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Title: The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 07, No. 44, June, 1861 Creator
Author: Various
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 07, No. 44, June, 1861 Creator" ***

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VOL. VII.--JUNE, 1861.--NO. XLIV.




The next morning Elsie awoke, as was her custom,--when the very faintest
hue of dawn streaked the horizon. A hen who has seen a hawk balancing
his wings and cawing in mid-air over her downy family could not have
awakened with her feathers, metaphorically speaking, in a more bristling
state of caution.

"Spirits in the gorge, quotha?" said she to herself, as she vigorously
adjusted her dress. "I believe so,--spirits in good sound bodies,
I believe; and next we shall hear, there will be rope-ladders, and
climbings, and the Lord knows what. I shall go to confession this very
morning, and tell Father Francesco the danger; and instead of taking her
down to sell oranges, suppose I send her to the sisters to carry the
ring and a basket of oranges?"

"Ah, ah!" she said, pausing, after she was dressed, and addressing a
coarse print of Saint Agnes pasted against the wall,--"you look very
meek there, and it was a great thing no doubt to die as you did; but if
you'd lived to be married and bring up a family of girls, you'd have
known something greater. Please, don't take offence with a poor old
woman who has got into the way of speaking her mind freely! I'm foolish,
and don't know much,--so, dear lady, pray for me!" And old Elsie bent
her knee and crossed herself reverently, and then went out, leaving her
young charge still sleeping.

It was yet dusky dawn when she might have been seen kneeling, with her
sharp, clear-cut profile, at the grate of a confession-box in a church
in Sorrento. Within was seated a personage who will have some influence
on our story, and who must therefore be somewhat minutely introduced to
the reader.

Il Padre Francesco had only within the last year arrived in the
neighborhood, having been sent as superior of a brotherhood of
Capuchins, whose convent was perched on a crag in the vicinity. With
this situation came a pastoral care of the district; and Elsie and her
grand-daughter found in him a spiritual pastor very different from the
fat, jolly, easy Brother Girolamo, to whose place he had been appointed.
The latter had been one of those numerous priests taken from the
peasantry, who never rise above the average level of thought of the body
from which they are drawn. Easy, gossipy, fond of good living and good
stories, sympathetic in troubles and in joys, he had been a general
favorite in the neighborhood, without exerting any particularly
spiritualizing influence.

It required but a glance at Father Francesco to see that he was in all
respects the opposite of this. It was evident that he came from one of
the higher classes, by that indefinable air of birth and breeding which
makes itself felt under every change of costume. Who he might be, what
might have been his past history, what rank he might have borne, what
part played in the great warfare of life, was all of course sunk in the
oblivion of his religious profession, where, as at the grave, a man laid
down name and fame and past history and worldly goods, and took up a
coarse garb and a name chosen from the roll of the saints, in sign that
the world that had known him should know hint no more.

Imagine a man between thirty and forty, with that round, full, evenly
developed head, and those chiselled features, which one sees on ancient
busts and coins no less than in the streets of modern Rome. The checks
were sunken and sallow; the large, black, melancholy eyes had a wistful,
anxious, penetrative expression, that spoke a stringent, earnest spirit,
which, however deep might be the grave in which it lay buried, had not
yet found repose. The long, thin, delicately formed hands were emaciated
and bloodless; they clasped with a nervous eagerness a rosary and
crucifix of ebony and silver,--the only mark of luxury that could be
discerned in a costume unusually threadbare and squalid. The whole
picture of the man, as he sat there, had it been painted and hung in a
gallery, was such as must have stopped every person of a certain amount
of sensibility before it with the conviction that behind that strong,
melancholy, earnest figure and face lay one of those hidden histories of
human passion in which the vivid life of medieval Italy was so fertile.

He was listening to Elsie, as she kneeled, with that easy air of
superiority which marks a practised man of the world, yet with a grave
attention which showed that her communication had awakened the deepest
interest in his mind. Every few moments he moved slightly in his seat,
and interrupted the flow of the narrative by an inquiry concisely put,
in tones which, clear and low, had a solemn and severe distinctness,
producing, in the still, dusky twilight of the church, an almost ghostly

When the communication was over, he stepped out of the confessional and
said to Elsie in parting,--"My daughter, you have done well to take this
in time. The devices of Satan in our corrupt times are numerous and
artful, and they who keep the Lord's sheep must not sleep. Before
many days I will call and examine the child; meanwhile I approve your

It was curious to see the awe-struck, trembling manner in which old
Elsie, generally so intrepid and commanding, stood before this man in
his brown rough woollen gown with his corded waist; but she had an
instinctive perception of the presence of the man of superior birth no
less than a reverence for the man of religion.

After she had departed from the church, the Capuchin stood lost in
thought; and to explain his reverie, we must throw some further light on
his history.

Il Padre Francesco, as his appearance and manner intimated, was in truth
from one of the most distinguished families of Florence. He was one of
those whom an ancient writer characterizes as "men of longing desire."
Born with a nature of restless stringency that seemed to doom him never
to know repose, excessive in all things, he had made early trial
of ambition, of war, and of what the gallants of his time called
love,--plunging into all the dissipated excesses of a most dissolute
age, and outdoing in luxury and extravagance the foremost of his

The wave of a great religious impulse--which in our times would have
been called a revival--swept over the city of Florence, and bore him,
with multitudes of others, to listen to the fervid preaching of the
Dominican monk, Jerome Savonarola; and amid the crowd that trembled,
wept, and beat their breasts under his awful denunciations, he, too,
felt within himself a heavenly call,--the death of an old life, and the
uprising of a new purpose.

The colder manners and more repressed habits of modern times can give
no idea of the wild fervor of a religious revival among a people so
passionate and susceptible to impressions as the Italians. It swept
society like a spring torrent from the sides of the Apennines, bearing
all before it. Houses were sacked with religious fervor by penitent
owners, and licentious pictures and statuary and books, and all the
thousand temptations and appliances of a luxurious age, were burned in
the great public square. Artists convicted of impure and licentious
designs threw their palettes and brushes into the expiatory flames, and
retired to convents, till called forth by the voice of the preacher,
and bid to turn their art into higher channels. Since the days of Saint
Francis no such profound religious impulse had agitated the Italian

In our times a conversion is signalized by few outward changes, however
deep the inner life; but the life of the Middle Ages was profoundly
symbolical, and always required the help of material images in its

The gay and dissolute young Lorenzo Sforza took leave of the world with
rites of awful solemnity. He made his will and disposed of all his
worldly property, and assembling his friends, bade them the farewell of
a dying man. Arrayed as for the grave, he was laid in his coffin,
and thus carried from his stately dwelling by the brethren of the
Misericordia, who, in their ghostly costume, with mournful chants and
lighted candles, bore him to the tomb of his ancestors, where the coffin
was deposited in the vault, and its occupant passed the awful hours of
the night in darkness and solitude. Thence he was carried, the next day,
almost in a state of insensibility, to a neighboring convent of the
severest order, where, for some weeks, he observed a penitential retreat
of silence and prayer, neither seeing nor hearing any living being but
his spiritual director.

The effect of all this on an ardent and sensitive temperament can
scarcely be conceived; and it is not to be wondered at that the once
gay and luxurious Lorenzo Sforza, when emerging from this tremendous
discipline, was so wholly lost in the worn and weary Padre Francesco
that it seemed as if in fact he had died and another had stepped into
his place. The face was ploughed deep with haggard furrows, and the eyes
were as those of a man who has seen the fearful secrets of another life.
He voluntarily sought a post as far removed as possible from the scenes
of his early days, so as more completely to destroy his identity
with the past; and he devoted himself with enthusiasm to the task of
awakening to a higher spiritual life the indolent, self-indulgent monks
of his order, and the ignorant peasantry of the vicinity.

But he soon discovered, what every earnest soul learns who has been
baptized into a sense of things invisible, how utterly powerless and
inert any mortal man is to inspire others with his own insights and
convictions. With bitter discouragement and chagrin, he saw that the
spiritual man must forever lift the dead weight of all the indolence and
indifference and animal sensuality that surround him,--that the curse of
Cassandra is upon him, forever to burn and writhe under awful visions of
truths which no one around him will regard. In early life the associate
only of the cultivated and the refined, Father Francesco could not
but experience at times an insupportable _ennui_ in listening to the
confessions of people who had never learned either to think or to feel
with any degree of distinctness, and whom his most fervent exhortations
could not lift above the most trivial interests of a mere animal life.
He was weary of the childish quarrels and bickerings of the monks, of
their puerility, of their selfishness and self-indulgence, of their
hopeless vulgarity of mind, and utterly discouraged with their
inextricable labyrinths of deception. A melancholy deep as the grave
seized on him, and he redoubled his austerities, in the hope that by
making life painful he might make it also short.

But the first time that the clear, sweet tones of Agnes rang ill his
ears at the confessional, and her words, so full of unconscious poetry
and repressed genius, came like a strain of sweet music through the
grate, he felt at his heart a thrill to which it had long been a
stranger, and which seemed to lift the weary, aching load from off his
soul, as if some invisible angel had borne it up on his wings.

In his worldly days he had known women as the gallants in Boccaccio's
romances knew them, and among them one enchantress whose sorceries had
kindled in his heart one of those fatal passions which burn out the
whole of a man's nature, and leave it, like a sacked city, only a
smouldering heap of ashes. Deepest, therefore, among his vows of
renunciation had been those which divided him from all womankind. The
gulf that parted him and them was in his mind deep as hell, and he
thought of the sex only in the light of temptation and danger. For the
first time in his life, an influence serene, natural, healthy, and sweet
breathed over him from the mind of a woman,--an influence so heavenly
and peaceful that he did not challenge or suspect it, but rather opened
his worn heart insensibly to it, as one in a fetid chamber naturally
breathes freer when the fresh air is admitted.

How charming it was to find his most spiritual exhortations seized upon
with the eager comprehension of a nature innately poetic and ideal: Nay,
it sometimes seemed to him as if the suggestions which he gave her dry
and leafless she brought again to him in miraculous clusters of flowers,
like the barren rod of Joseph, which broke into blossoms when he was
betrothed to the spotless Mary; and yet, withal, she was so humbly
unconscious, so absolutely ignorant of the beauty of all she said and
thought, that she impressed him less as a mortal woman than as one of
those divine miracles in feminine form of which he had heard in the
legends of the saints.

Thenceforward his barren, discouraged life began to blossom with wayside
flowers,--and he mistrusted not the miracle, because the flowers were
all heavenly The pious thought or holy admonition that he saw trodden
under the swinish feet of the monks he gathered up again in hope,--she
would understand it; and gradually all his thoughts became like
carrier-doves, which, having once learned the way to a favorite haunt,
are ever fluttering to return thither.

Such is the wonderful power of human sympathy, that the discovery even
of the existence of a soul capable of understanding our inner life often
operates as a perfect charm; every thought, and feeling, and aspiration
carries with it a new value, from the interwoven consciousness that
attends it of the worth it would bear to that other mind; so that, while
that person lives, our existence is doubled in value, even though oceans
divide us.

The cloud of hopeless melancholy which had brooded over the mind of
Father Francesco lifted and sailed away, he knew not why, he knew not
when. A secret joyfulness and alacrity possessed his spirits; his
prayers became more fervent and his praises more frequent. Until now,
his meditations had been most frequently those of fear and wrath,--the
awful majesty of God, the terrible punishment of sinners, which he
conceived with all that haggard, dreadful sincerity of vigor which
characterized the modern Etruscan phase of religion of which the
"Inferno" of Dante was the exponent and the out-come. His preachings
and his exhortations had dwelt on that lurid world seen by the severe
Florentine, at whose threshold hope forever departs, and around whose
eternal circles of living torture the shivering spirit wanders dismayed
and blasted by terror.

He had been, shocked and discouraged to find how utterly vain had been
his most intense efforts to stem the course of sin by presenting these
images of terror: how hard natures had listened to them with only a
coarse and cruel appetite, which seemed to increase their hardness and
brutality; and how timid ones had been withered by them, like flowers
scorched by the blast of a furnace; how, in fact, as in the case of
those cruel executions and bloody tortures then universal in the
jurisprudence of Europe, these pictures of eternal torture seemed to
exert a morbid demoralizing influence which hurried on the growth of

But since his acquaintance with Agnes, without his knowing exactly why,
thoughts of the Divine Love had floated into his soul, filling it with a
golden cloud like that which of old rested over the mercy-seat in that
sacred inner temple where the priest was admitted alone. He became more
affable and tender, more tolerant to the erring, more fond of little
children; would stop sometimes to lay his hand on the head of a child,
or to raise up one who lay overthrown in the street. The song of little
birds and the voices of animal life became to him full of tenderness;
and his prayers by the sick and dying seemed to have a melting power,
such as he had never known before. It was spring in his soul,--soft,
Italian spring,--such as brings out the musky breath of the cyclamen,
and the faint, tender perfume of the primrose, in every moist dell of
the Apennines.

A year passed in this way, perhaps the best and happiest of his troubled
life,--a year in which, insensibly to himself, the weekly interviews
with Agnes at the confessional became the rallying-points around which
the whole of his life was formed, and she the unsuspected spring of his
inner being.

It was his duty, he said to himself, to give more than usual time and
thought to the working and polishing of this wondrous jewel which had
so unexpectedly been intrusted to him for the adorning of his Master's
crown; and so long as he conducted with the strictest circumspection of
his office, what had he to fear in the way of so delightful a duty? He
had never touched her hand; never had even the folds of her passing
drapery brushed against his garments of mortification and renunciation;
never, even in pastoral benediction, had he dared lay his hand on that
beautiful head. It is true, he had not forbidden himself to raise his
glance sometimes when he saw her coming in at the church-door and
gliding up the aisle with downcast eyes, and thoughts evidently so far
above earth, that she seemed, like one of Frà Angelico's angels, to be
moving on a cloud, so encompassed with stillness and sanctity that he
held his breath as she passed.

But in the confession of Dame Elsie that morning he had received a shock
which threw his whole interior being into a passionate agitation which
dismayed and astonished him.

The thought of Agnes, his spotless lamb, exposed to lawless and
licentious pursuit, of whose nature and probabilities his past life
gave him only too clear an idea, was of itself a very natural source of
anxiety. But Elsie had unveiled to him her plans for her marriage, and
consulted him on the propriety of placing Agnes immediately under the
protection of the husband she had chosen for her; and it was this part
of her communication which had awakened the severest internal recoil,
and raised a tumult of passions which the priest vainly sought either to
assuage or understand.

As soon as his morning duties were over, he repaired to his convent,
sought his cell, and, prostrate on his face before the crucifix, began
his internal reckoning with himself. The day passed in fasting and

It is now golden evening, and on the square, flat roof of the convent,
which, high-perched on a crag, overlooks the bay, one might observe a
dark figure slowly pacing backward and forward. It is Father Francesco;
and as he walks up and down, one could see by his large, bright, dilated
eye, by the vivid red spot on either sunken cheek, and by the nervous
energy of his movements, that he is in the very height of some mental
crisis,--in that state of placid _extase_ in which the subject supposes
himself perfectly calm, because every nerve is screwed to the highest
point of tension and can vibrate no more.

What oceans had that day rolled over him and swept him, as one may see a
little boat rocked on the capricious surges of the Mediterranean! Were,
then, all his strivings and agonies in vain? Did he love this woman with
any earthly love? Was he jealous of the thought of a future husband?
Was it a tempting demon that said to him, "Lorenzo Sforza might have
shielded this treasure from the profanation of lawless violence, from
the brute grasp of an inappreciative peasant, but Father Francesco
cannot"? There was a moment when his whole being vibrated with a
perception of what a marriage bond might have been that was indeed a
sacrament, and that bound together two pure and loyal souls who gave
life and courage to each other in all holy purposes and heroic deeds;
and he almost feared that he had cursed his vows,--those awful vows, at
whose remembrance his inmost soul shivered through every nerve.

But after hours of prayer and struggle, and wave after wave of agonizing
convulsion, he gained one of those high points in human possibility
where souls can stand a little while at a time, and where all things
seem so transfigured and pure that they fancy themselves thenceforward
forever victorious over evil.

As he walks up and down in the gold-and-purple evening twilight, his
mind seems to him calm as that glowing sea that reflects the purple
shores of Ischia, and the quaint, fantastic grottos and cliff's of
Capri. All is golden and glowing; he sees all clear; he is delivered
from his spiritual enemies; he treads them under his feet.

Yes, he says to himself, he loves Agnes,--loves her all-sacredly as
her guardian angel does, who ever beholdeth the face of her Father in
Heaven. Why, then, does he shrink from her marriage? Is it not evident?
Has that tender soul, that poetic nature, that aspiring genius, anything
in common with the vulgar, coarse details of a peasant's life? Will not
her beauty always draw the eye of the licentious, expose her artless
innocence to solicitation which will annoy her and bring upon her head
the inconsiderate jealousy of her husband? Think of Agnes made subject
to the rude authority, to the stripes and correction, which men of the
lower class, under the promptings of jealousy, do not scruple to inflict
on their wives! What career did society, as then organized, present to
such a nature, so perilously gifted in body and mind? He has the answer.
The Church has opened a career to woman which all the world denies her.

He remembers the story of the dyer's daughter of Siena, the fair Saint
Catharine. In his youth he had often visited the convent where one
of the first artists of Italy has immortalized her conflicts and her
victories, and knelt with his mother at the altar where she now communes
with the faithful. He remembered how, by her sanctity, her humility, and
her holy inspirations of soul, she had risen to the courts of princes,
whither she had been sent as ambassadress to arrange for the interests
of the Church; and then rose before his mind's eye the gorgeous picture
of Pinturicchio, where, borne in celestial repose and purity amid all
the powers and dignitaries of the Church, she is canonized as one of
those that shall reign and intercede with Christ in heaven.

Was it wrong, therefore, in him, though severed from all womankind by a
gulf of irrevocable vows, that he should feel a kind of jealous property
in this gifted and beautiful creature? and though he might not, even in
thought, dream of possessing her himself, was there sin in the vehement
energy with which his whole nature rose up in him to say that no other
man should,--that she should be the bride of Heaven alone?

Certainly, if there were, it lurked far out of sight; and the priest had
a case that might have satisfied a conscience even more fastidious;--and
he felt a sort of triumph in the results of his mental scrutiny.

Yes, she should ascend from glory to glory,--but _his_ should be the
hand that should lead her upward. _He_ would lead her within the
consecrated grate,--he would pronounce the awful words that should make
it sacrilege for all other men to approach her; and yet through life
_he_ should be the guardian and director of her soul, the one being to
whom she should render an obedience as unlimited as that which belongs
to Christ alone.

Such were the thoughts of this victorious hour,--which, alas! were
destined to fade as those purple skies and golden fires gradually went
out, leaving, in place of their light and glory, only the lurid glow of



Elsie returned from the confessional a little after sunrise, much
relieved and satisfied. Padre Francesco had shown such a deep interest
in her narrative that she was highly gratified. Then he had given her
advice which exactly accorded with her own views; and such advice is
always regarded as an eminent proof of sagacity in the giver.

On the point of the marriage he had recommended delay,--a course quite
in accordance with Elsie's desire, who, curiously enough, ever since her
treaty of marriage with Antonio had been commenced, had cherished the
most whimsical, jealous dislike of him, as if he were about to get away
her grandchild from her; and this rose at times so high that she could
scarcely speak peaceably to him,--a course of things which caused
Antonio to open wide his great soft ox-eyes, and wonder at the ways of
woman-kind; but he waited the event in philosophic tranquillity.

The morning sunbeams were shooting many a golden shaft among the
orange-trees when Elsie returned and found Agnes yet kneeling at her

"Now, my little heart," said the old woman, when their morning meal was
done, "I am going to give you a holiday to-day. I will go with you to
the Convent, and you shall spend the day with the sisters, and so carry
Saint Agnes her ring."

"Oh, thank you, grandmamma! how good you are! May I stop a little on the
way, and pick some cyclamen and myrtles and daisies for her shrine?"

"Just as you like, child; but if you are going to do that, we must be
off soon, for I must be at my stand betimes to sell oranges: I had them
all picked this morning while my little darling was asleep."

"You always do everything, grandmamma, and leave me nothing to do: it is
not fair. But, grandmamma, if we are going to get flowers by the
way, let us follow down the stream, through the gorge, out upon the
sea-beach, and so walk along the sands, and go by the back path up the
rocks to the Convent: that walk is so shady and lovely at this time in
the morning, and it is so fresh along by the sea-side!"

"As you please, dearie; but first fill a little basket with our best
oranges for the sisters."

"Trust me for that!" And the girl ran eagerly to the house, and drew
from her treasures a little white wicker basket, which she proceeded
to line curiously with orange-leaves, sticking sprays of blossoms in a
wreath round the border.

"Now for some of our best blood-oranges!" she said;--"old Jocunda says
they put her in mind of pomegranates. And here are some of these little
ones,--see here, grandmamma!" she exclaimed, as she turned and held up
a branch just broken, where five small golden balls grew together with a
pearly spray of white buds just beyond them.

The exercise of springing up for the branch had sent a vivid glow into
her clear brown cheek, and her eyes were dilated with excitement and
pleasure; and as she stood joyously holding the branch, while the
flickering shadows fell on her beautiful face, she seemed more like a
painter's dream than a reality.

Her grandmother stood a moment admiring her.

"She's too good and too pretty for Antonio or any other man: she ought
to be kept to look at," she said to herself. "If I could keep her
always, no man should have her; but death will come, and youth and
beauty go, and so somebody must care for her."

When the basket was filled and trimmed, Agnes took it on her arm. Elsie
raised and poised on her head the great square basket that contained her
merchandise, and began walking erect and straight down the narrow rocky
stairs that led into the gorge, holding her distaff with its white flax
in her hands, and stepping as easily as if she bore no burden.

Agnes followed her with light, irregular movements, glancing aside
from time to time, as a tuft of flowers or a feathery spray of leaves
attracted her fancy. In a few moments her hands were too full, and her
woollen apron of many-colored stripes was raised over one arm to hold
her treasures, while a hymn to Saint Agnes, which she constantly
murmured to herself, came in little ripples of sound, now from behind a
rock, and now out of a tuft of bushes, to show where the wanderer was
hid. The song, like many Italian ones, would be nothing in English,
--only a musical repetition of sweet words to a very simple and
childlike idea, the _bella, bella, bella_ ringing out in every verse
with a tender joyousness that seemed in harmony with the waving ferns
and pendent flowers and long ivy-wreaths from among which its notes
issued. "Beautiful and sweet Agnes," it said, in a thousand tender
repetitions, "make me like thy little white lamb! Beautiful Agnes, take
me to the green fields where Christ's lambs are feeding! Sweeter than
the rose, fairer than the lily, take me where thou art!"

At the bottom of the ravine a little stream tinkles its way among stones
so mossy in their deep, cool shadow as to appear all verdure; for seldom
the light of the sun can reach the darkness where they lie. A little
bridge, hewn from solid rock, throws across the shrunken stream an arch
much wider than its waters seem to demand; for in spring and autumn,
when the torrents wash down from the mountains, its volume is often
suddenly increased.

This bridge was so entirely and evenly grown over with short thick moss
that it might seem cut of some strange kind of living green velvet, and
here and there it was quaintly embroidered with small blossoming tufts
of white alyssum, or feathers of ferns and maiden's-hair which shook
and trembled to every breeze. Nothing could be lovelier than this mossy
bridge, when some stray sunbeam, slanting up the gorge, took a fancy
to light it up with golden hues, and give transparent greenness to the
tremulous thin leaves that waved upon it.

On this spot Elsie paused a moment, and called back after Agnes, who had
disappeared into one of those deep grottos with which the sides of
the gorge are perforated, and which are almost entirely veiled by the
pendent ivy-wreaths.

"Agnes! Agnes! wild girl! come quick!"

Only the sound of "_Bella, bella Agnella_" came out of the ivy-leaves to
answer her; but it sounded so happy and innocent that Elsie could not
forbear a smile, and in a moment Agnes came springing down with a
quantity of the feathery lycopodium in her hands, which grows nowhere so
well as in moist and dripping places.

Out of her apron were hanging festoons of golden broom, crimson
gladiolus, and long, trailing sprays of ivy; while she held aloft in
triumph a handful of the most superb cyclamen, whose rosy crowns rise so
beautifully above their dark quaint leaves in moist and shady places.

"See, see, grandmother, what an offering I have! Saint Agnes will be
pleased with me to-day; for I believe in her heart she loves flowers
better than gems."

"Well, well, wild one,--time flies, we must hurry." And crossing the
bridge quickly, the grandmother struck into a mossy foot-path that led
them, after some walking, under the old Roman bridge at the gateway of
Sorrento. Two hundred feet above their heads rose the mighty arches,
enamelled with moss and feathered with ferns all the way; and below this
bridge the gorge grew somewhat wider, its sides gradually receding
and leaving a beautiful flat tract of land, which was laid out as an
orange-orchard. The golden fruit was shut in by rocky walls on either
side which here formed a perfect hot-bed, and no oranges were earlier or

Through this beautiful orchard the two at length emerged from the gorge
upon the sea-sands, where lay the blue Mediterranean swathed in bands
of morning mist, its many-colored waters shimmering with a thousand
reflected lights, and old Capri panting through sultry blue mists, and
Vesuvius with his cloud-spotted sides and smoke-wreathed top burst into
view. At a little distance a boatload of bronzed fishermen had just
drawn in a net, from which they were throwing out a quantity of
sardines, which flapped and fluttered in the sunshine like scales of
silver. The wind blowing freshly bore thousands of little purple waves
to break one after another at the foamy line which lay on the sand.

Agnes ran gayly along the beach with her flowers and vines fluttering
from her gay striped apron, and her cheeks flushed with exercise
and pleasure,--sometimes stopping and turning with animation to her
grandmother to point out the various floral treasures that enamelled
every crevice and rift of the steep wall of rock which rose
perpendicularly above their heads in that whole line of the shore which
is crowned with the old city of Sorrento: and surely never did rocky
wall show to the open sea a face more picturesque and flowery. The deep
red cliff was hollowed here and there into fanciful grottos, draped with
every varied hue and form of vegetable beauty. Here a crevice high in
air was all abloom with purple gillyflower, and depending in festoons
above it the golden blossoms of the broom; here a cleft seemed to be a
nestling-place for a colony of gladiolus, with its crimson flowers
and blade-like leaves; here the silver-frosted foliage of the
miller-geranium, or of the wormwood, toned down the extravagant
brightness of other blooms by its cooler tints. In some places it seemed
as if a sort of floral cascade were tumbling confusedly over the rocks,
mingling all hues and all forms in a tangled mass of beauty.

"Well, well," said old Elsie, as Agnes pointed to some superb
gillyflowers which grew nearly half-way up the precipice,--"is the
child possessed? You have all the gorge in your apron already. Stop
looking, and let us hurry on."

After a half-hour's walk, they came to a winding staircase cut in the
rock, which led them a zigzag course up through galleries and grottos
looking out through curious windows and loop-holes upon the sea, till
finally they emerged at the old sculptured portal of a shady garden
which was surrounded by the cloistered arcades of the Convent of Saint

The Convent of Saint Agnes was one of those monuments in which the piety
of the Middle Ages delighted to commemorate the triumphs of the new
Christianity over the old Heathenism.

The balmy climate and paradisiacal charms of Sorrento and the adjacent
shores of Naples had made them favorite resorts during the latter period
of the Roman Empire,--a period when the whole civilized world seemed
to human view about to be dissolved in the corruption of universal
sensuality. The shores of Baiae were witnesses of the orgies and
cruelties of Nero and a court made in his likeness, and the palpitating
loveliness of Capri became the hot-bed of the unnatural vices of
Tiberius. The whole of Southern Italy was sunk in a debasement of
animalism and ferocity which seemed irrecoverable, and would have been
so, had it not been for the handful of salt which a Galilean peasant had
about that time east into the putrid, fermenting mass of human society.

We must not wonder at the zeal which caused the artistic Italian nature
to love to celebrate the passing away of an era of unnatural vice and
demoniac cruelty by visible images of the purity, the tenderness, the
universal benevolence which Jesus had brought into the world.

Some time about the middle of the thirteenth century, it had been a
favorite enterprise of a princess of a royal family in Naples to erect a
convent to Saint Agnes, the guardian of female purity, out of the wrecks
and remains of an ancient temple of Venus, whose white pillars and
graceful acanthus-leaves once crowned a portion of the precipice on
which the town was built, and were reflected from the glassy blue of
the sea at its feet. It was said that this princess was the first lady
abbess. Be that as it may, it proved to be a favorite retreat for many
ladies of rank and religious aspiration, whom ill-fortune in some of its
varying forms led to seek its quiet shades, and it was well and richly
endowed by its royal patrons.

It was built after the manner of conventual buildings generally,--in a
hollow square, with a cloistered walk around the inside looking upon a

The portal at which Agnes and her grandmother knocked, after ascending
the winding staircase cut in the precipice, opened through an arched
passage into this garden.

As the ponderous door swung open, it was pleasant to hear the lulling
sound of a fountain, which came forth with a gentle patter, like that
of soft summer rain, and to see the waving of rose-bushes and golden
jessamines, and smell the perfumes of orange-blossoms mingling with
those of a thousand other flowers.

The door was opened by an odd-looking portress. She might be
seventy-five or eighty; her cheeks were of the color of very yellow
parchment drawn in dry wrinkles; her eyes were those large, dark,
lustrous ones so common in her country, but seemed, in the general decay
and shrinking of every other part of her face, to have acquired a wild,
unnatural appearance; while the falling away of her teeth left nothing
to impede the meeting of her hooked nose with her chin. Add to this, she
was hump-backed, and twisted in her figure; and one needs all the force
of her very good-natured, kindly smile to redeem the image of poor old
Jocunda from association with that of some Thracian witch, and cause one
to see in her the appropriate portress of a Christian institution.

Nevertheless, Agnes fell upon her neck and imprinted a very fervent kiss
upon what was left of her withered cheek, and was repaid by a shower of
those epithets of endearment which in the language of Italy fly thick
and fast as the petals of the orange-blossom from her groves.

"Well, well," said old Elsie,--"I'm going to leave her here to-day.
You've no objections, I suppose?"

"Bless the sweet lamb, no! She belongs here of good right. I believe
blessed Saint Agnes has adopted her; for I've seen her smile, plain as
could be, when the little one brought her flowers."

"Well, Agnes," said the old woman, "I shall come for you after the Ave
Maria." Saying which, she lifted her basket and departed.

The garden where the two were left was one of the most peaceful retreats
that the imagination of a poet could create.

Around it ran on all sides the Byzantine arches of a cloistered walk,
which, according to the quaint, rich fashion of that style, had been
painted with vermilion, blue, and gold. The vaulted roof was spangled
with gold stars on a blue ground, and along the sides was a series of
fresco pictures representing the various scenes in the life of Saint
Agnes; and as the foundress of the Convent was royal in her means, there
was no lack either of gold or gems or of gorgeous painting.

Full justice was done in the first picture to the princely wealth and
estate of the fair Agnes, who was represented as a pure-looking, pensive
child, standing in a thoughtful attitude, with long ripples of golden
hair flowing down over a simple white tunic, and her small hands
clasping a cross on her bosom, while, kneeling at her feet, obsequious
slaves and tire-women were offering the richest gems and the most
gorgeous robes to her serious and abstracted gaze.

In another, she was represented as walking modestly to school, and
winning the admiration of the son of the Roman Praetor, who fell
sick--so says the legend--for the love of her.

Then there was the demand of her hand in marriage by the princely father
of the young man, and her calm rejection of the gorgeous gifts and
splendid gems which he had brought to purchase her consent.

Then followed in order her accusation before the tribunals as a
Christian, her trial, and the various scenes of her martyrdom.

Although the drawing of the figures and the treatment of the subjects
had the quaint stiffness of the thirteenth century, their general
effect, as seen from the shady bowers of the garden, was of a solemn
brightness, a strange and fanciful richness, which was poetical and

In the centre of the garden was a fountain of white marble, which
evidently was the wreck of something that had belonged to the old Greek
temple. The statue of a nymph sat on a green mossy pedestal in the midst
of a sculptured basin, and from a partially reversed urn on which she
was leaning a clear stream of water dashed down from one mossy fragment
to another, till it lost itself in the placid pool.

The figure and face of this nymph, in their classic finish of outline,
formed a striking contract to the drawing of the Byzantine pairings
within the cloisters, and their juxtaposition in the same inclosure
seemed a presentation of the spirit of a past and present era: the past
so graceful in line, so perfect and airy in conception, so utterly
without spiritual aspiration or life; the present limited in artistic
power, but so earnest, so intense, seeming to struggle and burn, amid
its stiff and restricted boundaries, for the expression of some diviner
phase of humanity.

Nevertheless, the nymph of the fountain, different in style and
execution as it was, was so fair a creature, that it was thought best,
after the spirit of those days, to purge her from all heathen and
improper histories by baptizing her in the waters of her own fountain,
and bestowing on her the name of the saint to whose convent she was
devoted. The simple sisterhood, little conversant in nice points of
antiquity, regarded her as Saint Agnes dispensing the waters of purity
to her convent; and marvellous and sacred properties were ascribed to
the water, when taken fasting with a sufficient number of prayers and
other religious exercises. All around the neighborhood of this fountain
the ground was one bed of blue and white violets, whose fragrance filled
the air, and which were deemed by the nuns to have come up there
in especial token of the favor with which Saint Agnes regarded the
conversion of this heathen relic to pious and Christian uses.

This nymph had been an especial favorite of the childhood of Agnes, and
she had always had a pleasure which she could not exactly account for in
gazing upon it. It is seldom that one sees in the antique conception of
the immortals any trace of human feeling. Passionless perfection and
repose seem to be their uniform character. But now and then from the
ruins of Southern Italy fragments have been dug, not only pure in
outline, but invested with a strange pathetic charm, as if the calm,
inviolable circle of divinity had been touched by some sorrowing sense
of that unexplained anguish with which the whole lower creation groans.
One sees this mystery of expression in the face of that strange and
beautiful Psyche which still enchants the Museum of Naples. Something of
this charm of mournful pathos lingered on the beautiful features of this
nymph,--an expression so delicate and shadowy that it seemed to address
itself only to finer natures. It was as if all the silent, patient woe
and discouragement of a dumb antiquity had been congealed into this
memorial. Agnes was often conscious, when a child, of being saddened by
it, and yet drawn towards it with a mysterious attraction.

About this fountain, under the shadow of bending rose-trees and yellow
jessamines, was a circle of garden-seats, adopted also from the ruins
of the past. Here a graceful Corinthian capital, with every white
acanthus-leaf perfect, stood in a mat of acanthus-leaves of Nature's own
making, glossy green and sharply cut; and there was a long portion of a
frieze sculptured with graceful dancing figures; and in another place a
fragment of a fluted column, with lycopodium and colosseum vine hanging
from its fissures in graceful draping. On these seats Agnes had dreamed
away many a tranquil hour, making garlands of violets, and listening to
the marvellous legends of old Jocunda.

In order to understand anything of the true idea of conventual life in
those days, we must consider that books were as yet unknown, except
as literary rarities, and reading and writing were among the rare
accomplishments of the higher classes; and that Italy, from the time
that the great Roman Empire fell and broke into a thousand shivers, had
been subject to a continual series of conflicts and struggles, which
took from life all security. Norman, Dane, Sicilian, Spaniard,
Frenchman, and German mingled and struggled, now up and now down; and
every struggle was attended by the little ceremonies of sacking towns,
burning villages, and routing out entire populations to utter misery and
wretchedness. During these tumultuous ages, those buildings consecrated
by a religion recognized alike by all parties afforded to misfortune the
only inviolable asylum, and to feeble and discouraged spirits the only
home safe from the prospect of reverses.

If the destiny of woman is a problem that calls for grave attention even
in our enlightened times, and if she is too often a sufferer from the
inevitable movements of society, what must have been her position and
needs in those ruder ages, unless the genius of Christianity had opened
refuges for her weakness, made inviolable by the awful sanctions of

What could they do, all these girls and women together, with the
twenty-four long hours of every day, without reading or writing, and
without the care of children? Enough: with their multiplied diurnal
prayer periods, with each its chants and ritual of observances,--with
the preparation for meals, and the clearing away thereafter,--with the
care of the chapel, shrine, sacred gifts, drapery, and ornaments,--with
embroidering altar-cloths and making sacred tapers,--with preparing
conserves of rose-leaves and curious spiceries,--with mixing drugs for
the sick,--with all those mutual offices and services to each other
which their relations in one family gave rise to,--and with divers
feminine gossipries and harmless chatterings and cooings, one can
conceive that these dove-cots of the Church presented often some of the
most tranquil scenes of those convulsive and disturbed periods.

Human nature probably had its varieties there as otherwhere. There were
there the domineering and the weak, the ignorant and the vulgar and the
patrician and the princess, and though professedly all brought on the
footing of sisterly equality, we are not to suppose any Utopian degree
of perfection among them. The way of pure spirituality was probably, in
the convent as well as out, that strait and narrow one which there be
few to find. There, as elsewhere, the devotee who sought to progress
faster toward heaven than suited the paces of her fellow--travellers was
reckoned a troublesome enthusiast, till she got far enough in advance to
be worshipped as a saint.

Sister Theresa, the abbess of this convent, was the youngest daughter in
a princely Neapolitan family, who from her cradle had been destined to
the cloister, in order that her brother and sister might inherit more
splendid fortunes and form more splendid connections. She had been sent
to this place too early to have much recollection of any other mode of
life; and when the time came to take the irrevocable step, she renounced
with composure a world she had never known.

Her brother had endowed her with a _livre des heures_, illuminated with
all the wealth of blue and gold and divers colors which the art of those
times afforded,--a work executed by a pupil of the celebrated Frà
Angelico; and the possession of this treasure was regarded by her as
a far richer inheritance than that princely state of which she knew
nothing. Her neat little cell had a window that looked down on the
sea,--on Capri, with its fantastic grottos,--on Vesuvius, with its
weird daily and nightly changes. The light that came in from the joint
reflection of sea and sky gave a golden and picturesque coloring to the
simple and bare furniture, and in sunny weather she often sat there,
just as a lizard lies upon a wall, with the simple, warm, delightful
sense of living and being amid, scenes of so much beauty. Of the life
that people lived in the outer world, the struggle, the hope, the fear,
the vivid joy, the bitter sorrow, Sister Theresa knew nothing. She could
form no judgment and give no advice founded on any such experience.

The only life she knew was a certain ideal one, drawn from, the legends
of the saints; and her piety was a calm, pure enthusiasm which had never
been disturbed by a temptation or a struggle. Her rule in the Convent
was even and serene; but those who came to her flock from the real
world, from the trials and temptations of a real experience, were always
enigmas to her, and she could scarcely comprehend or aid them.

In fact, since in the cloister, as everywhere else, character will find
its level, it was old Jocunda who was the real governess of the Convent.
Jocunda was originally a peasant woman, whose husband had been drafted
to some of the wars of his betters, and she had followed his fortunes in
the camp. In the sack of a fortress, she lost her husband and four sons,
all the children she had, and herself received an injury which distorted
her form, and so she took refuge in the Convent. Here her energy and
_savoir-faire_ rendered her indispensable in every department. She made
the bargains, bought the provisions, (being allowed to sally forth for
these purposes,) and formed the medium by which the timid, abstract,
defenceless nuns accomplished those material relations with the world
with which the utmost saintliness cannot afford to dispense. Besides and
above all this, Jocunda's wide experience and endless capabilities of
narrative made her an invaluable resource for enlivening any dull
hours that might be upon the hands of the sisterhood; and all these
recommendations, together with a strong mother-wit and native sense,
soon made her so much the leading spirit in the Convent that Mother
Theresa herself might be said to be under her dominion.

"So, so," she said to Agnes, when she had closed the gate after
Elsie,--"you never come empty-handed. What lovely oranges!--worth double
any that one can buy of anybody else but your grandmother."

"Yes, and these flowers I brought to dress the altar."

"Ah, yes! Saint Agnes has given you a particular grace for that," said

"And I have brought a ring for her treasury," said Agnes, taking out the
gift of the Cavalier.

"Holy Mother! here is something, to be sure!" said Jocunda, catching it
eagerly. "Why, Agnes, this is a diamond,--and as pretty a one as ever
I saw. How it shines!" she added, holding it up. "That's a prince's
present. How did you get it?"

"I want to tell our mother about it," said Agnes.

"You do?" said Jocunda. "You'd better tell me. I know fifty times as
much about such things as she."

"Dear Jocunda, I will tell you, too; but I love Mother Theresa, and I
ought to give it to her first."

"As you please, then," said Jocunda. "Well, put your flowers here by the
fountain, where the spray will keep them cool, and we will go to her."

       *       *       *       *       *


Blessed are the shadows of porches and cloisters! Blessed the walls that
shut us out from the dusty, dazzling world, and shed upon us the repose
and consolation of our own serene humanity! We, harassed among the base
utilities of life, made weary and sore by the ceaseless struggles of
emulation and daily warfare, turn wistfully to the Peripatetic among the
shady groves of Athens,--dream of quiet Saracenic courts, echoing with
plashy fountains,--of hooded monks, pacing away their cloistered lives
beneath storied vaults and little patches of sky,--knowing, while we
dream, that out of these came of yore the happiness of the old _eurekas_
and the deep sweetness of ancient knowledge. And then, away from the
city of our toil, the tumult of our ambitions, we gratefully find
Vallombrosas of our own, where we walk not alone, but in the pleasant
companionship of elevated thoughts, and of old sages and masters, long
passed away, but still wise and gentle to those who approach them with
faith and simplicity. Here, like those chimes which wander unheeded over
the house-tops of the roaring town, till they drop down blessed dews of
Heaven into still, grass-grown courts and deserted by-ways, the great
universal human heart beats closer to our own, and our whole being
palpitates with almost ethereal sympathies. Voices of old minstrels,
wandering down to us on loving lips through the generations, murmur in
our ears the dear burden of human, affection for men and things; and
the same tale is poured abundantly into our hearts by all those great
masters who, through their Art, have become to us oracles of Beauty and
eloquent interpreters of the Love of God.

There are few persons so hardened in the practical life as not to have
recognized that in these moments of large and spiritual stillness all
the processes of the mind seem to be instinctively attuned to harmonies
almost celestial. Experience and memory present their pictures softened
and made gentle by some mysterious power. The imagination is swayed by
the sweetest impulses of humanity; and the whole man is changed. The
mere instincts of affinity are purified and deepened into tenderest
affection, and all the external relations of existence

  "come apparelled in more precious habit,
  More moving delicate and full of life,
  Into the eye and prospect of the soul,"

than when they offered themselves to the ordinary waking senses. This is
a wonder and a mystery. I sometimes believe, thinking on these things,
that we have inherited from our father Adam a habit of day-dreaming;
that in this exile of coarse and work-day life our heated brows are
sometimes fanned with breezes from some half-remembered Araby the Blest,
and there instinctively come over us such visions of beatitude that the
Paradise we have lost is recalled to us, and we live once more among the
dreamy and grateful splendors of Eden. These moods come upon us so like
memories! But you, graybeard travellers in the Desert of Life, you are
not to be deceived by the trickery of the elements; you know the moist
_mirage_; you are not to be beguiled by it from your track; let the
unwary dream dreams of bubbling wellsprings and pleasant shade, of palmy
oases and tranquil repose; as for you, you must goad your camels and
press onward for Jerusalem.

But I like to chase phantoms; I hate the plodding of the caravans. I
turn aside and spread my own tent apart. Will you tarry awhile under its
shadow, O serious and gentle stranger, and listen to some poor words of

These memories of Eden! Let us cherish them, for they are not worthless
or deceitful. We, who, when we can, carry our hearts in our eyes, know
very well, and have often said it before, that Eden is not so many days'
journey away from our feet that we may not inhale its perfumes and press
our brows against its sod whenever we wish. It is not cant, I hope, to
say that Eden is not lost entirely. There stands no angel at its gates
with naming sword; nor did it fade away with all its legendary beauties,
drop its leaves into the melancholy streams, leaving no trace behind of
its glades and winding alleys, its stretches of flowery mead, its sunny
hill-sides, and valleys of happiness and peace. But Eden still blooms
wherever Beauty is in Nature; and Beauty, we know, is everywhere. We
cannot escape from it, if we would. It is ever knocking at the door of
our hearts in sweet and unexpected missions of grace and tenderness. We
are haunted by it in our loneliest walks. Almost unconsciously, out of
flowers and trees, earth and sky, sunrises and sunsets,--out of mosses
under the feet, mosses and pebbles and grasses,--out of the loveliness
of moon and stars, their harmonies and changes,--out of sea-foam, and
what sea-foam reveals to us of the rich and strange things beneath the
waters far down,--out of sweet human eyes,--out of all these things
creeps into our spirits the knowledge that God is Love, and His
handiwork the expression of ineffable tenderness and affection. I
believe, indeed, that the principle of Beauty, philosophically speaking,
pervades all material objects, all motions and sounds in Nature,--that
it enters intimately into the very idea of Creation. But we, poor finite
beings, do not seek for it, as we do for gold and gems. We remain
content with those conventional manifestations of it which are
continually and instinctively touching our senses as we walk the earth.
Fearfully and wonderfully as we are made, there is no quality in our
being so blessed as this sensitiveness to Beauty. All the organs of our
life are attuned by it to that vast universal symphony which, in spite
of the warring elements of passion and prejudice, unites us in friendly
sympathies with all mankind. If

  "the meanest flower that blows can bring
  Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears,"--

if it can so move some of us, who have cared to open the portals of our
hearts to receive and cherish the little waif,--why, verily, the simple
violet that blooms alike under every sky, the passing cloud that floats
changing ever over every land, gathering equal glories from the sunsets
of Italy and Labrador, are more potent missionaries of peace and
good-will to all the earth than the most persuasive accents of human

These are familiar truths. Like

  "The stretchèd metre of an antique song,"

they flow from our grateful lips in ready words. But we do not suspect
how these manifestations of material Beauty are received by the
mysterious alembic of the soul,--how they are worked up there by
exquisite and subtile processes of moral chemistry, humanized,
spiritualized, and appropriated unconsciously to sweet uses of piety and
affection. We do not know how the star, the flower, the dear human face,
the movement of a wave, the song of a bird,--we do not know how these
things enter into the heart, become ideal, mingle with human emotions,
consecrate and are consecrated, and come forth once more into light, but
transfigured into tenderest sympathies and the gentle offices of charity
and grace. There was Wordsworth,--he knew something of this still
machinery, this "kiss of toothèd wheels" within the soul of man. Listen
to him,--he had been to Tintern Abbey and heard once more the "soft
inland murmur" of the Wye;--

            "These beauteous forms,
  Through a long absence, have not been to me
  As is a landscape to a blind man's eye:
  But oft, in lonely rooms, and 'mid the din
  Of towns and cities, I have owed to them,
  In hours of weariness, sensations sweet,
  Felt in the blood, and felt along the heart,
  And passing even into my purer mind,
  With tranquil restoration:--_feelings, too,
  Of unremembered pleasure:_ such, perhaps,
  As have no slight or trivial influence
  On that best portion of a good man's life,
  His little, nameless, unremembered acts
  Of kindness and of love."

And then who that has ever read it can forget his exquisite picture in
the "Education of a little Child"?--

  "And she shall lean her ear
  In many a secret place,
  Where rivulets dance their wayward round,
  _And beauty burn of murmuring sound
  Shall pass into her face!_"

The material Beauty of the world, as exhibited in the manifold objects,
sounds, perfumes, motions of Nature, is created for a nobler purpose
than only to delight the senses and please the aesthetic faculties.
I believe it is the distant source whence flow all our dear daily
affections. We know, that, according to the suggestions of our merely
human passions and instincts, we ease our hearts of Love by heaping
treasures and the choicest gifts of fancy in the laps of those whom we
most dearly cherish. We take no credit to ourselves for such precious
prodigalities; for they are the inevitable and disinterested outpourings
of affection. They are received as such. And when we cast our eyes
abroad and behold the loving prodigality of a divine hand, we accept the
manifestation, are made happy in the consciousness of being beloved,
and, constituted as we are in the image and likeness of God, express our
instinctive gratitude in those fine human sympathies which impress the
seal of Truth on the primary idea of our creation.

And so, blessed are the shadows of porches and cloisters! Blessed the
hours of serene meditation, when the "tender grace of days that are
dead," of flowers that have faded, of scenes "gone glimmering through
the dream of things that were," comes back to us with a new meaning,
softening and refining the heart to unexpected capacities of affection.
But how they fade away, these ghostly and unsubstantial pageants, when
they "scent the morning air"! How they leave in our hearts nought but
the dim consciousness that we are capable of an existence ineffably
deeper and vaster than that which we lead in the visible world! Nought
but this? Alas, poor human nature! do we leave the casket of Pandora
open in wanton carelessness, and let all escape but the mere scent of
the roses? Or does there not remain, behind an indefinable presence to
comfort and console us,--the precious _Ideal of Beauty_,--

  "The light that never was on sea or land,
  The inspiration and the poet's dream"?

The human heart forever yearns _to create_,--this is the pure antique
word for it,--to give expression and life to an evasive loveliness that
haunts the soul in those moments when the body is laid asleep and the
spirit walks. There is a continual and godlike longing to embody these
elusive phantoms of Beauty. But the immortal songs which remain unsung,
the exquisite idyls which gasp for words, the bewildering and restless
imagery which seeks in vain the eternal repose of marble or of
canvas,--while these confess the affectionate and divine desires of
humanity, they prove how few there are to whom it is given to learn the
great lesson of Creation. When one arises among us, who, like Pygmalion,
makes no useless appeal to the Goddess of Beauty for the gift of life
for his Ideal, and who creates as he was created, we cherish him as a
great interpreter of human love. We call him poet, composer, artist, and
speak of him reverently as _Master_. We say that his lips have been wet
with dews of Hybla,--that, like the sage of Crotona, he has heard the
music of the spheres,--that he comes to us, another Numa, radiant and
inspired from the kisses of Egeria.

Thus, as infinite Love begets infinite Beauty, so does infinite Beauty
reflect into finite perceptions that image of its divine parentage which
the antique world worshipped under the personification of Astarte,
Aphrodite, Venus, and recognized as the _great creative principle_ lying
at the root of all high Art.

There is a curious passage in Boehme, which relates how Satan, when
asked the cause of the enmity of God and his own consequent downfall,
replied,--"I wished to be an Artist." So, according to antique
tradition, Prometheus manufactured a man and woman of clay, animated
them with fire stolen from the chariot of the Sun, and was punished for
the crime of Creation; Titans chained him to the rocks of the Indian
Caucasus for thirty thousand years!

This Ideal, this Aphrodite of old mythologies, still reigns over the
world of Art, and every truly noble effort of the artist is saturated
with her spirit, as with a religion. It is impossible for a true work of
Art to exist, unless this great creative principle of Love be present in
its inception, in its execution, in its detail. It must be pervaded with
the warmth of human, passionate affection. The skill which we are so apt
to worship is but the instrument in the hands of Love. It is the means
by which this humanity is transferred to the work, and there idealized
in the forms of Nature. Thus the test of Art is in our own hearts. It
is not something far away from us, throwing into our presence gleaming
reflections from some supernal source of Light and Beauty; but it is
very near to us,--so near, that, like the other blessings which lie
at our feet, we overlook it in our far-reaching searches after the
imaginary good. We, poor underlings, have been taught in the school of
sad experience the mortal agony of Love without Skill,--the power of
perception, without the power of utterance. We know how dumb are the
sweet melodies of our souls,--how fleeting their opulent and dreamy
pageantries. But we have not fully learned the utter emptiness and
desolation of Skill without Love. We accept its sounding brass and
tinkling cymbals for immortal harmonies. We look reverently upon its
tortured marbles and its canvases stained with academic knowledge as
revelations of higher intelligence; forgetting, that, if we go down to
the quiet places of our own souls, we shall find there the universe
reflected, like a microcosm, in the dark well-springs, and that out
of these well-springs in the deep silence rises the beautiful Ideal,
Anadyomene, to compensate and comfort us for the vacancy of Life. If we
know ourselves, it is not to the dogmas of critics, the artificial rules
of aesthetics, that we most wisely resort for judgments concerning works
of Art. Though technical externals and the address of manipulation
naturally take possession of our senses and warp our opinions, there are
depths of immortal Truth within us, rarely sounded, indeed, but which
can afford a standard and a criterion far nobler than the schools can
give us.

The broken statues and columns and traditions and fragmentary classics
which Greece has left us are so still and tranquil to the eye and ear,
that we search in vain for the Delphic wisdom they contain, till we find
it echoed in the sympathetic depths of our souls, and repeated in the
half-impalpable Ideals there. It is to Greece that we must look for
the external type of these Ideals, whose existence we but half suspect
within us. It is not pleasant, perhaps, to think that we were nearly
unconscious of the highest capacities of our humanity, till we
recognized their full expression in the ashes of a distant and dead
civilization,--that we did not know ourselves, till

  "The airy tongues that syllable men's names
  In pathless wildernesses"

uttered knowledge to us among the ghastly ruins of Hellas. It is good
for us to lend a spiritual ear to these ancient whisperings, and hear
nymph calling to nymph and faun to faun, as they caper merrily with
the god Pan through the silence. It is good for us to listen to that
"inextinguishable laughter" of the happy immortals of Olympus, ever
mingling with all the voices of Nature and setting them to the still
sweet music of humanity,--good, because so we are reminded how close we
are to the outward world, and how all its developments are figurative
expressions of our near relationships with the visible Beauty of things.
Thus it is that the poetic truths of old religions exquisitely vindicate
themselves; thus we find, even we moderns, with our downward eyes and
our wrinkled brows, that we still worship at the mythological altars
of childlike divinities; and when we can get away from the distracting
Bedlam of steam-shrieks and machinery, we behold the secrets of our own
hearts, the Lares and Penates of our own households, reflected in the
"white ideals" on antique vases and medallions.

Abstract lines are the most concentrated expressions of human ideas,
and, as such, are peculiarly sensitive to the critical tests of all
theories of the Beautiful. Distinguished from the more usual and direct
means by which artists express their inspirations and appeal to the
sympathies of men, distinct from the common language of Art, which
contents itself with conveying merely local and individual ideas,
abstract lines are recognized as the grand hieroglyphic symbolism of the
aggregate of human thought, the artistic manifestations of the great
human Cosmos. The natural world, passing through the mind of man, is
immediately interpreted and humanized by his creative power, and assumes
the colors, forms, and harmonies of Painting, Sculpture, and Music. But
abstract lines, as we find them in Architecture and in the ceramic arts,
are the independent developments of this creative power, coming directly
from humanity itself, and obtaining from the outward world only the most
distant motives of composition. Thus it is an inevitable deduction that
Architecture is the most _human_ of all arts, and its lines the most
_human_ of all lines.

  "A thing of beauty is a joy forever";

and the affectionate devotion with which this gift is received by
finite intelligences from the hand of God is expressed in Art, when its
infinite depth _can_ be so expressed at all, in a twofold language,--
the one objective, the other subjective; the one recalling the immediate
source of the emotion, and presenting it palpably to the senses, arrayed
in all the ineffable tenderness of Art, which is Love,--the other,
portraying rather the emotion than the cause of it, and by an
instinctive and universal symbolism expressing the deep and serious joy
with which the "thing of beauty" is welcomed to the heart. Hence come
those lines which aesthetic writers term "Lines of Beauty," so eloquent
to us with an uncomprehended meaning,--so near, and yet so far,--so
simple, and yet so mysterious,--so animated with life and thought and
musical motion, and yet so still and serene and spiritual. Links which
bind us fraternally to old intelligences, tendrils by which the soul
climbs up to a wider view of the glimmering landscape, they are grateful
and consoling to us. We look with cognizant eyes at their subtile
affinities with some unexpressed part of human life, and, turning one to
another, are apt to murmur,

  "We cannot understand: we love."

The mysteries of orb and cycle, with which old astrologers girded human
life, and sought to define from celestial phenomena the horoscope
of man, have been brought down to modern applications by learned
philosophers and mathematicians. These have labored with a godlike
energy and skill to trace the interior relationships existing between
the recondite revelations of their Geometry, their wonderful laws of
mathematical harmonies and unities, and those lines which by common
consent are understood to be exponential of certain phases of our own
existence. No well-organized intellect can fail to perceive that a
sublime and immortal Truth underlies these speculations. Undoubtedly, in
the straight line, in the conic sections, in the innumerable composite
curves of the mathematician, lie the germs of all these symbolic
expressions. But the artist, whose lines of Beauty vary continually with
the emotions which produce them, who feels in his own human heart the
irresistible impulse which gives an exquisite balance and poise to those
lines, cannot allow that the _spirit_ of his compositions is governed by
the exact and rigid formula; of the philosopher to any greater extent
or in any other manner than as the numbers of the poet are ruled by the
grammar of his language. These formulae may be applied as a curious test
to ascertain what strange sympathies there may be between such lines and
the vast organic harmonies of Nature and the Universe; but they do not
enter into the soul of their creation any more than the limitations of
counterpoint and rhythm laid their incubus on the lyre of Apollo. The
porches where Callicrates, Hermogenes, and Callimachus walked were
guarded by no such Cerberus as the disciples of Plato encountered at the
entrance of the groves of the Academy,--

  "[Greek: Oudeis ageometraetos eisito],"

  "Let no one ignorant of Geometry enter here";

but the divine Aphrodite welcomed all mankind to the tender teachings of
the Wild Acanthus, the Honeysuckle, and the Sea-Shell, and all the deep
utterances of boundless Beauty.

Truly, it is sad and dispiriting to the artist to find that all modern
aesthetical writings limit and straiten the free walks of highest
Art with strict laws deduced from rigid science, with mathematical
proportions and the formal restrictions of fixed lines and curves,
nicely adapted from the frigidities of Euclid. The line A B must equal
the line C D; somewhere in space must be found the centre or the focus
of every curve; and every angle must subtend a certain arc, to be easily
found on reference to the tables of the text-books. "The melancholy
days have come" for Art, when the meditative student finds his early
footsteps loud among these dry, withered, and sapless leaves, instead of
brushing away the dews by the fountains of perpetual youth. I am aware
of no extant English work on Greek Lines which does not aim to reduce
that magnificent old Hellenic poetry to the cold, hard limitations of
Geometry. Modern Pharisees nail that antique Ideal of loveliness and
purity to a mathematical cross.

Now it is capable of distinct proof, that abstract Lines of Beauty, even
in a greater degree than any other expressions of Art, are born and
baptized in Love. Because parabolic curves frequently _coincide_ with
these lines, it is no proof that they _created_ them.

The Water-Lily, or Lotus, perpetually occurs in Oriental mythology as
the sublime and hallowed symbol of the productive power in Nature,--the
emblem of that great life-giving principle which the Hindu and the
Egyptian and all early nations instinctively elevated to the highest and
most cherished place in their Pantheons. Payne Knight, quoted in Mr.
Squier's work on the "Antiquities of America," ingeniously attributes
the adoption of this symbol to the fact, that the Lotus, instead
of rejecting its seeds from the vessels where they are germinated,
nourishes them in its bosom till they have become perfect plants, when,
arrayed in all the irresistible panoply of grace and beauty, they spring
forth, Minerva-like, float down the current, and take root wherever
deposited. And so it was used by nearly all the early peoples to express
the creative spirit which gives life and vegetation to matter. Lacshmi,
the beautiful Hindu goddess of abundance, corresponding to the Venus
Aphrodite of the Greeks, was called "the Lotus-born," as having
ascended from the ocean in this flower. Here, again, is the inevitable
intermingling of the eternal principles of Beauty, Love, and the
Creative Power in that pure triune medallion image which the ancients so
tenderly cherished and so exquisitely worshipped with vestal fires and
continual sacrifices of Art. Old Father Nile, reflecting in his deep,
mysterious breast the monstrous temples of Nubia and Pylae, bears
eloquent witness to the earnestness and sincerity of the old votive
homage to Isis, "the Lotus-crowned" Venus of Egypt. For the symbolic
Water-Lily, _recreated_ by human Art, blooms forever in the capitals of
Karnac and Thebes, and wherever columns were reared and lintels laid
throughout the length and breadth of the "Land of Bondage." It is the
key-note of all that architecture; and a brief examination into
the principles of this, new birth of the Lotus, of the monumental
straightening and stiffening of its graceful and easy lines, will afford
some insight into the strange processes of the human mind, when it
follows the grandest impulse of Love, and out of the material beauties
of Nature creates a work of Art.

It is well known that the religion of the old Egyptians led them to
regard this life as a mere temporary incident, an unimportant phase of
their progress toward that larger and grander state imaged to them with
mysterious sublimity in the idea of Death or Eternity. In accordance
with this belief, they expressed in their dwellings the sentiment of
transitoriness and vicissitude, and in their tombs the immortality of
calm repose. And so their houses have crumbled into dust ages ago, but
their tombs are eternal. In all the relations of Life the sentiment of
Death was present in some form or other. The hallowed mummies of their
ancestors were the most sacred mortgages of their debts, and to redeem
them speedily was a point of the highest honor. They had corpses at
their feasts to remind them how transitory were the glory and happiness
of the world, how eternal the tranquillity of Death.

Now, how was this prevailing idea expressed in their Art? They looked
around them and saw that all Organic Life was full of movement and wavy
lines; their much-loved Lotus undulated and bent playfully to the solemn
flow of the great Nile; the Ibis fluttered with continual motion; their
own bodies were full of ever-changing curves; and their whole visible
existence was unsteady, like the waves of the sea. But when the
temporary Life was changed, and "this mortal put on immortality," their
eyes and souls were filled with the utter stillness and repose of its
external aspects; its features became rigid and fixed, and were settled
to an everlasting and immutable calm; the vibrating grace of its lines
departed, and their ever-varying complexity became simplified, and
assumed the straightness and stiffness of Death. So the straight line,
the natural expression of eternal repose, in contradistinction to the
wavy line, which represents the animal movements of Life, became the
motive and spirit of their Art. The anomaly of Death in Life was present
in every development of the creative faculty, and no architectural
feature could be so slight and unimportant as not to be thoroughly
permeated with this sentiment. The tender and graceful lines of the
Lotus became sublime and monumental under the religious loyalty of
Egyptian chisels; and these lines, whether grouped or single, in the
severity of their fateful repose, in their stateliness and immobility,
wherever found, are awful with the presence of a grand serious humanity
long passed away from any other contact with living creatures. The
rendering of the human form, under this impulse of Art, produced results
in which the idea of mutability was so overwhelmed in this grandeur of
immortality, that we cry

                   "O melancholy eyes!
  O vacant eyes! from which the soul has gone
  To gaze in other lands,"

bend not upon us, living and loving mortals, that stony stare of
death,--lest we too, as smit with the basilisk, be turned into
monumental stone, and all the dear grace and movement of life be lost

  And moulded in colossal calm,"

all the lines of this lost Art thus recall the sentiment of endless
repose, and even the necessary curves of its mouldings are dead with
straightness. The Love which produced these lines was not the passionate
Love which we understand and feel; they were not the result of a
sensuous impulse; but the Egyptian artist seemed ever to be standing
alone in the midst of a trackless and limitless desert,--around him
earth and sky meeting with no kiss of affection, no palpitating embrace
of mutual sympathy; he felt himself encircled by a calm and pitiless
Destiny, the cold expression of a Fate from which he could not flee, and
in himself the centre and soul of it all. Oppressed thus with a vast
sense of spiritual loneliness, when he uttered the inspirations of Art,
the memories of playful palms and floating lilies and fluttering wings,
though they came warm to the Love of his heart, were attuned in the
outward expression to the deep, solemn, prevailing monotone of his
humanity. His Love for the Lotus and the Ibis, more profound than the
passion of the senses, dwelt serene in the bottom of his soul, and
thence came forth transfigured and dedicated to the very noblest uses of
Life. And this is the Art of Egypt.

But among all the old nations which have perished with their gods,
Greece appeals to our closest sympathies. She looks upon us with
the smile of childhood, free, contented, and happy, with no ascetic
self-denials to check her wild-flower growth, no stern religion to bind
the liberty of her actions. All her external aspects are in harmony with
the weakness and the strength of human nature. We recognize ourselves
in her, and find all the characteristics of our own humanity there
developed into a theism so divine, clothed with a personification so
exquisite and poetical, that the Hellenic mythology seems still to live
in our hearts, a silent and shadowy religion without ceremonies or
altars or sacrifices. The festive gods of the "Iliad" made man a deity
to himself, and his soul the dwelling-place of Ideal Beauty. In this
Ideal they lived, and moved and had their being, and came forth thence,
bronze, marble, chryselephantine, a statuesque and naked humanity,
chaste in uncomprehended sin and glorified in antique virtue. The Beauty
of this natural Life and the Love of it was the soul of the Greek Ideal;
and the nation continually cherished and cultivated and refined this
Ideal with impulses from groves of Arcadia, vales of Tempe, and flowery
slopes of Attica, from the manliness of Olympic Games and the loveliness
of Spartan Helens. They cherished and cultivated and refined it, because
here they set up their altars to known gods and worshipped attributes
which they could understand. The Ideal was their religion, and the Art
which came from it the expression of their highest aspiration.

Lines of Beauty, produced in such a soil, were not, as might at first
be supposed, tropic growths of wanton and luxurious curves, wild,
spontaneous utterances of superabundant Life. The finely-studied
perception of the Greek artist admitted no merely animal, vegetable,
instinctive, licentious renderings of what Nature was ever giving him
with a liberal hand in the whorls of shells, the veins of leaves, the
life of flames, the convolutions of serpents, the curly tresses of
woman, the lazy grace of clouds, the easy sway of tendrils, flowers, and
human motion. He was no literal interpreter of her whispered secrets.
But the Grace of his Art was a _deliberate grace_,--a grace of
thought and study. His lines were _creations_, and not _instincts_ or
_imitations_. They came from the depth of his Love, and it was his
religion so to nurture and educate his sensitiveness to Beauty and his
power to love and create it, that his works of Art should be deeds of
passionate worship and expressions of a godlike humanity. Unlike the
Egyptian's, there was nothing in _his_ creed to check the sweet excess
of Life, and no grim shadow, "feared of man," scared him in his walks,
or preached to him sermons of mortality in the stones and violets of the
wayside. Life was hallowed and dear to him for its own sake. He saw
it was lovable, and he made it the theme of his noblest poems, his
subtilest philosophies, and his highest Art. Hence the infinite joy and
endless laughter on Olympus, the day-long feasting, _the silver stir of
strings_ in the hollow shell of the exquisite Phoebus, "the soft song of
the Muse with voices sweetly replying."

I believe that all true Lines of Grace and Beauty, in their highest,
_intellectual, human_ significance, may be concentrated and expressed in
one; not a _precise_ and _exact_ line, like a formula of mathematics,
to which the neophyte can refer for deductions of Grace to suit any
premises or conditions. This, of course, is contrary to the spirit
of beautiful design; and the ingenious Hay,--who maintains that his
"composite ellipse" is capable of universal application in the arts
of ornamental composition, and that by its use any desirable lines in
mouldings or vases can be mechanically produced, especially Greek lines,
falls into the grave error of endeavoring to materialize and fix that
_animula vagula, blandula_, that coy and evasive spirit of Art, which
is its peculiar characteristic, and gives to its works inspiration,
harmony, and poetic sentiment. Ideal Beauty can be hatched from no
geometrical eggs. But the line which I refer to, as the expression of
most subtile Grace, pretends to be merely a type of that large language
of forms with which the most refined intellects of antiquity uttered
their Love, and their joyful worship of Aphrodite. This line, of course,
is Greek.


The three great distinctive eras of Art, in a purely
psychological sense, have been the Egyptian, the Grecian, and the
Romanesque,--including in the latter term both Roman Art itself and all
subsequent Art, whether derived directly or indirectly from Rome, as the
Byzantine, the Moresque, the Mediaeval, and the Renaissance. Selecting
the most characteristic works to which these great eras respectively
gave birth, it is not difficult, by comparison, to ascertain the
master-spirit, or type, to which each of these three families may be
reduced. If we place these types side by side, the result will be as in
the diagram, presenting to the eye, at one view, the concentration
of three civilizations, DESTINY, LOVE, and LIFE;--Destiny, finding
utterance in the stern and inflexible simplicity of the tombs and
obelisks of Egypt; Love, expressing itself in the statuesque and
thoughtful grace of Grecian temples, statues, and urns; Life, in the
sensuous and impulsive change, evident in all the developments of Art,
since Greece became Achaia, a province of the Roman Empire. Here we
behold the perpetual youth, the immortal genius of Hellas, tempering the
solid repose of Egypt with the passion of Life. This intermediate Beauty
is the essence of the age of Pericles; and in it "the capable eye" may
discover the pose of the Cnidian Venus of Praxiteles, of the Jupiter
Olympius of Phidias, and the other lost wonders of ancient chisels, and,
more directly, the tender severity of Doric capitals, and the secret
grace of the shafts of the Parthenon.

You remember Pliny's account of the visit of Apelles to the great
painter Protogenes, at Rhodes;--how, not finding him at home, Apelles
inscribed a line upon a board, assuring the slave that this line would
signify to the master who had been to see him. Whatever the line was,
Protogenes, we hear, recognized in it the hand of the greatest limner of
Greece. It was the signature of that Ideal, known to the antique
world by its wider developments in the famous pictures of the Venus
Anadyomene, and Alexander with the Thunderbolt, hung in the temple of
Diana at Ephesus.

The gravity with which this apparently trifling anecdote is given us
from antiquity evidently proves that it was one of the household tales
of old Greece. It did not seem absurd in those times, when Art was
recognized as a great Unity, an elaborate system of infinite language
founded on the simplest elements of Life, and in its grandest and widest
flowings bearing ever in its bosom, like a great river, the memory
of the little weeping Naiad far up among the mountains with her
"impoverished urn." And so every great national Art, growing up
naturally out of the necessities of an earnest people, expressing the
grand motives of their Life, as that of the Greeks and the Egyptians and
the mediaeval nations of Europe, is founded on the simplest laws. So
long as these laws are obeyed in simplicity and Love, Art is good
and true; so long as it remembers the purity and earnestness of its
childhood, the strength that is ordained out of the mouth of babes is
present in all its expressions; but when it spreads itself abroad in the
fens and marshes of humanity, it has lost the purity of its aim, the
singleness and unity of its action,--it becomes stagnant, and sleeps in
the Death of Idleness.

Therefore I believe in the expressiveness of single lines as symbols of
the grandest phases of human Life. And when one studies Greek Art, the
whole motive of it seems so childlike and so simple that the impulse to
seek for that little Naiad which is the fountain and source of it all is
irresistible. Look at the line I have traced, and see if there is not a
curious humanity about it. It is impossible to produce it with a wanton
flourish of the pencil, as I have done in that wavy, licentious curve,
which Hogarth, in his quaint "Analysis of Beauty," assumes as the line
of true Grace; nor yet are its infinite motions governed by any cold
mathematical laws. In it is the earnest and deliberate labor of Love.
There are thought and tenderness in every instant of it; but this
thought is grave and almost solemn, and this tenderness is chastened and
purified by wise reserve. Measure it by time, and you will find it
no momentary delight, no voluptuous excess which comes and goes in a
breath; but there is a whole cycle of deep human feeling in it. It is
the serene joy of a nation, and not the passionate impulse of a man.
Observe, from beginning to end, its intention is to give expression by
the serpentine line to that sentiment of beautiful Life which was the
worship of the Greeks; but they did not toss it off, like a wine-cup at
a feast. They prolonged it through all the varied emotions of a lifetime
with exquisite art, making it the path of their education in childhood
and of their wider experience as men. All the impulses of humanity they
bent to a kindly parallelism with it. This is that famous principle of
Variety in Unity which St. Augustine and hosts of other philosophers
considered the true Ideal of Beauty. Start with this line from the top
upon its journeying: look at the hesitation of it, ere it launches into
action; how it cherishes its resources, and gathers up its strength!--
with a confidence in its beautiful Destiny, and yet a chaste shrinking
from the full enjoyment of it, how inevitably, but how purely, it yields
itself up to the sudden curve! It does not embrace this curve with
a sensuous sweep, nor does it, like Sappho, throw itself with quick
passion into the tide. It enters with maidenly and dignified reserve
into its new Life; and then how is this new Life spent? As you glance at
it, it seems almost ascetic, and reminds you of the rigid fatalism of
Egypt. Its grace is almost strangled, as those other serpents were in
the grasp of the child Hercules. But if you watch it attentively, you
will find it ever changing, though with subtilest refinement, ever
human, and true to the great laws of emotion. There is no straight
line here,--no Death in Life,--but the severity and composure of
intellectual meditation,--meditation, moving with serious pleasure
along the grooves of happy change,--

    "As all the motions of its
    Were governed by a strain
  Of music, audible to it alone!"

As the eye is cheated out of its rectitude, following this grave
delight, and seems to dilate and grow dreamy in the cool shade of
imaginative cloisters and groves, the wanton joyousness of Life, with
its long waving lily-stems and the luscious pending of vines, comes with
dim recollections into the mind, but modified by a certain habitual
chastity of thought. Follow the line still farther, and you will find
it grateful to the sight, neither fatiguing with excess of monotony nor
cloying the appetite with change. And when the round hour is full and
the end comes, this end is met by a Fate, which does not clip with
the shears of Atropos and leave an aching void, but fulfils itself in
gentleness and peace. The line bends quietly and unconsciously towards
the beautiful consummation, and then dies, because its work is done.

This is the way the Greeks made that Line which represents to "the
capable eye" the true Attic civilization. And when we examine the
innumerable lines of Grecian architecture, we find that they never
for an instant lost sight of this Ideal. The fine humanity of it was
everywhere present, and mingled not only with such grand and heroic
lines as those of the sloping pediments and long-drawn entablatures
of the Parthenon and Theseion, bending them into curves so subtilely
modulated that our coarse perceptions did not perceive the variations
from the dead straight lines till the careful admeasurements of
Penrose and Cockerel and their _confrères_ of France assured us of the
fact,--not only did it make these enormous harp-strings vibrate with
deep human soul-music, but there is not an abstract line in moulding,
column, or vase, belonging to old Greece or the islands of the Aegean or
Ionia or the colonies of Italy, which does not have the same intensity
of meaning, the same statuesque Life of thought. Besides, I very much
doubt if the same line, in all its parts and proportions, is ever
repeated twice,--certainly not with any emphasis; and this is following
out the great law of our existence, which varies the emotion infinitely
with the occasion which produced it. Let us suppose, for example, that a
moulding was needed to crown a column with fitting glory and grace.
Now the capital of a column may fairly be called the throne of Ideal
expression; it is the _cour d'honneur_ of Art. The architect in
this emergency did not set himself at "the antique," and seek for
authorities, and reproduce and copy; for he desired not only an abstract
line of Beauty there, but a line which in every respect should answer
all the requirements of its peculiar position, a line which should have
its individual and essential relationships with the other lines around
it, those of shaft, architrave, frieze, and cornice, should swell its
fitting melody into the great _fugue_. And so, between the summit of the
long shaft and that square block, the abacus, on which reposes the dead
weight of the lintel of Greece, the Doric _echinus_ was fashioned,
crowning the serene Atlas-labor of the column with exquisite glory, and
uniting the upright and horizontal masses of the order with a marriage
ring, whose beauty is its perfect fitness. The profile of this moulding
may be rudely likened to the upper and middle parts of the line assumed
as the representative of the Greek Ideal. But it varied ever with the
exigency of circumstances. Over the short and solid shafts of Paestum,
it became flat and almost horizontal; they needed there an expression
of emphatic and sudden grace; they meet the _abacus_ with a moulding of
passionate energy, in which the soft undulations of Beauty are nearly
lost in a masculine earnestness of purpose. On the other hand, the more
slender and feminine columns of the Parthenon glide into the _echinus_
with gentleness and sweetness, crown themselves with a diadem of
chastity, as if it grew there by Fate, preordained from the base of the
shaft, like a flower from the root. It was created as with "the Dorian
mood of soft recorders." Between these two extremes there is an
infinity of change, everywhere modified and governed by "the study of

The same characteristics of nervous grace and severe intellectual
restraint are found wherever the true Greek artist put his hand and his
heart to work. Every moulding bears the impress of utter refinement, and
modulates the light which falls upon it with exquisite and harmonious
gradations of shade. The sun, as it touches it, makes visible music
there, as if it were the harp of Memnon,--now giving us a shadow-line
sharp, strict, and defined, now drawing along a beam of quick and
dazzling light, and now dying away softly and insensibly into cool shade
again. All the phenomena of reflected lights, half lights, and broken
lights are brought in and attuned to the great daedal melody of
the edifice. The antiquities of Attica afford nothing frivolous or
capricious or merely fanciful, no playful extravagances or wanton
meanderings of line; but ever loyal to the purity of a high Ideal, they
present to us, even from their ruins, a wonderful and very evident Unity
of expression, pervading and governing every possible mood and manner of
thought. No phase of Art that ever existed gives us a line so very human
and simple in itself as this Greek type, and so pliable to all the uses
of monumental language. If this type were a mere mathematical type, its
applicability to the expression of human emotions would be limited to a
formalism absolutely fatal to the freedom of thought in Art. But because
it has its birth in intense Love, in refined appreciation of all the
movements of Life and all the utterances of Creation, because it is the
humanized essence of these motions and developments, it becomes thus an
inestimable Unity, containing within itself the germs of a new world of
ever new delight.

When this type in Greek Art was brought to bear on the interpretation of
natural forms into architectural language, we shall curiously discover
that the creative pride of the artist and his reverence for the
integrity of his Ideal were so great, that he not only subjected these
forms to a rigid subservience to the abstract line till Nature was
nearly lost in Art, but the immediate adoption of these forms under any
circumstances was limited to some three or four of the most ordinary
vegetable productions of Greece and to one sea-shell. This wise reserve
and self-restraint, among the boundless riches of a delicious climate
and a soil teeming with fertility, present to us the best proof of the
fastidious purity of artistic intentions. Nature poured out at the feet
of the Greek artist a most plenteous offering, and the lap of Flora
overflowed for him with tempting garlands of Beauty; but he did not
gather these up with any greedy and indiscriminate hand, he did not
intoxicate himself at the harvest of the vineyard. Full of the divinity
of high purpose, and intent upon the nobler aim of creating a pure work
of Art, he considered serenely what were his needs for decoration, took
lovingly a few of the most ordinary forms, and, studying the creative
sentiment of them, breathed a new and immortal life into them, and
tenderly and hesitatingly applied them to the work of illustrating his
grand Ideal. These leaves and flowers were selected not for their own
sake, though he felt them to be beautiful, but for the decorative motive
they suggested, the humanity there was in them, and the harmony they
had with the emergencies of his design. The design was not bent to
accommodate them, but they were translated and lifted up into the sphere
of Art.

A drawing of the Ionic capitals of the temple of Minerva Polias in the
Erechtheum is accessible to nearly everybody. It is well to turn to
it and see what use the Greeks, under such impulses, made of the Wild
Honeysuckle and of Sea-Shells. Perhaps this capital affords one of the
most instructive epitomes of Greek Art, inasmuch as in its composition
use is made of so much that Nature gave, and those gifts are so tenderly
modelled and wrought into such exquisite harmony and eloquent repose.
Examine the volute: this is the nearest approach to a mathematical
result that can be found in Grecian architecture; yet this very
approximation is one of the greatest triumphs of Art. No geometrical
rule has been discovered which can exactly produce the spirals of the
Erechtheum, nor can they be found in shells. In avoiding the exuberance
of the latter and the rigid formalism of the former, a work of human
thought and Love has been evolved. Follow one of these volutes with your
eye from its centre outwards, taking all its congeries of lines into
companionship; you find your sympathies at once strangely engaged. There
is an intoxication in the gradual and melodious expansion of these
curves. They seem to be full of destiny, bearing you along, as upon an
inevitable tide, towards some larger sphere of action. Ere you have
grown weary with the monotony of the spiral, you find that the system
of lines which compose it gradually leave their obedience to the
centrifugal forces of the volute, and, assuming new relationships of
parts, sweep gracefully across the summit of the shaft, and become
presently entangled in the reversed motion of the other volute, at whose
centre Ariadne seems to stand, gathering together all the clues of this
labyrinth of Beauty. This may seem fanciful to one who regards these
things as matters of formalism. But inasmuch as, to the studious eye of
affection, they suggest human action and human sympathies, this is a
proof that they had their birth in some corresponding affection. It is
the inanimate body of Geometry made spiritual and living by the Love of
the human heart. And when a later generation reduced the Ionic volutes
to rule, and endeavored to inscribe them with the gyrations of the
compass, they have no further interest for us, save as a mathematical
problem with an unknown value equal to a mysterious symbol _x_, in which
the soul takes no comfort. But true Art, using the volute, inevitably
makes it eloquent with an intensity of meaning, a delicacy of
expression, which awaken certain very inward and very poetic sentiments,
akin to those from which it was evolved in the process of creation. When
we reasonably regard the printed words of an author, we not only behold
an ingenious collection of alphabetical symbols, but are placed by them
in direct contact with the mind which brought them together, and, for
the moment, our train of thought so entirely coincides with that of the
writer, that, though perhaps he died centuries ago, he may be said to
live again in us. This great work of architectural Art has the same
immortal life; and though it may not so often find a heart capable of
discerning the sentiment and intention of it under the outward lines,
yet that heart, when found, is touched very deeply and very tenderly. We
imbibe the creative impulse of the artist, and the beautiful thing has a
new life in our affections. Studying it, we become artists and poets ere
we are aware. The alphabet becomes a living soul.

Under the volutes of this capital, and belting the top of the shaft, is
a broad band of ornamentation, so happy and effectual in its uses, and
so pure and perfect in its details, that a careful examination of it
will, perhaps, afford us some knowledge of that spiritual essence in the
antique Ideal out of which arose the silent and motionless Beauty of
Greek marbles.

Here are brought together the _sentiments_ of certain vegetable
productions of Greece, but sentiments so entirely subordinated to the
flexure of the abstract line, that their natural significance is almost
lost in a new and more human meaning. Here is the Honeysuckle, the
wildest, the most elastic and undulating of plants, under the severe
discipline of order and artistic symmetry, assuming a strict and chaste
propriety, a formal elegance, which render it at once monumental and
dignified. The harmonious succession and repetition of parts, the
graceful contrasts of curves and the strict poise and balance of them,
their unity in variety, their entire subjection to aesthetic laws, their
serious and emphatic earnestness of purpose,--these qualities combine
in the creation of one of the purest works of Art ever conceived by the
human mind. It is called the Ionic _Anthemion_, and suggests in its
composition all the creative powers of Greece. Its value is not alone in
the sensuous gratification of the eye, as with the Arabesque tangles of
the Alhambra, but it is more especially in its complete intellectual
expression, the evidence there is in it of thoughtfulness and judgment
and deliberate care. The inventor studied not alone the plant, but his
own spiritual relationships with it; and ere he made his interpretation,
he considered how, in mythological traditions, each flower once bore
a human shape, and how Daphne and Syrinx, Narcissus and Philemon, and
those other idyllic beings, were eased of the stress of human emotions
by becoming Laurels and Reeds and Daffodils and sturdy Oaks, and how
human nature was thus diffused through all created things and was
epigrammatically expressed in them.

   "And he, with many feelings, many thoughts,
    Made up a meditative joy, and found
    Religious meanings in the forms of Nature."

Like Faustus, he was permitted to look into her deep bosom, as into the
bosom of a friend,--to find his brothers in the still wood, in the air,
and in the water,--to see himself and the mysterious wonders of his own
breast in the movements of the elements. And so he took Nature as a
figurative exponent of humanity, and extracted the symbolic truths from
her productions, and used them nobly in his Art.

Garbett, an English aesthetical writer, assures us that the _Anthemion_
bears not the slightest resemblance to the Honeysuckle or any other
plant, "being no representation of anything in Nature, but simply the
necessary result of the complete and systematic attempt to combine unity
and variety by the principle of _gradation_." But here he speaks like a
geometer, and not like an artist. He seeks rather for the resemblance of
form than the resemblance of spirit, and, failing to realize the object
of his search, he endeavors to find a cause for this exquisite effect
in pure reason. With equal perversity, Poe endeavored to persuade the
public that his "Raven" was the result of mere aesthetical deductions!

And here the old burden of our song must once again be heard: If we
would know the golden secret of the Greek Ideal, we must ourselves
first learn how to _love_ with the wisdom and chastity of old Hellenic
passion. We must sacrifice Taste and Fancy and Prejudice, whose specious
superficialities are embodied in the errors of modern Art,--we must
sacrifice these at the shrine of the true Aphrodite; else the modern
Procrustes will continue to stretch and torture Greek Lines on
geometrical beds, and the aesthetic Pharisees around us will still
crucify the Greek Ideal.

[To be continued.]


  It melts and seethes, the chaos that shall grow
    To adamant beneath the house of life:
  In hissing hatred atoms clash, and go
      To meet intenser strife.

  And ere that fever leaves the granite veins,
    Down thunders o'er the waste a torrid sea:
  Now Flood, now Fire, alternate despot reigns,--
      Immortal foes to be.

  Built by the warring elements, they rise,
    The massive earth-foundations, tier on tier,
  Where slimy monsters with unhuman eyes
      Their hideous heads uprear.

  The building of the world is not for you
    That glare upon each other, and devour:
  Race floating after race fades out of view,
      Till beauty springs from power

  Meanwhile from crumbling rocks and shoals of death
    Shoots up rank verdure to the hidden sun;
  The gulfs are eddying to the vague, sweet breath
      Of richer life begun,--

  Richer and sweeter far than aught before,
    Though rooted in the grave of what has been.
  Unnumbered burials yet must heap Earth's floor,
      Ere she her heir shall win;

  And ever nobler lives and deaths more grand
    For nourishment of that which is to come:
  While 'mid the ruins of the work she planned
      Sits Nature, blind and dumb.

  For whom or what she plans, she knows no more
    Than any mother of her unborn child;
  Yet beautiful forewarnings murmur o'er
      Her desolations wild.

  Slowly the clamor and the clash subside:
    Earth's restlessness her patient hopes subdue:
  Mild oceans shoreward heave a pulse-like tide:
      The skies are veined with blue.

  And life works through the growing quietness
    To bring some darling mystery into form:
  Beauty her fairest Possible would dress
      In colors pure and warm.

  Within the depths of palpitating seas
    A tender tint;--anon a line of grace
  Some lovely thought from its dull atom frees,
             The coming joy to trace;--

  A pencilled moss on tablets of the sand,
    Such as shall veil the unbudded maiden-blush
  Of beauty yet to gladden the green land;--
             A breathing, through the hush,

  Of some sealed perfume longing to burst out
    And give its prisoned rapture to the air;--
  A brooding hope, a promise through a doubt
             Is whispered everywhere.

  And, every dawn a shade more clear, the skies
    A flush as from the heart of heaven disclose:
  Through earth and sea and air a message flies,
             Prophetic of the Rose.

  At last a morning comes of sunshine still,
    When not a dew-drop trembles on the grass;
  When all winds sleep, and every pool and rill
             Is like a burnished glass

  Where a long-looked-for guest may lean to gaze;
    When day on earth rests royally,--a crown
  Of molten glory, flashing diamond rays,
             From heaven let lightly down.

  In golden silence, breathless, all things stand.
    What answer meets this questioning repose?
  A sudden gush of light and odors bland,
             And, lo! the Rose! the Rose!

  The birds break into canticles around;
    The winds lift Jubilate to the skies:
  For, twin-born with the rose on Eden-ground,
             Love blooms in human eyes.

  Life's marvellous queen-flower blossoms only so,
    In dust of low ideals rooted fast.
  Ever the Beautiful is moulded slow
             From truth in errors past.

  What fiery fields of Chaos must be won,
    What battling Titans rear themselves a tomb,
  What births and resurrections greet the sun,
             Before the rose can bloom!

  And of some wonder-blossom yet we dream,
    Whereof the time that is infolds the seed,--
  Some flower of light, to which the rose shall seem
             A fair and fragile weed.


I often wonder what was the appearance of Saul's mother, when she walked
up the narrow aisle of the meeting-house and presented her boy's brow
for the mystic drops that sealed him with the name of Saul.

Saul isn't a common name. It is well,--for Saul is not an ordinary
man,--and--Saul is my husband.

We came in the cool of an evening upon the brink of the swift river that
flows past the village of Skylight.

The silence of a nearing experience brooded over my spirit; for Saul's
home was a vast unknown to me, and I fain would have delayed awhile its

I wonder if the primal motion of unknown powers, like electricity, for
instance, is spiral. Have you ever seen it winding out of a pair of
human eyes, knowing that every fresh coil was a spring of the soul, and
felt it fixing itself deeper and deeper in your own, until you knew that
you were held by it?

Perhaps not. I have: as when Saul turned to me in the cool of that
evening, and drew my eyes away, by the power I have spoken of, from the
West, where the orange of sunset was fading into twilight.

I have felt it otherwise. A horse was standing, surrounded by snow; the
biting winds were cutting across the common, and the blanket with which
he had been covered had fallen from him, and lay on the snow. He had
turned his head toward the place where it lay, and his eyes were fixed
upon it with such power, that, if that blanket had been endowed with one
particle of sensation, it would have got up, and folded itself, without
a murmur, around the shivering animal. Such a picture as it was! Just
then, I would have been Rosa Bonheur; but being as I was, I couldn't be
expected to blanket a horse in a crowded street, could I?

We were on the brink of the river. Saul drew my eyes away, and said,--

"You are unhappy, Lucy."

"No," I answered,--"not that."

"That does not content me. May I ask what troubles you?"

I aroused myself to reason. Saul is never satisfied, unless I assign a
reason for any mood I am in.

"Saul!" I questioned, "why do the mortals that we call Poets write,
and why do non-Poets, like ourselves, sigh over the melancholy days of
autumn, and why are we silent and thoughtful every time we think enough
of the setting sun to watch its going down?"

"Simply because the winter coming is cold and dreary, in the one
case,--and in the other, there are several reasons. Some natures dread
the darkness; others have not accomplished the wishes or the work of the

"I don't think you go below the surface," I ventured. "It seems to me
that the entire reason is simple want of faith, a vague uncertainty as
to the coming back of the dried-up leaf and flower, when they perish,
and a fear, though unexpressed, that the sun is going down out of your
sight for the last time, and you would hold it a little longer."

"Would you now to-night, Lucy?"

"If I could."

My husband did not speak again for a long time, and gradually I went
back into my individuality.

We came upon an eminence outside the river-valley, and within sight of
the village.

"Is it well? do you like it?" asked Saul.

The village was nested in among the elms to such a degree that I could
only reply,--

"I am certain that I shall, when I find out what it is."

Saul stayed the impatient horse at the point where we then were, and,
indicating a height above and a depth below, told me the legend of the
naming of his village.

It was given thus:--

"A long time ago, when the soundless tread of the moccason walked
fearlessly over the bed of echoes in this valley, two warriors, Wabausee
and Waubeeneemah, came one day upon the river, at its opposite sides.
Both were, weary with the march; both wore the glory of many scalps.
Their belts were heavy with wampum, their hearts were heavy with hate.
Wabausee was down amid the dark pines that grew beside the river's
brink. Waubeeneemah was upon the high land above the river. With folded
arms and unmoved faces they stood, whilst in successive flashes across
the stream their eyes met, until Wabausee slowly opened out his
arms, and, clasping a towering tree, cried out, 'I see sky!' and he
steadfastly fixed his gaze upon the crevices of brightness that urged
their way down amid the pines over his head.

"Waubeeneemah turned his eyes over the broad valley, and answered the
cry with, 'I see light!'

"Thus they stood, one with his eyes downward, the other with his intent
on the sky, and fast and furious ran the river, swollen with the
meltings of many snows, and fierce and quick rang the battle-cries of 'I
see sky!' 'I see light!'

"A white man was near; his cabin lay just below; he had climbed a tree
above Waubeeneemah and remained a silent witness of this wordy war,
until, looking up the river, he saw a canoe that had broken from its
fastenings and was rushing down to the rapids below. It contained the
families of the two warriors, who were helplessly striving against the
swift flow of waters.

"The white man spoke, and the warriors listened. He cried, 'Look to your
canoe! and see Skylight!'

"Through the pines rushed Wabausee, and down the river-bank
Waubeeneemah, and into the tide, until they met the coming canoe, across
whose birchen bow they gave the grasp of peace, and ever since that time
Indian and white man have called this place Skylight."

"Where are the Indians now?" I could not help asking,--and yet with no
purpose, beyond expression of the thought question.

The shadows were gathering, the eyelids of the day were closing. Saul
caught me up again through the shadows into those eyes of his, and

"Here, Lucy! I am a pale form of Waubeeneemah! I know it! I feel it now!
I sometimes ache for foemen and the wilds."

Why do I think of that time to-night on the Big Blue, far away from
Skylight, and imagine that the prairie airs are ringing with the echoes
of the great cries that are heard in my native land, "I see North!" and
"I see South!" and there is no white man of them all high enough to see
the United States?

I've wandered! Let me think,--yes, I have it! My thought began with
trying to fancy Saul's mother taking him to baptism.

She was dead, when I went to Skylight, her son's wife.

She went into the higher life at thirty-three of the threescore-and-ten
cycle of the human period. How young to die!

The longer we live, the stronger grows the wish to live. And why
not? When the circle is almost ended, and all the momentum of
threescore-and-ten is gained, why not pass the line and enter into
second childhood? What more beautiful truth in Nature's I Am, than
obedience to this law?

I've another fancy on the Big Blue to-night. It is a place for fancies.
I remember--a long time ago it seems, and yet I am not so old as Saul's
mother--the first knowledge that I had of life. I saw the sun come up
one morning out of the sea, and with it there came out of the night of
my past a consciousness. I was a soul, and held relations separate from
other souls to that risen sun and that sea. From that hour I grew into
life. A growth from the Unseen came to me with every day, born I knew
not how into my soul. I sent out nothing to people the future. All came
to me.

Is this true, this faith or fancy that God sends a tidal wave through
man, bringing with it from Heaven's ocean fragments set afloat from its
shore to lodge in our lives, until there comes an ebb, and then begin
our hopes and desires all to tend heavenward, or _elsewhere?_ Have
you never felt, do you not now feel, that there is more of yourself
_somewhere else_ than there is upon the Earth?

I like to think thus, when I see a person ill, or in sorrow, or weighed
down with weary griefs. I like to think that that which is ebbing here
is flowing and ripening into fitness for the freed soul in that land
where there shall be "no more sea."

In insanity, does the kind Lord remove _all_ from this world in order
to fit up the new life more gloriously? and are those whom most we pity
clasped the closest in the Living Arms?

It may be,--there is such comfort in possibilities.

Will Saul come to-night? I am all alone on the Big Blue. There's not
another settled claim for miles away.

The August sun drank up the moisture from our corn-fields, took out the
blood of our prairie-grasses, and God sent no cooling rains. Why?

Skylight was charmful for a while. I had forgotten Saul's assertion that
he was a pale shadow of Waubeeneemah, as we forget a dream of our latest

At my home Aunt Carter appeared one day, and said she had "come to spend
the afternoon and stay to tea"; and she seated her amplitude of being in
Saul's favorite chair, and began to count the stitches in the heel of
the twenty-fourth stocking that she assured me "she had knit every
stitch of since the night she saw my husband lift me down at the gate
just outside the window." Her blue eyes went down deeper and deeper
into the bluer yarn her fingers were threading; and after a long pause,
during which I had forgotten her presence, and was counting out the
hours on the face of the clock which the slow hands must travel over
before Saul would be at home, suddenly she looked up and began with,--

"Mrs. Monten!"

There was something startling in her voice. I knew it was the first drop
of a coming flood, and I fortified myself. She went on repeating,--

"Mrs. Monten! I've been thinking, for a great long while, that it isn't
right for you to go on living with that man, without knowing what he is.
And I for one have got up to the point of coming right over here and
telling you of it to once."

I could not help the involuntary question of--

"Is my husband an evil man?"

"Evil! I should think he might be, when he has got"----

"Stay, Mrs. Carter!" I interrupted. "I will hear no news of my husband
that he does not choose to give me. Only one question,--Do you know of
any action that my husband has done that is wrong or wicked?"

Aunt Carter forgot her blue eyes and her bluer yarn, for she stopped her
knitting, and her eyes changed to gray in my sight, as she ejaculated,--

"He's got Indian blood in him! I should think you'd be afraid he'd scalp
you, if you didn't do just as he told you to. Everybody in Skylight is
just as sorry for you as ever they can be."

Aunt Carter paused. An open door announced my husband's unexpected

Aunt Carter rolled up her twenty-fourth twin of a stocking, and, hastily
declaring that "she'd always noticed that 't was better to visit people
when they was alone," she made all possible effort to escape before Saul
came in.

My husband an Indian! I looked at him anew. He wore the same presence
that he did when first I saw him, a twelve-month before. There was no
outward trace of the savage, as he came to welcome me; and I forgot my
thought presently, as I listened to his words.

"I am tired of this life," he said; "let us go."

"Where, Saul?"

"Anywhere, where we can breathe. I feel pent up here. I long to hunt
something wild and free as I would be. Shall it be to the prairies,

"Will you live on the hunt?" I asked.

"I had not thought of that. No; I'll build you a"----And he paused.

I laughed, and added,--

"Let us have it, Saul. A wigwam?"

"Why not?"

"Why not, indeed, Saul? I am content,--let us go."

On the morrow I began the work of preparation. I was sitting upon the
carpet, where I had cast all our treasures of knowledge, in the various
guises of the printer's and binder's art, and was selecting the books
that I fondly thought would be essential to my existence, when Saul came

He looked down upon me with that look that always drinks up my sight
into his, and said,--

"You are sorry to go, Lucy. I will stay."

"No, Saul, I wish to go. You shall teach me the pleasures of wild
life; and who knows but I shall like it so well that we will give up
civilization for it? Where shall I pack all these books?"

"Leave them all," he said. "We will close the house as it is, until we
come back." And I left them all at home.

In the heart of these preparations an insane desire came into my mind to
know something of Saul's ancestors, and there was but one way to know,
namely, by asking, which I would not do of human soul. Thus it came to
pass that I was driven out, between this would of my mind and wouldn't
of my soul, to search for some knowledge from inanimate things. The
last night before our departure I became particularly restless and
unsatisfied. I went to the place of burial of the villagers, where I
found duly recorded on two stones the names of Saul's parents, Richard
Monten and Agnes Monten, his wife.

There was nothing Indian there, and I went home once more to the place
that had been so happy until the spirit of inquiry grew stronger than I.
That night I watched Saul, until he grew restless, and asked me why I
did so.

I evaded direct reply, and on the morrow we were wheeling westward.

From the instant we left the line of man's art, Saul became another
person. All the romance and the glory in his nature blossomed out
gorgeously, and I grew glad and gay with him. We crossed the Missouri.
We traversed the river-land to Fort Leavenworth, amid cottonwoods, oaks,
and elms which it would have done Dr. Holmes's heart and arms good to
see and measure.

"Will you ride, Lucy? will you try the prairie?" asked Saul, the morning
following our arrival in Fort Leavenworth.

I signified my pleasure, and mounted a brave black mustang, written all
over with liberty. We had ridden out the dew of the morning, and for
miles not one word had been spoken, the only sound in the stillness
having been the hoofs' echo on the prairie-grass, when Saul rode close
to me, and, laying his hand on my pony's head, spoke in a deep, strange
voice that put my soul into expectancy, for I had heard the same once
before in my life.

"Lucy," he said, "I sometimes think that I have done a great wrong in
taking you into my keeping; for I _must_ accept these calls to wildness
that come over me at intervals."

"Have you ever been here before?" I asked.

"Twice, Lucy, I have crossed the American Desert, and lain down to sleep
at the foot of the Rocky Mountains."

"You are not going there now?" I almost gasped.

"Why not? Can't you go with me?"

Oh, how my spirit recoiled at the thought of the Desert! Wild animals
processioned through my brain in endless circles. All the stories of
Indian ferocity that ever I had heard came into my consciousness, as it
is said all the past events of life do in the drowning, and I had
no time to hesitate. The decision of my lifetime gathered into that
instant. Saul or nothing; and bravely I answered,--did I not?--when,
with brightening eyes, I said, "Let us on!"--and shaking the hand from
my saddle-bow, I gave my prairie friend leave to fly.

"Lucy! Lucy!" cried Saul, and he soon overtook me,--"Lucy, I sought you
as the thirsting man seeks water on the desert; and I _have_ sought to
bless you, almost as Hagar blessed the Angel,--almost as the devout soul
blesses God, when it finds a spring that He has made to rise out of the
sands. Having found you, I was content. I thought that I could live
always, as other men do, in the tameness of Town and Law; but I could
not, unless you refused to go with me into the Nature that my spirit
demands as a part of its own life."

"Saul, you know that you _can_ go without me,--else I should not wish
to go. I go, not because I am a necessity to you, but a free-born soul,
that wills to go where you go."

The grave Professor (for I whisper it here to-night, with only the wind
to hear, that Saul _is_ a Professor in a famed seat of learning not many
leagues away from the Atlantic coast) looked down at me with a vague,
puzzled air, for an instant, then said,--

"I see! It is so, Lucy. You have divined the secret. I am not to let you
know that I cannot live without you,--and, if you can, you are to make
me think that you only tolerate me."

"What of it? Isn't it almost true? I sometimes think, that, if ever we
are in heaven, effort to remain there will be necessary to its full joy.
We are always crying for rest, when effort is the only pleasure worth

"You are right, and you are wrong. Let us leave mental philosophy with
mankind, who have to do with it. Just now, I am willing to confess that
I need you, and you are to do as you will. Come! let us look into this

And leading the way, Saul rode presently under a tall cotton wood-tree,
and, lifting for me the low-hanging branches of a black-jack, I entered
an amphitheatre whose walls were leaves of living green domed in blue,
with a river-aisle winding through.

I had not time to take in all the joy of the circle, before it was
evidenced that Saul had premeditated the scene. A fire of twigs sent up
a spicy perfume. A camp-kettle stood beside the fire, and a creature
stood beside it. A yellow savage I should have said, but for my
husband's welcome. Never in our home library did brother-professor ever
receive warmer grasp of hand than I knew this Indian met. They used
words, in speaking, that were unknown to me. Presently I perceived that
an introduction was pending. That being over, the Indian, Meotona,
pointed to a swinging-chair, built for me out of the wealth of
grapevine. It was cushioned with the velvet of the buffalo-grass.

"Tell me how to thank him," I said to Saul.

Meotona immediately replied,--"Me no thank,--him," pointing to Saul.

I laid my sun-wearied head against the vine, and through half-closed
eyes watched in delicious rest the preparations for dinner. My
prairie-horse mistook my comfort for his own. I found his length of
liberty included my chair-cushion, and I gave him tuft after tuft,
until something like justice seemed to penetrate into his soul,--for he
heroically refused the last morsel, and wandered away into the next arc
of his liberty.

"If all the days are to be like this, how delicious it will be!" I said,
as Saul came to me with choice bits of prairie fare.

"Not this," he said. "Wait until we hunt the buffalo!--that wakes up the
spirit of man!"

"But I am not a man, and you must excuse me from hunting buffalo," I
could not help saying, as I slid out of the grapevine chair to the
grass, beside Saul; for verily, I believed that he had forgotten that I
was a woman, and a child of the Puritans.

No more words were spoken until our repast was over. Meotona gathered
up the furniture of our dining-room, and with us returned toward Fort
Leavenworth. The summer sun was setting when we drew near the Missouri.
I thought I had disappointed Saul. At the last moment I ventured to

"Why did you return? I would have gone on. I wished it."

My husband's face lit into a quick smile, then gloomed as quickly, and
he said,--

"I smile at your simplicity in imagining that I ventured out, without
consulting you, for the Rocky Mountains. I frown to think that my wife
believes that I could go into danger with her, and only one right arm to
defend her. No! I went to-day to try you. I couldn't ask you within any
four-walled shelter. I wanted the wide expanse to be your only shield
before I could trust you. I wanted you to face the foe. Again I ask,
Shall we go? Answer from your own individuality, not mine."

"I will go."

It was the spirit that spoke; for neither heart nor flesh could have
braved the fancied dangers.

A week went by, and every moment of the time Saul was elate and busy,
providing for me in every possible way, devising comforts that exceeded
my imagination, remembering every idiosyncrasy that I had given
expression to in his hearing. Under the guard of the United States mail,
we left Fort Leavenworth. Meotona, the yellow savage, went with us. Oh,
the delight of those days! it comes to me now, and I almost forget that
I am alone on the Big Blue, and that those hours have gone down among
"the froth and rainbows" of the past, bearing with them a part of my
life. There were nights when I was afloat in the bark of my spirit, and
wandering up and on, until I met Half-Way Angels that bade me back to
Earth; and then I would wander away into dreams, watched by the stars
and Saul,--for in those first days he never wearied in his care. By
day I wandered through a garden of flowers untended by man, whose only
keepers were butterflies and birds. Indian faces and forms no longer
made me tremble. I grew to see beauty in them, as they dashed by the
train, intent on the hunt.

We encamped beside Stranger Creek, on the banks of the Wakarusa, and on
the Great Divide separating the Osage from the Wakarusa Valley.

After we left Council Grove, Meotona, I noticed, was on the watch,
constantly peering off into the illimitable distance. One day I learned
the cause. An exclamation from the Indian led me to look at him. For
once, fire flashed out of his eyes,--he had forgotten himself. He was in
ecstasy as he saw a party advancing over the prairie.

"Here they come! Now for the heart of the wilderness!" exclaimed my
husband, as they rode up.

"We are not going away from the guard?" I ventured to suggest, as chief
after chief came up. I knew them in their wild orders, having by this
time learned something of Indian customs. They were equipped for the
Plains, and among their number I distinguished two white men.

"I know them,--they are safe and true, Lucy,--fear nothing!" whispered
Saul close to my whitening cheek; and afterwards we turned aside from
the Santa Fe trail to the north of the American Desert.

My husband did not leave me for an instant that afternoon; and I,
simple-minded woman, tried to look as happy--well, as a woman and a
professor's wife could look under the circumstances. The wings of my
tent that night were spread to the breeze that swept low and cool across
the Divide.

The next day we came to the lodges of the Indians. Swarthy-faced girls
and women came to greet us. It was evident that many of them had never
before seen a white woman. As evening came on, I noticed in one group
outside the principal lodge an unusual amount of grimace that was
incomprehensible, until, very timidly, a little girl left the crowd.
Half-way toward me she stopped and turned back, but again the violent
gesticulations were enacted, when the child made a sudden evolution in
my direction, and with one hard finger rubbed the back of my hand,
until I thought myself quite a Spartan; then looking at her own finger,
doubtfully at first, she ran back, and went from one to another, showing
her finger. The design was evident. Indians (the women, at least) have
some curiosity;--they thought _me painted white_. I forgave them.

We went five hundred miles from this lodge into the wilderness,--two of
the squaws accompanying us, for my comfort.

At last came the sight of buffaloes, feeding on the short tufts of grass
on the Grand Prairie. My heart grew sick with the shout that rang from a
hundred Indian throats, and--must I write it?--from Saul's.

"Stay!" said Saul, and he left me a guard, and was away without one word
of farewell.

Night came down, and he was not returned. The stars shone out of the
vault like "red-hot diamonds," and on the sight no vision, to the ear no

The women pitched my tent. The guard lit the fire. They brought me
savory bits of food, and coffee. My throat was tightened, I could not
eat, and I arose and went out into the night alone. I lost all sense of
fear, as I wandered away. The prairie had just been burned, and I knew
must be free from serpents and other reptiles: beyond these I had no
thought. I turned once to see the little dot of fire-light, to see the
one point of canvas, my shelter and my home. At last I grew very weary,
and remember having lain down, and having thought that the stars were
raining down upon me, so near did they seem,--and one after one,
constellation mingled with constellation, until I fancied a storm of
stars was circling over my head.

I started with a sudden spasm, as a sound burst upon me, wild, ringing,
dreadful. A hundred Indians were uttering a war-cry, and, as I lay
there, with my head pressed to the burnt sod, I felt the shudder of
earth from many hoofs. I turned in the direction whence they were
coming;--raise my head from the ground I dared not. All was darkness.
Could I possibly escape? Not if I moved. Where I was, there might be a
chance that they would pass to the right or the left. On, on they came,
and I knew the cry,--it was for vengeance. Feebly, like a setting star,
gleamed the watch-fire of my guard in the distance. Suddenly it went
down. They had heard the alarm. How awfully my heart kept time to the
nearing echo of the many footfalls! My eyes must have been fastened on
the West. I saw dark heads rise first above the earth-line, then the
moving arms of the horsemen. I heard the ring of weapons, and saw them
coming directly over the place where I lay; but I did not stir,--it was
as if I had been bound with an equator to the ground. Something struck
my arm and was gone. The troop passed by.

It was morning. A low, deep breathing betokened something near me. I
opened my eyes, and saw the face of my husband,--but, oh, how changed! I
heard him say, "The Lord hear my vow, and record my prayer!"

All that day I lay there, on the prairie, Saul sitting beside me,
shielding me from, the sun, and giving me drops of coolness, which the
Indians pressed from herbs and shrubs that grew not far away. I was in
a dream, and when the stars arose they lifted me up and bore me away.
I knew it was to the eastward. I felt no resistance in my nature, as I
always do when going to the west, either voluntarily or otherwise. We
came, after many days, to the Indian lodge. I never saw the guard again,
that I left in peace, when I was _driven_ out to wander, because I felt
wretched and lonely to be deserted for the chase by my husband. They
were carried into captivity by the hostile Sioux. There was mourning in
the lodge. An Indian mother, whose daughter had gone with me, sat down
in the ashes of sorrow, and moved not for two days; then she arose, and,
scattering dust from the earth toward the setting sun, she went into her
wigwam and they gave her food.

It was September before I was able to leave the place whither they
carried me. My arm was cut with the hoof of the flying horse, and when
Saul found me, I had fainted; I was dying from loss of blood, which his
coming only had stayed. After I grew stronger, I closely observed my

I never saw such an ache, such a strife, as week after week
hunting-parties went out in the morning and returned at evening with
their game. Saul grew reserved and silent when I begged him to go, to
leave me for a day.

"It is of no use, Lucy; I made a vow, and I must keep it. This Indian
blood within me must be subdued; it has met a stronger current on the
way, and _must_ mingle with it."

He said no more on the subject, and I would not question him. We took
our last walk on the prairie. Everything was in readiness for our
departure to meet the expected United States mail-train. We returned
to the lodge, and Saul left me for a few minutes to make some last
arrangements with Meotona. An old Indian woman, whose eyes I had often
noticed on me, crept stealthily in at my tent-door, and said to me in

"Let me be welcome; I come to teach you."

I knew that among her tribe she had the reputation of a prophetess, but
I had never heard her speak English.

"I am waiting to hear," I said; and this woman fixed her sad, solemn
eyes on me and said,--

"Child of the pale man, a great many moons ago, when my eyes were bright
like the little quiver-flower, and the young warriors sought me in my
father's wigwam, I had a sister. Her name _he_ called Luella. The
chiefs of the tribe were going for a grand hunt on the Huron. Some
pale men from across the lake came to join them. One of them looked on
Luella, and her eyes grew soft and sad. She wrapped her blanket about
her, and walked often under the stars at night. Through the winter, she
would not talk with the young chiefs; and when the leaves grew again,
the pale men came back, and Luella walked again under the stars. She
learned English, and no one knew who taught her.

"The hunt went on again until the snow came; and when the pale men
left the lodge, Luella was lost from the wigwam. The warriors went
in pursuit, but they came back without Luella. She was not with the
pale-faces. Many moons came and went, and one night I heard a voice
singing in the distance. I knew it was Luella, and she led a child by
her side, and he said soft English words. She would not come into the
lodge. She only came to tell me that she was with the white man who
loved her, that she was content, and to show me her boy; and Luella
walked away into the night again, and I told no one.

"I made many moccasons, and wove baskets of twigs; and when Uncas, the
chief of the tribe, my father, went to the great hunting-ground beyond
the Sun, then I gathered up my moccasons, and went out before the gate
opened to let the light through. I left the wigwam for Luella. I hated
white people; I hated the white man who stole Luella from me; but the
pale-faces took my moccasons, and gave me white wampum, and with that I
crossed the lake, and went from town to town, and everywhere I showed
the people this,"--and the wrinkled woman extended her hand to me; but,
at the instant, Saul lifted the tent-curtain and came in. She hid her
hand under her blanket, and, wrapping it closely about her, walked out
without a glance to testify that ever she had spoken.

Saul asked me the cause of this visit, and I was about to tell him, when
there arose in the lodges without such screams and cries as brought all
the population into the air. The Indian woman who so lately had left my
tent lay on the ground, in the apparent extreme of agony.

"Let the pale-face come," said the knot of savages around her; "it is
for her she calls."

My husband interpreted the words for me, and in doubt and fear I went to
her. Her screams had ceased; she held her hands tightly over her heart,
as if there had been the spasms of pain. She rolled her eyes around to
see if any one was within hearing, and then said,--

"I had fear that you would tell him; stay a little, and let me tell you
now. I went on after Luella until I found her. I had the name of the
white man to guide me. She was living as the pale-faces live, in a great
town of many lodges.

"I saw with my eyes that she was happy, and then I walked many moons
back to the Huron, and rowed across the lake in a canoe that I found in
the woods.

"Luella came back again. I don't know how she found the way alone, but
she came into the wigwam when the leaves were falling, and before the
buds grew again she went to Uncas in the West. I asked her about the
white man, and she shook her head and hid her eyes. I asked her for the
boy, and she threw open her arms wide, to show me he was not there.
Look!" said the woman, "I am dying; I'm very old; I ought to have walked
with Luella this long time. Listen,--let me teach you. The pale face
that you look into has eyes like my Luella. Take care! When he would
walk under the stars alone, go not with him. When he would hunt bison,
give him all the prairie; don't stand at the wigwam-door to keep him
in. And when you are far away beyond my people, you may see this,"--and
she handed to me the small parcel from close to her wild heart. I took

"You'll keep it for Luella's sake. She held it close when she went away;
now I'm going, there's no one else to care. Bring it with you, when the
Great Spirit calls."

I could win no more words from the woman. She spoke to those who came to
her, and Saul said she told them that I had "taken away the torment."

"I shall think my Lucy witches somebody beside poor Saul," said my
husband; and he gave a sigh as he stood in the tent-door, and watched
the westering moon for the last time.

In the morning they told us that the Prophetess had gone into the light
beyond the Sun.

Saul went in to see her, and as he came back to me I saw that he was not
in a mood for words. Our farewell was very silent. Meotona went with us.
Once again, bounding over the prairie, my heart grew lighter than it
had been for many days; but I had no opportunity to examine Luella's

We met the long caravan of wagons on the summit of the Great Divide, and
it was joy to unite my fate once more with that of my countrymen. Saul
saw this, and said,--

"Know now, Lucy, that you have the portion meted out to me, when I saw
the freemen of the wild coming. Your pleasure is that of civilization;
mine was that of barbaric life. I bid adieu to it henceforth,"--and my
brave husband, at this instant, looked out upon the head-waters of the
Neosho, where Nature, when she built up the world, must have made a
storehouse of material, and never came back for her treasures, they lie
so magnificently rolled over the land.

Saul's eyes gathered up the view, as if they were, what they are,
memory's absorbents, and said, sadly,--

"It is for the last time, Lucy!"

We went into corral the next evening by the side of a grassy mound
covered with low-growing shrubs.

Afterwards Saul wandered out alone. I would have gone with him; but
at the instant I put my face outside the tent-door, the memory of the
Indian woman's caution came to me, and with it the opportunity to
examine Luella's secret.

I entered my tent, lighted the little lamp that had travelled a thousand
miles and never done service till now, and opened Luella's treasure. It
was wrapped in soft white fur, bound about with the long, dried grass
that grows beside the Huron. A scroll of parchment was rolled within
it, faded, yellow, and old. I opened it, with a smile at my strange

At the first glance, I thought I had before me some Indian
hieroglyphics; but bringing back from the place of its long obscurity
the little knowledge of the French language that I held in possession, I
deciphered, that, "fourscore years before, beside the froth of the Huron
Water, Father Kino had performed the marriage-rite upon Luella, daughter
of Uncas, of the Dacotahs, and Richard Monten, of Montreal." Below the
certificate of the priest of the Church were strange characters beyond
my power to decipher.

With trembling I looked out for Saul's return. Here, upon the banks
of the Neosho, I had learned the secret which my life in the East had
hidden so long.

A certain kind, of guiltiness came over me, as Saul drew near, breaking
down with every tread the sun-cured grass,--a sense of unworthiness, to
hold in my hand a possession which essentially was his, and which he had
not freely given me.

"I will not look into his eyes with a veil lying in the air," I said,
very quietly to myself; and so, when my husband saw the burning of the
little lamp and asked the cause, I told him all the story of the
Indian woman, and put into his hand her gift to me. Saul's mind was
preoccupied; he paid very little attention to the story; but when I
gave him the white-furred scroll, and he opened it, then the grave
professor----Well, it is better that I do not put into words what
followed, even here, on the Big Blue.

An hour afterwards Saul spoke. He said,--

"Lucy, you have given me the key of my life, I knew my Indian blood, but
I knew not whence it came; therefore I said nothing to you. I remember
being tormented by it, when a boy, but never knew by what right. Let me
translate for you this Indian register of--let me see--my grandmother's
marriage. 'Ten moons from the lost moon, and many sleeps from the life
of the big Huron Water, the Great Spirit called Luella to walk with a
son of the Pale-Faces. The mystery [the priest] met them, and told them
to go on to the Sun. They are gone in the path of the lost moons.'"

"Let us go to Skylight by the way of Montreal," I suggested.

Saul said, "It is well."

At the Missouri I laid aside my prairie costume, and assumed the raiment
of fashion.

We found in Canada pleasant people bearing our name, and they welcomed
us as relatives.

Richard Monten lay beside a fixed cloud of marble; and although Luella's
sister had said she died far away, yet her name was beneath her

Tradition told us of the beautiful Indian wife with eyes like
light,--and how her husband took her, every year, alone with him into
the wilds,--and how, when they came back, and the winter snows fell,
she would sit all day beside him, with her eyes on figures and letters,
whilst her impatient fingers were threading her long hair, and memory
shook her head at the attempted education, perhaps wisely and well.

When Mr. Monten died, and left her houses and lands, she turned away
from them all, and, leading her boy by the hand, went out of her home
and was seen no more until long after, when Father Kino, a kind old
priest, going home late one night from a dying soul, in passing the
cloud of marble, heard faint moans coming out of it, and, going near,
found an Indian woman, in festive dress, like a chief's daughter,
kneeling there. A few minutes afterwards, when Father Kino came back
with an assistant, there were no more moans, for Luella had "gone on to
the Sun."

The fate of the little boy was never known until then, and then it was
only known that he had lived and died and was buried in Skylight.

We found houses and lands, but no record that they were ours. So we left
them under British rule, and returned to Skylight, to our cottage and

Aunt Carter came in before we had been an hour at home. I think she
watched the opportunity of Saul's absence to find me alone.

"See!" she exclaimed, holding up to my view a small eminence of
stockings, "see what I have done, while you've just been going about the
world doing nothing at all!" And with a really warm shake of my hand,
Aunt Carter seated herself, for the second time, in Saul's chair.

"Why, I've been knitting too!" I said, in extenuation.

"What?" asked Aunt Carter. "Some new-fashioned thing or other, I'll

"No,--something that is as old as Eve."

"Who ever beard of Eve's knitting? The Bible doesn't say one word about
it, Mrs. Monten. Besides, I don't think little Cain and Abel wore
stockings at all."

"I did not say that Eve knit in Paradise. I only said I'd been knitting
at something as old as Eve. I meant the thread of life. Here comes my
husband to tell you how industrious I have been."

Saul led Aunt Carter on to talk of her youth, and gradually of his
father, until he had learned all that she knew of his history. It was
very little: only that a fur-trader and a party of Dacotahs came to the
village, she had heard her father say, to sell their skins, bringing a
brown little boy with them; that the child fell sick with scarlet fever,
and they left him to the mercy of the village people, and never came
back for him, although they had said they would.

Did Luella give her boy away?--Never, I was convinced, and Saul

Saul went back into his round of professional duties, and with much
heart for a while.

Delighted with civilization, and peopled with memories, and joyous with
the divine plumage ever hovering around me, my life ran on. I watched
Saul narrowly. He would often take up his hat, after hours of
application to science, and rush out of the house, as if a mission lay
before him. He would come back, and devote himself to me, as if he were
conscious of some neglect in his absence. I planned short excursions all
over the adjacent country. I became addicted to angling, because I saw
Saul liked it. There were many righteous eyeballs that reproved me
for wandering in places not fit for a woman, and Aunt Carter became
exceedingly disturbed, even to the point of remonstrance.

"You're spoiling your husband," she would say,--"he'll not know but what
you are a squaw," she said to me one day, in true distress.

However, I endured it delightfully for three years. Saul received in one
week four letters, each containing the offer of a professor's chair in a
desirable institution.

For many months I had seen the spell weaving around my good husband;
I had seen it flash out of his eyes; I had heard its undertone in his
voice; I had felt it in his whole manner, and I knew the hour of battle
was near.

I was strong, and I came to the rescue. It was on this wise. Hearken! is
he coming? No, it is only the wind coming up the Big Blue.

We sat in our Skylight door in an April evening,--unwise, perhaps,--but
we were there. Saul had taken down that wild warble of Longfellow's,
"Hiawatha." He read to me until the moon came up; then he threw down the
book, and said, "Pshaw!"

"What is that for, Saul?" I asked, in some surprise.

"It is not for the book,--for myself, Lucy. I had better not have opened
it Let us go and talk with the Doctor." And we went.

Saul had not answered his letters on the chair question, and I put up a

"I think I never felt so well as when I was in Kansas," I said. "Really,
Saul, I've felt a strong inclination to cough for some time, every
morning. The climate of Kansas is wonderfully curative for pulmonary
difficulties. I wish you would go out there now, and build a log cabin,
plant a few miles of maize, gather it in, and then, when the season is
over, come back and go to ----. You know they value you too highly not
to wait your time."

I saw a slow kindling up in Saul's eyes, but an instant later it had
gone down, and he said, looking into mine,--

"Do you really and truly wish this, Lucy?"

And Lucy answered,--

"I really and truly wish it, Saul."

We came hither with the violets and bluebirds. My wigwam points to the
sky. We have roamed on the prairies, and wandered in the timber-lands.
Under the heavens of the Big Blue we have drunk "the wine of life all
day," and "been lighted off" to hemlock-boughs "by the jewels in the

Oh, this life that is passing, passing in unseen marches on to the Great
Plains where we shall corral forever! I've just opened my cabin-door
to look for Saul; he's been gone ten days. The drought came; our maize
withered and died. Ten miles away, there is a town; two houses are
there. We left our vast-wilderness lodge to Nature in October, and
turned our faces eastward. Reaching the town, we found Azrael hovering
there. It was impossible to go on and leave such suffering, and we
stayed. While we waited, winter came along, tossing her white mail
over the prairie, and we were prisoned. Azrael folded his pinions, and
carried in them two souls out of the town of two houses. Afterward, Saul
and I came back to our home. I kindled the fire, and Saul went forth to
earn our daily food. Life began to grow painfully earnest. The supply of
wheaten flour waxed less and less, and I sometimes wished--no, I _did
not wish_ that I was a widow, I only wished for flour.

I began to look for manna, and it came,--not "small and white, about
the size of coriander-seed," but in the form of the flying life of

I have cried many tears over eyes that were shut for me, but I've never
been sorry that I came hither.

At last, no more wings came flying over the prairie. Saul came home
without food. That was ten days ago. He carried me the next morning to
the village, to leave me there, till he should return,--then retraced
the ten miles through the snow, and went for food.

I stayed until there was no more for the children to eat. I could not
abide that, and this morning I stole away. I've come the ten miles
through the snow to light the fire, that Saul may not pass by, and go on
to the town this cold night. Where is he now? Not perishing, dying on
the prairie, as I was once, when he found me? I'll walk and see. It
is so lone outside, there is such an _awful sound_ in the _voice of
stillness,_ and Saul is not in sight!

Where is my life now? Since Saul went away, so much of it has gone, I
feel as if more of myself were there than here. Why couldn't I go on
thinking? It was such relief! The moon is up at last. A low rumble over
the dried grass, like a great wave treading on sand. I am faint. I have
tightened my dress, to keep out hunger, every hour of this day. Those
starving children! God pity them! A higher wave of sound,--surely 'tis
not fancy. I will look out. The moon shines on a prairie sail, a gleam
of canvas. Another roll of the broad wheel, and Saul is here.

"Send the man on quickly," I cried; "the children are starving in the

"And you?" said Saul.

The power of his eyes is almost gone. I scarcely heed them. I see--a bag
of meal.


On the 6th of October, 1840, a young man was brought up for sentence in
one of the highest courts of Europe, before which he had been tried, and
by which he had been found guilty of one of the greatest crimes that can
be charged upon any human being, though the world seldom visits it with
moral condemnation. The young man was Prince Louis Napoleon Bonaparte,
the court was the French Chamber of Peers, and the sentence was
imprisonment for life. Had the French government of that day felt strong
enough to act strongly, the condemned would have been treated as the
Neapolitans treated Murat, and as the Mexicans treated Yturbide. He
would have been perpetually imprisoned, but his prison would have been
"that which the sexton makes." But the Orleans dynasty was never strong,
and its head was seldom able to act boldly. To execute a Bonaparte,
the undoubted heir of the Emperor, required nerve such as no French
government had exhibited since that day on which Maréchal Ney had been
shot; and there were seven hundred thousand foreign soldiers in France
when that piece of judicial butchery was resolved upon. The army might
not be ready to join a Bonaparte, but it could not be relied upon to
guard the scaffold on which he should be sent to die. The people might
not be ready to overthrow Louis Philippe, to give his place to Louis
Napoleon, but it did not follow that they would have seen the latter's
execution with satisfaction, because they desired peace, and he had
fallen into the habit of breaking it. The enthusiasm that was created in
France by the arrival in that country of the remains of Napoleon I.,
not three months after the coming Napoleon III. had been sent to the
fortress of Ham, showed how difficult a matter it would have been to
proceed capitally against the Prince. Louis Philippe has been praised
for sparing him; but the praise is undeserved. Certainly, the King of
the French was not a cruel man, and it was with sincere regret that he
signed the death-warrants of men who had sought his own life, and who
had murdered his friends; but it would have been no act of cruelty, had
he sent his rival to the guillotine. When a man makes a throw for a
crown, he accepts what is staked, against it,--a coffin. Nothing is
better established than this, that, when a sovereign is assailed, the
intention of the assailant being his overthrow, that sovereign has a
perfect right to put his rival to death, if he succeed in obtaining
possession of his person. The most confirmed believer in Richard III.'s
demoniac character would not think of adding the execution of Richmond
to his crimes, had Plantagenet, and not Tudor, triumphed on Bosworth
Field. James II. has never been blamed for causing Monmouth to be put to
death, but for having complied with his nephew's request for a personal
interview, at which he refused to grant his further request for a
mitigation of punishment. Murat's death was an unnecessary act, but
Ferdinand of Naples has never been censured for it. Had Louis Philippe
followed these examples, and those of a hundred similar cases, he could
not have been charged with undue severity in the exercise of his power
for the conservation of his own rights, and the maintenance of the
tranquillity, not of France alone, but of Europe, and of the world,
which the triumph of a Bonaparte might have perilled. He spared the
future Emperor's life, not from any considerations of a chivalric
character, but because he durst not take it. He feared that the blood
of the offender would more than atone for his offence, and he would
not throw into the political caldron so rich a material, dreading the
effects of its presence there. Then the Orléans party and the Imperial
party not only marched with each other, but often crossed and ran into
each other; and it was not safe to run the risk of offending the first
by an attempt to punish its occasional ally. There was, too, something
of the ludicrous in the Boulogne affair, which enabled government to
regard the chief offender with cheap compassion. Louis Philippe is
entitled to no credit, on the score of mercy, for his conduct in
1840,--for the decision of the Court of Peers was his inspiration; but
he acted wisely,--so wisely, that, if he had done as well in 1848, his
grandson would at this moment have been King of the French, and the
Emperor that is a wanderer, with nothing but a character for flightiness
and a capacity for failure to distinguish him from the herd, while many
would have regarded him as a madman. But the end was not then, and the
hand of Fate was not even near that curtain which was to be raised for
the disclosure of events destined to shake and to change the world.

The defence of Louis Napoleon was conducted by M. Berryer, the great
leader of the Legitimists, who, twenty-five years before, had aided
in the defence of Ney, and who, nearly twenty years later, defended
Montalembert, his client of 1840 being in this last case the prosecutor.
In his speech in defence of the Prince, this first of French orators and
advocates made use of language, the recollection of which in after-days
must have been attended with very conflicting emotions. Addressing
himself to the judges, he said,--"Standing where I do, I do not think
that the claims of the name in which this project was attempted can
possibly fall humiliated by the disdainful expressions of the _Procureur
Général_. You make remarks upon the weakness of the means employed, of
the poverty of the whole enterprise, which made all hope of success
ridiculous. Well, if success is anything, I will say to you who are
men,--you, who are the first men in the state,--you, who are members of
a great political body,--there is an inevitable and eternal Arbitrator
between every judge and every accused who stands before him;--before
giving your judgment, now, being in presence of this Arbitrator, and in
face of the country, which will hear your decrees, tell me this, without
regard now to weakness of means, but with the rights of the case, the
laws, and the institution before your eyes, and with your hands upon
your hearts, as standing before your God, and in presence of us, who
know you, will you say this:--'If he had succeeded, if his pretended
right had triumphed, I would have denied him and it,--I would have
refused all share in his power,--I would have denied and rejected him'?
For my part, I accept the supreme arbitration I have mentioned; and
whoever there may be amongst you, who, before their God, and before
their country, will say to me,--'If he had succeeded, I would have
denied him,'--such a one will I accept for judge in this case." In
making this sweeping challenge, M. Berryer knew that he was hitting
the Court of Peers hard, for it contained men who had been leading
Napoleonists in the days of the Empire, and others who wore ready to
join any government which should be powerful enough to establish itself;
while it left the Legitimists, the orator's own party, unharmed. They
were the only men, according to M. Berryer's theory of defence, who
would have furnished an impartial tribunal for the trial of his client;
for they alone, with strict truth, could have said that they would deny
his right, and refuse to share in his power, no matter at what time he
should succeed in accomplishing his designs.

Had the French Peers been gifted with that power of mental vision which
enables men to see into the future, they would not have been disposed to
condemn the man who stood before them in 1840. Could it have been made
known to them that in eight years he would be elected President of the
French Republic by nearly five and a half millions of votes,--that in
twelve years he would become Emperor of the French,--that in fifteen
years he would, as the ally of England, have struck down the Russian
hegemony,--and that in twenty years he would be the conqueror of
Austria, and have called the Kingdom of Italy into existence, while his
enmity was dreaded and his friendship desired by all the nations of the
earth, and the fate of the Popedom was in his hands,--had these things
been so much as dreamed of by his judges, they would have formed the
most lenient of tribunals, and have suffered him to depart in peace.
They are not to be charged with a lack of wisdom in not foreseeing what
must have appeared to be the ravings of lunacy, had it been deliberately
set down by some inspired prophet. Neither the man nor his cause
commanded much respect. We, who know that the French Emperor is the
first man of the age, as well in intellect as in position, have no right
to sneer at the men of 1840 because they looked upon him as a feeble
pretender. He had made two attempts to place himself at the head of the
French nation, and in each instance his failure had been so signal, and
in some respects so ridiculous, that it was impossible to regard him as
the representative of a living principle. Even those who thought him a
man of talent could account for his want of success only by supposing
that Imperialism was no longer powerful in France, and that his appeals
were made to an extinct party. The soldiery, amongst whom the traditions
of the Empire were supposed to be strong, had evinced no desire to
substitute a Bonaparte for a Bourbon of the younger branch; and as to
the peasantry, who showed themselves so fanatically Bonapartean in 1848,
and in 1851-2, they were never thought of at all. France consisted of
the government, the army, the _bourgeoisie_, and the skeleton colleges
of electors; and so long as they were agreed, nothing was to be feared
either from Prince Louis Napoleon or from the Comte de Chambord. We
think this was a sound view of affairs, and that the French government
of 1841 might have been the French government of 1861, had not the
parties to the combination that ruled France in 1841 quarrelled. It was
the loss of the support of the middle class that caused Louis Philippe
to lose his throne in the most ignominious manner; and that support the
monarch would not have forfeited, but for the persistence of M. Guizot
in a policy which it would have been difficult to maintain under any
circumstances, and which was enfeebled in 1847-8 by the gross corruption
of some of its principal supporters. That the _bourgeoisie_ intended to
subvert the throne they had established, for the benefit of either
the Republicans or the Imperialists, is not to be supposed; but their
natural disgust with the wickedness of the government as it was at the
beginning of 1848, and with the refusal of the minister to allow even
the peaceful discussion of the reform question, was the occasion of the
kingdom's fall, and of the establishment, first of the shadowy Republic,
and then of the solid Empire.

The events of 1848 furnished to Louis Napoleon the place whereon to
stand, whence to move the French world. He must have lived and died an
exile, but for the Revolution of February. The ability with which he
profited by events suffices to show that he is entitled to be considered
a great man as well as a great sovereign. That he had been born in the
purple, and that he bore a great name, and that through the occurrence
of several deaths he had become the legitimate heir of Napoleon, were
favorable circumstances, and helped not a little to promote his purpose;
but they could not alone have made him Emperor of the French, and the
world's arbiter. There must have been extraordinary talent in the man
who aspired as he did, or he would have failed as completely in 1848 as
he had failed in 1836 and in 1840. But the real power of the man came
out as soon as he found a standing-place. Previously to 1848, he could
act only as a criminal in seeking his proper place, as he believed it to
be. He had first to conquer before he could attempt to govern,--and to
conquer, too, with the means of his enemy. All this was changed in 1848.
Then he was safe in France, as he had been in England, and began
the political race on equal terms with such men as Cavaignac and
Ledru-Rollin. That he soon passed far ahead of them was, perhaps, as
much due to circumstances as to his political abilities. The name of
Bonaparte was associated with the idea of the restoration of order
and prosperity, and this helped him with that large class of persons,
embracing both rich men and poor men, who not only believe that "order
is Heaven's first law," but that under certain conditions it is the
supreme law, for the maintenance of which all other laws are to be set
aside and disregarded. These men, whose organ and exponent was M.
César Romieu, who called so loudly for cannon to put down the
revolutionists,--"even if it should come from Russia!"--and whose type
of perfection is the churchyard, were all fanatical supporters of "the
coming man," and they assisted him along the course with all their might
and strength. No matter how swiftly he drove, his chariot-wheels seemed
to them to tarry. The very arguments that were made use of to induce
other men to act against the rising Bonaparte were those which had
the most effect in binding them to his cause. He would establish a
cannonarchy, would he? Well, a cannonarchy was exactly what they
desired, provided its powers should be directed, not against foreign
monarchs, but against domestic Republicans. That a government of which
he should be the head would disregard the constitution, would shackle
the press, would limit speech, and would suppress the Assembly, was an
argument in his favor, that, to their minds, was irresistible. Had
they thought of the Russian War, and of the Italian War, and of the
extinction of the Pope's temporal power, and of the liberal home-policy
that was adopted in 1860, as things possible to occur, Louis Napoleon
would have remained Louis Napoleon to the end of his days, for all the
support he would have received at their hands. They wished for a sort
of high-constable, whose business it should be to maintain order by
breaking the heads or seizing the persons of all who did not take their
view of men's political duties. It is the custom to speak of this
class of men as if they were peculiar to France, and to say that their
existence there is one of the many reasons why that country can never
long enjoy a period of constitutional liberty. This is not just to
France. The French are a great people, who have their faults, but who
are in no sense more servile than are Americans, or Englishmen, or
Germans. Extreme disciples of order, men who are ready to sacrifice
everything else for the privileges of making and spending or hoarding
money in peace, are to be found in all countries; and nowhere are they
more numerous, and nowhere is their influence greater or more noxious,
than in the United States. The difference of populations considered,
there are as many of them in Boston as in Paris; and our breed is
ready to go as far in sacrificing freedom, and in treating right with
contempt, as were their French brothers of 1848. The infirmity belongs,
not to French nature, but to human nature.

Louis Napoleon received not a little assistance, in the early part of
his French career, from the strongest of his political enemies. The
friends of both branches of the Bourbons were his friends--at that time,
and for their own purposes. A restoration was what they desired, and
they held that it would be easier to convert the Comte de Chambord or
the Comte de Paris into a king as the consequence of another Bonapartean
usurpation, than as the consequence of the Republic's continuance. Louis
Napoleon was to destroy the Republic, and they were to destroy him, with
the aid of foreign armies. The fate which Cicero wished for Octavius,
that he should be elevated and then destroyed, was what they meant for
him. They counted upon the effect of that reaction which so soon set in
against the revolutions of 1848, and which they did not believe
would spare any government which had grown out of any one of those
revolutions. They also believed the Prince to be a fool, and thought
he would be a much easier person to be disposed of, after he had been
sufficiently used, than any one of his rivals. They overrated their own
power as much as they underrated his abilities; and down to the last
moment, and when the contest had become one for life or death, they bore
themselves as if they were sure that they were acting against a man who
had been elevated solely through the force of circumstances, and who
could not maintain his position. The _coup d'état_ opened their eyes,
but it was not until the event of the Russian War had secured for the
Emperor the first place in Europe, that they became convinced that in
the man who was the ruler of France they had a master. Even now, when
the condition of every country within the circle of civilization bears
evidence to the vast weight of Imperial France, it is not difficult to
find Frenchmen who declare that the Emperor is a mere adventurer, and
that he is only "a lucky fellow." If they are right, what shall we think
of all France? Does the reign of Napoleon III. serve only to illustrate
the proverb, that among the blind the one-eyed man is a king?

The manner in which the French President became Emperor of the French
has been much criticized. That some of his deeds, at the close of 1851,
and in the early part of 1852, deserve censure, few of his intelligent
admirers will be disposed to deny. His defence is, that it was
impossible for him to act differently without forfeiting his life. The
contest, in 1851, had assumed such a character, that it was evident
that the one party or the other must be destroyed. We have M. Guizot's
authority for saying that in French political contests no quarter is
ever given, and that the vanquished become as the dead. French history
shows that there is no exaggeration in this statement, and that every
political leader in France must fight for his life as well as for his
post, the loss of the latter placing the former in great peril. This is
a characteristic of French politics to which sufficient attention has
not been paid, in discussing the morality of French statesmen. In
England, for many generations, and in the United States, down to the
decision of the last Presidential election, a constitutional opposition
was as much a political institution, and as completely a part of the
machinery of government, as the administration itself. Formerly,
opposition was not without its dangers in England, and, whichever party
had possession of the government, it sought to crush out its opponents
with all the vigor and venom of an American slavocrat. Charles I. sent
Sir John Eliot to the Tower, by way of punishing him for the opposition
he had made to unconstitutional government; and there he died, and there
he was buried. The execution of Strafford, though as just a deed as ever
was performed, must be allowed to have resulted from proceedings that
belong to French politics rather than to those of England since the
times of the Tudors. All through the reigns of the Stuart kings, and
down to the Revolution, parties fought for safety as well as for spoils.
A defeat was then often followed by a butchery. Hume, speaking of the
political warfare that happened just before the Revolution of 1688, says
that the "two parties, actuated by mutual rage, but cooped up within the
narrow limits of the law, levelled with poisoned daggers the most
deadly blows against each other's breast, and buried in their factious
divisions all regard to truth, honor, and humanity." This evil was
gradually, but surely, removed from English politics by the triumph of
the constitutional party. It lingered, however, for half a century, and
after the accession of the House of Hanover caused the impeachment of
Oxford and the exile of Bolingbroke and Ormond. The last pronounced
appearance of it was in 1742, when Sir Robert Walpole's enemies, not
content with his political fall, sought his life. They failed utterly,
and for one hundred and twenty years the course of English politics has
been strictly constitutional, an opposition party being, as it were, the
complement of the administration or ministry. The same party divisions
that existed in England under George II. substantially exist under the
grand-daughter of his grandson. So has it been in the United States,
though it would not be difficult to show that none of our parties have
been so free from approaching to the verge of illegality as English
parties have been since 1714; and the conduct of the present American
opposition is simply detestable, and has destroyed the national

The French began their political imitation of the English in 1789. As
in most imitations, caricature has largely predominated in it. The one
thing that might advantageously have been imitated they have altogether
neglected. They never have been able to comprehend the nature and the
purpose of an opposition party, and hence every such party that has come
into existence in France has been treated by the governing party as if
it were composed of enemies of the State. When the Jacobins sent the
Girondins to the scaffold, and when Robespierre and St. Just sent Danton
and Desmoulins to the same place, and when the Thermidorians so disposed
of Robespierre and St. Just, they did no more than has been done by
other French political leaders, except that their measures were more
trenchant than have been those of later statesmen of their country. The
reason why the Revolution led to a military despotism was, that no
party would tolerate its political foes, much less protect them in the
exercise of the right of free discussion and legal action. The execution
of Louis XVI. was but a solitary incident in the game that was played by
the most excitable political gamblers that ever converted a nation into
a card-table. He was slain, not so much because he was a king, or had
been one, as because he was the natural chief of the Royal party, a
party which the Republicans would not spare. Party after party rose and
fell, the leaders perishing under the guillotine, or flying from their
country, or being sent to Guiana. Despotism came as a relief to the
people who were thus tormented by the bloody freaks of men who were
energetic only as murderers. There probably never was a more popular
government than Bonaparte's Consulship, in its first days. Soon,
however, the old evil renewed itself in full force. A few men, the most
conspicuous of whom was Carnot, confined their opposition to the policy
of the government, and kept themselves within the limits of the law;
but others were less scrupulous, and labored for the destruction of the
government, and compassed the death of the governors. Jacobins were as
bad as Royalists, and Royalists were no better than Jacobins. Confusion
was as much the object of the party of order as it was that of the party
of disorder. Men of all ranks, opinions, parties, and conditions were
among the conspirators of those days, or in some way encouraged the
conspirators, from Cadoudal, a hero of the Vendée, to Moreau, the hero
of the Black Forest and Hohenlinden. The vigorous, and in some instances
tyrannical, action of the government put a stop to this kind of
opposition for some years. The seizure and execution of the Duc
d'Enghien, though in itself not to be approved, was followed by a
cessation of Royalist attempts against the person of the chief of the
State. It was one of those terrible lessons by which constituted power
sometimes teaches its enemies that the force of lawlessness is not
necessarily confined to one side in a political controversy. Nothing
contributed more to the establishment of the Empire than the violence
of Bonaparte's enemies, as they favored the plan of establishing an
hereditary monarchy, the existence of which should not be bound up with
the existence of an individual. During the reign of Napoleon I. the
opposition was quiet, but it was organized, and its conduct was from
first to last illegal, as it corresponded with the banished princes, and
with the foreign enemies of France. The Mallet affair, in 1812, which
came so very near effecting the Emperor's dethronement when he was in
the midst of his Russian disasters, shows how frail was his tenure
of power when he was absent from Paris, and how extensive were the
ramifications of the informal conspiracy that existed against him. "You
have found the tail, but not the head," were the words in which the
bold conspirator let his judges know that the danger was not over. The
Legislative Body endeavored to act as an opposition party in France
after the disasters of 1813, and the Emperor, after giving them a
lecture, dismissed them. The Allies would never have dared to cross
the French frontier, had they not been advised of the existence of
disaffection, which was ready to become treason, in their enemy's
country. The opposition to Louis XVIII.'s government was highly
treasonable in its character; and so was that which Napoleon encountered
during the Hundred Days. When the second Restoration had been effected,
the French government found itself in a strange predicament. The
extraordinary Chamber of Deputies which then met, "the Impracticable
Chamber," was so intensely royalist in its sentiments, that it alarmed
every reasonable friend of monarchy in Europe. It would have subjected
the king himself to its will, in order that it might be free to punish
the enemies of royalty with even more vigor and cruelty than the
Jacobins had punished its friends. There was to be a revival of the
Terror by the party which had suffered in 1793, and for the purpose of
exterminating imperialists, republicans, and moderate monarchists. Lord
Macaulay has compared this Chamber with the first English Parliament
that was called after the restoration of the House of Stuart. The
comparison is unfair to the Parliament. There had been a long and a
bitter war between parties in England, and the Cavaliers remembered,
because they were events of yesterday, the terrible series of defeats
they had experienced, from Edgehill to Worcester. Between the date of
the Battle of Worcester and the date of the Restoration there were less
than nine years. The same generation that saw Charles I. beheaded saw
Charles II. enter Whitehall. England had changed but little in the
twenty years that elapsed between the meeting of the Long Parliament and
the dissolution of the Convention Parliament. Very different was it in
France. There parties had had no fighting in the field, save in Brittany
and the Vendée. There the change had been as complete as if it had been
half a century in the making. Twenty-three years had passed away since
the fall of the monarchy, when the Impracticable Chamber met, to
legislate for a new France in the spirit of the worst period of the
reigns of the worst Bourbons. These ultra-royalists would have had their
way, and the massacres of the Protestants would have been accompanied or
followed by the destruction of all parties save the victors, but for the
existence of circumstances which it is even now painful for Frenchmen
to think of. The Allies occupied the country, and their influence was
thrown in behalf of moderate counsels. The good-nature of Louis XVIII.
was supported by the sound common-sense of Wellington, and by the
humanity of Alexander; and so but few persons were punished for
political offences. The conduct of the Chamber showed that the Deputies
had no just conception of the nature either of a ministry or of an
opposition. So it was, though with less violence, throughout the period
known as the Restoration; and the Polignac movement of 1830, which led
to the fall of the elder Bourbons, was a _coup d'état_, the object being
the destruction of the Charter. In Louis Philippe's reign, there were
facts upon facts that establish the proposition that no French party
then clearly comprehended the character of a political opposition; and
it was the attempt of M. Guizot to prevent even the discussion of the
reform question that was the occasion, though not the cause, of the
Revolution of 1848. No sooner had the Republic been established than the
Royalists began to conspire against its existence, while the Republicans
themselves were far from being united, the _Reds_ hating the _Blues_
quite as intensely as they hated the _Whites_, or old Royalists; and
beyond even the _Reds_ were large numbers of men who, for the lack of a
more definite name, have been called Socialists, who wanted something as
vehemently as Brutus desired his purposes, but who would probably have
been much puzzled to say what that something was, had the question been
put to them by the agent of a power willing and able to gratify their

It was into such a political chaos as this that Louis Napoleon found
himself plunged in 1848. He had a difficult part to fill; and that he
did not succeed in satisfying most of those who had been most prominent
in elevating him was inevitable from the discrepancy between his views
of his position and their views of it. They had intended him to be a
tool, and he was determined to be master of all the land. There was a
contest for power, which ended in the _coup d'état_ of 1851. Victory
waited on the heir of her old favorite. The contest was marked by many
deeds, on both sides, not defensible on strict moral grounds, but which
bear too close a resemblance to the ordinary course of French politics
to admit of the actors being sweepingly condemned, as if they had
poisoned a pure fountain. Neither party could afford to act with
fairness, because each party was convinced that the other was seeking
its destruction, according to the usual rule of Gallic political
warfare. That the world should have heard much of the errors of the
victor, while those of the vanquished have been charitably passed over,
is but natural. Victors become objects of envy, while pity is the
feeling that is created by thoughts of their foes. It is only in America
that the beaten party is so insolent that the conquerors are fairly
over-crowed by it. All the blunders, all the acts of violence of which
the other side were guilty, have been forgotten, or are not alluded
to, because parties are not held accountable for evils that never were
perpetrated, though it was intended that they should take form and shape
and bear fruit. It is charged against the Emperor, that he deliberately
planned the destruction of the Republic, and that he ceased not to
labor until his purpose had been effected. Admitting this charge to be
strictly well founded, what is it more than can be brought against the
very men who are so loud in preferring it? The Republic was doomed from
the hour of its birth, and the final struggle between the Imperialists
and the Royalists was made over its carcass. That struggle was neither a
Pharsalia, in which two great men contended for supremacy in a republic,
nor a Philippi, in which parties fought deliberately in support of
certain principles, but an Actium; and the question to be decided was,
With which of two energetic forms of force should the victory be? Louis
Napoleon contended for the imperial form, for the rehabilitation of the
scheme of his uncle, and for an opportunity to develop the Napoleonic
ideas. The other side sought the restoration of the monarchy as it had
been between 1814 and 1830, with Henry V. for their idol, as any attempt
to make the Comte de Paris king must have failed, though in due time
Henry V. might have been displaced, if not succeeded regularly, by the
head of the Orléans family. Of the two parties to the struggle that
followed the election of Louis Napoleon to the Presidency, that of the
President was the more friendly to liberal institutions, and the most
disposed to govern in accordance with modern sentiments. The President
himself was attached to the liberal party, and leaned decidedly to
the left wing of it. Circumstances had all tended to make him a
Constitutionalist. His connections had been principally with those
countries in which liberty is best understood, and whose histories are
the histories of freedom. By birth he was a prince of Holland. He had
lived much in Switzerland and in England, and he had visited the United
States. That part of his youth in which the mind is formed he had passed
in those years in which the Bonapartists and Liberals had been allies.
His writings prove that he both understood and appreciated the
constitutional system of government. Such a man was not likely to become
a despot merely from choice, though circumstances might make him one
for the time, as they made Fabius a dictator. His recent action, in
extensively liberalizing the imperial system, and in providing for
perfect freedom of discussion in the Senate and the Legislative Body,--a
freedom of which the supporters of the Pope have thoroughly availed
themselves,--confirms the belief that his original intention was to
provide a free constitution for France. Had he done so, there would
have been civil war in that country within a year from the time that he
became master of it. He could not trust his enemies, who, could they
have obtained power, would have granted him no mercy, and therefore had
no right to expect it from him. Had they been successful, we should have
heard much of their acts of usurpation and cruelty, and of the injustice
with which the President and his party and policy had been treated.
Severe criticism, often unfair both in matter and in manner, is that
which every victorious party must experience, not only from those whom
it has defeated, but from the world at large. This is one of the items
in the details of the heavy price which the victors must pay for their
victory, no matter where it is won, or what the character of the contest
the issue of which it has decided. Men worship success, but they worship
it much after the fashion that some savage tribes worship the gods
created by their own hands, tearing and rending at one time the images
that at another had been objects of their most abject devotion.

If we judge the conduct of Louis Napoleon by reference only to Napoleon
III., we shall not be inclined to condemn it. His rule has not been a
perfect one, but it has been the best that France has known for fifty
years, not only for the French themselves, but for foreign peoples. He
has lifted France out of that slough in which she had floundered under
both branches of the Bourbons, and he has done so without being guilty
of any act of injustice toward other nations. The greatness of the
France of Napoleon I. was unpleasingly associated with the idea of the
degradation of neighboring countries, which implied the ultimate fall of
the Empire, as it could not be expected that Russians and Germans would
be governed from Paris. Independence is what every people strong enough
to vindicate its rights will have; and hence the men at St. Petersburg
and Vienna and Berlin were certain to act against the men of Paris
at the first favorable opportunity that should present itself. Their
dependent state was an unnatural state, and when the reaction came, the
torrent swept all before it. The fall of Napoleon I. was the consequence
of the manner in which he rose to the greatest height ever achieved by
a man in modern days. Napoleon III., whose power is really greater than
that of his uncle, has incurred the enmity of no foreign people. He
has led his armies into no European capital city, and he has levied no
foreign contributions. When it was in his power to dictate terms to
Russia, he astonished men, and even made them angry, by the extent of
his moderation. His abrupt pause in his career of Italian success, no
matter what the motive of it, enabled Austria to retire from a war in
which she had found nothing but defeat, with the air of a victor. The
only additions he has made to the territory of France--Savoy, Nice, and
Monaco--were obtained by the fair consent of all those who had any right
to be consulted on the changes that were made. We find nothing in his
conduct that betrays any desire to humiliate his contemporaries, and a
superiority to vulgar ideas of what constitutes triumph that is
almost without a parallel. No man was ever treated more insolently by
hereditary sovereigns, from Czar and Kaiser and King to petty German
princelings; and this insolence he has never repaid in kind, nor sought
to repay in any manner. He has foregone occasions for vengeance that
legitimate monarchs would have turned to the fullest account for the
gratification of their hatred. He has, apparently, none of that vanity
which led Napoleon I. to be pleased with having his antechamber full of
kings whose hearts were brimful of hatred of their lord and master.
If he were to have an Erfurt Congress, it would be as plain and
unostentatious an affair as that of his uncle was superficially grand
and striking. He seems perpetually to have before his mind's eye what
the Greeks called _the envy of the gods_, the divine Nemesis, to which
he daily makes sacrifice. He is the most prosperous of men, but he is
determined not to be prosperity's spoiled child. If the truth were
known, it would probably be found that he has not a single personal
enemy among the monarchs, all of whom would, as politicians, be glad
to witness his fall. In their secret hearts they say that "Monsieur
Bonaparte is a well-behaved man, to whom they could wish well in any
other part than that which he prefers to hold." Their predecessors hated
Napoleon I. personally, and with intense bitterness, which accounts for
the readiness with which they took parts in the hunting of the eagle,
and for the rancor with which they treated him when his turn came to
drain the cup of humiliation to the very dregs. The dislike felt for
Napoleon III. is simply political, and such dislike is not incompatible
with liberality in judgment and generosity of action. Should it be his
fortune to fall, there would be no St. Helena provided for him.

The domestic rule of the Emperor of the French will bear comparison
with that of any monarch which that people have ever had. It is not
faultless, but it is as little open to criticism of a just nature as
that of any European sovereign, and with reference to the changed
position of sovereigns. We are not to compare Napoleon III. with Louis
XIV., that sublime and ridiculous egotist, who seems never to have had a
human feeling, except those feelings which humanity would be the better
without. The French Revolution banished that breed of kings from
Christendom, if not from the world. He must be compared with monarchs
who have felt the responsibilities of their trust very differently from
the man who called himself the State, who thought that twenty millions
of people had been made to minister to his vanity, and who gently
reproached God with ingratitude because of the victories of Eugène
and Marlborough. "God, it appears, is forgetting us," he said,
"notwithstanding all that we have done for Him." A monarch of this class
is now as extinct as the mammoth, and traces of his footsteps excite the
wonder of the disciples of political science. In these days, a monarch
must rule mostly for the people, and largely by the people. He is only
the popular chief in a country which has not a well-defined constitution
over which time has thrown the mantle of reverence. The course of
Napoleon III. has been in accordance with this view of his position. He
is not the State, but he is the first man in the State. Under his lead
and direction the French have known much material prosperity, and have
added not a little to that wealth which, when judiciously used as a
means, and not worshipped as the end of human exertion, is the source of
so much happiness. The readiness with which the people, the masses
of his subjects, subscribed to the great war-loans, contending for
subscriptions as for valuable privileges, establishes both their
prosperity under his government, and their confidence in that
government's strength and permanence. That he has not made use of his
power to stifle the expression of thought is clear from the numerous
works that have been published, some of which were written for the
purpose of attacking his dynasty,--authors of eminence choosing to
pervert history by converting its volumes into huge partisan pamphlets,
in which the subject handled and the object aimed at are alike libelled.
He has kept the press, meaning the journals, more sharply reined up than
Englishmen and Americans have approved or can approve; but as French
journalists, instead of confining their political warfare to its proper
use, are in the habit, when free to publish what they please, of
assailing the very existence of the government itself, he has some
excuse for his conduct. An English journal which should recommend the
dethronement of Victoria would be as summarily silenced as ever was
a French White, Blue, or Red paper. The most determined advocate of
freedom of discussion must find it hard to disapprove of the suppression
of the "Univers," which, while availing itself of every possible license
to advocate the extremest doctrines of despotism in Church and State,
demanded the suppression of freedom of all kinds in every other quarter.
It is an advantage to the enemies of free speech, that they can avail
themselves of its existence to advocate restriction in its comprehensive
sense, while their opponents cannot consistently demand that they shall
be silenced. Under the liberal policy which has just been inaugurated
in France, great advantages will be enjoyed by the enemies of the
government, and of free principles generally; and the Emperor is
reported to have said that he shall accept the logical consequences of
that policy, let the result be what it may. What has thus far happened
confirms this report; but it ought not to surprise us, if he should find
himself compelled to have resort to measures of restriction not much
different from those "warnings" that have been fatal to more than one
journal in times past. The tendency in the French mind to illegal
opposition, and of the French government to meet such opposition by
harsh action, will not allow us to be very sanguine as to the workings
of the experiment upon which the Emperor has entered. His chief object
is to establish his dynasty, and he cannot tolerate attacks upon that;
and attacks of that kind would form the staple of the opposition press,
were it permitted to become as free as the press is in England and in
the Northern States of America.

One of the charges that have been made against the Imperial system is,
that it is a stratocracy, a mere government by the sword, and that it
must pass away with the Emperor himself, or be continued in the person
of some military man; so that France must degenerate into a vast
Algiers, and be ruled by a succession of Deys. There is something
plausible in this view of the subject, which has imposed upon many
persons, and which is all the more imposing because the Emperor is
fifty-three years old, while his only son has but completed his fifth
year; and Prince Napoleon is not popular with the army, and is an object
of both fear and dislike to the members of several powerful interests.
The Imperialists have themselves principally to blame for this state of
things, as they have encouraged and promulgated opinions that favor
its existence. Clever historical writers have discovered a remarkable
resemblance between the France of to-day and the Roman Empire of the
days of Augustus. Napoleon I. was the modern Julius Caesar, and Napoleon
III. is Octavius. The Emperor is writing a Life of Julius Caesar, and it
is believed that it is his purpose to establish the fact that his family
is playing the part which the family of Caesar played more than eighteen
centuries ago. If one were disposed to be critical, it would not be
difficult to point out, that, as the first Roman imperial dynasty became
Claudian rather than Julian in its blood and character, after the death
of Augustus, so has the French imperial dynasty a better claim to be
considered of the family of Beauharnais than of the family of Bonaparte.
This Caesarian game is a foolish one, and may be played to an ultimate
loss. Of the difference between France as she is and Rome as she was in
the times of the first Caesars it is not necessary to say much, for
it presents itself to every cultivated mind. The Roman Empire was an
aggregation of various nations, including the highest and lowest forms
of human development then known, and stretching from the Atlantic to the
Euphrates, and from the forests of Germany to the deserts of Africa.
Over that vast and various collection of peoples a portion of Italy bore
sway; and it was to break down the tyranny of that Italian rule that the
Julian rule was created, and that the Republic was made to give way to
the Empire.

The cause of the Caesars was the cause of the provincials against the
Italians, of the masses in twenty lands against the aristocracy of but a
part of one land, of many millions of sheep against a few select wolves.
The revolution that was effected through the agency of Julius and
Octavius was necessary for the continuance of civilization, which
was threatened with extinction through the plundering processes of
proprietors and proconsuls. The Roman Emperor was the shepherd,
who, though he might shear his sheep close to their skins, and not
unfrequently convert many of them into mutton, for his own profit or
pleasure, would nevertheless protect them against the wolves. He stood
between the imperial race, of which he was himself the first member,
and all the other races that were to be found in his extensive and
diversified dominions. The question that he settled was one of races,
not merely one of parties and political principles. What resemblance,
then, can there be between the French Emperor and the Roman Imperator,
or between the quarrel decided by the Napoleons and that which was
decided by the first two Caesars? There may be said to be some
resemblance between them, from the fact that the French aristocracy, as
a body, belong to the party that is hostile to the Bonapartes, and
that it was the Roman aristocracy who were beaten at Pharsalia and
politically destroyed at Philippi; but the nobility of France were
ruined before the name of Bonaparte had been raised from obscurity, and
the first Napoleon sought to please and to conciliate the remnants of
that once brilliant order. There can be no comparison made between the
two aristocracies; as the Roman was one of the ablest and most ferocious
bodies of men that the world has ever seen, and made a long and
desperate fight for the maintenance of its power,--while the French is
effete, and it is difficult to believe that in the veins of its members
runs the blood of the heroes of the days of the League, or even that of
the _Frondeurs_. Their political action reminds us of nothing but the
playing of children; and the best of the leaders of the opposition to
the Imperial _régime_ are new men, most of whose names were never heard
of until the present century. The Imperial family, too, unlike that of
Rome, is a new family. The democratic revolution of Rome, which led
to the fall of the Republic, was enabled to triumph only because the
movement was headed by one of the noblest-born of Romans, a patrician of
the bluest blood, who claimed descent from Venus, and from the last
of the Trojan heroes. No Roman had a loftier lineage than "the mighty
Julius"; and when the place of Augustus passed to Tiberius, the third
Emperor represented the Claudian _gens_, the most arrogant, overbearing,
haughty, and cruel of all those patrician _gentes_ that figure in the
history of the republican times. He belonged, too, to the family of
Nero, which was to the rest of the Claudian _gens_ what that _gens_ was
to other men,--the representative of all that is peculiarly detestable
in an oligarchical fraternity. The French Caesars are emphatically
_novi homines_, the founder of their greatness not being in existence
a century ago, and born of a poor family, which had never made any
impression on history. There are abundant points of contrast to be
found, when we examine the origin of Imperial Rome in connection with
the origin of Imperial France, but few of resemblance.

Even in the bad elements of the modern Imperial rule there is little
imitation of that of the Caesars. "The ordinary notion of absolute
government, derived from the form it assumes in Europe at the present
day," says Merivale, "is that of a strict system of prevention, which,
by means of a powerful army, an ubiquitous police, and a censorship
of letters, anticipates every manifestation of freedom in thought or
action, from whence inconvenience may arise to it. But this was not the
system of the Caesarean Empire. Faithful to the traditions of the Free
State, Augustus had quartered all his armies on the frontiers, and his
successors were content with concentrating, cohort by cohort, a small,
though trusty force, for their own protection in the capital. The
legions were useful to the Emperor, not as instruments for the
repression of discontent at home, but as faithful auxiliaries among whom
the most dangerous of his nobles might be relegated, in posts which were
really no more than honorable exiles. Nor was the regular police of the
city an engine of tyranny. Volunteers might be found in every rank
to perform the duty of spies; but it was apparently no part of the
functions of the enlisted guardians of the streets to watch the
countenances of the citizens, or beset their privacy. We hear of no
intrusion into private assemblies, no dispersion of crowds in the
streets...... They [the Emperors] made no effort to impose restraints
upon thought. Freedom of thought may be checked in two ways, and modern
despotism resorts in its restless jealousy to both. The one is, to guide
ideas by seizing on the channels of education; the other, to subject
their utterance to the control of a censorship. In neither one way nor
the other did Augustus or Nero interfere at all. From the days of the
Republic the system of education had been perfectly untrammelled. It was
simply a matter of arrangement between the parties directly interested,
the teacher and the learner. Neither State nor Church pretended to take
any concern in it: neither priest nor magistrate regarded it with the
slightest jealousy. Public opinion ranged, under ordinary circumstances,
in perfect freedom, and under its unchecked influence both the aims and
methods of education continued long to be admirably adapted to make
intelligent men and useful citizens...... The same indulgence which
was extended to education smiled upon the literature which flowed so
copiously from it. There was no restriction upon writing or publication
at Rome analogous to our censorships and licensing acts. The fact that
books were copied by the hand, and not printed for general circulation,
seems to present no real difficulty to the enforcement of such
restrictions, had it been the wish of the government to enforce them.
The noble Roman, indeed, surrounded by freedmen and clients of various
ability, by rhetoricians and sophists, poets and declaimers, had within
his own doors private aid for executing his literary projects; and when
his work was compiled, he had in the slaves of his household the hands
for multiplying copies, for dressing and binding them, and sending forth
an edition, as we should say, of his work to the select public of his
own class or society. The circulation of compositions thus manipulated
might be to some extent surreptitious and secret. But such a mode of
proceeding was necessarily confined to few. The ordinary writer must
have had recourse to a professional publisher, who undertook, as a
tradesman, to present his work for profit to the world. Upon these
agents the government might have had all the hold it required: yet it
never demanded the sight beforehand of any speech, essay, or satire
which was advertised as about to appear. It was still content to punish
after publication what it deemed to be censurable excesses. Severe and
arbitrary as some of its proceedings were in this respect,... it must
be allowed that these prosecutions of written works were rare and
exceptional, and that the traces we discover of the freedom of letters,
even under the worst of the Emperors, leave on the whole a strong
impression of the general leniency of their policy in this
particular."[A] This correct picture of the policy of Imperial Rome on
this point shows that the ancient sovereigns of the first of empires
were more liberal than are modern rulers of their class, and that the
Caesars scorned to do that which has been common with the Bonapartes.
The changes in the direction of freedom which Napoleon III. has recently
made are really more Caesarean in their character than anything that he
had previously done in connection with thought and public discussion. It
ought to be added, however, that the Romans had no daily press, and that
journalism, as we understand it, was as unknown to the Caesars as were
steamships and rifled cannon. Had they been troubled with those daily
showers of Sibylline leaves that so vex modern potentates, their
magnanimity would have been severely tested, and they might have
established as severe censorships as ever have been known in Paris or

[Footnote A: _A History of the Romans under the Empire_. By CHARLES
MERIVALE, B.D., late Fellow of St. John's College, Cambridge. Vol. VI.,
pp. 224-231.]

Flattery has discovered a resemblance between the career of Napoleon
III. and the career of Augustus, and it required the eyes of flattery
to make such a discovery. The Frenchman is the equal of the Roman in
talent, but the resemblance goes no farther. What resemblance can there
be between the boy who became a statesman at twenty and the man who
began his career at forty? between the youth who made himself master of
the Roman situation in a few months and the elderly man whose position
at fifty-three is by no means an assured one? between the man who at
thirty-three had destroyed all rivals and competitors, and gathered into
his person all the powers of the State, and the man who at a much later
period of life is still engaged upon an experiment in politics? Augustus
avenged the murder of Julius within a brief time after it had been
perpetrated; Napoleon III. has never avenged the fall of _his_
uncle, but has refrained from injuring his uncle's destroyers, when,
apparently, he might have done so with profit to himself, and with the
general approbation of the world. Augustus's public life knew but one
signal calamity, the loss of the legions of Varus, which happened toward
its close, and in his dying moments he could congratulate himself on
having played well, which meant successfully, his part in the drama of
life. Napoleon III.'s life has been full of calamities, and it remains
yet to be seen whether history shall have to rank him among its
favorites, or high in the list of those unfortunates against whom it
has recorded sentence of everlasting condemnation. Should he live, and
maintain his place, and bequeath his throne to his son, and that son be
of an age to appreciate his position, and possessed of fair talent,
he may pass for the modern Augustus; but thinking of him, and of the
strange reverses of fortune that have happened since 1789 to men and to
nations, we subscribe to the wisdom of the hackneyed Greek sentiment,
that no man should be called fortunate until the seal of death shall
have placed an everlasting and an impassable barrier between him and the
cruel sports of Mutabilities which are played "to many men's decay."

In one respect it will be allowed by all but absolutists that the
condition of Europe has changed greatly for the better in the last
eleven years, as a consequence of the triumphs of the French Emperor.
From the year 1815 to 1850, national independence was in its true sense
unknown to Continental Europe. The ascendency of Napoleon I. had small
claim to faultlessness, but the men who led in the work of his overthrow
proceeded as if they meant to make the world regret his fall. This is
the secret--which secret is none--of the reaction that speedily took
place in his favor, and which caused an alliance of Liberals and
Jacobins and Imperialists to do honor to his memory; so that, being
dead, he was from his island-sepulchre a more effective foe to
legitimacy and the established order of things than he had been from St.
Cloud and the Tuileries. It has been satirically said that a mythical
Napoleon rose from the dust of the dead Emperor, who bore no moral
resemblance to Europe's master of 1812. As to the resemblance between
the master of a hundred legions and "the dead but sceptred sovereign" of
1824, who ruled men's spirits from his urn, we will not stop to inquire;
but it can be positively asserted that the mythical Napoleon, if any
such creation there was, was the work of the true Napoleon's destroyers.
They earned the hatred and detestation of the greater part of the better
classes in the civilized world; and as it is the nature of men to love
those who have warred against the objects of their hate, nothing was
more natural than for Europeans and Americans to turn fondly to the
memory of one who had beaten and trampled upon every member of the Holy
Alliance, and who had carried the tricolor, that emblem of revolution,
to Vienna and Berlin and Moscow. Men wished to have their own feet upon
the necks of Francis and Frederick William and Alexander, and therefore
they were ready to forget the faults, and to remember only the virtues,
of one who had enjoyed the luxury they so much coveted. It would be
unreasonable to complain of that disposition of the public mind toward
Napoleon I. which prevailed from about the date of his death to that of
the restoration of his dynasty in the person of his nephew, or to sneer
at the inconsistency of "that many-headed monster thing," the people,
who had shouted over the decisions of Vittoria and Leipsic, and before
a decade had expired were regretting that those decisions could not be
reversed; for the change was the consequence of the operations of an
immutable law, of that reaction which dogs the heels of all conquerors.
The legitimate despots, whose union had been too much for the parvenu
despot, established a tyranny over Europe that threatened to stunt the
human mind, and which would have left the world hopeless, if England
had not resolved to part company with her military allies. But her
condemnation of their policy did not prevent its development. Even the
events of 1830 did not restore national freedom to the Continent;
and fifteen years after the overthrow of the elder Bourbons, the
partitioners of Poland could unite, in defiance of their plighted faith,
to destroy the independence of Cracow, the last shadowy remnant of old
and glorious Poland. The ascendency of Napoleon III. has put a stop to
such proceedings as were common from the invasion of France, in 1815, to
the invasion of Hungary, in 1849. He has, to be sure, interfered in the
affairs of foreign countries, but his acts of interference have been
made against the strong, and not against the weak. He interfered to
protect Turkey when she was threatened with destruction by Russia, and
he did so with success. He interfered to protect the Italians against
the hordes of Austria, and with such effect that the _Kingdom of Italy_
has been called into existence through his action, when there was not
another sovereign in the world who would have fired a shot to prevent
the whole Italian Peninsula, and the great islands of Sicily and
Sardinia, from becoming Austrian provinces. He interfered to protect the
Christians of the East against the fire and sword of the Mussulmans, and
it is under the shadow of the French flag alone that Christianity can be
preached in the Lebanon and in the Hollow Syria, in the aged Damascus
and in the historical Sidon. He has interfered to assist England in
China, whereby there has been a new world, as it were, opened to the
enterprise of commerce. He has falsified the predictions of those who
have seen in him only the enemy of England, and who have told us twice
a year, for nine years past, that he would attempt to throw his legions
into Kent, and to march them upon London. He has added nothing to the
territory of France that has not been honorably acquired. Having thus
redeemed Europe from degradation, and not having justified the fears of
those who expected him to renew the old duel between France and
England, his continued prosperity may be earnestly desired by Liberals
everywhere, and with perfect consistency; for can any intelligent man
venture to say that there would be any hope for a better state of
things, either for France or for Europe at large, should his rule be
changed for that of either branch of the Bourbons, or for that of the
Republicans, Red or Blue? Considering the good that he has done, and the
evil that he might have done, and yet has refrained from doing, he will
compare advantageously with any living ruler; and mankind can overlook
his errors in view of his virtues,--save and except those men whom he
vanquished at their own weapons, and whose chief regret it is, that,
being no better political moralists than was the Prince-President, their
immorality was fruitless, while his, according to their interpretation
of his history, gave him empire. Other men, whom his success has not
consigned to partisan darkness, will judge him more justly, and say that
his victory was the proper meed of superior ability, and that whatever
was vicious in his manner of acquiring power has been redeemed by the
use he has almost invariably made of that power. He is not without sin;
but if he shall not die until he shall be stoned by saints selected from
governments and parties, his existence will be prolonged until doomsday.

       *       *       *       *       *


You will see in a little while what sort of things they are which I
understand by _Things Slowly Learnt_. Some are facts, some are moral
truths, some are practical lessons; but the great characteristic of all
those which are to be thought of in this essay is, that we have to learn
them and act upon them in the face of a strong bias to think or act in
an opposite way. It is not that they are so difficult in themselves,
not that they are hard to be understood, or that they are supported by
arguments whose force is not apparent to every mind. On the contrary,
the things which I have especially in view are very simple, and for the
most part quite unquestionable. But the difficulty of learning them lies
in this: that, as regards them, the head seems to say one thing and the
heart another. We see plainly enough what we ought to think or to do;
but we feel an irresistible inclination to think or to do something
else. It is about three or four of these things that we are going, my
friend, to have a little quiet talk. We are going to confine our view
to a single class, though possibly the most important class, in the
innumerable multitude of Things Slowly Learnt.

The truth is, a great many things are slowly learnt. I have lately had
occasion to observe that the Alphabet is one of these. I remember,
too, in my own sorrowful experience, how the Multiplication Table was
another. A good many years since, an eminent dancing-master undertook
to teach a number of my schoolboy companions a graceful and easy
deportment; but comparatively few of us can be said as yet to have
thoroughly attained it. I know men who have been practising the art of
extempore speaking for many years, but who have reached no perfection in
it, and who, if one may judge from their confusion and hesitation
when they attempt to speak, are not likely ever to reach even decent
mediocrity in that wonderful accomplishment. Analogous statements might
be made, with truth, with regard to my friend Mr. Snarling's endeavors
to produce magazine articles; likewise concerning his attempts to skate,
and his efforts to ride on horseback unlike a tailor. Some folk learn
with remarkable slowness that Nature never intended them for wits. There
have been men who have punned, ever more and more wretchedly, to the end
of a long and highly respectable life. People submitted in silence to
the infliction; no one liked to inform those reputable individuals that
they had better cease to make fools of themselves. This, however, is
part of a larger subject, which shall be treated hereafter.

On the other hand, there are things which are very quickly
learnt,--which are learnt by a single lesson. One liberal tip, or even
a few kind words heartily said, to a manly little schoolboy, will
establish in his mind the rooted principle that the speaker of the words
or the bestower of the tip is a jolly and noble specimen of humankind.
Boys are great physiognomists: they read a man's nature at a glance.
Well I remember how, when going to and from school, a long journey of
four hundred miles, in days when such a journey implied travel by sea as
well as by land, I used to know instantly the gentlemen or the railway
officials to whom I might apply for advice or information. I think that
this intuitive perception of character is blunted in after years. A man
is often mistaken in his first impression of man or woman; a boy hardly
ever. And a boy not only knows at once whether a human being is amiable
or the reverse, he knows also whether the human being is wise or
foolish. In particular, he knows at once whether the human being always
means what he says, or says a great deal more than he means. Inferior
animals learn some lessons quickly. A dog once thrashed for some offence
knows quite well not to repeat it. A horse turns for the first time down
the avenue to a house where he is well fed and cared for; next week,
or next month, you pass that gate, and though the horse has been long
taught to submit his will to yours, you can easily see that he knows the
place again, and that he would like to go back to the stable with which,
in his poor, dull, narrow mind, there are pleasant associations. I
would give a good deal to know what a horse is thinking about. There is
something very curious and very touching about the limited intelligence
and the imperfect knowledge of that immaterial principle in which the
immaterial does not imply the immortal. And yet, if we are to rest
the doctrine of a future life in any degree upon the necessity of
compensation for the sufferings and injustice of the present, I think
the sight of the cab-horses of any large town might plead for the
admission of some quiet world of green grass and shady trees, where
there should be no cold, starvation, over-work, or flogging. Some one
has said that the most exquisite material scenery would look very
cold and dead in the entire absence of irrational life. Trees suggest
singing-birds; flowers and sunshine make us think of the drowsy bees.
And it is curious to think how the future worlds of various creeds are
described as not without their lowly population of animals inferior to
man. We know what the "poor Indian" expects shall bear him company in
his humble heaven; and possibly various readers may know some dogs who
in certain important respects are very superior to certain men. You
remember how, when a war-chief of the Western prairies was laid by
his tribe in his grave, his horse was led to the spot in the funeral
procession, and at the instant when the earth was cast upon the dead
warrior's dust, an arrow reached the noble creature's heart, that in the
land of souls the man should find his old friend again. And though it
has something of the grotesque, I think it has more of the pathetic, the
aged huntsman of Mr. Assheton Smith desiring to be buried by his master,
with two horses and a few couples of dogs, that they might all be ready
to start together when they met again far away.

This is a deviation; but that is of no consequence. It is of the essence
of the present writer's essays to deviate from the track. Only we must
not forget the thread of the discourse; and after our deviation we must
go back to it. All this came of our remarking that some things are
very quickly learnt; and that certain inferior classes of our
fellow-creatures learn them quickly. But deeper and larger lessons are
early learnt. Thoughtful children, a very few years old, have their own
theory of human nature. Before studying the metaphysicians, and indeed
while still imperfectly acquainted with their letters, young children
have glimpses of the inherent selfishness of humanity. I was recently
present when a small boy of three years old, together with his sister,
aged five, was brought down to the dining-room at the period of dessert.
The small boy climbed upon his mother's knee, and began by various
indications to display his affection for her. A stranger remarked what
an affectionate child he was. "Oh," said the little girl, "he suspects
(by which she meant _expects_) that he is going to get something to
eat!" Not Hobbes himself had reached a clearer perception or a firmer
belief of the selfish system in moral philosophy. "He is always very
affectionate," the youthful philosopher proceeded, "when he suspects he
is going to get something good to eat!"

By _Things Slowly Learnt_ I mean not merely things which are in their
nature such that it takes a long time to learn them,--such as the Greek
language, or the law of vendors and purchasers. These things indeed take
long time and much trouble to learn; but once you have learnt them, you
know them. Once you have come to understand the force of the second
aorist, you do not find your heart whispering to you, as you are lying
awake at night, that what the grammar says about the second aorist is
all nonsense; you do not feel an inveterate disposition, gaining force
day by day, to think concerning the second aorist just the opposite of
what the grammar says. By _Things Slowly Learnt_, I understand things
which it is very hard to learn at the first, because, strong as the
reasons which support them are, you find it so hard to make up your mind
to them. I understand things which you can quite easily (when it is
fairly put to you) see to be true, but which it seems as if it would
change the very world you live in to accept. I understand things you
discern to be true, but which you have all your life been accustomed to
think false, and which you are extremely anxious to think false. And by
_Things Slowly Learnt_ I understand things which are not merely very
hard to learn at the first, but which it is not enough to learn for once
ever so well. I understand things which, when you have made the bitter
effort and admitted to be true and certain, you put into your mind to
keep (so to speak); and hardly a day has passed, when a soft, quiet hand
seems to begin to crumble them down and to wear them away to nothing.
You write the principle which was so hard to receive upon the tablet of
your memory; and day by day a gentle hand comes over it with a bit of
india-rubber, till the inscription loses its clear sharpness, grows
blurred and indistinct, and finally quite disappears. Nor is the gentle
hand content even then; but it begins, very faintly at first, to trace
letters which bear a very different meaning. Then it deepens and darkens
them day by day, week by week, till at a month's or a year's end the
tablet of memory bears, in great, sharp, legible letters, just the
opposite thing to that which you had originally written down there.
These are my _Things Slowly Learnt_: things you learn at first in the
face of a strong bias against them; things, when once taught, you
gradually forget, till you come back again to your old way of thinking.
Such things, of course, lie within the realm to which extends the
influence of feeling and prejudice. They are things in the accepting of
which both head and heart are concerned. Once convince a man that two
and two make four, and he learns the truth without excitement, and
he never doubts it again. But prove to a man that he is of much less
importance than he has been accustomed to think,--or prove to a woman
that her children are very much like those of other folk,--or prove to
the inhabitant of a country parish that Britain has hundreds of parishes
which in soil and climate and production are just as good as his
own,--or prove to the great man of a little country town that there
are scores of towns in this world where the walks are as pleasant,
the streets as well paved, and the population as healthy and as well
conducted; and in each such case you will find it very hard to convince
the individual at the time, and you will find that in a very short space
the individual has succeeded in entirely escaping from the disagreeable
conviction. You may possibly find, if you endeavor to instil such belief
into minds of but moderate cultivation, that your arguments will be
met less by force of reason than by roaring of voice and excitement of
manner; you may find that the person you address will endeavor to change
the issue you are arguing, to other issues, wholly irrelevant, touching
your own antecedents, character, or even personal appearance; and you
may afterwards be informed by good-natured friends, that the upshot of
your discussion had been to leave on the mind of your acquaintance the
firm conviction that you yourself are intellectually a blockhead and
morally a villain. And even when dealing with human beings who have
reached that crowning result of a fine training, that they shall have
got beyond thinking a man their "enemy because he tells them the truth,"
you may find that you have rendered a service like that rendered by the
surgeon's amputating knife,--salutary, yet very painful,--and leaving
forever a sad association with your thought and your name. For among the
things we slowly learn are truths and lessons which it goes terribly
against the grain to learn at first, which must be driven into us time
after time, and which perhaps are never learnt completely.

One thing very slowly learnt by most human beings is, that they are
of no earthly consequence beyond a very small circle indeed, and
that really nobody is thinking or talking about them. Almost every
commonplace man and woman in this world has a vague, but deeply-rooted
belief that they are quite different from anybody else, and of course
quite superior to everybody else. It may be in only one respect they
fancy they are this, but that one respect is quite sufficient. I
believe, that, if a grocer or silk-mercer in a little town has a hundred
customers, each separate customer lives on under the impression that
the grocer or the silk-mercer is prepared to give to him or her certain
advantages in buying and selling which will not be accorded to the other
ninety-nine customers. "Say it is for Mrs. Brown," is Mrs. Brown's
direction to her servant, when sending for some sugar; "say it is for
Mrs. Brown, and he will give it a little better." The grocer, keenly
alive to the weaknesses of his fellow-creatures, encourages this notion.
"This tea," he says, "would be four-and-sixpence a pound _to any one
else_, but _to you_ it is only four-and-threepence." Judging from my own
observation, I should say that retail dealers trade a good deal upon
this singular fact in the constitution of the human mind, that it is
inexpressibly bitter to most people to believe that they stand on the
ordinary level of humanity,--that, in the main, they are just like their
neighbors. Mrs. Brown would be filled with unutterable wrath, if it were
represented to her that the grocer treats her precisely as he does Mrs.
Smith, who lives on one side of her, and Mrs. Snooks, who lives on the
other. She would be still more angry, if you asked her what earthly
reason there is why she should in any way be distinguished beyond Mrs.
Snooks and Mrs. Smith. She takes for granted she is quite different
from them, quite superior to them. Human beings do not like to be
classed,--at least, with the class to which in fact they belong. To be
classed at all is painful to an average mortal, who firmly believes
that there never was such a being in this world. I remember one of
the cleverest friends I have--one who assuredly cannot be classed
intellectually, except in a very small and elevated class--telling
me how mortified he was, when a very clever boy of sixteen, at being
classed at all. He had told a literary lady that he admired Tennyson.
"Yes," said the lady, "I am not surprised at that: there is a class of
young men who like Tennyson at your age." It went like a dart to my
friend's heart. _Class of young men_, indeed! Was it for _this_ that I
outstripped all competitors at school, that I have been fancying myself
a unique phenomenon in Nature, _different_ at least from every other
being that lives, that I should be spoken of as one of _a class of
young men_? Now in my friend's half-playful reminiscence I see the
exemplification of a great fact in human nature. Most human beings fancy
themselves, and all their belongings, to be quite different from all
other beings and the belongings of all other beings. I heard an old
lady, whose son is a rifleman, and just like all the other volunteers
of his corps, lately declare, that, on the occasion of a certain grand
review, her Tom looked so entirely different from all the rest. No doubt
he did to her, poor old lady,--for he was her own. But the irritating
thing was, that the old lady wished it to be admitted that Tom's
superiority was an actual fact, equally patent to the eyes of all
mankind. Yes, my friend: it is a thing very slowly learnt by most men,
that they are very much like other people. You see the principle which
underlies what you hear so often said by human beings, young and old,
when urging you to do something which it is against your general rule to
do. "Oh, but you might do it _for me_!" Why for you more than for any
one else? would be the answer of severe logic. But a kindly man would
not take that ground: for doubtless the _Me_, however little to every
one else, is to each unit in humankind the centre of all the world.

Arising out of this mistaken notion of their own difference from all
other men is the fancy entertained by many, that they occupy a much
greater space in the thoughts of others than they really do. Most folk
think mainly about themselves and their own affairs. Even a matter which
"everybody is talking about" is really talked about by each for a
very small portion of the twenty-four hours. And a name which is "in
everybody's mouth" is not in each separate mouth for more than a few
minutes at a time. And during those few minutes, it is talked of with an
interest very faint, when compared with that you feel for yourself. You
fancy it a terrible thing, when you yourself have to do something which
you would think nothing about, if done by anybody else. A lady grows
sick, and has to go out of church during the sermon. Well, you remark
it; possibly, indeed, you don't; and you say, "Mrs. Thomson went out of
church to-day; she must be ill"; and there the matter ends. But a day
or two later you see Mrs. Thomson, and find her quite in a fever at the
awful fact. It was a dreadful trial, walking out, and facing all the
congregation: they must have thought it so strange; she would not run
the risk of it again for any inducement. The fact is just this: Mrs.
Thomson thinks a great deal of the thing, because it happened to
herself. It did not happen to the other people, and so they hardly think
of it at all. But nine in every ten of them, in Mrs. Thomson's place,
would have Mrs. Thomson's feeling; for it is a thing which you, my
reader, slowly learn, that people think very little about you.

Yes, it is a thing slowly learnt,--by many not learnt at all. How many
persons you meet walking along the street who evidently think that
everybody is looking at them! How few persons can walk through an
exhibition of pictures at which are assembled the grand people of the
town and all their own grand acquaintances, in a fashion thoroughly free
from self-consciousness! I mean without thinking of themselves at all,
or of how they look; but in an unaffected manner, observing the objects
and beings around them. Men who have attained recently to a moderate
eminence are sometimes, if of small minds, much affected by this
disagreeable frailty. Small literary men, and preachers with no great
head or heart, have within my own observation suffered from it severely.
I have witnessed a poet, whose writing I have never read, walking along
a certain street. I call him a poet to avoid periphrasis. The whole
get-up of the man, his dress, his hair, his hat, the style in which he
walked, showed unmistakably that he fancied that everybody was looking
at him, and that he was the admired of all admirers. In fact, nobody was
looking at him at all. Some time since I beheld a portrait of a very,
very small literary man. It was easy to discern from it that the small
author lives in the belief, that, wherever he goes, he is the object of
universal observation. The intense self-consciousness and self-conceit
apparent in that portrait were, in the words of Mr. Squeers, "more
easier conceived than described." The face was a very commonplace and
rather good-looking one: the author, notwithstanding his most strenuous
exertions, evidently could make nothing of the features to distinguish
him from other men. But the length of his hair was very great: and, oh,
what genius he plainly fancied glowed in those eyes! I never in my life
witnessed such an extraordinary glare. I do not believe that any human
being ever lived whose eyes habitually wore that expression: only by a
violent effort could the expression be produced, and then for a very
short time, without serious injury to the optic nerves. The eyes were
made as large as possible; and the thing after which the poor fellow
had been struggling was that peculiar look which may be conceived to
penetrate through the beholder, and pierce his inmost thoughts. I never
beheld the living original, but, if I saw him, I should like in a kind
way to pat him on the head, and tell him that _that_ sort of expression
would produce a great effect on the gallery of a minor theatre. The
other day I was at a public meeting. A great crowd of people was
assembled in a large hall: the platform at one end of it remained
unoccupied till the moment when the business of the meeting was to
begin. It was an interesting sight for any philosophic observer seated
in the body of the hall to look at the men who by-and-by walked in
procession on to the platform, and to observe the different ways in
which they walked in. There were several very great and distinguished
men: every one of these walked on to the platform and took his seat in
the most simple and unaffected way, as if quite unconscious of the many
eyes that were looking at them with interest and curiosity. There were
many highly respectable and sensible men, whom nobody cared particularly
to see, and who took their places in a perfectly natural manner, as
though well aware of the fact. But there were one or two small men,
struggling for notoriety; and I declare it was pitiful to behold their
entrance. I remarked one, in particular, who evidently thought that
the eyes of the whole meeting were fixed upon himself, and that, as
he walked in, everybody was turning to his neighbor, and saying with
agitation, "See, that's Snooks!" His whole gait and deportment testified
that he felt that two or three thousand eyes were burning him up: you
saw it in the way he walked to his place, in the way he sat down, in the
way he then looked about him. If anyone had tried to get up three cheers
for Snooks, Snooks would not have known that he was being made a fool
of. He would have accepted the incense of fame as justly his due. There
once was a man who entered the Edinburgh theatre at the same instant
with Sir Walter Scott. The audience cheered lustily; and while Sir
Walter modestly took his seat, as though unaware that those cheers were
to welcome the Great Magician, the other man advanced with dignity
to the front of the box, and bowed in acknowledgment of the popular
applause. This of course was but a little outburst of the great tide of
vain self-estimation which the man had cherished within his breast for
years. Let it be said here, that an affected unconsciousness of the
presence of a multitude of people is as offensive an exhibition of
self-consciousness as any that is possible. Entire naturalness, and a
just sense of a man's personal insignificance, will produce the right
deportment. It is very irritating to see some clergymen walk into church
to begin the service. They come in, with eyes affectedly cast down, and
go to their place without ever looking up, and rise and begin without
one glance at the congregation. To stare about them, as some clergymen
do, in a free and easy manner, befits not the solemnity of the place
and the worship; but the other is the worse thing. In a few cases it
proceeds from modesty; in the majority from intolerable self-conceit.
The man who keeps his eyes downcast in that affected manner fancies that
everybody is looking at him; there is an insufferable self-consciousness
about him; and he is much more keenly aware of the presence of other
people than the man who does what is natural, and looks at the people
to whom he is speaking. It is not natural nor rational to speak to
one human being with your eyes fixed on the ground; and neither is
it natural or rational to speak to a thousand. And I think that the
preacher who feels in his heart that he is neither wiser nor better than
his fellow-sinners to whom he is to preach, and that the advices he
addresses to them are addressed quite as solemnly to himself, will
assume no conceited airs of elevation above them, but will unconsciously
wear the demeanor of any sincere worshipper, somewhat deepened in
solemnity by the remembrance of his heavy personal responsibility in
leading the congregation's worship; but assuredly and entirely free
from the vulgar conceit which may be fostered in a vulgar mind by the
reflection, "Now everybody is looking at me!" I have seen, I regret to
say, various distinguished preachers whose pulpit demeanor was made to
me inexpressibly offensive by this taint of self-consciousness. And I
have seen some, with half the talent, who made upon me an impression a
thousandfold deeper than ever was made by the most brilliant eloquence;
because the simple earnestness of their manner said to every heart, "Now
I am not thinking in the least about myself, or about what you may think
of me: my sole desire is to impress on your hearts these truths I
speak, which I believe will concern us all forever!" I have heard great
preachers, after hearing whom you could walk home quite at your ease,
praising warmly the eloquence and the logic of the sermon. I have heard
others, (infinitely greater in my poor judgment,) after hearing whom you
would have felt it profanation to criticize the literary merits of their
sermon, high as those were: but you walked home thinking of the lesson
and not of the teacher, solemnly revolving the truths you had heard, and
asking the best of all help to enable you to remember them and act upon

There are various ways in which self-consciousness disagreeably evinces
its existence; and there is not one, perhaps, more disagreeable than the
affected avoidance of what is generally regarded as egotism. Depend upon
it, my reader, that the straightforward and natural writer who frankly
uses the first person singular, and says, "I think thus and thus," "I
have seen so and so," is thinking of himself and his own personality
a mighty deal less than the man who is always employing awkward and
roundabout forms of expression to avoid the use of the obnoxious _I_.
Every such periphrasis testifies unmistakably that the man was thinking
of himself; but the simple, natural writer, warm with his subject, eager
to press his views upon his readers, uses the _I_ without a thought of
self, just because it is the shortest, most direct, and most natural way
of expressing himself. The recollection of his own personality probably
never once crossed his mind during the composition of the paragraph from
which an ill-set critic might pick out a score of _I_-s. To say, "It is
submitted" instead of "I think," "It has been observed" instead of "I
have seen," "The present writer" instead of "I," is much the more really
egotistical. Try to write an essay without using that vowel which
some men think the very shibboleth of egotism, and the remembrance of
yourself will be in the background of your mind all the time you are
writing. It will be always intruding and pushing in its face, and you
will be able to give only half your mind to your subject. But frankly
and naturally use the _I_, and the remembrance of yourself vanishes. You
are grappling with the subject; you are thinking of it, and of nothing
else. You use the readiest and most unaffected mode of speech to set out
your thoughts of it. You have written _I_ a dozen times, but you have
not thought of yourself once.

You may see the self-consciousness of some men strongly manifested
in their handwriting. The handwriting of some men is essentially
affected,--more especially their signature. It seems to be a very
searching test whether a man is a conceited person or an unaffected
person, to be required to furnish his autograph to be printed underneath
his published portrait. I have fancied I could form a theory of a man's
whole character from reading, in such a situation, merely the words,
"Very faithfully yours, Eusebius Snooks," You could see that Mr. Snooks
was acting, when he wrote that signature. He was thinking of the
impression it would produce on those who saw it. It was not the thing
which a man would produce who simply wished to write his name legibly in
as short a time and with as little needless trouble as possible. Let me
say with sorrow that I have known even venerable bishops who were not
superior to this irritating weakness. Some men aim at an aristocratic
hand; some deal in vulgar flourishes. These are the men who have reached
no farther than that stage at which they are proud of the dexterity with
which they handle their pen. Some strive after an affectedly simple and
student-like hand; some at a dashing and military style. But there may
be as much self-consciousness evinced by handwriting as by anything
else. Any clergyman who performs a good many marriages will be impressed
by the fact that very few among the humbler classes can sign their name
in an unaffected way. I am not thinking of the poor bride who shakily
traces her name, or of the simple bumpkin who slowly writes his, making
no secret of the difficulty with which he does it. These are natural
and pleasing. You would like to help and encourage them. But it is
irritating, when some forward fellow, after evincing his marked contempt
for the slow and cramped performances of his friends, jauntily takes up
the pen and dashes off his signature at a tremendous rate and with the
air of an exploit, evidently expecting the admiration of his rustic
friends, and laying a foundation for remarking to them on his way home
that the parson could not touch him at penmanship. I have observed with
a little malicious satisfaction that such persons, arising in their
pride from the place where they wrote, generally smear their signature
with their coat-sleeve, and reduce it to a state of comparative
illegibility. I like to see the smirking, impudent creature a little
taken down.

But it is endless to try to reckon up the fashions in which people show
that they have not learnt the lesson of their own unimportance. Did you
ever stop in the street and talk for a few minutes to some old bachelor?
If so, I dare say you have remarked a curious phenomenon. You have found
that all of a sudden the mind of the old gentleman, usually reasonable
enough, appeared stricken into a state approaching idiocy, and that
the sentence which he had begun in a rational and intelligible way was
ending in a maze of wandering words, signifying nothing in particular.
You had been looking in another direction, but in sudden alarm you look
straight at the old gentleman to see what on earth is the matter; and
you discern that his eyes are fixed on some passer-by, possibly a young
lady, perhaps no more than a magistrate or the like, who is by this
time a good many yards off, with the eyes still following, and slowly
revolving on their axes so as to follow without the head being turned
round. It is this spectacle which has drawn off your friend's attention;
and you notice his whole figure twisted into an ungainly form, intended
to be dignified or easy, and assumed because he fancied that the
passerby was looking at him. Oh the pettiness of human nature! Then you
will find people afraid that they have given offence by saying or doing
things which the party they suppose offended had really never observed
that they had said or done. There are people who fancy that in church
everybody is looking at them, when in truth no mortal is taking the
trouble to do so. It is an amusing, though irritating sight, to behold
a weak-minded lady walking into church and taking her seat under this
delusion. You remember the affected air, the downcast eyes, the demeanor
intended to imply a modest shrinking from notice, but through which
there shines the real desire, "Oh, for any sake, look at me!" There are
people whose voice is utterly inaudible in church six feet off, who will
tell you that a whole congregation of a thousand or fifteen hundred
people was listening to their singing. Such folk will tell you that they
went to a church where the singing was left too much to the choir, and
began to sing as usual, on which the entire congregation looked round
to see who it was that was singing, and ultimately proceeded to sing
lustily too. I do not remember a more disgusting exhibition of vulgar
self-conceit than I saw a few months ago at Westminster Abbey. It was a
weekday afternoon service, and the congregation was small. Immediately
before me there sat an insolent boor, who evidently did not belong to
the Church of England. He had walked in when the prayers were half over,
having with difficulty been made to take off his hat, and his manifest
wish was to testify his contempt for the whole place and service.
Accordingly he persisted in sitting, in a lounging attitude, when the
people stood, and in standing up and staring about with an air of
curiosity while they knelt. He was very anxious to convey that he was
not listening to the prayers; but rather inconsistently, he now and then
uttered an audible grunt of disapproval. No one can enjoy the choral
service more than I do, and the music that afternoon was very fine; but
I could not enjoy it or join in it as I wished, for the disgust I felt
at the animal before me, and for my burning desire to see him turned out
of the sacred place he was profaning. But the thing which chiefly struck
me about the individual was not his vulgar and impudent profanity; it
was his intolerable self-conceit. He plainly thought that every eye
under the noble old roof was watching all his movements. I could see
that he would go home and boast of what he had done, and tell his
friends that all the clergy, choristers, and congregation had been
awestricken by him, and that possibly word had by this time been
conveyed to Lambeth or Fulham of the weakened influence and approaching
downfall of the Church of England. I knew that the very thing he
wished was that some one should rebuke his conduct, otherwise I should
certainly have told him either to behave with decency or to be gone.

I have sometimes witnessed a curious manifestation of this vain sense of
self-importance. Did you ever, my reader, chance upon such a spectacle
as this: a very commonplace man, and even a very great blockhead,
standing in a drawing-room where a large party of people is assembled,
with a grin of self-complacent superiority upon his unmeaning face? I
am sure you understand the thing I mean. I mean a look which conveyed,
that, in virtue of some hidden store of genius or power, he could survey
with a calm, cynical loftiness the little conversation and interests of
ordinary mortals. You know the kind of interest with which a human being
would survey the distant approaches to reason of an intelligent dog or a
colony of ants. I have seen this expression on the face of one or two
of the greatest blockheads I ever knew. I have seen such a one wear it
while clever men were carrying on a conversation in which he could not
have joined to have saved his life. Yet you could see that (who can tell
how?) the poor creature had somehow persuaded himself that he occupied a
position from which he could look down upon his fellow-men in general.
Or was it rather that the poor creature knew he was a fool, and fancied
that thus he could disguise the fact? I dare say there was a mixture of
both feelings.

You may see many indications of vain self-importance in the fact that
various persons, old ladies for the most part, are so ready to give
opinions which are not wanted, on matters of which they are not
competent to judge. Clever young curates suffer much annoyance from
these people: they are always anxious to instruct the young curates how
to preach. I remember well, ten years ago, when I was a curate (which in
Scotland we call an _assistant_) myself, what advices I used to receive
(quite unsought by me) from well-meaning, but densely stupid old ladies.
I did not think the advices worth much, even then; and now, by longer
experience, I can discern that they were utterly idiotic. Yet they were
given with entire confidence. No thought ever entered the heads of
these well-meaning, but stupid individuals, that possibly they were not
competent to give advice on such subjects. And it is vexatious to think
that people so stupid may do serious harm to a young clergyman by
head-shakings and sly innuendoes as to his orthodoxy or his gravity of
deportment. In the long run they will do no harm, but at the first start
they may do a good deal of mischief. Not long since, such a person
complained to me that a talented young preacher had taught unsound
doctrine. She cited his words. I showed her that the words were
taken _verbatim_ from the "Confession of Faith," which is our Scotch
Thirty-Nine Articles. I think it not unlikely that she would go on
telling her tattling story just the same. I remember hearing a stupid
old lady say, as though her opinion were quite decisive of the question,
that no clergyman ought to have so much as a thousand a year; for, if he
had, he would be sure to neglect his duty. You remember what Dr. Johnson
said to a woman who expressed some opinion or other upon a matter she
did not understand. "Madam," said the moralist, "before expressing your
opinion, you should consider what your opinion is worth." But this shaft
would have glanced harmlessly from off the panoply of the stupid and
self-complacent old lady of whom I am thinking. It was a fundamental
axiom with her that her opinion was entirely infallible. Some people
would feel as though the very world were crumbling away under their
feet, if they realized the fact that they could go wrong.

Let it here be said, that this vain belief of their own importance,
which most people cherish, is not at all a source of unmixed happiness.
It will work either way. When my friend, Mr. Snarling, got his beautiful
poem printed in the county newspaper, it no doubt pleased him to think,
as he walked along the street, that every one was pointing him out as
the eminent literary man who was the pride of the district, and that the
whole town was ringing with that magnificent effusion. Mr. Tennyson, it
is certain, felt that his crown was being reft away. But, on the other
hand, there is no commoner form of morbid misery than that of the poor
nervous man or woman who fancies that he or she is the subject of
universal unkindly remark. You will find people, still sane for
practical purposes, who think that the whole neighborhood is conspiring
against them, when in fact nobody is thinking of them.

All these pages have been spent in discussing a single thing slowly
learnt: the remaining matters to be considered in this essay must be
treated briefly.

Another thing slowly learnt is that we have no reason or right to be
angry with people because they think poorly of us. This is a truth which
most people find it very hard to accept, and at which, probably, very
few arrive without pretty long thought and experience. Most people are
angry, when they are informed that some one has said that their ability
is small, or that their proficiency in any art is limited. Mrs. Malaprop
was very indignant, when she found that some of her friends had spoken
lightly of her parts of speech. Mr. Snarling was wroth, when he learned
that Mr. Jollikin thought him no great preacher. Miss Brown was so, on
hearing that Mr. Smith did not admire her singing; and Mr. Smith, on
learning that Miss Brown did not admire his horsemanship. Some authors
feel angry, on reading an unfavorable review of their book. The present
writer has been treated very, very kindly by the critics,--far more so
than he ever deserved; yet he remembers showing a notice of him, which
was intended to extinguish him for all coming time, to a warm-hearted
friend, who read it with gathering wrath, and, vehemently starting up at
its close, exclaimed, (we knew who wrote the notice,)--"Now I shall
go straight and kick that fellow!" Now all this is very natural; but
assuredly it is quite wrong. You understand, of course, that I am
thinking of unfavorable opinions of you, honestly held, and expressed
without malice. I do not mean to say that you would choose for your
special friend or companion one who thought meanly of your ability or
your sense; it would not be pleasant to have him always by you; and the
very fact of his presence would tend to keep you from doing justice to
yourself. For it is true, that, when with people who think you very
clever and wise, you really are a good deal cleverer and wiser than
usual; while with people who think you stupid and silly, you find
yourself under a malign influence which tends to make you actually so
for the time. If you want a man to gain any good quality, the way is to
give him credit for possessing it. If he has but little, give him credit
for all he has, at least; and you will find him daily get more. You know
how Arnold made boys truthful; it was by giving them credit for truth.
Oh that we all fitly understood that the same grand principle should
be extended to all good qualities, intellectual and moral! Diligently
instil into a boy that he is a stupid, idle, bad-hearted blockhead, and
you are very likely to make him all _that_. And so you can see that it
is not judicious to choose for a special friend and associate one who
thinks poorly of one's sense or one's parts. Indeed, if such a one
honestly thinks poorly of you, and has any moral earnestness, you could
not get him for a special friend, if you wished it. Let us choose for
our companions (if such can be found) those who think well and kindly of
us, even though we may know within ourselves that they think too kindly
and too well. For that favorable estimation will bring out and foster
all that is good in us. There is between this and the unfavorable
judgment all the difference between the warm, genial sunshine, that
draws forth the flowers and encourages them to open their leaves,
and the nipping frost or the blighting east-wind, that represses and
disheartens all vegetable life. But though thus you would not choose
for your special companion one who thinks poorly of you, and though you
might not even wish to see him very often, you have no reason to have
any angry feeling towards him. He cannot help his opinion. His opinion
is determined by his lights. His opinion, possibly, founds on those
aesthetic considerations as to which people will never think alike, with
which there is no reasoning, and for which there is no accounting. God
has made him so that he dislikes your book, or at least cannot heartily
appreciate it; and that is not his fault. And, holding his opinion, he
is quite entitled to express it. It may not be polite to express it to
yourself. By common consent it is understood that you are never,
except in cases of absolute necessity, to say to any man that which is
disagreeable to him. And if you go, and, without any call to do so,
express to a man himself that you think poorly of him, he may justly
complain, not of your unfavorable opinion of him, but of the malice
which is implied in your needlessly informing him of it. But if any one
expresses such an unfavorable opinion of you in your absence, and some
one comes and repeats it to you, be angry with the person who repeats
the opinion to you, not with the person who expressed it. For what you
do not know will cause you no pain. And all sensible folk, aware how
estimates of any mortal must differ, will, in the long run, attach
nearly the just weight to any opinion, favorable or unfavorable.

Yes, my friend, utterly put down the natural tendency in your heart to
be angry with the man who thinks poorly of you. For you have, in sober
reason, no right to be angry with him. It is more pleasant, and indeed
more profitable, to live among those who think highly of you--It makes
you better. You actually grow into what you get credit for. Oh, how much
better a clergyman preaches to his own congregation, who listen with
kindly and sympathetic attention to all he says, and always think too
well of him, than to a set of critical strangers, eager to find faults
and to pick holes! And how heartily and pleasantly the essayist covers
his pages which are to go into a magazine whose readers have come to
know him well, and to bear with all his ways! If every one thought him a
dull and stupid person, he could not write at all: indeed, he would bow
to the general belief, and accept the truth that he is dull and stupid.
But further, my reader, let us be reasonable, when it is pleasant; and
let us sometimes be irrational, when _that_ is pleasant too. It is
natural to have a very kindly feeling to those who think well of us.
Now, though, in severe truth, we have no more reason for wishing to
shake hands with the man who thinks well of us than for wishing to shake
the man who thinks ill of us, yet let us yield heartily to the former
pleasant impulse. It is not reasonable, but it is all right. You cannot
help liking people who estimate you favorably and say a good word of
you. No doubt we might slowly learn not to like them more than anybody
else; but we need not take the trouble to learn _that_ lesson. Let us
all, my readers, be glad if we can reach that cheerful position of mind
at which my eloquent friend SHIRLEY and I have long since arrived: that
we are extremely gratified when we find ourselves favorably reviewed,
and not in the least angry when we find ourselves reviewed unfavorably;
that we have a very kindly feeling towards such as think well of us, and
no unkind feeling whatever to those who think ill of us. Thus, at the
beginning of the month, we look with equal minds at the newspaper
notices of our articles; we are soothed and exhilarated when we find
ourselves described as sages, and we are amused and interested when we
find ourselves shown up as little better than geese.

Of course, it makes a difference in the feeling with which you ought to
regard any unfavorable opinion of you, whether spoken or written, if the
unfavorable opinion which is expressed be plainly not honestly held, and
be maliciously expressed. You may occasionally hear a judgment expressed
of a young girl's music or dancing, of a gentleman's horses, of a
preacher's sermons, of an author's books, which is manifestly dictated
by personal spite and jealousy, and which is expressed with the
intention of doing mischief and giving pain to the person of whom
the judgment is expressed. You will occasionally find such judgments
supported by wilful misrepresentation, and even by pure invention. In
such a case as this, the essential thing is not the unfavorable opinion;
it is the malice which leads to its entertainment and expression. And
the conduct of the offending party should be regarded with that feeling
which, on calm thought, you discern to be the right feeling with which
to regard malice accompanied by falsehood. Then, is it well to be
angry here? I think not. You may see that it is not safe to have any
communication with a person who will abuse and misrepresent you; it is
not safe, and it is not pleasant. But don't be angry. It is not worth
while. That old lady, indeed, told all her friends that you said, in
your book, something she knew quite well you did not say. Mr. Snarling
did the like. But the offences of such people are not worth powder and
shot; and besides this, my friend, if you saw the case from their point
of view, you might see that they have something to say for themselves.
You failed to call for the old lady so often as she wished you should.
You did not ask Mr. Snarling to dinner. These are bad reasons for
pitching into you; but still they are reasons; and Mr. Snarling and the
old lady, by long brooding over them, may have come to think that they
are very just and weighty reasons. And did you never, my friend, speak
rather unkindly of these two persons? Did you never give a ludicrous
account of their goings-on, or even an ill-set account, which some kind
friend was sure to repeat to them?

Ah, my reader, don't be too hard on Snarling; possibly you have yourself
done something very like what he is doing now. Forgive, as you need to
be forgiven! And try to attain that quite attainable temper in which you
will read or listen to the most malignant attack upon you with curiosity
and amusement, and with no angry feeling at all. I suppose great people
attain to this: I mean cabinet-ministers and the like, who are daily
flayed in print somewhere or other. They come to take it all quite
easily. And if they were pure angels, somebody would attack them. Most
people, even those who differ from him, know, that, if this world has
a humble, conscientious, pious man in it, that man is the present
Archbishop of Canterbury: yet last night I read in a certain powerful
journal, that the great characteristics of that good man are cowardice,
trickery, and simple rascality! Honest Mr. Bumpkin, kind-hearted Miss
Goodbody, do you fancy that _you_ can escape?

Then we ought to try to fix it in our mind, that, in all matters into
which taste enters at all, the most honest and the most able men may
hopelessly, diametrically, differ: original idiosyncrasy has so much to
say here; and training has also so much. One cultivated and honest
man has an enthusiastic and most real love and enjoyment of Gothic
architecture, and an absolute hatred for that of the classic revival;
another man, equally cultivated and honest, has tastes which are the
logical contradictory of these. No one can doubt the ability of Byron,
or of Sheridan; yet each of them thought very little of Shakspeare. The
question is, _What suits you_? You may have the strongest conviction
that you ought to like an author; you may be ashamed to confess that you
don't like him; and yet you may feel that you detest him. For myself, I
confess with shame, and I know the reason is in myself, I cannot for my
life see anything to admire in the writings of Mr. Carlyle. His style,
both of thought and language, is to me insufferably irritating. I tried
to read the "Sartor Resartus," and could not do it. So if all people who
have learned to read English were like me, Mr. Carlyle would have no
readers. Happily, the majority, in most cases, possesses the normal
taste. At least there is no further appeal than to the deliberate
judgment of the majority of educated men. I confess, further, that I
would rather read Mr. Helps than Milton: I do not say that I think Mr.
Helps the greater man, but that I feel he suits me better. I value the
"Autocrat of the Breakfast-Table" more highly than all the writings of
Shelley put together. It is a curious thing to read various reviews of
the same book,--particularly if it be one of those books which, if you
like at all, you will like very much, and which, if you don't like,
you will absolutely hate. It is curious to find opinions flatly
contradictory of one another set forth in those reviews by very able,
cultivated, and unprejudiced men. There is no newspaper published in
Britain which contains abler writing than the "Edinburgh Scotsman." And
of course no one need say anything as to the literary merits of the
"Times." Well, one day within the last few months, the "Times" and the
"Scotsman" each published a somewhat elaborate review of a certain book.
The reviews were flatly opposed to one another; they had no common
ground at all; one said the book was extremely good, and the other that
it was extremely bad. You must just make up your mind that in matters of
taste there can be no unvarying standard of truth. In aesthetic matters,
truth is quite relative. What is bad to you is good to me, perhaps. And
indeed, if one might adduce the saddest of all possible proofs how even
the loftiest and most splendid genius fails to commend itself to every
cultivated mind, it may suffice to say, that that brilliant "Scotsman"
has on several occasions found fault with the works of A.K.H.B.!

If you, my reader, are a wise and kind-hearted person, (as I have no
doubt whatever but you are,) I think you would like very much to meet
and converse with any person who has formed a bad opinion of you. You
would take great pleasure in overcoming such a one's prejudice against
you; and if the person were an honest and worthy person, you would be
almost certain to do so. Very few folk are able to retain any bitter
feeling towards a man they have actually talked with, unless the bitter
feeling be one which is just. And a very great proportion of all the
unfavorable opinions which men entertain of their fellow-men found on
some misconception. You take up somehow an impression that such a one is
a conceited, stuck-up person: you come to know him, and you find he is
the frankest and most unaffected of men. You had a belief that such
another was a cynical, heartless being, till you met him one day coming
down a long black stair, in a poor part of the town, from a bare chamber
in which is a little sick child, with two large tears running down his
face; and when you enter the poor apartment, you learn certain facts as
to his quiet benevolence which compel you suddenly to construct a new
theory of that man's character. It is only people who are radically and
essentially bad whom you can really dislike after you come to know
them. And the human beings who are thus essentially bad are very few.
Something of the original Image lingers yet in almost every human soul:
and in many a homely, commonplace person, what with vestiges of the old,
and a blessed planting-in of something new, there is a vast deal of
it. And every human being, conscious of honest intention and of a kind
heart, may well wish that the man who dislikes and abuses him could just
know him.

But there are human beings whom, if you are wise, you would not wish to
know you too well: I mean the human beings (if such there should be) who
think very highly of you,--who imagine you very clever and very amiable.
Keep out of the way of such! Let them see as little of you as possible.
For, when they come to know you well, they are quite sure to be
disenchanted. The enthusiastic ideal which young people form of any
one they admire is smashed by the rude presence of facts. I have got
somewhat beyond the stage of feeling enthusiastic admiration, yet there
are two or three living men whom I should be sorry to see: I know I
should never admire them so much any more. I never saw Mr. Dickens: I
don't want to see him. Let us leave Yarrow unvisited: our sweet ideal is
fairer than the fairest fact. No hero is a hero to his valet: and it may
be questioned whether any clergyman is a saint to his beadle. Yet the
hero may be a true hero, and the clergyman a very excellent man: but no
human being can bear too close inspection. I remember hearing a clever
and enthusiastic young lady complain of what she had suffered, on
meeting a certain great bishop at dinner. No doubt he was dignified,
pleasant, clever; but the mysterious halo was no longer round his Lead.
Here is a sad circumstance in the lot of a very great man: I mean such
a man as Mr. Tennyson or Professor Longfellow. As an elephant walks
through a field, crushing the crop at every step, so do these men
advance through life, smashing, every time they dine out, the
enthusiastic fancies of several romantic young people.

This was to have been a short essay. But you see it is already long; and
I have treated only two of the four Things Slowly Learnt which I had
noted down. After much consideration I discern several courses which are
open to me:--

1. To ask the editor to allow me forty or fifty pages of the magazine
for my essay.

2. To stop at once, and allow it to remain forever a secret what the two
remaining things are.

3. To stop now, and continue my subject in a future number of the

4. To state briefly what the two things are, and get rid of the subject
at once.

The fundamental notion of Course No. 1 is manifestly vain. The editor is
doubtless well aware that about sixteen pages is the utmost length
of essay which his readers can stand. Nos. 2 and 3, for reasons too
numerous to state, cannot be adopted. And thus I am in a manner
compelled to adopt Course No. 4.

The first of the two things is a practical lesson. It is this: to allow
for human folly, laziness, carelessness, and the like, just as you allow
for the properties of matter, such as weight, friction, and the like,
without being surprised or angry at them. You know, that, if a man
is lifting a piece of lead, he does not think of getting into a rage
because it is heavy; or if a man is dragging a tree along the ground, he
does not get into a rage because it ploughs deeply into the earth as it
comes. He is not surprised at these things. They are nothing new. It is
just what he counted on. But you will find that the same man, if his
servants are lazy, careless, and forgetful, or if his friends are
petted, wrong-headed, and impracticable, will not only get quite angry,
but will get freshly angry at each new action which proves that his
friends or servants possess these characteristics. Would it not be
better to make up your mind that such things are characteristic of
humanity, and so that you must look for them in dealing with human
beings? And would it not be better, too, to regard each new proof of
laziness, not as a new thing to be angry with, but merely as a piece of
the one great fact that your servant is lazy, with which you get angry
once for all, and have done with it? If your servant makes twenty
blunders a day, do not regard them as twenty separate facts at which to
get angry twenty several times: regard them just as twenty proofs of the
one fact that your servant is a blunderer; and be angry just once, and
no more. Or if some one you know gives twenty indications in a day that
he or she (let us say she) is of a petted temper, regard these merely as
twenty proofs of one lamentable fact, and not as twenty different facts
to be separately lamented. You accept the fact that the person is petted
and ill-tempered: you regret it and blame it once for all. And after
this once you take as of course all new manifestations of pettedness and
ill-temper. And you are no more surprised at them, or angry with them,
than you are at lead for being heavy, or at down for being light. It is
their nature, and you calculate on it, and allow for it.

Then the second of the two remaining things is this,--that you have no
right to complain, if you are postponed to greater people, or if you are
treated with less consideration than you would be, if you were a greater
person. Uneducated people are very slow to learn this most obvious
lesson. I remember hearing of a proud old lady who was proprietor of a
small landed estate in Scotland. She had many relations,--some greater,
some less. The greater she much affected, the less she wholly ignored.
But they did not ignore _her_; and one morning an individual arrived at
her mansion-house, bearing a large box on his back. He was a travelling
peddler; and he sent up word to the old lady that he was her cousin, and
hoped she would buy something from him. The old lady indignantly refused
to see him, and sent orders that he should forthwith quit the house.
The peddler went; but, on reaching the courtyard, he turned to the
inhospitable dwelling, and in a loud voice exclaimed, in the ears of
every mortal in the house, "Ay, if I had come in my carriage-and-four,
ye wad have been proud to have ta'en me in!" The peddler fancied that he
was hurling at his relative a scathing sarcasm: he did not see that he
was simply stating a perfectly unquestionable fact. No doubt earthly, if
he had come in a carriage-and-four, he would have got a hearty welcome,
and he would have found his claim of kindred eagerly allowed. But he
thought he was saying a bitter and cutting thing, and (strange to say)
the old lady fancied she was listening to a bitter and cutting thing.
He was merely expressing a certain and innocuous truth. But though all
mortals know that in this world big people meet greater respect than
small, (and quite right too,) most mortals seem to find the principle a
very unpleasant one, when it comes home to themselves. And we learn but
slowly to acquiesce in seeing ourselves plainly subordinated to other
people. Poor Oliver Goldsmith was very angry, when at the club one night
he was stopped in the middle of a story by a Dutchman, who had noticed
that the Great Bear was rolling about in preparation for speaking, and
who exclaimed to Goldsmith, "Stop, stop! Toctor Shonson is going to
speak!" Once I arrived at a certain railway station. Two old ladies were
waiting to go by the same train. I knew them well, and they expressed
their delight that we were going the same way. "Let us go in the same
carriage," said the younger, in earnest tones; "and will you be so very
kind as to see about our luggage?" After a few minutes of the lively
talk of the period and district, the train came up. I feel the tremor
of the platform yet. I handed my friends into a carriage, and then saw
their baggage placed in the van. It was a station at which trains
stop for a few minutes for refreshments. So I went to the door of the
carriage into which I had put them, and waited a little before taking
my seat. I expected that my friends would proceed with the conversation
which had been interrupted; but to my astonishment I found that I had
become wholly invisible to them. They did not see me and speak to me at
all. In the carriage with them was a living peer, of wide estates and
great rank, whom they knew. And so thoroughly did he engross their eyes
and thoughts and words, that they had become unaware of my presence, or
even my existence. The stronger sensation rendered them unconscious of
the weaker. Do you think I felt angry? No, I did not. I felt very much
amused. I recognized a slight manifestation of a grand principle. It was
a straw showing how a current sets, but for which Britain would not be
the country it is. I took my seat in another carriage, and placidly read
my "Times." There was one lady in that carriage. I think she inferred,
from the smiles which occasionally for the first few miles overspread
my countenance without apparent cause, that my mind was slightly

These are the two things already mentioned. But you cannot understand,
friendly reader, what an effort it has cost me to treat them so briefly,
The experienced critic will discern at a glance that the author could
easily have made sixteen pages out of the material you have here in two.
The author takes his stand upon this,--that there are few people who can
beat out thought so thin, or say so little in such a great number of
words. But I remember how a very great prelate (who could compress all I
have said into a page and a half) once comforted me by telling me that
for the consumption of many minds it was desirable that thought should
be very greatly diluted; that quantity as well as quality is needful
in the dietetics both of the body and the mind. With this soothing
reflection I close the present essay.



In these palmy days of Commerce it is difficult to conceive the distress
which attended the Embargo. To form some idea of its effects at a period
when the nation engrossed most of the carrying trade of the world, let
us imagine a message from Washington announcing that Congress, after a
few midnight-sessions, has suddenly resolved to withdraw our ships from
the ocean, and to export nothing from New York, or any other seaport;
that it requires the merchant to dismantle his ships and leave them to
decay at the wharves; that it calls upon two hundred thousand masters
and mariners, who now plough the main, to seek their bread ashore; that
it forbids even the fisherman to launch his chebacco-boat or follow his
gigantic prey upon the deep; that it subjects the whole coastwise trade
to onerous bonds and the surveillance of custom-house officers; that it
interdicts all exports by land to Canada, New Brunswick, or Mexico.

Imagine for a moment five million tons of shipping detained, thousands
of seamen reduced to want, the trades of the ship-builder, joiner,
rigger, and sail-maker stopped, the masses of produce now seeking the
coast for shipment arrested on their way by the entire cessation of
demand, the banker and insurer idle, the commissioners of bankruptcy,
the sheriff, and the jailer busy. Imagine the whole country, in the
midst of a prosperous commerce, thus suddenly brought to a stand.
Imagine the navigation, the produce, and the merchandise of the nation
thus suddenly embargoed by one great seizure, upon the plea that they
might possibly be seized abroad, and some faint idea may be formed of
the alarm, distress, and indignant feeling which pervaded the entire
seaboard under the Embargo of 1807. At the period in question the
distressed seamen and ruined merchants had no railways, scarcely an
ordinary road to the West. Manufactures were almost unknown, the
mechanic arts were undeveloped, and consequently the exclusion from the
sea was felt with double force.

Why, urged the merchant and the mariner, should our property perish and
our children go supperless to bed, when we can insure our ships and
still make large profits? Would the planter reconcile himself to a law
which forbade him to harness his teams or use the hoe or the plough, and
bade him lie down and die of hunger beside fruitful fields? Does the
Constitution of the Union, which empowers Congress to regulate commerce,
authorize its destruction? And if it is the intent of Government merely
to protect our ships abroad, why are foreign vessels forbidden to
purchase or export our perishing fish and provisions? and why is our
property to be confiscated and heavy fines to be imposed, if we send it
across the Canada line, where there is no risk of seizure?--And when, in
the progress of events, it became apparent that France approved of our
Embargo, and that England, opening new marts for her trade and new
sources of supplies in Russia, Spain, India, and Spanish America, was
without a rival on the ocean, monopolizing the trade and becoming the
carrier of the world, it was impossible to reconcile the Eastern States
to this general interdict.

Many a rich man was ruined, many a prosperous town was utterly
prostrated by the shock. Property, real and personal, fell from thirty
to sixty per cent., affecting by its fall all classes of society.
A spirit of hostility to the party in power was engendered, which
outlasted the war with England, and continued to glow until Monroe had
adopted the great Federal measures of a navy, a military academy, and an
enlarged system of coast-defence.

Half a century has now elapsed since the signal failure of the Embargo.
The theorists who planned it, the cabinet that adopted it, the
politicians who blindly sustained it have passed from the stage. Angry
feelings have subsided. The measure itself has become a part of the
history of the country; but now that our commerce has again expanded,
now that our navigation, for at least a quarter of a century, has
continued to progress until it has outstripped that of Great Britain in
speed, despatch, and capacity to carry, now that it knows no superior
either in ancient or modern times, it is a fitting moment to investigate
the causes and effects of the measure which once arrested its progress.
Its history is replete with lessons; and if our late President has
failed in other particulars, he at least cautioned us, in his inaugural
address, "that our commerce and navigation are again exceeding the means
provided for their defence," and recommended "an increase of a navy now
inadequate to the protection of our vast tonnage afloat," greater than
that of any other nation, "as well as to the defence of our extended
sea-coast." To ascertain and appreciate the true causes of the Embargo,
we must ascend to the origin of our commerce and trace it downward.

The Pilgrims who sought freedom in New England were enterprising men.
The country in which they landed kindled a commercial spirit. Natural
ports and havens, vast forests of pine and oak suitable for spars and
timber, abundance of fish and whales, and the occasional failure of
their crops, all invited them to the deep. Under the rule of Governor
Winthrop, the shallop Blessing of the Bay was built at his Ten Hills
farm, and made a voyage to Virginia. Boats, soon followed by sloops,
engaged in the fisheries; brigs and ships were built for the trade with
England. Boston became noted for ship-building, and Portsmouth supplied
the royal navy with spars. The fleet which took Port Royal in 1710 was
composed principally of American ships. The New England volunteers who
in 1745 captured the fortress of Louisburg from the veteran troops of
France were conveyed by ten American ships of war.

As early as 1765, six hundred sail from Massachusetts were engaged in
the fisheries, and many American vessels pursued the trade to England,
Spain, and the West Indies. The towns of Salem, Marblehead, and
Gloucester were almost surrounded by fish-flakes. Fish, lumber, and
provisions were the great basis of trade. Ships were built and laden
with timber, and sold with their lading in English ports. Cargoes were
made up of fish, live stock, and boards, for the West India Islands.
The returns were shipped to Spain and Portugal, and there exchanged
for silk, iron, fruit, wines, and bills on England. Occasionally ships
joined the Jamaica fleet, or adventured on bolder voyages to the French
islands; but the admiralty courts at Tortola and New Providence, often
supposed to be in league with English admirals, repressed the spirit of
adventure, and annually condemned American ships on the most frivolous
pretences. The fame of American whalers had already reached England.
Burke, in his celebrated speech on America, alludes to their enterprise.
"We find them," he says, "in the deepest frozen recesses of Hudson's
Bay, and again beneath the frozen serpent of the South.....What sea
is not vexed by their fisheries? what climate is not witness to their

No record is to be found of the shipping of the Colonies prior to the
Revolution, but there is reason to suppose that it must have exceeded
two hundred thousand tons. During the Revolution the merchantmen went
generally to decay or were captured. Some were equipped as privateers.
But after seven years a ship is in its dotage. New vessels were built
and armed. The models which figure in old pictures, with high sterns and
bows, proved too clumsy for war, and modern forms were adopted. At least
five hundred armed vessels were fitted out in the commercial States, and
among them one hundred and fifty-eight from the single port of Salem.
Some of these vessels mounted twenty guns; they captured large numbers
of English vessels, and performed feats on the ocean as brilliant as
any upon the land. At the close of the war, our shipping, although it
included many prizes, was undoubtedly reduced; but it had changed its
character. Our ships had improved in size and speed, and were manned by
officers and seamen who had measured their strength with Englishmen,
and acknowledged no superiors. From the Peace of 1783 to the Embargo
of 1807, a period of twenty-four years, is a remarkable epoch in the
history of American navigation.

At the close of the war, the country was exhausted by its long and
protracted struggle with the colossal power of England. The Eastern
States, which furnished most of the shipping, had made great sacrifices,
and had contributed more than their share in men, money, and ships to
the common defence. They were creditor States, and their means
were locked up in "final settlements." Their remaining capital was
insufficient to equip their vessels and give them full cargoes. The
country was impoverished, too, by the suits of foreign creditors, to
whom our merchants had become deeply indebted before the war. Under
these circumstances, commerce was slowly resumed. For several years
our exports did not exceed ten millions. But our merchants were not
disheartened; they gradually enlarged their trade and extended their
field of adventure; privateers were put into the India trade, and
entered into successful rivalry with the more cumbrous ships of the
East India Companies. The new Constitution was adopted, the public debt
funded, and duties imposed to meet the interest. The war-worn officer,
the patriotic merchant, and the humble capitalist, who had relied on the
honor and justice of the country, were paid in public stocks which found
favor abroad. Old capital was resuscitated and became the basis of

In 1793 our tonnage had risen to 488,000 tons; and in 1799 it had grown
to 939,488 tons, and was still increasing. The aggressions of France
in 1798 and 1799 were met with a bold spirit and proved of brief
continuance, a proper chastisement was inflicted on the corsairs of
Africa, the honor of the flag was maintained, our commerce moved onward
until the close of 1807, and by the official report of that year our
tonnage had increased to 1,208,735 tons, or at least five hundred per
cent. in the first twenty-four years after the close of the war. The
revenue had risen to fifteen millions, and the official report of the
Treasurer showed a balance in the Treasury of eighteen millions in bonds
and money; it stated, also, that twenty-six millions of the public debt
had been extinguished in the seven years preceding. Our ships, too,
had become the great carriers of the deep; our exports for 1807 were
$108,343,750, of which $59,622,558 were of foreign origin; our ports,
remote from the seat of war, had become the depots of goods; and our
commerce, whitening the surface of every ocean, had begun to tempt the
cupidity of contending nations. In 1807, the United States, in addition
to its domestic produce, which went principally to English ports,
exported of foreign goods, in round numbers, to

  Holland,  . . . . . . . . $14,000,000
  French ports, . . . . . .  13,000,000
  Spanish  "    . . . . . .  14,000,000
  Italian  "    . . . . . .   5,500,000
  Danish   "    . . . . . .   2,500,000
  English and other ports,.  10,000,000

In those prosperous days of navigation, during the first period of
twenty-four years after the Peace of 1783, the merchants of our country
were accumulating riches; but a check was given to their prosperity by
the Embargo, closely followed by acts of non-intercourse, by war, and
by sixteen years of debility which ensued. In 1814, our tonnage was
diminished to 1,159,288 tons, a point actually below that of 1807; and
at the close of the second epoch of twenty-four years, in 1831, during
which our population had doubled, the tonnage remained at 1,267,846
tons, having virtually made no progress in the second epoch of
twenty-four years, commencing with the Embargo.

We now enter upon the third epoch of equal length, from 1831 to 1855,
which stands out in bold relief a striking contrast to the gloomy
period which it followed, and bears some resemblance to the epoch which
preceded the Embargo, showing the recuperative power of a commerce
destined to float after the most disastrous shipwreck.

Peace had continued down to 1831; the debt incurred during the war was
at length reduced; new breeds of sheep were imported, and manufactures,
aided by new inventions, were established on a permanent basis; our new
fabrics began to demand more raw material; the culture of cotton
was thus extended; railways were constructed; England, relaxing her
commercial code, opened her marts to our breadstuffs; the great
discovery of gold followed. Each of these causes gave an impulse to
navigation, and at the close of the third epoch of twenty-four years,
in 1855, our tonnage had outstripped that of England both in amount and
effective power, and had risen by the official report to 5,212,000 tons,
exhibiting a gain of more than three hundred per cent. The ratio of its
advance may be inferred from the following table:--

  Tonnage of ships built in 1818    55,856
        do.          do.    1831    85,962
        do.          do.    1832   144,539
        do.          do.    1848   318,072
        do.          do.    1855   583,451

Let us contrast these three epochs we have named. During the first, our
navigation sprang from infancy to manhood, surmounting all obstacles and
bidding defiance to all foes. In the second, in the vigor of manhood, it
was withdrawn by a mysterious and pusillanimous policy from the ocean.
This very timidity invited aggression, seizures and war followed, and
the growth was checked for nearly the fourth of a century. In the third
epoch it resumed its onward march, stimulating improvement, and thereby
accelerating its own progress, until at length the offspring has
surpassed the parent and taken the lead in navigation. Mark the
contrast: the three epochs were of equal length: the first witnessed
a growth of five hundred per cent.; in the second there was an entire
paralysis; in the third, renewed progress of more than three hundred per

What were the causes that confined the young giant to a Procrustean bed
for a quarter of a century?

The subject has become history, and we can now calmly investigate it
by the light of the past and the present. May not this investigation
illumine the path of the future? Let us examine the maritime policy of
our nation during each period.

At the close of the Revolution there was no navy, and few ships to be
protected. Our private armed vessels were converted into merchantmen,
our solitary ship of the line was presented to France, and we had no
frigates worth preserving.

The first great effort of the country was to form a constitution; the
second, to provide for the creditors who had sustained the nation; the
third, to provide a revenue to meet expenses and interest. And these
were all successful. As commerce advanced, the Federal party under
Washington revived the idea of a navy, and on March 11th, 1794, against
the opposition of Madison, they carried a bill through Congress for
the construction of six frigates. Under this bill, the Constitution,
Constellation, and United States, all since identified with the fame
of our country, were commenced, but they were not launched until the
accession of John Adams in 1797.

Washington, in his Farewell Address, gave the sanction of his name to
a navy, as well as to the West Point Academy, and to a system of
harbor-defence. He thus marked out the great outlines; but the
founder of the navy was John Adams. Nurtured among the hardy sons of
Massachusetts, familiar with their exploits upon the ocean during the
war both in private and public service, he felt assured of their ability
to cope with the Mistress of the Seas. When France seized our ships and
undertook to involve us in European wars, Adams renounced her alliance
and called for the creation of a navy. In his annual message in 1797,
he spoke of "a navy as next to the militia the natural defence of the
United States." In 1798 the three frigates above-mentioned were
finished and sent to sea, and soon after the Constellation captured the
Insurgent. During the same year Congress voted to construct six
more frigates, twelve sloops-of-war, and six smaller vessels, and
appropriated a million for the frames of six ships of the line, two
millions for timber, and fifty thousand dollars for two dock-yards.
At the same time, in response to a vote of Congress authorizing the
acceptance of additional ships, $711,700 were subscribed, and the
frigates Essex, Connecticut, Merrimack, and other vessels, constructed
and turned over to the Government by the merchants of Salem,
Newburyport, Hartford, and other seaports.

To illustrate the spirit with which the merchants responded to the call
for a navy, we may cite the action of the Federal county of Essex, none
of whose towns at that period contained over ten thousand inhabitants.
This county had contributed more armed ships and men to the War of the
Revolution than any other county in the Union, and was conspicuous for
its enterprise and patriotism before the embargo, non-intercourse, and
war had crushed its commerce.

The merchants of Essex assembled and subscribed the funds for the
frigates Essex and Merrimack, the first of which was built at Salem and
the other at Newburyport, and both of New-England oak; and this effort
was the more remarkable, as they advanced the money while the Government
found it difficult to borrow at eight per cent., and these patriotic men
afterwards took their pay in depreciated six per cent. stock at par.

We have not the history of the Merrimack; but the Essex, a frigate of
thirty-two guns, begun in April, was launched in September, 1799, and
the best commentary upon the policy of the measure and upon the skill
and fidelity of her builders is the fact that she proved the fastest
ship in the navy, that she lasted thirty-eight years, namely, till 1837,
that she cost for hull, spars, sails, and rigging, when ready to receive
her armament and stores, but $75,473.59, and that under the gallant
Porter, in the War of 1812, she captured the British corvette Alert, of
twenty guns, a transport with one hundred and ninety-seven troops
for Canada, and twenty-three other prizes, valued at two millions of
dollars; she also broke up the British whale-fishing in the Pacific; and
when finally captured at Valparaiso by two ships of superior force, who
would not venture within reach of her carronades, she fought a battle
of three hours' duration, which does honor to the country. While this
frigate was building, so fast did the timber come in, that the spirited
contractor, Mr. Briggs, was obliged to insert the following notice in
the Salem paper to check the supply.


"Through the medium of the Gazette the subscriber pays his
acknowledgments to the good people of the County of Essex, for their
spirited exertions in bringing down the trees of the Forest for building
the Frigate.

"In the short space of four weeks the full complement of timber has been
furnished. Those who have contributed to their country's defence are
invited to come forward and receive the reward of their patriotism. They
are informed that with the permission of a kind Providence who hath
hitherto favored the undertaking, that

  "Next September is the time
    When we'll launch her from the strand,
  And our cannon load and prime
    With tribute due to Talleyrand."

The promise was fulfilled on September 30th, 1799. The hills in the
vicinity and the rocks upon the shores were covered with people
assembled to witness the launch, and the guns of the frigate were
planted on an eminence "to speak aloud the joy of the occasion."

A correspondent of the "Gazette" gave the following jubilant account of
the affair.

"And Adams said, Let there be a Navy, and there was a Navy. To build a
navy was the advice of our venerable sage. How far it has been adhered
to is demonstrated by almost every town' in the United States that is
capable of floating a Galley or Gunboat. Salem has not been backward in
this laudable design; impressed with a due sense of the importance of
a Navy, the patriotic citizens of this town put out a subscription and
thereby obtained an equivalent for building a vessel of force. Among
the foremost in this good work were Messrs. Derby & Gray, who set the
example by subscribing ten thousand dollars each,--but, alas, the former
is no more; we trust his good deeds follow him. Yesterday the stars and
stripes were unfurled on board the Frigate Essex, and at twelve o'clock
she made a majestic movement into her destined element, there to join
her sister-craft in repelling foreign invasion and maintaining the
rights and liberties of 'a great, free, peaceful, and independent

The early reports under Adams give the estimated cost of a ship of the
line as $400,000; and the first frigates actually cost as follows:--

  Constellation                     $314,212
  Constitution                       302,718
  United States                      299,336
  President                          220,910
  Chesapeake                         220,679
  Congress                           197,246
  Essex, with armament and stores    139,202

In 1799 the estimates for the navy were raised to four millions and
a half, and large appropriations were continued in 1800. Under these
appropriations several navy-yards were established, and frames of
live-oak and cedar were furnished for eight ships of the line. The
energy of the Administration produced corresponding effects, convoys
were provided for our merchantmen, insurance fell from twenty to ten per
cent., and France, impressed by our spirit and armament, retired from
the contest.

At the close of 1800 the navy had made great progress; and the Secretary
of the Navy, Hon. Benjamin Stoddard of Baltimore, proposed in 1801 an
annual appropriation of one million for its increase.

But in 1801 the spirited administration of Adams came to an end. He had
favored the payment of the national debt; he had dared to anticipate the
future, to impose taxes and provide ships; he had aided the formation
of a military academy and advocated a system of coast-defence, and had
boldly asserted our national rights against the French Republic; and yet
he loved peace so well, that, against the advice and wishes of his party
and his cabinet, he sent a minister to France, who made an honorable
treaty. Posterity sees little to censure in all these measures, for
they evince the courage and forecast of the great Statesman of the
Revolution; but they were assailed by his opponents, and aided in
effecting his defeat.

Jefferson came into power as the advocate of retrenchment and
reform,--captivating terms! Under his administration the military
academy was thrown into the shade, the coast-defences were forgotten,
most of the new frigates and sloops built by patriotic citizens were
sold, the navy reduced to ten frigates, half of which were suffered to
decay, the frames of the ships of the line were used for repairs, and
the appropriations for the increase of the navy were reduced to the
pitiful sum of a quarter of a million, which was applied principally to
gunboats. Of these Jefferson built no less than one hundred and seventy,
at a cost of $10,500 each,--incurring for the construction and
maintenance of this flotilla an expense of nearly three millions,
without a particle of benefit to the country.

We would not detract from the services of Jefferson. Posterity will
honor him as the Patriot of the Revolution, as the champion of the
rights of man; but will it not trace to his policy as a statesman, in
the cabinet of Washington, in the opposition to Adams, and in the
office of President, the grave errors from which sprang the embargo,
non-intercourse, and the second war with England? At the close of his
administration in 1809, he claimed credit for having left eighteen
millions in the Treasury after payment of twenty-six millions of the
debt of the Revolution in less than seven years, and his successor,
Madison, in 1812, had over eleven millions in funds and cash in the
Treasury after the extinguishment of forty-nine millions of the
Revolutionary debt,--the expenses of Government, in the mean time,
exclusive of the debt, having averaged from five to seven millions only.
But parsimony is not always economy.

The embargo cost the nation at least forty millions; non-intercourse
twenty more; the war in three years added one hundred and thirteen
millions to the debt, with at least an equal loss by the sacrifice of
commerce and heavy drafts by taxes: and if the embargo, non-intercourse,
and war can be traced to the loss of the navy, we find a saving of a
million per annum in ships dearly purchased by a loss of capital which,
at compound interest, would exceed to-day one-third the computed wealth
of the nation.

Had the policy of Adams been continued from 1800 to 1808, the annual
million, aided by the live-oak and cedar frames, the three millions paid
for gun-boats, and the frigates on hand when Jefferson came into power,
would have provided or placed upon the stocks ten ships of the line,
forty frigates, and ten sloops-of-war. If with the increase of revenue
this estimate had been doubled in 1808, the material collected and the
ships held back until the latter part of 1812, the country would have
been supplied with twenty sail of the line, fifty frigates, and thirty
sloops-of-war,--a force which would have employed at least threefold its
number of English ships, upon our coast, upon the passage, and in the
dock-yards. Impressment, orders in council, paper blockades, would have
gone down before such a force of American ships ere one-tenth of it had
left our harbors; for England, distressed for men and at war with the
Continent, could not have spared the ships required to meet such a navy.
The reports of Jefferson and Madison now make it apparent, that, without
omitting to pay one instalment of the debt, they could have carried out
the policy of Adams and provided a navy the very aspect of which would
have commanded the respect and deference of the only foe we had occasion
to dread.

This point is most forcibly illustrated by the speeches of Lowndes and
Cheves of South Carolina in Congress a few years later, cited by Henry
Clay in 1812, in which they very justly say,--"If England should
determine to station permanently on our coast a squadron of twelve ships
of the line, she would require for this service thirty-six ships of
the line, one-third in port repairing, one-third on the passage, and
one-third on the station; but that is a force which it has been shown
England, with her limited navy, could not spare for the American
service." For once, at least, two of the gifted sons of South Carolina
sustained the views of Massachusetts. The War of the Revolution and
the War of 1812 have both demonstrated that England can maintain no
permanent blockade through the winter on our waters, and the largest
fleet upon our Atlantic coast during the last war did not exceed twenty
sail of armed vessels of all sizes.

Jefferson, in his "Notes on Virginia," in 1785 had expressed his views
on our maritime policy in the following terms:--

"You ask me what I think of the expediency of encouraging our States
to become commercial. Were I to indulge my own theory, I wish them to
practise neither commerce or navigation, but to stand with respect to
Europe precisely on the footing of China."

We have seen the commercial policy of Adams illustrated by the
creation of a navy; we now see the anti-commercial theory of Jefferson
illustrated by its overthrow.

He was once tempted to concede that we might apply a year's revenue to
a navy, but that year he never designated. Perhaps, if he could have
foreseen the unceremonious way in which a few English frigates have
of late years dealt with China, or the facility with which they have
compelled her to pay millions for a drug alike pernicious to character
and health, or the report of the treaty and tribute dictated from
the walls of Pekin,--or could he have foreseen the progress of Lord
Cochrane's frigates up the Potomac, regardless of his gunboats,--could
he have foreshadowed the conflagration of the Capitol and the exit of
the Cabinet,--he would perhaps have attached more importance to a navy
and found less to admire in the policy of China, and doubtless his
immediate successor would not have aimed a side-blow at our army and
navy, as he did, in suggesting "that the fifteenth century was the
unhappy epoch of military establishments in the time of peace."

But our country, under Jefferson and Madison, for twelve years adopted
the blind policy of China. The navy was suffered to decay. In 1807 but
one frigate and five sloops-of-war were in commission. The Federal
party, however, although in a weak minority, did not tamely submit to
the unhappy policy of Southern statesmen; and individuals even of the
dominant party opposed it. Among these, the late Justice Story, who in
1807 represented the County of Essex in Congress, made an effort for
the revival of the navy. But it was objected, on the part of the
Administration, that such a force would be impotent against Great
Britain. Williams, subsequently Governor of South Carolina, insisted,
that, if we built ships, they would all fall into the hands of the
British; and the capture of the Danish fleet at Copenhagen was
instanced,--the fall of Genoa, Venice, and Carthage, notwithstanding
their navies, being also cited. Story, with almost a prescience of the
future, urged in its favor,--"I was born among the hardy sons of the
ocean, and I cannot doubt their courage or their skill; if Great Britain
ever gets possession of our present little navy, it will be at the
expense of the best blood of the country, and after a struggle which
will call for more of her strength than she has ever found necessary for
a European enemy." To which Williams replied,--"If our rights are only
so to be saved, I would abandon the ocean." And in December, 1807, the
ocean was abandoned.

No additions were made to the navy during the period of the embargo or
non-intercourse, nor was a new ship sent to sea until after the peace;
and at the commencement of the war, in June, 1812, the country had
neither navy, fortifications, nor disciplined troops. The relics of the
Federal navy then consisted of five frigates and seven sloops and brigs
in commission, and three frigates under repair,--a feeble force, indeed,
with which to meet the Mistress of the Seas, but which demonstrated by
its achievements what fifty or a hundred sail might have accomplished.

In 1812, Quincy, in the House, and Lloyd, in the Senate, both from
Massachusetts, advocated a navy, and Clay and Davies, of the West,
raised their voices in its support; but their efforts were unavailing.

James Lloyd, who combined the intelligent merchant with the statesman,
thus addressed the Senate:--"To make an impression on England, we must
have a navy. Give us thirty swift-sailing, well-appointed frigates. In
line-of-battle ships and fleet engagements, skill and experience would
decide the victory. We are not ripe for them; but bolt together a
British and American frigate side by side, and though we should lose
sometimes, we should win as often. Give us this little fleet. Place your
Navy Department under an able and spirited administration; cashier every
officer who strikes his flag; and you will soon have a good account of
your navy. This may be thought a hard tenure of service; but, hard or
easy, I will engage in five weeks, yes, in five days, to officer this
fleet from New England alone. Give us this little fleet, and in a
quarter of the time in which you would operate upon her in any other
way, we would bring Great Britain to terms. To terms, not to your feet.
No, Sir! Great Britain is at this moment the most colossal power the
world ever saw. It is true she has an enormous national debt. Her daily
expenditure would in six short weeks wipe off all we owe. But will these
millstones sink her? will they subject her to the power of France? No,
Sir! let the bubble burst to-morrow,--destroy the fragile basis on which
her public credit stands,--sponge out her national debt,--and, dreadful
as would be the process, she would rise with renewed vigor from the
fall, and present to her enemy a more imposing, irresistible front than
ever. No, Sir! Great Britain cannot be subjected by France. The genius
of her institutions, the genuine game-cock, bulldog spirit of her
people, will lift her head above the waves. From this belief I
acknowledge I derive a satisfaction. In New England our blood is
unmixed. We are the direct descendants of Englishmen. We are natives of
the soil. In the Legislature, now in session, of the once powerful and
still respectable State of Massachusetts, composed of more than seven
hundred members, to my knowledge not a single foreigner holds a seat. As
Great Britain wrongs us, I would fight her. Yet I should be worse than
a barbarian, did I not rejoice that the sepulchres of our forefathers,
which are in that country, shall remain unsacked, and their coffins rest
undisturbed, by the unhallowed rapacity of the Goths and Saracens of
modern Europe. Let us have these thirty frigates. Powerful as Great
Britain is, she could not blockade them; with our hazardous shores and
tempestuous northwest gales, from November to March, all the navies in
the world could not blockade them. Divide them into six squadrons; place
those squadrons in the Northern ports, ready for sea; and at favorable
moments we would pounce upon her West India Islands,--repeating the game
of De Grasse and D'Estaing in '79 and '80. By the time she was ready to
meet us there, we would be round Cape Horn, cutting up her whalemen.
Pursued thither, we could skim away to the Indian Seas, and would give
an account of her China and India ships very different from that of the
French cruisers. Now we would follow her Quebec, and now her Jamaica
convoys; sometimes make our appearance in the chops of the Channel, and
even sometimes wind north about into the Baltic. It would require a
hundred British frigates to watch the movements of these thirty. Such
are the means by which I would bring Great Britain to her senses. By
harassing her commerce with this fleet, we could make the people ask the
Government why they continued to violate our rights; whether it were for
her interest to sever the chief tie between her and us, by compelling
us to become a manufacturing people (and on this head we could make an
exhibition that would astonish both friends and foes); what she was to
gain by forcing us prematurely to become a naval power, destined one
day or other to dispute with her the sceptre of the ocean? We could, in
short, bring the people to ask the Government, For whose benefit is this
war? And the moment this is brought about on both sides of the water,
the business is finished; you would only have to agree on fair and equal
terms of peace."

And Daniel Webster, just entering upon public life, made one of his
earliest efforts in Congress for a navy. In his characteristic manner,
he urged, in 1814,--"If war must continue, go to the ocean; let it no
longer be said, not one ship of force built by your hands since the war
yet floats; if you are seriously contending for maritime rights, go to
the theatre where alone those rights can be defended. Thither every
indication of your future calls you. There the united wishes and
exertions of the nation will go with you."

But a Southern Cabinet still clung to the Chinese policy, and the war
for maritime rights was confided to a raw militia upon the land, while
Hull, Bainbridge, Stewart, Porter, and Barney were performing the very
feats which Lloyd had pictured to the Senate. A vote, it is true, was at
length passed, to build four ships of the line, six frigates, and six
sloops; but none were finished before the close of the war; and it
was not until after its conclusion that the Democratic party, so long
opposed to Federal measures, and triumphant from their very opposition,
after a loss of at least three hundred millions, caused by their
abandonment, gave the most conclusive proof of their value by funding
the debt, re-establishing the navy, reviving the Military Academy at
West Point, fortifying the coast, and making a tariff for revenue with
incidental protection. Well might party-strife cease under the veteran
Monroe; for Democracy had become Federalized.

The sketch thus given of the rise and progress of our navigation, and of
the origin and decline of our navy, affords us a commanding view of the
position of our nation when it adopted the Chinese policy and withdrew
from the ocean.

Let us now glance for a moment at the state of Europe at the close
of 1807. The great struggle of England and France was in progress.
Napoleon, by his brilliant exploits, had subdued Italy and Holland,
established the Empire, and by the battles of Marengo, Jena, Austerlitz,
and Friedland, humbled Austria, overwhelmed Prussia, and conquered a
peace with Russia. The Continent, from the Pyrenees to the Vistula, was
subject to his sway, and he had closed it against the manufactures
of England. This nation, alike victorious on the sea, had nearly
annihilated the navy of France, captured the fleet of Denmark, swept
the French and Dutch ships from the ocean, and was now seizing the
possessions of France and Holland in the Indies. Regardless of neutral
rights, she had declared every part of the Continent, from the Pyrenees
to the Elbe, in a state of blockade.

To escape impressment, or to obtain higher wages, many of her seamen
enlisted in our service. Anxious to reclaim them and to man all her
ships, she followed them into American vessels, and impressed American
seamen as Englishmen, without the least respect to the rights of a
neutral that did not assert by arms the dignity of its flag.

Neither of the parties in the excitement of the great conflict was
disposed to respect the rights of the United States, a neutral without
an army or a fleet, and too timid to arm its own merchantmen; and the
purpose of both seemed to be to compel these merchantmen to contribute
to the war. England, in addition to her blockade, required all neutrals
bound for the Continent to pay duties in her ports; and France
retaliated by declaring all neutral ships which had paid such tribute
denationalized and subject to confiscation, and without a frigate on the
ocean declared all the ports of England in a state of blockade. There
can be no question now that the acts of both parties were a violation of
the rights of every neutral.

England, in her sober moments, has tacitly relinquished her claim to
impress beneath the American flag; paper blockades and the right of
search are no longer recognized in the maritime code of either England
or France; and there can be no doubt that our country could, at a later
period, have made reclamation on England for seizures, as she has done
upon France, Naples, and Denmark; but the policy of our rulers had left
us destitute of means either of offence or defence, and of the power to
resent any indignity. Three courses were open to us. The first was to
devote the funds in the Treasury at once to the creation of a navy; to
commence ten or twelve ships of the line in our dock-yards, and twenty
frigates in the ship-yards of Boston, Salem, Portsmouth, New York, and
Philadelphia; to build them as the Constitution and Constellation were
built before; and to appeal to the merchants who built the Essex and
Connecticut to build more, and to take their pay in certificates of
stock. In one twelvemonth a navy might have been created; and the note
of preparation sounded by a nation enriched by the peaceful commerce of
a quarter of a century, and now refreshed for a new struggle, would have
been most influential with the conflicting powers.

Another course was open to us. More than two-thirds of our commerce was
with English ports, or ports remote from France; for England, Spain,
Sweden, Norway, Russia, the Indies were open to our commerce. The
premium of insurance against French capture was but five per cent, on
ships bound to those ports; for scarcely a French privateer dared show
itself on the ocean.

Our nation had cause of war with France, for France was at war with
commerce and had invaded her rights; and our little navy, small as it
was, and our merchantmen, if allowed to arm, might have bid defiance to
France. England, then, would have respected our rights as allies; or,
as our commerce was lucrative and paid profits that would cover an
occasional seizure, we might have put our merchants on their guard,
allowed them to arm their ships, and have temporized until the
conflicting powers of the Old World had exhausted their strength, and we
had grown strong enough to demand reparation.

We owned at this period from eight to ten thousand vessels, and built
annually nearly a thousand more. All the ships seized from 1800 to
1812 did not average one hundred and fifty yearly, of which more than
one-third were released, and indemnity finally paid for half the
residue: namely, there were 917 seized by England, more than half
released; 558 seized by France, one-fourth released; 70 seized by
Denmark; 47 seized by Naples, and more property was detained by France
than England. But the sympathies of our Cabinet were with Napoleon; a
moment had arrived when he had determined to reverse the laws of trade
and exclude the exports of England from the Continent; and our rulers,
regardless of our own commerce, determined to withhold all our produce,
to cut off the raw material from England at the moment she had lost
the sale of her exports, and by this combined process to bring her to
submission. They forgot, for the moment, how impossible it is to reverse
the great laws of trade; that we thus gratuitously resigned to her the
commerce of the globe; that China, the Indies, with their inexhaustible
supplies, Spain, Sweden, Norway, Russia, and Africa, were open to her
ships and might fill the vacuum. The hazardous experiment was made. Let
us trace the progress of events.

May 16, 1806, England passed her Orders in Council, declaring the ports
and rivers from Brest to the Elbe in a state of blockade. November 21,
1806, Napoleon issued his Berlin Decree, declaring the British ports
blockaded. January 6, 1807, England prohibited all coastwise trade with
France, and November 11, 1807, prohibited all neutrals from trading with
France or her allies, except on payment of duties to England. December
17, 1807, Napoleon issued his Milan Decree, confiscating all neutral
vessels that had been searched by English cruisers, or had paid duties
to England. December 16, 1807, the day preceding the date of the Milan
Decree, President Jefferson submitted to Congress the Embargo. The
Democratic party was then all-powerful, and the measure, after being
debated for a few days and nights in the House, and a few hours in the
Senate with closed doors, was adopted. This gratuitous surrender to
England of the commerce of the world, this measure whose objects were
veiled in mystery, conjectured, but not understood, became a law
December 22, 1807.

A leader of the Democratic party, in urging its passage, said,--"The
President has recommended the measure on his high responsibility. I
would not consider, I would not deliberate, I would act; doubtless the
President possesses such further information as would justify such a
measure." And the pliant majority acquiesced.

After the passage of the Embargo Act, other acts were speedily passed
to give it efficacy. By these, forfeitures of threefold the value of
merchandise were imposed on those who violated its provisions, vessels
were obliged to give heavy bonds to land their cargoes in the United
States, and all shipments to frontier posts were prohibited. Under these
acts the shipment of flour coastwise was forbidden, except upon permits
issued at the pleasure of the President, upon the requisition of
Governors of States, most of whom were members of the dominant party.
And last of all came the Enforcing Act, under the provisions of which
the collectors were armed with power to call out the militia at their
discretion and upon suspicion of an intent to violate the law, to
require vessels that had given bonds to discharge their cargoes, and
to detain every suspected vessel engaged in the coasting-trade. These
measures did not pass without opposition. Although the minority was weak
in numbers, it was not deficient in talent.

In the House, Josiah Quincy of Massachusetts, at that period the great
commercial State, was the Federal leader; and he now, after the lapse
of half a century, still survives in a green old age to see his policy
vindicated by the verdict of history.

Quincy, in various speeches, urged upon Congress,--

"You undertake to protect better the property of the merchant than his
own sense of personal interest would induce him to protect it.

"Suppose the embargo passes; will France forego a policy designed to
crush Great Britain and secure her way to universal empire, or England a
policy essential to her national existence? It is all very well to talk
of the patriotism and quiet submission of the people of the interior;
they cannot help submitting, they will have no opportunity to break the
embargo. But they whose ships lie on the edge of the ocean laden with
produce, with the alternative before them of total ruin or a rich
market, are in a totally different condition."

Again said Quincy,--

"Never before did society witness a total prohibition of all intercourse
like this in a commercial nation. But it has been asked in debate, 'Will
not Massachusetts, the Cradle of Liberty, submit to such privations?' An
Embargo Liberty was never cradled in Massachusetts. Our Liberty was not
so much a mountain-nymph as a sea-nymph. She was free as air. She could
swim, or she could run. The ocean was her cradle. Our fathers met her as
she came, like the Goddess of Beauty, from the waves. They caught her as
she was sporting on the beach. They courted her while she was spreading
her nets upon the rocks. But an Embargo Liberty, a handcuffed Liberty,
Liberty in fetters, a Liberty traversing between the four sides of a
prison and beating her head against the walls, is none of our offspring.
We abjure the monster! Its parentage is all inland.

"Is embargo independence? Deceive not yourselves! it is palpable
submission! France and Great Britain require you to relinquish a part of
your commerce, and you relinquish it entirely! At every corner of this
great city we meet some gentlemen of the majority wringing their hands
and exclaiming, 'What shall we do? nothing but an embargo will save us;
remove it, and what shall we do?' Sir, it is not for me, an humble and
uninfluential individual, at an awful distance from the predominant
influences, to suggest plans for Government. But, to my eye, the path
of duty is as distinct as the Milky Way,--all studded with living
sapphires, glowing with light. It is the path of active preparation, of
dignified energy. It is the path of 1776. It consists not in abandoning
our rights, but in supporting them as they exist and where they
exist,--_on the ocean as well as on the land_."

Troup of Georgia, one of the champions of the Democratic party, replied
to the Opposition,--"Shall we sacrifice the honor and independence of
the nation for a little trade in codfish and potash? Permission to arm
is equivalent to a declaration of war; make the embargo effective, and
it will show what all the great commercial politicians have said
is true,--it will vitally affect the manufacturing and commercial
interests of England."

As one coercive measure after another was proposed, John Randolph of
Roanoke, who had at first favored an embargo, came out against the
measure, and "warned the Administration that they were fast following in
the fatal footsteps of Lord North."

But one of the most effective speeches against the Democratic policy was
made in February, 1809, by Gardinier, who represented New York, a city
the creation of commerce.

"The avowed object of this policy," he said, "was to save our vessels
and property from capture; the real one seemed to be to establish a
total non-intercourse with the whole world. We are engaged perpetually
in making additions and supplements to the embargo. Wherever we can spy
a hole, although it be no bigger than a wheat-straw, at which industry
and enterprise can find vent, all our powers are called in requisition
to stop it. The people of the country shall sell nothing but what they
can sell to each other. All our surplus produce shall rot on our hands.
God knows what all this means; I cannot understand it. I see effects,
but I can trace them to no cause. I fear there is an unknown hand
guiding us to the most dreadful destinies, unseen, because it cannot
endure the light. Darkness and mystery overshadow the House and the
whole nation. We know nothing, we are permitted to know nothing. We sit
here as mere automata."

This speech nearly cost Gardinier his life, for he was in consequence of
it challenged and dangerously wounded; but the embargo was permitted to

The produce of the country fell sixty to seventy per cent. in value, and
much of it passed at low prices into the hands of British agents. Armed
ships from England appeared on the coast of Georgia and loaded with
cotton from lighters in defiance of Government, and Northern ships in
the outports occasionally eluded the vigilance of collectors or escaped
by their collusion; but the measure pressed with a crushing weight upon
the honest merchants and ship-owners.

When news of the Enforcing Act reached Boston, it was received with such
indignation, that General Lincoln, the collector of the port, resigned,
and the flags of the dismantled ships were hoisted at half-mast,
processions of starving sailors and mechanics passed through the
streets, and the whole community was highly excited; an excitement
increased by an order from the Cabinet to the commandant of the fort to
allow no vessel whatever to proceed to sea.

But the end of Jefferson's administration was approaching. He had come
in as the advocate of popular rights; and now at the close of his term
was enforcing measures more arbitrary than those which preceded the
Revolution. Madison was nominated as his successor. All New England,
save the inland State of Vermont, was revolutionized and voted against
him, while Maryland and New York chose Federal Assemblies. The South,
however, gave him its votes, and he was elected; but the tide of public
opinion was rolling strongly against the Embargo.

The new legislature of Massachusetts was convened; Governor Gore,
who had displaced Gerry, drew their attention to the arbitrary and
oppressive measures of Government; and the General Court, in their
reply, after denouncing those measures as illegal and unconstitutional,
used the memorable words, that "_they would be true to the Union,
although they had fallen under the ban of the Empire_."

The merchants determined to test the legality of the Enforcing Act; but
John Quincy Adams and Joseph Story repaired to Washington, and urged the
necessity of a repeal. Their representations, and the signal defeat of
the Democracy at the North, proved irresistible; and the Embargo, after
a protracted struggle, fell before them.

From this glance at the history of the Embargo we can account for the
asperity of feeling towards the Democratic leaders, and the distrust of
their measures and men, which pervaded New England from the passage of
the Embargo Act until the close of the war.

New England, and more especially Massachusetts, commercial from its
infancy, did not come into the Union to surrender its commerce,
navigation, or seamen to any visionary theories of the South. For nearly
two centuries it had struggled for all its liberties with the parent
empire. It had learned in the cruel school of oppression that the price
of freedom is perpetual vigilance.

Fifteen months had now elapsed since the laying of the embargo, and it
had more than realized all the presages of its opponents. Our minister,
Armstrong, had written from France, that it had produced no effect in
France and was forgotten in England. Pinckney, in England, did all in
his power to save the Administration, by offering to end the embargo, if
England would relax her policy; but Canning replied, that England had no
complaints to make, that Spain and Russia had been opened to her, and
the measure would serve to convince her that she was not absolutely
dependent on the trade of America; with cutting irony, he added, he
would make but one concession to America: she had complained that
England drew a tribute from her merchandise, when shipped to the
Continent; he would, out of deference to American delicacy, substitute a
total prohibition. He had the tact, also, to draw from Pinckney a letter
offering to concede many of the points in dispute, and published it with
an insolent commentary.

Jefferson still clung to the embargo; but Madison and his friends,
deferring to the reasons of Story and Adams, and yielding to the adverse
current now setting strongly against Democracy, March 9, 1809, repealed
the obnoxious act. Such was the end and signal failure of a measure
alike disastrous at home and abroad, a measure which had falsified all
the predictions of its author. Its avowed object was to secure our
seamen from impressment, to protect our commerce, and preserve our
ships; its presumed object was to coöperate with France, and starve
England into submission: but none, of these objects were effected.
Instead of rescuing our seamen, it imprisoned them all at home, and
deprived them of the food which they found even in the prisons of the
enemy. Instead of protecting our commerce, it tamely resigned it to
England, and either left our exports to perish or reduced their value
sixty per cent. It seized all our ships at home, and left most of them
to decay, without giving the sufferer the claim to ultimate redress
which consoled him in cases of foreign seizure. It aided France so
little, that this "deed of magnanimity" was in a few months forgotten.
Instead of impoverishing or humbling England, it poured into her lap the
riches of the world, and increased the insolence of her tone; while it
impoverished our own nation, broke the spirit of the commercial classes
and alienated them from Government, and gave the first of a series of
blows to the nation from which it did not recover for a quarter of a

But the pusillanimous policy which prompted the embargo survived its
repeal. The Chinese theory still showed itself, not in measures for
defence, but in impotent measures for restriction or prohibition, and
finally in a declaration of war against England on the very eve of her
triumph by the power of her navy and commerce over the greatest captain
of the age: a war declared by our rulers without an army, navy,
officers, coast-defence, or national credit, for the avowed purpose of
securing free trade and sailors' rights by measures which the mercantile
community rejected. In its progress, the want of discipline, forts,
ships, munitions of war, credit abroad, and frugality at home, was most
severely felt; and the principal honor derived from it arose from the
exploits of the few frigates left to us by improvidence and parsimony,
from the achievements of the Northern troops of Scott, Brown, and
Miller, disciplined during the war, and the courage and sagacity of the
veteran Jackson and his Western volunteers behind their cotton ramparts
at New Orleans.

If, during the seven years of trial and suffering, from 1808 to 1815, in
which nearly one-half of the wealth of New England was extinguished, her
citizens became indignant at the wanton sacrifice of their means and
of the best opportunity Fortune ever gave them to gain riches by
commerce,--if the public sentiment found expression alike through
the press, in town-meetings, in legislative halls, and even in the
pulpit,--if the capitalists lost confidence in a government which
trifled with its own resources,--if the merchant refused all countenance
to those who had wrought his ruin,--let the blame fall on the
originators of the evil. Lord North did but impose a few light taxes,
place a few restrictions upon commerce, and make a few other inroads on
freedom; but he set a nation in flames. The Cabinets of 1807 and 1812
warred against commerce itself, and placed an interdict on every harbor;
and which of the measures of the British statesman was more arbitrary
in its character, more repugnant to the spirit of freemen, or more
questionable as to its legality, than the Enforcing Act of 1808? And
if the men of New England, who had in their colonial weakness met both
France and England by sea and land without a fear, saw the fruits of
their industry sacrificed and the bread taken from their children's
mouths by the Chinese policy of a Southern cabinet, might they not well
chafe under measures so oppressive and so unnecessary that they were
ingloriously abandoned? Under a dynasty whose policy had closed their
ports, silenced their cannon, nearly ruined their commerce, and left
their country without a navy, army, coast-defences, or national credit,
could they be expected to rush with ardor into a war with the greatest
naval power of the age, elated with her triumph over Napoleon,--into a
war to be prosecuted on land by raw recruits against the veteran troops
of England, for the avowed purpose of protecting the commerce of those
who opposed it, and in which munitions of war were to be dragged at
their expense across pathless forests,--into a war whose burdens were
to fall either in present or prospective charges upon their surviving
trade? Must they not have deeply felt that they were still under
"the ban of the Empire"? and is it not proof of the extent of their
patriotism and intense love of country, that under such trials and
adverse policy they were still "true to the Union"?

If Canada were desired, how easily might it have been acquired by a
wiser policy! A small loan to the State of New York, from surplus funds,
might have opened the Erie and Champlain Canals twenty years in advance
of their completion. A little aid to men of genius might have placed
Fulton's steamers, then navigating the Hudson, on the Lakes.

A dozen frigates to cruise in the Gulf of St. Lawrence would have cut
off supplies from England. The attractions of a new outlet for commerce,
aided by a few disciplined regiments, the command of the Lakes,
facilities for moving munitions of war and for intercepting supplies,
would have settled the question in advance. And instead of a series of
measures which embittered parties, created a jealousy between North
and South, called into the field one hundred and twenty thousand raw
militia, and absorbed in wasteful expenses nearly half our resources, we
should have reaped a golden harvest in commerce, preserved our wealth,
and have either avoided war, or terminated it in the same style in which
the Constitution, Constellation, and United States terminated their
conflicts on the deep, or as France and England terminated their recent
war with Russia, arresting their foe in his march of conquest, closing
his ports, destroying his fleet, seamen, and chief military station, and
nearly exhausting his resources,--and drawing the means of war from
commerce, have at the same time expanded our commerce, cities, and
wealth to a degree unparalleled in our history.

The past, however, is gone, and the future is before us. England,
conscious of her naval power, of her vast steam-marine, and of our
deficiencies, has not acceded to our proposal to exempt merchantmen from
seizure in future wars. Is it not now our policy to provide in advance
for the contingencies of the future,--to obtain the live-oak and cedar
frames, the engines, boilers, Paixhan guns for at least one hundred
steam-frigates, with coats of mail for some of them,--so that, instead
of spending years in their construction, launching them when the war is
over, and then leaving them to decay, we may, as the crisis approaches,
be able in a few months to fit out a fleet which, if not irresistible,
shall at least command respect? Accomplished officers and men can be
drawn from the merchant-service at short notice; but we cannot create
steamers in a moment.

The appropriations by Congress of late years for steam--frigates and
sloops-of-war, and for the defence of New York, New Bedford, Portland,
Bath, and Bangor,--for Bath, in particular, which owns nearly two
hundred thousand tons of shipping, and which builds more ships annually
than any other port in the Union, Boston excepted,--are most judicious;
but are there not other points which deserve the attention of
Government? Should not a few thousand rifled cannon, a good supply of
rifles, and a proportionate amount of powder and ball be deposited near
San Francisco, to enable us, in case of war, to convert our clipper
ships and steamers in the Pacific into cruisers? Should not batteries of
Paixhan guns be erected at the outlet of Long Island Sound, upon Gull
and Fisher's Islands and the opposite points, to convert the whole
Sound above into a fortified harbor, and thus defend New York and the
important seaports upon the Sound, and by these fortresses and a few
coast-batteries between Stonington and Newport, like those on the coast
of France, keep open during war an inland navigation for coal and flour
between the Chesapeake and Delaware Bays, Pennsylvania, New York,
Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts? Should not these and
similar questions of national defence, in these days of extended
commerce, command the attention of the nation?

       *       *       *       *       *


On Saturday afternoon, May 25th, 1822, a slave named Devany, belonging
to Colonel Prioleau of Charleston, South Carolina, was sent to market by
his mistress.--the Colonel being absent in the country. After doing his
errands, he strolled down upon the wharves, in the enjoyment of
that magnificent wealth of leisure which usually characterizes the
"house-servant" of the South, when once beyond hail of the street-door.
He presently noticed a small vessel lying in the stream, with a peculiar
flag flying; and while looking at it, he was accosted by a slave named
William, belonging to Mr. John Paul, who remarked to him,--"I have often
seen a flag with the number 76, but never one with the number 96 upon
it before." After some further conversation on this trifling point, he
continued with earnestness,--"Do you know that something serious is
about to take place?" Devany disclaiming the knowledge of any graver
impending crisis than the family dinner, the other went on to inform him
that many of the slaves were "determined to right themselves." "We are
determined," he added, "to shake off our bondage, and for that purpose
we stand on a good foundation; many have joined, and if you will go with
me, I will show you the man who has the list of names, and who will take
yours down."

This startling disclosure was quite too much for Devany; he was made of
the wrong material for so daring a project; his genius was culinary, not
revolutionary. Giving some excuse for breaking off the conversation, he
went forthwith to consult a free colored man, named Pensil or Pencell,
who advised him to warn his master instantly. So he lost no time in
telling the secret to his mistress and her young son; and on the return
of Colonel Prioleau from the country, five days afterward, it was at
once revealed to him. Within an hour or two he stated the facts to Mr.
Hamilton, the Intendant, or, as we should say, Mayor; Mr. Hamilton at
once summoned the Corporation, and by five o'clock Devany and William
were under examination.

This was the first warning of a plot which ultimately filled Charleston
with terror. And yet so thorough and so secret was the organization of
the negroes, that a fortnight passed without yielding the slightest
information beyond the very little which was obtained from these two.
William Paul was, indeed, put in confinement and soon gave evidence
inculpating two slaves as his employers,--Mingo Harth and Peter Poyas.
But these men, when arrested, behaved with such perfect coolness and
treated the charge with such entire levity, their trunks and premises,
when searched, were so innocent of all alarming contents, that they were
soon discharged by the Wardens. William Paul at length became alarmed
for his own safety, and began to let out further facts piecemeal, and to
inculpate other men. But some of those very men came voluntarily to the
Intendant, on hearing that they were suspected, and indignantly offered
themselves for examination. Puzzled and bewildered, the municipal
government kept the thing as secret as possible, placed the city guard
in an efficient condition, provided sixteen hundred rounds of ball
cartridges, and ordered the sentinels and patrols to be armed with
loaded muskets. "Such had been our fancied security, that the guard had
previously gone on duty without muskets and with only sheathed bayonets
and bludgeons."

It has since been asserted, though perhaps on questionable authority,
that the Secretary of War was informed of the plot, even including
some details of the plan and the leader's name, before it was known in
Charleston. If so, he utterly disregarded it; and, indeed, so well
did the negroes play their part, that the whole report was eventually
disbelieved, while (as was afterwards proved) they went on to complete
their secret organization, and hastened by a fortnight the appointed day
of attack. Unfortunately for their plans, however, another betrayal
took place at the very last moment, from a different direction. A
class-leader in a Methodist church had been persuaded or bribed by his
master to procure further disclosures. He at length came and stated,
that, about three months before, a man named Rolla, slave of Governor
Bennett, had communicated to a friend of his the fact of an intended
insurrection, and had said that the time fixed for the outbreak was the
following Sunday night, June 16th. As this conversation took place on
Friday, it gave but a very short time for the city authorities to act,
especially as they wished neither to endanger the city nor to alarm it.

Yet so cautiously was the game played on both sides, that the whole
thing was still kept hushed up from the Charleston public; and some
members of the city government did not fully appreciate their danger
till they had passed it. "The whole was concealed," wrote the Governor
afterwards, "until the time came; but secret preparations were made.
Saturday night and Sunday morning passed without demonstrations; doubts
were excited, and counter orders issued for diminishing the guard." It
afterwards proved that these preparations showed to the slaves that
their plot was betrayed, and so saved the city without public alarm.
Newspaper correspondence soon was full of the story,--each informant of
course hinting plainly that he had been behind the scenes all along,
and had withheld it only to gratify the authorities in their policy of
silence. It was "now no longer a secret," they wrote,--adding, that for
five or six weeks but little attention had been paid by the community to
these rumors, the city council having kept it carefully to themselves,
until a number of suspicious slaves had been arrested. This refers to
ten prisoners who were seized on June 18th,--an arrest which killed
the plot, and left only the terrors of what might have been. The
investigation, thus publicly commenced, soon revealed a free colored man
named Denmark Vesey as the leader of the enterprise,--among his chief
coadjutors being that innocent Peter and that unsuspecting Mingo who had
been examined and discharged nearly three weeks before.

It is matter of demonstration, that, but for the military preparations
on the appointed Sunday night, the attempt would have been made. The
ringleaders had actually met for their final arrangements, when, by
comparing notes, they found themselves foiled; and within another week
they were prisoners on trial. Nevertheless, the plot which they had laid
was the most elaborate insurrectionary project ever formed by American
slaves, and came the nearest to a terrible success. In boldness of
conception and thoroughness of organization there has been nothing
to compare with it, and it is worth while to dwell somewhat upon its
details, first introducing the _Dramatis Personae_.

Denmark Vesey had come very near figuring as a revolutionist in Hayti,
instead of South Carolina. Captain Vesey, an old resident of Charleston,
commanded a ship that traded between St. Thomas and Cape Français,
during our Revolutionary War, in the slave-transportation line. In the
year 1781 he took on board a cargo of three hundred and ninety slaves,
and sailed for the Cape. On the passage, he and his officers were much
attracted by the beauty and intelligence of a boy of fourteen, whom they
unanimously adopted into the cabin as a pet. They gave him new clothes
and a new name, Télémaque, which was afterwards gradually corrupted into
Telmak and Denmark. They amused themselves with him until their arrival
at Cape Français, and then, "having no use for the boy," sold their pet
as if he had been a macaw or a monkey. Captain Vesey sailed for St.
Thomas, and presently making another trip to Cape Français, was
surprised to hear from his consignee that Télémaque would be returned
on his hands as being "unsound,"--not in theology nor in morals, but in
body,--subject to epileptic fits, in fact. According to the custom of
that place, the boy was examined by the city physician, who required
Captain Vesey to take him back; and Denmark served him faithfully, with
no trouble from epilepsy, for twenty years, travelling all over the
world with him, and learning to speak various languages. In 1800, he
drew a prize of fifteen hundred dollars in the East Bay Street Lottery,
with which he bought his freedom from his master for six hundred
dollars,--much less than his market value. From that time, the official
report says, he worked as a carpenter in Charleston, distinguished for
physical strength and energy. "Among those of his color he was looked up
to with awe and respect. His temper was impetuous and domineering in the
extreme, qualifying him for the despotic rule of which he was ambitious.
All his passions were ungovernable and savage; and to his numerous wives
and children he displayed the haughty and capricious cruelty of an
Eastern bashaw."

"For several years before he disclosed his intentions to any one, he
appears to have been constantly and assiduously engaged in endeavoring
to embitter the minds of the colored population against the white.
He rendered himself perfectly familiar with all those parts of the
Scriptures which he thought he could pervert to his purpose; and would
readily quote them, to prove that slavery was contrary to the laws of
God,--that slaves were bound to attempt their emancipation, however
shocking and bloody might be the consequences,--and that such efforts
would not only be pleasing to the Almighty, but were absolutely enjoined
and their success predicted in the Scriptures. His favorite texts, when
he addressed those of his own color, were Zechariah, xiv. 1-3, and
Joshua, vi. 21; and in all his conversations he identified their
situation with that of the Israelites. The number of inflammatory
pamphlets on slavery brought into Charleston from some of our sister
States within the last four years, (and once from Sierra Leone,) and
distributed amongst the colored population of the city, for which, there
was a great facility, in consequence of the unrestricted intercourse
allowed to persons of color between the different States in the Union,
and the speeches in Congress of those opposed to the admission of
Missouri into the Union, perhaps garbled and misrepresented, furnished
him with ample means for inflaming the minds of the colored population
of this State; and by distorting certain parts of those speeches, or
selecting from them particular passages, he persuaded but too many that
Congress had actually declared them free, and that they were held in
bondage contrary to the laws of the land. Even whilst walking through
the streets in company with another, he was not idle; for if his
companion bowed to a white person, he would rebuke him, and observe that
all men were born equal, and that he was surprised that any one would
degrade himself by such conduct,--that he would never cringe to the
whites, nor ought any one who had the feelings of a man. When answered,
'We are slaves,' he would sarcastically and indignantly reply, 'You
deserve to remain slaves'; and if he were further asked, 'What can we
do?' he would remark, 'Go and buy a spelling-book and read the fable of
Hercules and the Wagoner,' which he would then repeat, and apply it
to their situation. He also sought every opportunity of entering into
conversation with white persons, when they could be overheard by negroes
near by, especially in grogshops,--during which conversation he would
artfully introduce some bold remark on slavery; and sometimes, when,
from the character he was conversing with, he found he might be still
bolder, he would go so far, that, had not his declarations in such
situations been clearly proved, they would scarcely have been credited.
He continued this course until some time after the commencement of the
last winter; by which time he had not only obtained incredible influence
amongst persons of color, but many feared him more than their owners,
and, one of them declared, even more than his God."

It was proved against him that his house had been the principal place of
meeting for the conspirators, that all the others habitually referred to
him as the leader, and that he had shown great address in dealing with
different temperaments and overcoming a variety of scruples. One
witness testified that Vesey had read to him from the Bible about the
deliverance of the Children of Israel; another, that he had read to him
a speech which had been delivered "in Congress by a Mr. King" on the
subject of slavery, and Vesey had said that "this Mr. King was the black
man's friend,--that he, Mr. King, had declared he would continue to
speak, write, and publish pamphlets against slavery the longest day he
lived, until the Southern States consented to emancipate their slaves,
for that slavery was a great disgrace to the country." But among all the
reports there are only two sentences which really reveal the secret soul
of Denmark Vesey, and show his impulses and motives. "He said he did not
go with Creighton to Africa, because he had not a will; _he wanted to
stay and see what he could do for his fellow-creatures_." The other
takes us still nearer home. Monday Gell stated in his confession, that
Vesey, on first broaching the plan to him, said "he was satisfied with
his own condition, being free, _but, as all his children were slaves, he
wished to see what could be done for them._"

It is strange to turn from this simple statement of a perhaps
intelligent preference, on the part of a parent, for seeing his
offspring in a condition of freedom, to the _naïve_ astonishment of
his judges. "It is difficult to imagine," says the sentence finally
passed on Denmark Vesey, "what _infatuation_ could have prompted you
to attempt an enterprise so wild and visionary. You were a free man,
comparatively wealthy, and enjoyed every comfort compatible with your
situation. You had, therefore, much to risk and little to gain." Is
slavery, then, a thing so intrinsically detestable, that a man thus
favored will engage in a plan thus desperate merely to rescue his
children from it? "Vesey said the negroes were living such an abominable
life, they ought to rise. I said, I was living well; he said, though I
was, others were not, and that 't was such fools as I that were in the
way and would not help them, and that after all things were well he
would mark me." "His general conversation," said another witness, a
white boy, "was about religion, which he would apply to slavery; as, for
instance, he would speak of the creation of the world, in which he would
say all men had equal rights, blacks as well as whites, etc.; all his
religious remarks were mingled with slavery." And the firmness of this
purpose did not leave him, even after the betrayal of his cherished
plans. "After the plot was discovered," said Monday Gell, in his
confession, "Vesey said it was all over, unless an attempt were made to
rescue those who might be condemned, by rushing on the people and saving
the prisoners, or all dying together."

The only person to divide with Vesey the claim of leadership was
Peter Poyas. Vesey was the missionary of the cause, but Peter was the
organizing mind. He kept the register of "candidates," and decided who
should or should not be enrolled. "We can't live so," he often reminded
his confederates; "we must break the yoke." "God has a hand in it; we
have been meeting for four years and are not yet betrayed." Peter was a
ship-carpenter, and a slave of great value. He was to be the military
leader. His plans showed some natural generalship; he arranged the
night-attack; he planned the enrolment of a mounted troop to scour the
streets; and he had a list of all the shops where arms and ammunition
were kept for sale. He voluntarily undertook the management of the
most difficult part of the enterprise,--the capture of the main
guard-house,--and had pledged himself to advance alone and surprise
the sentinel. He was said to have a magnetism in his eye, of which his
confederates stood in great awe; if he once got his eye upon a man,
there was no resisting it. A white witness has since narrated, that,
after his arrest, he was chained to the floor in a cell, with another of
the conspirators. Men in authority came and sought by promises, threats,
and even tortures, to ascertain the names of other accomplices. His
companion, wearied out with pain and suffering, and stimulated by the
hope of saving his own life, at last began to yield. Peter raised
himself, leaned upon his elbow, looked at the poor fellow, saying
quietly, "Die like a man," and instantly lay down again. It was enough;
not another word was extorted.

One of the most notable individuals in the plot was a certain Jack
Purcell, commonly called Gullah Jack,--Gullah signifying Angola, the
place of his origin. A conjurer by profession and by lineal heritage in
his own country, he had resumed the practice of his vocation on this
side the Atlantic. For fifteen years he had wielded in secret an immense
influence among a sable constituency in Charleston; and as he had the
reputation of being invulnerable, and of teaching invulnerability as
an art, he was very good at beating up recruits for insurrection. Over
those of Angolese descent, especially, he was a perfect king, and made
them join in the revolt as one man. They met him monthly at a place
called Bulkley's Farm, selected because the black overseer on that
plantation was one of the initiated, and because the farm was accessible
by water, thus enabling them to elude the patrol. There they prepared
cartridges and pikes, and had primitive banquets, which assumed a
melodramatic character under the inspiriting guidance of Jack. If a fowl
was privately roasted, that mystic individual muttered incantations over
it, and then they all grasped at it, exclaiming, "Thus we pull Buckra
to pieces!" He gave them parched corn and ground-nuts to be eaten as
internal safeguards on the day before the outbreak, and a consecrated
_cullah_, or crab's claw, to be carried in the mouth by each, as an
amulet. These rather questionable means secured him a power which was
very unquestionable; the witnesses examined in his presence all showed
dread of his conjurations, and referred to him indirectly, with a kind
of awe, as "the little man who can't be shot."

When Gullah Jack was otherwise engaged, there seems to have been a sort
of deputy seer employed in the enterprise, a blind man named Philip. He
was a preacher, was said to have been born with a caul on his head, and
so claimed the gift of second-sight. Timid adherents were brought to his
house for ghostly counsel. "Why do you look so timorous?" he said to
William Garner, and then quoted Scripture, "Let not your hearts be
troubled." That a blind man should know how he _looked_ was beyond the
philosophy of the visitor, and this piece of rather cheap ingenuity
carried the day.

Other leaders were appointed also. Monday Gell was the scribe of the
enterprise; he was a native African, who had learned to read and write.
He was by trade a harness-maker, working chiefly on his own account. He
confessed that he had written a letter to President Boyer of the new
black republic; "the letter was about the sufferings of the blacks, and
to know if the people of St. Domingo would help them, if they made an
effort to free themselves." This epistle was sent by the black cook of a
Northern schooner, and the envelope was addressed to a relative of the

Tom Russell was the armorer, and made pikes "on a very improved model,"
the official report admits. Polydore Faber fitted the weapons with
handles. Bacchus Hammett had charge of the firearms and ammunition, not
as yet a laborious duty. William Garner and Mingo Harth were to lead the
horse-company. Lot Forrester was the courier, and had done, no one ever
knew how much, in the way of enlisting country negroes, of whom Ned
Bennett was to take command when enlisted. Being the Governor's servant,
Ned was probably credited with some official experience. These were the
officers: now for the plan of attack.

It was the custom then, as now, for the country negroes to flock largely
into Charleston on Sunday. More than a thousand came, on ordinary
occasions, and a far larger number might at any time make their
appearance without exciting any suspicion. They gathered in, especially
by water, from the opposite sides of Ashley and Cooper Rivers, and from
the neighboring islands; and they came in a great number of canoes of
various sizes,--many of which could carry a hundred men,--which were
ordinarily employed in bringing agricultural products to the Charleston
market. To get an approximate knowledge of the number, the city
government once ordered the persons thus arriving to be counted,--and
that during the progress of the trials, at a time when the negroes were
rather fearful of coming into town,--and it was found, that, even then,
there were more than five hundred visitors on a single Sunday. This
fact, then, was the essential point in the plan of insurrection. Whole
plantations were found to have been enlisted among the "candidates,"
as they were termed; and it was proved that the city negroes who lived
nearest the place of meeting had agreed to conceal these confederates in
their houses to a large extent, on the night of the proposed outbreak.

The details of the plan, however, were not rashly committed to the mass
of the confederates; they were known only to a few, and were finally to
have been announced after the evening prayer-meetings on the appointed
Sunday. But each leader had his own company enlisted, and his own work
marked out. When the clock struck twelve, all were to move. Peter Poyas
was to lead a party ordered to assemble at South Bay, and to be joined
by a force from James' Island; he was then to march up and seize the
arsenal and guard-house opposite St. Michael's Church, and detach a
sufficient number to cut off all white citizens who should appear at the
alarm-posts. A second body of negroes, from the country and the Neck,
headed by Ned Bennett, was to assemble on the Neck and seize the arsenal
there. A third was to meet at Governor Bennett's Mills, under command of
Rolla, and, after putting the Governor and Intendant to death, to march
through the city, or be posted at Cannon's Bridge, thus preventing the
inhabitants of Cannonsborough from entering the city. A fourth, partly
from the country and partly from the neighboring localities in the city,
was to rendezvous on Gadsden's Wharf and attack the upper guard-house.
A fifth, composed of country and Neck negroes, was to assemble at
Bulkley's Farm, two miles and a half from the city, seize the upper
powder-magazine and then march down; and a sixth was to assemble at
Denmark Vesey's and obey his orders. A seventh detachment, under Gullah
Jack, was to assemble in Boundary Street, at the head of King Street,
to capture the arms of the Neck company of militia, and to take an
additional supply from Mr. Duquercron's shop. The naval stores on Mey's
Wharf were also to be attacked. Meanwhile a horse-company, consisting
of many draymen, hostlers, and butcher-boys, was to meet at Lightwood's
Alley and then scour the streets to prevent the whites from assembling.
Every white man coming out of his own door was to be killed, and, if
necessary, the city was to be fired in several places,--slow-match for
this purpose having been purloined from the public arsenal and placed in
an accessible position.

Beyond this, the plan of action was either unformed or undiscovered;
some slight reliance seems to have been placed on English aid,--more on
assistance from St. Domingo; at any rate, all the ships in the harbor
were to be seized, and in these, if the worst came to the worst, those
most deeply inculpated could set sail, bearing with them, perhaps, the
spoils of shops and of banks. It seems to be admitted by the official
narrative, that, they might have been able, at that season of the year,
and with the aid of the fortifications on the Neck and around the
harbor, to retain possession of the city for some time.

So unsuspicious were the authorities, so unprepared the citizens, so
open to attack lay the city, that nothing seemed necessary to the
success of the insurgents except organization and arms. Indeed, the
plan of organization easily covered a supply of arms. By their own
contributions they had secured enough to strike the first blow,--a
few hundred pikes and daggers, together with swords and guns for the
leaders. But they had carefully marked every place in the city where
weapons were to be obtained. On King-Street Road, beyond the municipal
limits, in a common wooden shop, were left unguarded the arms of the
Neck company of militia, to the number of several hundred stand; and
these were to be secured by Bacchus Hammett, whose master kept the
establishment. In Mr. Duquercron's shop there were deposited for sale
as many more weapons; and they had noted Mr. Schirer's shop in Queen
Street, and other gunsmiths' establishments. Finally, the State arsenal
in Meeting Street, a building with no defences except ordinary wooden
doors, was to be seized early in the outbreak. Provided, therefore, that
the first moves proved successful, all the rest appeared sure.

Very little seems to have been said among the conspirators in regard to
any plans of riot or debauchery, subsequent to the capture of the city.
Either their imaginations did not dwell on them, or the witnesses did
not dare to give testimony, or the authorities to print it. Death was to
be dealt out, comprehensive and terrible; but nothing more is mentioned.
One prisoner, Rolla, is reported in the evidence to have dropped hints
in regard to the destiny of the women; and there was a rumor in the
newspapers of the time, that he, or some other of Governor Bennett's
slaves, was to have taken the Governor's daughter, a young girl of
sixteen, for his wife, in the event of success; but this is all. On the
other hand, Denmark Vesey was known to be for a war of immediate and
total extermination; and when some of the company opposed killing "the
ministers and the women and children," Vesey read from the Scriptures
that all should be cut off, and said that "it was for their safety not
to leave one white skin alive, for this was the plan they pursued at St.
Domingo." And all this was not a mere dream of one lonely enthusiast,
but a measure which had been maturing for four full years among several
confederates, and had been under discussion for five months among
multitudes of initiated "candidates."

As usual with slave-insurrections, the best men and those most trusted
were deepest in the plot. Rolla was the only prominent conspirator who
was not an active Church-member. "Most of the ringleaders," says a
Charleston letter-writer of that day, "were the rulers or class-leaders
in what is called the African Society, and were considered faithful,
honest fellows. Indeed, many of the owners could not be convinced, till
the fellows confessed themselves, that they were concerned, and that the
first object of all was to kill their masters." And the first official
report declares that it would not be difficult to assign a motive for
the insurrectionists, "if it had not been distinctly proved, that, with
scarcely an exception, they had no individual hardship to complain
of, and were among the most humanely treated negroes in the city. The
facilities for combining and confederating in such a scheme were amply
afforded by the extreme indulgence and kindness which characterizes
the domestic treatment of our slaves. Many slave-owners among us, not
satisfied with ministering to the wants of their domestics by all the
comforts of abundant food and excellent clothing, with a misguided
benevolence have not only permitted their instruction, but lent to such
efforts their approbation and applause."

"I sympathize most sincerely," says the anonymous author of a pamphlet
of the period, "with the very respectable and pious clergyman whose
heart must still bleed at the recollection that his confidential
class-leader, but a week or two before his just conviction, had received
the communion of the Lord's Supper from his hand. This wretch had
been brought up in his pastor's family, and was treated with the same
Christian attention as was shown to their own children." "To us who are
accustomed to the base and proverbial ingratitude of these people this
ill return of kindness and confidence is not surprising; but they who
are ignorant of their real character will read and wonder."

One demonstration of this "Christian attention" had lately been the
closing of the African Church,--of which, as has been stated, most of
the leading revolutionists were members,--on the ground that it tended
to spread the dangerous infection of the alphabet. On January 15th,
1821, the City Marshal, John J. Lafar, had notified "ministers of the
gospel and others who keep night- and Sunday-schools for slaves, that
the education of such persons is forbidden by law, and that the city
government feel imperiously bound to enforce the penalty." So that there
were some special, as well as general grounds for disaffection among
these ungrateful favorites of Fortune, the slaves. Then there were
fancied dangers. An absurd report had somehow arisen--since you cannot
keep men ignorant without making them unreasonable also--that on the
ensuing Fourth of July the whites were to create a false alarm, and that
every black man coming out was to be killed, "in order to thin them";
this being done to prevent their joining an imaginary army supposed to
be on its way from Hayti. Others were led to suppose that Congress had
ended the Missouri Compromise discussion by making them all free, and
that the law would protect their liberty, if they could only secure it.
Others again were threatened with the vengeance of the conspirators,
unless they also joined; on the night of attack, it was said, the
initiated would have a countersign, and all who did not know it would
share the fate of the whites. Add to this the reading of Congressional
speeches, and of the copious magazine of revolution to be found in the
Bible,--and it was no wonder, if they for the first time were roused,
under the energetic leadership of Vesey, to a full consciousness of
their own condition.

"Not only were the leaders of good character and very much indulged by
their owners, but this was very generally the case with all who were
convicted,--many of them possessing the highest confidence of their
owners, and not one of bad character." In one case it was proved that
Vesey had forbidden his followers to trust a certain man, because he had
once been seen intoxicated. In another case it was shown that a slave
named George had made every effort to obtain their confidence, but was
constantly excluded from their meetings as a talkative fellow who could
not be trusted,--a policy which his levity of manner, when examined in
court, fully justified. They took no women into counsel,--not from any
distrust apparently, but in order that their children might not be left
uncared-for, in case of defeat and destruction. House-servants were
rarely trusted, or only when they had been carefully sounded by the
chief leaders. Peter Poyas, in commissioning an agent to enlist men,
gave him excellent cautions: "Don't mention it to those waiting-men who
receive presents of old coats, etc., from their masters, or they'll
betray us; _I will speak to them_." When he did speak, if he did not
convince them, he at least frightened them; but the chief reliance was
on the slaves hired out and therefore more uncontrolled,--and also upon
the country negroes.

The same far-sighted policy directed the conspirators to disarm
suspicion by peculiarly obedient and orderly conduct. And it shows the
precaution with which the thing was carried on, that, although Peter
Poyas was proved to have had a list of some six hundred persons, yet not
one of his particular company was ever brought to trial. As each leader
kept to himself the names of his proselytes, and as Monday Gell was the
only one of these who turned traitor, any opinion as to the numbers
actually engaged must appear altogether conjectural. One witness said
nine thousand; another, six thousand six hundred. These statements
were probably extravagant, though not more so than Governor Bennett's
assertion, on the other side, that "all who were actually concerned had
been brought to justice,"--unless by this phrase he designates only the
ringleaders. The avowed aim of the Governor's letter, indeed, is to
smooth the thing over, for the credit and safety of the city; and
its evasive tone contrasts strongly with the more frank and thorough
statements of the Judges, made after the thing could no longer be hushed
up. These best authorities explicitly acknowledge that they had failed
to detect more than a small minority of those concerned in the project,
and seem to admit, that, if it had once been brought to a head, the
slaves generally would have joined in.

"We cannot venture to say," says the Intendant's pamphlet, "to how many
the knowledge of the intended effort was communicated, who, without
signifying their assent, or attending any of the meetings, were yet
prepared to profit by events. That there are many who would not have
permitted the enterprise to have failed at a critical moment, for the
want of their coöperation, we have the best reason for believing." So
believed the community at large; and the panic was in proportion, when
the whole danger was finally made public. "The scenes I witnessed," says
one who has since narrated the circumstances, "and the declaration of
the impending danger that met us at all times and on all occasions,
forced the conviction that never were an entire people more thoroughly
alarmed than were the people of Charleston at that time.... During the
excitement and the trial of the supposed conspirators, rumor proclaimed
all, and doubtless more than all, the horrors of the plot. The city was
to be fired in every quarter, the arsenal in the immediate vicinity was
to be broken open and the arms distributed to the insurgents, and an
universal massacre of the white inhabitants to take place. Nor did there
seem to be any doubt in the mind of the people that such would actually
have been the result, had not the plot fortunately been detected before
the time appointed for the outbreak. It was believed, as a matter of
course, that every black in the city would join in the insurrection, and
that, if the original design had been attempted, and the city taken by
surprise, the negroes would have achieved a complete and easy victory.
Nor does it seem at all impossible that such might have been or yet
may be the case, if any well-arranged and resolute rising should take

Indeed, this universal admission, that all the slaves were ready to take
part in any desperate enterprise, was one of the most startling aspects
of the affair. The authorities say that the two principal State's
evidence declared that "they never spoke to any person of color on the
subject, or knew of any one who had been spoken to by the other leaders,
who had withheld his assent." And the conspirators seem to have been
perfectly satisfied that all the remaining slaves would enter their
ranks upon the slightest success. "Let us assemble a sufficient number
to commence the work with spirit, and we'll not want men; they'll fall
in behind us fast enough." And as an illustration of this readiness,
the official report mentions a slave who had belonged to one master for
sixteen years, sustaining a high character for fidelity and affection,
who had twice travelled with him through the Northern States, resisting
every solicitation to escape, and who yet was very deeply concerned in
the insurrection, though knowing it to involve the probable destruction
of the whole family with whom he lived.

One singular circumstance followed the first rumors of the plot. Several
white men, said to be of low and unprincipled character, at once began
to make interest with the supposed leaders among the slaves, either from
genuine sympathy, or with the intention of betraying them for money, or
of profiting by the insurrection, should it succeed. Four of these were
brought to trial; but the official report expresses the opinion that
many more might have been discovered but for the inadmissibility of
slave-testimony against whites. Indeed, the evidence against even
these four was insufficient for a capital conviction, although one was
overheard, through stratagem, by the Intendant himself, and arrested
on the spot. This man was a Scotchman, another a Spaniard, a third a
German, and the fourth a Carolinian. The last had for thirty years kept
a shop in the neighborhood of Charleston; he was proved to have asserted
that "the negroes had as much right to fight for their liberty as the
white people," had offered to head them in the enterprise, and had said
that in three weeks he would have two thousand men. But in no case, it
appears, did these men obtain the confidence of the slaves, and the
whole plot was conceived and organized, so far as appears, without the
slightest coöperation from any white man.

The trial of the conspirators began on Wednesday, June 19th. At the
request of the Intendant, Justices Kennedy and Parker summoned five
freeholders (Messrs. Drayton, Heyward, Pringle, Legaré, and Turnbull)
to constitute a court, under the provisions of the act "for the better
ordering and governing negroes and other slaves." The Intendant laid the
case before them, with a list of prisoners and witnesses. By a vote of
the Court, all spectators were excluded, except the owners and counsel
of the slaves concerned. No other colored person was allowed to enter
the jail, and a strong guard of soldiers was kept always on duty around
the building. Under these general arrangements the trials proceeded
with elaborate formality, though with some variations from ordinary
usage,--as was, indeed, required by the statute.

For instance, the law provided that the testimony of any Indian or slave
could be received, _without oath_, against a slave or free colored
person, although it was not valid, even under oath, against a white.
But it is best to quote the official language in respect to the rules
adopted. "As the Court had been organized under a statute of a peculiar
and local character, and intended for the government of a distinct
class of persons in the community, they were bound to conform their
proceedings to its provisions, which depart in many essential features
from the principles of the Common Law and some of the settled rules of
evidence. The Court, however, determined to adopt those rules, whenever
they were not repugnant to nor expressly excepted by that statute, nor
inconsistent with the local situation and policy of the State; and laid
down for their own government the following regulations: First, that
no slave should be tried except in the presence of his owner or his
counsel, and that notice should be given in every case at least one day
before the trial; second, that the testimony of one witness, unsupported
by additional evidence or by circumstances, should lead to no conviction
of a _capital_ nature; third, that the witnesses should be confronted
with the accused and with each other in every case, except where
testimony was given under a solemn pledge that the names of the
witnesses should not be divulged,--as they declared, in some instances,
that they apprehended being murdered by the blacks, if it was known that
they had volunteered their evidence; fourth, that the prisoners might be
represented by counsel, whenever this was requested by the owners of
the slaves, or by the prisoners themselves, if free; fifth, that the
statements or defences of the accused should be heard in every case,
and they be permitted themselves to examine any witness they thought

It is singular to observe how entirely these rules seem to concede that
a slave's life has no sort of value to himself, but only to his master.
His master, not he himself, must choose whether it be worth while to
employ counsel. His master, not his mother or his wife, must be present
at the trial. So far is this carried, that the provision to exclude
"persons who had no particular interest in the slaves accused" seems to
have excluded every acknowledged relative they had in the world, and
admitted only those who had invested in them so many dollars. And yet
the very first section of that part of the statute under which they were
tried lays down an explicit recognition of their humanity. "And whereas
natural justice forbids that any _person_, of what condition soever,
should be condemned unheard." So thoroughly, in the whole report, are
the ideas of person and chattel intermingled, that, when Governor
Bennett petitions for mitigation of sentence in the case of his slave
Batteau, and closes, "I ask this, gentlemen, as an individual incurring
a severe and distressing loss," it is really impossible to decide
whether the predominant emotion be affectional or financial.

It is a matter of painful necessity to acknowledge that the proceedings
of all slave-tribunals justify the honest admission of Governor Adams of
South Carolina, in his legislative message of 1855:--"The administration
of our laws, in relation to our colored population, by our courts of
magistrates and freeholders, as these courts are at present constituted,
calls loudly for reform. Their decisions are rarely in conformity
with justice or humanity." This trial, as reported by the justices
themselves, seems to have been no worse than the average,--perhaps
better. In all, thirty-five were sentenced to death, thirty-four to
transportation, twenty-seven acquitted by the Court, and twenty-five
discharged without trial, by the Committee of Vigilance, making in all
one hundred and twenty-one.

The sentences pronounced by Judge Kennedy upon the leading rebels, while
paying a high tribute to their previous character, of course bring all
law and all Scripture to prove the magnitude of their crime. "It is a
melancholy fact," he says, "that those servants in whom we reposed the
most unlimited confidence have been the principal actors in this wicked
scheme." Then he rises into earnest appeals. "Are you incapable of the
heavenly influence of that gospel all whose paths are peace? It was to
reconcile us to our destiny on earth, and to enable us to discharge
with fidelity all our duties, whether as master or servant, that those
inspired precepts were imparted by Heaven to fallen man." And so on.

To these reasonings the prisoners had, of course, nothing to say; but
the official reports bear the strongest testimony to their fortitude.
"Rolla, when arraigned, affected not to understand the charge against
him, and when it was at his request further explained to him, assumed,
with wonderful adroitness, astonishment and surprise. He was remarkable,
throughout his trial, for great presence and composure of mind. When he
was informed he was convicted, and was advised to prepare for death,
though he had previously (but after his trial) confessed his guilt, he
appeared perfectly confounded, but exhibited no signs of fear. In Ned's
behavior there was nothing remarkable; but his countenance was stern and
immovable, even whilst he was receiving the sentence of death: from
his looks it was impossible to discover or conjecture what were his
feelings. Not so with Peter; for in his countenance were strongly marked
disappointed ambition, revenge, indignation, and an anxiety to know how
far the discoveries had extended; and the same emotions were exhibited
in his conduct. He did not appear to fear personal consequences, for his
whole behavior indicated the reverse; but exhibited an evident anxiety
for the success of their plan, in which his whole soul was embarked. His
countenance and behavior were the same when he received his sentence,
and his only words were, on retiring, 'I suppose you'll let me see my
wife and family before I die?' and that not in a supplicating tone.
When he was asked, a day or two after, if it was possible he could wish
to see his master and family murdered, who had treated him so kindly,
he only replied to the question by a smile. Monday's behavior was not
peculiar. When he was before the Court, his arms were folded; he heard
the testimony given against him, and received his sentence with the
utmost firmness and composure. But no description can accurately convey
to others the impression which the trial, defence, and appearance of
Gullah Jack made on those who witnessed the workings of his cunning and
rude address. When arrested and brought before the Court, in company
with another African named Jack, the property of the estate of
Pritchard, he assumed so much ignorance, and looked and acted the fool
so well, that some of the Court could not believe that this was the
necromancer who was sought after. This conduct he continued when on
his trial, until he saw the witnesses and heard the testimony as it
progressed against him, when, in an instant, his countenance was lighted
up as if by lightning, and his wildness and vehemence of gesture, and
the malignant glance with which he eyed the witnesses who appeared
against him, all indicated the savage, who, indeed, had been caught,
but not tamed. His courage, however, soon forsook him. When he received
sentence of death, he earnestly implored that a fortnight longer might
be allowed him, and then a week longer, which he continued earnestly to
solicit until he was taken from the court-room to his cell; and when
he was carried to execution, he gave up his spirit without firmness or

Not so with Denmark Vesey. The plans of years were frustrated; his own
life and liberty were thrown away; many others were sacrificed through
his leader ship; and one more added to the list of unsuccessful
insurrections. All these disastrous certainties he faced calmly, and
gave his whole mind composedly to the conducting of his defence. With
his arms tightly folded and his eyes fixed on the floor, he attentively
followed every item of the testimony. He heard the witnesses examined by
the Court, and cross-examined by his own counsel, and it is evident from
the narrative of the presiding judge that he showed no small skill and
policy in the searching cross-examination which he then applied. The
fears, the feelings, the consciences of those who had betrayed him, all
were in turn appealed to; but the facts were too overpowering, and it
was too late to aid his comrades or himself. Then turning to the Court,
he skilfully availed himself of the point which had so much impressed
the community, the intrinsic improbability that a man in his position of
freedom and prosperity should sacrifice everything to free other people.
If they thought it so incredible, why not give him the benefit of the
incredibility? The act being, as they stated, one of infatuation, why
convict him of it on the bare word of men who, by their own showing, had
not only shared the infatuation, but proved traitors to it? An ingenious
defence,--indeed, the only one which could by any possibility be
suggested, anterior to the days of Choate and somnambulism; but in vain.
He was sentenced, and it was not, apparently, till the judge reproached
him for the destruction he had brought on his followers that he showed
any sign of emotion. Then the tears came into his eyes. But he said not
another word.

The executions took place on five different days, and, bad as they were,
they might have been worse. After the imaginary Negro Plot of New York,
in 1741, thirteen negroes had been judicially burned alive; two had
suffered the same sentence at Charleston in 1808; and it was undoubtedly
some mark of progress that in this case the gallows took the place
of the flames. Six were hanged on July 2d, upon Blake's lands, near
Charleston,--Denmark Vesey, Peter Poyas, Jess, Ned, Rolla, and
Batteau,--the last three being slaves of the Governor himself. Gullah
Jack and John were executed "on the Lines," near Charleston, on July
12th, and twenty-two more on July 26th. Four others suffered their fate
on July 30th; and one more, William Garner, effected a temporary escape,
was captured and tried by a different court, and was finally executed on
August 9th.

The self-control of these men did not desert them at their execution.
When the six leaders suffered death, the report says, Peter Poyas
repeated his charge of secrecy. "Do not open your lips; die silent, as
you shall see me do"; and all obeyed. And though afterwards, as the
particulars of the plot became better known, there was less inducement
to conceal, yet every one of the thirty-five seems to have met his fate
bravely, except the conjurer. Governor Bennett, in his letter, expresses
much dissatisfaction at the small amount learned from the participators.
"to the last hour of the existence of several who appeared to be
conspicuous actors in the drama, they were pressingly importuned to make
farther confessions,"--this "importuning" being more clearly defined in
a letter of Mr. Ferguson, owner of two of the slaves, as "having them
severely corrected." Yet so little was obtained, that the Governor was
compelled to admit at last that the really essential features of the
plot were not known to any of the informers.

It is to be remembered that the plot failed because a man unauthorized
and incompetent, William Paul, undertook to make enlistments on his own
account. He blundered on one of precisely that class of men--favored
house-servants--whom his leaders had expressly reserved for more skilful
manipulations. He being thus detected, one would have supposed that the
discovery of many accomplices would at once have followed.

The number enlisted was counted by thousands; yet for twenty-nine
days after the first treachery, and during twenty days of official
examination, only fifteen of the conspirators were ferreted out.
Meanwhile the informers' names had to be concealed with the utmost
secrecy,--they were in peril of their lives from the slaves,--William
Paul scarcely dared to go beyond the door-step,--and the names of
important witnesses examined in June were still suppressed in the
official report published in October. That a conspiracy on so large a
scale should have existed in embryo during four years, and in an active
form for several months, and yet have been so well managed, that, after
actual betrayal, the authorities were again thrown off their guard
and the plot nearly brought to a head again,--this certainly shows
extraordinary ability in the leaders, and a talent for concerted action
on the part of slaves generally with which they have hardly been

And it is also to be noted, that the range of the conspiracy extended
far beyond Charleston. It was proved that Frank, slave of Mr. Ferguson,
living nearly forty miles from the city, had boasted of having enlisted
four plantations in his immediate neighborhood. It was in evidence that
the insurgents "were trying all round the country, from Georgetown and
Santee round about to Combahee, to get people"; and after the trials, it
was satisfactorily established that Vesey "had been in the country as
far north as South Santee, and southwardly as far as the Euhaws, which
is between seventy and eighty miles from the city." Mr. Ferguson himself
testified that the good order of any gang was no evidence of their
ignorance of the plot, since the behavior of his own initiated slaves
had been unexceptionable, in accordance with Vesey's directions.

With such an organization and such materials, there was nothing in the
plan which could be pronounced incredible or impracticable. There is no
reason why they should not have taken the city. After all the Governor's
entreaties as to moderate language, the authorities were obliged to
admit that South Carolina had been saved from a "horrible catastrophe."
"For although success could not possibly have attended the conspirators,
yet, before their suppression, Charleston would probably have been
wrapped in flames, many valuable lives would have been sacrificed, and
an immense loss of property sustained by the citizens, even though
no other distressing occurrences were experienced by them, while the
plantations in the lower country would have been disorganized, and the
agricultural interests have sustained an enormous loss." The Northern
journals had already expressed still greater anxieties. "It appears,"
said the "New York Commercial Advertiser," "that, but for the timely
disclosure, the whole of that State would in a few days have witnessed
the horrid spectacle once witnessed in St. Domingo."

My friend David Lee Child has kindly communicated to me a few memoranda
of a conversation held long since with a free colored man who had worked
in Vesey's shop during the time of the insurrection, and these generally
confirm the official narratives. "I was a young man then," he said,
"and, owing to the policy of preventing communication between free
colored people and slaves, I had little opportunity of ascertaining how
the slaves felt about it. I know that several of them were abused in the
street, and some put in prison, for appearing in sack-cloth. There was
an ordinance of the city, that any slave who wore a badge of mourning
should be imprisoned and flogged. They generally got the law, which is
thirty-nine lashes, but sometimes it was according to the decision of
the Court." "I heard, at the time, of arms being buried in coffins at
Sullivan's Island." "In the time of the insurrection, the slaves were
tried in a small room, in the jail where they were confined. No colored
person was allowed to go within two squares of the prison. Those two
squares were filled with troops, five thousand of whom were on duty, day
and night. I was told, Vesey said to those that tried him, that the
work of insurrection would go on; but as none but white persons were
permitted to be present, I cannot tell whether he said it."

During all this time there was a guarded silence in the Charleston
journals, which strongly contrasts with the extreme publicity at
last given to the testimony. Even the "National Intelligencer,"
at Washington, passed lightly over the affair, and deprecated the
publication of particulars. The Northern editors, on the other hand,
eager for items, were constantly complaining of this reserve, and
calling for further intelligence. "The Charleston papers," said the
"Hartford Courant" of July 16th, "have been silent on the subject of the
insurrection, but letters from this city state that it has created much
alarm, and that two brigades of troops were under arms for some time to
suppress any risings that might have taken place." "You will doubtless
hear," wrote a Charleston correspondent of the same paper, just before,
"many reports, and some exaggerated ones." "There was certainly a
disposition to revolt, and some preparations made, principally by the
plantation negroes, to take the city." "We hoped they would progress so
far as to enable us to ascertain and punish the ringleaders." "Assure my
friends that we feel in perfect security, although the number of nightly
guards and other demonstrations may induce a belief among strangers to
the contrary."

The strangers would have been very blind strangers, if they had not
been more influenced by the actions of the Charlestonians than by their
words. The original information was given on May 25th. The time passed,
and the plot failed on June 16th. A plan for its revival on July 2d
proved abortive. Yet a letter from Charleston in the "Hartford Courant"
of August 6th, represented the panic as unabated: "Great preparations
are making, and all the military are put in preparation to guard against
any attempt of the same kind again; but we have no apprehension of its
being repeated." On August 10th, Governor Bennett wrote the letter
already mentioned, which was printed and distributed as a circular, its
object being to deprecate undue alarm. "Every individual in the State is
interested, whether in regard to his own property or the reputation
of the State, in giving no more importance to the transaction than it
justly merits." Yet five days after this,--two months after the first
danger had passed,--a reinforcement of United States troops arrived at
Port Moultrie. And during the same month, several different attempts
were made by small parties of armed negroes to capture the mails between
Charleston and Savannah, and a reward of two hundred dollars was offered
for their detection.

The first official report of the trials was prepared by the Intendant,
by request of the city council. It passed through four editions in a few
months,--the first and fourth being published in Charleston, and the
second and third in Boston. Being, however, but a brief pamphlet, it
did not satisfy the public curiosity, and in October of the same
year, (1822,) a larger volume appeared at Charleston, edited by the
magistrates who presided at the trials, Lionel H. Kennedy and Thomas
Parker. It contains the evidence in full, and a separate narrative of
the whole affair, more candid and lucid than any other which I have
found in the newspapers or pamphlets of the day. It exhibits that rarest
of all qualities in a slave-community, a willingness to look facts in
the face. This narrative has been faithfully followed, with the aid
of such cross-lights as could be secured from many other quarters, in
preparing the present history.

The editor of the first official report racked his brains to discover
the special causes of the revolt, and never trusted himself to allude
to the general one. The negroes rebelled because they were deluded
by Congressional eloquence, or because they were excited by a Church
squabble, or because they had been spoilt by mistaken indulgences, such
as being allowed to learn to read, "a misguided benevolence," as he
pronounces it. So the Baptist Convention seems to have thought it was
because they were not Baptists, and an Episcopal pamphleteer because
they were not Episcopalians. It never seems to occur to any of these
spectators that these people rebelled simply because they were slaves
and wished to be free.

No doubt, there were enough special torches with which a man so skilful
as Denmark Vesey could kindle up these dusky powder-magazines; but,
after all, the permanent peril lay in the powder. So long as that
existed, everything was incendiary. Any torn scrap in the street might
contain a Missouri-Compromise speech, or a report of the last battle in
St. Domingo, or one of those able letters of Boyer's which were winning
the praise of all, or one of John Randolph's stirring speeches in
England against the slave-trade. The very newspapers which reported
the happy extinction of the insurrection by the hanging of the
last conspirator, William Garner, reported also, with enthusiastic
indignation, the massacre of the Greeks at Constantinople and at Scio;
and then the Northern editors, breaking from their usual reticence,
pointed out the inconsistency of Southern journals in printing, side
by side, denunciations of Mohammedan slave-sales and advertisements of
Christian ones.

Of course, the insurrection threw the whole slavery question open to
the public. "We are sorry to see," said the "National Intelligencer"
of August 31st, "that a discussion of the hateful Missouri question is
likely to be revived, in consequence of the allusions to its supposed
effect in producing the late servile insurrection in South Carolina." A
member of the Board of Public Works of South Carolina published in the
Baltimore "American Farmer" an essay urging the encouragement of white
laborers, and hinting at the ultimate abolition of slavery, "if it
should ever be thought desirable." More boldly still, a pamphlet
appeared in Charleston under the signature of "Achates," arguing with
remarkable sagacity and force against the whole system of slave-labor
_in towns_, and proposing that all slaves in Charleston should be sold
or transferred to the plantations, and their places supplied by white
labor. It is interesting to find many of the facts and arguments of
Helper's "Impending Crisis" anticipated in this courageous tract,
written under the pressure of a crisis which had just been so narrowly
evaded. The author is described in the preface as "a soldier and patriot
of the Revolution, whose name, did we feel ourselves at liberty to use
it, would stamp a peculiar weight and value on his opinions." It was
commonly attributed to General Thomas Pinckney.

Another pamphlet of the period, also published in Charleston,
recommended as a practical cure for insurrection the copious
administration of Episcopal Church services, and the prohibition of
negroes from attending Fourth-of-July celebrations. On this last point
it is more consistent than most pro-slavery arguments. "The celebration
of the Fourth of July belongs _exclusively_ to the white population of
the United States. The American Revolution was a _family-quarrel among
equals_. In this the negroes had no concern; their condition remained,
and must remain, unchanged. They have no more to do with the celebration
of that day than with the landing of the Pilgrims on the rock at
Plymouth. It therefore seems to me improper to allow these people to
be present on these occasions. In our speeches and orations, much, and
sometimes more than is politically necessary, is said about personal
liberty, which negro auditors know not how to apply, except by running
the parallel with their own condition. They therefore imbibe false
notions of their own personal rights, and give reality in their minds to
what has no real existence. The peculiar state of our community must
be steadily kept in view. This, I am gratified to learn, will in
some measure be promoted by the institution of the South Carolina

On the other hand, more stringent laws became obviously necessary to
keep down the advancing intelligence of the Charleston slaves. Dangerous
knowledge must be excluded from without and from within. For the first
end, the South Carolina legislature passed, in December, 1822, the
act for the imprisonment of Northern colored seamen, which has since
produced so much excitement. For the second object, the Grand Jury,
about the same time, presented as a grievance "the number of schools
which are kept within the city by persons of color," and proposed their
prohibition. This was the encouragement given to the intellectual
progress of the slaves; while, as a reward for betraying them, Pensil,
the free colored man who advised with Devany, received a present of one
thousand dollars, and Devany himself had what was rightly judged to
be the higher gift of freedom, and was established in business, with
liberal means, as a drayman. He is still living in Charleston, has
thriven greatly in his vocation, and, according to the newspapers,
enjoys the privilege of being the only man of property in the State whom
a special statute exempts from taxation. It is something of a privilege,
especially with secession impending. But those whom he betrayed to death
have been exempt from taxation longer than be has.

More than a third of a century has passed since the incidents of this
true story closed. It has not vanished from the memories of South
Carolinians, though the printed pages which once told it have been
gradually withdrawn from sight. The intense avidity which at first
grasped at every incident of the great insurrectionary plot was
succeeded by a distaste for the memory of the tale; and the official
reports which told what slaves had once planned and dared have now come
to be among the rarest of American historical documents. In 1841, a
friend of the writer, then visiting South Carolina, heard from her
hostess for the first time the events which are recounted here. On
asking to see the reports of the trials, she was cautiously told that
the only copy in the house, after being carefully kept for years under
lock and key, had been burnt at last, lest it should reach the dangerous
eyes of the slaves. The same thing had happened, it was added, in many
other families. This partially accounts for the great difficulty now to
be found in obtaining a single copy of either publication; and this is
why, to the readers of American history, Denmark Vesey and Peter Poyas
have been heretofore but the shadows of names.

       *       *       *       *       *




At three o'clock in the afternoon of Friday, April 19th, we took our
peacemaker, a neat twelve-pound brass howitzer, down from the Seventh
Regiment Armory, and stationed it in the rear of the building. The twin
peacemaker is somewhere near us, but entirely hidden by this enormous

An enormous crowd! of both sexes, of every age and condition. The men
offer all kinds of truculent and patriotic hopes; the women shed tears,
and say, "God bless you, boys!"

This is a part of the town where baddish cigars prevail. But good or
bad, I am ordered to keep all away from the gun. So the throng stands
back, peers curiously over the heads of its junior members, and seems to
be taking the measure of my coffin.

After a patient hour of this, the word is given, we fall in, our two
guns find their places at the right of the line of march, we move on
through the thickening crowd.

At a great house on the left, as we pass the Astor Library, I see a
handkerchief waving for me. Yes! it is she who made the sandwiches in my
knapsack. They were a trifle too thick, as I afterwards discovered,
but otherwise perfection. Be these my thanks and the thanks of hungry
comrades who had bites of them!

At the corner of Great Jones Street we halted for half an hour,--then,
everything ready, we marched down Broadway.

It was worth a life, that march. Only one who passed, as we did, through
that tempest of cheers, two miles long, can know the terrible
enthusiasm of the occasion. I could hardly hear the rattle of our own
gun-carriages, and only once or twice the music of our band came to me
muffled and quelled by the uproar. We knew now, if we had not before
divined it, that our great city was with us as one man, utterly united
in the great cause we were marching to sustain.

This grand fact I learned by two senses. If hundreds of thousands roared
it into my ears, thousands slapped it into my back. My fellow-citizens
smote me on the knapsack, as I went by at the gun-rope, and encouraged
me each in his own dialect. "Bully for you!" alternated with
benedictions, in the proportion of two "bullies" to one blessing.

I was not so fortunate as to receive more substantial tokens of
sympathy. But there were parting gifts showered on the regiment, enough
to establish a variety-shop. Handkerchiefs, of course, came floating
down upon us from the windows, like a snow. Pretty little gloves pelted
us with love-taps. The sterner sex forced upon us pocket-knives new and
jagged, combs, soap, slippers, boxes of matches, cigars by the dozen
and the hundred, pipes to smoke shag and pipes to smoke Latakia, fruit,
eggs, and sandwiches. One fellow got a new purse with ten bright

At the corner of Grand Street, or thereabouts, a "bhoy" in red flannel
shirt and black dress pantaloons, leaning back against the crowd with
Herculean shoulders, called me,--"Saäy, bully! take my dorg! he's one of
the kind that holds till he draps." This gentleman, with his animal, was
instantly shoved back by the police, and the Seventh lost the "dorg."

These were the comic incidents of the march, but underlying all was the
tragic sentiment that we might have tragic work presently to do. The
news of the rascal attack in Baltimore on the Massachusetts Sixth had
just come in. Ours might be the same chance. If there were any of us
not in earnest before, the story of the day would steady us. So we said
goodbye to Broadway, moved down Cortlandt Street under a bower of flags,
and at half-past six shoved off in the ferry-boat.

Everybody has heard how Jersey City turned out and filled up the
Railroad Station, like an opera-house, to give Godspeed to us as a
representative body, a guaranty of the unquestioning loyalty of the
"conservative" class in New York. Everybody has heard how the State of
New Jersey, along the railroad line, stood through the evening and
the night to shout their quota of good wishes. At every station the
Jerseymen were there, uproarious as Jerseymen, to shake our hands and
wish us a happy despatch. I think I did not see a rod of ground without
its man, from dusk till dawn, from the Hudson to the Delaware.

Upon the train we made a jolly night of it. All knew that the more a man
sings, the better he is likely to fight. So we sang more than we slept,
and, in fact, that has been our history ever since.


At sunrise we were at the station in Philadelphia, and dismissed for an
hour. Some hundreds of us made up Broad Street for the Lapierre House
to breakfast. When I arrived, I found every place at table filled
and every waiter ten deep with orders. So, being an old campaigner, I
followed up the stream of provender to the fountain-head, the kitchen.
Half a dozen other old campaigners were already there, most hospitably
entertained by the cooks. They served us, hot and hot, with the best of
their best, straight from the gridiron and the pan. I hope, if I live
to breakfast again in the Lapierre House, that I may be allowed to help
myself and choose for myself below-stairs.

When we rendezvoused at the train, we found that the orders were for
every man to provide himself three days' rations in the neighborhood,
and be ready for a start at a moment's notice.

A mountain of bread was already piled up in the station. I stuck my
bayonet through a stout loaf, and, with a dozen comrades armed in the
same way, went foraging about for other _vivers_.

It is a poor part of Philadelphia; but whatever they had in the shops or
the houses seemed to be at our disposition.

I stopped at a corner shop to ask for pork, and was amicably assailed by
an earnest dame,--Irish, I am pleased to say. She thrust her last loaf
upon me, and sighed that it was not baked that morning for my "honor's

A little farther on, two kindly Quaker ladies compelled me to step in.
"What could they do?" they asked eagerly. "They had no meat in the
house; but could we eat eggs? They had in the house a dozen and a half,
new-laid." So the pot to the fire, and the eggs boiled, and bagged by
myself and that tall Saxon, my friend E., of the Sixth Company. While
the eggs simmered, the two ladies thee-ed us prayerfully and tearfully,
hoping that God would save our country from blood, unless blood must be
shed to preserve Law and Liberty.

Nothing definite from Baltimore when we returned to the station. We
stood by, waiting orders. About noon the Eighth Massachusetts Regiment
took the train southward. Our regiment was ready to a man to try its
strength with the Plug Uglies. If there had been any voting on the
subject, the plan to follow the straight road to Washington would have
been accepted by acclamation. But the higher powers deemed that "the
longest way round was the shortest way home," and no doubt their
decision was wise. The event proved it.

At two o'clock came the word to "fall in." We handled our howitzers
again, and marched down Jefferson Avenue to the steamer "Boston" to

To embark for what port? For Washington, of course, finally; but by what
route? That was to remain in doubt to us privates for a day or two.

The Boston is a steamer of the outside line from Philadelphia to New
York. She just held our legion. We tramped on board, and were allotted
about the craft from the top to the bottom story. We took tents, traps,
and grub on board, and steamed away down the Delaware in the sweet
afternoon of April. If ever the heavens smiled fair weather on any
campaign, they have done so on ours.


Soldiers on shipboard are proverbially fish out of water. We could not
be called by the good old nickname of "lobsters" by the crew. Our gray
jackets saved the _sobriquet_. But we floundered about the crowded
vessel like boiling victims in a pot. At last we found our places,
and laid ourselves about the decks to tan or bronze or burn scarlet,
according to complexion. There were plenty of cheeks of lobster-hue
before next evening on the Boston.

A thousand young fellows turned loose on shipboard were sure to make
themselves merry. Let the reader imagine that! We were like any other
excursionists, except that the stacks of bright guns were always present
to remind us of our errand, and regular guard-mounting and drill went
on all the time. The young citizens growled or laughed at the minor
hardships of the hasty outfit, and toughened rapidly to business.

Sunday, the 21st, was a long and somewhat anxious day. While we were
bowling along in the sweet sunshine and sweeter moonlight of the halcyon
time, Uncle Sam might be dethroned by somebody in buckram, or Baltimore
burnt by the boys from Lynn and Marblehead, revenging the massacre of
their fellows. Every one begins to comprehend the fiery eagerness of men
who live in historic times. "I wish I had control of chain-lightning for
a few minutes," says O., the droll fellow of our company. "I'd make it
come thick and heavy and knock spots out of Secession."

At early dawn of Monday the 22d, after feeling along slowly all night,
we see the harbor of Annapolis. A frigate with sails unbent lies at
anchor. She flies the stars and stripes. Hurrah!

A large steamboat is aground farther in. As soon as we can see anything,
we catch the glitter of bayonets on board.

By-and-by boats come off, and we get news that the steamer is the
"Maryland," a ferry-boat of the Philadelphia and Baltimore Railroad. The
Massachusetts Eighth Regiment had been just in time to seize her on the
north side of the Chesapeake. They learned that she was to be carried
off by the crew and leave them blockaded. So they shot their Zouaves
ahead as skirmishers. The fine fellows rattled on board, and before
the steamboat had time to take a turn or open a valve, she was held by
Massachusetts in trust for Uncle Sam. Hurrah for the most important
prize thus far in the war! It probably saved the "Constitution," "Old
Ironsides," from capture by the traitors. It probably saved Annapolis,
and kept Maryland open without bloodshed.

As soon as the Massachusetts Regiment had made prize of the ferry-boat,
a call was made for engineers to run her. Some twenty men at once
stepped to the front. We of the New York Seventh afterwards concluded
that whatever was needed in the way of skill or handicraft could be
found among those brother Yankees. They were the men to make armies
of. They could tailor for themselves, shoe themselves, do their own
blacksmithing, gunsmithing, and all other work that calls for sturdy
arms and nimble fingers. In fact, I have such profound confidence in the
universal accomplishment of the Massachusetts Eighth, that I have no
doubt, if the order were, "Poets to the front!" "Painters present arms!"
"Sculptors charge bagonets!" a baker's dozen out of every company would

Well, to go on with their story,--when they had taken their prize,
they drove her straight down-stream to Annapolis, the nearest point to
Washington. There they found the Naval Academy in danger of attack,
and Old Ironsides--serving as a practice-ship for the future
midshipmen--also exposed. The call was now for seamen to man the old
craft and save her from a worse enemy than her prototype met in the
"Guerrière." Seamen? Of course! They were Marblehead men, Gloucester
men, Beverly men, seamen all, _par excellence_! They clapped on the
frigate to aid the middies, and by-and-by started her out into the
stream. In doing this their own pilot took the chance to run them
purposely on a shoal in the intricate channel. A great error of judgment
on his part! as he perceived, when he found himself in irons and in
confinement. "The days of trifling with traitors are over!" think the
Eighth Regiment of Massachusetts.

But there they were, hard and fast on the shoal, when we came up.
Nothing to nibble on but knobs of anthracite. Nothing to sleep on softer
or cleaner than coal-dust. Nothing to drink but the brackish water under
their keel. "Rather rough!" as they afterward patiently told us.

Meantime the Constitution had got hold of a tug, and was making her way
to an anchorage where her guns commanded everything and everybody. Good
and true men chuckled greatly over this. The stars and stripes also were
still up at the fort at the Naval Academy.

Our dread, that, while we were off at sea, some great and perhaps fatal
harm had been suffered, was greatly lightened by these good omens. If
Annapolis was safe, why not Washington safe also? If treachery had got
head at the capital, would not treachery have reached out its hand
and snatched this doorway? These were our speculations as we began to
discern objects, before we heard news.

But news came presently. Boats pulled off to us. Our officers were put
into communication with the shore. The scanty facts of our position
became known from man to man. We privates have greatly the advantage in
battling with the doubt of such a time. We know that we have nothing to
do with rumors. Orders are what we go by. And orders are Facts.

We lay a long, lingering day, off Annapolis. The air was full of doubt,
and we were eager to be let loose. All this while the Maryland stuck
fast on the bar. We could see them, half a mile off, making every effort
to lighten her. The soldiers tramped forward and aft, danced on her
decks, shot overboard a heavy baggage-truck. We saw them start the truck
for the stern with a cheer. It crashed down. One end stuck in the mud.
The other fell back and rested on the boat. They went at it with axes,
and presently it was clear.

As the tide rose, we gave our grounded friends a lift with a hawser. No
go! The Boston tugged in vain. We got near enough to see the whites of
the Massachusetts eyes, and their unlucky faces and uniforms all grimy
with their lodgings in the coal-dust. They could not have been blacker,
if they had been breathing battle-smoke and dust all day. That
experience was clear gain to them.

By-and-by, greatly to the delight of the impatient Seventh, the Boston
was headed for shore. Never speak ill of the beast you bestraddle!
Therefore _requiescat_ Boston! may her ribs lie light on soft sand when
she goes to pieces! may her engines be cut up into bracelets for the
arms of the patriotic fair! good-bye to her, dear old, close, dirty,
slow coach! She served her country well in a moment of trial. Who
knows but she saved it? It was a race to see who should first get to
Washington,--and we and the Virginia mob, in alliance with the District
mob, were perhaps nip and tuck for the goal.


So the Seventh Regiment landed and took Annapolis. We were the first
troops ashore.

The middies of the Naval Academy no doubt believe that they had their
quarters secure. The Massachusetts boys are satisfied that they first
took the town in charge. And so they did.

But the Seventh took it a little more. Not, of course, from its loyal
men, but _for_ its loyal men,--for loyal Maryland, and for the Union.

Has anybody seen Annapolis? It is a picturesque old place, sleepy
enough, and astonished to find itself wide-awaked by a war and obliged
to take responsibility and share for good and ill in the movement of its
time. The buildings of the Naval Academy stand parallel with the river
Severn, with a green plateau toward the water and a lovely green lawn
toward the town. All the scene was fresh and fair with April, and I
fancied, as the Boston touched the wharf, that I discerned the sweet
fragrance of apple-blossoms coming with the spring-time airs.

I hope that the companies of the Seventh, should the day arrive, will
charge upon horrid batteries or serried ranks with as much alacrity
as they marched ashore on the greensward of the Naval Academy. We
disembarked, and were halted in line between the buildings and the

Presently, while we stood at ease, people began to arrive,--some with
smallish fruit to sell, some with smaller news to give. Nobody knew
whether Washington was taken. Nobody knew whether Jeff. Davis was now
spitting in the Presidential spittoon, and scribbling his distiches with
the nib of the Presidential goose-quill. We were absolutely in doubt
whether a seemingly inoffensive knot of rustics, on a mound without
the inclosure, might not, at tap of drum, unmask a battery of giant
columbiads, and belch blazes at us, raking our line.

Nothing so entertaining happened. It was a parade, not a battle. At
sunset our band played strains sweet enough to pacify all Secession, if
Secession had music in its soul. Coffee, hot from the coppers of the
Naval School, and biscuit were served out to us; and while we supped, we
talked with our visitors, such as were allowed to approach.

First the boys of the School--fine little blue-jackets--had their story
to tell.

"Do you see that white farm-house, across the river?" says a brave pigmy
of a chap in navy uniform. "That is head-quarters for Secession. They
were going to take the School from us, Sir, and the frigate; but
we've got ahead of 'em, now you and the Massachusetts boys have come
down,"--and he twinkled all over with delight. "We can't study any more.
We are on guard all the time. We've got howitzers, too, and we'd like
you to see, to-morrow, on drill, how we can handle 'em. One of their
boats came by our sentry last night," (a sentry probably five feet
high,) "and he blazed away, Sir. So they thought they wouldn't try us
that time."

It was plain that these young souls had been well tried by the treachery
about them. They, too, had felt the pang of the disloyalty of comrades.
Nearly a hundred of the boys had been spoilt by the base example of
their elders in the repudiating States, and had resigned.

After the middies, came anxious citizens from the town. Scared, all of
them. Now that we were come and assured them that persons and property
were to be protected, they ventured to speak of the disgusting tyranny
to which they, American citizens, had been subjected. We came into
contact here with utter social anarchy. No man, unless he was ready
to risk assault, loss of property, exile, dared to act or talk like a
freeman. "This great wrong must be righted," think the Seventh Regiment,
as one man. So we tried to reassure the Annapolitans that we meant to do
our duty as the nation's armed police, and mob-law was to be put down,
so far as we could do it.

Here, too, voices of war met us. The country was stirred up. If the
rural population did not give us a bastard imitation of Lexington and
Concord, as we tried to gain Washington, all Pluguglydom would treat
us _à la_ Plugugly somewhere near the junction of the Annapolis and
Baltimore and Washington Railroad. The Seventh must be ready to shoot.

At dusk we were marched up to the Academy and quartered about in the
buildings,--some in the fort, some in the recitation-halls. We lay down
on our blankets and knapsacks. Up to this time our sleep and diet had
been severely scanty.

We stayed all next day at Annapolis. The Boston brought the
Massachusetts Eighth ashore that night. Poor fellows! what a figure they
cut, when we found them bivouacked on the Academy grounds next morning!
To begin: They had come off in hot patriotic haste, half-uniformed and
half-outfitted. Finding that Baltimore had been taken by its own loafers
and traitors, and that the Chesapeake ferry was impracticable, had
obliged them to change line of march. They were out of grub. They were
parched dry for want of water on the ferry-boat. Nobody could decipher
Caucasian, much less Bunker-Hill Yankee, in their grimy visages.

But, hungry, thirsty, grimy, these fellows were GRIT.

Massachusetts ought to be proud of such hardy, cheerful, faithful sons.

We of the Seventh are proud, for our part, that it was our privilege to
share our rations with them, and to begin a fraternization which grows
closer every day and will be _historical_.

But I must make a shorter story. We drilled and were reviewed that
morning on the Academy parade. In the afternoon the Naval School paraded
their last before they gave up their barracks to the coming soldiery. So
ended the 23d of April.

Midnight, 24th. We were rattled up by an alarm,--perhaps a sham one, to
keep us awake and lively. In a moment, the whole regiment was in order
of battle in the moonlight on the parade. It was a most brilliant
spectacle, as company after company rushed forward, with rifles
glittering, to take their places in the array.

After this pretty spirt, we were rationed with pork, beef, and bread for
three days, and ordered to be ready to march on the instant.


Meantime General Butler's command, the Massachusetts Eighth, had been
busy knocking disorder in the head.

Presently after their landing, and before they were refreshed, they
pushed companies out to occupy the railroad-track beyond the town.

They found it torn up. No doubt the scamps who did the shabby
job fancied that there would be no more travel that way until
strawberry-time. They fancied the Yankees would sit down on the fences
and begin to whittle white-oak toothpicks, darning the rebels, through
their noses, meanwhile.

I know these men of the Eighth can whittle, and I presume they can say
"Darn it," if occasion requires; but just now track-laying was the
business on hand.

"Wanted, experienced track-layers!" was the word along the files.

All at once the line of the road became densely populated with
experienced track-layers, fresh from Massachusetts.

Presto change! the rails were relaid, spiked, and the roadway levelled
and better ballasted than any road I ever saw south of Mason and Dixon's
line. "We must leave a good job for these folks to model after," say the
Massachusetts Eighth.

A track without a train is as useless as a gun without a man. Train and
engine must be had. "Uncle Sam's mails and troops cannot be stopped
another minute," our energetic friends conclude. So--the railroad
company's people being either frightened or false--in marches
Massachusetts to the station. "We, the People of the United States, want
rolling-stock for the use of the Union," they said, or words to that

The engine--a frowzy machine at the best--had been purposely disabled.

Here appeared the _deus ex machina_, Charles Homans, Beverly Light
Guard, Company E, Eighth Massachusetts Regiment.

That is the man, name and titles in full, and he deserves well of his

He took a quiet squint at the engine,--it was as helpless as a boned
turkey,--and he found "Charles Homans, his mark," written all over it.

The old rattletrap was an old friend. Charles Homans had had a share
in building it. The machine and the man said, "How d'y' do?" at once.
Homans called for a gang of engine-builders. Of course they swarmed out
of the ranks. They passed their hands over the locomotive a few times,
and presently it was ready to whistle and wheeze and rumble and gallop,
as if no traitor had ever tried to steal the go and the music out of it.

This had all been done during the afternoon of the 23d. During the
night, the renovated engine was kept cruising up and down the track to
see all clear. Guards of the Eighth were also posted to protect passage.

Our commander had, I presume, been cooperating with General Butler in
this business. The Naval Academy authorities had given us every despatch
and assistance, and the middies, frank, personal hospitality. The day
was halcyon, the grass was green and soft, the apple-trees were just in
blossom: it was a day to be remembered.

Many of us will remember it, and show the marks of it for months, as the
day we had our heads cropped. By evening there was hardly one poll in
the Seventh tenable by anybody's grip. Most sat in the shade and were
shorn by a barber. A few were honored with a clip by the artist hand of
the _petit caporal_ of our Engineer Company.

While I rattle off these trifling details, let me not fail to call
attention to the grave service done by our regiment, by its arrival, at
the nick of time, at Annapolis. No clearer special Providence could have
happened. The country-people of the traitor sort were aroused. Baltimore
and its mob were but two hours away. The Constitution had been hauled
out of reach of a rush by the Massachusetts men,--first on the
ground,--but was half-manned and not fully secure. And there lay the
Maryland, helpless on the shoal, with six or seven hundred souls on
board, so near the shore that the late Captain Rynders's gun could have
sunk her from some ambush.

Yes! the Seventh Regiment at Annapolis was the Right Man in the Right


Reveille. As nobody pronounces this word _à la française_, as everybody
calls it "Revelee," why not drop it, as an affectation, and translate
it the "Stir your Stumps," the "Peel your Eyes," the "Tumble Up," or
literally the "Wake"?

Our snorers had kept up this call so lustily since midnight, that, when
the drums sounded it, we were all ready.

The Sixth and Second Companies, under Captain Nevers, are detached to
lead the van. I see my brother Billy march off with the Sixth, into
the dusk, half-moonlight, half-dawn, and hope that no beggar of a
Secessionist will get a pat shot at him, by the roadside, without
his getting a chance to let fly in return. Such little possibilities
intensify the earnest detestation we feel for the treasons we come to
resist and to punish. There will be some bitter work done, if we ever
get to blows in this war,--this needless, reckless, brutal assault upon
the mildest of all governments.

Before the main body of the regiment marches, we learn that the "Baltic"
and other transports came in last night with troops from New York and
New England, enough to hold Annapolis against a square league of Plug
Uglies. We do not go on without having our rear protected and our
communications open. It is strange to be compelled to think of these
things in peaceful America. But we really knew little more of the
country before us than Cortes knew of Mexico. I have since learned from
a high official, that thirteen different messengers were despatched
from Washington in the interval of anxiety while the Seventh was not
forthcoming, and only one got through.

At half-past seven we take up our line of march, pass out of the
charming grounds of the Academy, and move through the quiet, rusty,
picturesque old town. It has a romantic dulness--Annapolis--which
deserves a parting compliment.

Although we deem ourselves a fine-looking set, although our belts are
blanched with pipe-clay and our rifles shine sharp in the sun, yet the
townspeople stare at us in a dismal silence. They have already the air
of men quelled by a despotism. None can trust his neighbor. If he dares
to be loyal, he must take his life into his hands. Most would be loyal,
if they dared. But the system of society which has ended in this present
chaos has gradually eliminated the bravest and best men. They have gone
in search of Freedom and Prosperity; and now the bullies cow the weaker
brothers. "There must be an end of this mean tyranny," think the
Seventh, as they march through old Annapolis and see how sick the town
is with doubt and alarm.

Outside the town, we strike the railroad and move along, the howitzers
in front, bouncing over the sleepers. When our line is fully disengaged
from the town, we halt.

Here the scene is beautiful. The van rests upon a high embankment, with
a pool surrounded by pine-trees on the right, green fields on the
left. Cattle are feeding quietly about. The air sings with birds. The
chestnut-leaves sparkle. Frogs whistle in the warm spring morning.
The regiment groups itself along the bank and the cutting. Several
Marylanders of the half-price age--under twelve--come gaping up to see
us harmless invaders. Each of these young gentry is armed with a dead
spring frog, perhaps by way of tribute. And here--hollo! here comes
Horace Greeley _in propria persona_! He marches through our groups with
the Greeley walk, the Greeley hat on the back of his head, the Greeley
white coat on his shoulders, his trousers much too short, and an
absorbed, abstracted demeanor. Can it be Horace, reporting for himself?
No; this is a Maryland production, and a little disposed to be sulky.

After a few minutes' halt, we hear the whistle of the engine. This
machine is also an historic character in the war.

Remember it! "J.H. Nicholson" is its name. Charles Homans drives, and
on either side stands a sentry with fixed bayonet. New spectacles for
America! But it is grand to know that the bayonets are to protect, not
to assail, Liberty and Law.

The train leads off. We follow, by the track. Presently the train
returns. We pass it and trudge on in light marching order, carrying
arms, blankets, haversacks, and canteens. Our knapsacks are upon the

Fortunate for our backs that they do not have to bear any more burden!
For the day grows sultry. It is one of those breezeless baking days
which brew thunder-gusts. We march on for some four miles, when, coming
upon the guards of the Massachusetts Eighth, our howitzer is ordered to
fall out and wait for the train. With a comrade of the Artillery, I am
placed on guard over it.


Henry Bonnell is my fellow-sentry. He, like myself, is an old campaigner
in such campaigns as our generation has known. So we talk California,
Oregon, Indian life, the Plains, keeping our eyes peeled meanwhile, and
ranging the country. Men that will tear up track are quite capable of
picking off a sentry. A giant chestnut gives us little dots of shade
from its pigmy leaves. The country about us is open and newly ploughed.
Some of the worm-fences are new, and ten rails high; but the farming is
careless, and the soil thin.

Two of the Massachusetts men come back to the gun while we are standing
there. One is my friend Stephen Morris, of Marblehead, Sutton Light
Infantry. I had shared my breakfast yesterday with Stephe. So we

His business is,--"I make shoes in winter and fishin' in summer." He
gives me a few facts,--suspicious persons seen about the track, men on
horseback in the distance. One of the Massachusetts guard last night
challenged his captain. Captain replied, "Officer of the night"
Whereupon, says Stephe, "The recruit let squizzle and jest missed his
ear." He then related to me the incident of the railroad station. "The
first thing they know'd," says he, "we bit right into the depot and took
charge." "I don't mind," Stephe remarked,--"I don't mind life, nor yit
death; but whenever I see a Massachusetts boy, I stick by him, and if
them Secessionists attackt us to-night, or any other time, they'll git
in debt."

Whistle, again! and the train appears. We are ordered to ship our
howitzer on a platform car. The engine pushes us on. This train brings
our light baggage and the rear guard.

A hundred yards farther on is a delicious fresh spring below the bank.
While the train halts, Stephe Morris rushes down to fill my canteen.
"This a'n't like Marblehead," says Stephe, panting up; "but a man that
can shin up _them_ rocks can git right over _this_ sand."

The train goes slowly on, as a rickety train should. At intervals we see
the fresh spots of track just laid by our Yankee friends. Near the sixth
mile, we began to overtake hot and uncomfortable squads of our fellows.
The unseasonable heat of this most breathless day was too much for many
of the younger men, unaccustomed to rough work, and weakened by want of
sleep and irregular food in our hurried movements thus far.

Charles Homans's private carriage was, however, ready to pick up tired
men, hot men, thirsty men, men with corns, or men with blisters. They
tumbled into the train in considerable numbers.

An enemy that dared could have made a moderate bag of stragglers at this
time. But they would not have been allowed to straggle, if any enemy
had been about. By this time we were convinced that no attack was to be
expected in this part of the way.

The main body of the regiment, under Major Shaler, a tall, soldierly
fellow, with a moustache of the fighting-color, tramped on their own
pins to the watering-place, eight miles or so from Annapolis. There
troops and train came to a halt, with the news that a bridge over a
country road was broken a mile farther on.

It had been distinctly insisted upon, in the usual Southern style, that
we were not to be allowed to pass through Maryland, and that we were to
be "welcomed to hospitable graves." The broken bridge was a capital spot
for a skirmish. Why not look for it here?

We looked; but got nothing. The rascals could skulk about by night, tear
up rails, and hide them where they might be found by a man with half an
eye, or half-destroy a bridge; but there was no shoot in them. They have
not faith enough in their cause to risk their lives for it, even behind
a tree or from one of these thickets, choice spots for ambush.

So we had no battle there, but a battle of the elements. The volcanic
heat of the morning was followed by a furious storm of wind and a smart
shower. The regiment wrapped themselves in their blankets and took their
wetting with more or less satisfaction. They were receiving samples of
all the different little miseries of a campaign.

And here let me say a word to my fellow-volunteers, actual and
prospective, in all the armies of all the States:--

  A soldier needs, besides his soldierly

  I. Good FEET.

  II. A good Stomach.

  III. And after these, come the good
  Head and the good Heart.

But Good Feet are distinctly the first thing. Without them you cannot
get to your duty. If a comrade, or a horse, or a locomotive, takes you
on its back to the field, you are useless there. And when the field is
lost, you cannot retire, run away, and save your bacon.

Good shoes and plenty of walking make good feet. A man who pretends to
belong to an infantry company ought always to keep himself in training,
so that any moment he can march twenty or thirty miles without feeling a
pang or raising a blister. Was this the case with even a decimation
of the army who rushed to defend Washington? Were you so trained, my
comrades of the Seventh?

A captain of a company, who will let his men march with such shoes as
I have seen on the feet of some poor fellows in this war, ought to be
garroted with shoestrings, or at least compelled to play Pope and wash
the feet of the whole army of the Apostles of Liberty.

If you find a foot-soldier lying beat out by the roadside, desperate as
a sea-sick man, five to one his heels are too high, or his soles too
narrow or too thin, or his shoe is not made straight on the inside, so
that the great toe can spread into its place as he treads.

I am an old walker over Alps across the water, and over Cordilleras,
Sierras, Deserts, and Prairies at home; I have done my near sixty miles
a day without discomfort,--and speaking from large experience, and with
painful recollections of the suffering and death I have known for want
of good feet on the march, I say to every volunteer:--



When the frenzy of the brief tempest was over, it began to be a
question, "What to do about the broken bridge?" The gap--was narrow; but
even Charles Homans could not promise to leap the "J.H. Nicholson" over
it. Who was to be our Julius Caesar in bridge-building? Who but Sergeant
Scott, Armorer of the Regiment, with my fellow-sentry of the morning,
Bonnell, as First Assistant?

Scott called for a working party. There were plenty of handy fellows
among our Engineers and in the Line. Tools were plenty in the Engineers'
chest. We pushed the platform car upon which howitzer No. 1 was mounted
down to the gap, and began operations.

"I wish," says the _petit caporal_ of the Engineer Company, patting his
howitzer gently on the back, "that I could get this Putty Blower pointed
at the enemy, while you fellows are bridge-building."

The inefficient destructives of Maryland had only half spoilt the
bridge. Some of the old timbers could be used,--and for new ones, there
was the forest.

Scott and his party made a good and a quick job of it. Our friends of
the Massachusetts Eighth had now come up. They lent a ready hand, as
usual. The sun set brilliantly. By twilight there was a practicable
bridge. The engine was despatched back to keep the road open. The two
platform cars, freighted with our howitzers, were rigged with the
gun-ropes for dragging along the rail. We passed through the files of
the Massachusetts men, resting by the way, and eating by the fires of
the evening the suppers we had in great part provided them; and so
begins our night-march.


O Gottschalk! what a poetic _Marche de Nuit_ we then began to play, with
our heels and toes, on the railroad track!

It was full-moonlight and the night inexpressibly sweet and serene. The
air was cool and vivified by the gust and shower of the afternoon. Fresh
spring was in every breath. Our fellows had forgotten that this morning
they were hot and disgusted. Every one hugged his rifle as if it
were the arm of the Girl of his Heart, and stepped out gayly for the
promenade. Tired or foot-sore men, or even lazy ones, could mount upon
the two freight-cars we were using for artillery-wagons. There were
stout arms enough to tow the whole.

The scouts went ahead under First Lieutenant Farnham of the Second
Company. We were at school together,--I am afraid to say how many years
ago. He is just the same cool, dry, shrewd fellow he was as a boy, and a
most efficient officer.

It was an original kind of march--I suppose a battery of howitzers never
before found itself mounted upon cars, ready to open fire at once
and bang away into the offing with shrapnel or into the bushes with
canister. Our line extended a half-mile along the track. It was
beautiful to stand on the bank above a cutting and watch the files
strike from the shadow of a wood into a broad flame of moonlight, every
rifle sparkling up alert as it came forward. A beautiful sight to see
the barrels writing themselves upon the dimness, each a silver flash.

By-and-by, "Halt!" came, repeated along from the front, company after
company. "Halt! a rail gone."

It was found without difficulty. The imbeciles who took it up probably
supposed we would not wish to wet our feet by searching for it in the
dewy grass of the next field. With incredible dollishness they had also
left the chairs and spikes beside the track. Bonnell took hold, and in
a few minutes had the rail in place and firm enough to pass the engine.
Remember, we were not only hurrying on to succor Washington, but opening
the only convenient and practicable route between it and the loyal

A little farther on, we came to a village,--a rare sight in this
scantily peopled region. Here Sergeant Keeler, of our company, the
tallest man in the regiment, and one of the handiest, suggested that we
should tear up the rails at a turnout by the station, and so be prepared
for chances. So "Out crowbars!" was the word. We tore up and bagged half
a dozen rails, with chairs and spikes complete. Here, too, some of the
engineers found a keg of spikes. This was also bagged and loaded on our
cars. We fought the chaps with their own weapons, since they would not
meet us with ours.

These things made delay, and by-and-by there was a long halt, while the
Colonel communicated, by orders sounded along the line, with the engine.
Homans's drag was hard after us, bringing our knapsacks and traps.

After I had admired for some time the beauty of our moonlit line, and
listened to the orders as they grew or died along the distance, I began
to want excitement. Bonnell suggested that he and I should scout up the
road and see if any rails were wanting. We travelled along into the
quiet night.

A mile ahead of the line we suddenly caught the gleam of a rifle-barrel.
"Who goes there?" one of our own scouts challenged smartly.

We had arrived at the nick of time. Three rails were up. Two of them
were easily found. The third was discovered by beating the bush
thoroughly. Bonnell and I ran back for tools, and returned at full trot
with crowbar and sledge on our shoulders. There were plenty of
willing hands to help,--too many, indeed,--and with the aid of a huge
Massachusetts man we soon had the rail in place.

From this time on we were constantly interrupted. Not a half-mile passed
without a rail up. Bonnell was always at the front laying track, and
I am proud to say that he accepted me as aide-de-camp. Other fellows,
unknown to me in the dark, gave hearty help. The Seventh showed that it
could do something else than drill.

At one spot, on a high embankment over standing water, the rail was
gone, sunk probably. Here we tried our rails brought from the turn-out.
They were too short. We supplemented with a length of plank from our
stores. We rolled our cars carefully over. They passed safe. But Homans
shook his head. He could not venture a locomotive on that frail
stuff. So we lost the society of the "J.H. Nicholson." Next day the
Massachusetts commander called for some one to dive in the pool for the
lost rail. Plump into the water went a little wiry chap and grappled the
rail. "When I come up," says the brave fellow afterwards to me, "our
officer out with a twenty-dollar gold piece and wanted me to take it.
'That a'n't what I come for,' says I. 'Take it,' says he, 'and share
with the others.' 'That a'n't what they come for,' says I. But I took a
big cold," the diver continued, "and I'm condemned hoarse yit,"--which
was the fact.

Farther on we found a whole length of track torn up, on both sides,
sleepers and all, and the same thing repeated with alternations of
breaks of single rails. Our howitzer-ropes came into play to hoist and
haul. We were not going to be stopped.

But it was becoming a _Noche Triste_ to some of our comrades. We had now
marched some sixteen miles. The distance was trifling. But the men had
been on their legs pretty much all day and night. Hardly any one had had
any full or substantial sleep or meal since we started from New York.
They napped off, standing, leaning on their guns, dropping down in their
tracks on the wet ground, at every halt. They were sleepy, but plucky.
As we passed through deep cuttings, places, as it were, built for
defence, there was a general desire that the tedium of the night should
be relieved by a shindy.

During the whole night I saw our officers moving about the line, doing
their duty vigorously, despite exhaustion, hunger, and sleeplessness.

About midnight our friends of the Eighth had joined us, and our whole
little army struggled on together. I find that I have been rather
understating the troubles of the march. It seems impossible that such
difficulty could be encountered within twenty miles of the capital of
our nation. But we were making a rush to put ourselves in that capital,
and we could not proceed in the slow, systematic way of an advancing
army. We must take the risk and stand the suffering, whatever it was. So
the Seventh Regiment went through its bloodless _Noche Triste_.


At last we issued from the damp woods, two miles below the railroad
junction. Here was an extensive farm. Our vanguard had halted and
borrowed a few rails to make fires. These were, of course, carefully
paid for at their proprietor's own price. The fires were bright in the
gray dawn. About them the whole regiment was now halted. The men tumbled
down to catch forty winks. Some, who were hungrier for food than sleep,
went off foraging among the farm-houses. They returned with appetizing
legends of hot breakfasts in hospitable abodes, or scanty fare given
grudgingly in hostile ones. All meals, however, were paid for.

Here, as at other halts below, the country-people came up to talk to us.
The traitors could easily be distinguished by their insolence disguised
as obsequiousness. The loyal men were still timid, but more hopeful at
last. All were very lavish with the monosyllable, Sir. It was an odd
coincidence, that the vanguard, halting off at a farm in the morning,
found it deserted for the moment by its tenants, and protected only by
an engraved portrait of our (former) Colonel Duryea, serenely smiling
over the mantel-piece.

From this point, the railroad was pretty much all gone. But we were
warmed and refreshed by a nap and a bite, and besides had daylight and
open country.

We put our guns on their own wheels, all dropped into ranks as if on
parade, and marched the last two miles to the station. We still had no
certain information. Until we actually saw the train awaiting us, and
the Washington companies, who had come down to escort us, drawn up, we
did not know whether our Uncle Sam was still a resident of the capital.

We packed into the train, and rolled away to Washington.


We marched up to the White House, showed ourselves to the President,
made our bow to him as our host, and then marched up to the Capitol, our
grand lodgings.

There we are now, quartered in the Representatives Chamber.

And here I must hastily end this first sketch of the Great Defence. May
it continue to be as firm and faithful as it is this day!

I have scribbled my story with a thousand men stirring about me. If any
of my sentences miss their aim, accuse my comrades and the bewilderment
of this martial crowd. For here are four or five thousand others on the
same business as ourselves, and drums are beating, guns are clanking,
companies are tramping, all the while. Our friends of the Eighth,
Massachusetts are quartered under the dome, and cheer us whenever we

Desks marked John Covode, John Cochran, and Anson Burlingame, have
allowed me to use them as I wrote.


  "Old Hundred."

  O Lord of Hosts! Almighty King!
  Behold the sacrifice we bring!
  To every arm Thy strength impart,
  Thy spirit shed through every heart!

  Wake in our breasts the living fires,
  The holy faith that warmed our sires;
  Thy hand hath made our Nation free;
  To die for her is serving Thee.

  Be Thou a pillared flame to show
  The midnight snare, the silent foe;
  And when the battle thunders loud,
  Still guide us in its moving cloud.

  God of all Nations! Sovereign Lord!
  In Thy dread name we draw the sword,
  We lift the starry flag on high
  That fills with light our stormy sky.

  From treason's rent, from murder's stain
  Guard Thou its folds till Peace shall reign,--
  Till fort and field, till shore and sea
  Join our loud anthem, PRAISE TO THEE!

       *       *       *       *       *


Had any one ventured to prophesy on the Fourth of March that the
immediate prospect of Civil War would be hailed by the people of the
Free States with a unanimous shout of enthusiasm, he would have been
thought a madman. Yet the prophecy would have been verified by what we
now see and hear in every city, town, and hamlet from Maine to Kansas.
With the advantage of three months' active connivance in the cabinet of
Mr. Buchanan, with an empty treasury at Washington, and that reluctance
to assume responsibility and to inaugurate a decided policy, the common
vice of our politicians, who endeavor to divine and to follow popular
sentiment rather than to lead it, it seemed as if Disunion were
inevitable, and the only open question were the line of separation. So
assured seemed the event, that English journalists moralized gravely on
the inherent weakness of Democracy. While the leaders of the Southern
Rebellion did not dare to expose their treason to the risk of a popular
vote in any one of the seceding States, the "Saturday Review," one of
the ablest of British journals, solemnly warned its countrymen to learn
by our example the dangers of an extended suffrage.

Meanwhile the conduct of the people of the Free States, during all these
trying and perilous months, had proved, if it proved anything, the
essential conservatism of a population in which every grown man has
a direct interest in the stability of the national government. So
abstinent are they by habit and principle from any abnormal intervention
with the machine of administration, so almost superstitious in adherence
to constitutional forms, as to be for a moment staggered by the claim to
a _right_ of secession set up by all the Cotton States, admitted by the
Border Slave-States, which had the effrontery to deliberate between
their plain allegiance and their supposed interest, and but feebly
denied by the Administration then in power. The usual panacea of palaver
was tried; Congress did its best to add to the general confusion of
thought; and, as if that were not enough, a Convention of Notables
called simultaneously to thresh the straw of debate anew, and to
convince thoughtful persons that men do not grow wiser as they grow
older. So in the two Congresses the notables talked,--in the one,
those who ought to be shelved, in the other, those who were shelved
already,--while those who were too thoroughly shelved for a seat in
either addressed Great Union Meetings at home. Not a man of them but had
a compromise in his pocket, adhesive as Spalding's glue, warranted to
stick the shattered Confederacy together so firmly, that, if it over
broke again, it must be in a new place, which was a great consolation.
If these gentlemen gave nothing very valuable to the people of the Free
States, they were giving the Secessionists what was of inestimable
value to them,--Time. The latter went on seizing forts, navy-yards, and
deposits of Federal money, erecting batteries, and raising and arming
men at their leisure; above all, they acquired a prestige, and
accustomed men's minds to the thought of disunion, not only as possible,
but actual. They began to grow insolent, and, while compelling absolute
submission to their rebellious usurpation at home, decried any exercise
of legitimate authority on the part of the General Government as
_Coercion_,--a new term, by which it was sought to be established as a
principle of constitutional law, that it is always the Northern bull
that has gored the Southern ox.

During all this time, the Border Slave-States, and especially Virginia,
were playing a part at once cowardly and selfish. They assumed the right
to stand neutral between the Government and rebellion, to contract a
kind of morganatic marriage with Treason, by which they could enjoy the
pleasant sin without the tedious responsibility, and to be traitors in
everything but the vulgar contingency of hemp. Doubtless the aim of the
political managers in these States was to keep the North amused with
schemes of arbitration, reconstruction, and whatever other fine
words would serve the purpose of hiding the real issue, till the new
government of Secessia should have so far consolidated itself as to
be able to demand with some show of reason a recognition from foreign
powers, and to render it politic for the United States to consent to
peaceable secession. They counted on the self-interest of England and
the supineness of the North. As to the former, they were not wholly
without justification,--for nearly all the English discussions of
the "American Crisis" which we have seen have shown far more of the
shop-keeping spirit than of interest in the maintenance of free
institutions; but in regard to the latter they made the fatal mistake of
believing our Buchanans, Cushings, and Touceys to be representative men.
They were not aware how utterly the Democratic Party had divorced itself
from the moral sense of the Free States, nor had they any conception
of the tremendous recoil of which the long-repressed convictions,
traditions, and instincts of a people are capable.

Never was a nation so in want of a leader; never was it more plain,
that, without a head, the people "bluster abroad as beasts," with plenty
of the iron of purpose, but purpose without coherence, and with no
cunning smith of circumstance to edge it with plan and helve it with
direction. What the country was waiting for showed itself in the
universal thrill of satisfaction when Major Anderson took the
extraordinary responsibility of doing his duty. But such was the general
uncertainty, so doubtful seemed the loyalty of the Democratic Party as
represented by its spokesmen at the North, so irresolute was the tone
of many Republican leaders and journals, that a powerful and wealthy
community of twenty millions of people gave a sigh of relief when they
had been permitted to install the Chief Magistrate of their choice in
their own National Capital. Even after the inauguration of Mr. Lincoln,
it was confidently announced that Jefferson Davis, the Burr of the
Southern conspiracy, would be in Washington before the month was out;
and so great was the Northern despondency, that the chances of such an
event were seriously discussed. While the nation was falling to pieces,
there were newspapers and "distinguished statesmen" of the party so
lately and so long in power base enough to be willing to make political
capital out of the common danger, and to lose their country, if
they could only find their profit. There was even one man found in
Massachusetts, who, measuring the moral standard of his party by his
own, had the unhappy audacity to declare publicly that there were
friends enough of the South in his native State to prevent the march of
any troops thence to sustain that Constitution to which he had sworn
fealty in Heaven knows how many offices, the rewards of almost as many
turnings of his political coat. There was one journal in New York which
had the insolence to speak of _President_ Davis and _Mister_ Lincoln in
the same paragraph. No wonder the "dirt-eaters" of the Carolinas could
be taught to despise a race among whom creatures might be found to do
that by choice which they themselves were driven to do by misery.

Thus far the Secessionists had the game all their own way, for
their dice were loaded with Northern lead. They framed their sham
constitution, appointed themselves to their sham offices, issued their
sham commissions, endeavored to bribe England with a sham offer of
low duties and Virginia with a sham prohibition of the slave-trade,
advertised their proposals for a sham loan which was to be taken up
under intimidation, and levied real taxes on the people in the name
of the people whom they had never allowed to vote directly on their
enormous swindle. With money stolen from the Government, they raised
troops whom they equipped with stolen arms, and beleaguered national
fortresses with cannon stolen from national arsenals. They sent out
secret agents to Europe, they had their secret allies in the Free
States, their conventions transacted all important business in secret
session;--there was but one exception to the shrinking delicacy becoming
a maiden government, and that was the openness of the stealing. We had
always thought a high sense of personal honor an essential element of
chivalry; but among the _Romanic_ races, by which, as the wonderful
ethnologist of "De Bow's Review" tells us, the Southern States were
settled, and from which they derive a close entail of chivalric
characteristics, to the exclusion of the vulgar Saxons of the North,
such is by no means the case. For the first time in history the
deliberate treachery of a general is deemed worthy of a civic ovation,
and Virginia has the honor of being the first State claiming to be
civilized that has decreed the honors of a triumph to a cabinet officer
who had contrived to gild a treason that did not endanger his life with
a peculation that could not further damage his reputation. Rebellion,
even in a bad cause, may have its romantic side; treason, which had not
been such but for being on the losing side, may challenge admiration;
but nothing can sweeten larceny or disinfect perjury. A rebellion
inaugurated with theft, and which has effected its entry into national
fortresses, not over broken walls, but by breaches of trust, should
take Jonathan Wild for its patron saint, with the run of Mr. Buchanan's
cabinet for a choice of sponsors,--godfathers we should not dare to call

Mr. Lincoln's Inaugural Speech was of the kind usually called "firm, but
conciliatory,"--a policy doubtful in troublous times, since it commonly
argues weakness, and more than doubtful in a crisis like ours, since it
left the course which the Administration meant to take ambiguous, and,
while it weakened the Government by exciting the distrust of all
who wished for vigorous measures, really strengthened the enemy by
encouraging the conspirators in the Border States. There might be a
question as to whether this or that attitude were expedient for the
Republican Party; there could be none as to the only safe and dignified
one for the Government of the Nation. Treason was as much treason in the
beginning of March as in the middle of April; and it seems certain now,
as it seemed probable to many then, that the country would have sooner
rallied to the support of the Government, if the Government had shown an
earlier confidence in the loyalty of the people. Though the President
talked of "repossessing" the stolen forts, arsenals, and custom-houses,
yet close upon this declaration followed the disheartening intelligence
that the Cabinet were discussing the propriety of evacuating not only
Fort Sumter, which was of no strategic importance, but Fort Pickens,
which was the key to the Gulf of Mexico, and to abandon which was almost
to acknowledge the independence of the Rebel States. Thus far the Free
States had waited with commendable patience for some symptom of vitality
in the new Administration, something that should distinguish it from the
piteous helplessness of its predecessor. But now their pride was too
deeply outraged for endurance, indignant remonstrances were heard from
all quarters, and the Government seemed for the first time fairly to
comprehend that it had twenty millions of freemen at its back, and that
forts might be taken and held by honest men as well as by knaves and
traitors. The nettle had been stroked long enough; it was time to try
a firm grip. Still the Administration seemed inclined to temporize, so
thoroughly was it possessed by the notion of conciliating the Border
States. In point of fact, the side which those States might take in the
struggle between Law and Anarchy was of vastly more import to them than
to us. They could bring no considerable reinforcement of money, credit,
or arms to the rebels; they could at best but add so many mouths to an
army whose commissariat was already dangerously embarrassed. They could
not even, except temporarily, keep the war away from the territory of
the seceding States, every one of which had a sea-door open to the
invasion of an enemy who controlled the entire navy and shipping of the

The position assumed by Eastern Virginia and Maryland was of consequence
only so far as it might facilitate a sudden raid on Washington, and the
policy of both these States was to amuse the Government by imaginary
negotiations till the plans of the conspirators were ripe. In both
States men were actively recruited and enrolled to assist in attacking
the capital. With them, as with the more openly rebellious States, the
new theory of "Coercion" was ingeniously arranged like a valve, yielding
at the slightest impulse to the passage of forces for the subversion
of legitimate authority, closing imperviously so that no drop of power
could ooze through in the opposite direction. Lord de Roos, long
suspected of cheating at cards, would never have been convicted but for
the resolution of an adversary, who, pinning his hand to the table with
a fork, said to him blandly, "My Lord, if the ace of spades is not under
your Lordship's hand, why, then, I beg your pardon!" It seems to us that
a timely treatment of Governor Letcher in the same energetic way would
have saved the disasters of Harper's Ferry and Norfolk,--for disasters
they were, though six months of temporizing had so lowered the public
sense of what was due to the national dignity, that people were glad to
see the Government active at length, even if only in setting fire to its
own house.

We are by no means inclined to criticize the Administration, even if
this were the proper time for it; but we cannot help thinking that there
was great wisdom in Napoleon's recipe for saving life in dealing with a
mob,--"First fire grape-shot _into_ them; after that, over their
heads as much as you like." The position of Mr. Lincoln was already
embarrassed when he entered upon office, by what we believe to have been
a political blunder in the leaders of the Republican Party. Instead of
keeping closely to the real point, and the only point, at issue, namely,
the claim of a minority to a right of rebellion when displeased with the
result of an election, the bare question of Secession, pure and simple,
they allowed their party to become divided, and to waste themselves
in discussing terms of compromise and guaranties of slavery which had
nothing to do with the business in hand. Unless they were ready to
admit that popular government was at an end, those were matters already
settled by the Constitution and the last election. Compromise was out
of the question with men who had gone through the motions, at least, of
establishing a government and electing an anti-president. The way to
insure the loyalty of the Border States, as the event has shown, was to
convince them that disloyalty was dangerous. That revolutions never go
backward is one of those compact generalizations which the world is so
ready to accept because they save the trouble of thinking; but, however
it may be with revolutions, it is certain that rebellions most commonly
go backward with disastrous rapidity, and it was of the gravest moment,
as respected its moral influence, that Secession should not have time
allowed it to assume the proportions and the dignity of revolution,
in other words, of a rebellion too powerful to be crushed. The secret
friends of the Secession treason in the Free States have done their
best to bewilder the public mind and to give factitious prestige to a
conspiracy against free government and civilization by talking about the
_right_ of revolution, as if it were some acknowledged principle of the
Law of Nations. There is a right, and sometimes a duty, of rebellion, as
there is also a right and sometimes a duty of hanging men for it; but
rebellion continues to be rebellion until it has accomplished its
object and secured the acknowledgment of it from the other party to
the quarrel, and from the world at large. The Republican Party in the
November elections had really effected a peaceful revolution, had
emancipated the country from the tyranny of an oligarchy which had
abused the functions of the Government almost from the time of its
establishment, to the advancement of their own selfish aims and
interests; and it was this legitimate change of rulers and of national
policy by constitutional means which the Secessionists intended to
prevent. To put the matter in plain English, they resolved to treat the
people of the United States, in the exercise of their undoubted and
lawful authority, as rebels, and resorted to their usual policy of
intimidation in order to subdue them. Either this magnificent empire
should be their plantation, or it should perish. This was the view even
of what were called the moderate slave-holders of the Border States;
and all the so-called compromises and plans of reconstruction that were
thrown into the caldron where the hell-broth of anarchy was brewing had
this extent,--no more,--What terms of _submission_ would the people make
to their natural masters? Whatever other result may have come of the
long debates in Congress and elsewhere, they have at least convinced the
people of the Free States that there can be no such thing as a moderate
slave-holder,--that moderation and slavery can no more coexist than
Floyd and honesty, or Anderson and treason.

We believe, then, that conciliation was from the first impossible,--that
to attempt it was unwise, because it put the party of law and loyalty in
the wrong,--and that, if it was done as a mere matter of policy in order
to gain time, it was a still greater mistake, because it was the rebels
only who could profit by it in consolidating their organization, while
the seeming gain of a few days or weeks was a loss to the Government,
whose great advantage was in an administrative system thoroughly
established, and, above all, in the vast power of the national idea, a
power weakened by every day's delay. This is so true, that already men
began to talk of the rival governments at Montgomery and Washington, and
Canadian journals recommend a strict neutrality, as if the independence
and legitimacy of the mushroom despotism of New Ashantee were an
acknowledged fact, and the name of the United States of America had no
more authority than that of Jefferson Davis and Company, dealers in
all kinds of repudiation and anarchy. For more than a month after
the inauguration of President Lincoln there seemed to be a kind of
interregnum, during which the confusion of ideas in the Border States as
to their rights and duties as members of the "old" Union, as it began
to be called, became positively chaotic. Virginia, still professing
neutrality, prepared to seize the arsenal at Harper's Ferry and the
navy-yard at Norfolk; she would prevent the passage of the United
States' forces "with a serried phalanx of her gallant sons," two
regiments of whom stood, looking on while a file of marines took seven
wounded men in an engine-house for them; she would do everything but her
duty,--the gallant Ancient Pistol of a commonwealth. She "resumed her
sovereignty," whatever that meant; her Convention passed an ordinance
of secession, concluded a league offensive and defensive with the
rebel Confederacy, appointed Jefferson Davis commander-in-chief of
her land-forces and somebody else of the fleet she meant to steal at
Norfolk, and then coolly referred the whole matter back to the people
to vote three weeks afterwards whether they _would_ secede three weeks
before. Wherever the doctrine of Secession has penetrated, it seems to
have obliterated every notion of law and precedent.

The country had come to the conclusion that Mr. Lincoln and his cabinet
were mainly employed in packing their trunks to leave Washington, when
the "venerable Edward Ruffin of Virginia" fired that first gun at Fort
Sumter which brought all the Free States to their feet as one man.
That shot is destined to be the most memorable one ever fired on this
continent since the Concord fowling-pieces said, "That bridge is ours,
and we mean to go across it," eighty-seven Aprils ago. As these began a
conflict which gave us independence, so that began another which is to
give us nationality. It was certainly a great piece of good-luck for the
Government that they had a fort which it was so profitable to lose.
The people were weary of a masterly inactivity which seemed to consist
mainly in submitting to be kicked. We know very well the difficulties
that surrounded the new Administration; we appreciate their reluctance
to begin a war the responsibility of which was as great as its
consequences seemed doubtful; but we cannot understand how it was hoped
to evade war, except by concessions vastly more disastrous than war
itself. War has no evil comparable in its effect on national character
to that of a craven submission to manifest wrong, the postponement of
moral to material interests. There is no prosperity so great as courage.
We do not believe that any amount of forbearance would have conciliated
the South so long as they thought us pusillanimous. The only way to
retain the Border States was by showing that we had the will and the
power to do without them. The little Bopeep policy of

  "Let them alone, and they'll all come home
  Wagging their tails behind them"

was certainly tried long enough with conspirators who had shown
unmistakably that they desired nothing so much as the continuance of
peace, especially when it was all on one side, and who would never have
given the Government the great advantage of being attacked in Fort
Sumter, had they not supposed they were dealing with men who could not
be cuffed into resistance. The lesson we have to teach, them now is,
that we are thoroughly and terribly in earnest. Mr. Stephens's theories
are to be put to a speedier and sterner test than he expected, and we
are to prove which is stronger,--an oligarchy built _on_ men, or a
commonwealth built _of_ them. Our structure is alive in every part with
defensive and recuperative energies; woe to theirs, if that vaunted
corner-stone which they believe patient and enduring as marble should
begin to writhe with intelligent life!

We have no doubt of the issue. We believe that the strongest battalions
are always on the side of God. The Southern army will be fighting for
Jefferson Davis, or at most for the liberty of self-misgovernment, while
we go forth for the defence of principles which alone make government
august and civil society possible. It is the very life of the nation
that is at stake. There is no question here of dynasties, races,
religions,--but simply whether we will consent to include in our Bill of
Rights--not merely as of equal validity with all other rights, whether
natural or acquired, but by its very nature transcending and abrogating
them all--the Right of Anarchy. We must convince men that treason
against the ballot-box is as dangerous as treason against a throne, and
that, if they play so desperate a game, they must stake their lives on
the hazard. The one lesson that remained for us to teach the political
theorists of the Old World was, that we are as strong to suppress
intestine disorder as foreign aggression, and we must teach it
decisively and thoroughly. The economy of war is to be tested by the
value of the object to be gained by it. A ten years' war would be cheap
that gave us a country to be proud of and a flag that should command the
respect of the world because it was the symbol of the enthusiastic unity
of a great nation.

The Government, however slow it may have been to accept the war which
Mr. Buchanan's supineness left them, is acting now with all energy and
determination. What they have a right to claim is the confidence of the
people, and that depends in good measure on the discretion of the
press. Only let us have no more weakness under the plausible name of
Conciliation. We need not discuss the probabilities of an acknowledgment
of the Confederated States by England and France; we have only to
say, "Acknowledge them at your peril." But there is no chance of the
recognition of the Confederacy by any foreign governments, so long as it
is without the confidence of the brokers. There is no question on which
side the strength lies. The whole tone of the Southern journals, so far
as we are able to judge, shows the inherent folly and weakness of the
Secession movement. Men who feel strong in the justice of their cause,
or confident in their powers, do not waste breath in childish boasts of
their own superiority and querulous depreciation of their antagonists.
They are weak, and they know it. And not only are they weak in
comparison with the Free States, but we believe they are without the
moral support of whatever deserves the name of public opinion at home.
If not, why does their Congress, as they call it, hold council always
with closed doors, like a knot of conspirators? The first tap of the
Northern drum dispelled many illusions, and we need no better proof of
which ship is sinking than that Mr. Caleb Gushing should have made such
haste to come over to the old Constitution with the stars and stripes at
her mast-head.

We cannot think that the war we are entering on can end without some
radical change in the system of African slavery. Whether it be doomed
to a sudden extinction, or to a gradual abolition through economical
causes, this war will not leave it where it was before. As a power in
the State, its reign is already over. The fiery tongues of the batteries
in Charleston harbor accomplished in one day a conversion which the
constancy of Garrison and the eloquence of Phillips had failed to bring
about in thirty years. And whatever other result this war is destined to
produce, it has already won for us a blessing worth everything to us as
a nation in emancipating the public opinion of the North.



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ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.