philadelphicum_ and _Lilium Canadense_,) the purple of
the Phlox, the white of the _Cacalia tuberosa, Melanthium Virginicum,_
and the umbelliferous plants. In spring, small-sized plants bloom here,
such as the Anemone, with its blue and white blossoms, the Palmated
Violet, the Ranunculus, which are the first ornaments of the prairies in
spring; then follow the Esculent Sea-Onion, _Pentaloplius longiflorus,
Lithospermum hirtum, Cynthia Virginica,_ and _Baptisia leucophaea_.
As far as the eye reaches, no house nor tree can be seen; but where
civilization has come, the farmer has planted small rows of the quickly
growing Black Acacia, which affords shelter from the sun to his cattle
and fuel for his hearth."

"We now enter the level part of the forest, which has a rich black soil.
Great sarmentous plants climb here up to the tops of the trees: wild
Grapes, the climbing, poisonous Sumach, (_Rhus toxicodendron,_) and the
vine-like Cinque-foil, which transforms withered, naked trunks into
green columns, Bignonias, with their brilliant scarlet trumpet-flowers,
are the most remarkable. The _Thuja occidentalis,_ which may be met
with in European gardens, stands in mournful solitude on the margins of
pools; here and there an isolalod Cedar, (_Juniperus Virginiana_)
and the low Box-tree, (_Taxus Canadensis_) are in Illinois the only
representatives of the evergreens, forests of which first appear in the
northern part of Wisconsin and Minnesota."

"Flowers of the most brilliant hues bedeck the rivers' banks; above
all, the _Lobelia cardinalis_ and _Lobelia syphilitica_, of the deepest
carmine and cerulean tinge, the yellow _Cassia Marilandica_, and the
delicate _Rosa blanda_, a rose without thorns; also the _Scrophularia
nodosa_."

"On the marshy ground thrive the _Iris versicolor, Asclepias incarnata_,
the Primrose-tree, Liver-wort, the tall _Physostegia Virginiana_, with
rosy-red blossoms, and the _Helenium autumnale_, in which the yellow
color predominates. In spring, the dark violet blossom of the _Amorpha
fruticosa_ diffuses its fragrance."

"Entering a boat on the river, where we cannot touch the bottom with the
oar, we perceive a little white flower waving to and fro, supported
by long spiral halms between straight, grass-like leaves. This is the
_Vallisneria spiralis_, a remarkable plant, which may be also met with
in Southern Europe, especially in the Canal of Languedoc, and regarding
the fructification of which different opinions prevail."

"Nearer to the land, we observe similar grass-like leaves, but with
little yellow stellated flowers: these belong to the order of _Schollera
graminea_. Other larger leaves belong to the Amphibious Polygony, and
different species of the _Potamogeton,_ the ears of whose blossoms rise
curiously above the surface of the water. Clearing our way through a
row of tall swamp weeds, _Zizania aquatica, Scirpus lacustris, Scirpus
pungens_, among which the white flowers of _Sparganium ramosum_ and
_Sagittaria variabilis_ are conspicuous, we steer into a large inlet
entirely covered with the broad leaves of the _Nymphaea odorala_ and the
_Nelumbium luteum_, of which the former waves its beautiful flower on
the surface of the river, while the latter, the queen, in fact, of
the waters, proudly raises her magnificent crown upon a perpendicular
footstalk. On the opposite bank, the evening breeze lifts the triangular
leaves and rosy-red flowers of the Marsh-Mallow, overhung by Gray
Willows and the Silver-leaved Maple and the Red Maple, on which a flock
of white herons have alighted."

In all the rivers and swamps of the Northwest grows the Wild Rice,
(_Zizania aquatica,_) a plant which was' formerly very important to the
Indians as food, and now attracts vast flocks of waterfowl to feed upon
it in the season. In autumn the squaws used to go in their canoes
to these natural rice-fields, and, bending the tall stalks over the
gunwale, beat out the heads of grain with their paddles into the canoe.
It is mentioned among the dainties at Hiawatha's wedding-feast:--

  "Haunch of deer, and hump of bison,
  Yellow cakes of the Momdamin,
  And the wild rice of the river."

The Fruits of the forest are Strawberries, Blackberries, Raspberries,
Gooseberries, in some barren spots Whortleberries, Mulberries,
Grapes, Wild Plums and Cherries, Crab-Apples, the Persimmon, Pawpaw,
Hickory-nuts, Hazel-nuts, and Walnuts.

The Timber-trees are,--of the Oaks, _Quercus alba, Quercus macrocarpa,
Quercus tinctoria, Quercus imbricaria,--Hard and Soft Maples_,--and of
the Hickories, _Carya alba, Carya tomentosa, and Carya amara_. Other
useful timber-trees are the Ash, Cherry, several species of Elm, Linden,
and Ironwood (_Carpinus Americana_).

Of Medicinal Plants, we find _Cassia Marilandica, Polygala Senega,
Sanguinaria Canadensis, Lobelia inflata, Phytolacca decandra,
Podophyllum peliatum, Sassafras officinale_.

Various species of the Vine are native here, and the improved varieties
succeed admirably in the southern counties.

The early travellers in this region mention the great herds of wild
cattle which roamed over the prairies in those times, but the last
Buffalo on the east side of the Mississippi was killed in 1832; and now
the hunter who would see this noble game must travel some hundreds of
miles west, to the head-waters of the Kansas or the Platte. The Elk,
which was once so common in Illinois, has also receded before the white
man, and the Deer is fast following his congener. On the great prairies
south of Chicago, where, fifteen years ago, one might find twenty deer
in a day's tramp, not one is now to be seen. Two species of Hare occur
here, and several Tree Squirrels, the Red, Black, Gray, Mottled, and the
Flying; besides these, there are two or three which live under ground.
The Beaver is nearly or quite extinct, but the Otter remains, and the
Musk-Rat abounds on all the river-banks and marshes.

Of carnivorous animals, we have the Panther and Black Bear in the wooded
portions of the State, though rare; the Lynx, the Gray and Black Wolf,
and the Prairie Wolf; the Skunk, the Badger, the Woodchuck, the Raccoon,
and, in the southern part of the State, the Opossum.

Mr. Lapham of Wisconsin has published a list of the birds of that State,
which will also answer for Northern Illinois. He enumerates two hundred
and ninety species, which, we think, is below the number which visit the
central parts of Illinois. From the central position of this State,
most of the birds of the United States are found here at one season or
another. For instance, among the rapacious birds, we have the three
Eagles which visit America, the White-Headed, the Washington, and
the Golden or Royal Eagle. Of Hawks and Falcons, fourteen or fifteen
species, among which are the beautiful Swallow-tailed Hawk, and that
noble falcon, the Peregrine. Ten or twelve Owls, among which, as a rare
visitor, we find the Great Gray Owl, (_Syrnium cinereum_,) and the Snowy
Owl, which is quite common in the winter season on the prairies, preying
upon grouse and hares. Of the Vultures, we have two, as summer visitors,
the Turkey-Buzzard and the Black Vulture.

Of omnivorous birds, sixteen or eighteen species, among which is the
Raven, which here takes the place of the Crow, the two species not being
able to live together, as the stronger robber drives away the weaker. Of
the insectivorous birds, some sixty or seventy species are found here,
among which is the Mocking-Bird, in the middle and southern districts.
Thirty-five to forty species of granivorous birds, among which we
occasionally find in winter that rare Arctic bird, the Evening Grosbeak.
Of the _Zygodachyli_, fourteen species, among which is found the Paquet,
in the southern part of the State. _Tenuirostres_, five species. Of the
Kingfishers, one species. Swallows and Goat-suckers, nine species. Of
the Pigeons, two, the Turtle-Dove and the Passenger Pigeon, of which the
latter visit us twice a year, in immense flocks.

Of the gallinaceous birds, the Turkey, which is found in the heavy
timber in the river bottoms; the Quail, which has become very abundant
all over the State, within twenty years, following, it would seem, the
march of civilization and settlement; the Ruffed Grouse, abundant in the
timber, but never seen on the prairie; the Pinnated Grouse, or Prairie
Hen, always found on the open plains. These birds increased very much in
number after the settlement of the State, owing probably to the increase
of food for them, and the decrease of their natural enemies, the prairie
wolves; but since the building of railroads, so many are killed to
supply the demands of New York and other Eastern cities, that they are
now decreasing very rapidly, and in a very few years the sportsman will
have to cross the Mississippi to find a pack of grouse. The Sharp-tailed
Grouse, an occasional visitor in winter from Wisconsin, is found in the
timbered country.

Of wading birds, from forty to fifty species, among which the Sand-Hill
Crane is very abundant, and the Great White or Whooping Crane very rare,
although supposed by some authors to be the same bird in different
stages of plumage.

Of the lobe-footed birds, seven species, of which is the rare and
beautiful Wilson's Phalarope, which breeds in the wet prairies near
Chicago.

Of web-footed birds, about forty species, among which are two Swans and
five Geese. Among the Ducks, the Canvas-Back is found; but, owing to the
want of its favorite food in the Chesapeake, the _Vallisneria_, it is,
in our waters, a very ordinary duck, as an article of food.

The waters of Illinois abound with fish, of which class we enumerate,--

  Species               Species

  Percidae,    3        Pomotis,     2
  Labrax,      3        Cottus,      2
  Lucioperca,  2        Corvina,     1
  Huro,        1        Pimelodus,   5
  Centrarchus, 3        Leuciscus,   6
  Hydrargea,   2        Corregomus,  3
  Esox,        3        Amia,        1
  Hyodon,      1        Lepidosteus, 3
  Lota,        2        Accipenser,  3

Of these, the Perch, White, Black, and Rock Bass, the Pike-Perch, the
Catfish, the Pike and Muskalonge, the Whitefish, the Lake Trout, and the
Sturgeon are valuable fishes for the table.

Of the class of Reptiles, we have among the Lizards the Mud-Devil,
(_Menopoma Alleghaniensis_,) which grows in the sluggish streams to
the length of two feet; also _Triton dorsalis_, _Necturus lateralis_,
_Ambystoma punctata_.

Of the Snakes, we find three venomous species, the Rattlesnake, the
Massasauga, and the Copper-Head. The largest serpents are the Black
Snake, five feet long, and the Milk Snake, from five to six feet in
length.

Among the Turtles is _Emys picta_, _Chelonura serpentina_, and _Cistuda
clausa_.

Of the Frogs, we have _Rana sylvatica_, _Rana palustris_, and _Rana
pipiens_, nearly two feet long, and loud-voiced in proportion,--a
Bull-Frog, indeed!

Various theories and speculations have been formed as to the origin of
the prairies. One of them, is, that the forests which formerly occupied
these plains were swept away at some remote period by fire; and that the
annual fires set by the Indians have continued this state of things.
Another theory is, that the violent winds which sweep over them have
prevented the growth of trees; a third, that want of rain forbids their
growth; a fourth, that the agency of water has produced the effect;
and lastly, a learned professor at the last meeting of the Scientific
Convention put forth his theory, which was, that the real cause of the
absence of trees from the prairies is the mechanical condition of the
soil, which is, he thinks, too fine,--a coarse, rocky soil being, in his
estimation, a necessary condition of the growth of trees.

Most of these theories seem to be inconsistent with the plain facts of
the case. First, we know that these prairies existed in their present
condition when the first white man visited them, two hundred years ago;
and also that similar treeless plains exist in South America and Central
Africa, and have so existed ever since those countries were known. We
are told by travellers in those regions, that the natives have the same
custom of annually burning the dry grass and herbage for the same reason
that our Indians did it, and that the early white settlers kept up the
custom,--namely, to promote the growth of young and tender feed for the
wild animals which the former hunted and the cattle which the latter
live by grazing.

Another fact, well known to all settlers in the prairie, is, that it is
only necessary to keep out the fires by fences or ditches, and a thick
growth of trees will spring up on the prairies. Many fine groves now
exist all over Illinois, where nothing grew twenty years ago but the
wild grasses and weeds; and we have it on record, that locust-seed, sown
on the prairie near Quincy, in four years produced trees with a diameter
of trunk of four to six inches, and in seven years had become large
enough for posts and rails. So with fruit-trees, which nowhere flourish
with more strength and vigor than in this soil,--too much so, indeed,
since they are apt to run to wood rather than fruit. Moreover, the soil
in the groves and on the river bottoms, where trees naturally grow, is
the same, chemically and mechanically, as that of the open prairie; the
same winds sweep over both, and the same rain falls upon both; so that
it would seem that the absence of trees cannot be attributed wholly to
fire, water, wind, or soil, but is owing to a combination of two or more
of those agencies.

But from whatever cause the prairies originated, they have no doubt been
perpetuated by the fires which annually sweep over their surface. Where
the soil is too wet to sustain a heavy growth of grass, there is no
prairie. Timber is found along the streams, almost invariably,--and,
where the banks are high and dry, will usually be found on the east bank
of those streams whose course is north and south. This is caused by the
fact that the prevailing winds are from the west, and bring the fire
with them till it reaches the stream, which forms a barrier and protects
the vegetation on the other side.

If any State in the Union is adapted to agriculture, and the various
branches of rural economy, such as stock-raising, wool-growing, or
fruit-culture, it must surely be Illinois, where the fertile natural
meadows invite the plough, without the tedious process of clearing off
timber, which, in many parts of the country, makes it the labor of a
lifetime to bring a farm under good cultivation. Here, the farmer who is
satisfied with such crops as fifty bushels of corn to the acre, eighteen
of wheat, or one hundred of potatoes, has nothing to do but to plough,
sow, and reap; no manure, and but little attention, being necessary
to secure a yield like this. Hence a man of very small means can soon
become independent on the prairies. If, however, one is ambitious of
raising good crops, and doing the best he can with his land, let him
manure liberally and cultivate diligently; nowhere will land pay for
good treatment better than here.

Mr. J. Ambrose Wight, of Chicago, the able editor of the "Prairie
Farmer," writes as follows:--

"From an acquaintance with Illinois lands and Illinois farmers, of
eighteen years, during thirteen of which I have been editor of the
'Prairie Farmer,' I am prepared to give the following as the rates of
produce which may be had per acre, with ordinary culture:--

  Winter Wheat,              15 to  25 Bushels.
  Spring   "                 10 to  20    "
  Corn,                      40 to  70    "
  Oats,                      40 to  60    "
  Potatoes,                 100 to 200    "
  Grass, Timothy and Clover, 1-1/2 to 3 Tons.

"_Ordinary culture_, on prairie lands, is not what is meant by the term
in the Eastern or Middle States. It means here, no manure, and commonly
but once, or at most twice, ploughing, on perfectly smooth land, with
long furrows, and no stones or obstructions; where two acres per day
is no hard job for one team. It is often but very poor culture, with
shallow ploughing, and without attention to weeds. I have known crops,
not unfrequently, far greater than these, with but little variation in
their treatment: say, 40 to 50 bushels of winter wheat, 60 to 80 of
oats, and 100 of Indian corn, or 300 of potatoes. _Good culture_, which
means rotation, deep ploughing, farms well stocked, and some manure
applied at intervals of from three to five years, would, in good
seasons, very often approach these latter figures."

We will now give the results of a very detailed account of the
management of a farm of 240 acres, in Kane County, Illinois, an average
farm as to soil and situation, but probably much above the average in
cultivation,--at least, we should judge so from the intelligent and
business-like manner in which the account is kept; every crop having a
separate account kept with it in Dr. and Cr., to show the net profit or
loss of each.

23 acres of Wheat,               30    bushels per acre, net profit $453.00
17-1/2 "    "    on Corn ground, 22-1/2  "         "         "       278.50
9-1/2  "   Spring Wheat,         24      "         "         "       159.70
2-1/2  "   Winter Rye,           22-7/12 "         "         "        10.25
5-1/2  "   Barley,               33-1/4  "         "         "        32.55
12     "   Oats,                 87-1/2  "         "         "       174.50
28-1/2 "   Corn,                 60      "         "         "       638.73
1      "   Potatoes,            150      "         "         "        27.50
103 Sheep, average weight of fleece, 3-1/2 lbs.,             "       177.83
15 head of Cattle and one Colt                               "       103.00
1500 lbs. Pork                                               "        35.00
Fruit, Honey, Bees, and Poultry                              "        73.75
21 acres Timothy Seed, 4 bushels per acre,                   "       123.00
--------
$2287.31

A farm of this size, so situated, with the proper buildings and stock,
may, at the present price of land, be supposed to represent a capital of
$15,000--on which sum the above account gives an interest of over 15 per
cent. Is there any other part of the country where the same interest can
be realized on farming capital?

But this farm of 240 acres is a mere retail affair to many farms in the
State. We will give some examples on a larger scale.

"Winstead Davis came to Jonesboro', Illinois, from Tennessee, thirty
years ago, without means of any kind; now owns many thousand acres of
land, and has under cultivation, this year, from 2500 to 3000 acres."

"W. Willard, native of Vermont, commenced penniless; now owns more than
10,000 acres of land, and cultivates 2000."

"Jesse Funk, near Bloomington, Illinois, began the world thirty years
ago, at rail-splitting, at twenty-five cents the hundred. He bought
land, and raised cattle; kept increasing his lands and herds, till he
now owns 7000 acres of land, and sells over 840,000 worth of cattle and
hogs annually.

"Isaac Funk, brother of the above, began in the same way, at the same
time. He has gone ahead of Jesse; for _he_ owns 27,000 acres of land,
has 4000 in cultivation, and his last year's sales of cattle amounted to
$65,000."

It is evident that the brothers Funk are men of administrative talent;
they would have made a figure in Wall Street, could have filled cabinet
office at Washington, or, perhaps, could even have "kept a hotel."

These are but specimens of the large-acred men of Illinois. Hundreds of
others there are, who farm on nearly the same scale.

The great difficulty in carrying on farming operations on a large scale
in Illinois has always been the scarcity of labor. Land is cheap and
plenty, but labor scarce and dear: exactly the reverse of what obtains
in England, where land is dear and labor cheap. It must be evident that
a different kind of farming would be found here from that in use in
older countries. There, the best policy is to cultivate a few acres
well; here, it has been found more profitable to skim over a large
surface. But within a few years the introduction of labor-saving
machines has changed the conditions of farming, and has rendered it
possible to give good cultivation to large tracts of land with few men.
Many of the crops are now put in by machines, cultivated by machines,
and harvested by machine. If, as seems probable, the steam-plough
of Fawkes shall become a success, the revolution in farming will be
complete. Already some of the large farmers employ wind or steam power
in various ways to do the heavy work, such as cutting and grinding food
for cattle and hogs, pumping water, etc.

Although the soil and climate of Illinois are well adapted to
fruit-culture, yet, from various causes, it has not, till lately, been
much attended to. The early settlers of Southern and Middle Illinois
were mostly of the Virginia race, Hoosiers,--who are a people of few
wants. If they have hog-meat and hominy, whiskey and tobacco, they are
content; they will not trouble themselves to plant fruit-trees. The
early settlers in the North were, generally, very poor men; they could
not afford to buy fruit-trees, for the produce of which they must wait
several years. Wheat, corn, and hogs were the articles which could be
soonest converted into money, and those they raised. Then the early
attempts at raising fruit were not very successful. The trees were
brought from the East, and were either spoiled by the way, or were
unsuited to this region. But the great difficulty has been the want of
drainage. Fruit-trees cannot be healthy with wet feet for several months
of the year, and this they are exposed to on these level lands. With
proper tile-draining, so that the soil shall be dry and mellow early in
the spring, we think that the apple, the pear, the plum, and the cherry
will succeed on the prairies anywhere in Illinois. The peach and the
grape flourish in the southern part of the State, already, with very
little care; in St. Clair County, the culture of the latter has been
carried on by the Germans for many years, and the average yield of
Catawba wine has been two hundred gallons per acre. The strawberry grows
wild all over the State, both in the timber and the prairie; and the
cultivated varieties give very fine crops. All the smaller fruits do
well here, and the melon family find in this soil their true home; they
are raised by the acre, and sold by the wagon-load, in the neighborhood
of Chicago.

Stock-raising is undoubtedly the most profitable kind of farming on
the prairies, which are so admirably adapted to this species of rural
economy, and Illinois is already at the head of the cattle-breeding
States. There were shipped from Chicago in 1860, 104,122 head of live
cattle, and 114,007 barrels of beef.

The Durham breed seems to be preferred by the best stock-farmers, and
they pay great attention to the purity of the race. A herd of one
hundred head of cattle raised near Urbanna, and averaging 1965 pounds
each, took the premium at the World's Fair in New York. Although the
Durhams are remarkable for their large size and early maturity, yet
other breeds are favorites with many farmers,--such as the Devons, the
Herefords, and the Holsteins, the first particularly,--for working
cattle, and for the quality of their beef. There is a sweetness about
the beef fattened upon these prairies which is not found elsewhere, and
is noticed by all travellers who have eaten of that meat at the best
Chicago hotels.

In fact, Illinois is the paradise of cattle, and there is no sight more
beautiful, in its way, than one of those vast natural meadows in June,
dotted with the red and white cattle, standing belly-deep in rich grass
and gay-colored flowers, and almost too fat and lazy to whisk away
the flies. Even in winter they look comfortable, in their sheltered
barn-yard, surrounded by huge stacks of hay or long ranges of
corn-cribs, chewing the cud of contentment, and untroubled with any
thought of the inevitable journey to Brighton.

Where corn is so plenty as it is in Illinois, of course hogs will be
plenty also. During the year 1860, two hundred and seventy-five thousand
porkers rode into Chicago by railroad, eighty-five thousand of which
pursued their journey, still living, to Eastern cities,--the balance
remaining behind to be converted into lard, bacon, and salt pork.

The wholesale way of making beef and pork is this. All summer the cattle
are allowed to run on the prairie, and the hogs in the timber on the
river bottoms. In the autumn, when the corn is ripe, the cattle are
turned into one of those great fields, several hundred acres in extent,
to gather the crop; and after they have done, the hogs come in to pick
up what the cattle have left.

Sheep do well on the prairies, particularly in the southern part of the
State, where the flocks require little or no shelter in winter. The
prairie wolves formerly destroyed many sheep; but since the introduction
of strychnine for poisoning those voracious animals, the sheep have been
very little troubled.

Horses and mules are raised extensively, and in the northern counties,
where the Morgans and other good breeds have been introduced, the horses
are as good as in any State of the Union. Theory would predict this
result, since the horse is found always to come to his greatest
perfection in level countries,--as, for instance, the deserts of Arabia,
and the _llanos_ of South America.

There are two articles in daily and indispensable use, for which the
Northern States have hitherto been dependent on the Southern: Sugar
and Cotton. With regard to the first, the introduction of the Chinese
Sugar-Cane has demonstrated that every farmer in the State can raise
his own sweetening. The experience of several years has proved that the
_Sorghum_ is a hardier plant than corn, and that it will be a sure crop
as far North as latitude 42° or 43°.

An acre of good prairie will produce 18 tons of the cane, and each ton
gives 60 gallons of juice, which is reduced, by boiling, to 10 gallons
of syrup. This gives 180 gallons of syrup to the acre, worth from 40 to
50 cents a gallon,--say 40 cents, which will give 72 dollars for the
product of an acre of land; from which the expenses of cultivation being
deducted, with rent of land, etc., say 36 dollars, there will remain a
net profit of 36 dollars to the acre, besides the seed, and the fodder
which comes from a third part of the stalk, which is cut off before
sending the remainder to the mill. This is found to be the most
nutritious food that can be used for cattle and horses, and very
valuable for milch cows. These results Lave been obtained from Mr. Luce,
of Plainfield, Will County, who has lately built a steam-mill for making
the syrup from the cane which is raised by the farmers in that vicinity.
In this first year, he manufactured 12,500 gallons of syrup, which sells
readily at fifty cents a gallon. A quantity of it was refined at the
Chicago Sugar-Refinery, and the result was a very agreeable syrup, free
from the peculiar flavor which the home-made Sorghum-syrup usually
has. As yet, no experiments on a large scale have been made to obtain
crystallized sugar from the juice of this cane, it having been, so far,
used more economically in the shape of syrup. That it can be done,
however, is proved by the success of several persons who have tried it
in a small way. In the County of Vermilion, it is estimated that three
hundred thousand gallons of syrup were made in 1860.

As to Cotton, since the building of the Illinois Central Railroad has
opened the southern part of the State to the world, and let in the
light upon that darkened Egypt, it is found that those people have
been raising their own cotton for many years, from the seed which they
brought with them into the State from Virginia and North Carolina. The
plant has become acclimated, and now ripens its seed in latitude 39° and
40°. Perhaps the culture may be carried still farther, so that cotton
may be raised all over the State. The heat of our summers is tropical,
but they are too short. If, however, the cotton-plant, like Indian corn
and the tomato, can be gradually induced to mature itself in four or
five months, the consequences of such a change can hardly be estimated.

But whether or not it be possible to raise cotton and sugar profitably
in Illinois, that she is the great bread- and meat-producing State no
one can doubt; and in 1861 it happens that Cotton is King no longer, but
must yield his sceptre to Corn.

The breadstuffs exported from the Northwest to Europe and to the Cotton
States will this year probably amount to more money than the whole
foreign export of cotton,--the crop which to some persons represents all
that the world contains of value.

  Probable export of Cotton in 1861, three-fourths
  of the crop of 4,000,000 bales, 3,000,000 bales,
  at $45 .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    . $135,000,000
  Estimated export of Breadstuffs
  to Europe .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .   $100,000,000
  Estimated export of Breadstuffs
  to Southern States .    .    .    .    .    .     $45,000,000
                                                   ------------
                                                   $145,000,000

We are feeding Europe and the Cotton States, who pay us in gold; we
feed the Northern States, who pay us in goods; we are feeding our
starving brothers in Kansas, who have paid us beforehand, by their
heroic devotion to the cause of freedom. Let us hope that their troubles
are nearly over, and that, having passed through more hardships than
have fallen to the lot of any American community, they may soon enter
upon a career of prosperity as signal as have been their misfortunes, so
that the prairies of Kansas may, in their turn, assist in feeding the
world.

Nothing has done so much for the rapid growth of Illinois as her canal
and railroads.

As early as 1833 several railroad charters were granted by the
legislature; but the stock was not taken, and nothing was done until the
year 1836, when a vast system of internal improvements was projected,
intended "to be commensurate with the wants of the people,"--that is,
there was to be a railroad to run by every man's door. About thirteen
hundred miles of railroads were planned, a canal was to be built from
Chicago to the Illinois River at Peru, and several rivers were to be
made navigable. The cost of all this it was supposed would be about
eight millions of dollars, and the money was to be raised by loan. In
order that all might have the benefit of this system, it was provided
that two hundred thousand dollars should be distributed among those
counties where none of these improvements were made. To cap the climax
of folly, it was provided that the work should commence on all these
roads simultaneously, at each end, and from the crossings of all the
rivers.

As no previous survey or estimate had been made, either of the routes,
the cost of the works, or the amount of business to be done on them, it
is not surprising that the State of Illinois soon found herself with a
heavy debt, and nothing to show for it, except a few detached pieces
of railroad embankments and excavations, a half-finished canal, and a
railroad from the Illinois River to Springfield, which cost one million
of dollars, and when finished would not pay for operating it.

The State staggered on for some ten years under this load of debt,
which, as she could not pay the interest upon it, had increased in 1845
to some fourteen millions. The project of repudiating the debt was
frequently brought forward by unscrupulous politicians; but to the honor
of the people of Illinois be it remembered, that even in the darkest
times this dishonest scheme found but few friends.

In 1845, the holders of the canal bonds advanced the sum of $1,700,000
for the purpose of finishing the canal; and subsequently, William B.
Ogden and a few other citizens of Chicago, having obtained possession of
an old railroad-charter for a road from that city to Galena, got a few
thousand dollars of stock subscribed in those cities, and commenced the
work. The difficulties were very great, from the scarcity of money and
the want of confidence in the success of the enterprise. In most of the
villages along the proposed line there was a strong opposition to having
a railroad built at all, as the people thought it would be the ruin of
their towns. Even in Chicago, croakers were not wanting to predict that
the railroad would monopolize all the trade of the place.

In the face of all these obstacles, the road was built to the Des
Plaines River, twelve miles,--in a very cheap way, to be sure; as a
second-hand strap-rail was used, and half-worn cars were picked up from
Eastern roads.

These twelve miles of road between the Des Plaines and Chicago had
always been the terror of travellers. It was a low, wet prairie, without
drainage, and in the spring and autumn almost impassable. At such
seasons one might trace the road by the broken wagons and dead horses
that lay strewn along it.

To be able to have their loads of grain carried over this dreadful place
for three or four cents a bushel was to the farmers of the Rock River
and Fox River valleys--who, having hauled their wheat from forty to
eighty miles to this Slough of Despond, frequently could get it no
farther--a privilege which they soon began to appreciate. The road had
all it could do, at once. It was a success. There was now no difficulty
in getting the stock taken up, and before long it was finished to Fox
River. It paid from fifteen to twenty per cent to the stockholders,
and the people along the line soon became its warmest friends,--and no
wonder, since it doubled the value of every man's farm on the line. The
next year the road was extended to Rock River, and then to Galena, one
hundred and eighty-five miles.

This road was the pioneer of the twenty-eight hundred and fifty miles of
railroads which now cross the State in every direction, and which have
hastened the settlement of the prairies at least fifty years.

Among these lines of railway, the most important, and one of the longest
in America, is the Illinois Central, which is seven hundred and four
miles in length, and traverses the State from South to North, namely:--

  1. The main line, from Cairo to La Salla           308 miles
  2. The Galena Branch, from La Salle to Dunleith    146  "
  3. The Chicago Branch, from Chicago to Centralia   250  "

This great work was accomplished in the short space of four years and
nine months, by the help of a grant of two and a half millions of acres
of land lying along the line. The company have adopted the policy of
selling these lands on long credit to actual settlers; and since the
completion of the road, in 1856, they have sold over a million of acres,
for fifteen millions of dollars, in secured notes, bearing interest. The
remaining lands will probably realize as much more, so that the seven
hundred and four miles of railroad will actually cost the corporators
nothing.

There are eleven trunk and twenty branch and extension lines, which
centre in Chicago, the earnings of nineteen of which, for the year 1859,
were fifteen millions of dollars. As that, however, was a year of great
depression in business, with a short crop through the Northwest, we
think, in view of the large crop of 1860, and the consequent revival of
business, that the earnings of these nineteen lines will not be less
this year than twenty-two millions of dollars.

In the early settlement of the State, twenty-five or thirty years ago,
the pioneers being necessarily very liable to want of good shelter, to
bad food and impure water, suffered much from bilious and intermittent
fevers. As the country has become settled, the land brought under
cultivation, and the habits of the people improved, these diseases have
in a great measure disappeared. Other forms of disease have, however,
taken their place, pulmonary affections and fevers of the typhoid type
being more prevalent than formerly; but as most of the immigrants into
Northern Illinois are from Western New York and New England, where this
latter class of diseases prevails, the people are much less alarmed by
them than they used to be by the bilious diseases, though the latter
were really less dangerous. The coughs, colds, and consumptions are old
acquaintances, and through familiarity have lost their terrors.

The census of 1850 gives the following comparative view of the annual
percentage of deaths in several States:--

  Massachusetts,   .   . 1.95 per cent.
  Rhode Island, .   .    1.52 "
  New York,    .   .   . 1.47 "
  Ohio,  .   .   .   .   1.44 "
  Illinois, .  .   .   . 1.36 "
  Missouri,  .   .   .   1.80 "
  Louisiana,   .   .   . 2.31 "
  Texas,     .   .   .   1.43 "

This table shows that Illinois stands in point of health among the very
highest of the States.

Having sketched the history and traced the material development of the
Prairie State to the present time, we will close this article with a few
words as to its politics and policy.

As we have seen, the early settlers of Illinois were from Virginia
and Kentucky, and brought with them the habits, customs, and ideas of
Slaveholders; and though by the sagacity and virtue of a few leading
men the institution of Slavery was kept out, yet for many years the
Democratic Party, always the ally and servant of the Slave-Power, was in
the ascendant. Until 1858, the Legislature and the Executive have always
been Democratic, and the Democratic candidate for the Presidency, from
Jackson down to Buchanan, was sure of the electoral vote of Illinois.
But the growth of the northern half of the State has of late years been
far outstripping that of the southern portion, and the former now has
the majority. We have now a Republican Legislature and a Republican
Governor, and, by the new apportionment soon to be made, the Republican
Party will be much more largely in the ascendant,--so much so, indeed,
that there is no probability of another Democratic Senator being chosen
from Illinois in the next twenty years, Mr. Douglas will be the last of
his race.

The people of Northern Illinois, who are in future to direct the policy
of the State, are mostly from Western New York and New England.

  "Coelum, non animum mutant."

They bring with them their unconquered prejudices in favor of freedom;
their great commercial city is as strongly anti-slavery as Worcester
or Syracuse, and has been for years an unsafe spot for a slave-hunter.
Their interests and their sympathies are all with the Northern States.
What idle babble, then, is this theory of a third Confederacy, to be
constructed out of the middle Atlantic States and the Northwest!

If, as one of our orators says, New England is the brain of this
country, then the Northwest is its bone and muscle, ready to cultivate
its wide prairies and feed the world,--or, if need be, to use the same
strength in crushing treason, and in preserving the Territories for free
settlers.



CONCERNING FUTURE YEARS


Does it ever come across you, my friend, with something of a start, that
things cannot always go on in your lot as they are going now? Does not a
sudden thought sometimes flash upon you, a hasty, vivid glimpse, of what
you will be long hereafter, if you are spared in this world? Our common
way is too much to think that things will always go on as they are
going. Not that we clearly think so: not that we ever put that opinion
in a definite shape, and avow to ourselves that we hold it: but we live
very much under that vague, general impression. We can hardly help it.
When a man of middle age inherits a pretty country-seat, and makes up
his mind that be cannot yet afford to give up business and go to live
there, but concludes that in six or eight years he will be able with
justice to his children to do so, do you think he brings plainly before
him the changes which must be wrought on himself and those around him
by these years? I do not speak of the greatest change of all, which may
come to any of us so very soon: I do not think of what may be done
by unlooked-for accident: I think merely of what must be done by the
passing on of time. I think of possible changes in taste and feeling,
of possible loss of liking for that mode of life. I think of lungs that
will play less freely, and of limbs that will suggest shortened walks,
and dissuade from climbing hills. I think how the children will have
outgrown daisy-chains, or even got beyond the season of climbing trees.
The middle-aged man enjoys the prospect of the time when he shall go to
his country house; and the vague, undefined belief surrounds him, like
an atmosphere, that he and his children, his views and likings, will be
then just such as they are now. He cannot bring it home to him at how
many points change will be cutting into him, and hedging him in, and
paring him down. And we all live very much under that vague impression.
Yet it is in many ways good for us to feel that we are going on,
--passing from the things which surround us,--advancing into the
undefined future, into the unknown land. And I think that sometimes we
all have vivid flashes of such a conviction. I dare say, my friend, you
have seen an old man, frail, soured, and shabby, and you have thought,
with a start, Perhaps _there_ is Myself of Future Years.

We human beings can stand a great deal. There is great margin allowed by
our constitution, physical and moral. I suppose there is no doubt that
a man may daily for years eat what is unwholesome, breathe air which is
bad, or go through a round of life which is not the best or the right
one for either body or mind, and yet be little the worse. And so men
pass through great trials and through long years, and yet are not
altered so very much. The other day, walking along the street, I saw a
man whom I had not seen for ten years. I knew that since I saw him last
he had gone through very heavy troubles, and that these had sat very
heavily upon him. I remembered how he had lost that friend who was the
dearest to him of all human beings, and I knew how broken down he had
been for many months after that great sorrow came. Yet there he was,
walking along, an unnoticed unit, just like any one else; and he was
looking wonderfully well. No doubt he seemed pale, worn, and anxious:
but he was very well and carefully dressed; he was walking with a brisk,
active step; and I dare say is feeling pretty well reconciled to being
what he is, and to the circumstances amid which he is living. Still, one
felt that somehow a tremendous change had passed over him. I felt
sorry for him, and all the more that he did not seem to feel sorry for
himself. It made me sad to think that some day I should be like him;
that perhaps in the eyes of my juniors I look like him already, careworn
and aging. I dare say in his feeling there was no such sense of falling
off. Perhaps he was tolerably content. He was walking so fast, and
looking so sharp, that I am sure he had no desponding feeling at the
time. Despondency goes with slow movements and with vague looks. The
sense of having materially fallen off is destructive to the eagle-eye.
Yes, he was tolerably content. We can go down-hill cheerfully, save at
the points where it is sharply brought home to us that we are going
down-hill. Lately I sat at dinner opposite an old lady who had the
remains of striking beauty. I remember how much she interested me. Her
hair was false, her teeth were false, her complexion was shrivelled, her
form had lost the round symmetry of earlier years, and was angular and
stiff; yet how cheerful and lively she was! She had gone far down-hill
physically; but either she did not feel her decadence, or she had grown
quite reconciled to it. Her daughter, a blooming matron, was there,
happy, wealthy, good; yet not apparently a whit more reconciled to life
than the aged grandam. It was pleasing, and yet it was sad, to see how
well we can make up our mind to what is inevitable. And such a sight
brings up to one a glimpse of Future Years. The cloud seems to part
before one, and through the rift you discern your earthly track far
away, and a jaded pilgrim plodding along it with weary step; and
though the pilgrim does not look like you, yet you know the pilgrim is
yourself.

This cannot always go on. To what is it all tending? I am not thinking
now of an outlook so grave, that this is not the place to discuss it.
But I am thinking how everything is going on. In this world there is no
standing still. And everything that belongs entirely to this world, its
interests and occupations, is going on towards a conclusion. It will
all come to an end. It cannot go on forever. I cannot always be writing
sermons as I do now, and going on in this regular course of life. I
cannot always be writing essays. The day will come when I shall have no
more to say, or when the readers of the Magazine will no longer have
patience to listen to me in that kind fashion in which they have
listened so long. I foresee it plainly, this evening,--even while
writing my first essay for the "Atlantic Monthly,"--the time when
the reader shall open the familiar cover, and glance at the table of
contents, and exclaim indignantly, "Here is that tiresome person again:
why will he not cease to weary us?" I write in sober sadness, my friend:
I do not intend any jest. If you do not know that what I have written is
certainly true, you have not lived very long. You have not learned the
sorrowful lesson, that all worldly occupations and interests are wearing
to their close. You cannot keep up the old thing, however much you may
wish to do so. You know how vain anniversaries for the most part are.
You meet with certain old friends, to try to revive the old days; but
the spirit of the old time will not come over you. It is not a spirit
that can be raised at will. It cannot go on forever, that walking down
to church on Sundays, and ascending those pulpit-steps; it will change
to feeling, though I humbly trust it may be long before it shall change
in fact. Don't you all sometimes feel something like that? Don't you
sometimes look about you and say to yourself, That furniture will wear
out: those window-curtains are getting sadly faded; they will not last a
lifetime? Those carpets must be replaced some day; and the old patterns
which looked at you with a kindly, familiar expression, through these
long years, must be among the old familiar faces that are gone. These
are little things, indeed, but they are among the vague recollections
that bewilder our memory; they are among the things which come up in the
strange, confused remembrance of the dying man in the last days of life.
There is an old fir-tree, a twisted, strange-looking fir-tree, which
will be among my last recollections, I know, as it was among my first.
It was always before my eyes, when I was three, four, five years old: I
see the pyramidal top, rising over a mass of shrubbery; I see it always
against a sunset-sky; always in the subdued twilight in which we seem to
see things in distant years. These old friends will die, you think;
who will take their place? You will be an old gentleman, a frail old
gentleman, wondered at by younger men, and telling them long stones
about the days when Lincoln was President, like those which weary you
now about the War of 1812. It will not be the same world then. Your
children will not be always children. Enjoy their fresh youth while it
lasts, for it will not last long. Do not skim over the present too fast,
through a constant habit of onward-looking. Many men of an anxious turn
are so eagerly concerned in providing for the future, that they hardly
remark the blessings of the present. Yet it is only because the future
will some day be present, that it deserves any thought at all. And many
men, instead of heartily enjoying present blessings while they are
present, train themselves to a habit of regarding these things as merely
the foundation on which they are to build some vague fabric of they know
not what. I have known a clergyman, who was very fond of music, and in
whose church the music was very fine, who seemed incapable of enjoying
its solemn beauty as a thing to be enjoyed while passing, but who
persisted in regarding each beautiful strain merely as a promising
indication of what his choir would come at some future time to be. It is
a very bad habit, and one which grows, unless repressed. You, my reader,
when you see your children racing on the green, train yourself to regard
all that as a happy end in itself. Do not grow to think merely that
those sturdy young limbs promise to be stout and serviceable when they
are those of a grown-up man; and rejoice in the smooth little forehead
with its curly hair, without any forethought of how it is to look some
day when overshadowed (as it is sure to be) by the great wig of the Lord
Chancellor. Good advice: let us all try to take it. Let all happy things
be not merely regarded as means, but enjoyed as ends. Yet it is in the
make of our nature to be ever onward-looking; and we cannot help it.
When you get the first number for the year of the magazine which you
take in, you instinctively think of it as the first portion of a new
volume; and you are conscious of a certain, though alight, restlessness
in the thought of a thing incomplete, and of a wish that you had the
volume completed. And sometimes, thus looking onward into the future,
you worry yourself with little thoughts and cares. There is that old
dog: you have had him for many years; he is growing stiff and frail;
what are you to do when he dies? When he is gone, the new dog you get
will never be like him; he may be, indeed, a far handsomer and more
amiable animal, but he will not be your old companion; he will not be
surrounded with all those old associations, not merely with your own
by-past life, but with the lives, the faces, and the voices of those who
have left you, which invest with a certain sacredness even that humble,
but faithful friend. He will not have been the companion of your
youthful walks, when you went at a pace which now you cannot attain. He
will just be a common dog; and who that has reached your years cares
for _that_? The other, indeed, was a dog too; but that was merely the
substratum on which was accumulated a host of recollections: it is _Auld
Lang Syne_ that walks into your study, when your shaggy friend of ten
summers comes stiffly in, and after many querulous turnings lays himself
down on the rug before the fire. Do you not feel the like when you
look at many little matters, and then look into the Future Years? That
harness,--how will you replace it? It will be a pang to throw it by;
and it will be a considerable expense, too, to get a new suit. Then you
think how long harness may continue to be serviceable. I once saw, on a
pair of horses drawing a stage-coach among the hills, a set of harness
which was thirty-five years old. It had been very costly and grand when
new; it had belonged for some of its earliest years to a certain wealthy
nobleman. The nobleman had been for many years in his grave, but there
was his harness still. It was tremendously patched, and the blinkers
were of extraordinary aspect; but it was quite serviceable. There is
comfort for you, poor country parsons! How thoroughly I understand your
feeling about such little things! I know how you sometimes look at your
phaëton or your dog-cart; and even while the morocco is fresh, and the
wheels still are running with their first tires, how you think you see
it after it has grown shabby and old-fashioned. Yes, you remember,
not without a dull kind of pang, that it is wearing out. You have a
neighbor, perhaps, a few miles off, whose conveyance, through the wear
of many years, has become remarkably seedy; and every time you meet it
you think that there you see your own, as it will some day be. Every dog
has his day: but the day of the rational dog is overclouded in a fashion
unknown to his inferior fellow-creature; it is overclouded by the
anticipation of the coming day which will not be his. You remember how
that great, though morbid man, John Poster, could not heartily enjoy the
summer weather, for thinking how every sunny day that shone upon him
was a downward step towards the winter gloom. Each indication that the
season was progressing, even though progressing as yet only to greater
beauty, filled him with great grief. "I have seen a fearful sight
to-day," he would say,--"I have seen a buttercup." And we know, of
course, that in his case there was nothing like affectation; it was only
that, unhappily for himself, the bent of his mind was so onward-looking,
that he saw only a premonition of the snows of December in the roses of
June. It would be a blessing, if we could quite discard the tendency.
And while your trap runs smoothly and noiselessly, while the leather is
fresh and the paint unscratched, do not worry yourself with visions of
the day when it will rattle and creak, and when you will make it wait
for you at the corner of back-streets when you drive into town. Do not
vex yourself by fancying that you will never have heart to send off the
old carriage, nor by wondering where you shall find the money to buy a
new one.

Have you ever read the "Life of Mansie Wauch, Tailor in Dalkeith," by
that pleasing poet and most amiable man, the late David Macbeth Moir?
I have been looking into it lately; and I have regretted much that the
Lowland Scotch dialect is so imperfectly understood in England, and that
even where so far understood its raciness is so little felt; for great
as is the popularity of that work, it is much less known than it
deserves to be. Only a Scotchman can thoroughly appreciate it. It is
curious, and yet it is not curious, to find the pathos and the polish of
one of the most touching and elegant of poets in the man who has
with such irresistible humor, sometimes approaching to the farcical,
delineated humble Scotch life. One passage in the book always struck me
very much. We have in it the poet as well as the humorist and it is a
perfect example of what I have been trying to describe in the pages
which you have read. I mean the passage in which Mansie tells us of a
sudden glimpse which, in circumstances of mortal terror, he once had of
the future. On a certain "awful night" the tailor was awakened by cries
of alarm, and, looking out, he saw the next house to his own was on fire
from cellar to garret. The earnings of poor Mansie's whole life were
laid out on his stock in trade and his furniture, and it appeared likely
that these would be at once destroyed.

"Then," says he, "the darkness of the latter days came over my spirit
like a vision before the prophet Isaiah; and I could see nothing in the
years to come but beggary and starvation,--myself a fallen-back old man,
with an out-at-the-elbows coat, a greasy hat, and a bald brow,
hirpling over a staff, requeeshting an awmous; Nanse a broken-hearted
beggar-wife, torn down to tatters, and weeping like Rachel when she
thought on better days; and poor wee Benjie going from door to door with
a meal-pock on his back."

Ah, there is exquisite pathos _there_, as well as humor; but the thing
for which I have quoted that sentence is its startling truthfulness. You
have all done what Mansie Wauch did, I know. Every one has his own way
of doing it, and it is his own especial picture which each sees; but
there has appeared to us, as to Mansie, (I must recur to my old figure,)
as it were a sudden rift in the clouds that conceal the future, and
we have seen the way, far ahead,--the dusty way,--and an aged pilgrim
pacing slowly along it; and in that aged figure we have each recognized
our own young self. How often have I sat down on the mossy wall that
surrounded my churchyard, when I had more time for reverie than I have
now,--sat upon the mossy wall, under a great oak, whose branches came
low down and projected far out,--and looked at the rough gnarled bark,
and at the pacing river, and at the belfry of the little church, and
there and then thought of Mansie Wauch and of his vision of Future
Years! How often in these hours, or in long solitary walks and rides
among the hills, have I had visions, clear as that of Mansie Wauch, of
how I should grow old in my country parish! Do not think that I wish or
intend to be egotistical, my friendly reader. I describe these feelings
and fancies because I think this is the likeliest way in which to reach
and describe your own. There was a rapid little stream that flowed, in
a very lonely place, between the highway and a cottage to which I often
went to see a poor old woman; and when I came out of the cottage, having
made sure that no one saw me, I always took a great leap over the little
stream, which saved going round a little way. And never once, for
several years, did I thus cross it without seeing a picture as clear to
the mind's eye as Mansie Wauch's,--a picture which made me walk very
thoughtfully along for the next mile or two. It was curious to think how
one was to get through the accustomed duty after having grown old and
frail. The day would come when the brook could be crossed in that brisk
fashion no more. It must be an odd thing for the parson to walk as an
old man into the pulpit, still his own, which was his own when he was a
young man of six-and-twenty. What a crowd of old remembrances must be
present each Sunday to the clergyman's mind, who has served the same
parish and preached in the same church for fifty years! Personal
identity, continued through the successive stages of life, is a
commonplace thing to think of; but when it is brought home to your own
case and feeling, it is a very touching and a very bewildering thing.
There are the same trees and hills as when you were a boy; and when each
of us comes to his last days in this world, how short a space it will
seem since we were little children! Let us humbly hope, that, in that
brief space parting the cradle from the grave, we may (by help from
above) have accomplished a certain work which will cast its blessed
influence over all the years and all the ages before us. Yet it remains
a strange thing to look forward and to see yourself with gray hair, and
not much even of that; to see your wife an old woman, and your little
boy or girl grown up into manhood or womanhood. It is more strange still
to fancy you see them all going on as usual in the round of life, and
you no longer among them. You see your empty chair. There is your
writing-table and your inkstand; there are your books, not so carefully
arranged as they used to be; perhaps, on the whole, less indication than
you might have hoped that they miss you. All this is strange when you
bring it home to your own case; and that hundreds of millions have felt
the like makes it none the less strange to you. The commonplaces of life
and death are not commonplace when they befall ourselves. It was in
desperate hurry and agitation that Mansie Wauch saw his vision; and in
like circumstances you may have yours too. But for the most part such
moods come in leisure,--in saunterings through the autumn woods,--in
reveries by the winter fire.

I do not think, thus musing upon our occasional glimpses of the Future,
of such fancies as those of early youth,--fancies and anticipations of
greatness, of felicity, of fame; I think of the onward views of men
approaching middle age, who have found their place and their work in
life, and who may reasonably believe, that, save for great unexpected
accidents, there will be no very material change in their lot till that
"change come" to which Job looked forward four thousand years since.
There are great numbers of educated folk who are likely always to live
in the same kind of house, to have the same establishment, to associate
with the same class of people, to walk along the same streets, to look
upon the same hills, as long as they live. The only change will be the
gradual one which will be wrought by advancing years.

And the onward view of such people in such circumstances is generally a
very vague one. It is only now and then that there comes the startling
clearness of prospect so well set forth by Mansie Wauch. Yet sometimes,
when such a vivid view comes, it remains for days, and is a painful
companion of your solitude. Don't you remember, clerical reader of
thirty-two, having seen a good deal of an old parson, rather sour in
aspect, rather shabby-looking, sadly pinched for means, and with powers
dwarfed by the sore struggle with the world to maintain his family and
to keep up a respectable appearance upon his limited resources; perhaps
with his mind made petty and his temper spoiled by the little worries,
the petty malignant tattle and gossip and occasional insolence of a
little backbiting village? and don't you remember how for days you felt
haunted by a sort of nightmare that there was what you would be, if you
lived so long? Yes; you know how there have been times when for ten days
together that jarring thought would intrude, whenever your mind was
disengaged from work; and sometimes, when you went to bed, that thought
kept you awake for hours. You knew the impression was morbid, and you
were angry with yourself for your silliness; but you could not drive it
away.

It makes a great difference in the prospect of Future Years, if you are
one of those people who, even after middle age, may still make a great
rise in life. This will prolong the restlessness which in others is
sobered down at forty: it will extend the period during which you will
every now and then have brief seasons of feverish anxiety, hope, and
fear, followed by longer stretches of blank disappointment. And it will
afford the opportunity of experiencing a vividly new sensation, and of
turning over a quite new leaf, after most people have settled to the
jog-trot at which the remainder of the pilgrimage is to be covered. A
clergyman of the Church of England may be made a bishop, and exchange a
quiet rectory for a palace. No doubt the increase of responsibility is
to a conscientious man almost appalling; but surely the rise in life
is great. There you are, one of four-and-twenty, selected out of near
twenty thousand. It is possible, indeed, that you may feel more reason
for shame than for elation at the thought. A barrister unknown to fame,
but of respectable standing, may be made a judge. Such a man may even,
if he gets into the groove, be gradually pushed on till he reaches an
eminence which probably surprises himself as much as any one else. A
good speaker in Parliament may at sixty or seventy be made a Cabinet
Minister. And we can all imagine what indescribable pride and elation
must in such cases possess the wife and daughters of the man who has
attained this decided step in advance. I can say sincerely that I never
saw human beings walk with so airy tread, and evince so fussily their
sense of a greatness more than mortal, as the wife and the daughter of
an amiable but not able bishop I knew in my youth, when they came to
church on the Sunday morning on which the good man preached for the
first time in his lawn sleeves. Their heads were turned for the time;
but they gradually came right again, as the ladies became accustomed to
the summits of human affairs. Let it be said for the bishop himself,
that there was not a vestige of that sense of elevation about him. He
looked perfectly modest and unaffected. His dress was remarkably ill put
on, and his sleeves stuck out in the most awkward fashion ever assumed
by drapery. I suppose that sometimes these rises in life come very
unexpectedly. I have heard of a man who, when he received a letter from
the Prime Minister of the day offering him a place of great dignity,
thought the letter was a hoax, and did not notice it for several days.
You could not certainly infer from his modesty what has proved to be the
fact, that he has filled his place admirably well. The possibility of
such material changes must no doubt tend to prolong the interest in
life, which is ready to flag as years go on. But perhaps with the
majority of men the level is found before middle age, and no very great
worldly change awaits them. The path stretches on, with its ups and
downs; and they only hope for strength for the day. But in such men's
lot of humble duty and quiet content there remains room for many fears.
All human beings who are as well off as they can ever be, and so who
have little room for hope, seem to be liable to the invasion of great
fear as they look into the future. It seems to be so with kings, and
with great nobles. Many such have lived in a nervous dread of change,
and have ever been watching the signs of the times with apprehensive
eyes. Nothing that can happen can well make such better; and so they
suffer from the vague foreboding of something which will make them
worse. And the same law reaches to those in whom hope is narrowed down,
not by the limit of grand possibility, but of little,--not by the fact
that they have got all that mortal can get, but by the fact that they
have got the little which is all that Providence seems to intend to give
to _them_. And, indeed, there is something that is almost awful, when
your affairs are all going happily, when your mind is clear and equal
to its work, when your bodily health is unbroken, when your home is
pleasant, when your income is ample, when your children are healthy and
merry and hopeful,--in looking on to Future Years. The more happy
you are, the more there is of awe in the thought how frail are the
foundations of your earthly happiness,--what havoc may be made of them
by the chances of even a single day. It is no wonder that the solemnity
and awfulness of the Future have been felt so much, that the languages
of Northern Europe have, as I dare say you know, no word which expresses
the essential notion of Futurity. You think, perhaps, of _shall_
and _will_. Well, these words have come now to convey the notion of
Futurity; but they do so only in a secondary fashion. Look to their
etymology, and you will see that they _imply_ Futurity, but do not
_express_ it. _I shall_ do such a thing means _I am bound to do it, I am
under an obligation to do it. I will_ do such a thing means _I intend to
do it. It is my present purpose to do it_. Of course, if you are under
an obligation to do anything, or if it be your intention to do anything,
the probability is that the thing will be done; but the Northern family
of languages ventures no nearer than _that_ towards the expression of
the bare, awful idea of Future Time. It was no wonder that Mr. Croaker
was able to east a gloom upon the gayest circle, and the happiest
conjuncture of circumstances, by wishing that all might be as well that
day six months. Six months! What might that time not do? Perhaps you
have not read a little poem of Barry Cornwall's, the idea of which must
come home to the heart of most of us:--

  "Touch us gently, Time!
  Let us glide adown thy stream
  Gently,--as we sometimes glide
  Through a quiet dream.
  Humble voyagers are we,
  Husband, wife, and children three;--
  One is lost,--an angel, fled
  To the azure overhead.

  "Touch us gently, Time!
  We've not proud nor soaring wings:
  _Our_ ambition, our content,
  Lies in simple things.
  Humble voyagers are we,
  O'er life's dim, unsounded sea,
  Seeking only some calm clime:--
  Touch us gently, gentle Time!"

I know that sometimes, my friend, you will not have much sleep, if, when
you lay your head on your pillow, you begin to think how much depends
upon your health and life. You have reached now that time at which you
value life and health not so much for their service to yourself, as for
their needfulness to others. There is a petition familiar to me in this
Scotch country, where people make their prayers for themselves, which
seems to me to possess great solemnity and force, when we think of
all that is implied in it. It is, _Spare useful lives!_ One life, the
slender line of blood passing into and passing out of one human heart,
may decide the question, whether wife and children shall grow up
affluent, refined, happy, yes, and _good_, or be reduced to hard
straits, with all the manifold evils which grow of poverty in the case
of those who have been reduced to it after knowing other things. You
often think, I doubt not, in quiet hours, what would become of your
children, if you were gone. You have done, I trust, what you can to care
for them, even from your grave: you think sometimes of a poetical figure
of speech amid the dry technical phrases of English law: you know what
is meant by the law of _Mortmain_; and you like to think that even your
_dead hand_ may be felt to be kindly intermeddling yet in the affairs of
those who were your dearest: that some little sum, slender, perhaps, but
as liberal as you could make it, may come in periodically when it is
wanted, and seem like the gift of a thoughtful heart and a kindly hand
which are far away. Yes, cut down your present income to any extent,
that you may make some provision for your children after you are dead.
You do not wish that they should have the saddest of all reasons for
taking care of you, and trying to lengthen out your life. But even after
you have done everything which your small means permit, you will still
think, with an anxious heart, of the possibilities of Future Years. A
man or woman who has children has very strong reason for wishing to live
as long as may be, and has no right to trifle with health or life.
And sometimes, looking out into days to come, you think of the little
things, hitherto so free from man's heritage of care, as they may some
day be. You see them shabby, and early anxious: can _that_ be the little
boy's rosy face, now so pale and thin? You see them in a poor room, in
which you recognize your study-chairs with the hair coming out of the
cushions, and a carpet which you remember now threadbare and in holes.

It is no wonder at all that people are so anxious about money. Money
means every desirable material thing on earth, and the manifold
immaterial things which come of material possessions. Poverty is the
most comprehensive earthly evil; all conceivable evils, temporal,
spiritual, and eternal, may come of _that_. Of course, great temptations
attend its opposite; and the wise man's prayer will be what it was long
ago,--"Give me neither poverty nor riches." But let us have no nonsense
talked about money being of no consequence. The want of it has made many
a father and mother tremble at the prospect of being taken from their
children; the want of it has embittered many a parent's dying hours.
You hear selfish persons talking vaguely about faith. You find such
heartless persons jauntily spending all they get on themselves, and then
leaving their poor children to beggary, with the miserable pretext that
they are doing all this through their abundant trust in God. Now this is
not faith; it is insolent presumption. It is exactly as if a man should
jump from the top of St. Paul's, and say that he had faith that the
Almighty would keep him from being dashed to pieces on the pavement.
There is a high authority as to such cases,--"Thou shalt not tempt the
Lord thy God." If God had promised that people should never fall into
the miseries of penury under any circumstances, it would be faith to
trust that promise, however unlikely of fulfilment it might seem in any
particular case. But God has made no such promise; and if you leave your
children without provision, you have no right to expect that they
shall not suffer the natural consequences of your heartlessness and
thoughtlessness. True faith lies in your doing everything you possibly
can, and _then_ humbly trusting in God. And if, after you have done your
very best, you must still go, with but a blank outlook for those you
leave, why, _then_ you may trust them to the Husband of the widow and
Father of the fatherless. Faith, as regards such matters, means firm
belief that God will do all He has promised to do, however difficult or
unlikely. But some people seem to think that faith means firm belief
that God will do whatever they think would suit them, however
unreasonable, and however flatly in the face of all the established laws
of His government.

We all have it in our power to make ourselves miserable, if we look
far into Future Years and calculate their probabilities of evil, and
steadily anticipate the worst. It is not expedient to calculate too far
ahead. Of course, the right way in this, as in other things, is
the middle way: we are not to run either into the extreme of
over-carefulness and anxiety on the one hand, or of recklessness and
imprudence on the other. But as mention has been made of faith, it may
safely be said that we are forgetful of that rational trust in God which
is at once our duty and our inestimable privilege, if we are always
looking out into the future, and vexing ourselves with endless fears as
to how things are to go then. There is no divine promise, that, if a
reckless blockhead leaves his children to starve, they shall not starve.
And a certain inspired volume speaks with extreme severity of the man
who fails to provide for them of his own house. But there is a divine
promise which says to the humble Christian,--"As thy days, so shall thy
strength be." If your affairs are going on fairly now, be thankful,
and try to do your duty, and to do your best, as a Christian man and a
prudent man, and then leave the rest to God. Your children are about
you; no doubt they may die, and it is fit enough that you should not
forget the fragility of your most prized possessions; it is fit enough
that you should sometimes sit by the fire and look at the merry faces
and listen to the little voices, and think what it would be to lose
them. But it is not needful, or rational, or Christian-like, to be
always brooding on that thought. And when they grow up, it may be hard
to provide for them. The little thing that is sitting on your knee may
before many years be alone in life, thousands of miles from you and from
his early home, an insignificant item in the bitter price which Britain
pays for her Indian Empire. It is even possible, though you hardly for a
moment admit _that_ thought, that the child may turn out a heartless
and wicked man, and prove your shame and heartbreak: all wicked and
heartless men have been the children of somebody; and many of them,
doubtless, the children of those who surmised the future as little as
Eve did when she smiled upon the infant Cain. And the fireside by which
you sit, now merry and noisy enough, may grow lonely,--lonely with the
second loneliness, not the hopeful solitude of youth looking forward,
but the desponding loneliness of age looking back. And it is so with
everything else. Your health may break down. Some fearful accident may
befall you. The readers of the magazine may cease to care for your
articles. People may get tired of your sermons. People may stop buying
your books, your wine, your groceries, your milk and cream. Younger
men may take away your legal business. Yet how often these fears prove
utterly groundless! It was good and wise advice, given by one who had
managed, with a cheerful and hopeful spirit, to pass through many trying
and anxious years, to "take short views":--not to vex and worry yourself
by planning too far ahead. And a wiser than the wise and cheerful Sydney
Smith had anticipated his philosophy. You remember Who said, "Take no
thought"--that is, no over-anxious and over-careful thought--"for the
morrow; for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself."
Did you ever sail over a blue summer sea towards a mountainous coast,
frowning, sullen, gloomy: and have you not seen the gloom retire before
you as you advanced; the hills, grim in the distance, stretch into sunny
slopes when you neared them; and the waters smile in cheerful light,
that looked so black when they were far away? And who is there that has
not seen the parallel in actual life? We have all known the anticipated
ills of life--the danger that looked so big, the duty that looked so
arduous, the entanglement that we could not see our way through--prove
to have been nothing more than spectres on the far horizon; and when
at length we reached them, all their difficulty had vanished into air,
leaving us to think what fools we had been for having so needlessly
conjured up phantoms to disturb our quiet. Yes, there is no doubt of
it, a very great part of all we suffer in this world is from the
apprehension of things that never come. I remember well how a dear
friend, whom I (and many more) lately lost, told me many times of his
fears as to what he would do in a certain contingency which both he
and I thought was quite sure to come sooner or later. I know that the
anticipation of it caused him some of the most anxious hours of a very
anxious, though useful and honored life. How vain his fears proved! He
was taken from this world before what he had dreaded had cast its most
distant shadow. Well, let me try to discard the notion which has been
sometimes worrying me of late, that perhaps I have written nearly as
many essays as any one will care to read. Don't let any of us give way
to fears which may prove to have been entirely groundless.

And then, if we are really spared to see those trials we sometimes
think of, and which it is right that we should sometimes think of, the
strength for them will come at the time. They will not look nearly so
black, and we shall be enabled to bear them bravely. There is in human
nature a marvellous power of accommodation to circumstances. We can
gradually make up our mind to almost anything. If this were a sermon
instead of an essay, I should explain my theory of how this comes to
be. I see in all this something beyond the mere natural instinct of
acquiescence in what is inevitable; something beyond the benevolent law
in the human mind, that it shall adapt itself to whatever circumstances
it may be placed in; something beyond the doing of the gentle comforter
Time. Yes, it is wonderful what people can go through, wonderful what
people can get reconciled to. I dare say my friend Smith, when his hair
began to fall off, made frantic efforts to keep it on. I have no doubt
he anxiously tried all the vile concoctions which quackery advertises in
the newspapers, for the advantage of those who wish for luxuriant locks.
I dare say for a while it really weighed upon his mind, and disturbed
his quiet, that he was getting bald. But now he has quite reconciled
himself to his lot; and with a head smooth and sheeny as the egg of
the ostrich, Smith goes on through life, and feels no pang at the
remembrance of the ambrosial curls of his youth. Most young people,
I dare say, think it will be a dreadful thing to grow old: a girl of
eighteen thinks it must be an awful sensation to be thirty. Believe me,
not at all. You are brought to it bit by bit; and when you reach the
spot, you rather like the view. And it is so with graver things. We grow
able to do and to bear that which it is needful that we should do and
bear. As is the day, so the strength proves to be. And you have heard
people tell you truly, that they have been enabled to bear what they
never thought they could have come through with their reason or their
life. I have no fear for the Christian man, so he keeps to the path of
duty. Straining up the steep hill, his heart will grow stout in just
proportion to its steepness. Yes, and if the call to martyrdom came, I
should not despair of finding men who would show themselves equal to it,
even in this commonplace age, and among people who wear Highland cloaks
and knickerbockers. The martyr's strength would come with the martyr's
day. It is because there is no call for it now, that people look so
little like it.

It is very difficult, in this world, to strongly enforce a truth,
without seeming to push it into an extreme. You are very apt, in
avoiding one error, to run into the opposite error; forgetting that
truth and right lie generally between two extremes. And in agreeing with
Sydney Smith, as to the wisdom and the duty of "taking short views," let
us take care of appearing to approve the doings of those foolish and
unprincipled people who will keep no outlook into the future time at
all. A bee, you know, cannot see more than a single inch before it; and
there are many men, and perhaps more women, who appear, as regards their
domestic concerns, to be very much of bees: not bees in the respect of
being busy; but bees in the respect of being blind. You see this in all
ranks of life. You see it in the artisan, earning good wages, yet with
every prospect of being weeks out of work next summer or winter, who yet
will not be persuaded to lay by a little in preparation for a rainy day.
You see it in the country gentleman, who, having five thousand a year;
spends ten thousand a year; resolutely shutting his eyes to the certain
and not very remote consequences. You see it in the man who walks into a
shop and buys a lot of things which he has not the money to pay for,
in the vague hope that something will turn up. It is a comparatively
thoughtful and anxious class of men who systematically overcloud the
present by anticipations of the future. The more usual thing is to
sacrifice the future to the present; to grasp at what in the way of
present gratification or gain can be got, with very little thought of
the consequences. You see silly women, the wives of men whose families
are mainly dependent on their lives, constantly urging on their husbands
to extravagances which eat up the little provision which might have been
made for themselves and their children when he is gone who earned their
bread. There is no sadder sight, I think, than that which is not a very
uncommon sight, the careworn, anxious husband, laboring beyond his
strength, often sorrowfully calculating how he may make the ends to
meet, denying himself in every way; and the extravagant idiot of a wife,
bedizened with jewelry and arrayed in velvet and lace, who tosses away
his hard earnings in reckless extravagance; in entertainments which
he cannot afford, given to people who do not care a rush for him; in
preposterous dress; in absurd furniture; in needless men-servants; in
green-grocers above measure; in resolute aping of the way of living of
people with twice or three times the means. It is sad to see all the
forethought, prudence, and moderation of the wedded pair confined to one
of them. You would say that it will not be any solid consolation to the
widow, when the husband is fairly worried into his grave at last,--when
his daughters have to go out as governesses, and she has to let
lodgings,--to reflect that while he lived they never failed to have
Champagne at his dinner-parties; and that they had three men to wait at
table on such occasions, while Mr. Smith, next door, had never more than
one and a maidservant. If such idiotic women would but look forward, and
consider how all this must end! If the professional man spends all he
earns, what remains when the supply is cut off; when the toiling head
and hand can toil no more? Ah, a little of the economy and management
which must perforce be practised after _that_ might have tended
powerfully to put off the evil day. Sometimes the husband is merely the
careworn drudge who provides what the wife squanders. Have you not known
such a thing as that a man should be laboring under an Indian sun, and
cutting down every personal expense to the last shilling, that he might
send a liberal allowance to his wife in England; while she meanwhile
was recklessly spending twice what was thus sent her; running up
overwhelming accounts, dashing about to public balls, paying for a
bouquet what cost the poor fellow far away much thought to save,
giving costly entertainments at home, filling her house with idle and
empty-headed scapegraces, carrying on scandalous flirtations; till
it becomes a happy thing, if the certain ruin she is bringing on her
husband's head is cut short by the needful interference of Sir Cresswell
Cresswell? There are cases in which tarring and feathering would soothe
the moral sense of the right-minded onlooker. And even where things are
not so bad as in the case of which we have been thinking, it remains
the social curse of this age, that people with a few hundreds a year
determinedly act in various respects as if they had as many thousands.
The dinner given by a man with eight hundred a year, in certain regions
of the earth which I could easily point out, is, as regards food, wine,
and attendance, precisely the same as the dinner given by another man
who has five thousand a year. When will this end? When will people
see its silliness? In truth, you do not really, as things are in this
country, make many people better off by adding a little or a good deal
to their yearly income. For in all probability they were living up to
the very extremity of their means before they got the addition; and in
all probability the first thing they do, on getting the addition, is so
far to increase their establishment and their expense that it is just
as hard a struggle as ever to make the ends meet. It would not be a
pleasant arrangement, that a man who was to be carried across the
straits from England to France should be fixed on a board so weighted
that his mouth and nostrils should be at the level of the water, thus
that he should be struggling for life, and barely escaping drowning
all the way. Yet hosts of people, whom no one proposes to put under
restraint, do as regards their income and expenditure a precisely
analogous thing. They deliberately weight themselves to that degree that
their heads are barely above water, and that any unforeseen emergency
dips their heads under. They rent a house a good deal dearer than they
can justly afford; and they have servants more and more expensive than
they ought; and by many such things they make sure that their progress
through life shall be a drowning struggle: while, if they would
rationally resolve and manfully confess that they cannot afford to have
things as richer folk have them, and arrange their way of living in
accordance with what they can afford, they would enjoy the feeling of
ease and comfort; they would not be ever on the wretched stretch on
which they are now, nor keeping up the hollow appearance of what is
not the fact. But there are folk who make it a point of honor never to
admit, that, in doing or not doing anything, they are actuated for an
instant by so despicable a consideration as the question whether or not
they can afford it. And who shall reckon up the brains which this social
calamity has driven into disease, or the early paralytic shocks which it
has brought on?

When you were very young, and looked forward to Future Years, did
you ever feel a painful fear that you might outgrow your early home
affections, and your associations with your native scenes? Did you ever
think to yourself,--Will the day come when I shall have been years away
from that river's side, and yet not care? I think we have all known the
feeling. O plain church, to which I used to go when I was a child, and
where I used to think the singing so very splendid! O little room, where
I used to sleep! and you, tall tree, on whose topmost branch I cut the
initials which perhaps the reader knows! did I not even then wonder to
myself if the time and would ever come when I should be far away from
you,--far away, as now, for many years, and not likely to go back,--and
yet feel entirely indifferent to the matter? and did not I even then
feel a strange pain in the fear that very likely it might? These
things come across the mind of a little boy with a curious grief and
bewilderment. Ah, there is something strange in the inner life of a
thoughtful child of eight years old! I would rather see a faithful
record of his thoughts, feelings, fancies, and sorrows, for a single
week, than know all the political events that have happened during that
space in Spain, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Russia, and Turkey. Even amid
the great grief at leaving home for school in your early days, did you
not feel a greater grief to think that the day might come when you would
not care at all; when your home ties and affections would be outgrown;
when you would be quite content to live on, month after month, far from
parents, sisters, brothers, and feel hardly a perceptible blank when you
remembered that they were far away? But it is of the essence of such
fears, that, when the thing comes that you were afraid of, it has ceased
to be fearful; still it is with a little pang that you sometimes call to
remembrance how much you feared it once. It is a daily regret, though
not a very acute one, (more's the pity,) to be thrown much, in middle
life, into the society of an old friend whom as a boy you had regarded
as very wise, and to be compelled to observe that he is a tremendous
fool. You struggle with the conviction; you think it wrong to give in to
it; but you cannot help it. But it would have been a sharper pang to the
child's heart, to have impressed upon the child the fact, that "Good Mr.
Goose is a fool, and some day you will understand that he is." In those
days one admits no imperfection in the people and the things one likes.
You like a person; and _he is good. That_ seems the whole case. You do
not go into exceptions and reservations. I remember how indignant I
felt, as a boy, at reading some depreciatory criticism of the "Waverley
Novels." The criticism was to the effect that the plots generally
dragged at first, and were huddled up at the end. But to me the novels
were enchaining, enthralling; and to hint a defect in them stunned one.
In the boy's feeling, if a thing be good, why, there cannot be anything
bad about it. But in the man's mature judgment, even in the people he
likes best, and in the things he appreciates most highly, there are many
flaws and imperfections. It does not vex us much now to find that this
is so; but it would have greatly vexed us many years since to have
been told that it would be so. I can well imagine, that, if you told a
thoughtful and affectionate child, how well he would some day get on,
far from his parents and his home, his wish would be that any evil might
befall him rather than that! We shrink with terror from the prospect of
things which we can take easily enough when they come. I dare say Lord
Chancellor Thurlow was moderately sincere when he exclaimed in the House
of Peers, "When I forget my king, may my God forget me!" And you will
understand what Leigh Hunt meant, when, in his pleasant poem of "The
Palfrey," he tells us of a daughter who had lost a very bad and
heartless father by death, that,

  "The daughter wept, and wept the more,
  To think her tears would soon be o'er."

Even in middle age, one sad thought which comes in the prospect of
Future Years is of the change which they are sure to work upon many of
our present views and feelings. And the change, in many cases, will be
to the worse. One thing is certain,--that your temper will grow worse,
if it do not grow better. Years will sour it, if they do not mellow it.
Another certain thing is, that, if you do not grow wiser, you will be
growing more foolish. It is very true that there is no fool so foolish
as an old fool. Let us hope, my friend, that, whatever be our honest
worldly work, it may never lose its interest. We must always speak
humbly about the changes which coming time will work upon us, upon even
our firmest resolutions and most rooted principles; or I should say for
myself that I cannot even imagine myself the same being, with bent less
resolute and heart less warm to that best of all employments which is
the occupation of my life. But there are few things which, as we grow
older, impress us more deeply than the transitoriness of thoughts and
feelings in human hearts.

Nor am I thinking of contemptible people only, when I say so. I am not
thinking of the fellow who is pulled up in court in an action for breach
of promise of marriage, and who in one letter makes vows of unalterable
affection, and in another letter, written a few weeks or months later,
tries to wriggle out of his engagement. Nor am I thinking of the weak,
though well-meaning lady, who devotes herself in succession to a great
variety of uneducated and unqualified religious instructors; who tells
you one week how she has joined the flock of Mr. A., the converted
prize-fighter, and how she regards him as by far the most improving
preacher she ever heard; and who tells you the next week that she has
seen through the prize-fighter, that he has gone and married a wealthy
Roman Catholic, and that now she has resolved to wait on the ministry of
Mr. B., an enthusiastic individual who makes shoes during the week and
gives sermons on Sundays, and in whose addresses she finds exactly what
suits her. I speak of the better feelings and purposes of wiser, if not
better folk. Let me think here of pious emotions and holy resolutions,
of the best and purest frames of heart and mind. Oh, if we could all
always remain at our best! And after all, permanence is the great test.
In the matter of Christian faith and feeling, in the matter of all our
worthier principles and purposes, that which lasts longest is best.
This, indeed, is true of most things. The worth of anything depends much
upon its durability,--upon the wear that is in it. A thing that is
merely a fine flash and over only disappoint. The highest authority has
recognized this. You remember Who said to his friends, before leaving
them, that He would have them bring forth fruit, and much fruit. But
not even _that_ was enough. The fairest profession for a time, the most
earnest labor for a time, the most ardent affection for a time, would
not suffice. And so the Redeemer's words were,--"I have chosen you, and
ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that _your
fruit should remain."_ Well, let us trust, that, in the most solemn of
all respects, only progress shall be brought to us by all the changes of
Future Years.

But it is quite vain to think that feelings, as distinguished from
principles, shall not lose much of their vividness, freshness, and
depth, as time goes on. You cannot now by any effort revive the
exultation you felt at some unexpected great success, nor the
heart-sinking of some terrible loss or trial. You know how women, after
the death of a child, determine that every day, as long as they live,
they will visit the little grave. And they do so for a time,
sometimes for a long time; but they gradually leave off. You know how
burying-places are very trimly and carefully kept at first, and how
flowers are hung upon the stone; but these things gradually cease. You
know how many husbands and wives, after their partner's death, determine
to give the remainder of life to the memory of the departed, and would
regard with sincere horror the suggestion that it was possible they
should ever marry again; but after a while they do. And you will even
find men, beyond middle age, who made a tremendous work at their first
wife's death, and wore very conspicuous mourning, who in a very few
months may be seen dangling after some new fancy, and who in the
prospect of their second marriage evince an exhilaration that approaches
to crackiness. It is usual to speak of such things in a ludicrous
manner; but I confess the matter seems to me anything but one to laugh
at. I think that the rapid dying out of warm feelings, the rapid
change of fixed resolutions, is one of the most sorrowful subjects of
reflection which it is possible to suggest. Ah, my friends, after we
die, it would not be expedient, even if it were possible, to come back.
Many of us would not like to find how very little they miss us. But
still, it is the manifest intention of the Creator that strong feelings
should be transitory. The sorrowful thing is when they pass and leave
absolutely no trace behind them. There should always he some corner kept
in the heart for a feeling which once possessed it all. Let us look at
the case temperately. Let us face and admit the facts. The healthy body
and mind can get over a great deal; but there are some things which it
is not to the credit of our nature should ever be entirely got over.
Here are sober truth, and sound philosophy, and sincere feeling
together, in the words of Philip van Artevelde:--

  "Well, well, she's gone,
  And I have tamed my sorrow. Pain and grief
  Are transitory things, no less than joy;
  And though they leave us not the men we were,
  Yet they do leave us. You behold me here,
  A man bereaved, with something of a blight
  Upon the early blossoms of his life,
  And its first verdure,--having not the less
  A living root, and drawing from the earth
  Its vital juices, from the air its powers:
  And surely as man's heart and strength are whole,
  His appetites regerminate, his heart
  Reopens, and his objects and desires
  Spring up renewed."

But though Artevelde speaks truly and well, you remember how Mr.
Taylor, in that noble play, works out to our view the sad sight of the
deterioration of character, the growing coarseness and harshness,
the lessening tenderness and kindliness, which are apt to come with
advancing years. Great trials, we know, passing over us, may influence
us either for the worse or the better; and unless our nature is a very
obdurate and poor one, though they may leave us, they will not leave us
the men we were. Once, at a public meeting, I heard a man in eminent
station make a speech. I had never seen him before; but I remembered an
inscription which I had read, in a certain churchyard far away, upon the
stone that marked the resting-place of his young wife, who had died many
years before. I thought of its simple words of manly and hearty sorrow.
I knew that the eminence he had reached had not come till she who would
have been proudest of it was beyond knowing it or caring for it. And I
cannot say with what interest and satisfaction I thought I could trace,
in the features which were sad without the infusion of a grain of
sentimentalism, in the subdued and quiet tone of the man's whole aspect
and manner and address, the manifest proof that he had not shut down the
leaf upon that old page of his history, that he had never quite got over
that great grief of earlier years. One felt better and more hopeful for
the sight. I suppose many people, after meeting some overwhelming loss
or trial, have fancied that they would soon die; but that is almost
invariably a delusion. Various dogs have died of a broken heart, but
very few human beings. The Inferior creature has pined away at his
master's loss: as for _us_, it is not that one would doubt the depth
and sincerity of sorrow, but that there is more endurance in our
constitution, and that God has appointed that grief shall rather mould
and influence than kill. It is a much sadder sight than an early death,
to see human beings live on after heavy trial, and sink into something
very unlike their early selves and very inferior to their early selves.
I can well believe that many a human being, if he could have a glimpse
in innocent youth of what he will be twenty or thirty years after, would
pray in anguish to be taken before coming to _that!_ Mansie Wauch's
glimpse of destitution was bad enough; but a million times worse is a
glimpse of hardened and unabashed sin and shame. And it would be no
comfort--it would be an aggravation in that view--to think that by the
time you have reached that miserable point, you will have grown pretty
well reconciled to it. _That_ is the worst of all. To be wicked and
depraved, and to feel it, and to be wretched under it, is bad enough;
but it is a great deal worse to have fallen into that depth of moral
degradation and to feel that really you don't care. The instinct of
accommodation is not always a blessing. It is happy for us, that, though
in youth we hoped to live in a castle or a palace, we can make up our
mind to live in a little parsonage or a quiet street in a country town.
It is happy for us, that, though in youth we hoped to be very great and
famous, we are so entirely reconciled to being little and unknown. But
it is not happy for the poor girl who walks the Haymarket at night that
she feels her degradation so little. It is not happy that she has come
to feel towards her miserable life so differently now from what she
would have felt towards it, had it been set before her while she was the
blooming, thoughtless creature in the little cottage in the country. It
is only by fits and starts that the poor drunken wretch, living in a
garret upon a little pittance allowed him by his relations, who was once
a man of character and hope, feels what a sad pitch he has come to. If
you could get him to feel it constantly, there would be some hope of his
reclamation even yet.

It seems to me a very comforting thought, in looking on to Future Years,
if you are able to think that you are in a profession or a calling from
which you will never retire. For the prospect of a total change in your
mode of life, and the entire cessation of the occupation which for many
years employed the greater part of your waking thoughts, and all this
amid the failing powers and flagging hopes of declining years, is both a
sad and a perplexing prospect to a thoughtful person. For such a person
cannot regard this great change simply in the light of a rest from toil
and worry; he will know quite well what a blankness and listlessness and
loss of interest in life will come of feeling all at once that you have
nothing at all to do. And so it is a great blessing, if your vocation be
one which is a dignified and befitting one for an old man to be engaged
in, one that beseems his gravity--and his long experience, one that
beseems even his slow movements and his white hairs. It is a pleasant
thing to see an old man a judge; his years become the judgment-seat. But
then the old man can hold such an office only while he retains strength
of body and mind efficiently to perform its duties; and he must do all
his work for himself: and accordingly a day must come when the venerable
Chancellor resigns the Great Seal; when the aged Justice or Baron must
give up his place; and when these honored Judges, though still retaining
considerable vigor, but vigor less than enough for their hard work, are
compelled to feel that their occupation is gone. And accordingly I
hold that what is the best of all professions, for many reasons, is
especially so for this, that you need never retire from it. In the
Church you need not do all your duty yourself. You may get assistance to
supplement your own lessening strength. The energetic young curate or
curates may do that part of the parish work which exceeds the power of
the aging incumbent, while the entire parochial machinery has still the
advantage of being directed by his wisdom and experience, and while the
old man is still permitted to do what he can with such strength as is
spared to him, and to feel that he is useful in the noblest cause yet.
And even to extremest age and frailty,--to age and frailty which would
long since have incapacitated the judge for the bench,--the parish
clergyman may take some share in the much-loved duty in which he has
labored so long. He may still, though briefly, and only now and then,
address his flock from the pulpit, in words which his very feebleness
will make far more touchingly effective than the most vigorous eloquence
and the richest and fullest tones of his young coadjutors. There never
will be, within the sacred walls, a silence and reverence more
profound than when the withered kindly face looks as of old upon the
congregation, to whose fathers its owner first ministered, and which has
grown up mainly under his instruction,--and when the voice that falls
familiarly on so many ears tells again, quietly and earnestly, the old
story which we all need so much to hear. And he may still look in at the
parish school, and watch the growth of a generation that is to do the
work of life when he is in his grave; and kindly smooth the children's
heads; and tell them how One, once a little child, and never more
than a young man, brought salvation alike to young and old.
He may still sit by the bedside of the sick and dying, and
speak to such with the sympathy and the solemnity of one who does
not forget that the last great realities are drawing near to both. But
there are vocations which are all very well for young or middle-aged
people, but which do not quite suit the old. Such is that of the
barrister. Wrangling and hair-splitting, browbeating and bewildering
witnesses, making coarse jokes to excite the laughter of common
jury-men, and addressing such with clap-trap bellowings, are not the
work for gray-headed men. If such remain at the bar, rather let them
have the more refined work of the Equity Courts, where you
address judges, and not juries; and where you spare clap-trap and
misrepresentation, if for no better reason, because you know that these
will not stand you in the slightest stead. The work which best befits
the aged, the work for which no mortal can ever become too venerable and
dignified or too weak and frail, is the work of Christian usefulness and
philanthropy. And it is a beautiful sight to see, as I trust we all have
seen, _that_ work persevered in with the closing energies of life. It
is a noble test of the soundness of the principle that prompted to its
first undertaking. It is a hopeful and cheering sight to younger men,
looking out with something of fear to the temptations and trials of the
years before them. Oh! if the gray-haired clergyman, with less now,
indeed, of physical strength and mere physical warmth, yet preaches,
with the added weight and solemnity of his long experience, the same
blessed doctrines now, after forty years, that he preached in his
early prime; if the philanthropist of half a century since is the
philanthropist still,--still kind, hopeful, and unwearied, though with
the snows of age upon his head, and the hand that never told its fellow
of what it did now trembling as it does the deed of mercy; then I think
that even the most doubtful will believe that the principle and the
religion of such men were a glorious reality! The sternest of all
touchstones of the genuineness of our better feelings is the fashion in
which they stand the wear of years.

But my shortening space warns me to stop; and I must cease, for the
present, from these thoughts of Future Years,--cease, I mean, from
writing about that mysterious tract before us: who can cease from
thinking of it? You remember how the writer of that little poem which
has been quoted asks Time to touch gently him and his. Of course he
spoke as a poet, stating the case fancifully,--but not forgetting, that,
when we come to sober sense, we must prefer our requests to an Ear more
ready to hear us and a Hand more ready to help. It is not to Time that I
shall apply to lead me through life into immortality! And I cannot think
of years to come without going back to a greater poet, whom we need not
esteem the less because his inspiration was loftier than that of the
Muses, who has summed up so grandly in one comprehensive sentence all
the possibilities which could befall _him_ in the days and ages before
him. "Thou shall guide me with Thy counsel, and afterward receive me to
glory!" Let us humbly trust that in that sketch, round and complete, of
all that can ever come to us, my readers and I may be able to read the
history of our Future Years!



BROTHER JONATHAN'S LAMENT FOR SISTER CAROLINE.


  She has gone,--she has left us in passion and pride,--
  Our stormy-browed sister, so long at our side!
  She has torn her own star from our firmament's glow,
  And turned on her brother the face of a foe!

  O Caroline, Caroline, child of the sun,
  We can never forget that our hearts have been one,--
  Our foreheads both sprinkled in Liberty's name,
  From the fountain of blood with the finger of flame!

  You were always too ready to fire at a touch;
  But we said, "She is hasty,--she does not mean much."
  We have scowled, when you uttered some turbulent threat;
  But Friendship still whispered, "Forgive and forget!"

  Has our love all died out? Have its altars grown cold?
  Has the curse come at last which the fathers foretold?
  Then Nature must teach us the strength of the chain
  That her petulant children would sever in vain.

  They may fight till the buzzards are gorged with their spoil,
  Till the harvest grows black as it rots in the soil,
  Till the wolves and the catamounts troop from their caves,
  And the shark tracks the pirate, the lord of the waves:

  In vain is the strife! When its fury is past,
  Their fortunes must flow in one channel at last,
  As the torrents that rush from the mountains of snow
  Roll mingled in peace through the valleys below.

  Our Union is river, lake, ocean, and sky:
  Man breaks not the medal, when God cuts the die!
  Though darkened with sulphur, though cloven with steel,
  The blue arch will brighten, the waters will heal!

  O Caroline, Caroline, child of the sun,
  There are battles with Fate that can never be won!
  The star-flowering banner must never be furled,
  For its blossoms of light are the hope of the world!

  Go, then, our rash sister! afar and aloof,--
  Run wild in the sunshine away from our roof;
  But when your heart aches and your feet have grown sore,
  Remember the pathway that leads to our door!



ORIGINAL MEMORIALS OF MRS. PIOZZI.


Ninety years ago, one of the pleasantest houses near London, for the
society that gathered within it, was Mr., or rather, Mrs. Thrale's,
at Streatham Park. To be a guest there was to meet the best people in
England, and to hear such good talk that much of it has not lost its
flavor even yet. Strawberry Hill, Holland House, or any other famous
house of that day, has left but faint memories of itself, compared with
those of Streatham. Boswell, the most sagacious of men in the hunt after
good company, had the good wit and good fortune to get entrance here.
One day, in 1769, Dr. Johnson delivered him "a very polite card" from
Mr. and Mrs. Thrale, inviting him to Streatham. "On the 6th of October,
I complied," he says, "with their obliging invitation, and found, at
an elegant villa six miles from town, every circumstance that can make
society pleasing." Upon the walls of the library hung portraits of the
master and mistress of the house, and of their most familiar friends and
guests, all by Sir Joshua. Madame d'Arblay, in her most entertaining
"Diary," gives a list of them,--and a list is all that is needed of such
famous names. "Mrs. Thrale and her eldest daughter were in one piece,
over the fireplace, at full length. The rest of the pictures were all
three-quarters. Mr. Thrale was over the door leading to his study.
The general collection then began by Lord Sandys and Lord Westcote,
(Lyttelton,) two early noble friends of Mr. Thrale. Then followed Dr.
Johnson, Mr. Burke, Dr. Goldsmith, Mr. Murphy, Mr. Garrick, Mr. Baretti,
Sir Robert Chambers, and Sir Joshua Reynolds himself,--all painted in
the highest style of this great master, who much delighted in this his
Streatham Gallery. There was place left but for one more frame when the
acquaintance with Dr. Burney began at Streatham."

A household which had such men for its intimates must have had a more
than common charm in itself, and at Streatham this charm lay chiefly in
the character of its mistress. It was Mrs. Thrale who had the rare power
"to call together the most select company when it pleased her." In 1770
she was thirty years old. A small and not beautiful woman, but with
a variety of expression that more than compensated for the want of
handsome features, with a frank, animated manner, and that highest tact
which sets guests at ease, there was something specially attractive in
her first address. But beyond this she was the pleasantest converser of
all the ladies of the day. In that art in which one "has all mankind for
competitors," there was no one equal to her in her way. Gifted with the
readiest of well-stored memories, with a lively wit and sprightly fancy,
with a strong desire to please and an ambition to shine, she never
failed to win admiration, while her sweetness of temper and delicate
consideration for others gained for her a general regard. For many years
she was the friend who did most to make Johnson's life happy. He was a
constant inmate at Streatham. "I long thought you," wrote he, "the first
of womankind." It was her "kindness which soothed twenty years of a life
radically wretched." "To see and hear you," he wrote, "is always to hear
wit and to see virtue." She belonged, in truth, to the most serviceable
class of women,--by no means to the highest order of her sex. She was
not a woman of deep heart, or of noble or tender feeling; but she had
kindly and ready sympathies, and such a disposition to please as gave
her the capacity of pleasing. Her very faults added to her success. She
was vain and ambitious; but her vanity led her to seek the praises of
others, and her ambition taught her how to gain them. She was selfish;
but she pleased herself not at the expense of others, but by paying them
attentions which returned to her in personal gratifications. She was
made for such a position as that which she held at Streatham. The
highest eulogy of her is given in an incidental way by Boswell. He
reports Johnson as saying one day, "'How few of his friends' houses
would a man choose to be at when he is sick!' He mentioned one or two. I
recollect only Thrale's."

All the world of readers know the main incidents of Mrs. Thrale's life.
Her own books, Boswell, Madame d'Arblay, have made us almost as familiar
with her as with Dr. Johnson himself. Not yet have people got tired of
wondering at her marriage with Piozzi, or of amusing themselves with
the gossip of the old lady who remained a wit at eighty years old, and,
having outlived her great contemporaries, was happy in not outliving
her own faculties. Few characters not more remarkable have been more
discussed than hers. Macaulay, with characteristic unfairness, gave
a view of her conduct which Mr. Hayward, in his recently published
entertaining volumes,[A] shows to have been in great part the invention
of the great essayist's lively and unprincipled imagination. In the
autobiographical memorials of Mrs. Piozzi, now for the first time
printed, there is much that throws light on her life, and her relations
with her contemporaries. They do not so much raise one's respect for
her, as present her to us as a very natural and generally likable sort
of woman, even in those acts of her life which have been the most
blamed.

[Footnote A: _Autobiography, Letters, and Literary Remains of Mrs.
Piozzi (Thrale)_. Edited, with Notes and an Introductory Account of her
Life and Writings, by A. Hayward, Esq., Q.C. In Two Volumes. London,
1861. Reprinted by Ticknor & Fields.]

If she had but died while she was mistress of Streatham, we should have
only delightful recollections of her. She would have been one of the
most agreeable famous women on record. But the last forty years of her
life were not as charming as the first. Her weaknesses gained mastery
over her, her vanity led her into follies, and she who had once been the
favorite correspondent of Dr. Johnson now appears as the correspondent
of such inferior persona that no association is connected with their
names. Mrs. Thrale and Mrs. Piozzi are two different persons. One
belongs to Streatham, the other to Bath; one is "always young and always
pretty," the other a rouged old woman. But it is unfair to push the
contrast too far. Mrs. Piozzi at seventy or eighty was as sprightly,
as good-natured, as Mrs. Thrale at thirty or forty. She never lost her
vivacity, never her desire to please. But it is a sadly different thing
to please Dr. Johnson, Burke, or Sir Joshua, and to please

  Those real genuine no-mistake Tom Thumbs,
  The little people fed on great men's crumbs.

One of the most marked and least satisfactory expressions of Mrs.
Piozzi's character during her later years was a fancy that she took to
Conway, a young and handsome actor, who appeared in Bath, where she was
then living, in the year 1819. From the time of her first acquaintance
with him, till her death, in 1821, she treated him with the most
flattering regard,--with an affection, indeed, that might be called
motherly, had there not been in it an element of excitement which was
neither maternal nor dignified. Conway was a gentleman in feeling, and
seems to have had not only a grateful sense of the old lady's partiality
for him, but a sincere interest also in hearing from her of the days and
the friends of her youth. So she wrote letters to him, gave him books
filled with annotations, (it was a favorite habit of hers to write notes
on the margins of books,) wrote for him the story of her life, and drew
on the resources of her marvellous memory for his amusement. The old
woman's kindness was one of the few bright things in poor Conway's
unhappy life. His temperament was morbidly sensitive; and when, in 1821,
while acting in London, Theodore Hook attacked him in the most cruel
and offensive manner in the columns of the "John Bull," he threw up his
engagement, determined to act no more in London, and for a time left the
stage. A year or two afterwards he came to this country, and met with a
very considerable success. But he fancied himself underrated, and, after
performing in Philadelphia in the winter of 1826, he took passage for
Charleston, and on the voyage threw himself overboard and was lost. His
effects were afterwards sold by auction in New York. Among them were
many interesting relics and memorials of Mrs. Piozzi. Mr. Hayward
mentions "a copy of the folio edition of Young's 'Night Thoughts,' in
which he had made a note of its having been presented to him by his
'dearly attached friend, the celebrated Mrs. Piozzi.'" But there were
other books of far greater interest and value than this. There was, as
we have been informed, a copy of Malone's Shakspeare, with numerous
notes in the handwriting of Dr. Johnson,--and a copy of "Prayers and
Meditations by Samuel Johnson," with several additional manuscript
prayers, and Mrs. Piozzi's name upon one of the fly-leaves. But more
curious still was a copy of Mrs. Piozzi's "Journey through France,
Italy, and Germany," both volumes of which are full of marginal notes,
while, inserted at the beginning and the end, are many pages of Mrs.
Piozzi's beautifully written manuscript, containing a narrative and
anecdotes of portions of her life. These volumes now lie before us,[B]
and their unpublished contents are as lively, as entertaining, and as
rich in autobiographic illustration, as any of the material of which Mr.
Hayward's recent book is composed.

[Footnote B: This unique copy of the _Journey through France_, etc., is
in the possession of Mr. Duncan C. Pell, of Newport, R.I. It is to his
liberality that we are indebted for the privilege of laying before
the readers of the Atlantic the following portions of Mrs. Piozzi's
manuscript.]

On the first fly-leaf is the following inscription:--

"These Books do not in any wise belong to me; they are the property of
William Augustus Conway, Esq., who left them to my care, for purpose of
putting notes, when he quitted Bath, May 14, 1819.

"Hester Lynch Piozzi writes this for fear lest her death happening
before his return, these books might be confounded among the others in
her study."

On the next page the narrative begins, and with a truly astonishing
spirit for the writing of a woman in her eightieth year. Her old
vivacity is still natural to her; there is nothing forced in the
pleasantry of this introduction.

"A Lady once--'t was many years ago--asked me to lend her a book out
of my library at Streatham Park. 'A book of entertainment,' said J, 'of
course.' 'That I don't know or rightly comprehend;' was her odd answer;
'I wish for an _Abridgment_.' 'An Abridgment of what?' '_That_,' she
replied, 'you must tell _me_, my Dear; for I am no reader, like you and
Dr. Johnson; I only remember that the last book I read was very pretty,
and my husband called it an Abridgment.'.... And if I give some account
of myself here in these few little sheets prefixed to my 'Journey thro'
Italy,' you must kindly accept

"The Abridgment."

The first pages of the manuscript are occupied by Mrs. Piozzi with an
account of her family and of her own early life. They contain in brief
the same narrative that she gave in her "Autobiographical Memoirs,"
printed by Mr. Hayward, in his first volume. Here is a story, however,
which we do not remember to have seen before.

"My heart was free, my head full of Authors, Actors, Literature in every
shape; and I had a dear, dear friend, an old Dr. Collier, who said he
was sixty-six years old, I remember, the day I was sixteen, and whose
instructions I prized beyond all the gayeties of early life: nor have I
ever passed a day since we parted in which I have not recollected with
gratitude the boundless obligations that I owe him. He was intimate with
the famous James Harris of Salisbury, Lord Malmesbury's father, of whom
you have heard how Charles Townshend said, when he took his seat in the
House of Commons,--'Who is this man?'--to his next neighbour;
'I never saw him before.' 'Who? Why, Harris the author, that wrote one
book about Grammar [so he did] and one about Virtue.' 'What does he come
here for?' replies Spanish Charles; 'he will find neither Grammar nor
Virtue _here_.' Well, my dear old Dr. Collier had much of both, and
delighted to shake the superflux of his full mind over mine, ready to
receive instruction conveyed with so much tender assiduity."

In both her autobiographies, the printed as well as the manuscript, Mrs.
Piozzi speaks in very cold and disparaging terms of her first husband,
Mr. Thrale. Her marriage with him had not been a love-match; but we
suspect that the long course of years had been unfavorable to his memory
in her recollection, and that the blame with which his friends visited
her second marriage, which was in all respects an affair of the heart,
produced in her a certain bitterness of feeling toward Mr. Thrale, as if
he had been the author of these reproaches. It is impossible to believe
that he was as indifferent to her as she represents, and that her
marriage with him was not moderately happy. Had it been otherwise,
however well appearances might have been kept up, Dr. Johnson could
hardly have been deceived concerning the truth, and would hardly have
ventured to write to her in his letter of consolation upon Mr. Thrale's
death in 1781,--

"He that has given you happiness in marriage, to a degree of which,
without personal knowledge, I should have thought the description
fabulous, can give you another mode of happiness as a mother."

One of her most decided intellectual characteristics was her
versatility, or, to give it a harder name, what Johnson called her
"instability of attention." Dulness was, in her code, the unpardonable
sin. Variety was the charm of life, and of books. She never dwelt long
on one idea. Her letters and her books are pieces of mosaic-work, the
bits of material being put together without any regular pattern, but
often with a pretty effect. Here is an illustration of her style.

"In a few years (our Letters tell the date) Johnson was introduced; and
now I must laugh at a ridiculous _Retrospection_. When I was a very
young wench, scarce twelve years old I trust, my notice was strongly
attracted by a Mountebank in some town we were passing through. 'What a
fine fellow!' said I; 'dear Papa, do ask him to dinner with us at our
inn!--or, at least, Merry Andrew, because he could tell us such _clever
stories of his master_.' My Father laughed sans intermission an hour by
the dial, as Jacques once at Motley.--Yet did dear Mr. Conway's fancy
for H.L.P.'s conversation grow up, at first, out of something not unlike
this, when, his high-polished mind and fervid imagination taking fire
from the tall Beacon bearing Dr. Johnson's fame above the clouds, he
thought some information might perhaps be gained by talk with the old
female who so long _carried coals to it_. She has told all, or nearly
all, she knew,--

  'And like poor Andrew must advance,
  Mean mimic of her master's dance;--
  But similes, like songs in love,
  Describing much, too little prove.'

"So now, leaving Prior's pretty verses, and leaving Dr. Johnson too, who
was himself severely censured for his rough criticism on a writer who
had pleased all in our Augustan age of Literature, poor H.L.P. turns
egotist at eighty, and tells her own adventures."

But the octogenarian egotist has something to tell about beside herself.
Here is a passage of interest to the student of Shakspearian localities,
and bearing on a matter in dispute from the days of Malone and Chalmers.

"For a long time, then,--or I thought it such,--my fate was bound up
with the old Globe Theatre, upon the Bankside, Southwark; the alley it
had occupied having been purchased and thrown down by Mr. Thrale to
make an opening before the windows of our dwelling-house. When it lay
desolate in a black heap of rubbish, my Mother, one day, in joke,
called it the Ruins of Palmyra; and after they had laid it down in a
grass-plot, Palmyra was the name it went by, I suppose, among the clerks
and servants of the brew-house; for when the Quaker Barclay bought the
whole, I read that name with wonder in the Writings."--"But there
were really curious remains of the old Globe Playhouse, which, though
hexagonal in form without, was round within, as circles contain more
space than other shapes, and Bees make their cells in hexagons only
because that figure best admits of junction. Before I quitted the
premises, however, I learned that Tarleton, the actor of those times,
was not buried at St. Saviour's, Southwark, as he wished, near Massinger
and Cower, but at Shoreditch Church. _He_ was the first of the
profession whose fame was high enough to have his portrait solicited for
to be set up as a Sign; and none but he and Garrick, I believe, ever
obtained that honour. Mr. Dance's picture of our friend David lives in a
copy now in Oxford St.,--the character, King Richard."

Somewhat more than three years after her first husband's death, Mrs.
Thrale, in spite of the opposition of her friends, the repugnance of
her daughters, and the sneers of society, married Piozzi. He was a poor
Italian gentleman, whose only fortune was in his voice and his musical
talent. He had been for some time an admired public singer in London and
Paris. There was nothing against him but the opinion of society. Mrs.
Thrale set this opinion at defiance: a rash thing for a woman to do, and
hardly an excusable one in her case; for she was aware that she would
thus alienate her daughters, and offend her best friends. But she was in
love with him; and though for a time she tried to struggle against her
passion, it finally prevailed over her prudence, her pride, and such
affections as she had for others. Her health suffered during
the struggle, the termination of which she thus narrates in her
"Abridgment." The account differs in some slight particulars from that
in her "Autobiographical Memoirs"; but a comparison between the two
serves rather to confirm than to impugn her general accuracy.

"I hoped," she says, "in defiance of probability, to live my sorrows
out, and marry the man of my choice. Health, however, began to give
way, as my Letters to Dr. Johnson testify; and when my kind physician,
Dobson, from Liverpool, found it in actual and positive danger,--'Now,'
said he, 'I have respected your delicacy long enough; tell me at once
who he is that holds _such_ a life in his power: for write to him I must
and will; it is my sacred duty.' 'Dear Sir,' said I, 'the difficulty
is to keep him at a distance. Speak to these cruel girls, if you will
speak.' 'One of whose lives your assiduous tenderness,' cried he,
'saved, with my little help, only a month ago!'--and ran up-stairs to
the ladies. 'We know,' was their reply, 'that she is fretting after a
fellow; but where he is--you may ask her--we know not.' 'He is at Milan,
with his friend the Marquis of Aracieli,' said I,--'from whom I had a
letter last week, requesting Piozzi's recall from banishment, as he
gallantly terms it, little conscious of what I suffer.' So we wrote; and
he returned on the eleventh day after receiving the letter. Meanwhile
my health mended, and I waited on the lasses to their own house at
Brighthelmstone, leaving Miss Nicholson, a favorite friend of theirs,
and all their intolerably insolent servants, with them. Piozzi's return
accelerated the recovery of your poor friend, and we married in both
Churches,--at St. James', Bath, on St. James' Day, 1784,--thirty-five
years ago now that I write this Abridgment. When we came to examine
Papers, however, our attorney, Greenland, discovered a _suppression_
of fifteen hundred pounds, which helped pay our debts, discharge the
mortgage, etc., as Piozzi, like Portia, permitted me not to sleep by his
side with an unquiet soul. He settled everything with his own money,
depended on God and my good constitution for our living long and happily
together,--and so we did, twenty-five years,--said change of scenery
would complete the cure, and carried me off in triumph, as he called
it, to shew his friends in Italy the foreign wife he had so long been
sighing for. 'Ah, Madam!' said the Marquis, when he first saluted me,
'we used to blame dear Piozzi;--now we envy him!'"

Of Mrs. Piozzi's journey on the Continent we shall speak in another
article. After a residence abroad of two years and a half, she and her
husband returned to London in March, 1787. Mrs. Piozzi had come home
determined to resume, if it were possible, her old place in society, and
to assert herself against the attacks of wits and newspapers, and the
coldness of old friends. She had been hardly and unfairly dealt with
by the public, in regard to her marriage. The appearance, during
her absence, of her volume of "Anecdotes of Dr. Johnson" had given
unfriendly critics an opportunity to pass harsh judgment upon her
literary merits, and had excited the jealousy of rival biographers
of the dead lion. Boswell, Hawkins, Baretti, Chalmers, Peter Pindar,
Gifford, Horace Walpole, all had their fling at her. Never was an
innocent woman in private life more unfeelingly abused, or her name
dragged before the public more wantonly, in squibs and satires, jests
and innuendoes. The women who transgress social conventionalities are
often treated as if they had violated the rules of morals. But she was
not to be put down in this way. Her temperament enabled her to escape
much of the pain which a more sensitive person would have suffered. She
hardened herself against the malice of her satirists; and in doing so,
her character underwent an essential change. She was truly happy with
Piozzi, and she preserved, by strength of will, an inexhaustible fund of
good spirits.

On first reaching London, "we drove," she writes in the Conway MSS., "to
the Royal Hotel in Pall Mall, and, arriving early, I proposed going to
the Play. There was a small front box, in those days, which held only
two; it made the division, or connexion, with the side boxes, and,
being unoccupied, we sat in it, and saw Mrs. Siddons act Imogen, I well
remember, and Mrs. Jordan, Priscilla Tomboy. Mr. Piozzi was amused, and
the next day was spent in looking at houses, counting the cards left
by old acquaintances, etc. The lady-daughters came, behaved with cold
civility, and asked what I thought of their decision concerning Cecilia,
then at school--No reply was made, or a gentle one; but she was the
first cause of contention among us. The lawyers gave her into my care,
and we took her home to our new habitation in Hanover Square, which we
opened with Music, cards, etc., on, I think, the 22 March. Miss Thrales
refused their company; so we managed as well as we could. Our affairs
were in good order, and money ready for spending. The World, as it is
called, appeared good-humored, and we were soon followed, respected, and
admired. The summer months sent us about visiting and pleasuring, ...
and after another gay London season, Streatham Park, unoccupied by
tenants, called us as if _really home_. Mr. Piozzi, with more generosity
than prudence, spent two thousand pounds on repairing and furnishing it
in 1790;--and we had danced all night, I recollect, when the news came
of Louis Seize's escape from, and recapture by, his rebel subjects."

Poor old woman, who could thus write of her own daughters!--poor old
woman, who had not heart enough either to keep the love of her children
or to grieve for its loss! Cecilia was her fourth and youngest child,
and her story, as her mother tells it, may as well be finished here.
After speaking in her manuscript of a claim on some Oxfordshire
property, disputed by her daughters, she says, in words hard and cold
as steel,--"We threw it up, therefore, and contented ourselves with the
plague Cecilia gave us, who, by dint of intriguing lovers, teazed my
soul out before she was fifteen,--when she fortunately ran away,
jumping out of the window at Streatham Park, with Mr. Mostyn of
Segraid,--a young man to whom Sir Thomas Mostyn's title will go, if he
does not marry, but whose property, being much encumbered, made him no
match for Cecy and her forty thousand pounds; and we were censured
for not taking better care, and suffering her to wed a _Welsh_
gentleman,--object of ineffable contempt to the daughters of Mr. Thrale,
with whom she always held correspondence while living with us, who
indulged her in every expense and every folly,--although allowed only
one hundred and forty pounds per ann. on her account."

After two or three years spent in London, the Piozzis resided for some
time at Streatham,--how changed in mistress and in guests from the
Streatham of which Mrs. Thrale had been the presiding genius! But after
a while they removed to Wales, where, on an old family estate belonging
to Mrs. Piozzi, they built a house, and christened the place with the
queer Welsh-Italian compound name of Brynbella. "Mr. Piozzi built the
house for me, he said; my own old chateau, Bachygraig by name, tho' very
curious, was wholly uninhabitable; and we called the Italian villa he
set up as mine in the Vale of Cluid, North Wales, Brynbella, or the
beautiful brow, making the name half Welsh and half Italian, as we
were." Here they lived, with occasional visits to other places, during
the remainder of Piozzi's life. "Our head quarters were in Wales, where
dear Piozzi repaired my church, built a new vault for my old ancestors,
chose the place in it where he and I are to repose together..... He
lived some twenty-five years with me, however, but so punished with
Gout that we found Bath the best wintering-place for many, many
seasons.--Mrs. Siddons' last appearance there he witnessed, when she
played Calista to Dimond's Lothario, in which he looked _so_ like
Garrick it shocked us _all three_, I believe; for Garrick adored Mr.
Piozzi, and Siddons hated the little great man to her heart. Poor
Dimond! he was a well-bred, pleasing, worthy creature, and did the
honours of his own house and table with peculiar grace indeed. No
likeness in private life or manner,--none at all; no wit, no fun, no
frolic humour had Mr. Dimond:--no grace, no dignity, no real unaffected
elegance of mien or behaviour had his predecessor, David,--whose
partiality to my fastidious husband was for that reason never returned.
Merriment, difficult for _him_ to comprehend, made no amends for the
want of that which no one understood better;--so he hated all the wits
but Murphy."

And now that we are on anecdotes of the Theatre, here is another good
story, which belongs to a somewhat earlier time, but of which Mrs.
Piozzi does not mention the exact date. "The Richmond Theatre at that
time attracted all literary people's attention, while a Coterie of
Gentlemen and Noblemen and Ladies entertained themselves with getting up
Plays, and acting them at the Duke of Richmond's house, Whitehall. Lee's
'Theodosius' was the favorite. Lord Henry Fitzgerald played Varanus very
well,--for a Dilettante; and Lord Derby did his part surprisingly. But
there was a song to be sung to Athenais, while she, resolving to take
poison, sits in a musing attitude. Jane Holman--then Hamilton--_would_
sing an air of Sacchini, and the manager _would not_ hear Italian words.
The ballad appointed by the author was disapproved by all, and I pleased
everybody by my fortunate fancy of adapting some English verses to the
notes of Sacchini's song; and Jane Hamilton sung them enchantingly:--

  'Vain's the breath of Adulation,
  Vain the tears of tenderest Passion,
  Whilst a strong Imagination
  Holds the wandering Mind away;
  Art in vain attempts to borrow
  Notes to soothe a rooted sorrow;
  Fixed to die, and die to-morrow,
  What can touch her soul to-day?'

"The lines were printed, but I lost them. 'What a wild Tragedy is this!'
said I to Hannah More, who was one of the audience. 'Wild enough,' was
her reply; 'but there's good Poetry in it, and good Passion, _and they
will always do_.'

"Hannah More never goes now to a Theatre. How long is H.L. Piozzi likely
to be seen there? How long will Mr. Conway keep the stage?"

In the year 1798, the family of Mr. Piozzi having suffered greatly from
the French invasion of Lombardy, he sent for the son of his youngest
brother, a "little boy just turned of five years old." "We have got him
here," wrote Mrs. Piozzi in a letter from Bath, dated January, 1799,
published by Mr. Hayward, "and his uncle will take him to school next
week." "As he was by a lucky chance baptized, in compliment to me, John
Salusbury, [Salusbury was her family name,] he will be known in England
by no other, and it will be forgotten he is a foreigner." "My poor
little boy from Lombardy said, as I walked with him across our market,
'These are sheeps' heads, are they not, aunt? I saw a hasket of men's
heads at Brescia.'" Little John, though he went to school, was often at
home. After writing of the troubles with her own daughters, Mrs. Piozzi
says in the manuscript before us,--"Had we vexations enough? We had
certainly many pleasures. The house in Wales was beautiful, and the Boy
was beautiful too. Mr. Piozzi said I had spoiled my own children and was
spoiling his. My reply was, that I loved spoiling people, and hated any
one I could not spoil. Am I not now trying to spoil dear Mr. Conway?"

Piozzi was not far from wrong in his judgment of her treatment of this
boy, if we may trust to her complaints of his coldness and indifference
to her. In 1814, at the time of his marriage, five years after Piozzi's
death, she gave to him her Welsh estate; and it may have been a greater
satisfaction to her than any gratification of the affections could have
afforded, to see him, before she died, high sheriff of his county, and
knighted as Sir John Salusbury Piozzi Salusbury.

There was little gayety in the life at Brynbella, or at Bath,--and the
society that Mrs. Piozzi now saw was made up chiefly of new and for the
most part uninteresting acquaintances. The old Streatham set, with a few
exceptions, were dead, and of the few that remained none retained their
former relations with its mistress. But she suffered little from the
change, was contented to win and accept the flattery of inferior people,
and, instead of spending her faculties in soothing the "radically
wretched life" of Johnson, used them, perhaps not less happily, in
lightening the sufferings of Piozzi during his last years. She tells a
touching story of him in these days.

"Piozzi's fine hand upon the organ and pianoforte deserted him. Gout,
such as I never knew, fastened on his fingers, distorting them into
every dreadful shape. ... A little girl, shewn to him as a musical
wonder of five years old, said,' Pray, Sir, why are your fingers wrapped
up in black silk so?' 'My Dear,' replied he, 'they are in mourning for
my Voice.' 'Oh, me!' cries the child, _'is she dead_?' He sung an easy
song, and the Baby exclaimed, 'Ah, Sir! you are very naughty,--you tell
fibs!' Poor Dears! and both gone now!!"

There were no morbid sensibilities in Mrs. Piozzi's composition. She can
tell all her sorrows without ever a tear. A mark of exclamation looks
better than a blot. And yet she had suffered; but it had been with such
suffering as makes the soul hard rather than tender. The pages with
which she ends this narrative of her life are curiously characteristic.

"When life was gradually, but perceptibly, closing round him [Piozzi] at
Bath, in 1808, I asked him if he would wish to converse with a Romish
priest,--we had full opportunity there. 'By no means,' said he. 'Call
Mr. Leman of the Crescent.' We did so,--poor Bessy ran and fetched him.
Mr. Piozzi received the blessed Sacrament at his hands; but recovered
sufficiently to go home and die in his own house. I sent for Salusbury,
but he came three hours too late,--his master, Mr. Shephard, with him.
In another year he went to Oxford, where he spent me above seven hundred
pounds per annum, and kept me in continual terror lest the bad habits of
the place should ruin him, body, soul, and purse. His old school-fellow,
Smythe Owen,--then. Pemberton,--accompanied him, and to that gentleman's
sister he of course gave his heart. The Lady and her friends took
advantage of my fondness, and insisted on my giving up the Welsh
estate. I did so, hoping to live at last with my own children, at
Streatham Park;--there, however, I found no solace of the sort. So,
after entangling my purse with new repairing and furnishing that place,
retirement to Bath with my broken heart and fortune was all I could wish
or expect. Thither I hasted, heard how the possessors of Brynbella,
lived and thrived, but

  'Who set the twigs will he remember
  Who is in haste to sell the timber?'

"Well, no matter! One day before I left it there was talk how Love had
always Interest annexed to it. 'Nay, then,' said I, 'what is my love
for Salusbury?' 'Oh!' replied Shephard, 'there is Interest there. Mrs.
Piozzi cannot, could not, I am sure, exist without some one upon whom to
energize her affections; his Uncle is gone, and she is much obliged
to young Salusbury for being ready at her hand to pet and spoil;
her children will not suffer her to love them, and'--with a coarse
laugh--'what will she do when this fellow throws her off, as he soon
will?' Shephard was right enough. I sunk into a stupor, worse far
than all the torments I had endured: but when Canadian Indians take a
prisoner, dear Mr. Conway knows what agonies they put them to; the
man bears all without complaining,--smokes, dances, triumphs in his
anguish,--

  'For the son of Alcnoomak shall never complain.'

"When a little remission comes, however, then comes the torpor too;--he
cannot then be waked by pain or moderate pleasure: and such was my
case, when your talents roused, your offered friendship opened my heart
to enjoyment Oh! never say hereafter that the obligations are on your
side. Without you, dulness, darkness, stagnation of every faculty would
have enveloped and extinguished all the powers of hapless

"H.L.P."

The picture that Mrs. Piozzi paints of herself in these last words is a
sad one. She herself was unconscious, however, of its real sadness. In
its unintentional revelations it shows us the feebleness without the
dignity of old age, vivacity without freshness of intellect, the
pretence without the reality of sentiment. "Hapless H.L.P."--to have
lived to eighty years, and to close the record of so long a life with
such words!

A little more than a year after this "Abridgment" was written, in May,
1821, Mrs. Piozzi died. Her children, from whom she had lived separated,
were around her death-bed.[C]

[Footnote C: It is but four years ago that the Viscountess Keith, Mrs.
Piozzi's eldest daughter, died. She was ninety-five years old. Her long
life connected our generation with that of Johnson and Burke. She was
the last survivor of the Streatham "set,"--for, as "Queeney," she had
held a not unimportant place in it. She was at Johnson's death-bed. At
their last interview he said,--"My dear child, we part forever in this
world; let us part as Christian friends should; let us pray together."

It was in 1808 that Miss Thrale married Lord Keith, a distinguished
naval officer.

In _The Gentleman's Magazine_, for May, 1657, is an interesting notice
of Lady Keith. "During many years," it is there said, "Viscountess Keith
held a distinguished position in the highest circles of the fashionable
world in London; but during the latter portion of her life.... her time
was almost entirely devoted to works of charity and to the performance
of religious duties. No one ever did more for the good of others, and
few ever did so much in so unostentatious a manner."]

In judging her, it is to be borne in mind that the earlier and the later
portions of her life are widely different from each other. As we have
before said, Mrs. Thrale and Mrs. Piozzi are two distinct persons. Mrs.
Thrale, whom the world smiled upon, whom the wits liked and society
courted, who had the best men in England for her friends, is a woman who
will always be pleasant in memory. Her unaffected grace, her kindliness,
her good-humor, her talents, make her perpetually charming. She was
helped by her surroundings to be good, pleasant, and clever; and she
will always keep her place as one of the most attractive figures in the
circle which was formed by Johnson, and Burke, and Reynolds, and Fanny
Burney, and others scarcely less conspicuous. But Mrs. Piozzi, whom the
world frowned upon, whom the wits jeered at, and society neglected,
whose friends nobody now knows, will be best remembered and best liked
as having once been Mrs. Thrale. There is no great charge against her;
she was more sinned against than sinning; she was only weak and foolish,
only degenerated from her first excellence. And even in her old age some
traits of her youthful charms remain, and, seeing these, we regard
her with a tender compassion, and remember of her only the bright
helpfulness and freshness of her younger days, when Johnson "loved her,
esteemed her, reverenced her, and thought her the first of womankind."

       *       *       *       *       *


THE NIGER, AND ITS EXPLORERS.


A century ago, the interior of Africa was a sealed book to the civilized
world. Candace, Queen of the Ethiopians, had been noticed in Holy Writ;
the Nile with Thebes and Memphis on its banks, and a ship-canal to
the Red Sea with triremes on its surface, had not escaped the eye of
Herodotus: but the countries which gave birth to Queen and River were
alike unknown. The sunny fountains, the golden sands, the palmy plains
of Africa were to be traced in the verses of the poet; but he dealt
neither in latitude nor longitude. The maps presented a _terra
incognita_, or sterile mountains, where modern travellers have found
rivers, lakes, and alluvial basins,--or exhibited barren wastes, where
recent discoveries find rich meadows annually flowed, studded with
walled towns and cities, enlivened by herds of cattle, or cultivated in
plantations of maize and cotton.

Although the northern coast of Africa had once been the granary of
Carthage and Rome, cultivation had receded, and the corn-ship of
antiquity had given place to the felucca of the corsair, preying upon
the commerce of Europe. A few caravans, laden with a little ivory and
gold-dust or a few packages of drugs and spices, crept across the
Desert, and the slave-trade principally, if not alone, drew to Africa
the attention of civilized nations. Egypt, Tripoli and Tunis, Turkey and
the Spanish Provinces, the West India Isles and the Southern States,
knew it as the mart where human beings were bought and sold; and
Christians were reconciled to the traffic by the hope that it might
contribute to the moral, if not physical, welfare of the captive, by his
removal to a more civilized region.

During the last three centuries, millions of Africans have perished
either on their way to slavery or in exhausting toil under a tropical
sun; and the flag of England has been the most prominent in this
demoralizing traffic. But it is due to England to say, that, since she
withdrew from it, she has aimed to atone for the past by a noble
and persevering devotion to the improvement of Africa. By repeated
expeditions, by missions, treaties, colonies, and incentives to
commerce, she has spread her light over the interior, and is now
recognized both by the tribes of the Desert and by civilized nations as
the great protector of Africa, and both geography and commerce owe to
her most of their advances on the African continent.

So little was known of Africa, that, when Mungo Park made his report, in
1798, of the discovery of the Niger, and described large cities on its
banks, and vessels of fifty tons burden navigating its waters, the world
was incredulous; and his subsequent fate threw a cloud over the subject
which was not entirely dispelled until his course was traced and his
statements verified by modern travellers.

The route of Dr. Park was from the west coast, near Sierra Leone, to the
upper branches of the Niger. On his second expedition he took with him
a detachment of British soldiers, and a number of civilians, fresh from
England, none of whom survived him. It appears from his journal that his
men followed the foot-paths of the natives, slept in the open air, were
exposed to the dews at night, and were overtaken by the rainy season
before they embarked upon the Niger. Unacclimated, with no proper means
of conveyance, no suitable clothing, and no precautions against
the fever of the country, they nearly all became victims to their
indiscretions. Park, however, at length launched his schooner on the
Niger, passed the city of Timbuctoo, and, with two or three Englishmen,
followed the river more than a thousand miles to Boussa. Reaching the
rapids at this point in a low stage of the water, he was so indiscreet
as to fire on the natives, and was drowned in his attempt to escape from
them; but his fate remained in uncertainty for eighteen years.

The long struggle with Napoleon, the fearful loss of life which attended
the journey of Park, and the doubts as to his fate, checked for many
years the exploration of Africa. In 1821, a third attempt to explore
the Niger was made by a Major Laing, who failed in his efforts to reach
Timbuctoo, and fell a victim to Mahometan intolerance.

In 1822, a new effort was made by England to reach the interior, and
Messrs. Denham and Clapperton joined the caravan from Tripoli, and
crossed the Desert to the Soudan. They explored the country to the ninth
degree of north latitude, found large Negro and Mahometan states in the
interior, and visited Saccatoo, Kano, Murfeia, Tangalra, and other large
towns, some of which contained twenty or thirty thousand people.

In their journal we find a vivid sketch of a Negro army marching from
Bornou to the South, with horsemen in coats-of-mail, as in the days of
chivalry, and armed, as in those days, with lances and bows and arrows.
A glowing description is given of the ravages that attended their march.
When they entered an enemy's country, desolation marked their path,
houses and corn-fields were destroyed, all the full-grown males were put
to death, and the women and children reduced to servitude.

It was obvious that an incessant struggle was in progress between the
Mahometan and Negro states, and that the Mahometan faith and Arab blood
were slowly gaining an ascendency over the Negro even down to the
equator. The conquering tribes, by intermarriage with the females,
were gradually changing the race, and introducing greater energy and
intelligence; and the mixed races have exhibited great proficiency in
various branches of manufacture. The invaders took with them large herds
of cattle, and pursued a pastoral life, leaving the culture of the land
principally to the Negro.

In 1825 Clapperton made his second expedition to the interior,
accompanied by Richard Lander. In this journey the adventurous
travellers landed at Badagry, and crossed through Yarriba to the Niger.
On their way they spent several days at Katunga, the capital of Yarriba,
a city so extensive that one of its streets is described as five miles
in length. The town of Koofo, with twenty thousand inhabitants, as also
large cotton-plantations, are mentioned by these travellers; and some
idea of the territory they explored may be formed from the following
extract from their narrative:--

"The further we penetrate into the country, the more dense we find the
population to be, and civilization becomes at every step more strikingly
apparent. Large towns, at a distance of only a few miles from each
other, we were informed, lay on all sides of us, the inhabitants of
which pay the greatest respect to the laws, and live under a regular
form of government."

It is to this fertile, populous, and peaceful region of the interior
that the most successful efforts of the English missionaries have been
of late directed.

In this expedition, Captain Clapperton died of the fever of the country.
His faithful servant, Lander, after publishing his journal, returned to
Africa, in 1830, with his brother, landed at Badagry, and again crossed
the country to the Niger.

At Boussa, they obtained the first authentic information of the death of
Park, and recovered his gun, robe, and other relics. Here, embarking in
canoes, they ascended the river through its rapids to Yaouri, and
thence traced it to the sea in the Bight of Benin. On their way, they
discovered the Benue, which joins the Niger two hundred and seventy
miles from the ocean, with a volume of water and a width nearly equal to
its own. They encountered a large number of canoes, nearly fifty feet
in length, armed in some cases with a brass six-pounder at the bow, and
each manned by sixty or seventy men actively engaged in the slave-trade.
Forty of these canoes were found together at Eboe, near the mouth of the
Niger.

During the interval between the two expeditions of Lander to trace the
course of this mysterious river, France was exploring its upper waters.

In 1827, René Caillié, a Frenchman, adopting the disguise of a
Mahometan, left the western coast at Kakundy, a few miles north of
Sierra Leone, and crossed the intervening highlands to the affluents of
the Niger, which he struck within two hundred and fifty miles of the
coast.

He first came to the Tankesso, a rapid stream flowing into the Niger
just below its cascades, and noticed here a mountain of pale pink quartz
in regular strata of eighteen inches in thickness, a few miles below
which the river flows in a wide and tranquil stream through extensive
plains, which it fertilizes by its inundations. One hundred miles below,
at Boure, were rich gold mines within twenty miles of the Niger. In the
dry season, he found its waters very cold and waist-deep.

Caillié travelled by narrow paths impervious to horses or carriages, and
with a party of natives bearing merchandise on their heads. His route
was through a country gradually ascending and occasionally mountainous,
but fertile in the utmost degree, and watered by numerous streams and
rivulets which kept the verdure constantly fresh, with delightful plains
that required only the labor of the husbandman to produce everything
necessary for human life.

Proceeding westward, he reached the main Niger, which he found, at
the close of the dry season, and before it had received its principal
tributaries, nine feet deep and nine hundred feet in width, with a
velocity of two and a half miles an hour.

To this point, where the river becomes navigable for steamers, a common
road or railway of three hundred miles in length might be easily
constructed from Sierra Leone; and it is a little surprising that Great
Britain, with her solicitude to reach the interior, should not have been
tempted by the fertility, gold mines, and navigable waters in the rear
of Sierra Leone, so well pictured by Caillié, to open at least a common
highway to the Niger, an enterprise which might be effected for fifty
thousand pounds. Although this may be so easily accomplished, the
principal route to the interior of Africa is still the caravan track
from Tripoli through the Desert, requiring three months by a hazardous
and most fatiguing journey of fifteen hundred miles. The first movement
for a road to the interior has been recently made in Yarriba, by T.J.
Bowen, the American Baptist missionary, who pronounces it to be the
prerequisite to civilization and Christianity.

Caillié readied the Niger in May, just as the rainy reason commenced,
but, finding no facilities for descending the stream, he proceeded to
the southwest, crossed many of its affluents, traversed a rich country,
and, having exposed himself to the fever and met with many detentions,
finally embarked in the succeeding March at Djenne, in a vessel of
seventy tons burden, for Timbuctoo. He describes this vessel as one
hundred feet in length, fourteen feet broad, and drawing seven feet
of water. It was laden with rice, millet, and cotton, and manned by
twenty-one men, who propelled the frail bark by poles and paddles. With
a flotilla of sixty of these vessels he descended the Niger several
hundred miles to Timbuctoo. He speaks of the river as varying from half
to three-fourths of a mile in width, annually overflowing its banks and
irrigating a large basin generally destitute of trees. After paying toll
to the Tasaareks, a Moorish tribe, on the way, and losing one of the
flotilla, he landed safely at Timbuctoo, and probably was the first
European who visited that remote city, although Adams, an American
sailor wrecked on the coast, claims to have been carried there before as
a captive.

From the narratives of Park, Clapperton, Lander, and Caillié, confirmed
by Bairkie and Barth, the latter of whom explored the banks of the Niger
from Timbuctoo to Boussa, it has been ascertained to be a noble stream,
navigable for nearly twenty-five hundred miles, with an average width
of more than half a mile, and an average depth of three fathoms,
--comparing favorably with our own Mississippi. There appears to be but
one portion of the stream difficult for navigation, and that is the
portion from Yaouri to Lagaba, a distance of eighty miles. In this space
are several reefs and ledges, mostly bare at low water, and the river is
narrowed in width by mountains on either side; but in the wet season it
overflows its banks at this point, and is then navigated by the larger
class of canoes. There can be little doubt that it is susceptible of
navigation above and below by the largest class of river steamers, and
that the rapids themselves may in the higher stages of water be ascended
by the American high-pressure steamers which navigate our Western
rivers, drawing, as they do in low stages of the Ohio and Missouri, but
sixteen to eighteen inches.

As soon as it was ascertained that the Niger reached the ocean in the
Bight of Benin, and that its upper waters had been navigated by Caillié
and Park, a private association, aided by the British government, fitted
out a brig and several steamers, with a large party of scientific men,
who, in 1833, entered the Niger from the sea.

Great Britain, though enterprising and persevering, is slow in adapting
means to ends, and made a series of mistakes in her successive
expeditions, which might have been avoided, if she would have
condescended to profit by the experience of her children on this side of
the Atlantic.

The expedition of 1833 was deficient in many things. The power and speed
of the steamers were insufficient, their draught of water too great, and
they were so long delayed in their outfit and in their sea-voyage that
they found the river falling, and were detained by shoals and sand-bars.
The accommodations were unsuitable; and the men, exposed to a bad
atmosphere among the mangroves at the mouth of the river, and confined
in the holds of the vessels, were attacked by fever, and but ten of them
survived. The expedition, however, succeeded in reaching Rabba, on the
Niger, five hundred miles from the sea, ascended the Benue, eighty miles
above the confluence, and charts were made and soundings taken for the
distance explored.

In 1842 the British government made a new effort to explore the Niger,
and built for that purpose three iron steamers, the Wilberforce, Albert,
and Soudan, vessels of one hundred to one hundred and thirty-nine feet
in length. The error committed in the first expedition, of too great
draught, was avoided; but the steamers had so little power and keel that
their voyage to the Niger was both tedious and hazardous, and their
speed was found insufficient to make more than three knots per hour
against the current of the river. Arriving on the coast late in the
season, they were unable to ascend above the points already explored,
and the officers and men, suffering from the tedious navigation, close
cabins, and effluvia from the falling river, lost one-fourth of their
number by fever, while the African Kroomen, accustomed to the climate
and sleeping on the open deck, enjoyed perfect health. It was the
intention of government to establish a model farm and mission at the
confluence of the Niger and Benue; but the officers, discouraged by
sickness, abandoned their original purpose, and the expedition proved
another failure, involving a loss of at least sixty thousand pounds.

After the lapse of twelve years, it was ascertained that private
steamers and sailing vessels were resorting to the Niger, and that an
active trade was springing up in palm-oil, the trees producing which
fringe the banks of the river for some hundreds of miles from the sea;
and in 1853, a Liverpool merchant, McGregor Laird, who had accompanied
the former expedition, fitted out, with the aid of government, the
Pleiad steamer for a voyage up the Niger.

One would imagine that by this time the British government would have
corrected their former errors; and a part were corrected. The speed of
this steamer surpassed that of her predecessors, and her draught did not
exceed five feet. She was well provided with officers, and a crew of
native Kroomen from the coast; and she was supplied with ample stores
of quinine. But, singular as it may appear, this steamer, destined, to
ascend the great rivers up which the former expedition found a strong
breeze flowing daily, was not furnished with a _sail_; and although the
banks of the Niger were lined with forest-trees, and the supply of coal
was sufficient for a few days only, not a single _axe_ or _saw_ was
provided for cutting wood, and the Kroomen hired from the coast were
compelled to trim off with shingle-hatchets nearly all the fuel used
in ascending the river,--and in descending, the steamer was obliged to
drift down with the current. Moreover, she was but one hundred feet
in length, with an engine and boiler occupying thirty feet of her
bold,--thus leaving but thirty-five feet at each end for officers, men,
and stores. Neither state-room, cabin, nor awning was provided on deck
to shelter the crew from an African sun.

With all these deficiencies, however, they achieved a partial triumph.
Entering the river in July, they ascended the southern branch, now
known as the Benue, for a distance of seven hundred miles from the sea,
reaching Adamawa, a Mahometan state of the Soudan. On the fifteenth of
August they encountered the rise of waters, and found the Benue nearly a
mile in width and from one to three fathoms in depth. They observed it
overflowing its banks for miles and irrigatin extensive and fertile
plains to the depth of several feet, and saw reason to believe that this
river, which flows westerly from the interior, may be navigated at least
one thousand miles from the sea. As Dr. Barth visited it at a city
several hundred miles above the point reached by the Pleiad, and found
it flowing with a wide and deep current, it may be regarded as the
gateway into the interior of Africa.

One of our light Western steamers, manned by our Western boatmen and
axemen, with its three decks, lofty staterooms, superior speed,
and light draught, would have been most admirably fitted for this
exploration.

But the expedition, with all its deficiencies, achieved a further
triumph. Dr. Bairkie, by using quinine freely, and by removing the beds
of the officers from the stifling cabins to the deck, escaped the loss
of a single man, although four months on the river,--thus demonstrating
that the white man can reach the interior of Africa in safety, a problem
quite as important to be solved as the course and capacity of the Niger
and its branches.

Thus have been opened to navigation the waters of the Mysterious River.

When the Landers first floated down the stream in their canoe, thirty
years since, they found vast forests and little cultivation, and the
natives seemed to have no commerce except in slaves and yams for their
support. But an officer who accompanied the several steam expeditions
was astonished in his last visit to see the change which a few years
had produced. New and populous towns had sprung up, extensive groves
of palm-trees and gardens lined the banks, and vessels laden with oil,
yams, ground-nuts, and ivory indicated the progress of legitimate
commerce.

The narrative of Dr. Bairkie, a distinguished German scholar, who has
written an account of the voyage of the Pleiad, will be found both
interesting and instructive; and we may some day expect another volume,
for he has returned to the scene of his adventures.

Another German in the service of Great Britain has given us a vivid
picture of Central Africa north of the equator. Dr. Henry Barth has
recently published, in four octavo volumes, a narrative of his travels
in Africa for five years preceding 1857. During this period, he
accompanied the Sheik of Bornou, one of the chief Negro states of
Africa, on his march as far south as the Benue, explored the borders of
Lake Tsadda, crossed the Niger at Sai, and visited the far-famed city
of Timbuctoo. Here he incurred some danger from the fanaticism of
the Moslems; but his command of Arabic, his tact and adroitness in
distinguishing the Protestant worship of the Deity from the homage
paid by Roman Catholics to images of the Virgin and Saints, and in
illustrating the points in which his Protestant faith agreed with the
Koran, extricated him from his embarrassment.

Dr. Barth found various Negro cities with a population ranging from
fifteen to twenty thousand, and observed large fields of rice, cotton,
tobacco, and millet. On his way to Timbuctoo, he saw a field of this
last-named grain in which the stalks stood twenty-four feet high. Our
Patent Office should secure some of the seed which he has doubtless
conveyed to Europe. The following prices, which he names, give us an
idea of the cheapness of products in Central Africa:--An ox two dollars,
a sheep fifty cents, tobacco one to two cents per pound.

From the sketch we have given of the Niger and its branches, and of the
countries bordering upon them, it would appear to be the proper policy
of Great Britain and other commercial nations to open a way from Sierra
Leone to the Niger, and to establish a colony near the confluence of
this river with the Benue. From this point, which is easily accessible
from the sea and the ports of the British colonies on the western coast
of Africa, light steamers may probably ascend to Sego and Djenne,
encountering no difficulties except at the rapids near Boussa, and may
penetrate into the heart of the Soudan. In this region are mines of
lead, copper, gold, and iron, a rich soil, adapted to cotton, rice,
indigo, sugar, coffee, and vegetable butter, with very cheap labor. With
steamers controlling the rivers, a check could here be given to the
slave-trade, and to the conflicts between the Moors and Negroes, and
Christianity have a fair prospect of diffusion. Such a colony is
strongly recommended by Lieutenant Allen, who accompanied the
expeditions of 1833 and 1842; and there can be no doubt that it would
attract the caravans from the remote interior, and put an end to the
perilous and tedious expeditions across the Desert.



REVIEWS AND LITERARY NOTICES.


_Benvenuto Rambaldi da Imola Illustrato nella Vita e nelle Opere, e di
lui Comento Latino sulla Divina Commedia di Dante Allghieri voltalo in
Italiano dall' Avvocato_ GIOVANNI TAMBURINI. Imola. 1855-56. 3 vol.
in 8vo. [The Commentary of Benvenuto Rambaldi of Imola on the _Divina
Commedia_, translated from Latin into Italian, by Giovanni Tamburini.]

Almost five centuries have passed since Benvenuto of Imola, one of
the most distinguished men of letters of his time, was called by the
University of Bologna to read a course of lectures upon the "Divina
Commedia" before the students at that famous seat of learning. From
that time till the present, a great part of his "Comment" has lain in
manuscript, sharing the fate of the other earliest commentaries on the
poem of Dante, not one of which, save that of Boccaccio, was given to
the press till within a few years. This neglect is the more strange,
since it was from the writers of the fourteenth century, almost
contemporary as they were with Dante, that the most important
illustrations both of the letter and of the sense of the "Divina
Commedia" were naturally to be looked for. When they wrote, the lapse of
time had not greatly obscured the memory of the events which the poet
had recorded, or to which he had referred. The studies with which he had
been familiar, the external sources from which he had drawn inspiration,
had undergone no essential change in direction or in nature. The same
traditions and beliefs possessed the intellects of men. Similar social
and political influences moulded their characters. The distance that
separated Dante from his first commentators was mainly due to the
surpassing nature of his genius, which, in some sort, made him, and
still makes him, a stranger to all men, and very little to changes like
those which have slowly come about in the passage of centuries, and
which divide his modern readers from the poet.

It was the intention of Benvenuto, as he tells us, "to elucidate what
was dark in the poem being veiled under figures, and to explain what
was involved in its multiplex meanings." But his Comment is more
illustrative than analytic, more literal than imaginative, and its chief
value lies in the abundance of current legends which it contains, and
in the number of stories related in it, which exhibit the manners or
illustrate the history of the times. So great, indeed, is the value
of this portion of his work, that Muratori, to whom a large debt of
gratitude is due from all students of Italian history, published in
1738, in the first volume of his "Antiquitates Italicae Medii Aevi," a
selection of such passages, amounting altogether to about one half of
the whole Comment. However satisfactory this incomplete publication
might be to the mere historical investigator, the students of the
"Divina Commedia" could not but regret that the complete work had not
been printed,--and they accordingly welcomed with satisfaction the
announcement, a few years since, of the volumes whose title stands at
the head of this article, which professed to contain a translation of
the whole Comment. It seemed a pity, indeed, that it should have been
thought worth while to translate a book addressing itself to a very
limited number of readers, most of whom were quite as likely to
understand the original Latin as the modern Italian, while also a
special value attached to the style and form in which it was first
written. But no one could have suspected what "translation" meant in the
estimation of the Signor Tamburini, whose name appears on the title-page
as that of the translator.

_Traduttore--traditore_, "Translator--traitor," says the proverb; and of
all traitors shielded under the less offensive name, Signor Tamburini
is beyond comparison the worst we have ever had the misfortune to
encounter. A place is reserved for him in that lowest depth in which,
according to Dante's system, traitors are punished.

It appears from his preface that Signor Tamburini is not without
distinction in the city of Imola. He has been President of the Literary
Academy named that of "The Industrious." To have been President of all
Academy in the Roman States implies that the person bearing this honor
was either an ecclesiastic or a favorite of ecclesiastics. Hitherto,
no one could hold such an office without having his election to it
confirmed by a central board of ecclesiastical inspectors (_la Sacra
Congregazione degli Studj_) at Rome. The reason for noticing this fact
in connection with Signor Tamburini will soon become apparent.

In his preface, Signor Tamburini declares that in the first division of
the poem he has kept his translation close to the original, while in
the two later divisions he had been _meno legato_, "less exact," in his
rendering. This acknowledgment, however unsatisfactory to the reader,
presented at least an appearance of fairness. But, from a comparison of
Signor Tamburini's work with the portions of the original preserved by
Muratori, we have satisfied ourselves that his honesty is on a level
with his capacity as a translator, and what his capacity is we propose
to enable our readers to judge for themselves. For our own part, we have
been unable to distinguish any important difference in the methods of
translation followed in the three parts of the Comment.

So far as we are aware, this book has not met with its dues in Europe.
The well-known Dantophilist, Professor Blanc of Halle, speaks of it in a
note to a recent essay (_Versuch einer blos philogischen Erklärung der
Göttlichen Komödie_, von Dr. L.G. Blanc, Halle, 1860, p. 5) as "a
miserably unsatisfactory translation," but does not give the grounds of
his assertion. We intend to show that a grosser literary imposition has
seldom been attempted than in these volumes. It is an outrage on the
memory of Dante not less than on that of Benvenuto. The book is worse
than worthless to students; for it is not only full of mistakes of
carelessness, stupidity, and ignorance, but also of wilful perversions
of the meaning of the original by additions, alterations, and omissions.
The three large volumes contain few pages which do not afford examples
of mutilation or misrepresentation of Benvenuto's words. We will begin
our exhibition of the qualities of the Procrustean mistranslator with
an instance of his almost incredible carelessness, which is, however,
excusable in comparison with his more wilful faults. Opening the first
volume at page 397, we find the following sentence,--which we put side
by side with the original as given by Muratori. The passage relates to
the 33d and succeeding verses of Canto XVI.

TAMBURINI

Qui Dante fa menzione di Guido Guerra, e meravigliano molti della
modestia dell' autore, che da costui e dalla di lui moglie tragga
l'origine sua, mentre poteva derivarla care di gratitudine affettuosa a
quella,--Gualdrada,--stipito suo,--dandole nome e tramandandola quasi
all' eternità, mentre per sè stessa sarebbe forse rimasta sconosciuta.

BENVENUTO.

Et primo incepit a digniori, scilicet a Guidone Guerra; et circa istius
descriptionem lectori est aliqualiter immorandum, quia multi mirantur,
immo truffantur ignoranter, quod Dantes, qui poterat describere istum
praeclarum virum a claris progenitoribus et ejus claris gestis,
describit eum ab una femina, avita sua, Domna Gualdrada. Sed certe
Auctor fecit talem descriptionem tam laudabiliter quam prudenter, ut
heic implicite tangeret originem famosae stirpis istius, et ut daret
meritam famam et laudem huic mulieri dignissimae.

A literal translation will afford the most telling comment on the nature
of the Italian version.

TRANSLATION.

Here Dante makes mention of Guido Guerras, and many marvel at the
modesty of the Author, in deriving his own origin from him and from his
wife, when he might have derived it from a more noble source. But I find
in such modesty the greater merit, in that he did not wish to fail in
affectionate gratitude toward her,--Gualdrada,--his ancestress,--giving
her name and handing her down as it were to eternity, while she by
herself would perhaps have remained unknown.

TRANSLATION.

In the first place he began with the worthiest, namely, Guido Guerra;
and in regard to the description of this man it is to be dwelt upon a
little by the reader, because scoff at Dante, because, when he might
have described this very distinguished man by his distinguished
ancestors and his distinguished deeds, he does describe him by a woman,
his grandmother, the Lady Gualdrada. But certainly the author did this
not less praiseworthily than wisely, that he might here, by implication,
touch upon the origin of that famous family, and might give a merited
fame and praise to this most worthy woman.

It will be noticed that Signor Tamburini makes Dante derive _his own_
origin from Gualdrada,--a mistake from which the least attention to the
original text, or the slightest acquaintance with the biography of the
poet, would have saved him.

Another amusing instance of stupidity occurs in the comment on the 135th
verse of Canto XXVIII., where, speaking of the young king, son of Henry
II. of England, Benvenuto says, "Note here that this youth was like
another Titus the son of Vespasian, who, according to Suetonius, was
called the love and delight of the human race." This simple sentence is
rendered in the following astounding manner: "John [the young king] was,
according to Suetonius, another Titus Vespasian, the love and joy of the
human race"!

Again, in giving the account of Guido da Montefeltro, (_Inferno_, Canto
XXVII.,) Benvenuto says on the lines,

 --e poi fui Cordeliero,
  Credendomi si cinto fare ammenda,

"And then I became a Cordelier, believing thus girt to make
amends,"--"That is, hoping under such a dress of misery and poverty
to make amends for my sins; but others did not believe in him [in his
repentance]. Wherefore Dominus Malatesta, having learned from one of
his household that Dominus Guido had become a Minorite Friar, took
precautions that he should not be made the guardian of Rimini." This
last sentence is rendered by our translator,--"One of the household
of Malatesta related to me (!) that Ser Guido adopted the dress of a
Minorite Friar, and sought by every means not to be appointed guardian
of Rimini." A little farther on the old commentator says,--"He died and
was buried in Ancona, and I have heard many things about him which may
afford a sufficient hope of his salvation"; but he is made to say by
Signor Tamburini,--"After his death and burial in Ancona many works of
power were ascribed to him, and I have a sweet hope that he is saved."

We pass over many instances of similar misunderstanding of Benvenuto's
easily intelligible though inelegant Latin, to a blunder which would be
extraordinary in any other book, by which our translator has ruined a
most characteristic story in the comment on the 112th verse of Canto
XIV. of the "Purgatory." We must give here the two texts.

BENVENUTO

Et heic nota, ut videas, si magna nobilitas vigebat paulo ante in
Bretenorio, quod tempore istius Guidonis, quando aliquis vir nobilis
et honorabilis applicabat ad terram, magna contentio erat inter multos
nobiles de Bretenorio, in cujus domum ille talis forensis deberet
declinare. Propter quod concorditer convenerunt inter se, quod columna
lapidea figeretur in medio plateae cum multis annulis ferreis, et omnis
superveniens esset hospes illius ad cujus annulum alligaret equum.

TRANSLATION.

And here take notice, that you may see if great nobility flourished a
little before this time in Brettinoro, that, in the days of this Guido,
when any noble and honorable man came to the place, there was a great
rivalry among the many nobles of Brettinoro, as to which of them should
receive the stranger in his house. Wherefore they harmoniously agreed
that a column of stone should be set up in the middle of the square,
furnished with many iron rings, and any one who arrived should be the
guest of him to whose ring he might tie his horse.


TAMBURINI.

Al tempo di Guido in Brettinoro anche i nobili aravano le terre; ma
insorsero discordie fra essi, e sparve la innocenza di vita, e con essa
la liberalità. I brettinoresi determinarono di alzare in piazza una
colonna con intorno tanti anelli di ferro, quanto le nobili famiglie di
quel castello, e chi fosse arrivato ed avesse legato il cavallo ad uno
de' predetti anelli, doveva esser ospite della famiglia, che indicava l'
anello cui il cavallo era attaccato.

TRANSLATION.

In the time of Guido in Brettinoro even the nobles ploughed the land;
but discords arose among them, and innocence of life disappeared, and
with it liberality. The people of Brettinoro determined to erect in the
pub lic square a column with as many iron rings upon it as there were
noble families in that stronghold, and he who should arrive and tie his
horse to one of those rings was to be the guest of the family pointed
out by the ring to which the horse was attached.

Surely, Signor Tamburini has fixed the dunce's cap on his own head so
that it can never he taken off. The commonest Latin phrases, which the
dullest schoolboy could not mistranslate, he misunderstands, turning
the pleasant sense of the worthy commentator into the most
self-contradictory nonsense.

"Ad confirmandum propositum," says Benvenuto, "oceurrit mihi res
jocosa,"[A]--"In confirmation of this statement, a laughable matter
occurs to me"; and he goes on to relate a story about the famous
astrologer Pietro di Abano. But our translator is not content without
making him stultify himself, and renders the words we have quoted, "A
maggiore conferma referiro un fatto a me accaduto"; that is, he makes
Benvenuto say, "I will report an incident that happened to me," and then
go on to tell the story of Pietro di Abano, which had no more to do with
him than with Signor Tamburini himself.

[Footnote A: Comment on Purg. xvi. 80.]

We might fill page after page with examples such as these of the
distortions and corruptions of Benvenuto's meaning which we have noted
on the margin of this so-called translation. But we have given more than
enough to prove the charge of incompetence against the President of
the "Academy of the Industrious," and we pass on to exhibit him now no
longer as simply an ignoramus, but as a mean and treacherous rogue.

Among the excellent qualities of Benvenuto there are few more marked
than his freedom in speaking his opinion of rulers and ecclesiastics,
and in holding up their vices to reproach, while at the same time he
shows a due spirit of respect for proper civil and ecclesiastical
authority. In this he imitates the temper of the poet upon whose work he
comments,--and in so doing he has left many most valuable records of
the character and manners especially of the clergy of those days--He
loved a good story, and he did not hesitate to tell it even when it went
hard against the priests. He knew and he would not hide the corruptions
of the Church, and he was not the man to spare the vices which were
sapping the foundations not so much of the Church as of religion itself.
But his translator is of a different order of men, one of the devout
votaries of falsehood and concealment; and he has done his best to
remove some of the most characteristic touches of Benvenuto's work,
regarding them as unfavorable to the Church, which even now in the
nineteenth century cannot well bear to have exposed the sins committed
by its rulers and its clergy in the thirteenth or fourteenth. Signor
Tamburini has sought the favor of ecclesiastics, and gained the contempt
of such honest men as have the ill-luck to meet with his book. Wherever
Benvenuto uses a phrase or tells an anecdote which can be regarded as
bearing in any way against the Church, we may be sure to find it either
omitted or softened down in this Papalistic version. We give a few
specimens.

In the comment on Canto III. of the "Inferno," Benvenuto says, speaking
of Dante's great enemy, Boniface VIII.,--"Auctor ssepissime dicit
de ipso Bonifacio magna mala, qui de rei veritate fuit magnanimus
peccator": "Our author very often speaks exceedingly ill of Boniface,
who was in very truth a grand sinner." This sentence is omitted in the
translation.

Again, on the well-known verse, (_Inferno,_ xix. 53,) "Se' tu già costì
ritto, Bonifazio?" Benvenuto commenting says,--"Auctor quando ista
scripsit, viderat pravam vitam Bonifacii, ct ejus mortem rabidam.
Ideo bene judicavit eum damnatum.... Heic dictus Nicolaus improperat
Bonifacio duo mala. Primo, quia Sponsam Christ! fraudulenter assumpsit
de manu simplicis Pastoris. Secundo, quia etiam earn more meretricis
tractavit, simoniacc vendcndo eam, et tyrannice tractando": "The author,
when he wrote these things, had witnessed the evil life of Boniface, and
his raving death. Therefore he well judged him to be damned.... And
here the aforementioned Pope Nicholas charges two crimes upon Boniface:
first, that he had taken the Bride of Christ by deceit from the hand of
a simple-minded Pastor; second, that he had treated her as a harlot,
simoniacally selling her, and tyrannically dealing with her."

These two sentences are omitted by the translator; and the long further
account which Benvenuto gives of the election and rule of Boniface is
throughout modified by him in favor of this "_magnanimus peccator_." And
so also the vigorous narrative of the old commentator concerning Pope
Nicholas III. is deprived of its most telling points: "Nam fuit primus
in cujus curia palam committeretur Simonia per suos attinentes.
Quapropter multum ditavit eos possessionibus, pecuniis et castellis,
super onmes Romanos": "For he was the first at whose court Simony was
openly committed in favor of his adherents. Whereby he greatly enriched
them with possessions, money, and strongholds, above all the Romans."
"Sed quod Clerici capiunt raro dimittunt": "What the clergy have once
laid hands on, they rarely give up." Nothing of this is found in
the Italian,--and history fails of her dues at the hands of this
tender-conscienced modernizer of Benvenuto. The comment on the whole
canto is in this matter utterly vitiated.

In the comment on Canto XXIX. of the "Inferno," which is full of
historic and biographic material of great interest, but throughout
defaced by the license of the translator, occurs a passage in regard
to the Romagna, which is curious not only as exhibiting the former
condition of that beautiful and long-suffering portion of Italy, but
also as applying to its recent state and its modern grievances.

BENVENUTO.

Judicio meo mihi videtur quod quatuor deduxerunt eam nobilem provinciam
ad tantam desolationem. Primum est avaritia Pastorum Ecclesiae, qui nunc
vendunt unam terram, nunc aliam; et nunc unus favet uni Tyranno, nunc
alius alteri, secundum quod saepe mutantur officiales. Secundum est
pravitas Tyrannorum suorum, qui semper inter se se lacerant et rodunt,
et subditos excoriant. Tertium est fertilitas locorum ipsius provinciae,
cujus pinguedo allicit barbaros et externos in praedam. Quartum est
invidia, quae viget in cordibus ipsorum incolarum.

TAMBURINI.

Per me ritengo, che quattro fossero le cagioni per cui la Romagna
si ridusse a tanta desolazione: l' abuso per avarizia di alcuni
ecclesiastici, che alienarono or una, or un' altra terra, e si misero
d' accordo coi tiranni,--i tiranni stessi che sempre erano discordi fra
loro a danno de' sudditi,--la fertilità de' terreni, che troppo alletta
gli strani, ed i barbari,--l' invidia, che regna fra gli stessi roma
gnuoli.


"In my judgment," says Benvenuto, who speaks with the authority of long
experience and personal observation, "it seems to me that four things
have brought that noble province to so great desolation. The first of
which is, the avarice of the Pastors of the Church, who now sell one
tract of its land, and now another; while one favors one Tyrant, and
another another, so that the men in authority are often changed. The
second is, the wickedness of the Tyrants themselves, who are always
tearing and biting each other, and fleecing their subjects. The third
is, the fertility of the province itself, which by its very richness
allures barbarians and foreigners to prey upon it. The fourth is, that
spirit of jealousy which flourishes in the hearts of the inhabitants
themselves." It will be noticed that the translator changes the phrase,
"the avarice of the Pastors of the Church," into "the avarice of some
ecclesiastics," while throughout the passage, as indeed throughout every
page of the work, the vigor of Benvenuto's style and the point of
his animated sentences are quite lost in the flatness of a dull and
inaccurate paraphrase.

A passage in which the spirit of the poet has fully roused his manly
commentator is the noble burst of indignant reproach with which
he inveighs against and mourns over Italy in Canto VI. of the
"Purgatory":--

  Ahi serva Italia, di dolore ostello,
  Nave senza nocchiero in gran tempesta,
  Non donna di provincie, ma bordello.

"Nota metaphoram pulcram: sicut enim in lupanari venditur caro humana
pretio sine pudore, ita meretrix magna, idest Curia Romana, et Curia
Imperialis, vendunt libertatem Italicam.... Ad Italiam concurrunt omnes
barbarae nationes cum aviditate ad ipsam conculcandam.... Et heic,
Lector, me excusabis, qui antequam ulterius procedam, cogor facere
invectivam contra Dantem. O utinam, Poeta mirifice, rivivisceres modo!
Ubi pax, ubi tranquillitas in Italia?... Nunc autem dicere possim de
tola Italia quod Vergilius tuus de una Urbe dixit:

  ----'Crudelis ubique
  Lucutus, ubique pavor, et plurima mortis imago.'

.... Quanto ergo excusabilius, si fas esset, possem exclamare ad
Omnipotentem quam tu, qui in tempora felicia incidisti, quibus nos omnes
nunc viventes in misera Italia possumus invidere? Ipse ergo, qui potest,
mittat amodo Veltrum, quem tu vidisti in Somno, si tamen umquam venturus
est."

"Note the beauty of the metaphor: for, as in a brothel the human body is
sold for a price without shame, so the great harlot, the Court of Rome,
and the Imperial Court, sell the liberty of Italy.... All the barbarous
nations rush eagerly upon Italy to trample upon her.... And here,
Reader, thou shalt excuse me, if, before going farther, I am forced to
utter a complaint against Dante. Would that, O marvellous poet, thou
wert now living again! Where is peace, where is tranquillity in
Italy?... But I may say now of all Italy what thy Virgil said of a
single city,--'Cruel mourning everywhere, everywhere alarm, and the
multiplied image of death.' ...With how much more reason, then, were it
but right, might I call upon the Omnipotent, than thou who fellest upon
happy times, which we all now living in wretched Italy may envy! Let
Him, then, who can, speedily send the Hound that thou sawest in thy
dream, if indeed he is ever to come!"

It would be surprising, but for what we have already seen of the manner
in which Signor Tamburini performs his work, to find that he has here
omitted all reference to the Church, omitted also the address to Dante,
and thus changed the character of the whole passage.

Again, in the comment on Canto XX. of the "Purgatory," where Benvenuto
gives account of the outrage committed, at the instigation of Philippe
le Bel, by Sciarra Colonna, upon Pope Boniface VIII., at Anagni, the
translator omits the most characteristic portions of the original.

       *       *       *       *       *

BENVENUTO.

Sed intense dolore superante animum ejus, conversus in rabiem furoris,
coepit se rodere totum. Et sic verificata est prophetia simplicissimi
Coelestini, qui praedixerat sibi: Intrâsti ut Vulpes, Regnabis ut Leo,
Morieris ut Canis.

TAMBURINI.

L'angoscia per altro là vinse sul di lui animo, perchè fu preso da tal
dolore, che si mordeva e lacerava le membra, e cosi terminò sua vita. In
tal modo nel corso della vita di Bonifazio fu verificata la profezia di
Celestino.

       *       *       *       *       *

"But his intense mortification overcoming the mind of the Pope, he fell
into a rage of madness, and began to bite himself all over his body.
And thus the prophecy of the simple-minded Celestine came true, who had
predicted to him. Thou hast entered [into the Papacy] like a Fox, thou
wilt reign like a Lion, thou wilt die like a Dog."

It wilt be observed that the prophecy is referred to by the translator,
but that its stinging words are judiciously left out.

The mass of omissions such as these is enormous. We go forward to the
comment on Canto XII. of the "Paradiso," which exhibits a multitude of
mutilations and alterations. For instance, in the comment on the lines
in which Dante speaks of St. Dominick as attacking heresies most eagerly
where they were most firmly established, (_dove le resistenze eran più
grosse_,) our translator represents Benvenuto as saying, "That is, most
eagerly in that place, namely, the district of Toulouse, where the
Albigenses had become strong in their heresy and in power." But
Benvenuto says nothing of the sort; his words are, "Idest, ubi erant
majores Haeretici, vel ratione scientiae, vel potentiae. Non enim fecit
sicut quidam moderni Inquisitores, qui non sunt audaces nec solertes,
nisi contra quosdam divites denariis, pauperes amicis, qui non possunt
facere magnam resistentiam, et extorquent ab eis pecunias, quibus postea
emunt Episcopatum."

"That is, where were the greatest Heretics, either through their
knowledge or their power. For he did not do like some modern
Inquisitors, who are bold and skilful only against such as are rich in
money, but poor in friends, and who cannot make a great resistance, and
from these they squeeze out their money with which they afterwards buy
an Episcopate."

Such is the way in which what is most illustrative of general history,
or of the personal character of the author himself, is constantly
destroyed by the processes of Signor Tamburini. From the very next page
a passage of real value, as a contemporary judgment upon the orders of
St. Dominick and St. Francis, has utterly disappeared under his hands.
"And here take notice, that our most far-sighted author, from what he
saw of these orders, conjectured what they would become. For, in very
truth, these two illustrious orders of Preachers and Minorites, formerly
the two brightest lights of the world, now have indeed undergone an
eclipse, and are in their decline, and are divided by quarrels and
domestic discords. And consequently it seems as if they were not to last
much longer. Therefore it was well answered by a monk of St. Benedict,
when he was reproached by a Franciscan friar for his wanton life,--When
Francis shall be as old as Benedict, then you may talk to me."

But there is a still more remarkable instance of Signor Tamburini's
tenderness to the Church, and of the manner in which he cheats his
readers as to the spirit and meaning of the original, in the comment on
the passage in Canto XXI. of the "Paradise," where St. Peter Damiano
rebukes the luxury and pomp of the modern prelates, and mentions, among
their other displays of vanity, the size of their cloaks, "which cover
even their steeds, so that two beasts go under one skin." "Namely," says
the honest old commentator, "the beast of burden, and the beast who is
borne, who in truth is the more beastly of the two. And, indeed, were
the author now alive, he might change his words, and say, So that three
beasts go under one skin,--to wit, a cardinal, a harlot, and a horse;
for thus I have heard of one whom I knew well, that he carried his
mistress to the chase, seated behind him on the croup of his horse or
mule, and he himself was in truth 'as the horse or as the mule, which
have no understanding.'... And wonder not, Reader, if the author as a
poet thus reproach these prelates of the Church; for even great Doctors
and Saints have not been able to abstain from rebukes of this sort
against such men in the Church." Nothing of all this is to be found in
the Italian version.

But it is not only in omission that the translator shows his devotion
to the Church. He takes upon himself not infrequently to alter the
character of Benvenuto's narratives by the insertion of phrases or the
addition of clauses to which there is nothing corresponding in the
original. The comment on Canto XIX. of the "Inferno" affords several
instances of this unfair procedure. "Among the Cardinals," says
Benvenuto, "was Benedict of Anagni, a man most skilful in managing great
affairs and in the rule of the world; who, moreover, sought the highest
dignity." "Vir astutissimus ad quseque magna negotia et imperia mundi;
qui etiam affectabat summam dignitatem." This appears in the translation
as follows: "Uomo astutissimo, perito d' affari, e conoscitore delle
altre corti: affettava un contegno il più umile, e reservato." "A man
most astute, skilled in affairs, and acquainted with other courts; he
assumed a demeanor the most humble and reserved." A little farther on,
Benvenuto tells us that many, even after the election of Benedict to the
Papacy, reputed Celestine to be still the true and rightful Pope, in
spite of his renunciation, because, they said, such a dignity could not
be renounced. To this statement the translator adds, "because it comes
directly from God,"--a clause for the benefit of readers under the
pontificate of Pius IX.

In the comment on Canto XIX. of the "Purgatory" occurs the following
striking passage: "Summus Pontificatus, si bene geritur, est summus
honor, summum onus, summa servitus, summus labor. Si vero male, est
summum periculum animae, summum malum, summa miseria, summus pudor. Ergo
dubium est ex omni parte negotium. Ideo bene praefatus Adrianus Papa IV.
dicebat, Cathedram Petri spinosam, et Mantum ejus acutissimis per totum
consertum aculeis, et tantae gravitatis, ut robustissimos premat et
conterat humeros. Et concludebat, Nonne miseria dignus est qui pro tanta
pugnat miseria?"

"The Papacy, if it be well borne, is the chief of honors, of burdens, of
servitudes, and of labors; but if ill, it is the chief of perils for the
soul, the chief of evils, of miseries, and of shames. Wherefore, it is
throughout a doubtful affair. And well did the aforesaid Pope Adrian IV.
say, that the Chair of Peter was thorny, and his Mantle full of sharpest
stings, and so heavy as to weigh down and bruise the stoutest shoulders;
and, added he, Does not that man deserve pity, who strives for a woe
like this?"

This passage, so worthy of preservation and of literal translation, is
given by Signor Tamburini as follows: "The tiara is the first of honors,
but also the first and heaviest of burdens, and the most rigorous
slavery; it is the greatest risk of misfortune and of shame. The Papal
mantle is pierced with sharp thorns; who, then, will excuse him who
frets himself for it?"

But it is not only in passages relating to the Church that the
translator's faithlessness is displayed. Almost every page of his work
exhibits some omission, addition, transposition, or paraphrase, for
which no explanation can be given, and not even an insufficient excuse
be offered. In Canto IX. of the "Paradise," Dante puts into the mouth of
Cunizza, speaking of Foulques of Marseilles, the words, "Before his fame
shall die, the hundredth year shall five times come around." "And note
here," says Benvenuto, "that our author manifestly tells a falsehood;
since of that man there is no longer any fame, even in his own country.
I say, in brief, that the author wishes tacitly to hint that he will
give fame to him by his power,--a fame that shall not die so long as
this book shall live; and if we may conjecture of the future, it is to
last for many ages, since we see that the fame of our author continually
increases. And thus he exhorts men to live virtuously, that the wise may
bestow fame upon them, as he himself has now given it to Cunizza,
and will give it to Foulques." Not a word of this appears in Signor
Tamburini's pages, interesting as it is as an early expression of
confidence in the duration of Dante's fame.

A similar omission of a curious reference to Dante occurs in the comment
on the 23d verse of Canto XXVII. of the "Inferno," where Benvenuto,
speaking of the power of mental engrossment or moral affections to
overcome physical pain, says, "As I, indeed, have seen a sick man cause
the poem of Dante to be brought to him for relief from the burning pains
of fever."

Such omissions as these deprive Benvenuto's pages of the charm of
_naïveté_, and of the simple expression of personal experience and
feeling with which they abound in the original, and take from them
a great part of their interest for the general reader. But there
is another class of omissions and alterations which deprives the
translation of value for the special student of the text of Dante,--a
class embracing many of Benvenuto's discussions of disputed readings and
remarks upon verbal forms. Signor Tamburini has thus succeeded in making
his book of no use as an authority, and prevented it from being referred
to by any one desirous of learning Benvenuto's judgment in any case
of difficulty. To point out in detail instances of this kind is not
necessary, after what we have already done.

The common epithets of critical justice fail in such a case as that of
this work. The facts concerning it, as they present themselves one after
another, are stronger in their condemnation of it than any words. It
would seem as if nothing further could be added to the disgrace of the
translator; but we have still one more charge to prove against him,
worse than the incompetence, the ignorance, and the dishonesty of which
we have already found him guilty. In reading the last volume of his
work, after our suspicions of its character had been aroused, it seemed
to us that we met here and there with sentences which had a familiar
tone, which at least resembled sentences we had elsewhere read. We
found, upon examination, that Signor Tamburini, under the pretence of a
translation of Benvenuto, had inserted through his pages, with a liberal
hand, considerable portions of the well-known notes of Costa, and, more
rarely, of the still later Florentine editor, the Abate Bianchi. It
occurred to us as possible that Costa and Bianchi had in these passages
themselves translated from Benvenuto, and that Signor Tamburini had
simply adopted their versions without acknowledgment, to save himself
the trouble of making a new translation. But we were soon satisfied that
his trickery had gone farther than this, and that he had inserted the
notes of these editors to fill up his own pages, without the slightest
regard to their correspondence with or disagreement from the original
text. It is impossible to discover the motive of this proceeding; for
it certainly would seem to be as easy to translate, after the manner
in which Signor Tamburini translates, as to copy the words of other
authors. Moreover, his thefts seem quite without rule or order: he takes
one note and leaves the next; he copies a part, and leaves the other
part of the same note; he sometimes quotes half a page, sometimes only a
line or two in many pages. Costa's notes on the 98th and 100th verses
of Canto XXI. of the "Paradise" are taken out without the change of a
single word, and so also his note on v. 94 of the next Canto. In this
last instance we have the means of knowing what Benvenuto wrote,
because, although the passage has not been given by Muratori, it is
found in the note by Parenti, in the Florentine edition of the "Divina
Commedia" of 1830. "Vult dicere Benedictus quod miraculosius fuit
Jordanem converti retrorsum, et Mare Rubrum aperiri per medium, quam
si Deus succurreret et provideret istis malis. Ratio est quod utrumque
praedictorum miraculorum fuit contra naturam; sed punire reos et
nocentes naturale est et usitatum, quamvis Deus punierit peccatores
AEgyptios per modum inusitatum supernaturaliter Jordanus sic nominatur
a duobus fontibus, quorum unus vocatur JOR et alius vocatur DAN: inde
JORDANUS, ut ait Hieronymus, locorum orientalium persedulus indagator.
_Volto ritrorso;_ scilicet, versus ortum suum, vel contra: _el mar
fugire;_ idest, et Mare Rubrum fugere hinc inde, quando fecit viam
populo Dei, qui transivit sicco pede: _fu qui mirabile a vedere;_ idest,
miraculosius, _chel soccorso que,_ idest, quam esset mirabile succursum
divinum hic venturum ad puniendos perversos." Now this whole passage is
omitted in Signor Tamburini's work; and in its place appears a literal
transcript from Costa's note, as follows: "Veramente fu più mirabile
cosa vedere il Giordano volto all' indietro o fuggire il mare, quando
così volle Iddio, che non sarebbe vedere qui il provvedimento a quel
male, che per colpa de' traviati religiosi viene alia Chiesa di Dio."

Another instance of this complete desertion of Benvenuto, and adoption
of another's words, occurs just at the end of the same Canto, v. 150;
and the Florentine edition again gives us the original text. It is even
more inexplicable why the so-called translator should have chosen this
course here than in the preceding instance; for he has copied but a line
and a half from Costa, which is not a larceny of sufficient magnitude to
be of value to the thief.

We have noted misappropriations of this sort, beside those already
mentioned, in Cantos II. and III. of the "Purgatory," and in Cantos I.,
II., XV., XVI., XVIII., XIX., and XXIII., of the "Paradise." There are
undoubtedly others which have not attracted our attention.

We have now finished our exposure of the false pretences of these
volumes, and of the character of their author. After what has been said
of them, it seems hardly worth while to note, that, though handsome in
external appearance, they are very carelessly and inaccurately printed,
and that they are totally deficient in needed editorial illustrations.
Such few notes of his own as Signor Tamburini has inserted in the course
of the work are deficient alike in intelligence and in object.

A literary fraud of this magnitude is rarely attempted. A man must be
conscious of being supported by the forces of a corrupt ecclesiastical
literary police before venturing on a transaction of this kind. No shame
can touch the President of the "Academy of the Industrious." His book
has the triple _Imprimatur_ of Rome. It is a comment, not so much on
Dante, as on the low standard of literary honesty under a government
where the press is shackled, where true criticism is forbidden, where
the censorship exerts its power over the dead as well as the living, and
every word must be accommodated to the fancied needs of a despotism the
more exacting from the consciousness of its own decline.

It is to be hoped, that, with the new freedom of Italian letters, an
edition of the original text of Benvenuto's Comment will be issued under
competent supervision. The old Commentator, the friend of Petrarch and
Boccaccio, deserves this honor, and should have his fame protected
against the assault made upon it by his unworthy compatriot.


_Reminiscences of Scottish Life and Character_. By E.E. RAMSAY, M.A.,
LL.D., F.R. S.E., Dean of Edinburgh. From the Seventh Edinburgh Edition.
Boston: Ticknor & Fields. 12mo.

This book was not made, but grew. The foundation was a short lecture
delivered in Edinburgh. It was so popular that it was published in a
pamphlet form. The popularity of the pamphlet induced Dean Ramsay to
recall many anecdotes illustrating national peculiarities which could
not be compressed into a lyceum address. The result was that the
pamphlet became a thin volume, which grew thicker and thicker as edition
after edition was called for by the curiosity of the public. The
American reprint is from the seventh and last Edinburgh edition, and is
introduced by a genial preface, written especially for American readers.
The author is more than justified in thinking that there are numerous
persons scattered over our country, who, from ties of ancestry or
sympathy with Scotland, will enjoy a record of the quaint sayings and
eccentric acts of her past humorists,--"her original and strong-minded
old ladies,--her excellent and simple parish ministers,--her amusing
parochial half-daft idiots,--her pawky lairds,--and her old-fashioned
and now obsolete domestic servants and retainers." Indeed, the Yankee is
sufficiently allied, morally and intellectually, with the Scotchman, to
appreciate everything that illustrates the peculiarities of Scottish
humor. He has shown this by the delight he has found in those novels
of Scott's which relate exclusively to Scotland. The Englishman, and
perhaps the Frenchman, may have excelled him in the appreciation of
"Ivanhoe" and "Quentin Durward," but we doubt if even the first
has equalled him in the cozy enjoyment of the "Antiquary" and "Guy
Mannering." And Dean Ramsay's book proves how rich and deep was the
foundation in fact of the qualities which Sir Walter has immortalized
in fiction. He has arranged his "Reminiscences of Scottish Life and
Character" under five heads, relating respectively to the religious
feelings and observances, the conviviality, the domestic service, the
language and proverbs, and the peculiarities of the wit and humor of
Scotland. In New England, and wherever in any part of the country
the New-Englander resides, the volume will receive a most cordial
recognition. Dean Ramsay's qualifications for his work are plainly
implied in his evident understanding and enjoyment of the humor of
Scottish character. He writes about that which he feels and knows; and,
without any exercise of analysis and generalization, he subtly conveys
to the reader the inmost spirit of the national life he undertakes to
illustrate by narrative, anecdote, and comment. The finest critical and
artistic skill would be inadequate to insinuate into the mind so
keen and vivid a perception of Scottish characteristics as escape
unconsciously from the simple statements of this true Scotchman, who is
in hearty sympathy with his countrymen.


_The Pulpit of the American Revolution: or, The Political Sermons of
the Period of_ 1776. With a Historical Introduction, Notes, and
Illustrations. By JOHN WINGATE THORNTON, A.M. Boston: Gould & Lincoln.
12mo.

This is a volume worthy a place in every American library, public or
private. It consists of nine discourses by the same number of patriotic
clergymen of the Revolution. Mr. Thornton, the editor, has supplied an
historical introduction, full of curious and interesting matter, and has
also given a special preface to each sermon, with notes explaining all
those allusions in the text which might puzzle an ordinary reader of the
present day. His annotations have not only the value which comes from
patient research, but the charm which proceeds from loving partisanship.
He transports himself into the times about which he writes, and
almost seems to have listened to the sermons he now comes forward to
illustrate. The volume contains Dr. Mayhew's sermon on "Unlimited
Submission," Dr. Chauncy's on the "Repeal of the Stamp Act," Rev. Mr.
Cooke's Election Sermon on the "True Principles of Civil Government,"
Rev. Mr. Gordon's "Thanksgiving Sermon in 1774," and the discourses,
celebrated in their day, of Langdon, Stiles, West, Payson, and Howard.
Among these, the first rank is doubtless due to Dr. Mayhew's remarkable
discourse at the West Church on the 30th of January, 1750. The topics
relating to "non-resistance to the higher powers," which Macaulay treats
with such wealth of statement, argument, and illustration, in his
"History of England," are in this sermon discussed with equal
earnestness, energy, brilliancy, fulness, and independence of thought.
If all political sermons were characterized by the rare mental and moral
qualities which distinguish Jonathan Mayhew's, there can be little doubt
that our politicians and statesmen would oppose the intrusion of parsons
into affairs of state on the principle of self-preservation, and not on
any arrogant pretension of superior sagacity, knowledge, and ability.
In the power to inform the people of their rights and teach them their
duties, we would be willing to pit one Mayhew against a score of
Cushings and Rhetts, of Slidells and Yanceys. The fact that Mayhew's
large and noble soul glowed with the inspiration of a quick moral and
religious, as well as common, sense, would not, in our humble opinion,
at all detract from his practical efficiency.


_Works of Charles Dickens Household Edition_. Illustrated from Drawings
by F.O.C. Darley and John Gilbert. The Pickwick Papers. New York: W.A.
Townsend & Co. 4 vols. 12mo.

We have long needed a handsome American edition of the works of the most
popular English novelist of the time, and here we have the first volumes
of one which is superior, in type, paper, illustrations, and general
taste of mechanical execution, to the best English editions. It is to
be published at the rate of two volumes a month until completed, and in
respect both to cheapness and elegance is worthy of the most extensive
circulation. Such an enterprise very properly commences with "The
Pickwick Papers," the work in which the hilarity, humor, and tenderness
of the author's humane and beautiful genius first attracted general
regard; and it is to be followed by equally fine editions of the
romances which succeeded, and, as some think, eclipsed it in merit and
popularity. We most cordially wish success to an undertaking which
promises to substitute the finest workmanship of the Riverside Press for
the bad type and dingy paper of the common editions, and hope that the
publishers will see the propriety of adequately remunerating the author.

It is pleasant to note that years and hard work have not dimmed the
brightness or impaired the strength of Dickens's mind. The freshness,
vigor, and affluence of his genius are not more evident in the "Old
Curiosity Shop" than in "Great Expectations," the novel he is now
publishing, in weekly parts, in "All the Year Round." Common as is the
churlish custom of depreciating a new work of a favorite author by
petulantly exalting the worth of an old one, no fair reader of "Great
Expectations" will feel inclined to say that Dickens has written
himself out. In this novel he gives us new scenes, new incidents, new
characters, and a new purpose; and from his seemingly exhaustless fund
of genial creativeness, we may confidently look for continual additions
to the works which have already established his fame. The characters
in "Great Expectations" are original, and some of them promise to rank
among his best delineations. Pip, the hero, who, as a child, "was
brought up by hand," and who appears so far to be led by it,--thus
illustrating the pernicious effect in manhood of that mode of taking
nourishment in infancy,--is a delicious creation, quite equal to David
Copperfield. Jaggers, the peremptory lawyer, who carries into ordinary
conduct and conversation the habits of the criminal bar, and bullies and
cross-examines even his dinner and his wine,--Joe, the husband of "the
hand" by which Pip was brought up,--Wopsle, Wemmick, Orlick, the family
of the Pockets, the mysterious Miss Havisham, and the disdainful
Estella, are not repetitions, but personages that the author introduces
to his readers for the first time. The story is not sufficiently
advanced to enable us to judge of its merit, but it has evidently been
carefully meditated, and here and there the reader's curiosity is stung
by fine hints of a secret which the weaver of the plot still contrives
to keep to himself. The power of observation, satire, humor, passion,
description, and style, which the novel exhibits, gives evidence that
Dickens is putting forth in its production his whole skill and strength.



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