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Title: The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 18, No. 106, August, 1866
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 18, No. 106, August, 1866" ***

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_A Magazine of Literature, Science, Art, and Politics._


Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1866, by TICKNOR AND
FIELDS, in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District of

Transcriber's Note: Minor typos have been corrected and footnotes moved
to the end of the article.


The strictly professional man may have overcome his natural aversion to
some of the most interesting objects of his study, such as snakes, and
toads, and spiders, and vermin of all kinds; but people in general have
always required that any attempt to force such abominations upon their
notice should be preceded by a more or less elaborate and humble
acknowledgment of their hideous aspect, their ferocious disposition,
their dark and bloody deeds, and the utter impossibility of their
conducing in any way to human comfort and convenience.

But, while admitting the truth of much that has been thus urged against
spiders as a class, I must decline, or at least defer, conforming to
custom in speaking of the particular variety which we are about to
consider, and I believe that it will need only a glance at the insect
and its silk, and a brief notice of its habits, to justify my
indisposition to follow the usual routine.

Without apology, then, I shall endeavor to show that in the structure,
the habits, the mode of growth, and, above all, in the productions of
this spider are to be found subjects worthy the attention of every class
of minds; for to the naturalist is exhibited a species which, though not
absolutely new to science, was never seen nor heard of by Professor
Agassiz till the spring of 1865, and which is so narrowly circumscribed
in its geographical distribution that, so far as I can ascertain, it was
never observed by Hentz,--a Southern entomologist, who devoted himself
particularly to spiders,--and is met with only upon a few low, marshy
islands on the coast of South Carolina, and perhaps of other Southern
States. Its habits, too, are so interesting, and so different in many
respects from those recorded of other species, that the observer of
living creatures has here an abundant opportunity, not only for
increasing his own knowledge, but for enlarging the domain of science.
And this more especially in America; for while, in England, Blackwall
and others have been laboring for more than thirty years, spiders seem
to have received little attention on this side of the Atlantic.

We have now, moreover, in our observation of these insects, an
incentive of sovereign effect, namely, the hope of increasing our
national wealth; for to the practical man, to the manufacturer and the
mechanic, is offered a new silken material which far surpasses in beauty
and elegance that of the silk-worm, and which, however small in quantity
at present, demands some attention in view of the alarming decrease in
the silk crops of Europe. This material is obtained in a manner entirely
new,--not, as with the worm, by unwinding the cocoons, nor yet, as might
be suggested for the spider, by unravelling the web, but by _drawing_ or
_winding_ or _reeling directly from the body of the living insect_, even
as you would milk a cow, or, more aptly, as wire is pulled through a
wire-drawing machine.

To the admirer of the beautiful and perfect in nature is presented a
fibre of absolute smoothness, roundness, and finish, the colors of which
resemble, and in the sunlight even excel in brilliancy those of the two
precious metals, silver and gold; while the moralist who loves to
illustrate the workings of God's providence in bringing forth good out
of evil, by comparing the disgusting silk-worm with its beautiful and
useful product, may now enforce the lesson by the still more striking
contrast between this silk and the loathed and hated spider.

The statesman who, after a four years' war, sees few indications of a
better spirit on the part of the South, and is almost ready to exclaim,
"Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?" may now perhaps discern a
spot, small indeed, but brilliant, on the very edge of the dark Carolina
cloud; and it may not be too much to hope that, in course of time, the
cords of our spider's golden and silver silk may prove potent bonds of
union with the first of the rebellious States.

As to the mathematician who believes in the inborn tendency of mankind
to variation and imperfection, and holds up to us, as shining examples
of mathematical accuracy, the work of certain insects, and who--since
Professor Wyman has shown that the hexagonal form of the bee's cell is
not of original design, but rather the necessary result of difficulties
met and overcome in the most economical manner, though by no means
always with perfect exactness and uniformity--has fallen back upon the
ancient and still prevalent belief in the precise construction of the
spider's web, (which, as will be seen, really displays it no more than
does the bee's cell,)--to this disappointed man of geometry and figures
is now offered the alternative of either finding a new and truer
illustration, or of abandoning his position entirely.

Let us, then, wait till we have seen this spider and heard his story.
_His_ story! That reminds me of another class which may possibly be
represented among my readers, and whose members, in the contemplation of
the domestic economy of these insects, will, I fear, discover many and
weighty arguments in favor of the various opinions entertained by the
advocates of Woman's Rights; for here is a community in which the
females not only far exceed the males in number, but present so great a
contrast to them in size and importance, that, but for absolute proof,
they never would be regarded as belonging to the same species.

Here, then, is a life-size picture of our spider and of--I was about to
say, _his_ partner; but in truth it is _she_ who is _the_ spider, and
_he_ is only _her_ partner. Such is the real physical, and, so to speak,
mental superiority of the female, that, even if we insist upon the legal
equality at least of the masculine element, we can do so only in name,
and will find it hard to avoid speaking of him as the male of the
_Nephila plumipes_, thus tacitly admitting her as the truer
representative of the species. Their relative size and appearance are
shown by the figures; but it may be added that she is very handsome; the
fore part of her body, which, being composed of the head and chest
soldered together, is termed _cephalothorax_, is glossy-black and
covered, except in spots, with white hairs; she has also upon six of
her legs one or two brushes of black hairs;--while he is an
insignificant-looking insect of a dull-brown color and half-starved
look, with only a few scattered bristles upon his slender limbs. He does
nothing for himself, leaving her to make the web and provide the food,
and even to carry him on her back when removal is necessary; but she
makes up for the imposition by keeping him on short allowance and at a
respectful distance, excepting when the impregnation of her eggs is
necessary; and even then she is mistress of the situation, and, _etiam
in amoribus sæva_, may afterward eat him up. But of this contrast
between the two sexes, of their functions and their relations to each
other, more hereafter. It is sufficient to observe that, when this
spider is mentioned, and the sex is not specified, the _female_ is
always referred to.

[Illustration: Fig. 1. Male and Female _Nephila plumipes_.]

When, where, and how was this spider discovered? and why is it that we
have never heard of it before? To answer these questions, we must go
back three years, to the 19th of August, 1863, and to the camp of the
Fifty-fifth Regiment of Massachusetts Volunteers, on a desolate island a
little south from the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina, and in sight
of the fortress which Gillmore had just begun to strengthen by the
addition of tons of Union shot and shell, till, from tolerably strong
masonry, its walls became solid earthworks which nothing could pierce or
greatly injure. There, at the north end of Folly Island,--scarce wider
than our camp at that point, and narrower than the magnificent beach
which, at low tide, afforded ample space for the battalion drill,--I
found in a tree a very large and handsome spider, whose web was at least
three feet in diameter.

Glad enough to meet with anything new, and bearing in mind the interest
with which, when a boy, I had watched and recorded the operations of our
common house and hunting spiders, I entangled him--I didn't then know it
was _her_, so let it pass--in the web, and carried it to my tent. The
insect was very quiet, and did not attempt to escape; but presently,
after crawling slowly along my sleeve, she let herself down to the
floor, taking first the precaution, after the prudent fashion of most
spiders, to attach to the point she left a silken line, which, as she
descended, came from her body. Rather than seize the insect itself, I
caught the thread and pulled. The spider was not moved, but the line
readily drew out, and, being wound upon my hands, seemed so strong that
I attached the end to a little quill, and, having placed the spider upon
the side of the tent, lay down on my couch and turned the quill between
my fingers at such a rate that in one minute six feet of silk were wound
upon it. At the end of an hour and a half I estimated, with due
allowance for stop-pages, that I had four hundred and fifty feet, or
_one hundred and fifty yards_, of the most brilliant and beautiful
golden silk I had ever seen.

During all this operation the spider had remained perfectly quiet, but
finally put an end to my proceedings by grasping the line with the tip
of one of her hind legs so that it snapped. I was tired, however, and
contented myself with the quantity already obtained, which now formed a
raised band of gold upon the quill. This specimen is now in my
possession, but has been removed from the quill to ascertain its weight,
which is one third of a grain.

It is worthy of notice, perhaps, that in all this was involved no new
_fact_, but only a happy deduction from one known ages ago; namely, that
a spider, when dropping, leaves her line attached, and so allows it to
be drawn from her body. Nothing was more natural than to simply reverse
the position of the fixed point, and, instead of letting the spider go
away from the end of her line, to take the end of her line away from
her. So natural, indeed, did it seem, that my gratification at having
been (as was then supposed) the first to do it was, on reflection, mixed
with surprise that no one had ever thought of it before, and I am very
glad to find that at least _four_ individuals have, within the last
century, pulled silk out of a spider, though of these only one, whose
researches I hope to make known, regarded the matter as anything more
than a curious experiment.

I had never before seen such a spider, nor even paid attention to any
geometrical species; though one large black and yellow variety is, or
used to be, common enough in our fields at the North. Neither had I ever
heard of such a method of obtaining silk. But though my first specimen
was not preserved, and a second was never seen on Folly Island, yet I
was so impressed with its size and brilliant colors, and especially with
the curious brushes of black hairs on its legs, that when, during the
following summer, another officer described to me a great spider which
was very common on Long Island, where he was stationed, I knew it was
the same, and told him what I had done the year before, adding that I
was sure something would come of it in time.

With leisure and many spiders at his command, this officer improved upon
my suggestion, by substituting for my quill turned in the fingers a
wooden cylinder worked by a crank, and by securing, at a proper
distance, (between pins, I think,) one or more spiders, whose threads
were guided between pins upon the cylinder. He thus produced more of the
silk, winding it upon rings of hard rubber so as to make very pretty
ornaments. With this simple machine I wound the silk in two grooves cut
on a ring of hard rubber and parallel except at one point, where they
crossed so as to form a kind of signet. Another officer now suggested
and put in operation still another improvement, in the shape of the
"gear-drill-stock" of our armorer's chest. This, being a machine for
drilling iron, was rough in its construction and uneven in its action,
but, having cog-wheels, a rapid and nearly steady motion could be given
to its shaft. To this shaft he attached a little cross of rubber, and
covered it with silk, which was of a silver-white color instead of
golden-yellow, as in other cases. The difference in color was then
supposed to depend upon individual peculiarities, but the true
explanation will be given farther on. With this gear-drill-stock, upon a
larger ring, one inch in diameter and three eighths of an inch in width,
in a groove upon its periphery one fourth of an inch in width, and
across the sides of the ring in two directions, I wound _three thousand
four hundred and eighty-four yards_, or _nearly two miles, of silk_. The
length was estimated by accurately determining the different dimensions
of the ring where wound upon, and multiplying by this the number of
revolutions of the cylinder per minute (170), and this product again by
the number of minutes of actual winding (285), deducting from the gross
time of winding (about nine hours) each moment of stoppage for any

This was late in the fall of 1864, and, our specimens being sent home,
further experiments, and even thoughts upon the subject, were prevented
by the expedition against the Charleston and Savannah Railroad, and the
many changes of station that followed the disastrous battle of Honey
Hill. But, when I was at the North in February, 1865, a friend expressed
to me his confident belief that this new silken product could be made of
practical utility, and advised me to make inquiries on the subject. So,
before presenting it to the scientific societies, I tested the strength
of the silk by attaching to a fixed point one end of a thread _one
four-thousandth_ of an inch in diameter, and tying the other end upon
the arm of an accurate balance: weights were then dropped in to the
amount of _fifty-four grains_ before the line was broken. By a
calculation from this, a solid bar of spider's silk, one inch in
diameter, would sustain a weight of more than _seventy tons_; while a
similar bar of steel will sustain only fifty-six, and one of iron
twenty-eight tons. The specimens were then exhibited to Professors
Wyman, Agassiz, and Cooke, of Harvard University, to all of whom the
species of spider was unknown, though Professor Wyman has since found a
single specimen among some insects collected at the South; while to them
as well as to the silk-manufacturers the idea of reeling silk directly
from a living insect was entirely new. The latter, of course, wished to
see a quantity of it before pronouncing upon its usefulness. So most of
my furlough was spent in making arrangements for securing a number of
the spiders, and reeling their silk during the coming summer. These
comprised six light wooden boxes with sliding fronts, each eighteen
inches wide and high and one foot deep, and containing six tin trays one
above another, each of which, again, held twenty-four square paper boxes
two and a half inches in diameter, and with lids closed by an elastic.
Into these the spiders were to be put for transportation. Then I had
made a costly machine for reeling the silk, which, however, proved of no
practical value.

In March, with these and other real or fancied adjuvants, (some of which
proved even less useful and trustworthy than the machine,) but, above
all, with a determination to put this matter to the test of actual
experiment, I rejoined the regiment at Charleston, which had just fallen
into our hands. It was not until April, however, that we were so
situated that I could make any attempt to get spiders. Of course it was
not expected that the full-grown ones should be found at that season,
but the eggs or young should be abundant where the spiders had been in
the summer.

Before recounting my adventures in pursuit of my spinster friends, it
may be well to say a few words of the locality which they inhabited.

[Illustration: Fig. 2. Map of Charleston and Vicinity.]

Charleston stands upon the extremity of a narrow peninsula, between the
Cooper and the Ashley Rivers. Charleston Harbor, supplied by these and
some smaller streams, lies between Mt. Pleasant and Sullivan's Island on
the northeast, and James and Morris Islands on the southwest. One cannot
but be struck with the resemblance, so great as to be almost
symmetrical, between the two sides of the harbor. Mt. Pleasant and James
Island are quite high land,--high at least for the coast of South
Carolina,--and are separated from the mainland, the one by the Wando
River, the other by Wappoo Creek; while Sullivan's Island, where stand
Fort Moultrie and other Rebel batteries, corresponds almost precisely to
Morris Island, both being low and sandy, and being, as it were, bent
inland from the sea, with sharp points looking toward the city, their
convex shores forming a rounded entrance to the harbor. Extending
southward from Morris Island, and separated from it by Lighthouse Inlet,
is Folly Island; and in exact correspondence to the latter, north of
Sullivan's Island, and separated from it by Breach Inlet, is a similar
sand-ridge called Long Island. But now occurs a difference; for while
between Long and Sullivan's Islands and Christ's Church Parish is an
immense salt marsh intersected by creeks, but presenting an unbroken
surface, in the midst of the corresponding marsh between Morris and
Folly Islands and James Island is a group of low wooded islands, the
largest of which lies opposite the upper or north end of Folly Island.
To this no name is given on the maps, nor is it even distinguished from
the marsh. It is, however, completely surrounded by water; and, though
this is in the form of creeks neither wide nor deep, yet the peculiar
softness of the mud, and the absence of any landing-place except upon
the side toward Folly Island, render it almost inaccessible.

To this narrow strip of land, not three miles in length, was given the
name of Long Island,--perhaps by our own troops, who knew nothing of an
island of the same name _north_ of the harbor; and in case it is found
that no other name belongs to it, we may properly avoid a confusion, and
christen it _Spider_ Island, in honor of the remarkable insects for
whose especial benefit it seems to have been made, and which, with the
exception of the mosquitoes, are its sole inhabitants.

As was said, the first spider was found on Folly Island on the 19th of
August, 1863: it was also the last there seen. During the summer of
1864, many were found on Long Island (so called); and when, in the
spring of 1865, our regiment was encamped on James Island near Wappoo
Creek, it was toward Long Island that all my attention, so far as
concerned spiders, was directed.

But first, as a bit of collateral history, and to show how easily and
how far one may go astray when one of the links in the chain of argument
is only an _inference_, let me relate that, while riding over James
Island, I observed upon trees and bushes numbers of small brown bags,
from half an inch to an inch and a half in diameter, pear-shaped, and
suspended by strong silken cords. The bags themselves were made of a
finer silk so closely woven as to resemble brown paper, and, when
opened, were found to contain a mass of loose silk filled with young
spiders to the number of five hundred or more. In certain localities,
especially in a swampy field just outside the first line of Rebel works,
they were quite abundant. I had soon collected about four hundred of
them, which, by a moderate estimate, contained _two hundred thousand
little spiders_,--quite enough, I thought, with which to commence
operations. But one hot day in June I placed them all on a tray in the
sun. I was called away, and on my return found my one fifth of a million
young spiders dead,--baked to death.

Prior to this catastrophe, however, I had become convinced that these
were not the spiders I sought. Indeed, my only reasons for thinking they
might be were, first, the abundance of these cocoons in a locality so
near Long Island; and, second, my own great desire that they should
prove the spiders I wanted. The young spiders, it is true, did not at
all resemble their supposed progenitors, as to either shape, or color,
or markings; yet all of these evidently changed during growth, and would
not of themselves disprove the relationship.

One day in April, however, a cocoon was found in a tree on James Island,
of a very different appearance from the others. It was of loose
texture, and, instead of being pear-shaped, was hemispherical in form,
and attached by its flat surface to the lower side of a leaf. This also
contained young spiders, a little larger and a little brighter in color
than the others, but really bearing no resemblance to the full-grown
spiders of Long Island. This single cocoon formed the entering wedge of
doubt, and soon it was clear that the only means of proof lay on Long
Island itself.

But how was this to be reached? Easily enough while we were upon Folly
Island and could row through the creeks to a wharf on the east side of
Long Island. But now the case was altered; for between James and Long
Islands was the immense marsh already mentioned, intersected by creeks,
and composed of mud practically without bottom, and ranging from
eighteen to twenty-three feet in depth by actual measurement. Around or
over or through this marsh it was necessary to go, in order to reach
Long Island, the home of the spiders.

I could easily occupy the rest of my allotted space in recounting my
various attempts to reach this El Dorado, which my fancy, excited by
every delay, stocked with innumerable cocoons of the kind already found
so abundantly on James Island. These I expected would furnish thousands
of spiders, the care of which, with the reeling of their silk, would
give employment to all the freed people in South Carolina,--for even
then the poor creatures were finding their way to the coast. And
perhaps, I thought, some day, the Sea-Island silk may be as famous as
the choice Sea-Island cotton. This hope I still cherish, together with
the belief that, under certain conditions, the spiders may also be
reared at the North.

After riding miles and miles in all directions in search of the readiest
point of attack; after having once engaged a row-boat to go around
through Stono River and meet me at the nearest point of land,--on which
occasion I dismounted to give my horse a better chance of getting over a
bad place in the road, and the ungrateful beast left me in the lurch and
went home much faster than he came, while I, being now half-way, walked
on through the marsh, and had the pleasure of sitting on a log in a
pouring rain for an hour, with Long Island just on the other side of a
creek over which no boat came to carry me,--after this and other
disappointments, I at last made sure by going in the boat myself, and so
finally reached the island. But now, to my discomfiture, after a most
careful search, I saw only two or three cocoons of the kind I looked
for, while the others, of loose texture, were quite abundant, and
doubtless would have been found in still greater numbers but for their
always being under leaves, and often at a considerable height. It was
probable now that these latter cocoons contained _the_ spiders, and that
the former were a different species.

The regiment now removed to the interior of the State, and while there
occurred the _coup de soleil_ above mentioned. We remained at Orangeburg
until the middle of August, and then, being stationed at Mt. Pleasant, I
again made raids for spiders. Upon James Island, in the localities where
during the spring the cocoons were abundant, I found many large
geometrical spiders, all of one kind, but not of the kind I sought. They
were bad-tempered, and their legs were so short and strong that it was
not easy to handle them, while their silk was of a light, and not
brilliant, yellow.

My first attempt upon Long Island was made by leaving Charleston in a
boat, which, after touching at Sumter, landed me at Fort Johnson. Here I
was joined by a sergeant and corporal of the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts,
and we walked across to a little settlement of freed people not far from
Secessionville, where a boat and crew were engaged. It would be tedious
to relate how, after sticking on invisible oyster-beds and mud-flats,
and losing our way among the creeks, at two o'clock we found ourselves
about one hundred yards from the north end of the island; and how,
since it was too late to try to reach the wharf on the east side, even
had we been sure of the way, the two Fifty-fourth boys and myself got
out of the boat and essayed to cross upon the marsh. Such a marsh! We
have marshes at the North, but they are as dry land in comparison. I had
seen them at the South, had stepped upon and into them, but never one
like this. It was clear mud, as soft as mud could be and not run like
the water that covered it at high tide. Even the tall rushes wore an
unsteady look; and the few oysters upon its surface evidently required
all their balancing powers to lie upon their flat sides and avoid
sinking edgewise into the oozy depths. In we sank, over ankles, at the
first step, and deeper and deeper till we took a second; for our only
safety lay in pushing down the rushes with the inside of one foot and
treading upon them, till the other could be withdrawn from its yielding
bed, and a spot selected for the next step forward. I say _selected_,
for even this mud was more firm than a hole in it filled with water and
treacherously concealed by a few rushes. A misstep into one of these
pitfalls brought me to my knees, and well-nigh compelled me to call for
help; but a sudden and determined spring, and a friendly bunch of rushes
beyond, spared me that mortification. When two thirds of the way across,
and while thinking we should soon reach dry land, we came upon the edge
of a creek, not wide, it is true, but with soft, slimy, sloping sides,
(for _banks_ they could not properly be called,) and no one knew how
many feet of mud beneath its sluggish stream. Under ordinary
circumstances I might have sounded a retreat; but, remembering that
there was twice as much mud behind as before us, and feeling ourselves
sinking slowly but surely in our tracks, we slid down the sides into the
water. This received our bodies to the waist, the mud our legs to the
knees; but we struggled through, and, after another terrible thirty
yards of mud, reached Long Island. Leaving my faithful companions to
rest, I struck off down the east side of the island, and soon found
spiders in plenty. Stopping at the wharf, and returning upon the west
side, I counted one hundred spiders in less than an hour. This was only
a voyage of discovery, but I could not resist the temptation to capture
one big fellow and put it in my hat, which, with the edges brought
together, I was forced to carry in my teeth, for one hand was required
to break down the webs stretched across my path, and the other to do
battle in vain with the thousands of mosquitoes, of huge size and bloody
intent, besetting me on every side. What with the extreme heat and my
previous fatigue, and the dread lest my captive should escape and
revenge herself upon my face while I was avoiding the nets of her
friends, and the relentless attacks of their smaller but more venomous
associates, it was the most uncomfortable walk imaginable. To complete
my misery, the path led me out upon the marsh where I could see nothing
of the boat or my companions, and whence, to reach them, I had to walk
across the head of the island. Excepting the dreaded recrossing of the
mud, I hardly remember how we made our way back; but by one means and
another I finally reached Charleston at nine o'clock, about as
disreputable-looking a medical man as ever was seen.

However, all this was soon forgotten, and, being now assured of the
presence of the spiders in their former haunts, on the 30th of August,
1865, I organized a new expedition, which was to proceed entirely by
water, and which consisted of a sail-boat and crew of picked volunteers.
Leaving Mt. Pleasant in the morning, we crossed the harbor, and were
soon lost in the meanderings of the creeks behind Morris Island. _Lost_
is appropriate, for, once in these creeks, you know nothing, you see and
hear nothing, and, if you change your course, must do so by mere guess.
But the most annoying thing is, after an apparent advance of a quarter
of a mile, to find yourself not twenty yards from your starting-point,
so tortuous are the windings of the creeks.

By dint of hard rowing (in the wrong direction, as we soon found), then
by walking across Morris Island to Light-House Inlet, and still harder
rowing from there to the wharf of Long Island, we succeeded in securing
sixty spiders; but now arose a furious storm of wind and rain, which not
only compelled our retreat, but drenched us to the skin, blew us back
faster than we could row, and threatened to overturn our boat if we
hoisted the sail; so slow was our progress, that it was eleven o'clock
at night before we reached Mt. Pleasant. Thus ended my last and only
successful raid upon Long Island.

It may seem that I have dwelt longer than was necessary upon the
circumstances attending the discovery of this spider and its silk. If
so, it is not merely because at that time both were new to myself and
all to whom I showed them, and everything concerning them was likely to
be impressed upon my mind, but also because I then hoped that the idea
of obtaining silk directly from a living insect might be found of
practical importance, as I still hope it may. The incidents illustrate,
too, the nature of the obstacles daily encountered and overcome by our
troops; for no one who has never seen or stepped into a Sea-Island marsh
can realize how difficult it was for our forces to obtain a foothold in
the vicinity of Charleston. This was appreciated by the old freedman
whom we left in the boat while crossing the mud. "No wonder," he said,
"the Yankees whipped the Rebels, if they will do such things for to
catch _spiders_."

The sixty spiders so obtained were kept for several weeks in the little
boxes in which they had been deposited when caught. Every day each box
was opened, the occupant examined, and its condition, if altered, noted
on the cover. They generally spun a few irregular lines on which to
hang, and so remained quiet except when the boxes were opened: then, of
course, they tried to escape. Half a dozen of the larger ones were
placed on the window-seats and in corners of the room, where they
speedily constructed webs. By preference these were stretched across the
windows, illustrating one of the three principal instincts of this
spider, which are, first, to _seek the light_; second, to _ascend_; and
third, to take a position with the _head downward_.

It was now a question how they were to be fed; not so much while there,
where flies were abundant, but after their arrival at the North. So,
remembering that the young ones had seemed to relish blood, I took the
tender liver of a chicken, cut it into little pieces, and dipped them in
water, not, I am sorry to say, with any view to supply them with that
fluid for the want of which they afterward perished, but in order that
the bits of liver should be more easily pulled from the pins by the
spiders. To my delight they greedily accepted the new food, and now I
felt assured of keeping them during the winter.

Deferring, however, a more particular account of what was observed at
Mt. Pleasant, until their habits and mode of life are taken up in order,
it should be understood that, during our short stay, my attention was
chiefly directed to getting from the spiders as much silk as possible;
for it was evident that practical men would not credit the usefulness of
spiders' silk until an appreciable quantity could be shown to them. The
first trial of the machine with a live spider proved it an utter
failure; for though quite ingenious and complicated, it had been devised
with reference only to _dead_ spiders. In regard to the arrangement
(wherein lay its chief, if not sole, peculiarity) by which a thin slip
of brass was sprung against a rubber band by the latter's elasticity,
with a view to secure the spider's legs between them, it was found that,
as the spider was alive, and, literally, kicking, and two of its legs
were smaller than the rest, these were at once extricated, and the
others soon followed; while, if the spring was made forcible enough to
hold the smaller legs, the larger were in danger of being crushed, and
the spider, fearing this, often disjointed them, according to the
convenient, though loose habit of most Arachnida, crabs, and other
articulates. It was also proposed to secure several spiders in the above
manner upon the periphery of a wheel, the revolution of which would give
a twist to their conjoined threads, carried through a common eyelet upon
the spindle; but this can be accomplished without the inconvenience of
whirling the spiders out of sight, by modifications of the apparatus
which has always been used for twisting ordinary silk. It will probably
be inferred from the above, that, in securing the spider, two points are
to be considered; first, to prevent its escape, and second, so to
confine the legs that it cannot reach with their tips either the _silk_
or the _spinners_. Now the machine accomplished this by putting all the
legs together in a vice, as it were, entailing upon the captive much
discomfort and perhaps the loss of some of its legs, which, though eight
in number, are each appropriated to a special use by their possessor.

So, abandoning the machine, I fell back upon a simple reel, and a
modification of my little contrivance of the previous year; which was,
to grasp the spider by all the legs, holding them behind her back, and
to let her body down into a deep notch or slot cut in a thin card, the
edges of which reached the constriction between the two regions of the
body, the _cephalothorax_ and _abdomen_; so that, when a second piece of
card was let down upon it, the _cephalothorax_, with the _legs_ of the
spider, was upon one side of a partition, while on the other was the
_abdomen_, bearing upon its posterior extremity the spinning organs. The
head and horns of a cow to be milked are secured in a similar manner. By
placing in a row, or one behind another, several spiders thus secured, a
compound thread was simultaneously obtained from them, and wound upon a
spindle of hard rubber.

By this means were produced several very handsome bands of bright yellow
silk; but the time was so short, and the means of constructing and
improving my apparatus so deficient, that I could procure no more than
these few specimens, which were very beautiful, and shone in the sun
like polished and almost translucent gold; but which, being wound upon a
cylinder only an inch in diameter, and from several spiders at different
times, could not be unwound, and so made of any further use.

I tried now to ascertain how much silk could be obtained from a single
spider at once. It will be remembered that the first specimen, wound on
Folly Island, was one hundred and fifty yards in length, and weighed one
third of a grain. I now exhausted the supply of a spider for three days,
using the same spindle, one inch in diameter, and turning this at the
rate of one hundred and sixty times per minute. On the first day I
reeled for twenty minutes, which gave two hundred and sixty-six and two
thirds yards; on the third day, the second being Sunday, for twenty-five
minutes, giving three hundred and thirty-three and one third yards; and
on the fourth day, for eighteen minutes, giving two hundred and
thirty-three and one third yards,--amounting in all to eight hundred and
thirty-three and one third yards in three or four days. This was all
that could be got, and the spider herself seemed unable to evolve any
more; but on killing her and opening her abdomen, plenty of the gum was
found in the little silk bags into which it is secreted. As this has
always been the case, I have concluded that the evolution of the silk is
almost entirely a mechanical process, which is but little controlled by
the spinners themselves, and that the gum requires some degree of
preparation after it is secreted before it is fit for use as silk; for
it must be remembered that with the spider, as with the silk-worm, the
silk is formed and contained in little bags or glands in the abdomen,
not as _threads_, but as a very viscid gum. This passes in little tubes
or ducts to the spinners, through minute openings, in which it is drawn
out into filaments, uniting and drying instantly in the air, and so
forming the single fibre from each spinner.

The silk obtained the first day was of a deep yellow; to my great
astonishment, the second reeling from the same spider gave silk of a
brilliant silver-white color; while on the third occasion, as if by
magic, the color had changed again, and I got only _yellow_ silk. The
hypothesis of individual peculiarity, adopted the previous year to
explain why some spiders gave yellow, and others white silk, was now
untenable; and, remembering that, beside these two positive colors there
was also (and indeed more commonly) a _light yellow_, as if a
combination of the other two, I saw that the real solution of the
mystery must lie in the spinners themselves. Examining carefully the
thread as it came from the body, it was seen to be composed of two
distinct portions, differing materially in their size, their color,
their elasticity, and their relative position; for one of them was
_white_ and _inelastic_, crinkling and flying up when relaxed, and
seemed to proceed from the _posterior_ of the two principal pairs of
spinners, while the other was _larger_, _yellow_, so _elastic_ that when
relaxed it kept its direction, and seemed to come from the _anterior_
pair of spinners, and so, in the inverted position of the spider, was
_above_ the other. By putting a spider under the influence of
chloroform, and then carrying the first thread under a pin stuck in a
cork to one part of a spindle, and the second or yellow line over
another pin to a different part of the spindle, I reeled off from the
same spider, at the same time, two distinct bands of silk, of which one
was a deep golden-yellow, the other a bright silver-white; while, if
both threads ran together, there was formed a band of _light yellow_
from the union of the two. Thinking such a difference must subserve some
use in the economy of the insect, I made a more careful examination of
its webs. At first sight these resembled those of most geometrical
spiders, in being broad, rounded, nearly vertical nets; but they were
unusually large, and in their native woods often stretched between trees
and across the paths, so as to be two, three, and even more, feet in
diameter, and in my room at Mt. Pleasant hung like curtains before the
windows. They were of a bright yellow color and very viscid; but now I
noticed that neither the color nor the viscidity pertained to the entire
net, for although the concentric circles constituting the principal part
of the web were _yellow_, and very _elastic_, and studded with little
beads of _gum_, (Fig 3,) yet the diverging lines or _radii_ of the
wheel-shaped structure, with all the guys and stays by which it was
suspended and braced, were _dry_ and _inelastic_, and of a _white_ or
lighter yellow color.

[Illustration: Fig. 3. Silk threads, viscid and dry.]

Now, however, a new mystery presented itself. We will admit that the
spider had the power, not only to vary the _size_ of her lines according
to the number of spinners, or of the minute holes in each spinner, which
were applied to the surface whence the line was to proceed, but also to
make use of either golden or silver silk at will. But how was it that
this yellow silk--which was quite dry and firm, though elastic, as
reeled from the spider, or as spun by her in the formation of her
cocoons--was nevertheless, when used for the concentric circles of the
web, so viscid as to follow the point of a pin, stretching in so doing
many times its length? A satisfactory explanation of this has never yet
been offered, nor can be until the minute anatomy of the spinning organs
is better understood, and the evolution of the silk more carefully
observed at every stage, and under all conditions. I will merely state
very briefly the few facts already established, with some of the
possible explanations.

The spinning _mammulæ_ are placed in pairs at the lower part of the
abdomen, near its hinder end, and number four, six, or eight in
different species. They are little conical or cylindrical papillæ,
closely resembling the pro-legs of caterpillars, and are composed of two
or three joints, the terminal one of which is pierced with a greater or
less number of minute holes, the sides of these, in some, if not all,
cases, being prolonged into tubes. Through these holes or tubes issue
the fine filaments, which, uniting as they dry in the air, constitute
the line from each spinner.

[Illustration: Fig. 4. Spinners.]

Now the _Nephila plumipes_ possesses at least three pairs of spinners.
Of these, two are much larger than the third, which indeed does not
appear till they are separated. From the _posterior_ of the two largest
pairs _seems_ to proceed the _white_, and from the _anterior_ the
_yellow_ silk, while from the small intermediate pair seem to proceed
very fine filaments of a pale-blue color, the use of which is to envelop
the prey after it has been seized and killed, being drawn out by the
bristles near the tips of the spider's hinder legs. Beside these six
papillæ there is, just in front of the anterior pair, a single small
papilla on the middle line, the nature and use of which I have not
ascertained, though I feel quite sure that no silk comes from it. The
large median papilla, just _behind_ the posterior pair, surrounds the
termination of the intestines, and through it the excrement is voided,
the insect for this purpose turning back the abdomen as she hangs head
downward, so that neither the web nor the spinners shall be
contaminated. Now it has recently been ascertained that the minute
globules with which the circles are studded, and the number of which on
a web of average size is estimated at _one hundred thousand_, do not
exist in that form when the viscid lines are first spun by the spider,
but as a uniform coating of gum upon a thread; this gum, of itself and
according to physical laws, soon exhibits little undulations, and then
separates into the globules which have long been observed and supposed
to be formed by the spider. The fact of spiders selecting the night for
the construction of their webs, the difficulty of making any close
observations upon them while so engaged without disturbing them, and the
near approximation of the two larger pairs of spinners while the viscid
line is slowly drawn out by the hind leg, have hitherto prevented my
determining its exact source and manner of formation. If it comes from
the anterior pair only, then one and the same organ has the power of
evolving a central axis and covering it with viscid gum; and it seems
less improbable that the axis is white and formed by the posterior pair,
the yellow gum being spread upon it by the anterior pair, which also
would then have the power to evolve this same gum at other times as an
equally dry, though more elastic thread. But in either case we have only
_three_ pairs of spinners and _four_ kinds of silk, the _pale-blue
fasciculi_ the _dry white_, the _dry yellow_, and the _viscid_ and very
_elastic_ silk which is employed only in the circles of the web, and
which often does not become yellow till after exposure to the light.
Apparently the surest method of investigation will be carefully to
destroy one pair of spinners at a time without injuring the others, and
then note the effect upon the spinning.

Let us go back now to the sixty spiders left at Mt. Pleasant. A few of
these died on the way North, but the majority reached Boston in safety
about the 20th of September, 1865; for some time I had observed that
they all were becoming more or less emaciated, and relished their food
less than at first. Occasionally one died from no apparent cause. The
mortality increasing toward the end of the month, and all of them losing
both flesh and vigor, I was persuaded to try them with water,--a thing I
had thus far declined to do, never having heard of a spider's drinking
water, and knowing that our common house species can hardly get it at
all. The result was most gratifying: a drop of water upon the tip of a
camel's-hair pencil, not only was not avoided, but greedily seized and
slowly swallowed, being held between the jaws and the palpi. All of the
spiders took it, and some even five or six drops in succession. You will
exclaim, "Poor things! what tortures they must have suffered!" I admit
that it could not have been pleasant for them to go so long without that
which they crave every day, but I cannot believe that creatures whose
legs drop off on very slight provocation, and which never show any sign
whatever of real pain, suffered very acute pangs even when subjected to
what occasions such distress to ourselves.

The few survivors straightway improved in health and spirits; but being
now convinced that a moist atmosphere was almost as needful as water to
drink, I turned them loose in the north wing of the hot-house in Dr.
Gray's Botanical Garden at Cambridge. They all mysteriously disappeared,
excepting one, which made a nice web at one end just under the
ridge-pole, and for several weeks lived and grew fat upon the flies; but
a thorough fumigation of the house with tobacco so shocked her not yet
civilized organization that she died.

Her untimely death, however, afforded opportunity for a closer
examination of the web itself. The first one she had made was not
_vertical_; and, following the prevalent ideas as to the precise
construction of the spider's web, I had felt somewhat ashamed of my pet,
but supposed the next she made would be an improvement. But no, the
rebellious insect constantly made them all (for, it should have been
said before, this spider seldom uses the same web more than forty-eight
hours) after the same manner, and finally I laid it to a depraved
idiocrasy, incident to captivity and poor health. But now another and
most unexpected feature developed itself; for, on attempting to remove
the last web by placing against it a large wire ring, and cutting the
guy-lines, I found that this most degenerate spider had not only failed
to make her house _perpendicular_, but had so far departed from the
traditions of our ancestors as to have the centre thereof decidedly
eccentric, and four times as near the upper as the lower border of the
web, so that its upper portion was only a confused array of irregular
lines, which it was impossible to secure to the frame. For any accurate
observation my web was of no value. But perhaps this was best; for had I
then learned what I have since, that our spider utterly ignores every
precedent, not only in the _position_ and _shape_ of her web, but also
in its _minute arrangement_, I might have been so affected by her
evident bad character and radical proclivities, as to have feared paying
her any further attentions,--much more, presenting her to the world.

But in order to understand how these further discoveries were made, we
must again go back to the original sixty spiders in my room at Mt.
Pleasant, South Carolina.

At the time of their capture, I had observed upon a few of the webs
little brown spiders, which I then imagined might be the half-grown
young. Six of these were found among the sixty larger spiders, and a
moment's examination of their palpi or feelers (Fig. 5) showed that they
were males, though even then I could not believe they had reached their
maturity; for their bodies were only about one fourth of an inch in
length, and weighed only one thirty-second part of a grain, while the
females were from an inch to an inch and a quarter in length, and
weighed from three to four grains. It was as absurd as if a man
weighing one hundred and fifty pounds were joined to a bigger half of
_eighteen thousand pounds' weight_, and I was not fully convinced that
these small spiders were really the males of the _Nephila plumipes_ till
I had witnessed the impregnation of the eggs of the females by them.

[Illustration: Fig. 5. Palpi, or Feelers.]

One morning, in the cell of a large female, I found a cocoon of
beautiful yellow silk containing a rounded mass of eggs. Soon the same
occurred with other females, and there were fifteen cocoons, which would
give about _seven thousand spiders_. Early in October, just one month
after they were laid, the eggs of the first cocoon were broken and
disclosed little spiders with rounded yellow bodies and short legs,
looking about as little like their parents as could be imagined. The
eggs in the other cocoons followed in their order, and now each
contained four or five hundred little spiders closely packed.

For some time they seemed to eat nothing at all; but within a few days
all had shed their skins, and now the abdomen was smaller, while the
_cephalothorax_ and legs were larger and darker; but they showed no
desire to leave their cocoons. Still they grew perceptibly; and
coincident with this was a less pleasing fact: their numbers were
decreasing in the same proportion, and occasionally one was seen eating
another. It was some time before I could reconcile the good temper and
quiet behavior of the parents with this instinctive and habitual
fratricide on the part of their children. But look at it in this way:
here were several hundred active little creatures in a space just large
enough to contain them; presently they were hungry, and as no two could
be of exactly the same size, the smaller and weaker naturally fell a
prey to their larger brethren, or rather sisters, for either very few
males are hatched, or else they are particularly good eating, and a very
small proportion survive the perils of infancy. It is evidently an
established and well-understood thing among them: all seem to be aware
of their destiny, to _eat_ or _be eaten_. What else can they do? Human
beings would do the same under the same circumstances; and I have never
seen the least sign of personal spite or malignity in the spider. There
is no pursuit, for there is no escape; and we can only conclude that, as
the new-born fish's first nourishment is the contents of the yolk-sac,
partly outside, though still a portion of its body, so the first food of
the young spiders is, if not themselves, the next best thing,--each
other. Thus it is provided that the smaller and less vigorous shall
furnish food for the larger until the latter are strong enough to
venture forth in search of other means of support.

In consequence of this mutual destruction, aided materially by the
depredations of birds and of other insects, and by exposure to the
weather, only about one per cent of those hatched reach maturity. If
properly protected, however, a far larger proportion may be saved; and
as their multiplication is so rapid, no fear need be entertained of a
limit to the supply.

By keeping these little spiders in glass jars, inverted, and with a wet
sponge at the bottom, they were easily watched and cared for. At first
only about one twentieth of an inch long and nearly as wide, they
increased in length as they grew, but for many weeks lived in common on
an irregular web, feeding together on the crushed flies or bugs thrown
to them. But when one fourth of an inch in length, they showed a
disposition to separate, and to spin each for herself a regular web,
out of which all intruders were kept. And now it was found that all
these webs were _inclined_ at nearly the same angle, and were _never
exactly vertical_; that, like the spider in the first web she made in
the Botanical Garden, the insect took a position much nearer the upper
than the lower border; and also that, instead of a web of _perfect
circles_ laid upon _regular radii_, as used to be described and is still
figured in our books, or even one of a _spiral line_, as is now more
correctly described of ordinary geometrical spiders (Fig. 6), these
never made a circle, nor even a spiral, but a _series of concentric
loops_ or arcs of circles, the lines turning back upon themselves before
reaching a point over the spider, and leaving the larger portion of the
web below her; and more than this, that the lines, though quite regular,
were by no means perfectly so, as may be seen in Fig. 7, copied from a

[Illustration: Fig. 6. Web of common Garden Spider.]

[Illustration: Fig. 7. Web of _Nephila plumipes_.]

As usual, the _radii_, or _spokes_, of the wheel-shaped structure are
first made; then the spider begins a little way from the centre, and,
passing from one radius to another, spins a series of loops at
considerable distances from each other till she reaches the
circumference. These first loops, like the radii, are of _white, dry_,
and _inelastic_ silk, and may be recognized by the little notches at
their junction with the radii. The notches are made by the spider's
drawing her body a little inward toward the centre of the web at the
time of attaching them to the radii, and so they always point in the
direction in which the spider is moving at that time, and in opposite
directions on any two successive lines (Fig. 8). Having reached what is
to be the border of her web, and thus constructed a firm framework or
scaffolding, she begins to retrace her steps, moving more slowly and
spinning now in the _intervals_ of the dry loops two or three similar
loops, but much nearer together and made of the _elastic_ and _viscid_
silk, till she has again reached her starting-point near the middle of
the web, where, on its under side, she takes a position, head downward,
hanging by her claws, and thus keeping her body from direct contact with
the web.

[Illustration: Fig. 8. Section of Web.]

Here she will remain quiet for hours as if asleep; but no sooner does a
fly or other insect strike the web, than she darts in the direction
whence the vibrations proceed, and usually seizes her prey; but,
strangely enough, if the insect have ceased its struggles before she
reaches it, she stops, and if she cannot renew them by shaking the web
with her claws, will slowly and disconsolately return to the centre of
the web, there to await fresh vibrations. These and many other facts,
even more conclusive, have satisfied me that, although this spider has
eight eyes (Fig. 9), it is as blind as a man with his eyelids shut, and
can only distinguish light from darkness, nothing more. This seems to be
the case with other geometrical species, but not at all with the field
and hunting spiders, some of which will boldly turn upon you and look
right in your eyes; they alone, of all insects, seeming to recognize the
_face_ of man as different from his body.

[Illustration: Fig. 9. Face and Jaws, magnified (eyes dimly seen).]

The hearing and touch of this spider are very acute. The latter is
exercised by the palpi and the tips of the legs, especially the first
pair, but no ear has yet been discovered; neither is anything known of
the organs of taste and smell, or even whether the insect possesses
these senses at all.

I ought before this to have anticipated and answered a question which
nine out of ten, perhaps, of my readers have already asked themselves,
"Do not spiders bite? and is not their bite poisonous, nay, at times,
deadly even to man?" The answer is, in brief, Yes, spiders do bite,
probably all of them, if provoked and so confined that they cannot
escape; though only a few tropical species can be said to seek of their
own accord an opportunity for attacking man, or any creature larger than
the insects that form their natural prey. Even the _Nephila plumipes_,
which, it has been intimated, is "Christian in its disposition, and
well-behaved beyond most of its kind," will readily bite, if it is held
in the fingers and anything is put to its jaws. But that is nothing. So
would you, most gentle reader, if a great giant pinched you between his
thumb and finger, and held your hands and feet and head; and if, too,
like our spider, you could not see enough to distinguish friends from
foes. Spiders, then, will bite. But to the second part of the inquiry
our answer must be less positive. They have a very bad name; but much of
this is due to their grim and forbidding aspect, and their bloody trade
of trapping and eating poor little insects. It is to be remembered that
there are very few, if any, medical reports of injuries from the bites
of spiders, and that the accounts of such cases occurring in the
newspapers consist in great measure of inference, and either make no
mention of the offender at all, or merely speak of a little black or
gray spider being found in the vicinity. A number of experiments have
been made in England to ascertain the effect of the bite of the larger
geometrical spiders upon the experimenter himself, upon other spiders,
and upon common insects; and the conclusion was, that it produces no
greater effect than the prick of a pin, or any other injury of equal
extent and severity; while the speedy death of its victim is ascribed to
the spider's sucking its juices, rather than to any poison instilled
into the wound. But these experiments, though somewhat reassuring, are
not conclusive; for they were tried only on one person, and people vary
much in their susceptibility to poison of all kinds; moreover, the
spiders employed were of the _geometrical_ kinds, which have never been
so much feared as the larger _field_ and _hunting_ spiders. Indeed, it
may be found that among spiders there is as great a difference in
respect to venom as among serpents, and that those which depend upon
their jaws for taking and holding their prey, such as the field and
hunting spiders, are poisonous, while the web-builders which ensnare
their victims are not so. In regard to our spiders, I have caused a
large one to bite, so as to draw blood, a kitten three days old, and the
kitten has not appeared to suffer in the least on that account.

They are very quiet insects, and never appear disturbed at what goes on
about them; neither do they run away and hide in holes and corners, like
our common spiders; but if their webs are injured, or they are startled
by a noise, they will shake themselves from side to side in their webs,
so as to be wholly invisible. Their natural food is insects of all
kinds; but they soon learn to eat soft flesh, such as the liver of
chickens, for which, as well as for water, they will sometimes stretch
themselves and turn in their webs so as to take it from the point of a
pin or camel's-hair pencil. Besides water to drink, they require an
atmosphere saturated with moisture, like that of their native island,
the relative humidity being about _seventy_ on the Hygrodeik scale. If
stroked upon the back, they often raise their bodies as a cat does, and
sometimes put back a leg to push away your finger. They may be allowed
to run over one's person with perfect safety, but, if suddenly seized,
will hold on with tooth as well as nail.

They are quite economical, and every few days, when the web has become
too dry and dusty for use, will gather it up in a mass, which they stuff
into their jaws and masticate for hours, swallowing the gum, but
throwing out the rest, with the little particles of dust, in the form of
a hard black pellet,--an instance rare, if not indeed unique, of an
animal eating a substance already excreted from its body.

Here I must close, though much against my will. It would please me to
describe, as it has almost fascinated me to observe, the doings of my
spiders, as they grew older and made their webs in the Wardian cases to
which they were removed when too many and too large for the jars; how
the young are gregarious, and move from place to place in a close
column, protected on all sides by skirmishers, which continually report
to the main body; how some of these young, whose parents were caught on
Long Island, South Carolina, a year ago, and which were hatched from the
egg in October last, have grown up during a Northern winter, have
themselves become parents and laid eggs; how they periodically cast off
their skins, even to that of the eyes, the jaws, and the breathing
tubes, and how, from too great impatience, sad accidents sometimes
befall them on these occasions; how, also, I have reeled silk from
several of these spiders, and made a thread which has been woven in a
power-loom as a woof or filling upon a warp of common black silk, so as
to make a bit of ribbon two inches wide, thereby proving that it is real
silk and can be treated as such.

Much, too, could be said of the only other attempts to utilize spiders'
silk, a knowledge of which would have materially aided me. In France,
one hundred and fifty years ago, M. Bon made gloves and stockings of
silk got by carding spiders' cocoons, and seventy years later, as I have
but recently ascertained, Termeyer, a Spaniard, not only used the
cocoons, but also, by an observation similar to my own, was led to reel
the silk from the living insect. He, however, had poorer spiders or too
little perseverance, or friends and a government influenced by a most
short-sighted economy and prudence, else the highly interesting and
instructive account of his experiments would have been familiar to some
one in this country, and would not have waited these many years to be
found by accident last spring in an obscure corner of the Astor Library.

I will add, finally, that I believe some other geometrical spiders,
especially of the genus _Nephila_, may be found as docile, and as
productive of beautiful silk, as the species I have described. At any
rate, you cannot find a more interesting inmate of your Wardian case
than some large geometrical spider.


I could not have been more than seven or eight years old, when it
happened; but it might have been yesterday. Among all other childish
memories, it stands alone. To this very day it brings with it the old,
utter sinking of the heart, and the old, dull sense of mystery.

To read the story, you should have known my mother. To understand it,
you should understand her. But that is quite impossible now, for there
is a quiet spot over the hill, and past the church, and beside the
little brook where the crimsoned mosses grow thick and wet and cool,
from which I cannot call her. It is all I have left of her now. But
after all, it is not of her that you will chiefly care to hear. The
object of my story is simply to acquaint you with a few facts, which,
though interwoven with the events of her life, are quite independent of
it as objects of interest. It is, I know, only my own heart that makes
these pages a memorial,--but, you see, I cannot help it.

Yet, I confess, no glamour of any earthly love has ever utterly dazzled
me,--not even hers. Of imperfections, of mistakes, of sins, I knew she
was guilty. I know it now,--even with the sanctity of those crimsoned
mosses, and the hush of the rest beneath, so close to my heart, I cannot
forget them. Yet somehow--I do not know how--the imperfections, the
mistakes, the very sins, bring her nearer to me as the years slip by,
and make her dearer.

The key to her life is the key to my story. That given, as I can give
it, I will try to compress. It lies in the fact that my mother was what
we call an aristocrat, I do not like the term, as the term is used. I am
sure she does not now; but I have no other word. She was a royal-looking
woman, and she had the blood of princes in her veins. Generations
back--how we children used to reckon the thing over!--she was cradled in
a throne. A miserable race, to be sure, they were,--the Stuarts; and the
most devout genealogist might deem it dubious honor to own them for
great-grandfathers by innumerable degrees removed. So she used to tell
us, over and over, as a damper on our childish vanity, looking such a
very queen as she spoke, in every play of feature, and every motion of
her hand, that it was the old story of preachers who did not practise.
The very baby was proud of her. The beauty of a face, and the elegant
repose of a manner, are by no means influences more unfelt at three
years than at thirty.

As insanity will hide itself away, and lie sleeping, and die out,--while
old men are gathered to their fathers scathless, and young men follow in
their footsteps safe and free,--and start into life, and claim its own
when children's children have forgotten it; as a single trait of a
single scholar in a race of clods will bury itself in day-laborers and
criminals, unto the third and fourth generation, and spring then, like a
creation from a chaos, into statesmen and poets and sculptors;--so, I
have sometimes fancied, the better and truer nature of voluptuaries and
tyrants was sifted down through the years, and purified in our little
New England home, and the essential autocracy of monarchical blood
refined and ennobled in my mother into royalty.

A broad and liberal culture had moulded her; she knew its worth, in
every fibre of her heart; scholarly parents had blessed her with their
legacies of scholarly mind and name. With the soul of an artist, she
quivered under every grace and every defect; and the blessing of a
beauty as rare as rich had been given to her. With every instinct of her
nature recoiling from the very shadow of crimes the world winks at, as
from a loathsome reptile, the family record had been stainless for a
generation. God had indeed blessed her; but the very blessing was a

I knew, before she left me, what she might have been, but for the
merciful and tender watch of Him who was despised and rejected of men. I
know, for she told me, one still night when we were alone together, how
she sometimes shuddered at herself, and what those daily and hourly
struggles between her nature and her Christianity _meant_.

I think we were as near to one another as mother and daughter can be;
but yet as utterly different. Since I have been talking in such lordly
style of those miserable Jameses and Charleses, I will take the
opportunity to confess that I have inherited my father's thorough-going
democracy,--double measure, pressed down and running over. She not only
pardoned it, but I think she loved it in me, for his sake.

It was about a year and a half, I think, after he died, that she sent
for Aunt Alice to come to Creston. "Your aunt loves me," she said, when
she told us in her quiet way, "and I am so lonely now."

They had been the only children, and they loved each other,--how much, I
afterwards knew. And how much they love each other _now_, I like to
think,--quite freely and fully, and without shadow or doubt between
them, I dare to hope.

A picture of Aunt Alice always hung in mother's room. It was taken down
years ago. I never asked her where she put it. I remember it, though,
quite well; for mother's sake I am glad I do. For it was a pleasant face
to look upon, and a young, pure, happy face,--beautiful too, though with
none of the regal beauty crowned by my mother's massive hair, and
pencilled brows. It was a timid, girlish face, with reverent eyes, and
ripe, tremulous lips,--weak lips, as I remember them. From babyhood, I
felt a want in the face. I had, of course, no capacity to define it; it
was represented to me only by the fact that it differed from my

She was teaching school out West when mother sent for her. I saw the
letter. It was just like my mother:--"Alice, I need you. You and I ought
to have but one home now. Will you come?"

I saw, too, a bit of a postscript to the answer,--"I'm not fit that you
should love me so, Marie."

And how mother laughed at it!

When it was all settled, and the waiting weeks became at last a single
day, I hardly knew my mother. She was in her early married years; she
was a girl; she was a child; she was every young thing, and merry thing,
that she could have ever been. So full of fitful moods, and little
fantastic jokes! such a flush on her cheeks too, as she ran to the
window every five minutes, like a child! I remember how we went all over
the house together, she and I, to see that everything looked neat, and
bright, and welcome. And how we lingered in the guest-room, to put the
little finishing touches to its stillness, and coolness, and coseyness.
The best spread on the bed, and the white folds smoothed as only
mother's fingers could smooth them; the curtain freshly washed, and
looped with its crimson cord; the blinds drawn, cool and green; the late
afternoon sunlight slanting through, in flecks upon the floor. Flowers,
too, upon the table. I remember they were all white,--lilies of the
valley, I think; and the vase of Parian marble, itself a solitary lily,
unfolding stainless leaves. Over the mantle she had hung the finest
picture in the house,--an "Ecce Homo," and an exquisite engraving. It
used to hang in grandmother's room in the old house. We children
wondered a little that she took it up stairs.

"I want your aunt to feel at home, and see home things," she said. "I
wish I could think of something more to make it pleasant in here."

Just as we left the room she turned and looked into it. "Pleasant, isn't
it? I am so glad, Sarah," her eyes dimming a little. "She's a very dear
sister to me."

She stepped in again to raise a stem of the lilies that had fallen from
the vase, and lay like wax upon the table, then she shut the door and
came away.

That door was shut just so for years; the lonely bars of sunlight
flecked the solitude of the room, and the lilies faded on the table. We
children passed it with hushed footfall, and shrank from it at twilight,
as from a room that held the dead. But into it we never went.

Mother was tired out that afternoon; for she had been on her feet all
day, busied in her loving cares to make our simple home as pleasant and
as welcome as home could be. But yet she stopped to dress us in our
Sunday clothes,--and no sinecure was it to dress three persistently
undressable children; Winthrop was a host in himself. "Auntie must see
us look our prettiest," she said.

She was a picture herself when she came down. She had taken off her
widow's cap and coiled her heavy hair low in her neck, and she always
looked like a queen in that lustreless black silk. I do not know why
these little things should have made such an impression on me then. They
are priceless to me now. I remember how she looked, framed there in the
doorway, while we were watching for the coach,--the late light ebbing in
golden tides over the grass at her feet, and touching her face now and
then through the branches of trees, her head bent a little, with eager,
parted lips, and the girlish color on her cheeks, her hand shading her
eyes as they strained for a sight of the lumbering coach. She must have
been a magnificent woman when she was young,--not unlike, I have heard
it said, to that far-off ancestress whose name she bore, and whose
sorrowful story has made her sorrowful beauty immortal. Somewhere abroad
there is a reclining statue of Queen Mary, to which, when my mother
stood beside it, her resemblance was so strong that the by-standers
clustered about her, whispering curiously. "Ah, mon Dieu!" said a little
Frenchman, aloud, "c'est une résurrection."

We must have tried her that afternoon, Clara and Winthrop and I; for the
spirit of her own excitement had made us completely wild. Winthrop's
scream of delight when, stationed on the gate-post, he caught the first
sight of the old yellow coach, might have been heard a quarter of a

"Coming?" said mother, nervously, and stepped out to the gate, full in
the sunlight that crowned her like royal gold.

The coach lumbered on, and rattled up, and passed.

"Why, she hasn't come!" All the eager color died out of her face. "I am
so disappointed!" speaking like a troubled child, and turning slowly
into the house.

Then, after a while, she drew me aside from the others,--I was the
oldest, and she was used to make a sort of confidence between us,
instinctively, as it seemed, and often quite forgetting how very few my
years were. "Sarah, I don't understand. You think she might have lost
the train? But Alice is so punctual, Alice never lost a train. And she
said she would come." And then, a while after, "I _don't_ understand."

It was not like my mother to worry. The next day the coach lumbered up
and rattled past, and did not stop,--and the next, and the next.

"We shall have a letter," mother said, her eyes saddening every
afternoon. But we had no letter. And another day went by, and another.

"She is sick," we said; and mother wrote to her, and watched for the
lumbering coach, and grew silent day by day. But to the letter there was
no answer.

Ten days passed. Mother came to me one afternoon to ask for her pen,
which I had borrowed. Something in her face troubled me vaguely.

"What are you going to do, mother?"

"Write to your aunt's boarding-place. I can't bear this any longer,"
sharply. She had already grown unlike herself.

She wrote, and asked for an answer by return of mail.

It was on a Wednesday, I remember, that we looked for it. I remember
everything that happened that day. I came home early from school. Mother
was sewing at the parlor window, her eyes wandering from her work, up
the road. It was an ugly day. It had rained drearily from eight o'clock
till two, and closed in suffocating mist, creeping and dense and chill.
It gave me a childish fancy of long-closed tombs and lowland graveyards,
as I walked home in it.

I tried to keep the younger children quiet when we went in, mother was
so nervous. As the early, uncanny twilight fell, we grouped around her
timidly. A dull sense of awe and mystery clung to the night, and clung
to her watching face, and clung even then to that closed room up stairs
where the lilies were fading.

Mother sat leaning her head upon her hand, the outline of her face dim
in the dusk against the falling curtain. She was sitting so when we
heard the first rumble of the distant coach-wheels. At the sound, she
folded her hands in her lap and stirred a little, rose slowly from her
chair, and sat down again.


I crept up to her. At the near sight of her face, I was so frightened I
could have cried.

"Sarah, you may go out and get the letter. I--I can't."

I went slowly out at the door and down the walk. At the gate I looked
back. The outline of her face was there against the window-pane, white
in the gathering gloom.

It seems to me that my older and less sensitive years have never known
such a night. The world was stifling in a deluge of gray, cold mists,
unstirred by a breath of air. A robin with feathers all ruffled, and
head hidden, sat on the gate-post, and chirped a little mournful chirp,
like a creature dying in a vacuum. The very daisy that nodded and
drooped in the grass at my feet seemed to be gasping for breath. The
neighbor's house, not forty paces across the street, was invisible. I
remember the sensation it gave me, as I struggled to find its outlines,
of a world washed out, like the figures I washed out on my slate. As I
trudged, half frightened, into the road, and the fog closed about me, it
seemed to my childish superstition like a horde of long-imprisoned
ghosts let loose and angry. The distant sound of the coach, which I
could not see, added to the fancy.

The coach turned the corner presently. On a clear day I could see the
brass buttons on the driver's coat at that distance. There was nothing
visible now of the whole dark structure but the two lamps in front, like
the eyes of some evil thing, glaring and defiant, borne with swift
motion down upon me by a power utterly unseen,--it had a curious effect.
Even at this time, I confess I do not like to see a lighted carriage
driven through a fog.

I summoned all my little courage, and piped out the driver's name,
standing there in the road.

He reined up his horses with a shout,--he had nearly driven over me.
After some searching, he discovered the small object cowering down in
the mist, handed me a letter, with a muttered oath at being intercepted
on such a night, and lumbered on and out of sight in three rods.

I went slowly into the house. Mother had lighted a lamp, and stood at
the parlor door. She did not come into the hall to meet me.

She took the letter and went to the light, holding it with the seal
unbroken. She might have stood so two minutes.

"Why don't you read, mamma?" spoke up Winthrop. I hushed him.

She opened it then, read it, laid it down upon the table, and went out
of the room without a word. I had not seen her face. We heard her go up
stairs and shut the door.

She had left the letter open there before us. After a little awed
silence, Clara broke out into sobs. I went up and read the few and
simple lines.

_Aunt Alice had left for Creston on the appointed day._

Mother spent that night in the closed room where the lilies had drooped
and died. Clara and I heard her pacing the floor till we cried ourselves
to sleep. When we woke in the morning, she was pacing it still.

       *       *       *       *       *

Well, weeks wore into months, and the months became many years. More
than that we never knew. Some inquiry revealed the fact, after a while,
that a slight accident had occurred upon the Erie Railroad to the train
which she should have taken. There was some disabling, but no deaths,
the conductor had supposed. The car had fallen into the water. She might
not have been missed when the half-drowned passengers were all drawn

So mother added a little crape to her widow's weeds, the key of the
closed room lay henceforth in her drawer, and all things went on as
before. To her children my mother was never gloomy,--it was not her way.
No shadow of household affliction was placed like a skeleton confronting
our uncomprehending joy. Of what those weeks and months and years were
to her,--a widow, and quite uncomforted in their dark places by any
human love,--she gave no sign. We thought her a shade paler, perhaps. We
found her often alone with her little Bible. Sometimes, on the Sabbath,
we missed her, and knew that she had gone into that closed room. But she
was just as tender with us in our little faults and sorrows, as merry
with us in our plays, as eager in our gayest plans, as she had always
been. As she had always been,--our mother.

And so the years slipped by, to her and to us. Winthrop went into
business in Boston; he never took to his books, and mother was too wise
to _push_ him through college; but I think she was disappointed. He was
her only boy, and she would have chosen for him the profession of his
father and grandfather. Clara and I graduated in our white dresses and
blue ribbons, like other girls, and came home to mother, crochet-work,
and Tennyson. And then something happened, as the veriest little
things--which, unnoticed and uncomprehended, hold the destinies of lives
in their control--will happen.

I mean that our old and long-tried cook, Bathsheba, who had been an
heirloom in the family, suddenly fell in love with the older sexton, who
had rung the passing-bell for every soul who died in the village for
forty years, and took it into her head to marry him, and desert our
kitchen for his little brown house under the hill.

So it came about that we hunted the township for a handmaiden; and it
also came about that our inquiring steps led us to the poor-house. A
stout, not over-brilliant-looking girl, about twelve years of age, was
to be had for her board and clothes, and such schooling as we could give
her,--in country fashion, to be "bound out" till she should be eighteen.
The economy of the arrangement decided in her favor; for, in spite of
our grand descent and grander notions, we were poor enough, after father
died, and the education of three children had made no small gap in our
little principal, and she came.

Her name was a singular one,--Selphar. It always savored too nearly of
brimstone to please me. I used to call her Sel, "for short." She was a
good, sensible, uninteresting-looking girl, with broad face, large
features, and limp, tow-colored curls. I doubt if I ever see curls like
them now without a little shudder. They used to hang straight down about
her eyes, and were never otherwise than perfectly smooth. She proved to
be of good temper, which is worth quite as much as brains in a servant,
as honest as the daylight, dull enough at her books, but a good,
plodding worker, if you marked out every step of the way for her
beforehand. I do not think she would ever have discovered the laws of
gravitation; but she might have jumped off a precipice to prove them,
if she had been bidden.

Until she was seventeen, she was precisely like any other rather stupid
girl; never given to novel-reading or fancies; never frightened by the
dark or ghost-stories; proving herself warmly attached to us, after a
while, and rousing in us, in return, the kindly interest naturally
felt for a faithful servant; but she was not in any respect
_un_common,--quite far from it,--except in the circumstance that she
never told a falsehood.

At seventeen she had a violent attack of diphtheria, and her life hung
by a thread. Mother's aristocracy had nothing of that false pride which
is afraid of contamination from kindly association with its inferiors.
She was too thoroughly a lady. She was as tender and unwearying in her
care of Selphar as the girl's own mother might have been. She was
somehow touched by the child's orphaned life,--suffering always, in all
places, appealed to her so strongly,--every sorrow found so warm a place
in her heart.

From that time, I believe Sel was immovable in her faith in my mother's
divinity. Under such nursing as she had, she slowly recovered, but her
old, stolid strength never came back to her. Severe headaches became of
frequent occurrence. Her stout, muscular arms grew weak. As weeks went
on, it became evident in many ways that, though the diphtheria itself
was quite out of her system, it had left her thoroughly diseased.
Strange fits of silence came over her: her volubility had been the
greatest objection we had to her hitherto. Her face began to wear a
troubled look. She was often found in places where she had stolen away
to be alone.

One morning she slept late in her little garret-chamber, and we did not
call her. The girl had gone up stairs the night before crying with the
pain in her temples, and mother, who was always thoughtful of her
servants, said it was a pity to wake her, and, as there were only three
of us, we might get our own breakfast for once. While we were at work
together in the kitchen, Clara heard her kitten mewing out in the snow,
and went to the door to let her in. The creature, possessed by some
sudden frolic, darted away behind the well-curb. Clara was always a bit
of a romp, and, with never a thought of her daintily-slippered feet, she
flung her trailing dress over one arm and was off over the three-inch
snow. The cat led her a brisk chase, and she came in flushed, and
panting, and pretty, her little feet drenched, and the tip of a Maltese
tail just visible above a great bundle she had made of her apron.

"Why!" said mother, "you have lost your ear-ring."

Clara dropped the kitten with unceremonious haste on the floor, felt of
her little pink ear, shook her apron, and the corners of her mouth went
down into her dimpled chin.

"They're the ones Winthrop sent, of all things in the world!"

"You'd better put on your rubbers, and have a hunt out-doors," said

We hunted out-doors,--on the steps, on the well-boards, in the
wood-shed, in the snow; Clara looked down the well till her nose and
fingers were blue, but the ear-ring was not to be found. We hunted
in-doors, under the stove, and the chairs, and the table, in every
possible and impossible nook, cranny, and crevice, but gave up the
search in despair. It was a pretty trinket,--a leaf of delicately
wrought gold, with a pearl dew-drop on it,--very becoming to Clara, and
the first present Winthrop had sent her from his earnings. If she had
been a little younger she would have cried. She came very near it as it
was, I suspect, for when she went after the plates she stayed in the
cupboard long enough to set two tables.

When we were half through breakfast, Selphar came down, blushing, and
frightened half out of her wits, her apologies tumbling over each other
with such skill as to render each one unintelligible,--and evidently
undecided in, her own mind whether she was to be hung or burnt at the

"It's no matter at all," said mother, kindly; "I knew you felt sick last
night. I should have called you if I had needed you."

Having set the girl at her ease, as only she could do, she went on with
her breakfast, and we forgot all about her. She stayed, however, in the
room to wait on the table. It was afterwards remembered that she had not
been out of our sight since she came down the garret-stairs. Also, that
her room looked out upon the opposite side of the house from that on
which the well-curb stood.

"Why, look at Sel!" said Clara, suddenly, "she has her eyes shut."

The girl was just passing the toast. Mother spoke to her. "Selphar, what
is the matter?"

"I don't know."

"Why don't you open your eyes?"

"I can't."

"Hand the salt to Miss Sarah."

She took it up and brought it around the table to me, with perfect

"Sel, how you act!" said Clara, petulantly. "Of course you saw."

"Yes'm, I saw," said the girl in a puzzled way, "but my eyes are shut,
Miss Clara."



Whatever this freak meant, we thought best to take no notice of it. My
mother told her, somewhat gravely, that she might sit down until she was
wanted, and we returned to our conversation about the ear-ring.

"Why!" said Sel, with a little jump, "I see your ear-ring, Miss
Clara,--the one with a white drop on the leaf. It's out by the well."

The girl was sitting with her back to the window, her eyes, to all
appearance, tightly closed.

"It's on the right-hand side, under the snow, between the well and the
wood-pile. Why, don't you see?"

Clara began to look frightened, mother displeased.

"Selphar," she said, "this is nonsense. It is impossible for you to see
through the walls of two rooms and a wood-shed."

"May I go and get it?" said the girl, quietly.

"Sel," said Clara, "on your word and honor, are your eyes shut
_perfectly_ tight?"

"If they ain't, Miss Clara, then they never was."

Sel never told a lie. We looked at each other, and let her go. I
followed her out, and kept my eyes on her closed lids. She did not once
raise them; nor did they tremble, as lids will tremble, if only
partially closed.

She walked without the slightest hesitation directly to the well-curb,
to the spot which she had mentioned, stooped down, and brushed away the
three-inch fall of snow. The ear-ring lay there, where it had sunk in
falling. She picked it up, carried it in, and gave it to Clara.

That Clara had the thing on when she started after her kitten, there
could be no doubt. She and I both remembered it. That Sel, asleep on the
opposite side of the house, could not have seen it drop, was also
settled. That she, with her eyes closed and her back to the window, had
seen through three walls, and through three inches of snow, at a
distance of fifty feet, was an inference.

"I don't believe it!" said my mother, "it's some nonsensical mistake."
Clara looked a little pale, and I laughed.

We watched her carefully through the day. Her eyes remained tightly
closed. She understood all that was said to her, answered correctly, but
did not seem inclined to talk. She went about her work as usual, and
performed it without a mistake. It could not be seen that she groped at
all with her hands to feel her way, as is the case with the blind. On
the contrary, she touched everything with her usual decision. It was
impossible to believe, without seeing them, that her eyes were closed.

We tied a handkerchief tightly over them; see through it or below it she
could not, if she had tried. We then sent her into the parlor, with
orders to bring from the book-case two Bibles which had been given as
prizes to Clara and me at school, when we were children. The books were
of precisely the same size, color, and texture. Our names in gilt
letters were printed upon the binding. We followed her in, and watched
her narrowly. She went directly to the book-case, laid her hands upon
the books at once, and brought them to my mother. Mother changed them
from, hand to hand several times, and turned them with the gilt
lettering downwards upon her lap.

"Now, Selphar, which is Miss Sarah's?"

The girl quietly took mine up. The experiment was repeated and varied
again and again. In every case the result was the same. She made no
mistake. It was no guess-work. All this was done with the bandage
tightly drawn about her eyes. _She did not see those letters with them._

That evening we were sitting quietly in the dining-room. Selphar sat a
little apart with her sewing, her eyes still closed. We kept her with
us, and kept her in sight. The parlor, which was a long room, was
between us and the front of the house. The distance was so great that we
had often thought, if prowlers were to come around at night, how
impossible it would be to hear them. The curtains and shutters were
closely drawn. Sel was sitting by the fire. Suddenly she turned pale,
dropped her sewing, and sprang from her chair.

"Robbers, robbers!" she cried. "Don't you see? they're getting in the
east parlor window! There's three of 'em, and a lantern. They've just
opened the window,--hurry, hurry!"

"I believe the girl is insane," said mother, decidedly. Nevertheless,
she put out the light, opened the parlor door noiselessly, and went in.

The east window was open. There was a quick vision of three men and a
dark lantern. Then Clara screamed, and it disappeared. We went to the
window, and saw the men running down the street. The snow the next
morning was found trodden down under the window, and their footprints
were traced out to the road.

When we went back to the other room, Selphar was standing in the middle
of it, a puzzled, frightened look on her face, her eyes wide open.

"Selphar," said my mother, a little suspiciously, "how did you know the
robbers were there?"

"Robbers!" said the girl, aghast.

She knew nothing of the robbers. She knew nothing of the ear-ring. She
remembered nothing that had happened since she went up the garret-stairs
to bed, the night before. And, as I said, the girl was as honest as the
sunlight. When we told her what had happened, she burst into terrified

For some time after this there was no return of the "tantrums," as
Selphar had called the condition, whatever it was. I began to get up
vague theories of a trance state. But mother said, "Nonsense!" and Clara
was too much frightened to reason at all about the matter.

One Sunday morning Sel complained of a headache. There was an evening
service that night, and we all went to church. Mother let Sel take the
empty seat in the carryall beside her.

It was very dark when we started to come home. But Creston was a safe
old Orthodox town, the roads were filled with returning church-goers
like ourselves, and mother drove like a man. A darker night I think I
have never seen. Literally, we could not see a hand before our eyes. We
met a carriage on a narrow road, and the horses' heads touched, before
either driver had seen the other.

Selphar had been quite silent during the drive. I leaned forward, looked
closely into her face, and could dimly see through the darkness that her
eyes were closed.

"Why!" she said at last, "see those gloves!"


"Down in the ditch; we passed them before I spoke. I see them on a
blackberry-bush; they've got little brass buttons on the wrist."

Three rods past now, and we could not see our horse's head.

"Selphar," said my mother, quickly, "what _is_ the matter with you?"

"If you please, ma'am, I don't know," replied the girl, hanging her
head. "May I get out and bring 'em to you?"

Prince was reined up, and Sel got out. She went so far back, that,
though we strained our eyes to do it, we could not see her. In about two
minutes she came up, a pair of gentleman's gloves in her hand. They were
rolled together, were of cloth so black that on a bright night it would
never have been seen, and had small brass buttons at the wrist.

Mother took them without a word.

The story leaked out somehow, and spread all over town. It raised a
great hue and cry. Four or five antediluvian ladies declared at once
that we were nothing more nor less than a family of "them spirituous
mediums," and seriously proposed to expel mother from the
prayer-meeting. Masculine Creston did worse. It smiled a pitying smile,
and pronounced the whole thing the fancy of "scared women-folks." I
could endure with calmness any slander upon earth but that. I sent by
the next mail for Winthrop, and stated the case to him in a condition of
suppressed fury. He very politely bit back an incredulous smile, and
said he should be _very_ happy to see her perform. The answer was
somewhat dubious. I accepted it in silent suspicion.

He came on Saturday noon. That afternoon we attended _en masse_ one of
those refined inquisitions commonly known as picnics, and Winthrop lost
his pocket-knife. Selphar, of course, kept house at home.

When we returned, Winthrop made some careless reference to his loss in
her presence, and thought no more of it. About half an hour after, we
observed that she was washing the dishes with her eyes shut. The
condition had not been upon her five minutes before she dropped the
spoon suddenly into the water, and asked permission to go out to walk.
She "saw Mr. Winthrop's knife somewhere under a stone, and wanted to get
it." It was fully two miles to the picnic grounds, and nearly dark.
Winthrop followed the girl, unknown to her, and kept her in sight. She
went rapidly, and without the slightest hesitation or search, to an
out-of-the-way gully down by the pond, where Winthrop afterwards
remembered having gone to cut some willow-twigs for the girls, parted a
thick cluster of bushes, lifted a large, loose stone under which the
knife had rolled, and picked it up. She returned it to Winthrop,
quietly, and hurried away about her work to avoid being thanked.

I observed that, after this incident, masculine Creston became more

Of several peculiarities in this development of the girl I made at the
time careful memoranda, and the exactness of these can be relied upon.

1. She herself, so far from attempting to bring on these trance states,
or taking any pride therein, was intensely troubled and mortified by
them,--would run out of the room, if she felt them coming on in the
presence of visitors.

2. They were apt to be preceded by severe headaches, but came often
without any warning.

3. She never, in any instance, recalled anything that happened during
the trance, after it was passed.

4. She was powerfully and unpleasantly affected by electricity from a
battery, or acting in milder forms. She was also unable at any time to
put her hands and arms into hot water; the effect was to paralyze them
at once.

5. Space proved to be no impediment to her vision. She has been known to
follow the acts, words, and expressions of countenance of members of the
family hundreds of miles away, with accuracy; as was afterwards proved
by comparing notes as to time.

6. The girl's eyes, after her trances became habitual, assumed, and
always retained, the most singular expression I ever saw on any face.
They were oblong and narrow, and set back in her head like the eyes of a
snake. They were not--smile if you will, O practical and incredulous
reader!--but they were not _human_ eyes. The eyes of Elsie Venner are
the only eyes I can think of as at all like them. The most horrible
circumstance about them--a circumstance that always made me shudder,
familiar as I was with it--was, that, though turned fully on you, _they
never looked at you_. Something behind them or out of them did the
seeing, not they.

7. She not only saw substance, but soul. She has repeatedly told me my
thoughts when they were upon subjects to which she could not by any
possibility have had the slightest clew.

8. We were never able to detect a shadow of deceit about her.

9. The clairvoyance never failed in any instance to be correct, so far
as we were able to trace it.

As will be readily imagined, the girl became a useful member of the
family. The lost valuables restored and the warnings against mischances
given by her quite balanced her incapacity for peculiar kinds of work.
This incapacity, however, rather increased than diminished, and,
together with her fickle health, which also grew more unsettled, caused
us a great deal of care. The Creston physician--who was a keen man in
his way, for a country doctor--pronounced the case altogether undreamt
of before in Horatio's philosophy, and kept constant notes of it. Some
of these have, I believe, found their way into the medical journals.

After a while there came, like a thief in the night, that which I
suppose was poor Selphar's one unconscious, golden mission in this
world. It came on a quiet summer night, that ended a long trance of a
week's continuance. Mother had gone out into the kitchen to give an
order for breakfast. I heard a few eager words in Selphar's voice, and
then the door shut quickly, and it was an hour before it was opened.

Then my mother came to me without a particle of color in lips or cheek,
and drew me away alone, and told the secret to me.

Selphar had seen Aunt Alice.

We sat down and looked at one another. There was a singular pinched look
about my mother's mouth.



"She says"--and then she told me what she said. She had seen Alice
Stuart in a Western town, seven hundred miles away. Among the living,
she desired to be counted of the dead. And that was all.

My mother paced the room three times back and forth, her hands locked.

"Sarah." There was a chill in her voice--it had been such a gentle
voice!--that froze me. "Sarah, the girl is an impostor."


She paced the room, once more, three times, back and forth. "At any
rate, she is a poor, self-deluded creature. How _can_ she see, seven
hundred miles away, a dead woman who has been an angel all these years?
Think! an _angel_, Sarah! So much better than I, and I--I loved--"

Before or since, I never heard my mother speak like that. She broke off
sharply, and froze back into her chilling voice.

"We will say nothing about this, if you please. I do not believe a word
of it."

We said nothing about it, but Selphar did. The delusion, if delusion it
were, clung to her, haunted her, pursued her, week after week. To rid
her of it, or to silence her, was impossible. She added no new facts to
her first statement, but insisted that the long-lost dead was yet alive,
with a quiet pertinacity that it was simply impossible to ridicule,
frighten, threaten, or cross-question out of her, Clara was so
thoroughly alarmed that she would not have slept alone for any
mortal--perhaps not for any immortal--considerations. Winthrop and I
talked the matter over often and gravely when we were alone and in quiet
places. Mother's lips were sealed. From the day when Sel made the first
disclosure, she was never heard once to refer to the matter. A
perceptible haughtiness crept into her manner towards the girl. She even
talked of dismissing her; but repented it, and melted into momentary
gentleness. I could have cried over her that night. I was beginning to
understand what a pitiful struggle her life had become, and how utterly
alone she must be in it. She _would_ not believe--she knew not what. She
could not doubt the girl. And with the conflict even her children could
not intermeddle.

To understand the crisis into which she was brought, the reader must
bear in mind our long habit of belief, not only in Selphar's personal
honesty, but in the infallibility of her mysterious power. Indeed, it
had almost ceased to be mysterious to us, from daily familiarity. We had
come to regard it as the curious working of physical disease, had taken
its results as a matter of course, and had ceased, in common with
converted Creston, to doubt the girl's capacity for seeing anything that
she chose to, at any place.

Thus a year wore on. My mother grew sleepless and pallid. She laughed
often, in a nervous, shallow way, as unlike her as a butterfly is unlike
a sunset; and her face settled into an habitual sharpness and hardness
unutterably painful to me.

Once only I ventured to break into the silence of the haunting thought
that she knew, and we knew, was never escaped by either. "Mother, it
would do no harm for Winthrop to go out West, and--"

She interrupted me sternly: "Sarah, I had not thought you capable of
such childish superstition. I wish that girl and her nonsense had never
come into this house!"--turning sharply away, and out of the room.

Just what that year was to my mother, I suppose only God and she have
ever known, or will know.

But it ended. It ended at last, as I had prayed every night and morning
of it that it should end. Mother came into my room one night, locked the
door behind her, and, walking over to the window, stood with her face
turned from me.




But that was all for a little while. Then,--"Sick and in suffering,
Sarah,--the girl--she may be right, God Almighty knows! _Sick and in
suffering_, you see. I am going. I think, I--"

The voice broke and melted utterly. I stole away and left her alone.

Creston put on its spectacles and looked wise on learning, the next day,
that Mrs. Dugald had taken the earliest morning train for the West, on
sudden and important business. It was precisely what Creston expected,
and just like the Dugalds for all the world,--gone to hunt up material
for that genealogical book, or map, or tree, or something, that they
thought nobody knew they were going to publish. O yes, Creston
understood it perfectly.

Space forbids me to relate in detail the clews which Selphar had given
as to the whereabouts of the wanderer. Her trances, just at this time,
were somewhat scarce and fragmentary, and the information she had
professed to give had come in snatches and very imperfectly,--the trance
being apt to end suddenly at the moment when some important question was
pending, and then, of course, all memory of what she had said, or was
about to say, was gone. The names and appearance of persons and places
necessary to the search had, however, been given with sufficient
distinctness to serve as a guide in my mother's rather chimerical
undertaking. I suppose ninety-nine persons out of a hundred would have
thought her a candidate for the State Lunatic Asylum. Exactly what she
herself expected, hoped, or feared, I think it doubtful if she knew. I
confess to a condition of simple bewilderment, when she was fairly
gone, and Clara and I were left alone with Selphar's ghostly eyes
forever on us. One night I had to lock the poor thing into her
garret-room before I could sleep.

Just three weeks from the day mother started for the West, the coach
rattled up to the door, and two women, arm in arm, came slowly up the
walk. The one, erect, royal, with her great steadfast eyes alight; the
other, bent and worn, gray-haired and sallow and dumb, crawling feebly
through the golden afternoon sunshine, as the ghost of a glorious life
might crawl back to its grave.

Mother threw open the door, and stood there like a queen. "Children,
your aunt has come home. She is too tired to talk just now. By and by
she will be glad to see you."

We took her gently up stairs, into the room where the lilies were
mouldering to dust, and laid her down upon the bed. She closed her eyes
wearily, turned her face over to the wall, and said no word.

What was the story of those tired eyes I never asked, and I never knew.
Once, as I passed the room, a quick picture showed through the open
door. The two women lying with their arms about each other's neck, as
they used to do when they were children together; and above them, still
and watchful, the wounded Face that had waited there so many years for

One was speaking with weak sobs, and very low. It was Aunt Alice. I
caught but two words,--"My husband."

But what that husband was remains unknown till the day when the grave
shall give up its dead, and the secrets of hearts oppressed and sinned
against and sorrowful shall be revealed.

She lingered weakly there, within the restful room, for seven days, and
then one morning we found her with her eyes upon the thorn-crowned face,
her own quite still and smiling.

A little funeral train wound away one night behind the church, and left
her down among those red-cup mosses that opened in so few months again
to cradle the sister who had loved her. Two words only, by mother's
orders, marked the simple headstone,--


I have given you facts. Explain them as you will. I do not attempt it,
for the simple reason that I cannot.

A word must be said as to the fate of poor Sel, which was mournful
enough. Her trances grew gradually more frequent and erratic, till she
became so thoroughly diseased in mind and body as to be entirely
unfitted for household work, and, in short, nothing but an encumbrance.
We kept her, however, for the sake of charity, and should have done so,
till her poor, tormented life wore itself out; but after the advent of a
new servant, and my mother's death, she conceived the idea that she was
a burden, cried over it a few weeks, and at last one bitter winter's
night she disappeared. We did not give up all search for her for years,
but nothing was ever heard from her. He, I hope, who permitted life to
be such a terrible mystery to her, has cared for her somehow, and
kindly, and well.


    Down 'mid the tangled roots of things
    That coil about the central fire,
    I seek for that which giveth wings,
    To stoop, not soar, to my desire.

    Sometimes I hear, as 't were a sigh,
    The sea's deep yearning far above.
    "Thou hast the secret not," I cry,
    "In deeper deeps is hid my Love."

    They think I burrow from the sun,
    In darkness, all alone and weak;
    Such loss were gain if He were won.
    For 't is the sun's own Sun I seek.

    The earth, they murmur, is the tomb
    That vainly sought his life to prison;
    Why grovel longer in its gloom?
    He is not here; He hath arisen.

    More life for me where He hath lain
    Hidden, while ye believed him dead,
    Than in cathedrals cold and vain,
    Built on loose sands of "It is said."

    My search is for the living gold,
    Him I desire who dwells recluse,
    And not his image, worn and old,
    Day-servant of our sordid use.

    If Him I find not, yet I find
    The ancient joy of cell and church,
    The glimpse, the surety undefined,
    The unquenched ardor of the search.

    Happier to chase a flying goal,
    Than to sit counting laurelled gains,
    To guess the Soul within the soul,
    Than to be lord of what remains.



Major Coutinho and myself passed three days in the investigation of the
Serra of Erreré. We found it to consist wholly of the sandstone deposits
described in my previous article, and to have exactly the same
geological constitution. In short, the Serra of Monte Alegre, and of
course all those connected with it on the northern side of the river,
lie in the prolongation of the lower beds forming the banks of the
river, their greater height being due simply to the fact that they have
not been worn to the same low level. The opposite range of Santarem,
which has the same general outline and character, shares, no doubt, the
same geological structure. In one word, all these hills were formerly
part of a continuous formation, and owe their present outline and their
isolated position to a colossal denudation. The surface of the once
unbroken strata, which in their original condition must have formed an
immense plain covered by water, has been cut into ravines or carried
away over large tracts, to a greater or less depth, leaving only such
portions standing as from their hardness could resist the floods which
swept over it. The longitudinal trend of these hills is to be ascribed
to the direction of the current which caused the denudation, while their
level summits are due to the regularity of the stratification. They are
not all table-topped, however; among them are many of smaller size, in
which the sides have been gradually worn down, producing a gently
rounded surface. Of course, under the heavy tropical rains this
denudation is still going on, though in a greatly modified form.

I cannot leave this Serra without alluding to the great beauty and
extraordinary extent of the view to be obtained from it. Indeed, it was
here that for the first time the geography of the country presented
itself to my mind as a living reality, in all its completeness.
Insignificant as is its actual height, the Serra of Erreré commands a
wider prospect than is to be had from many a more imposing mountain; for
the surrounding plain, covered with forests, and ploughed by countless
rivers, stretches away for hundreds of leagues in every direction,
without any object to obstruct the view. Standing on the brow of the
Serra, with the numerous lakes intersecting the low lands at its base,
you look across the Valley of the Amazons, as far as the eye can reach,
and through its midst you follow for miles on either side the broad
flood of the great river, carrying its yellow waters to the sea. As I
stood there, panoramas from the Swiss mountains came up to my memory,
and I fancied myself standing on the Alps, looking across the plain of
Switzerland, instead of the bed of the Amazons, the distant line of the
Santarem hills on the southern bank of the river, and lower than the
northern chain, representing the Jura range. As if to complete the
comparison, I found Alpine lichens growing among cactus and palms, and a
crust of Arctic cryptogamous growth covered rocks, between which sprang
tropical flowers. On the northern flank of this Serra I found the only
genuine erratic boulders I have seen in the whole length of the
Amazonian Valley, from Pará to the frontier of Peru, though there are
many detached masses of rock, as, for instance, at Pedreira, near the
junction of the Rio Negro and Rio Branco, which might be mistaken for
them, but are due to the decomposition of the rocks in place. The
boulders of Erreré are entirely distinct from the rock of the Serra, and
consist of masses of compact hornblende.

It would seem that these two ranges skirting a part of the northern and
southern banks of the Lower Amazons are not the only remnants of this
arenaceous formation in its primitive altitude. On the banks of the
Japura, in the Serra of Cupati, Major Coutinho has found the same beds
rising to the same height. It thus appears, by positive evidence, that
over an extent of a thousand miles these deposits had a very
considerable thickness in the present direction of the valley. How far
they extended in width has not been ascertained by direct observation,
for we have not seen how they sink away to the northward, and towards
the south the denudation has been so complete that, except in the very
low range of hills in the neighborhood of Santarem, they do not rise
above the plain. But the fact that this formation once had a thickness
of more than eight hundred feet within the limits where we have had an
opportunity of observing it, leaves no doubt that it must have extended
to the edge of the basin, filling it to the same height throughout its
whole extent. The thickness of the deposits gives a measure for the
colossal scale of the denudations by which this immense accumulation was
reduced to its present level. Here then is a system of high hills,
having the prominence of mountains in the landscape, produced by causes
to whose agency inequalities on the earth's surface of this magnitude
have never yet been ascribed. We may fairly call them denudation

At this stage of the inquiry we have to account for two remarkable
phenomena. First, the filling of the Amazonian bottom with coarse
arenaceous materials and finely laminated clays, immediately followed by
sandstones rising to a height of more than eight hundred feet above the
sea; the basin meanwhile having no rocky barrier towards the ocean on
its eastern side. Second, the wearing away and reduction of these
formations to their present level, by a denudation, more extensive than
any thus far recorded in the annals of geology, which has given rise to
all the most prominent hills and mountain chains along the northern bank
of the river. Before seeking an explanation of these facts, let us look
at the third and uppermost deposit.

This deposit, essentially the same as the Rio drift, has been minutely
described in my former article; but in the north, it presents itself
under a somewhat different aspect. As in Rio, it is a clayey deposit,
containing more or less sand, and reddish in color, though varying from
deep ochre to a brownish tint. It is not so absolutely destitute of
stratification here as in its more southern range, though the traces of
stratification are rare, and, when they do occur, are faint and
indistinct. The materials are also more completely comminuted, and, as I
have said above, contain hardly any large masses, though quartz pebbles
are sometimes scattered throughout the deposit, and occasionally a thin
seam of pebbles, exactly as in the Rio drift, is seen resting between it
and the underlying sandstone. In some places this bed of pebbles even
intersects the mass of the clay, giving it in such instances an
unquestionably stratified character. There can be no question that this
more recent formation rests unconformably upon the sandstone beds
beneath it; for it fills all the inequalities of their denudated
surfaces, whether they be more or less limited furrows, or wide,
undulating depressions. It may be seen everywhere along the banks of the
river, above the stratified sandstone, sometimes with the river mud
accumulated against it; at the season of the _enchente_, or high water,
it is the only formation left exposed above the water level. Its
thickness is not great; it varies from twenty or thirty to fifty feet,
and may occasionally rise nearly to a hundred feet in height, though
this is rarely the case. It is evident that this formation also was once
continuous, stretching over the whole basin at one level. Though it is
now worn down in many places, and has wholly disappeared in others, its
connection may be readily traced; since it is everywhere visible, not
only on opposite banks of the Amazons, but also on those of all its
tributaries, as far as their shores have been examined. I have said that
it rests always above the sandstone beds. This is true, with one
exception. Wherever the sandstone deposits retain their original
thickness, as in the hills of Monte Alegre and Almeyrim, the red clay is
not found on their summits, but occurs only in their ravines and
hollows, or resting against their sides. This shows that it is not only
posterior to the sandstone, but was accumulated in a shallower basin,
and consequently never reached so high a level. The boulders of Erreré
do not rest on the stratified sandstone of the Serra, but are sunk in
the unstratified mass of the clay. This should be remembered, as it will
presently be seen that their position associates them with a later
period than that of the mountain itself. The unconformability of the
ochraceous clay and the underlying sandstones might lead to the idea
that the two formations belong to distinct geological periods, and are
not due to the same agency, acting at successive times. One feature,
however, shows their close connection. The ochraceous clay exhibits a
remarkable identity of configuration with the underlying sandstones. An
extensive survey of the two, in their mutual relations, shows clearly
that they were both deposited by the same water-system within the same
basin, but at different levels. Here and there the clay formation has so
pale and grayish a tint, that it may be confounded with the mud deposits
of the river. These latter, however, never rise so high as the
ochraceous clay, but are everywhere confined within the limits of high
and low water. The islands also in the main course of the Amazons
consist invariably of river-mud, while those arising from the
intersection and cutting off of portions of the land by diverging
branches of the main stream always consist of the well-known sandstones,
capped by the ochre-colored clay.

It may truly be said that there does not exist on the surface of the
earth a formation known to geologists resembling that of the Amazons.
Its extent is stupendous; it stretches from the Atlantic shore, through
the whole width of Brazil, into Peru, to the very foot of the Andes.
Humboldt speaks of it "in the vast plains of the Amazons, in the eastern
boundary of Jaen de Bracamoros," and says, "This prodigious extension of
red sandstone in the low grounds stretching along the east of the Andes
is one of the most striking phenomena I observed during my examination
of rocks in the equinoctial regions."[A] When the great natural
philosopher wrote these lines, he had no idea how much these deposits
extended beyond the field of his observations. Indeed, they are not
limited to the main bed of the Amazons; they have been followed along
the banks of its tributaries to the south and north as far as these have
been ascended. They occur on the margins of the Huallaga and the
Ucayall, on those of the Iça, the Jutahy, the Jurua, the Japura, and the
Purus. On the banks of the Japura, where Major Coutinho has traced them,
they are found as far as the Cataract of Cupati. I have followed them
along the Rio Negro to its junction with the Rio Branco; and Humboldt
not only describes them from a higher point on this same river, but also
from the valley of the Orinoco. Finally, they may be tracked along the
banks of the Madeira, the Tapajos, the Xingu, and the Tocantins, as well
as on the shores of the Guatuma, the Trombetas, and other northern
affluents of the Amazons. The observations of Martius, those of Gardner,
and the recent survey above alluded to, made by my assistant, Mr. St.
John, of the valley of the Rio Guruguea and that of the Rio Paranahyba,
show that the great basin of Piauhy is also identical in its geological
structure with the lateral valleys of the Amazons. The same is true of
the large island of Marajo, lying at the mouth of the Amazons. And yet I
believe that even this does not cover the whole ground, and that some
future writer may say of my estimate, as I have said of Humboldt's, that
it falls short of the truth; for, if my generalizations are correct, the
same formation will be found extending over the whole basin of the
Paraguay and the Rio de la Plata, and along their tributaries, to the
very heart of the Andes.

Such are the facts. The question now arises, How were these vast
deposits formed? The easiest answer, and the one which most readily
suggests itself, is that of a submersion of the continent at successive
periods to allow the accumulation of these materials, and its subsequent
elevation. I reject this explanation for the simple reason that the
deposits show no sign whatever of a marine origin. No seashells nor
remains of any marine animal have as yet been found throughout their
whole extent, over a region several thousand miles in length and from
five to seven hundred miles in width. It is contrary to all our
knowledge of geological deposits to suppose that an ocean basin of this
size, which must have been submerged during an immensely long period in
order to accumulate formations of such a thickness, should not contain
numerous remains of the animals formerly inhabiting it.[B] The only
fossil remains of any kind truly belonging to it, which I have found in
the formation, are the leaves mentioned above, taken from the lower
clays on the banks of the Solimoens at Tomantins; and these show a
vegetation similar in general character to that which prevails there
to-day. Evidently, then, this basin was a fresh-water basin; these
deposits are fresh-water deposits. But as the Valley of the Amazons
exists to-day, it is widely open to the ocean on the east, with a gentle
slope from the Andes to the Atlantic, determining a powerful seaward
current. When these vast accumulations took place, the basin must have
been closed; otherwise the loose materials would constantly have been
carried down to the ocean.

It is my belief that all these deposits belong to the ice period in its
earlier or later phases, and to this cosmic winter, which, judging from
all the phenomena connected with it, may have lasted for thousands of
centuries, we must look for the key to the geological history of the
Amazonian Valley. I am aware that this suggestion will appear
extravagant. But is it, after all, so improbable that, when Central
Europe was covered with ice thousands of feet thick; when the glaciers
of Great Britain ploughed into the sea, and when those of the Swiss
mountains had ten times their present altitude; when every lake in
Northern Italy was filled with ice, and these frozen masses extended
even into Northern Africa; when a sheet of ice, reaching nearly to the
summit of Mount Washington in the White Mountains (that is, having a
thickness of nearly six thousand feet), moved over the continent of
North America,--is it so improbable that, in this epoch of universal
cold, the Valley of the Amazons also had its glacier poured down into it
from the accumulations of snow in the Cordilleras, and swollen
laterally by the tributary glaciers descending from the table-lands of
Guiana and Brazil? The movement of this immense glacier would be
eastward, and determined as well by the vast reservoirs of snow in the
Andes as by the direction of the valley itself. It must have ploughed
the valley bottom over and over again, grinding all the materials
beneath it into a fine powder or reducing them to small pebbles, and it
must have accumulated at its lower end a moraine of proportions as
gigantic as its own; thus building a colossal sea-wall across the mouth
of the valley. I shall be asked at once whether I have found here also
the glacial inscriptions,--the furrows, striæ, and polished surfaces so
characteristic of the ground over which glaciers have travelled. I
answer, not a trace of them; for the simple reason that there is not a
natural rock surface to be found throughout the whole Amazonian Valley.
The rocks themselves are of so friable a nature, and the decomposition
caused by the warm torrential rains and by exposure to the burning sun
of the tropics so great and unceasing, that it is hopeless to look for
marks which in colder climates and on harder substances are preserved
through ages unchanged. With the exception of the rounded surfaces so
well known in Switzerland as the _roches moutonnées_ heretofore alluded
to, which may be seen in many localities, and the boulders of Erreré,
the direct traces of glaciers as seen in other countries are wanting
here. I am, indeed, quite willing to admit that, from the nature of the
circumstances, I have not here the positive evidence which has guided me
in my previous glacial investigations. My conviction in this instance is
founded, first, on the materials in the Amazonian Valley, which
correspond exactly in their character to materials accumulated in
glacier bottoms; secondly, on the resemblance of the upper or third
Amazonian formation to the Rio drift,[C] of the glacial origin of which
there cannot, in my opinion, be any doubt; thirdly, on the fact that
this fresh-water basin must have been closed against the sea by some
powerful barrier, the removal of which would naturally give an outlet to
the waters, and cause the extraordinary denudations, the evidences of
which meet us everywhere throughout the valley.

On a smaller scale, phenomena of this kind have long been familiar to
us. In the present lakes of Northern Italy, in those of Switzerland,
Norway, and Sweden, as well as in those of New England, especially in
the State of Maine, the waters are held back in their basins by
moraines. In the ice period these depressions were filled with glaciers,
which, in the course of time, accumulated at their lower end a wall of
loose materials. These walls still remain, and serve as dams to prevent
the escape of the waters. But for their moraines, all these lakes would
be open valleys. In the Roads of Glen Roy, in Scotland, we have an
instance of a fresh-water lake, which has now wholly disappeared, formed
in the same manner, and reduced successively to lower and lower levels
by the breaking down or wearing away of the moraines which originally
prevented its waters from flowing out. Assuming then, that, under the
low temperature of the ice period, the climatic conditions necessary for
the formation of land-ice existed in the Valley of the Amazons, and that
it was actually filled with an immense glacier, it follows that, when
these fields of ice yielded to a gradual change of climate, and slowly
melted away, the whole basin, then closed against the sea by a huge
wall of _débris_, was transformed into a vast fresh-water lake. The
first effect of the thawing process must have been to separate the
glacier from its foundation, raising it from immediate contact with the
valley bottom, and thus giving room for the accumulation of a certain
amount of water beneath it; while the valley as a whole would still be
occupied by the glacier. In this shallow sheet of water under the ice,
and protected by it from any violent disturbance, those finer triturated
materials always found at a glacier bottom, and ground sometimes to
powder by its action, would be deposited, and gradually transformed from
an unstratified paste containing the finest sand and mud, together with
coarse pebbles and gravel, into a regularly stratified formation. In
this formation the coarse materials would of course fall to the bottom,
while the most minute would settle above them. It is at this time and
under such circumstances that I believe the first formation of the
Amazonian Valley, with the coarse, pebbly sand beneath, and the finely
laminated clays above, to have been accumulated.

I shall perhaps be reminded here of my fossil leaves, and asked how any
vegetation would be possible under such circumstances. But it must be
remembered, that, in considering all these periods, we must allow for
immense lapses of time and for very gradual changes; that the close of
this first period would be very different from its beginning; and that a
rich vegetation springs on the very borders of the snow and ice fields
in Switzerland. The fact that these were accumulated in a glacial basin
would, indeed, at once account for the traces of vegetable life, and for
the absence, or at least the great scarcity, of animal remains in these
deposits. For while fruits may ripen and flowers bloom on the very edge
of the glaciers, it is also well known that the fresh-water lakes formed
by the melting of the ice are singularly deficient in life. There are
indeed hardly any animals to be found in glacial lakes.

The second formation belongs to a later period, when, the whole body of
ice being more or less disintegrated, the basin contained a larger
quantity of water. Beside that arising from the melting of the ice, this
immense valley bottom must have received, then as now, all which was
condensed from the atmosphere above, and poured into it in the form of
rain or dew. Thus an amount of water equal to that now flowing in from
all the tributaries of the main stream must have been rushing towards
the axis of the valley, seeking its natural level, but spreading over a
more extensive surface than now, until, finally gathered up as separate
rivers, it flowed in distinct beds. In its general movement toward the
central and lower part of the valley, the broad stream would carry along
all the materials small enough to be so transported, as well as those so
minute as to remain suspended in the waters. It would gradually deposit
them in the valley bottom in horizontal beds, more or less regular, or
here and there, wherever eddies gave rise to more rapid and irregular
currents, characterized by torrential stratification. Thus has been
consolidated in the course of ages that continuous sand formation
spreading over the whole Amazonian basin, and attaining a thickness of
eight hundred feet.

While these accumulations were taking place within this basin, it must
not be forgotten that the sea was beating against its outer
walls,--against that gigantic moraine which I suppose to have closed it
at its eastern end. It would seem that, either from this cause, or
perhaps in consequence of some turbulent action from within, a break was
made in this defence, and the waters rushed violently out. It is very
possible that the waters, gradually swollen at the close of this period
by the further melting of the ice, by the additions poured in from
lateral tributaries, by the rains, and also by the filling of the basin
with loose materials, would overflow, and thus contribute to destroy
the moraine. However this may be, it follows from my premises that, in
the end, these waters obtained a sudden release, and poured seaward with
a violence which cut and denuded the deposits already formed, wearing
them down to a much lower level, and leaving only a few remnants
standing out in their original thickness, where the strata were solid
enough to resist the action of the currents. Such are the hills of Monte
Alegre, of Obydos, Almeyrim, and Cupati, as well as the lower ridges of
Santarem. This escape of the waters did not, however, entirely empty the
whole basin; for the period of denudation was again followed by one of
quiet accumulation, during which was deposited the ochraceous sandy clay
resting upon the denudated surfaces of the underlying sandstone. To this
period I refer the boulders of Erreré, sunk as they are in the clay of
this final deposit. I suppose them to have been brought to their present
position by floating ice at the close of the glacial period, when
nothing remained of the ice-fields except such isolated
masses,--ice-rafts as it were; or perhaps by icebergs dropped into the
basin from glaciers still remaining in the Andes and on the edges of the
plateaus of Guiana and Brazil. From the general absence of
stratification in this clay formation, it would seem that the
comparatively shallow sheet of water in which it was deposited was very
tranquil. Indeed, after the waters had sunk much below the level which
they held during the deposition of the sandstone, and the currents which
gave rise to the denudation of the latter had ceased, the whole sheet of
water would naturally become much more placid. But the time came when
the water broke through its boundaries again, perhaps owing to the
further encroachment of the sea and consequent destruction of the
moraine. In this second drainage, however, the waters, carrying away a
considerable part of the new deposit, furrowing it to its very
foundation, and even cutting through it into the underlying sandstone,
were, in the end, reduced to something like their present level, and
confined within their present beds. This is shown by the fact that in
this ochre-colored clay, and penetrating to a greater or less depth the
sandstone below, are dug, not only the great longitudinal channel of the
Amazons itself, but also the lateral furrows through which its
tributaries reach the main stream, and the network of anastomosing
branches flowing between them; the whole forming the most extraordinary
river system in the world.

My assumption that the sea has produced very extensive changes in the
coast of Brazil--changes more than sufficient to account for the
disappearance of the glacial wall which I suppose to have closed the
Amazonian Valley in the ice period--is by no means hypothetical. This
action is still going on to a remarkable degree, and is even now rapidly
modifying the outline of the shore. When I first arrived at Pará, I was
struck with the fact that the Amazons, the largest river in the world,
has no delta. All the other rivers which we call great, though some of
them are insignificant as compared with the Amazons,--the Mississippi,
the Nile, the Ganges, and the Danube,--deposit extensive deltas, and the
smaller rivers also, with few exceptions, are constantly building up the
land at their mouths by the materials they bring along with them. Even
the little river Kander, emptying into the Lake of Thun, is not without
its delta. Since my return from the Upper Amazons to Pará, I have made
an examination of some of the harbor islands, and also of parts of the
coast, and have satisfied myself that, with the exception of a few
small, low islands, never rising above the sea-level, and composed of
alluvial deposit, they are portions of the mainland detached from it,
partly by the action of the river itself, and partly by the encroachment
of the ocean. In fact the sea is eating away the land much faster than
the river can build it up. The great island of Marajo was originally a
continuation of the Valley of the Amazons, and is identical with it in
every detail of its geological structure. My investigation of the island
itself, in connection with the coast and the river, leads me to suppose
that, having been at one time an integral part of the deposits described
above, at a later period it became an island in the bed of the Amazons,
which, dividing in two arms, encircled it completely, and then, joining
again to form a single stream, flowed onward to the sea-shore, which in
those days lay much farther to the eastward than it now does. I suppose
the position of the island of Marajo at that time to have corresponded
very nearly to the present position of the island of Tupinambaranas,
just at the junction of the Madeira with the Amazons. It is a question
among geographers whether the Tocantins is a branch of the Amazons, or
should be considered as forming an independent river system. It will be
seen that, if my view is correct, it must formerly have borne the same
relation to the Amazons that the Madeira River now does, joining it just
where Marajo divided the main stream, as the Madeira now joins it at the
head of the island of Tupinambaranas. If in countless centuries to come
the ocean should continue to eat its way into the Valley of the Amazons,
once more transforming the lower part of the basin into a gulf, as it
was during the cretaceous period, the time might arrive when
geographers, finding the Madeira emptying almost immediately into the
sea, would ask themselves whether it had ever been indeed a branch of
the Amazons, just as they now question whether the Tocantins is a
tributary of the main stream or an independent river. But to return to
Marajo, and to the facts actually in our possession.

The island is intersected, in its south-eastern end, by a considerable
river called the Igarapé Grande. The cut made through the land by this
stream seems intended to serve as a geological section, so perfectly
does it display the three characteristic Amazonian formations above
described. At its mouth, near the town of Souré, and at Salvaterra, on
the opposite bank, may be seen, lowest, the well-stratified sandstone,
with the finely laminated clays resting upon it, overtopped by a crust;
then the cross-stratified, highly ferruginous sandstone, with quartz
pebbles here and there; and, above all, the well-known ochraceous,
unstratified sandy clay, spreading over the undulating surface of the
denudated sandstone, following all its inequalities, and filling all its
depressions and furrows. But while the Igarapé Grande has dug its
channel down to the sea, cutting these formations, as I ascertained, to
a depth of twenty-five fathoms, it has thus opened the way for the
encroachments of the tides, and the ocean is now, in its turn, gaining
upon the land. Were there no other evidence of the action of the tides
in this locality, the steep cut of the Igarapé Grande, contrasting with
the gentle slope of the banks near its mouth, wherever they have been,
modified by the invasion of the sea, would enable us to distinguish the
work of the river from that of the ocean, and to prove that the
denudation now going on is due in part to both. But besides this, I was
so fortunate as to discover here unmistakable and perfectly convincing
evidence of the onward movement of the sea. At the mouth of the Igarapé
Grande, both at Souré and at Salvaterra, on the southern side of the
Igarapé, is a submerged forest. Evidently this forest grew in one of
those marshy lands constantly inundated, for between the stumps is
accumulated the loose, felt-like peat characteristic of such grounds,
and containing about as much mud as vegetable matter. Such a marshy
forest, with the stumps of the trees still standing erect in the peat,
has been laid bare on both sides of the Igarapé Grande by the
encroachments of the ocean. That this is the work of the sea is
undeniable, for all the little depressions and indentations of the peat
are filled with sea-sand, and a ridge of tidal sand divides it from the
forest still standing behind. Nor is this all. At Vigia, immediately
opposite to Souré, on the continental side of the Pará River, just where
it meets the sea, we have the counterpart of this submerged forest.
Another peat-bog, with the stumps of innumerable trees standing in it,
and encroached upon in the same way by tidal sand, is exposed here also.
No doubt these forests were once all continuous, and stretched across
the whole basin of what is now called the Pará River.

Since I have been pursuing this inquiry, I have gathered much
information to the same effect from persons living on the coast. It is
well remembered that, twenty years ago, there existed an island, more
than a mile in width, to the northeast of the entrance of the Bay of
Vigia, which has now entirely disappeared. Farther eastward, the Bay of
Braganza has doubled its width in the last twenty years, and on the
shore, within the bay, the sea has gained upon the land for a distance
of two hundred yards during a period of only ten years. The latter fact
is ascertained by the position of some houses, which were two hundred
yards farther from the sea ten years ago than they now are. From these
and the like reports, from my own observations on this part of the
Brazilian coast, from some investigations made by Major Coutinho at the
mouth of the Amazons, on its northern continental shore, near Macapa,
and from the reports of Mr. St. John respecting the formations in the
valley of the Paranahyba, it is my belief that the changes I have been
describing are but a small part of the destruction wrought by the sea on
the northeastern shore of this continent. I think it will be found, when
the coast has been fully surveyed, that a strip of land not less than a
hundred leagues in width, stretching from Cape St. Roque to the northern
extremity of South America, has been eaten away by the ocean. If this be
so, the Paranahyba and the rivers to the northwest of it, in the
province of Maranham, were formerly tributaries of the Amazons; and all
that we know thus far of their geological character goes to prove that
this was actually the case. Such an extensive oceanic denudation must
have carried away not only the gigantic glacial moraine here assumed to
have closed the mouth of the Amazonian basin, but the very ground on
which it stood.

During the last four or five years I have been engaged in a series of
investigations, in the United States, upon the subject of the
denudations connected with the close of the glacial period there, and
the encroachments of the ocean upon the drift deposits along the
Atlantic coast. Had these investigations been published in detail, with
the necessary maps, it would have been far easier for me to explain the
facts I have lately observed in the Amazonian Valley, to connect them
with facts of a like character on the continent of North America, and to
show how remarkably they correspond with facts accomplished during the
same period in other parts of the world. While the glacial epoch itself
has been very extensively studied in the last half-century, little
attention has been paid to the results connected with the breaking up of
the geological winter and the final disappearance of the ice. I believe
that the true explanation of the presence of a large part of the
superficial deposits lately ascribed to the agency of the sea, during
temporary subsidences of the land, will be found in the melting of the
ice-fields. To this cause I would refer all those deposits which I have
designated in former publications as remodelled drift. When the sheet of
ice, extending from the Arctic regions over a great part of North
America and coming down to the sea, slowly melted away, the waters were
not distributed over the face of the country as they now are. They
rested upon the bottom deposits of the ice-fields, upon the glacial
paste, consisting of clay, sand, pebbles, boulders, etc., underlying the
ice. This bottom deposit did not, of course, present an even surface,
but must have had extensive undulations and depressions. After the
waters had been drained off from the more elevated ridges, these
depressions would still remain full. In the lakes and pools thus formed,
stratified deposits would be accumulated, consisting of the most
minutely comminuted clay, deposited in thin laminated layers, or
sometimes in considerable masses, without any sign of stratification;
such differences in the formation being determined by the state of the
water, whether perfectly stagnant or more or less agitated. Of such pool
deposits overlying the drift there are many instances in the Northern
United States. By the overflowing of some of these lakes, and by the
emptying of the higher ones into those on a lower level, channels would
gradually be formed between the depressions. So began to be marked out
our independent river-systems,--the waters always seeking their natural
level, gradually widening and deepening the channels in which they
flowed, as they worked their way down to the sea. When they reached the
shore, there followed that antagonism between the rush of the rivers and
the action of the tides,--between continental outflows and oceanic
encroachments,--which still goes on, and has led to the formation of our
eastern rivers, with their wide, open estuaries, such as the James, the
Potomac, and the Delaware. All these estuaries are embanked by drift, as
are also, in their lower course, the rivers connected with them. Where
the country was low and flat, and the drift extended far into the ocean,
the encroachment of the sea gave rise, not only to our large estuaries,
but also to the sounds and deep bays forming the most prominent
indentations of the continental coast, such as the Bay of Fundy,
Massachusetts Bay, Long Island Sound, and others. The unmistakable
traces of glacial action upon all the islands along the coast of New
England, sometimes lying at a very considerable distance from the
mainland, give an approximate, though a minimum, measure of the former
extent of the glacial drift seaward, and the subsequent advance of the
ocean upon the land. Like those of the harbor of Pará, all these islands
have the same geological structure as the continent, and were evidently
continuous with it at some former period. All the rocky islands along
the coast of Maine and Massachusetts exhibit the glacial traces wherever
their surfaces are exposed by the washing away of the drift; and where
the drift remains, its character shows that it was once continuous from
one island to another, and from all the islands to the mainland.

It is difficult to determine with precision the ancient limit of the
glacial drift, but I think it can be shown that it connected the shoals
of Newfoundland with the continent; that Nantucket, Martha's Vineyard,
and Long Island made part of the mainland; that, in like manner, Nova
Scotia, including Sable Island, was united to the southern shore of New
Brunswick and Maine, and that the same sheet of drift extended thence to
Cape Cod, and stretched southward as far as Cape Hatteras;--in short,
that the line of shallow soundings along the whole coast of the United
States marks the former extent of glacial drift. The ocean has gradually
eaten its way into this deposit, and given its present outlines to the
continent. These denudations of the sea no doubt began as soon as the
breaking up of the ice exposed the drift to its invasion; in other
words, at a time when colossal glaciers still poured forth their load of
ice into the Atlantic, and fleets of icebergs, far larger and more
numerous than those now floated off from the Arctic seas, were launched
from the northeastern shore of the United States. Many such masses must
have stranded along the shore, and have left various signs of their
presence. In fact, the glacial phenomena of the United States and
elsewhere are due to two distinct periods: the first of these was the
glacial epoch proper, when the ice was a solid sheet; while to the
second belongs the breaking up of this epoch, with the gradual
disintegration and dispersion of the ice. We talk of the theory of
glaciers and the theory of icebergs in reference to these phenomena, as
if they were exclusively due to one or the other, and whoever accepted
the former must reject the latter, and _vice versa_. When geologists
have combined these now discordant elements, and consider these two
periods as consecutive,--part of the phenomena being due to the
glaciers, part to the icebergs and to freshets consequent on their
breaking up,--they will find they have covered the whole ground, and
that the two theories are perfectly consistent with each other. I think
the present disputes upon this subject will end somewhat like those
which divided the Neptunic and Plutonic schools of geologists in the
early part of this century; the former of whom would have it that all
the rocks were due to the action of water, the latter that they were
wholly due to the action of fire. The problem was solved, and harmony
restored, when it was found that both elements had been equally at work
in forming the solid crust of the globe. To the stranded icebergs
alluded to above, I have no doubt, is to be referred the origin of the
many lakes without outlet existing all over the sandy tract along our
coast of which Cape Cod forms a part. Not only the formation of these
lakes, but also that of our salt marshes and cranberry-fields, I believe
to be connected with the waning of the ice period.

I hope at some future time to publish in detail, with the appropriate
maps and illustrations, my observations on our coast changes, and upon
other phenomena connected with the close of the glacial epoch in the
United States. It is reversing the natural order of things to give
results without the investigations which have led to them; and I should
not have introduced the subject here except to show that the fresh-water
denudations and the oceanic encroachments which have formed the
Amazonian Valley, with its river system, are not isolated facts, but
that the process has been the same in both continents. The extraordinary
continuity and uniformity of the Amazonian deposits are due to the
immense size of the basin enclosed, and the identity of the materials
contained in it.

A glance at any geological map of the world will show the reader that
the Valley of the Amazons, so far as any attempt is made to explain its
structure, is represented as containing isolated tracts of Devonian,
Triassic, Jurassic, cretaceous, tertiary, and alluvial deposits. As is
shown by the above sketch, this is wholly inaccurate; and whatever may
be thought of my interpretation of the actual phenomena, I trust that,
in presenting for the first time the formations of the Amazonian basin
in their natural connection and sequence, as consisting of three uniform
sets of comparatively recent deposits, extending throughout the whole
valley, the investigations here recorded have contributed something to
the results of modern geology.


[A] Bohn's edition of Humboldt's Personal Narrative, p. 134. Humboldt
alludes to these formations repeatedly; it is true that he refers them
to the ancient conglomerates of the Devonian age, but his description
agrees so perfectly with what I have observed along the banks of the
Amazons, that there can be no doubt he speaks of the same thing. He
wrote at a time when many of the results of modern geology were unknown,
and his explanation of the phenomena was then perfectly natural. The
passage from which the few lines in the text are taken shows that these
deposits extend even to the Llanos.

[B] I am aware that Bates mentions having heard, that at Obydos
calcareous layers, thickly studded with marine shells, had been found
interstratified with the clay, but he did not himself examine the
strata. The Obydos shells are not marine, but are fresh-water Unios,
greatly resembling Aviculas, Solens, and Arcas. Such would-be marine
fossils have been brought to me from the shore opposite to Obydos, near
Santarem, and I have readily recognised them for what they truly are,
fresh-water shells of the family of Naiades. I have myself collected
specimens of these shells in the clay beds along the banks of the
Solimoens, near Teffe, and might have mistaken them for fossils of that
formation had I not known how Naiades burrow in the mud. Their
resemblance to the marine genera mentioned above is very remarkable, and
the mistake as to their true zoological character is as natural as that
by which earlier ichthyologists, and even travellers of very recent
date, have confounded some fresh-water fishes from the Upper Amazons of
the genus Pterophyllum (Heckel) with the marine genus Platax.

[C] As I have stated in the beginning, I am satisfied that the
unstratified clay deposit of Rio and its vicinity is genuine glacial
drift, resulting from the grinding of the loose materials interposed
between the glacier and the solid rock in place, and retaining to this
day the position in which it was left by the ice. Like all such
accumulations, it is totally free from stratification. If this be so, it
is evident, on comparing the two formations, that the ochraceous sandy
clay of the Valley of the Amazons has been deposited under different
circumstances; that, while it owes its resemblance to the Rio drift to
the fact that its materials were originally ground by glaciers in the
upper part of the valley, these materials have subsequently been spread
throughout the whole basin and actually deposited under the agency of


I am a maniac. I have for some years been the victim of a peculiar
insanity, which has greatly distressed several of my friends and
relatives. They generally soften it in their talk by the name
_mono_mania; but they do not hesitate to aver, when speaking their
minds, that it has in truth infected my whole soul, and made me
incapable of doing or thinking anything useful or rational. This sad
delusion, which they endeavor to remove by serious advice, by playful
banter, or by seeming to take an interest in my folly for a moment, is
encountered with great acrimony by less gentle friends. They who are not
bound to me by blood or intimacy--and some who are--deride, insult, and
revile me in every way for my subjection to a mental aberration which is
rapidly consuming a pretty property, more than average talents, and
unrivalled opportunities.

Of course, like all madmen, I think just the reverse. When the fit is on
me, I assert that this fever--this madness--far from being the bane of
my life, is a blessing to it; that I am habitually devoting money, time,
and wits to an object at once beautiful and elevating; that I have found
consolation in its visions for many sufferings, which all the amusements
offered me by my revilers are utterly inadequate to touch. I declare
that I have found a better investment for my money than all the West
Virginia coal companies that ever sunk oil-wells, and am making more
useful acquaintances than if I danced every German during the season. I
have not been shut up yet, for my friends know that, if they attempt any
such thing, the Finance Committee on the Harvard Memorial and Alumni
Hall are in possession of a bond conveying all my money to them; so I am
still at large, scolded by my brother Henry, laughed at by my sister
Bathsheba, the aversion of Beacon Street, and the scorn of Winthrop

The other day, I took a little journey to Europe, with the view of
feeding my madness on that whereby it grows. My friends did not choose
to stop me, for they thought the charms of foreign travel might win me
from my waywardness. To be sure, when they found, on my return, that I
had never left England, they were convinced, if never before, that I was
hopelessly insane; for what American, they very sanely said, "would stay
in that dull, dingy island, among those stupid, cowardly bullies, when
he might live in that lovely Paris, the most interesting and amusing
city in the world, unless he were incomprehensibly mad." And, in truth,
I begin to think I must be mad, when I find myself, like the man shut up
with eleven obstinate jurymen, alone in thinking England a gay,
beautiful, happy country, teeming with every gratification of art or
nature, and inhabited by a manly, generous, and intelligent race; and
that life in Paris, as Americans live it, is a senseless rush after
excitement, where comfort is abandoned for unreal luxury, and society
for vicious boon-companionship. Still I am very willing to admit that my
special mania can be very capitally gratified in Paris, and I am
meditating a little trip there for the purpose.

On my return from England, I was observed to be in great distress about
a certain box that I missed at Liverpool, looked for at Halifax, and all
but lost at East Boston; and when it was found and opened, it only
contained two suits of clothes, when, as Henry said, "I might have
brought forty, the only thing they did have decent in England," and all
the rest--mad, mad! I beg the readers of the Atlantic to listen to my
humble confession of madness, as it culminated in this box.

It is this. The most valuable property a man can possibly have is books;
if he has a hundred or a thousand dollars to spare, he had better at
once put it into books than into any "paying investments," or any
horses, clothes, pictures, or opera-tickets. A life passed among books,
thinking, talking, living only for books, is the most amusing and
improving life; and to make this possible, the acquisition of a library
should be the first object of any one who makes any claim to the
possession of luxuries. (My madness only allows me to make one
exception,--I do acknowledge the solemn duty of laying in a stock of old
Madeira.) But so far I have many fellow-maniacs. The special reason why
I ought always to stop the Lowell cars at Somerville is, that I consider
the reading of books only half the battle. I must have them in choice
bindings, in rare imprints, in original editions, and in the most select
forms. I must have several copies of a book I have read forty times, as
long as there is anything about each copy that makes it peculiar, _sui
generis_. I must own the first edition of Paradise Lost, because it is
the first, and in ten books; the second, because it is the first in
twelve; then Newton's, then Todd's, then Mitford's, and so on, till my
catalogue of Miltons gets to equal Jeames de la Pluche's portraits of
the "Dook." "And when," as Henry indignantly says, "he could read Milton
all he wanted to, more than I should ever want to, notes and all, in
Little and Brown's edition that father gave him, he must go spending
money on a parcel of old truck printed a thousand years ago." Mad, quite

Now, to finish the melancholy picture, I am classic mad. I prefer the
ancient authors, decidedly, to the moderns. I love them as I never can
the moderns; they are my most intimate friends, my heart's own darlings.
And how I love to lavish money on them, to see them adorned in every
way! How I love to heap them up, Aldines, and Elzevirs, and
Baskervilles, and Biponts, in all their grace and majesty. This was what
filled that London box. This was all I had to show for twenty-five or
thirty guineas of good money; a parcel of trumpery old Greek and Latin
books I had by dozens already! Mad, mad.

Will you come in and see them, ladies and gentlemen? Here they are, all
ranged out on my table, large and small, clean and dirty. What have we

A goodly fat quarto in white vellum, "Plinii Panegyricus, cum notis
Schwarzii, Norimbergæ, 1733." A fine, clean, fresh copy,--one of those
brave old Teutonic classics of the last century, less exquisitely
printed than the Elzevirs, less learnedly critical than the later
Germans, but perfectly trustworthy and satisfactory, and attracting
every one's eye on a library shelf, by the rich sturdiness of their
creamy binding, that smacks of the true Dutch and German burgher wealth.
The model of them all is Oudendorp's Cæsar. But there is nothing very
great about Pliny's Panegyric, and a man must be a very queer
bibliomaniac who would buy up all the vellum classics of the last
century he saw. Look inside the cover; read under the book-plate the
engraved name, "Edward Gibbon, Esq." What will you, my sanest friend,
not give for a book that belonged to the author of the "Decline and

The next is also a large quarto, but of a very different character. It
is the Baskerville impression of the elegiac poets,--Catullus, Tibullus,
and Propertius: Birmingham, 1772. No books are more delightful to sight
and touch than the Baskerville classics. This Catullus of mine is
printed on the softest and glossiest post paper, with a mighty margin of
two inches and a half at the side, and rich broad letters,--the standard
_n_ is a tenth of an inch wide,--of a glorious blackness in spite of
their ninety-two years of age. The classics of all languages have never
been more fitly printed than by Baskerville; and the present book may
serve as an admirable lesson to those who think a large-paper book means
an ordinary octavo page printed in the middle of a quarto leaf,--for
instance; Irving's Washington. My Catullus is bound in glossy calf,
with a richly gilt back, and bears within the inscription, "From H. S.
C. | to her valued friend | Doctor Southey | Feb'y y'e 24th, 1813,"
in a true English lady's hand. This cannot be the poet Southey, who was
not made LL. D. till 1821; but it may be his brother, Henry Herbert
Southey, M. D.

Next comes a very neat and compact little Seneca, in four 18mo volumes,
bound in rich old Russia, and bearing the esteemed imprint, "Amstelodami
apud Ludovicum et Danielem Elzevirios, M.D.CLVIII." As the Baskerville
classics are the noblest for the library table, so the Elzevirs are the
neatest and prettiest for the pocket or the lecture-room. And to their
great beauty of mechanical execution is generally added a scrupulous
textual accuracy, which the great Birmingham printer did not boast. This
edition of Seneca, for instance, is that of Gronovius. His dedicatory
epistle, and the title-pages of Vols. II., III. and IV., are all dated
1658, but the general title-page in Vol. I. is 1659, as if, like White's
Shakespeare, the first volume was the last published. Contrasting a
_bijou_ edition with a magnificent one, it may be noted that in the
Elzevir the four words and two stops, "Moriar: die ergo verum," occupy
just an inch, exactly the space of the one word "compositis" in the
Baskerville; but the printing of each is in its way exquisite.

Just about a century after the Elzevirs, and contemporary with
Baskerville, an English publisher of the name of Sandby, who appears to
have been, as we should say, the University printer and bookseller at
Cambridge, projected a series of classics, which are highly prized on
large paper and not despised on small. I possess two of the latter, a
Terence and a Juvenal; the second, curiously enough, lettered
"Juvenal_u_s," a regular binder's blunder. They are called pocket
editions, but are much larger than the Elzevirs, and, though very
pretty, just miss that peculiar beauty and finish which have made the
former the delight of all scholars. There is a carelessness
somewhere--it is hard to say where--about the printing, which prevents
their being perfect; but a "Sandby" is a very nice thing.

My next "wanity" is a Virgil,--Justice's Virgil; a most elaborate and
elegant edition, in five octavo volumes, published in the middle of the
last century. It is noted, first, for the great richness and beauty of
its engravings from ancient gems, coins, and drawings, which form an
unrivalled body of illustration to the text. But, secondly, it will be
seen, on inspection, that the whole book is one vast engraving, every
line, word, and letter being cut on a metallic plate. Consequently, only
every other page is printed on. The same idea was still more perfectly
carried out by Pine, a few years later, who executed all Horace in this
way, but only lived to complete one volume of Virgil, choicer even than
Justice's. It is well bound, in perfect order, and ranks with the
choicest of ornamental classics.

Side by side with this Virgil is another, the rare Elzevir Virgil, and a
gem, if ever there was one. It is the corrected text of Heinsius, and
thus has a fair claim to rank as the earliest of the modern critical
editions of Maro. The elegance of this little book in size and shape,
the clearness and beauty of the type, and the truly classical taste and
finish of the whole design, can never be surpassed in Virgilian
bibliography, unless by Didot's matchless little copies. Elzevir Virgils
are common enough; but mine is, as I have said, the rare Elzevir, known
by the pages introductory to the Eclogues and Æneid being printed in
rubric, while the ordinary Elzevirs have them in black. It dates
1637,--the year when John Harvard left his money to the College at
Newtowne, and the first printing-press in the United States was set up
hard by.

The books, then, that I have described so far all date within the two
hundred and thirty years of our collegiate history. But I have behind
three of an earlier--a much earlier date; books which John Cotton and
Charles Chauncy might have gazed upon as old in Emmanuel College

First, I show you a pair of Aldines, and, what is better, a pair
_editionum principum_,--the first Sophocles and the first Thucydides.
Both have the proper attestation at the end that they come from the Aldi
in Venice in the year 1502,--the Thucydides in May, and the Sophocles in
August; hence the former has not the Aldine anchor at the extreme end.
Both are in exquisitely clean condition; but the Sophocles, though
taller than other known copies of the same edition, has suffered from
the knife of a modern binder, who otherwise has done his work with the
greatest elegance and judgment. The Thucydides has a grand page, over
twelve inches by eight; the Sophocles is about seven by four. The type
of both is small, and, though distinct, especially the Thucydides, not
at all what we should call elegant. In fact, elegant Greek type is a
very late invention. There is, I believe, no claim to textual criticism
in these early Aldines; the publishers printed from such manuscripts as
they could get. The Thucydides has a long dedicatory address by Aldus to
a Roman patrician; the Sophocles has no such introduction. But it is, at
any rate, most curious to consider that these two writers, who stand at
the very head of Greek, or at least Attic, prose and verse, both for
matter and style, should not have found a printer till the fifteenth
century was long past, and then in a style which, for the Sophocles, can
only be called neat. The Thucydides is handsome, but far inferior to the
glory of the _princeps_ Homer. And to own them--for a maniac--O, it is

Last comes my special treasure,--my fifteener,--my book as old as
America,--my darling copy of my darling author. Here, at the culmination
of my madness, my friends, especially my brother Henry, are all ready to
say at once what author I mean. For it has been my special mania for
twenty years--thereby causing the deepest distress to nearly all my
friends, even those who have been thought fellow-lunatics, except
one,[D] who is for me about the only sane man alive--to prefer VIRGIL to
all authors, living or dead, and to seek to accumulate as many different
editions and copies of him as possible. I have in these pages chronicled
two. My library holds twelve more, besides two translations, and I
consider myself very short; for to my mind no breadth of paper, no
weight of binding, no brilliancy of print, no delicacy of engraving, no
elaboration of learning, can ever do honor enough to the last and best
of the ancients, who was all but the first of the Christians,--who would
have been, if his frame had not broken down under a genius too mighty
and a soul too sweet for earth. (Mad, you see, beyond all question.
Virgil is allowed to be a servile copyist, far inferior to Lucretius.
Compare Lucr. V. 750 with Georg. II. 478, and Heyne's note.) This Virgil
of mine bears the imprint of Antony Koburger, Nuremberg, 1492. It is in
the original binding of very solid boards overlaid with stamped vellum,
and is still clasped with the original skin and metal. It is a small
folio, on very coarse paper, and the only one of my rare classics not in
the cleanest condition. Its stains appear to be caused by its use in a
school; for it is covered with notes, in German current hand, very
antiquated, and very elementary in their scholarship. It has all the
poetry ascribed to Virgil, and the Commentaries of Servius and Landini,
which are so voluminous that the page looks like a ha'p'orth of sack to
an intolerable deal of very dry bread. It is very rare, being unknown to
the great Dibdin, and was snapped up by me for three guineas out of a
London bookseller's catalogue. A Virgil printed by Koburger in the year
America was discovered, original binding and clasps, not in Dibdin, for
three guineas! Hurrah! It excites my madness so that I must rush
straight to Piper's and buy right and left. Kind friends, come and take
me away ere I am reduced to beggary.


[D] F. W. H. M., you know I mean you.




Five or six years of the life of our hero we must now pass over in
silence, saying of them, simply, that Fancy had not cheated much in her
promises concerning them. The first rude cabin had given place to a
whitewashed cottage; the chimney-corner was bright and warm; the
easy-chair was in it, and the Widow Walker often sat there with her
grandson on her knee, getting much comfort from the reflection that he
looked just as her own Johnny did when he was a baby!

The garden smiled at the doorside, and the village had sprung up just as
Fancy promised; and Hobert and Jenny walked to church of a Sunday, and
after service shook hands with their neighbors,--for everybody delighted
to take their strong, willing hands, and look into their honest,
cheerful faces,--they were amongst the first settlers of the place, and
held an honored position in society. Jenny was grown a little more
stout, and her cheek a little more ruddy, than it used to be; but the
new country seemed not so well suited to Hobert, and the well-wishing
neighbor often said when he met him, "You mustn't be too ambitious, and
overdo! Your shoulders ain't so straight as they was when you come here!
Be careful in time; nothing like that, Walker, nothing like that." And
Hobert laughed at these suggestions, saying he was as strong as the rest
of them; and that, though his cheek was pale, and his chest hollow, he
was a better man than he seemed.

The summer had been one of the wildest luxuriance ever known in the
valley of the Wabash; for it was in that beautiful valley that our
friend Hobert had settled. The woods cast their leaves early, and the
drifts lay rotting knee-deep in places. Then came the long, hot, soaking
rains, with hotter sunshine between. Chills and fever prevailed, and
half the people of the neighborhood were shivering and burning at once.
It was a healthy region, everybody said, but the weather had been
unusually trying; as soon as the frost came, the ague would vanish; the
water was the best in the world, to be sure, and the air the purest.

Hobert was ploughing a piece of low ground for wheat, cutting a black
snake in two now and then, and his furrow behind him fast filling with
water that looked almost as black as the soil. Often he stopped to
frighten from the quivering flank of the brown mare before him the
voracious horse-flies, colored like the scum of the stagnant pools, and
clinging and sucking like leeches. She was his favorite, the pride of
his farm,--for had she not, years before, brought Jenny on her faithful
shoulder to the new, happy home? Many a fond caress her neck had had
from his arm; and the fine bridle with the silver bit, hanging on the
wall at home, would not have been afforded for any other creature in the
world. Hobert often said he would never sell her as long as he lived;
and in the seasons of hard work he favored her more than he did himself.
She had been named Fleetfoot, in honor of her successful achievement
when her master had intrusted to her carrying the treasure of his life;
but that name proving too formal, she was usually called Fleety. She
would put down her forehead to the white hands of little Jenny, four
years old and upward now, and tread so slow and so carefully when she
had her on her back! Even the white dress of Johnny Hobert had swept
down her silken side more than once, while his dimpled hands clutched
her mane, and his rosy feet paddled against her. He was going to be her
master after a while, and take care of her in her old age, when the time
of her rest was come; he knew her name as well as he knew his own, and
went wild with delight when he saw her taking clover from the tiny hand
of his sister or drinking water from the bucket at the well.

"She grows handsomer every year," Hobert often said; "and with a little
training I would not be afraid to match her against the speediest racer
they can bring." And this remark was always intended as in some sort a
compliment to Jenny, and was always so received by her.

On this special day he had stopped oftener in the furrow than common;
and as often as he stopped Fleety twisted round her neck, bent her soft
eyes upon him, and twitched her little ears as though she would say, "Is
not all right, my master?" And then he would walk round to her head, and
pass his hand along her throat and through her foretop, calling her by
her pet name, and pulling for her handfuls of fresh grass, and while she
ate it resting himself against her, and feeling in her nearness almost a
sense of human protection. His feet seemed to drag under him, and there
was a dull aching in all his limbs; the world appeared to be receding
from him, and at times he could hardly tell whether he stood upon solid
ground. Then he accused himself of being lazy and good for nothing, and
with fictitious energy took up the reins and started the plough.

He looked at the sun again and again. He was not used to leaving off
work while the sun shone, and the clear waters of the Wabash held as yet
no faintest evening flush. There were yet two good hours of working time
before him, when the quick shooting of a pain, like the running of a
knife through his heart, caused him to stagger in the furrow. Fleety
stopped of her own accord, and looked pityingly back. He sat down beside
the plough to gather up his courage a little. A strange sensation that
he could not explain had taken possession of him, a feeling as if the
hope of his life was cut off. The pain was gone, but the feeling of
helpless surrender remained. He opened his shirt and passed his hand
along his breast. He could feel nothing,--could see nothing; but he had,
for all that, a clearly defined consciousness as of some deadly thing
hold of him that he would fain be rid of.

He had chanced to stop his plough under an elm-tree, and, looking up, he
perceived that from the fork upward one half of it was dead; mistletoe
had sucked the life out of it, and lower and lower to the main body,
deeper and deeper to the vital heart of it, the sap was being drawn
away. An irresistible impulse impelled him to take the jack-knife from
his pocket, and as far as he could reach cut away this alien and deadly
growth. The sympathy into which he was come with the dying tree was
positively painful to him, and yet he was withheld from moving on by a
sort of fascination,--_he_ was that tree, and the mistletoe was rooted
in his bosom!

The last yellow leaves fluttered down and lodged on his head and
shoulders and in his bosom,--he did not lift his hand to brush them
away; the blue lizard slid across his bare ankle and silently vanished
out of sight, but he did not move a muscle. The brown mare bent her side
round like a bow, and stretched her slender neck out more and more, and
at last her nose touched his cheek, and then he roused himself and shook
the dead leaves from his head and shoulders, and stood up. "Come,
Fleety," he said, "we won't leave the plough in the middle of the
furrow." She did not move. "Come, come!" he repeated, "it seems like a
bad sign to stop here";--and then he put his hand suddenly to his heart,
and an involuntary shudder passed over him. Fleety had not unbent her
side, and her dumb, beseeching eyes were still upon him. He looked at
the sun, low, but still shining out bright, and almost as hot as ever;
he looked at his shadow stretching so far over the rough, weedy ground,
and it appeared to him strange and fantastic. Then he loosed the traces,
and, winding up the long rein, hung it over the harness; the plough
dropped aslant, and Fleety turned herself about and walked slowly
homeward,--her master following, his head down and his hands locked
together behind him.

The chimney was sending up its hospitable smoke, and Jenny was at the
well with the teakettle in her hand when he came into the dooryard.

"What in the world is going to happen?" she exclaimed, cheerfully. "I
never knew you to leave work before while the sun shone. I am glad you
have, for once. But what is the matter?"

He had come nearer now, and she saw that something of light and hope had
gone out of his face. And then Hobert made twenty excuses,--there wasn't
anything the matter, he said, but the plough was dull, and the ground
wet and heavy, and full of green roots; besides, the flies were bad, and
the mare tired.

"But you look so worn out, I am afraid you are sick, yourself!"
interposed the good wife; and she went close to him, and pushed the
hair, growing thinner now, away from his forehead, and looked anxiously
in his face,--so anxiously, so tenderly, that he felt constrained to
relieve her fears, even at some expense of the truth.

"Not to look well in your eyes is bad enough," he answered, with forced
cheerfulness, "but I feel all right; never better, never better, Jenny!"
And stooping to his little daughter, who was holding his knees, he
caught her up, and tossed her high in the air, but put her down at once,
seeming almost to let her fall out of his hands, and, catching for
breath, leaned against the well-curb.

"What is it, Hobert? what is it?" and Jenny had her arm about him, and
was drawing him toward the house.

"Nothing, nothing,--a touch of rheumatism, I guess,--no, no! I must take
care of the mare first." And as she drank the water from the full bucket
he held poised on the curb for her, he thought of the elm-tree in the
field he had left, of the mistletoe sucking the life out of it, and of
the unfinished furrow. "Never mind, Fleety," he said, as he led her away
to the stable, "we'll be up betimes to-morrow, and make amends, won't

"I believe, mother, I'll put on the new teacups!" Jenny said, as she set
a chair before the cupboard, and climbed on it so as to reach the upper
shelf. She had already spread the best table-cloth.

"Why, what for?" asked the provident mother, looking up from the sock
she was knitting.

"O, I don't know; I want to make things look nice, that's all."

But she did know, though the feeling was only half defined. It seemed to
her as if Hobert were some visitor coming,--not her husband. A shadowy
feeling of insecurity had touched her; the commonness of custom was
gone, and she looked from the window often, as the preparation for
supper went on, with all the sweetness of solicitude with which she used
to watch for his coming from under the grape-vines. Little Jenny was
ready with the towel when he came with his face dripping, and the
easy-chair was set by the door that looked out on the garden. "I don't
want it," the good grandmother said, as he hesitated; "I have been
sitting in it all day, and am tired of it!"

And as he sat there with his boy on his knee, and his little girl, who
had climbed up behind him, combing his hair with her slender white
fingers,--his own fields before him, and his busy wife making music
about the house with her cheerful, hopeful talk,--he looked like a man
to be envied; and so just then he was.

The next morning he did not fulfil his promise to himself by rising
early; he had been restless and feverish all night, and now was chilly.
If he lay till breakfast was ready, he would feel better, Jenny said;
she could milk, to be sure, and do all the rest of the work, and so he
was persuaded. But when the breakfast was ready the chilliness had
become a downright chill, so that the blankets that were over him shook
like leaves in a strong wind.

Jenny had a little money of her own hidden away in the bottom of the new
cream-pitcher. She had saved it, unknown to Hobert, from the sale of
eggs and other trifles, and had meant to surprise him by appearing in a
new dress some morning when the church-bell rang; but now she turned the
silver into her hand and counted it, thinking what nice warm flannel it
would buy to make shirts for Hobert. Of course he had them, and Jenny
had not made any sacrifice that she knew of,--indeed, that is a word of
which love knows not the meaning.

"We will have him up in a day or two," the women said, one to the other,
as they busied themselves about the house, or sat at the bedside, doing
those things that only the blessed hands of women can do, making those
plans that only the loving hearts of women can make. But the day or two
went by, and they didn't have Hobert up. Then they said to one another,
"We must set to work in earnest; we have really done nothing for him as
yet." And they plied their skill of nursing with new hope and new
energy. Every morning he told them he was better, but in the afternoon
it happened that he didn't feel quite like stirring about; he was still
better, but he had a little headache, and was afraid of bringing on a

"To be sure! you need rest and quiet; you have been working too hard,
and it's only a wonder you didn't give out sooner!" So the two women
said to him; and then they told him he looked better than he did
yesterday, and, with much tender little caressing of neck and arms and
hands, assured him that his flesh felt as healthy and nice as could be.
Nevertheless, his eyes settled deeper and deeper, and gathered more and
more of a leaden color about them; his skin grew yellow, and fell into
wrinkles that were almost rigid, and that beseeching, yearning
expression, made up of confidence in you, and terror of some nameless
thing,--that look, as of a soul calling and crying to you, which follows
you when you go farther than common from a sick-pillow,--all that
terrible appealing was in his face; and often Jenny paused with her eyes
away from him, when she saw that look,--paused, and steadied up her
heart, before she could turn back and meet him with a smile.

And friendly neighbors came in of an evening, and told of the sick wife
or boy at home; of the mildewed crop, and the lamed horse; of the
brackish well, and of the clock bought from the pedler that wouldn't go,
and wouldn't strike when it did go;--dwelling, in short, on all the
darker incidents and accidents of life, and thus establishing a nearness
and equality of relation to the sick man, that somehow soothed and
cheered him. At these times he would be propped up in bed, and listen
with sad satisfaction, sometimes himself entering with a sort of
melancholy animation into the subject.

He would not as yet accept any offers of assistance. The wood-pile was
getting low, certainly, and the plough still lying slantwise in the
furrow; the corn-crop was to be gathered, and the potatoes to be got out
of the ground,--but there was time enough yet! He didn't mean to indulge
his laziness much longer,--not he!

And then the neighbor who had offered to serve him would laugh, and
answer that he had not been altogether disinterested: he had only
proposed to _lend_ a helping hand, expecting to need the like himself
some day. "Trouble comes to us all, Mr. Walker, and we don't know whose
turn it will be next. I want to take out a little insurance,--that's

"Well, another day, if I don't get better!"

And the long hot rains were over at last; the clouds drew themselves
off, and the sharp frosts, of a morning, were glistening far and near;
the pumpkin-vines lay black along the ground, and the ungathered ears of
corn hung black on the stalk.

Hobert was no better. But still the two women told each other they
didn't think he was any worse. His disease was only an ague, common to
the time of year and to the new country. It had come on so late it was
not likely now that he would get the better of it before spring; making
some little sacrifices for the present, they must all be patient and
wait; and the nursing went on, till every device of nursing was
exhausted, and one remedy after another was tried, and one after another
utterly failed, and the fond hearts almost gave out. But there was the
winter coming on, cold and long, and there was little Hobert, only
beginning to stand alone, and prattling Jenny, with the toes coming
through her shoes, and her shoulder showing flat and thin above her
summer dress. Ah! there could be no giving out; the mother's petticoat
must be turned into aprons for the pinched shoulders, and the knit-wool
stockings must make amends for the worn-out shoes. So they worked, and
work was their greatest blessing. A good many things were done without
consulting Hobert at all, and he was led to believe that all went easily
and comfortably; the neighbors, from time to time, lent the helping
hand, without so much as asking leave; and by these means there were a
few potatoes in the cellar, a little corn in the barn, and a load of
wood under the snow at the door.

The table was not spread in the sickroom any more, as it had been for a
while. They had thought it would amuse Hobert to see the little
household ceremonies going on; but now they said it was better to avoid
all unnecessary stir. Perhaps they thought it better that he should not
see their scantier fare. Still they came into his presence very
cheerfully, never hinting of hardship, never breathing the apprehension
that began to trouble their hearts.

It was during these long winter evenings, when the neighbors sat by the
fire and did what they could to cheer the sick man and the sad women,
that the wonderful merits of the great Doctor Killmany began to be
frequently discussed. Marvellous stories were told of his almost
superhuman skill. He had brought back from the very gate of death scores
of men and women who had been given up to die by their physicians,--so
it was said; and special instances of cures were related that were
certainly calculated to inspire hope and confidence. None of these good
people could of their own knowledge attest these wonderful cures; but
there were many circumstances that added weight to the force of the
general rumor.

Dr. Killmany lived a great way off, and he charged a great price. He
would not look at a man for less than a hundred dollars, so report said,
and that was much in his favor. He had a very short way with
patients,--asked no questions, and never listened to explanations,--but
could tie down a man and take off his leg or arm, as the case might be,
in an incredibly short space of time, paying as little heed to the cries
and groans as to the buzzing of the flies. If anything further had been
needed to establish his fame, it would have been found in the fact that
he was very rich, wearing diamonds in his shirt-bosom, driving fine
horses, and being, in fact, surrounded with all the luxuries that money
can procure. Of course, he was a great doctor. How could it be
otherwise? And it was enough to know that a Mr. A had seen a Mr. B who
knew a Mr. C whose wife's mother was cured by him!

At first these things were talked of in hearing of the sick man; then
there began to be whispers about the fire as to the possibility of
persuading him to sell all that he had and go to the great Doctor; for
it was now pretty generally felt that the ague was only the
accompaniment of a more terrible disease.

Then at last it was suggested, as a wild pleasantry, by some daring
visitor, "Suppose, Hobert, we should send you off one of these days,
and have you back after a few weeks, sound and vigorous as a young colt!
What should you say to that, my boy?"

To the surprise of everybody, Hobert replied that he only wished it were

"Possible! Why, of course it's possible! Where there's a will, you
know!" And then it began to be talked of less as an insane dream.

One morning, as Jenny came into the sick man's room, she found him
sitting up in bed with his shirt open and his hand on his breast.

"What is it, Hobert?" she said; for there was a look in his eyes that
made her tremble.

"I don't know, Jenny; but whatever it is, it will be my death," he
answered, and, falling upon her shoulder,--for she had come close to him
and had her arm about his neck,--he sobbed like a child.

The little hand was slipped under his, but Jenny said she could feel
nothing; and I think she will be forgiven for that falsehood. He was
sick, she said, worn out, and it was no wonder that strange fancies
should take possession of him. She had neglected him too much; but now,
though everything should go to pieces, he should have her first care,
and her last care, and all her care; he should not be left alone any
more to conjure up horrors; and when he said he was weak and foolish and
ashamed of his tears, she pacified him with petting and with praises. He
was everything that was right, everything that was strong and manly. A
little more patience, and then it would be spring, and the sunshine
would make him well. She put the hair away from his forehead, and told
him how fair in the face he was grown; and then she shoved his sleeve to
his elbow, and told him that his arms were almost as plump as they ever
were; and so he was comforted, cheered even, and they talked over the
plans and prospects of years to come. At last he fell asleep with a
bright smile of hope in his face, and Jenny stooped softly and kissed
him, and, stealing away on tiptoe, hid herself from her good old mother
and from the eyes of her children, and wept long and bitterly.

And the spring came, and Hobert crept out into the sunshine; but his
cheek was pale, and his chest hollow, and there was more than the old
listlessness upon him. As a tree that is dying will sometimes put forth
sickly leaves and blossoms, and still be dying all the while, so it was
with him. His hand was often on his breast, and his look often said,
"This will be the death of me." The bees hummed in the flowers about his
feet, the birds built their nests in the boughs above his head, and his
children played about his knees; but his thoughts were otherwhere,--away
beyond the dark river, away in that beautiful country where the
inhabitants never say, "I am sick."

It was about midsummer that one Mrs. Brown, well known to Mrs. Walker's
family, and to all the people of the neighborhood, as having suffered
for many years with some strange malady which none of the doctors
understood, sold the remnant of her property, having previously wasted
nearly all she had upon physicians, and betook herself to the great Dr.
Killmany. What her condition had actually been is not material to my
story, nor is it necessary to say anything about the treatment she
received at the hands of the great doctor. It is enough to say that it
cost her her last dollar,--that she worked her slow way home as best she
could, arriving there at last with shoes nearly off her feet and gown
torn and faded, but with health considerably improved. That she had sold
her last cow, and her feather-bed, and her teakettle, and her
sheep-shears, and her grandfather's musket, all added wonderfully to the
great doctor's reputation.

"You can't go to him if you don't go full-handed," said one to another;
and he that heard it, and he that said it, laughed as though it were a
good joke.

Some said he could see right through a man: there was no need of words
with him! And others, that he could take the brains out of the skull, or
the bones out of the ankles, and leave the patient all the better for
it. In short, there was nothing too extravagant to be said of
him; and as for Mrs. Brown, the person who had seen her became
semi-distinguished. She was invited all over the neighborhood, and her
conversation was the most delightful of entertainments. Amongst the
rest, she visited Mr. Walker; and through her instrumentality, his
strong desire to see the great Dr. Killmany was shaped into purpose.

Two of the cows were sold, most of the farming implements, and such
articles of household furniture as could be spared; and with all this
the money realized was but a hundred and fifty dollars. Then Jenny
proposed to sell her side-saddle; and when that was gone, she said
Fleety might as well go with it. "If you only come home well, Hobert,"
she said, "we will soon be able to buy her back again; and if you
don't--but you will!"

So Fleetfoot went with the rest; and when for the last time she was led
up before the door, and ate grass from the lap of little Jenny, and put
her neck down to the caressing hands of young Hobert, it was a sore
trial to them all. She seemed half conscious herself, indeed, and
exhibited none of her accustomed playfulness with the children, but
stood in a drooping attitude, with her eye intent upon her master; and
when they would have taken her away, she hung back, and, stretching her
neck till it reached his knees, licked his hands with a tenderness that
was pitiful to see.

"Don't, Hobert, don't take on about it," Jenny said, putting back the
heart that was in her mouth; "we will have her back again, you
know!"--and she gave Fleetfoot a little box on the ear that was half
approval and half reproach, and so led Hobert back into the house.

And that day was the saddest they had yet seen. And that night, when the
sick man was asleep, the two women talked together and cried together,
and in the end got such comfort as women get out of great sacrifices and
bitter tears.

They counted their little hoard. They had gathered three hundred dollars
now, and there required to be yet as much more; and then they made plans
as to what yet remained to be done. "We must mortgage the land," Jenny
said, "that is all,--don't mind, mother. I don't mind anything, so that
we only have Hobert well again." And then they talked of what they would
do another year when they should be all together once more, and all
well. "Think what Dr. Killmany has done for Mrs. Brown!" they said.

And now came busy days; and in the earnestness of the preparation the
sorrow of the coming parting was in some sort dissipated. Hobert's
wearing-apparel was all brought out, and turned and overturned, and the
most and the best made of everything. The wedding coat and the wedding
shirt were almost as good as ever, Jenny said; and when the one had been
brushed and pressed, and the other done up, she held them up before them
all, and commented upon them with pride and admiration. The fashions had
changed a little, to be sure, but what of that? The new fashions were
not so nice as the old ones, to her thinking. Hobert would look smart in
the old garments, at any rate, and perhaps nobody would notice. She was
only desirous that he should make a good impression on the Doctor. And
all that could be done to that end was done, many friends contributing,
by way of little presents, to the comfort and respectability of the
invalid. "Here is a leather pouch," said one, "that I bought of a pedler
the other day. I don't want it; but as you are going to travel, may be
you can make use of it, Walker; take it, any how."

"I have got a new pair of saddle-bags," said the circuit-rider, "but I
believe I like the old ones best. So, Brother Walker, you will oblige me
by taking these off my hands. I find extra things more trouble to take
care of than they are worth."

It was not proposed that Hobert should travel with a trunk, so the
saddle-bags were just what was required.

"Here is a pair of shoes," said another. "Try them on, Walker, and see
if you can wear them: they are too small for my clumsy feet!" They had
been made by the village shoemaker to Mr. Walker's measure. Of course
they fitted him, and of course he had them.

"I'll bet you a new hat," said another, "that I come to see you ag'in,
day after to-morrer, fur off as I live."

The day after the morrow he did not come: he was "onaccountably
hendered," he said; but when he did come he brought the new hat. He
thought he would be as good as his word in one thing if not in another,
and redeem his bet at any rate.

"I'll bring my team: I want to go to town anyhow; and we'll all see you
off together!" This was the offer of the farmer whose land adjoined Mr.
Walker's; and the day of departure was fixed, and the morning of the day
saw everything in readiness.

"Hobert looks a'most like a storekeeper or a schoolmaster, don't he,
mother?" Jenny said, looking upon him proudly, when he was arrayed in
the new hat and the wedding coat.

"Why, you are as spry as a boy!" exclaimed the farmer who was to drive
them to town, seeing that Hobert managed to climb into the wagon without
assistance. "I don't believe there is any need of Dr. Killmany, after
all!" And the neighbors, as one after another they leaned over the
sideboard of the wagon, and shook hands with Mr. Walker, made some
cheerful and light-hearted remark, calculated to convey the impression
that the leave-taking was a mere matter of form, and only for a day.

As Jenny looked back at the homestead, and thought of the possibilities,
the tears would come; but the owner of the team, determined to carry it
bravely through, immediately gathered up the slack reins, and, with a
lively crack of his whip, started the horses upon a brisk trot.

"Don't spare the money," Jenny entreated, as she put the pocket-book in
Hobert's hand; but she thought in her heart that Dr. Killmany would be
touched when he saw her husband, and knew how far he had travelled to
see him, and what sacrifices he had made to do so. "He must be good, if
he is so great as they say," she argued; "and perhaps Hobert may even
bring home enough to buy back Fleety." This was a wild dream. And the
last parting words were said, the last promises exacted and given; the
silent tears and the lingering looks all were past, and the farmer's
wagon, with an empty chair by the side of Jenny's, rattled home again.

It was perhaps a month after this that a pale, sickly-looking man, with
a pair of saddle-bags over his arm, went ashore from the steamboat Arrow
of Light, just landed at New Orleans, and made his slow way along the
wharf, crowded with barrels, boxes, and cotton-bales, and thence to the
open streets. The sun was oppressively hot, and the new fur hat became
almost intolerable, so that the sick man stopped more than once in the
shade of some friendly tree, and, placing the saddle-bags on the ground,
wiped the sweat from his forehead, and looked wistfully at the strange
faces that passed him by.

"Can you tell me, my friend," he said at last, addressing a slave-woman
who was passing by with a great bundle on her head,--"Can you tell me
where to find Doctor Killmany, who lives somewhere here?"

The woman put her bundle on the ground, and, resting her hands on her
hips, looked pitifully upon the stranger. "No, masser, cante say, not
for sure," she answered. "I knows dar's sich a doctor somewhars 'bout,
but just whars I cante say, an' he's a poor doctor fur the likes o'
you,--don't have noffen to do with him, nohow."

"A poor doctor!" exclaimed the stranger. "Why, I understood he was the
greatest doctor in the world; and I've come all the way from the Wabash
country to see him."

"Warbash! whar's dat? Norf, reckon; well you jes be gwine back Norf de
fus boat, an dat's de bery bes' advice dis yere nigger can guv."

"But what do you know about Dr. Killmany."

"I knows dis yere, masser: he mos'ly sends dem ar' as ar' doctored by
him to dar homes in a box!"

Mr. Walker shuddered. "I don't want your advice," he said directly; "I
only want to know where Dr. Killmany lives."

"Cante say, masser, not percisely, as to dat ar'; kind o' seems to me
he's done gone from hur, clar an' all; but jes over thar's a mighty good
doctor; you can see his name afore the door if you'll step this yere way
a bit. He doctors all de pour, an' dem dat ar' halt, and dem dat ar'
struck with paralasy, jes for de love ob de ark and de covenant; an'
he's jes de purtiest man to look at dat you ever sot eyes onto. Go in
dar whar ye sees de white bline at de winder an' ax for Dr. Shepard, an'
when you's once seen him, I reckon you won't want to find de udder man;
but if you does, why he can pint de way. An' de Lord bless you and hab
mercy on your soul."

The sick man felt a good deal discouraged by what the old slave had
said, and her last words impressed him with feelings of especial
discomfort. He knew not which way to turn; and, in fact, found himself
growing dizzy and blind, and was only able, with great effort, to stand
at all. He must ask his way somewhere, however, and it might as well be
there as another place.

Dr. Shepard, who happened to be in his office, answered the inquiry
promptly. Dr. Killmany was in quite another part of the city. "You don't
look able to walk there, my good friend," he said; "but if you will sit
here and wait for an hour, I shall be driving that way, and will take
you with pleasure."

Mr. Walker gratefully accepted the proffered chair, as indeed he was
almost obliged to do; for within a few minutes the partial blindness had
become total darkness, and the whole world seemed, as it were, slipping
away from him.

When he came to himself he was lying on a sofa in an inner room, and Dr.
Shepard, who had just administered some cordial, was bending over him in
the most kindly and sympathetic manner. It seemed not so much what he
said, not so much what he did, but as though he carried about him an
atmosphere of sweetness and healing that comforted and assured without
words and without medicine. He made no pretence and no noise, but his
smile was sunshine to the heart, and the touch of his hand imparted
strength and courage to the despairing soul. It was as if good spirits
went with him, and his very silence was pleasant company. Mr. Walker was
in no haste to be gone. All his anxious cares seemed to fall away, and a
peaceful sense of comfort and security came over him; his eyes followed
Dr. Shepard as he moved about, and when a door interposed between them
he felt lost and homesick. "If this were the man I had come to see, I
should be happy." That was his thought all the while. Perhaps--who shall
say not?--it was the blessings of the poor, to whom he most generously
ministered, which gave to his manner that graciousness and charm which
no words can convey, and to his touch that magnetism which is at once
life-giving and love-inspiring.

How it was Mr. Walker could not tell, and indeed wiser men than he could
not have told, but he presently found himself opening his heart to this
new doctor, as he had never opened it to anybody in all his life,--how
he had married Jenny, how they had gone to the new country, the birth of
the boy and the girl, the slow coming on of disease, the selling of
Fleety, and the mortgaging of the farm. Doctor Shepard knew it all, and,
more than this, he knew how much money had been accumulated, and how
much of it was still left. He had examined the tumor in the breast, and
knew that it could end in but one way. He had told Mr. Walker that he
could be made more comfortable, and might live for years, perhaps, but
that he must not hope to be cured, and that to get home to his family
with all possible speed was the best advice he could give him. His words
carried with them the weight of conviction, and the sick man was almost
persuaded; but the thought of what would be said at home if he should
come back without having seen the great Dr. Killmany urged him to try
one last experiment.

"What do you suppose he will charge me to look at this?" he inquired of
Dr. Shepard, laying his hand on his breast.

"Half you have, my friend."

"And if he cuts it out?"

"The other half."

"O, dear me!"--and the sick man fell back upon the sofa, and for a good
while thought to himself. Then came one of those wild suggestions of a
vain hope. "Perhaps this man is the impostor, and not the other!" it
said. "And what do I owe you for all you have done for me to-day?" he

"Why, nothing, my good friend. I have done nothing for you; and my
advice has certainly been disinterested. I don't want pay for that."

"And suppose you should operate?"

And then the doctor told him that he could not do that on any
terms,--that no surgeon under the sun could perform a successful
operation,--that all his hope was in quiet and care. "I will keep you
here a few days," he said, "and build you up all I can, and when the
Arrow of Light goes back again, I will see you aboard, and bespeak the
kind attentions of the captain for you on the journey." That was not
much like an impostor, and in his heart the sick man knew it was the
right course to take,--the only course; and then he thought of Mrs.
Brown and her wonderful cure, and of the great hopes they were
entertaining at home, and he became silent, and again thought to

Three days he remained with Dr. Shepard, undecided, and resting and
improving a little all the while. On the morning of the fourth day he
said, placing his hand on his breast, "If I were only rid of this, I
believe I should get quite well again." He could not give up the great
Dr. Killmany. "I do not intend to put myself in his hands,--indeed, I am
almost resolved that I will not do so," he said to Dr. Shepard; "but I
will just call at his office, so that I can tell my folks I have seen

"I must not say more to discourage you," replied Dr. Shepard; "perhaps I
have already said too much,--certainly I have said much more than it is
my habit to say, more than in any ordinary circumstances I would permit
myself to say; but in your case I have felt constrained to acquit myself
to my conscience";--and he turned away with a shadow of the tenderest
and saddest gloom upon his face.

"Are you, sir, going to Dr. Killmany?" asked an old man, who had been
sitting by, eying Mr. Walker with deep concern; and on receiving an
affirmative nod, he went on with zeal, if not with discretion: "Then,
sir, you might as well knock your own brains out! I regard him, sir, as
worse than a highway robber,--a good deal worse! The robber will
sometimes spare your life, if he can as well as not, but Dr. Killmany
has no more regard for human life than you have for that of a fly. He
has a skilful hand to be sure, but his heart is as hard as flint. In
short, sir, he is utterly without conscience, without humanity, without
principle. Gain is his first object, his last object, his sole object;
and if he ever did any good, it was simply incidental. Don't put
yourself in his hands, whatever you do,--certainly not without first
making your will!" And the old man, with a flushed and angry
countenance, went away.

Presently the sick man, relapsing into silent thought, drowsed into
sleep, and a strange dream came to him. He seemed at home, sitting under
the tree with the mistletoe in its boughs; he was tired and hungry, and
there came to him a raven with food in its mouth, and the shadow of its
wings was pleasant. He thought, at first, the food was for him; but the
bird, perching on his shoulder, devoured the food, and afterward pecked
at his breast until it opened a way to his heart, and with that in its
claws flew away; and when it was gone, he knew it was not a bird, but
that it was Dr. Killmany who had thus taken out his heart. "I will go
home," he thought, "and tell Jenny"; and when he arose and put his hand
on the neck of Fleety, who had been standing in the furrow close by, she
became a shadow, and instantly vanished out of sight. He then strove to
walk, and, lo! the strength was gone out of his limbs, and, as he sank
down, the roots of the mistletoe struck in his bosom, ran through and
through him, and fastened themselves in the earth beneath, and he became
as one dead, only with the consciousness of being dead.

When he awoke, he related the dream, having given it, as it appeared, a
melancholy interpretation, for he expressed himself determined to return
home immediately. "I will take passage on the Arrow," he said to Dr.
Shepard; and then he counted up the number of days that must go by
before he could have his own green fields beneath his eyes, and his
little ones climbing about his knees.

"I wish I had never left my home," he said; "I wish I had never heard of
Dr. Killmany!" and then he returned to his dream and repeated portions
of it; and then he said, seeming to be thinking aloud, "My good old
mother! my dear, poor Jenny!"

"The sick man's brain is liable to strange fancies," says Dr. Shepard;
"you must not think too seriously of it, but your resolve is very wise."
He then said he would see the captain of the Arrow, as he had promised,
and went away with a smile on his face, and a great weight lifted off
his heart.

A few minutes after this, Hobert Walker was again in the street, the
heavy fur hat on his head, and the well-filled saddle-bags across his

Perhaps sickness is in some sort insanity. At any rate, he no sooner
found himself alone than the desire to see the great Dr. Killmany came
upon him with all the force of insanity; his intention probably being to
go and return within an hour, and keep his little secret to himself.
Perhaps, too, he wished to have it to say at home that he had seen the
great man for himself, and decided against him of his own knowledge.

Dr. Killmany was found without much difficulty; but his rooms were
crowded with patients, and there was no possibility of access to him for

"It cannot be that so many are deceived," thought Hobert. "I will wait
with the rest." Then came the encouraging hope, "What if I should go
home cured, after all!" He felt almost as if Dr. Shepard had defrauded
him out of two or three days, and talked eagerly with one and another,
as patient after patient came forth from consultation with Dr. Killmany,
all aglow with hope and animation. It was near sunset when his turn
came. He had waited five hours, but it was come at last; and with his
heart in his mouth, and his knees shaking under him, he stood face to
face with the arbitrator of his destiny. There was no smile on the face
of the man, no sweetness in his voice as he said, looking at Hobert from
under scowling brows, "What brings _you_, sir? Tell it, and be brief:
time with me is money."

Then Hobert, catching at a chair to sustain himself, for he was not
asked to sit, explained his condition as well as fright and awkwardness
would permit him to do; going back to the commencement of his disease,
and entering unnecessarily into many particulars, as well as making
superfluous mention of wife and mother. "It isn't with your wife and
mother that I have to deal," interposed Dr. Killmany;--"dear to you, I
dare say, but nothing to me, sir,--nothing at all. I have no time to
devote to your relatives. Open your shirt, sir! there, that'll do! A
mere trifle, sir, but it is well you have come in time."

"Do you mean to say you can cure me?" inquired Hobert, all his heart
a-flutter with the excitement of hope.

"Exactly so. I can remove that difficulty of yours in five minutes, and
have you on your feet again,--operation neglected, death certain within
a year, perhaps sooner. Done with you sir. You now have your choice,
make way!"

Hobert went staggering out of the room, feeling as if the raven of his
dream already had its beak in his heart, when a pert official reached
out his hand with the demand, "Consultation fee, if you please, sir."

"How much?" asked Hobert, leaning against the wall, and searching for
his pocket-book.

"Fifty dollars, sir,"--and the official spoke as though that were a
trifle scarcely worth mentioning. The hands of the sick man trembled,
and his eyes grew blind as he sought to count up the sum; and as his
entire treasure was formed out of the smallest notes, the process was a
slow one, and before it was accomplished it seemed to him that not only
Fleety was turning to a shadow, but the whole world as well.

Somehow, he hardly knew how, he found himself in the fresh air, and the
official still at his elbow. "You are not going to leave us this way?"
he said. "You will only have thrown your money away." And he pocketed
the sum Hobert had just put in his hand.

"Better that than more," Hobert answered, and was turning sadly away.

"Allow me to detain you, sir, one moment, only just one moment!" And the
official, or rather decoy, whispered in his ear tales of such wonderful
cures as almost dissuaded him from his purpose.

"But I am resolved to go home on the Arrow," he said, making a last
stand, "and I must have something to leave my poor Jenny."

And then the official told him that he could go home aboard the Arrow,
if he chose, and go a well man, or the same as a well man; and what
could he bring to his wife so acceptable as himself, safe and sound! And
then he told other tales of sick men who had been carried to Dr.
Killmany on their beds, and within a few hours walked away on their
feet, blessing his name, and publishing his fame far and wide.

Hobert began to waver, nor is it strange; for what will not a man give
for his life? The world had not loosened its hold upon him much as yet;
the grass under his feet and the sunshine over his head were pleasant
things to him, and his love for his good little wife was still invested
with all the old romance; and to die and go he knew not where, there was
a terror about that which his faith was not strong enough to dissipate.
The decoy watched and waited. He contrasted the husband returning home
with haggard cheek and listless step and the shadow of dark doom all
about him, having a few hundred dollars in his pocket, with a husband
empty-handed, but with bright cheeks, and cheerful spirits, and with
strong legs under him! Then Hobert repeated the story he had told to Dr.
Shepard,--all about the little treasure with which he had set out, how
hardly it had been gathered together, what had been already fruitlessly
expended, and just how much remained,--he told it all as he had told it
in the first instance, but with what different effect!

Dr. Killmany never touched any case for a sum like that! Indeed, his
services were in such requisition, it was almost impossible to obtain
them on any terms; but he, the decoy, for reasons which he did not
state, would exert to the utmost his own personal influence in Hobert's
favor. "I cannot promise you a favorable answer," he said; "there is
just a possibility, and that is all. A man like Dr. Killmany, sir, can't
be haggling about dollars and cents!" And then he intimated that such
things might be well enough for Dr. Shepard and his sort of practice.

There was some further talk, and the time ran by, and it was night.
Against his will almost, Hobert had been persuaded. He was to sleep in
the Doctor's office that night, and his case was to be the first
attended to in the morning. "You can rest very well on the floor, I
suppose," the decoy had said, "taking your saddle-bags for a pillow. The
whole thing will be over in half an hour, and I myself will see you
aboard the Arrow before ten o'clock, and so you need take no more
thought for yourself."

That night, when at last Hobert made a pillow of his saddle-bags and
coiled himself together, he felt as if a circle of fire were narrowing
around him, and yet utter inability to escape.

"You need take no more thought for yourself." These words kept ringing
in his ears like a knell, and the mistletoe striking through his bosom,
and the beak of the raven in his heart,--these were the sensations with
which, long after midnight, he drowsed into sleep.

When he awoke, there was a rough hand on his shoulder and a harsh voice
in his ear. The room was light with the light of morning, but dark with
the shadow of coming doom. There came upon him a strange and great
calmness when he found himself in the operating-room. There were all the
frightful preparations,--the water, the sponges, the cloths and
bandages, the Doctor with his case of instruments before him, and
looking more like a murderer than a surgeon. Almost his heart misgave
him as he looked around, and remembered Jenny and the little ones at
home; but the carriage that was to take him aboard the Arrow already
waited at the door, and the sight of it reassured him.

"You will hardly know where you are till you find yourself safe in your
berth," said Dr. Killmany; "and to avoid any delay after the operation,
from which you will necessarily be somewhat weak, you had perhaps better
pay me now." And these were the most civil words he had yet spoken.

So Hobert paid into his hand the last dollar he had.

"Now, sir," he said; and Hobert laid himself down on the table. A
minute, and of what befell him after that he was quite unconscious. It
was as the doctor had told him; he knew not where he was until he found
himself in his berth aboard the Arrow. "Where am I?" was his first
inquiry, feeling a sense of strangeness,--feeling, indeed, as though he
were a stranger to himself.

"You are going home, my poor friend,--going home a little sooner than
you expected,--that is all."

Then the sick man opened his eyes; for he had recognized the tender
voice, and saw Dr. Shepard bending over him, and he knew where he was,
and what had happened; for he was shivering from head to foot. The
sleeve of his right arm was red and wet, and there was a dull, slow
aching in his bosom. "Ay, Doctor," he answered, pressing faintly the
hand that held his, "I am going home,--home to a better country. 'T is
all like a shadow about me now, and I am cold,--so cold!" He never came
out of that chill, and these were the last words he ever spoke.

"That man has been just the same as murdered, I take it!" exclaimed the
captain of the Arrow, meeting Dr. Shepard as he turned away from the

"I must not say that," replied the Doctor; "but if I had performed the
operation, under the circumstances, I should think myself his murderer."

"And if you had taken his money, you would perhaps think yourself a
thief, too! At any rate, I should think you one," was the answer of the
captain. And he then related to Dr. Shepard how the man, in an almost
dying condition, had been brought aboard the Arrow by one of Dr.
Killmany's menials, hustled into bed, and so left to his fate; and he
concluded by saying, "And what are we to do now, Doctor?"

What the Doctor's reply was need not be reported at length. Suffice it
to say, that the departure of the Arrow was deferred for an hour, and
when she sailed the state-room in which Hobert had breathed his last was
occupied by a lively little lady and two gayly-dressed children, and on
the wall from which the fur hat and the saddle-bags had been removed
fluttered a variety of rainbow-hued scarfs and ribbons, and in the
window where the shadow had been a golden-winged bird was singing in the

Some two or three weeks went by, and the farmer who had driven to town
when Hobert was about to set out on his long journey, starting so
smartly, and making so light of the farewells, drove thither again, and
this time his wagon-bed was empty, except for the deep cushion of straw.
He drove slowly and with downcast looks; and as he returned, a dozen men
met him at the entrance of the village, and at sober pace followed to
the meeting-house, the door of which stood wide.

A little low talk as they all gathered round, and then four of them
lifted from the wagon the long box it contained, and bore it on their
shoulders reverently and tenderly within the open gate, through the wide
door, along the solemn aisle and close beneath the pulpit, where they
placed it very softly, and then stood back with uncovered heads, while a
troop of little girls, who waited, with aprons full of flowers, drew
near and emptied them on the ground, so that nothing was to be seen but
a great heap of flowers; and beneath them was the body of HOBERT WALKER.


    Within a green and pleasant land
      I own a favorite plantation,
    Whose woods and meads, if rudely planned,
      Are still, at least, my own creation.
          Some genial sun or kindly shower
          Has here and there wooed forth a flower,
      And touched the fields with expectation.

    I know what feeds the soil I till,
      What harvest-growth it best produces.
    My forests shape themselves at will,
      My grapes mature their proper juices.
          I know the brambles and the weeds,
          But know the fruits and wholesome seeds,--
      Of those the hurt, of these the uses.

    And working early, working late,
      Directing crude and random Nature,
    'T is joy to see my small estate
      Grow fairer in the slightest feature.
          If but a single wild-rose blow,
          Or fruit-tree bend with April snow,
      That day am I the happiest creature!

    But round the borders of the land
      Dwell many neighbors, fond of roving;
    With curious eye and prying hand
      About my fields I see them moving.
          Some tread my choicest herbage down,
          And some of weeds would weave a crown,
      And bid me wear it, unreproving.

    "What trees!" says one; "whoever saw
      A grove, like this, of _my_ possessing?
    This vale offends my upland's law;
      This sheltered garden needs suppressing.
          My rocks this grass would never yield,
          And how absurd the level field!
      What here will grow is past my guessing."

    "Behold the slope!" another cries:
      "No sign of bog or meadow near it!
    A varied surface I despise:
      There's not a stagnant pool to cheer it!"
          "Why plough at all?" remarked a third,
          "Heaven help the man!" a fourth I heard,--
      "His farm's a jungle: let him clear it!"

    No friendly counsel I disdain:
      My fields are free to every comer;
    Yet that, which one to praise is fain,
      But makes another's visage glummer.
          I bow them out, and welcome in,
          But while I seek some truth to win
      Goes by, unused, the golden summer!

    Ah! vain the hope to find in each
      The wisdom each denies the other;
    These mazes of conflicting speech
      All theories of culture smother.
          I'll raise and reap, with honest hand,
          The native harvest of my land;
      Do thou the same, my wiser brother!



Concord, _Saturday, August 13, 1842._--My life, at this time, is more
like that of a boy, externally, than it has been since I was really a
boy. It is usually supposed that the cares of life come with matrimony;
but I seem to have cast off all care, and live on with as much easy
trust in Providence as Adam could possibly have felt before he had
learned that there was a world beyond Paradise. My chief anxiety
consists in watching the prosperity of my vegetables, in observing how
they are affected by the rain or sunshine, in lamenting the blight of
one squash and rejoicing at the luxurious growth of another. It is as if
the original relation between man and Nature were restored in my case,
and that I were to look exclusively to her for the support of my Eve and
myself,--to trust to her for food and clothing, and all things needful,
with the full assurance that she would not fail me. The fight with the
world,--the struggle of a man among men,--the agony of the universal
effort to wrench the means of living from a host of greedy
competitors,--all this seems like a dream to me. My business is merely
to live and to enjoy; and whatever is essential to life and enjoyment
will come as naturally as the dew from heaven. This is, practically at
least, my faith. And so I awake in the morning with a boyish
thoughtlessness as to how the outgoings of the day are to be provided
for, and its incomings rendered certain. After breakfast, I go forth
into my garden, and gather whatever the bountiful Mother has made fit
for our present sustenance; and of late days she generally gives me two
squashes and a cucumber, and promises me green corn and shell-beans very
soon. Then I pass down through our orchard to the river-side, and ramble
along its margin in search of flowers. Usually I discern a fragrant
white lily, here and there along the shore, growing, with sweet
prudishness, beyond the grasp of mortal arm. But it does not escape me
so. I know what is its fitting destiny better than the silly flower
knows for itself; so I wade in, heedless of wet trousers, and seize the
shy lily by its slender stem. Thus I make prize of five or six, which
are as many as usually blossom within my reach in a single
morning;--some of them partially worm-eaten or blighted, like virgins
with an eating sorrow at the heart; others as fair and perfect as
Nature's own idea was, when she first imagined this lovely flower. A
perfect pond-lily is the most satisfactory of flowers. Besides these, I
gather whatever else of beautiful chances to be growing in the moist
soil by the river-side,--an amphibious tribe, yet with more richness and
grace than the wild-flowers of the deep and dry woodlands and
hedge-rows,--sometimes the white arrow-head, always the blue spires and
broad green leaves of the pickerel-flower, which contrast and harmonize
so well with the white lilies. For the last two or three days, I have
found scattered stalks of the cardinal-flower, the gorgeous scarlet of
which it is a joy even to remember. The world is made brighter and
sunnier by flowers of such a hue. Even perfume, which otherwise is the
soul and spirit of a flower, may be spared when it arrays itself in this
scarlet glory. It is a flower of thought and feeling, too; it seems to
have its roots deep down in the hearts of those who gaze at it. Other
bright flowers sometimes impress me as wanting sentiment; but it is not
so with this.

Well, having made up my bunch of flowers, I return home with them....
Then I ascend to my study, and generally read, or perchance scribble in
this journal, and otherwise suffer Time to loiter onward at his own
pleasure, till the dinner-hour. In pleasant days, the chief event of the
afternoon, and the happiest one of the day, is our walk.... So comes the
night; and I look back upon a day spent in what the world would call
idleness, and for which I myself can suggest no more appropriate
epithet, but which, nevertheless, I cannot feel to have been spent
amiss. True, it might be a sin and shame, in such a world as ours, to
spend a lifetime in this manner; but for a few summer weeks it is good
to live as if this world were heaven. And so it is, and so it shall be,
although, in a little while, a flitting shadow of earthly care and toil
will mingle itself with our realities.

       *       *       *       *       *

_Monday, August 15th._--George Hillard and his wife arrived from Boston
in the dusk of Saturday evening, to spend Sunday with us. It was a
pleasant sensation, when the coach rumbled up our avenue, and wheeled
round at the door; for I felt that I was regarded as a man with a
household,--a man having a tangible existence and locality in the
world,--when friends came to avail themselves of our hospitality. It was
a sort of acknowledgment and reception of us into the corps of married
people,--a sanction by no means essential to our peace and well-being,
but yet agreeable enough to receive. So we welcomed them cordially at
the door, and ushered them into our parlor, and soon into the
supper-room.... The night flitted over us all, and passed away, and up
rose a gray and sullen morning,... and we had a splendid breakfast of
flapjacks, or slapjacks, and whortleberries, which I gathered on a
neighboring hill, and perch, bream, and pout, which I hooked out of the
river the evening before. About nine o'clock, Hillard and I set out for
a walk to Walden Pond, calling by the way at Mr. Emerson's, to obtain
his guidance or directions, and he accompanied us in his own illustrious
person. We turned aside a little from our way, to visit Mr. ----, a
yeoman, of whose homely and self-acquired wisdom Mr. Emerson has a very
high opinion. We found him walking in his fields, a short and stalwart
and sturdy personage of middle age, with a face of shrewd and kind
expression, and manners of natural courtesy. He had a very free flow of
talk, and not much diffidence about his own opinions; for, with a little
induction from Mr. Emerson, he began to discourse about the state of the
nation, agriculture, and business in general, uttering thoughts that had
come to him at the plough, and which had a sort of flavor of the fresh
earth about them. I was not impressed with any remarkable originality in
his views; but they were sensible and characteristic, and had grown in
the soil where we found them;... and he is certainly a man of
intellectual and moral substance, a sturdy fact, a reality, something to
be felt and touched, whose ideas seem to be dug out of his mind as he
digs potatoes, beets, carrots, and turnips out of the ground.

After leaving Mr. ----, we proceeded through wood paths to Walden Pond,
picking blackberries of enormous size along the way. The pond itself was
beautiful and refreshing to my soul, after such long and exclusive
familiarity with our tawny and sluggish river. It lies embosomed among
wooded hills,--it is not very extensive, but large enough for waves to
dance upon its surface, and to look like a piece of blue firmament,
earth-encircled. The shore has a narrow, pebbly strand, which it was
worth a day's journey to look at, for the sake of the contrast between
it and the weedy, oozy margin of the river. Farther within its depths,
you perceive a bottom of pure white sand, sparkling through the
transparent water, which, methought, was the very purest liquid in the
world. After Mr. Emerson left us, Hillard and I bathed in the pond, and
it does really seem as if my spirit, as well as corporeal person, were
refreshed by that bath. A good deal of mud and river slime had
accumulated on my soul; but these bright waters washed it all away.

We returned home in due season for dinner.... To my misfortune, however,
a box of Mediterranean wine proved to have undergone the acetous
fermentation; so that the splendor of the festival suffered some
diminution. Nevertheless, we ate our dinner with a good appetite, and
afterwards went universally to take our several siestas. Meantime there
came a shower, which so besprinkled the grass and shrubbery as to make
it rather wet for our after-tea ramble. The chief result of the walk was
the bringing home of an immense burden of the trailing clematis-vine,
now just in blossom, and with which all our flower-stands and vases are
this morning decorated. On our return we found Mr. and Mrs. S----, and
E. H----, who shortly took their leave, and we sat up late, telling
ghost-stories. This morning, at seven, our friends left us. We were both
pleased with the visit, and so I think were our guests.

       *       *       *       *       *

_Monday, August 22nd._--I took a walk through the woods yesterday
afternoon, to Mr. Emerson's, with a book which Margaret Fuller had left,
after a call on Saturday eve. I missed the nearest way, and wandered
into a very secluded portion of the forest; for forest it might justly
be called, so dense and sombre was the shade of oaks and pines. Once I
wandered into a tract so overgrown with bushes and underbrush that I
could scarcely force a passage through. Nothing is more annoying than a
walk of this kind, where one is tormented by an innumerable host of
petty impediments. It incenses and depresses me at the same time. Always
when I flounder into the midst of bushes, which cross and intertwine
themselves about my legs, and brush my face, and seize hold of my
clothes, with their multitudinous grip,--always, in such a difficulty, I
feel as if it were almost as well to lie down and die in rage and
despair as to go one step farther. It is laughable, after I have got out
of the moil, to think how miserably it affected me for the moment; but I
had better learn patience betimes, for there are many such bushy tracts
in this vicinity, on the margins of meadows, and my walks will often
lead me into them. Escaping from the bushes, I soon came to an open
space among the woods,--a very lovely spot, with the tall old trees
standing around as quietly as if no one had intruded there throughout
the whole summer. A company of crows were holding their Sabbath on their
summits. Apparently they felt themselves injured or insulted by my
presence; for, with one consent, they began to Caw! caw! caw! and,
launching themselves sullenly on the air, took flight to some securer
solitude. Mine, probably, was the first human shape that they had seen
all day long,--at least, if they had been stationary in that spot; but
perhaps they had winged their way over miles and miles of country, had
breakfasted on the summit of Greylock, and dined at the base of
Wachusett, and were merely come to sup and sleep among the quiet woods
of Concord. But it was my impression at the time, that they had sat
still and silent on the tops of the trees all through the Sabbath day,
and I felt like one who should unawares disturb an assembly of
worshippers. A crow, however, has no real pretensions to religion, in
spite of his gravity of mien and black attire. Crows are certainly
thieves, and probably infidels. Nevertheless, their voices yesterday
were in admirable accordance with the influences of the quiet, sunny,
warm, yet autumnal afternoon. They were so far above my head that their
loud clamor added to the quiet of the scene, instead of disturbing it.
There was no other sound, except the song of the cricket, which is but
an audible stillness; for, though it be very loud and heard afar, yet
the mind does not take note of it as a sound, so entirely does it mingle
and lose its individuality among the other characteristics of coming
autumn. Alas for the summer! The grass is still verdant on the hills and
in the valleys; the foliage of the trees is as dense as ever, and as
green; the flowers are abundant along the margin of the river, and in
the hedge-rows, and deep among the woods; the days, too, are as fervid
as they were a month ago; and yet in every breath of wind and in every
beam of sunshine there is an autumnal influence. I know not how to
describe it. Methinks there is a sort of coolness amid all the heat, and
a mildness in the brightest of the sunshine. A breeze cannot stir,
without thrilling me with the breath of autumn, and I behold its pensive
glory in the far, golden gleams among the long shadows of the trees. The
flowers, even the brightest of them,--the golden-rod and the gorgeous
cardinals,--the most glorious flowers of the year,--have this gentle
sadness amid their pomp. Pensive autumn is expressed in the glow of
every one of them. I have felt this influence earlier in some years than
in others. Sometimes autumn may be perceived even in the early days of
July. There is no other feeling like that caused by this faint,
doubtful, yet real perception, or rather prophecy, of the year's decay,
so deliciously sweet and sad at the same time.

After leaving the book at Mr. Emerson's I returned through the woods,
and, entering Sleepy Hollow, I perceived a lady reclining near the path
which bends along its verge. It was Margaret herself. She had been there
the whole afternoon, meditating or reading; for she had a book in her
hand, with some strange title, which I did not understand, and have
forgotten. She said that nobody had broken her solitude, and was just
giving utterance to a theory that no inhabitant of Concord ever visited
Sleepy Hollow, when we saw a group of people entering the sacred
precincts. Most of them followed a path which led them away from us; but
an old man passed near us, and smiled to see Margaret reclining on the
ground, and me sitting by her side. He made some remark about the beauty
of the afternoon, and withdrew himself into the shadow of the wood. Then
we talked about autumn, and about the pleasures of being lost in the
woods, and about the crows, whose voices Margaret had heard; and about
the experiences of early childhood, whose influence remains upon the
character after the recollection of them has passed away; and about the
sight of mountains from a distance, and the view from their summits; and
about other matters of high and low philosophy. In the midst of our
talk, we heard footsteps above us, on the high bank; and while the
person was still hidden among the trees, he called to Margaret, of whom
he had gotten a glimpse. Then he emerged from the green shade, and,
behold! it was Mr. Emerson. He appeared to have had a pleasant time; for
he said that there were Muses in the woods to-day, and whispers to be
heard in the breezes. It being now nearly six o'clock, we
separated,--Margaret and Mr. Emerson towards his home, and I towards

Last evening there was the most beautiful moonlight that ever hallowed
this earthly world; and when I went to bathe in the river, which was as
calm as death, it seemed like plunging down into the sky. But I had
rather be on earth than even in the seventh heaven, just now.

       *       *       *       *       *

_Wednesday, August 24th._--I left home at five o'clock this morning to
catch some fish for breakfast. I shook our summer apple-tree, and ate
the golden apple which fell from it. Methinks these early apples, which
come as a golden promise before the treasures of autumnal fruit, are
almost more delicious than anything that comes afterwards. We have but
one such tree in our orchard; but it supplies us with a daily abundance,
and probably will do so for at least a week to come. Meantime other
trees begin to cast their ripening windfalls upon the grass; and when I
taste them, and perceive their mellowed flavor and blackening seeds, I
feel somewhat overwhelmed with the impending bounties of Providence. I
suppose Adam, in Paradise, did not like to see his fruits decaying on
the ground, after he had watched them through the sunny days of the
world's first summer. However, insects, at the worst, will hold a
festival upon them, so that they will not be thrown away, in the great
scheme of Nature. Moreover, I have one advantage over the primeval Adam,
inasmuch as there is a chance of disposing of my superfluous fruits
among people who inhabit no Paradise of their own.

Passing a little way down along the river-side, I threw in my line, and
soon drew out one of the smallest possible of fishes. It seemed to be a
pretty good morning for the angler,--an autumnal coolness in the air, a
clear sky, but with a fog across the lowlands and on the surface of the
river, which a gentle breeze sometimes condensed into wreaths. At first
I could barely discern the opposite shore of the river; but, as the sun
arose, the vapors gradually dispersed, till only a warm, smoky tint was
left along the water's surface. The farm-houses across the river made
their appearance out of the dusky cloud; the voices of boys were heard,
shouting to the cattle as they drove them to the pastures; a man whetted
his scythe, and set to work in a neighboring meadow. Meantime, I
continued to stand on the oozy margin of the stream, beguiling the
little fish; and though the scaly inhabitants of our river partake
somewhat of the character of their native element, and are but sluggish
biters, still I contrived to pull out not far from two dozen. They were
all bream, a broad, flat, almost circular fish, shaped a good deal like
a flounder, but swimming on their edges, instead of on their sides. As
far as mere pleasure is concerned, it is hardly worth while to fish in
our river, it is so much like angling in a mud-puddle; and one does not
attach the idea of freshness and purity to the fishes, as we do to those
which inhabit swift, transparent streams, or haunt the shores of the
great briny deep. Standing on the weedy margin, and throwing the line
over the elder-bushes that dip into the water, it seems as if we could
catch nothing but frogs and mud-turtles, or reptiles akin to them. And
even when a fish of reputable aspect is drawn out, one feels a shyness
about touching him. As to our river, its character was admirably
expressed last night by some one who said "it was too lazy to keep
itself clean." I might write pages and pages, and only obscure the
impression which this brief sentence conveys. Nevertheless, we made bold
to eat some of my fish for breakfast, and found them very savory; and
the rest shall meet with due entertainment at dinner, together with some
shell-beans, green corn, and cucumbers from our garden; so this day's
food comes directly and entirely from beneficent Nature, without the
intervention of any third person between her and us.

       *       *       *       *       *

_Saturday, August 27th._--A peach-tree, which grows beside our house and
brushes against the window, is so burdened with fruit that I have had to
prop it up. I never saw more splendid peaches in appearance,--great,
round, crimson-cheeked beauties, clustering all over the tree. A
pear-tree, likewise, is maturing a generous burden of small, sweet
fruit, which will require to be eaten at about the same time as the
peaches. There is something pleasantly annoying in this superfluous
abundance; it is like standing under a tree of ripe apples, and giving
it a shake, with the intention of bringing down a single one, when,
behold, a dozen come thumping about our ears. But the idea of the
infinite generosity and exhaustless bounty of our Mother Nature is well
worth attaining; and I never had it so vividly as now, when I find
myself, with the few mouths which I am to feed, the sole inheritor of
the old clergyman's wealth of fruits. His children, his friends in the
village, and the clerical guests who came to preach in his pulpit, were
all wont to eat and be filled from these trees. Now, all these hearty
old people have passed away, and in their stead is a solitary pair,
whose appetites are more than satisfied with the windfalls which the
trees throw down at their feet. Howbeit, we shall have now and then a
guest to keep our peaches and pears from decaying.

G---- B----, my old fellow-laborer at the community at Brook Farm,
called on me last evening, and dined here to-day. He has been
cultivating vegetables at Plymouth this summer, and selling them in the
market. What a singular mode of life for a man of education and
refinement,--to spend his days in hard and earnest bodily toil, and then
to convey the products of his labor, in a wheelbarrow, to the public
market, and there retail them out,--a peck of peas or beans, a bunch of
turnips, a squash, a dozen ears of green corn! Few men, without some
eccentricity of character, would have the moral strength to do this; and
it is very striking to find such strength combined with the utmost
gentleness, and an uncommon regularity of nature. Occasionally he
returns for a day or two to resume his place among scholars and idle
people, as, for instance, the present week, when he has thrown aside his
spade and hoe to attend the Commencement at Cambridge. He is a rare
man,--a perfect original, yet without any one salient point; a character
to be felt and understood, but almost impossible to describe: for,
should you seize upon any characteristic, it would inevitably be altered
and distorted in the process of writing it down.

Our few remaining days of summer have been latterly grievously darkened
with clouds. To-day there has been an hour or two of hot sunshine; but
the sun rose amid cloud and mist, and before he could dry up the
moisture of last night's shower upon the trees and grass, the clouds
have gathered between him and us again. This afternoon the thunder
rumbles in the distance, and I believe a few drops of rain have fallen;
but the weight of the shower has burst elsewhere, leaving us nothing but
its sullen gloom. There is a muggy warmth in the atmosphere, which takes
all the spring and vivacity out of the mind and body.

       *       *       *       *       *

_Sunday, August 28th._--Still another rainy day,--the heaviest rain, I
believe, that has fallen since we came to Concord (not two months ago).
There never was a more sombre aspect of all external nature. I gaze from
the open window of my study, somewhat disconsolately, and observe the
great willow-tree which shades the house, and which has caught and
retained a whole cataract of rain among its leaves and boughs; and all
the fruit-trees, too, are dripping continually, even in the brief
intervals when the clouds give us a respite. If shaken to bring down the
fruit, they will discharge a shower upon the head of him who stands
beneath. The rain is warm, coming from some southern region; but the
willow attests that it is an autumnal spell of weather, by scattering
down no infrequent multitude of yellow leaves, which rest upon the
sloping roof of the house, and strew the gravel-path and the grass. The
other trees do not yet shed their leaves, though in some of them a
lighter tint of verdure, tending towards yellow, is perceptible. All day
long we hear the water drip, drip, dripping, splash, splash, splashing,
from the eaves, and babbling and foaming into the tubs which have been
set out to receive it. The old unpainted shingles and boards of the
mansion and out-houses are black with the moisture which they have
imbibed. Looking at the river, we perceive that its usually smooth and
mirrored surface is blurred by the infinity of rain-drops; the whole
landscape--grass, trees, and houses--has a completely water-soaked
aspect, as if the earth were wet through. The wooded hill, about a mile
distant, whither we went to gather whortleberries, has a mist upon its
summit, as if the demon of the rain were enthroned there; and if we look
to the sky, it seems as if all the water that had been poured down upon
us were as nothing to what is to come. Once in a while, indeed, there is
a gleam of sky along the horizon, or a half-cheerful, half-sullen
lighting up of the atmosphere; the rain-drops cease to patter down,
except when the trees shake off a gentle shower; but soon we hear the
broad, quiet, slow, and sure recommencement of the rain. The river, if I
mistake not, has risen considerably during the day, and its current will
acquire some degree of energy.

In this sombre weather, when some mortals almost forget that there ever
was any golden sunshine, or ever will be any hereafter, others seem
absolutely to radiate it from their own hearts and minds. The gloom
cannot pervade them; they conquer it, and drive it quite out of their
sphere, and create a moral rainbow of hope upon the blackest cloud. As
for myself, I am little other than a cloud at such seasons, but such
persons contrive to make me a sunny one, shining all through me. And
thus, even without the support of a stated occupation, I survive these
sullen days and am happy.

This morning we read the Sermon on the Mount. In the course of the
forenoon, the rain abated for a season, and I went out and gathered some
corn and summer-squashes, and picked up the windfalls of apples and
pears and peaches. Wet, wet, wet,--everything was wet; the blades of the
corn-stalks moistened me; the wet grass soaked my boots quite through;
the trees threw their reserved showers upon my head; and soon the
remorseless rain began anew, and drove me into the house. When shall we
be able to walk again to the far hills, and plunge into the deep woods,
and gather more cardinals along the river's margin? The track along
which we trod is probably under water now. How inhospitable Nature is
during a rain! In the fervid heat of sunny days, she still retains some
degree of mercy for us; she has shady spots, whither the sun cannot
come; but she provides no shelter against her storms. It makes one
shiver to think how dripping with wet are those deep, umbrageous nooks,
those overshadowed banks, where we find such enjoyment during sultry
afternoons. And what becomes of the birds in such a soaking rain as
this? Is hope and an instinctive faith so mixed up with their nature,
that they can be cheered by the thought that the sunshine will return?
or do they think, as I almost do, that there is to be no sunshine any
more? Very disconsolate must they be among the dripping leaves; and when
a single summer makes so important a portion of their lives, it seems
hard that so much of it should be dissolved in rain. I, likewise, am
greedy of the summer-days for my own sake: the life of man does not
contain so many of them that one can be spared without regret.

_Tuesday, August 30th._--I was promised, in the midst of Sunday's rain,
that Monday should be fair, and, behold! the sun came back to us, and
brought one of the most perfect days ever made since Adam was driven out
of Paradise. By the by, was there ever any rain in Paradise? If so, how
comfortless must Eve's bower have been! It makes me shiver to think of
it. Well, it seemed as if the world was newly created yesterday morning,
and I beheld its birth; for I had risen before the sun was over the
hill, and had gone forth to fish. How instantaneously did all dreariness
and heaviness of the earth's spirit flit away before one smile of the
beneficent sun! This proves that all gloom is but a dream and a shadow,
and that cheerfulness is the real truth. It requires many clouds, long
brooding over us, to make us sad, but one gleam of sunshine always
suffices to cheer up the landscape. The banks of the river actually
laughed when the sunshine fell upon them; and the river itself was alive
and cheerful, and, by way of fun and amusement, it had swept away many
wreaths of meadow-hay, and old, rotten branches of trees, and all such
trumpery. These matters came floating downwards, whirling round and
round in the eddies, or hastening onward in the main current; and many
of them, before this time, have probably been carried into the
Merrimack, and will be borne onward to the sea. The spots where I stood
to fish, on my preceding excursion, were now under water; and the tops
of many of the bushes, along the river's margin, barely emerged from the
stream. Large spaces of meadow are overflowed.

There was a northwest wind throughout the day; and as many clouds, the
remnants of departed gloom, were scattered about the sky, the breeze was
continually blowing them across the sun. For the most part, they were
gone again in a moment; but sometimes the shadow remained long enough to
make me dread a return of sulky weather. Then would come the burst of
sunshine, making me feel as if a rainy day were henceforth an

In the afternoon Mr. Emerson called, bringing Mr. ----. He is a good
sort of humdrum parson enough, and well fitted to increase the stock of
manuscript sermons, of which there must be a fearful quantity already in
the world. Mr. ----, however, is probably one of the best and most
useful of his class, because no suspicion of the necessity of his
profession, constituted as it now is, to mankind, and of his own
usefulness and success in it, has hitherto disturbed him; and therefore
he labors with faith and confidence, as ministers did a hundred years

After the visitors were gone, I sat at the gallery window, looking down
the avenue, and soon there appeared an elderly woman,--a homely, decent
old matron, dressed in a dark gown, and with what seemed a manuscript
book under her arm. The wind sported with her gown, and blew her veil
across her face, and seemed to make game of her, though on a nearer view
she looked like a sad old creature, with a pale, thin countenance, and
somewhat of a wild and wandering expression. She had a singular gait,
reeling, as it were, and yet not quite reeling, from one side of the
path to the other; going onward as if it were not much matter whether
she went straight or crooked. Such were my observations as she
approached through the scattered sunshine and shade of our long avenue,
until, reaching the door, she gave a knock, and inquired for the lady of
the house. Her manuscript contained a certificate, stating that the old
woman was a widow from a foreign land, who had recently lost her son,
and was now utterly destitute of friends and kindred, and without means
of support. Appended to the certificate there was a list of names of
people who had bestowed charity on her, with the amounts of their
several donations,--none, as I recollect, higher than twenty-five cents.
Here is a strange life, and a character fit for romance and poetry. All
the early part of her life, I suppose, and much of her widowhood were
spent in the quiet of a home, with kinsfolk around her, and children,
and the life-long gossiping acquaintances that some women always create
about them. But in her decline she has wandered away from all these, and
from her native country itself, and is a vagrant, yet with something of
the homeliness and decency of aspect belonging to one who has been a
wife and mother, and has had a roof of her own above her head,--and,
with all this, a wildness proper to her present life. I have a liking
for vagrants of all sorts, and never, that I know of, refused my mite to
a wandering beggar, when I had anything in my own pocket. There is so
much wretchedness in the world, that we may safely take the word of any
mortal professing to need our assistance; and even should we be
deceived, still the good to ourselves resulting from a kind act is worth
more than the trifle by which we purchase it. It is desirable, I think,
that such persons should be permitted to roam through our land of
plenty, scattering the seeds of tenderness and charity, as birds of
passage bear the seeds of precious plants from land to land, without
even dreaming of the office which they perform.




"The fact is," said Marianne, "we must have a party. Bob don't like to
hear of it, but it must come. We are in debt to everybody: we have been
invited everywhere, and never had anything like a party since we were
married, and it won't do."

"For my part, I hate parties," said Bob. "They put your house all out of
order, give all the women a sick-headache, and all the men an
indigestion; you never see anybody to any purpose; the girls look
bewitched, and the women answer you at cross-purposes, and call you by
the name of your next-door neighbor, in their agitation of mind. We stay
out beyond our usual bedtime, come home and find some baby crying, or
child who has been sitting up till nobody knows when; and the next
morning, when I must be at my office by eight, and wife must attend to
her children, we are sleepy and headachy. I protest against making
overtures to entrap some hundred of my respectable married friends into
this snare which has so often entangled me. If I had my way, I would
never go to another party; and as to giving one--I suppose, since my
empress has declared her intentions, that I shall be brought into doing
it; but it shall be under protest."

"But, you see, we must keep up society," said Marianne.

"But I insist on it," said Bob, "it isn't keeping up society. What
earthly thing do you learn about people by meeting them in a general
crush, where all are coming, going, laughing, talking, and looking at
each other? No person of common sense ever puts forth any idea he cares
twopence about, under such circumstances; all that is exchanged is a
certain set of common-places and platitudes which people keep for
parties, just as they do their kid gloves and finery. Now there are our
neighbors, the Browns. When they drop in of an evening, she knitting,
and he with the last article in the paper, she really comes out with a
great deal of fresh, lively, earnest, original talk. We have a good
time, and I like her so much that it quite verges on loving; but see her
in a party, when she manifests herself over five or six flounces of pink
silk and a perfect egg-froth of tulle, her head adorned with a thicket
of craped hair and roses, and it is plain at first view that _talking_
with her is quite out of the question. What has been done to her head on
the outside has evidently had some effect within, for she is no longer
the Mrs. Brown you knew in her every-day dress, but Mrs. Brown in a
party state of mind, and too distracted to think of anything in
particular. She has a few words that she answers to everything you say,
as, for example, 'O, very!' 'Certainly!' 'How extraordinary!' 'So happy
to,' &c. The fact is, that she has come into a state in which any real
communication with her mind and character must be suspended till the
party is over and she is rested. Now I like society, which is the reason
why I hate parties."

"But you see," said Marianne, "what are we to do? Everybody can't drop
in to spend an evening with you. If it were not for these parties, there
are quantities of your acquaintances whom you would never meet."

"And of what use is it to meet them? Do you really know them any better
for meeting them, got up in unusual dresses, and sitting down together
when the only thing exchanged is the remark that it is hot or cold, or
it rains, or it is dry, or any other patent surface-fact that answers
the purpose of making believe you are talking when neither of you is
saying a word?"

"Well, now, for my part," said Marianne, "I confess I _like_ parties:
they amuse me. I come home feeling kinder and better to people, just for
the little I see of them when they are all dressed up and in good humor
with themselves. To be sure we don't say anything very profound,--I
don't think the most of us have anything very profound to say; but I ask
Mrs. Brown where she buys her lace, and she tells me how she washes it,
and somebody else tells me about her baby, and promises me a new
sack-pattern. Then I like to see the pretty, nice young girls flirting
with the nice young men; and I like to be dressed up a little myself,
even if my finery is all old and many times made over. It does me good
to be rubbed up and brightened."

"Like old silver," said Bob.

"Yes, like old silver, precisely; and even if I do come home tired, it
does my mind good to have that change of scene and faces. You men do not
know what it is to be tied to house and nursery all day, and what a
perfect weariness and lassitude it often brings on us women. For my
part, I think parties are a beneficial institution of society, and that
it is worth a good deal of fatigue and trouble to get one up."

"Then there's the expense," said Bob. "What earthly need is there of a
grand regale of oysters, chicken-salad, ice-creams, coffee, and
champagne, between eleven and twelve o'clock at night, when no one of us
would ever think of wanting or taking any such articles upon our
stomachs in our own homes? If we were all of us in the habit of having a
regular repast at that hour, it might be well enough to enjoy one with
our neighbor; but the party fare is generally just so much in addition
to the honest three meals which we have eaten during the day. Now, to
spend from fifty to one, two, or three hundred dollars in giving all our
friends an indigestion from a midnight meal, seems to me a very poor
investment. Yet if we once begin to give the party, we must have
everything that is given at the other parties, or wherefore do we live?
And caterers and waiters rack their brains to devise new forms of
expense and extravagance; and when the bill comes in, one is sure to
feel that one is paying a great deal of money for a great deal of
nonsense. It is, in fact, worse than nonsense, because our dear friends
are in half the cases, not only no better, but a great deal worse, for
what they have eaten."

"But there is this advantage to society," said Rudolph,--"it helps us
young physicians. What would the physicians do if parties were
abolished? Take all the colds that are caught by our fair friends with
low necks and short sleeves, all the troubles from dancing in tight
dresses and inhaling bad air, and all the headaches and indigestions
from the _mélange_ of lobster-salad, two or three kinds of ice-cream,
cake, and coffee on delicate stomachs, and our profession gets a degree
of encouragement that is worthy to be thought of."

"But the question arises," said my wife, "whether there are not ways of
promoting social feeling less expensive, more simple and natural and
rational. I am inclined to think that there are."

"Yes," said Theophilus Thoro; "for large parties are not, as a general
thing, given with any wish or intention of really improving our
acquaintance with our neighbors. In many cases they are openly and
avowedly a general tribute paid at intervals to society, for and in
consideration of which you are to sit with closed blinds and doors and
be let alone for the rest of the year. Mrs. Bogus, for instance, lives
to keep her house in order, her closets locked, her silver counted and
in the safe, and her china-closet in undisturbed order. Her 'best
things' are put away with such admirable precision, in so many wrappings
and foldings, and secured with so many a twist and twine, that to get
them out is one of the seven labors of Hercules, not to be lightly or
unadvisedly taken in hand, but reverently, discreetly, and once for
all, in an annual or biennial party. Then says Mrs. Bogus, 'For Heaven's
sake, let's have every creature we can think of, and have 'em all over
with at once. For pity's sake, let's have no driblets left that we shall
have to be inviting to dinner or to tea. No matter whether they can come
or not,--only send them the invitation, and our part is done; and, thank
Heaven! we shall be free for a year.'"

"Yes," said my wife; "a great stand-up party bears just the same
relation towards the offer of real hospitality and good-will as Miss
Sally Brass's offer of meat to the little hungry Marchioness, when, with
a bit uplifted on the end of a fork, she addressed her, 'Will you have
this piece of meat? No? Well, then, remember and don't say you haven't
had meat _offered_ to you!' You are invited to a general jam, at the
risk of your life and health; and if you refuse, don't say you haven't
had hospitality offered to you. All our debts are wiped out and our
slate clean; now we will have our own closed doors, no company and no
trouble, and our best china shall repose undisturbed on its shelves.
Mrs. Bogus says she never could exist in the way that Mrs. Easygo does,
with a constant drip of company,--two or three to breakfast one day,
half a dozen to dinner the next, and little evening gatherings once or
twice a week. It must keep her house in confusion all the time; yet, for
real social feeling, real exchange of thought and opinion, there is more
of it in one half-hour at Mrs. Easygo's than in a dozen of Mrs. Bogus's
great parties.

"The fact is, that Mrs. Easygo really does like the society of human
beings. She is genuinely and heartily social; and, in consequence,
though she has very limited means, and no money to spend in giving great
entertainments, her domestic establishment is a sort of social exchange,
where more friendships are formed, more real acquaintance made, and more
agreeable hours spent, than in any other place that can be named. She
never has large parties,--great general pay-days of social debts,--but
small, well-chosen circles of people, selected so thoughtfully, with a
view to the pleasure which congenial persons give each other, as to make
the invitation an act of real personal kindness. She always manages to
have something for the entertainment of her friends, so that they are
not reduced to the simple alternatives of gaping at each other's dresses
and eating lobster-salad and ice-cream. There is either some choice
music, or a reading of fine poetry, or a well-acted charade, or a
portfolio of photographs and pictures, to enliven the hour and start
conversation; and as the people are skilfully chosen with reference to
each other, as there is no hurry or heat or confusion, conversation, in
its best sense, can bubble up, fresh, genuine, clear, and sparkling as a
woodland spring, and one goes away really rested and refreshed. The
slight entertainment provided is just enough to enable you to eat salt
together in Arab fashion,--not enough to form the leading feature of the
evening. A cup of tea and a basket of cake, or a salver of ices,
silently passed at quiet intervals, do not interrupt conversation or
overload the stomach."

"The fact is," said I, "that the art of society among us Anglo-Saxons is
yet in its ruder stages. We are not, as a race, social and confiding,
like the French and Italians and Germans. We have a word for home, and
our home is often a moated grange, an island, a castle with its
drawbridge up, cutting us off from all but our own home-circle. In
France and Germany and Italy there are the boulevards and public
gardens, where people do their family living in common. Mr. A is
breakfasting under one tree, with wife and children around, and Mr. B is
breakfasting under another tree, hard by; and messages, nods, and smiles
pass backward and forward. Families see each other daily in these public
resorts, and exchange mutual offices of good-will. Perhaps from these
customs of society come that naïve simplicity and _abandon_ which one
remarks in the Continental, in opposition to the Anglo-Saxon, habits of
conversation. A Frenchman or an Italian will talk to you of his feelings
and plans and prospects with an unreserve that is perfectly
unaccountable to you, who have always felt that such things must be kept
for the very innermost circle of home privacy. But the Frenchman or
Italian has from a child been brought up to pass his family life in
places of public resort, in constant contact and intercommunion with
other families; and the social and conversational instinct has thus been
daily strengthened. Hence the reunions of these people have been
characterized by a sprightliness and vigor and spirit that the
Anglo-Saxon has in vain attempted to seize and reproduce. English and
American _conversazioni_ have very generally proved a failure, from the
rooted, frozen habit of reticence and reserve which grows with our
growth and strengthens with our strength. The fact is, that the
Anglo-Saxon race as a race does not enjoy talking, and, except in rare
instances, does not talk well. A daily convocation of people, without
refreshments or any extraneous object but the simple pleasure of seeing
and talking with each other, is a thing that can scarcely be understood
in English or American society. Social entertainment presupposes in the
Anglo-Saxon mind _something to eat_, and not only something, but a great
deal. Enormous dinners or great suppers constitute the entertainment.
Nobody seems to have formed the idea that the talking--the simple
exchange of the social feelings--_is_, of itself, the entertainment, and
that _being together_ is the pleasure.

"Madame Recamier for years had a circle of friends who met every
afternoon in her _salon_, from four to six o'clock, for the simple and
sole pleasure of talking with each other. The very first wits and men of
letters and statesmen and _savans_ were enrolled in it, and each brought
to the entertainment some choice _morceau_ which he had laid aside from
his own particular field to add to the feast. The daily intimacy gave
each one such perfect insight into all the others' habits of thought,
tastes, and preferences, that the conversation was like the celebrated
music of the _Conservatoire_ in Paris, a concert of perfectly chorded
instruments taught by long habit of harmonious intercourse to keep exact
time and tune together.

"_Real_ conversation presupposes intimate acquaintance. People must see
each other often enough to wear off the rough bark and outside rind of
common-places and conventionalities in which their real ideas are
enwrapped, and give forth without reserve their innermost and best
feelings. Now what is called a large party is the first and rudest form
of social intercourse. The most we can say of it is, that it is better
than nothing. Men and women are crowded together like cattle in a pen.
They look at each other, they jostle each other, exchange a few common
bleatings, and eat together; and so the performance terminates. One may
be crushed evening after evening against men or women, and learn very
little about them. You may decide that a lady is good-tempered, when any
amount of trampling on the skirt of her new silk dress brings no cloud
to her brow. But _is_ it good temper, or only wanton carelessness, which
cares nothing for waste? You can see that a man is not a gentleman who
squares his back to ladies at the supper-table, and devours boned turkey
and _paté de fois gras_, while they vainly reach over and around him for
something, and that another is a gentleman so far as to prefer the care
of his weaker neighbors to the immediate indulgence of his own
appetites; but further than this you learn little. Sometimes, it is
true, in some secluded corner, two people of fine nervous system,
undisturbed by the general confusion, may have a sociable half-hour, and
really part feeling that they like each other better, and know more of
each other than before. Yet these general gatherings have, after all,
their value. They are not so good as something better would be, but
they cannot be wholly dispensed with. It is far better that Mrs. Bogus
should give an annual party, when she takes down all her bedsteads and
throws open her whole house, than that she should never see her friends
and neighbors inside her doors at all. She may feel that she has neither
the taste nor the talent for constant small reunions. Such things, she
may feel, require a social tact which she has not. She would be utterly
at a loss how to conduct them. Each one would cost her as much anxiety
and thought as her annual gathering, and prove a failure after all;
whereas the annual demonstration can be put wholly into the hands of the
caterer, who comes in force, with flowers, silver, china, servants, and,
taking the house into his own hands, gives her entertainment for her,
leaving to her no responsibility but the payment of the bills; and if
Mr. Bogus does not quarrel with them, we know no reason why any one else
should; and I think Mrs. Bogus merits well of the republic, for doing
what she can do towards the hospitalities of the season. I'm sure I
never cursed her in my heart, even when her strong coffee has held mine
eyes open till morning, and her superlative lobster-salads have given me
the very darkest views of human life that ever dyspepsia and east wind
could engender. Mrs. Bogus is the Eve who offers the apple; but, after
all, I am the foolish Adam who take and eat what I know is going to hurt
me, and I am too gallant to visit my sins on the head of my too obliging
tempter. In country places in particular, where little is going on and
life is apt to stagnate, a good, large, generous party, which brings the
whole neighborhood into one house to have a jolly time, to eat, drink,
and be merry, is really quite a work of love and mercy. People see one
another in their best clothes, and that is something; the elders
exchange all manner of simple pleasantries and civilities, and talk over
their domestic affairs, while the young people flirt, in that wholesome
manner which is one of the safest of youthful follies. A country party,
in fact, may be set down as a work of benevolence, and the money
expended thereon fairly charged to the account of the great cause of
peace and good-will on earth."

"But don't you think," said my wife, "that, if the charge of providing
the entertainment were less laborious, these gatherings could be more
frequent? You see, if a woman feels that she must have five kinds of
cake, and six kinds of preserves, and even ice-cream and jellies in a
region where no confectioner comes in to abbreviate her labors, she will
sit with closed doors, and do nothing towards the general exchange of
life, because she cannot do as much as Mrs. Smith or Mrs. Parsons. If
the idea of meeting together had some other focal point than eating, I
think there would be more social feeling. It might be a musical reunion,
where the various young people of a circle agreed to furnish each a song
or an instrumental performance. It might be an impromptu charade party,
bringing out something of that taste in arrangement of costume, and
capacity for dramatic effect, of which there is more latent in society
than we think. It might be the reading of articles in prose and poetry
furnished to a common paper or portfolio, which would awaken an
abundance of interest and speculation on the authorship, or it might be
dramatic readings and recitations. Any or all of these pastimes might
make an evening so entertaining that a simple cup of tea and a plate of
cake or biscuit would be all the refreshment needed."

"We may with advantage steal a leaf now and then from some foreign
book," said I. "In France and Italy, families have their peculiar days
set apart for the reception of friends at their own houses. The whole
house is put upon a footing of hospitality and invitation, and the whole
mind is given to receiving the various friends. In the evening the
_salon_ is filled. The guests, coming from week to week, for years,
become in time friends; the resort has the charm of a home circle; there
are certain faces that you are always sure to meet there. A lady once
said to me of a certain gentleman and lady whom she missed from her
circle, 'They have been at our house every Wednesday evening for twenty
years.' It seems to me that this frequency of meeting is the great
secret of agreeable society. One sees, in our American life, abundance
of people who are everything that is charming and cultivated, but one
never sees enough of them. One meets them at some quiet reunion, passes
a delightful hour, thinks how charming they are, and wishes one could
see more of them. But the pleasant meeting is like the encounter of two
ships in mid-ocean: away we sail, each on his respective course, to see
each other no more till the pleasant remembrance has died away. Yet were
there some quiet, home-like resort where we might turn in to renew from
time to time the pleasant intercourse, to continue the last
conversation, and to compare anew our readings and our experiences, the
pleasant hour of liking would ripen into a warm friendship.

"But in order that this may be made possible and practicable, the utmost
simplicity of entertainment must prevail. In a French _salon_, all is,
to the last degree, informal. The _bouilloire_, the French teakettle, is
often tended by one of the gentlemen, who aids his fair neighbors in the
mysteries of tea-making. One nymph is always to be found at the table
dispensing tea and talk; and a basket of simple biscuit and cakes,
offered by another, is all the further repast. The teacups and
cake-basket are a real addition to the scene, because they cause a
little lively social bustle, a little chatter and motion,--always of
advantage in breaking up stiffness, and giving occasion for those
graceful, airy nothings that answer so good a purpose in facilitating

"Nothing can be more charming than the description which Edmond About
gives, in his novel of 'Tolla,' of the reception evenings of an old
noble Roman family,--the spirit of repose and quietude through all the
apartments,--the ease of coming and going,--the perfect homelike spirit
in which the guests settle themselves to any employment of the hour that
best suits them,--some to lively chat, some to dreamy, silent lounging,
some to a game, others, in a distant apartment, to music, and others
still to a promenade along the terraces.

"One is often in a state of mind and nerves which indisposes for the
effort of active conversation; one wishes to rest, to observe, to be
amused without an effort; and a mansion which opens wide its hospitable
arms, and offers itself to you as a sort of home, where you may rest,
and do just as the humor suits you, is a perfect godsend at such times.
You are at home there, your ways are understood, you can do as you
please,--come early or late, be brilliant or dull,--you are always
welcome. If you can do nothing for the social whole to-night, it matters
not. There are many more nights to come in the future, and you are
entertained on trust, without a challenge.

"I have one friend,--a man of genius, subject to the ebbs and flows of
animal spirits which attend that organization. Of general society he has
a nervous horror. A regular dinner or evening party is to him a terror,
an impossibility; but there is a quiet parlor where stands a much-worn
old sofa, and it is his delight to enter without knocking, and be found
lying with half-shut eyes on this friendly couch, while the family life
goes on around him without a question. Nobody is to mind him, to tease
him with inquiries or salutations. If he will, he breaks into the stream
of conversation, and sometimes, rousing up from one of these dreamy
trances, finds himself, ere he or they know how, in the mood for free
and friendly talk. People often wonder, 'How do you catch So-and-so? He
is so shy! I have invited and invited, and he never comes.' We never
invite, and he comes. We take no note of his coming or his going; we do
not startle his entrance with acclamation, nor clog his departure with
expostulation; it is fully understood that with us he shall do just as
he chooses; and so he chooses to do much that we like.

"The sum of this whole doctrine of society is, that we are to try the
value of all modes and forms of social entertainment by their effect in
producing real acquaintance and real friendship and good-will. The first
and rudest form of seeking this is by a great promiscuous party, which
simply effects this,--that people at least see each other on the
outside, and eat together. Next come all those various forms of reunion
in which the entertainment consists of something higher than staring and
eating,--some exercise of the faculties of the guests in music, acting,
recitation, reading, etc.; and these are a great advance, because they
show people what is in them, and thus lay a foundation for a more
intelligent appreciation and acquaintance. These are the best substitute
for the expense, show, and trouble of large parties. They are in their
nature more refining and intellectual. It is astonishing, when people
really put together, in some one club or association, all the different
talents for pleasing possessed by different persons, how clever a circle
may be gathered--in the least promising neighborhood. A club of ladies
in one of our cities has had quite a brilliant success. It is held every
fortnight at the house of the members, according to alphabetical
sequence. The lady who receives has charge of arranging what the
entertainment shall be,--whether charade, tableau, reading, recitation,
or music; and the interest is much increased by the individual taste
shown in the choice of the diversion and the variety which thence

"In the summer time, in the country, open-air reunions are charming
forms of social entertainment. Croquet parties, which bring young people
together by daylight for a healthy exercise, and end with a moderate
share of the evening, are a very desirable amusement. What are called
'lawn teas' are finding great favor in England and some parts of our
country. They are simply an early tea enjoyed in a sort of picnic style
in the grounds about the house. Such an entertainment enables one to
receive a great many at a time, without crowding, and, being in its very
idea rustic and informal, can be arranged with very little expense or
trouble. With the addition of lanterns in the trees and a little music,
this entertainment may be carried on far into the evening with a very
pretty effect.

"As to dancing, I have this much to say of it. Either our houses must be
all built over and made larger, or female crinolines must be made
smaller, or dancing must continue as it now is, the most absurd and
ungraceful of all attempts at amusement. The effort to execute round
dances in the limits of modern houses, in the prevailing style of dress,
can only lead to developments more startling than agreeable. Dancing in
the open air, on the shaven green of lawns, is a pretty and graceful
exercise, and there only can full sweep be allowed for the present
feminine toilet.

"The English breakfast is an institution growing in favor here, and
rightfully, too; for a party of fresh, good-natured, well-dressed
people, assembled at breakfast on a summer morning, is as nearly perfect
a form of reunion as can be devised. All are in full strength from their
night's rest; the hour is fresh and lovely, and they are in condition to
give each other the very cream of their thoughts, the first keen sparkle
of the uncorked nervous system. The only drawback is, that, in our busy
American life, the most desirable gentlemen often cannot spare their
morning hours. Breakfast parties presuppose a condition of leisure; but
when they can be compassed, they are perhaps the most perfectly
enjoyable of entertainments."

"Well," said Marianne, "I begin to waver about my party. I don't know,
after all, but the desire of paying off social debts prompted the idea;
perhaps we might try some of the agreeable things suggested. But, dear
me! there's the baby. We'll finish the talk some other time."



He went straight to the stable, and saddled Black Dick.

But, in the very act, his nature revolted. What, turn his back on her
the moment he had got hold of her money, to take to the other. He could
not do it.

He went back to her room, and came so suddenly that he caught her
crying. He asked her what was the matter.

"Nothing," said she, with a sigh: "only a woman's foolish misgivings. I
was afraid perhaps you would not come back. Forgive me."

"No fear of that," said he. "However, I have taken a resolve not to go
to-day. If I go to-morrow, I shall be just in time; and Dick wants a
good day's rest."

Mrs. Gaunt said nothing; but her expressive face was triumphant.

Griffith and she took a walk together; and he, who used to be the more
genial of the two, was dull, and she full of animation.

This whole day she laid herself out to bewitch her husband, and put him
in high spirits.

It was up-hill work; but when such a woman sets herself in earnest to
delight a man, she reads our sex a lesson in the art, that shows us we
are all babies at it.

However, it was at supper she finally conquered.

Here the lights, her beauty set off with art, her deepening eyes, her
satin skin, her happy excitement, her wit and tenderness, and joyous
sprightliness, enveloped Griffith in an atmosphere of delight, and drove
everything out of his head but herself; and with this, if the truth must
be told, the sparkling wines co-operated.

Griffith plied the bottle a little too freely. But Mrs. Gaunt, on this
one occasion, had not the heart to check him. The more he toasted her,
the more uxorious he became, and she could not deny herself even this
joy; but, besides, she had less of the prudent wife in her just then
than of the weak, indulgent mother. Anything rather than check his love:
she was greedy of it.

At last, however, she said to him, "Sweetheart, I shall go to bed; for,
I see, if I stay longer, I shall lead thee into a debauch. Be good now;
drink no more when I am gone. Else I'll say thou lovest thy bottle more
than thy wife."

He promised faithfully. But, when she was gone, modified his pledge by
drinking just one bumper to her health, which bumper let in another;
and, when at last he retired to rest, he was in that state of mental
confusion wherein the limbs appear to have a memory independent of the

In this condition do some men's hands wind up their watches, the mind
taking no appreciable part in the ceremony.

By some such act of what physicians call "organic memory," Griffith's
feet carried him to the chamber he had slept in a thousand times, and
not into the one Mrs. Rider had taken him to the night before.

The next morning he came down rather late for him, and found himself
treated with a great access of respect by the servants.

His position was no longer doubtful; he was the master of the house.

Mrs. Gaunt followed in due course, and sat at breakfast with him,
looking young and blooming as Hebe, and her eye never off him long.

She had lived temperately, and had not yet passed the age when happiness
can restore a woman's beauty and brightness in a single day.

As for him, he was like a man in a heavenly dream: he floated in the
past and the present: the recent and the future seemed obscure and
distant, and comparatively in a mist.

       *       *       *       *       *

But that same afternoon, after a most affectionate farewell, and many
promises to return as soon as ever he had discharged his obligations,
Griffith Gaunt started for the "Packhorse," to carry to Mercy Leicester,
alias Vint, the money Catharine Gaunt had saved by self-denial and

And he went south a worse man than he came.

When he left Mercy Leicester, he was a bigamist in law, but not at
heart. Kate was dead to him: he had given her up forever, and was
constant and true to his new wife.

But now he was false to Mercy, yet not true to Kate; and, curiously
enough, it was a day or two passed with his lawful wife that had
demoralized him. His unlawful wife had hitherto done nothing but improve
his character.

A great fault once committed is often the first link in a chain of acts
that look like crimes, but are, strictly speaking, consequences.

This man, blinded at first by his own foible, and after that the sport
of circumstances, was single-hearted by nature; and his conscience was
not hardened. He desired earnestly to free himself and both his wives
from the cruel situation; but to do this, one of them, he saw, must be
abandoned entirely; and his heart bled for her.

A villain or a fool would have relished the situation; many men would
have dallied with it; but, to do this erring man justice, he writhed and
sorrowed under it, and sincerely desired to end it.

And this was why he prized Kate's money so. It enabled him to render a
great service to her he had injured worse than he had the other, to her
he saw he must abandon.

But this was feeble comfort, after all. He rode along a miserable man;
none the less wretched and remorseful, that, ere he got into Lancashire,
he saw his way clear. This was his resolve: to pay old Vint's debts with
Kate's money; take the "Packhorse," get it made over to Mercy, give her
the odd two hundred pounds and his jewels, and fly. He would never see
her again; but would return home, and get the rest of the two thousand
pounds from Kate, and send it Mercy by a friend, who should tell her he
was dead, and had left word with his relations to send her all his

At last the "Packhorse" came in sight. He drew rein, and had half a mind
to turn back; but, instead of that, he crawled on, and very sick and
cold he felt.

Many a man has marched to the scaffold with a less quaking heart than he
to the "Packhorse."

His dejection contrasted strangely with the warm reception he met from
everybody there. And the house was full of women; and they seemed,
somehow, all cock-a-hoop, and filled with admiration of _him_.

"Where is she?" said he, faintly.

"Hark to the poor soul!" said a gossip. "Dame Vint, where's thy
daughter? gone out a-walking be-like?"

At this, the other women present chuckled and clucked.

"I'll bring you to her," said Mrs. Vint; "but prithee be quiet and
reasonable; for to be sure she is none too strong."

There was some little preparation, and then Griffith was ushered into
Mercy's room, and found her in bed, looking a little pale, but sweeter
and comelier than ever. She had the bedclothes up to her chin.

"You look wan, my poor lass," said he; "what ails ye?"

"Naught ails me now thou art come," said she, lovingly.

Griffith put the bag on the table. "There," said he, "there's five
hundred pounds in gold. I come not to thee empty-handed."

"Nor I to thee," said Mercy, with a heavenly smile. "See!"

And she drew down the bedclothes a little, and showed the face of a
babe scarcely three days old,--a little boy.

She turned in the bed, and tried to hold him up to his father, and said,
"Here's _my_ treasure for thee!" And the effort, the flush on her cheek,
and the deep light in her dove-like eyes, told plainly that the poor
soul thought she had contributed to their domestic wealth something far
richer than Griffith had with his bag of gold.

       *       *       *       *       *

The father uttered an ejaculation, and came to her side, and, for a
moment, Nature overpowered everything else. He kissed the child; he
kissed Mercy again and again.

"Now God be praised for both," said he, passionately; "but most for
thee, the best wife, the truest friend--" Here, thinking of her virtues,
and the blow he had come to strike her, he broke down, and was almost
choked with emotion; whereupon Mrs. Vint exerted female authority, and
bundled him out of the room. "Is that the way to carry on at such an a
time?" said she. "'T was enow to upset her altogether. O, but you men
have little sense in women's matters. I looked to you to give her
courage, not to set her off into hysterics after a manner. Nay, keep up
her heart, or keep your distance, say I, that am her mother."

Griffith took this hint, and ever after took pity on Mercy's weak
condition; and, suspending the fatal blow, did all he could to restore
her to health and spirits.

Of course, to do that, he must deceive her; and so his life became a

For, hitherto, she had never looked forward much; but now her eyes were
always diving into futurity; and she lay smiling and discussing the
prospects of her boy; and Griffith had to sit by her side, and see her
gnaw the boy's hand, and kiss his feet, and anticipate his brilliant
career. He had to look and listen with an aching heart, and assent with
feigned warmth, and an inward chill of horror and remorse.

One Drummond, a travelling artist, called; and Mercy, who had often
refused to sit to him, consented now; "for," she said, "when he grows
up, he shall know how his parents looked in their youth, the very year
their darling was born." So Griffith had to sit with her, and excellent
likenesses the man produced; but a horrible one of the child. And
Griffith thought, "Poor soul! a little while and this picture will be
all that shall be left to thee of me."

For all this time he was actually transacting the preliminaries of
separation. He got a man of law to make all sure. The farm, the stock,
the furniture and good-will of the "Packhorse," all these he got
assigned to Mercy Leicester for her own use, in consideration of three
hundred and fifty pounds, whereof three hundred were devoted to clearing
the concern of its debts, the odd fifty was to sweeten the pill to Harry

When the deed came to be executed, Mercy was surprised, and uttered a
gentle remonstrance. "What have I to do with it?" said she. "'T is thy
money, not mine."

"No matter," said Griffith; "I choose to have it so."

"Your will is my law," said Mercy.

"Besides," said Griffith, "the old folk will not feel so sore, nor be
afraid of being turned out, if it is in thy name."

"And that is true," said Mercy. "Now who had thought of that, but my
good man?" And she threw her arms lovingly round his neck, and gazed on
him adoringly.

But his lion-like eyes avoided her dove-like eyes; and an involuntary
shudder ran through him.

The habit of deceiving Mercy led to a consequence he had not
anticipated. It tightened the chain that held him. She opened his eyes
more and more to her deep affection, and he began to fear she would die
if he abandoned her.

And then her present situation was so touching. She had borne him a
lovely boy; that must be abandoned too, if he left her; and somehow the
birth of this child had embellished the mother; a delicious pink had
taken the place of her rustic bloom; and her beauty was more refined and
delicate. So pure, so loving, so fair, so maternal, to wound her heart
now, it seemed like stabbing an angel.

One day succeeded to another, and still Griffith had not the heart to
carry out his resolve. He temporized; he wrote to Kate that he was
detained by the business; and he stayed on and on, strengthening his
gratitude and his affection, and weakening his love for the absent, and
his resolution; till, at last, he became so distracted and divided in
heart, and so demoralized, that he began to give up the idea of
abandoning Mercy, and babbled to himself about fate and destiny, and
decided that the most merciful course would be to deceive both women.
Mercy was patient. Mercy was unsuspicious. She would content herself
with occasional visits, if he could only feign some plausible tale to
account for long absences.

Before he got into this mess, he was a singularly truthful person; but
now a lie was nothing to him. But, for that matter, many a man has been
first made a liar by his connection with two women; and by degrees has
carried his mendacity into other things.

However, though now blessed with mendacity, he was cursed with a lack of
invention; and sorely puzzled how to live at Hernshaw, yet visit the

The best thing he could hit upon was to pretend to turn bagman; and so
Mercy would believe he was travelling all over England, when all the
time he was quietly living at Hernshaw.

And perhaps these long separations might prepare her heart for a final
parting, and so let in his original plan a few years hence.

He prepared this manoeuvre with some art: he told her, one day, he had
been to Lancaster, and there fallen in with a friend, who had as good as
promised him the place of a commercial traveller for a mercantile house

"A traveller!" said Mercy. "Heaven forbid! If you knew how I wearied for
you when you went to Cumberland!"

"To Cumberland! How know you I went thither?"

"O, I but guessed that; but now I know it, by your face. But go where
thou wilt, the house is dull directly. Thou art our sunshine. Isn't he,
my poppet?"

"Well, well; if it kept me too long from thee, I could give it up. But,
child, we must think of young master. You could manage the inn, and your
mother the farm, without me; and I should be earning money on my side. I
want to make a gentleman of him."

"Anything for _him_," said Mercy: "anything in the world." But the tears
stood in her eyes.

In furtherance of this deceit, Griffith did one day actually ride to
Lancaster, and slept there. He wrote to Kate from that town, to say he
was detained by a slight illness, but hoped to be home in a week: and
the next day brought Mercy home some ribbons, and told her he had seen
the merchant, and his brother, and they had made him a very fair offer.
"But I've a week to think of it," said he; "so there's no hurry."

Mercy fixed her eyes on him in a very peculiar way, and made no reply.
You must know that something very curious had happened whilst Griffith
was gone to Lancaster.

A travelling pedler, passing by, was struck with the name on the
signboard. "Hallo!" said he, "why here's a namesake of mine; I'll have a
glass of his ale any way."

So he came into the public room, and called for a glass; taking care to
open his pack, and display his inviting wares. Harry Vint served him.
"Here's your health," said the pedler. "You must drink with me, you

"And welcome," said the old man.

"Well," said the pedler, "I do travel five counties; but for all that,
you are the first namesake I have found. I am Thomas Leicester, too, as
sure as you are a living sinner."

The old man laughed, and said, "Then no namesake of mine are you; for
they call me Harry Vint. Thomas Leicester, he that keeps this inn now,
is my son-in-law: he is gone to Lancaster this morning."

The pedler said that was a pity, he should have liked to see his
namesake, and drink a glass with him.

"Come again to-morrow," said Harry Vint, ironically. "Dame," he cried,
"come hither. Here's another Thomas Leicester for ye, wants to see our

Mrs. Vint turned her head, and inspected the pedler from afar, as if he
was some natural curiosity.

"Where do you come from, young man?" said she.

"Well, I came from Kendal last; but I am Cumberland born."

"Why, that is where t'other comes from," suggested Paul Carrick, who was
once more a frequenter of the house.

"Like enow," said Mrs. Vint.

With that she dropped the matter as one of no consequence, and retired.
But she went straight to Mercy, in the parlor, and told her there was a
man in the kitchen that called himself Thomas Leicester.

"Well, mother?" said Mercy, with high indifference, for she was trying
new socks on King Baby.

"He comes from Cumberland."

"Well, to be sure, names do run in counties."

"That is true; but, seems to me, he favors your man: much of a height,
and--There, do just step into the kitchen a moment."

"La, mother," said Mercy, "I don't desire to see any more Thomas
Leicesters than my own: 'tis the man, not the name. Isn't it, my lamb?"

Mrs. Vint went back to the kitchen discomfited; but, with quiet
pertinacity, she brought Thomas Leicester into the parlor, pack and all.

"There, Mercy," said she, "lay out a penny with thy husband's namesake."

Mercy did not reply, for at that moment Thomas Leicester caught sight of
Griffith's portrait, and gave a sudden start, and a most extraordinary
look besides.

Both the women's eyes happened to be upon him, and they saw at once that
he knew the original.

"You know my husband?" said Mercy Vint, after a while.

"Not I," said Leicester, looking askant at the picture.

"Don't tell no lies," said Mrs. Vint. "You do know him well." And she
pointed her assertion by looking at the portrait.

"O, I know him whose picture hangs there, of course," said Leicester.

"Well, and that _is_ her husband."

"O, that is her husband, is it?" And he was unaffectedly puzzled.

Mercy turned pale. "Yes, he is my husband," said she, "and this is our
child. Can you tell me anything about him? for he came a stranger to
these parts. Belike you are a kinsman of his?"

"So they say."

This reply puzzled both women.

"Any way," said the pedler, "you see we are marked alike." And he showed
a long black mole on his forehead.

Mercy was now as curious as she had been indifferent. "Tell me all about
him," said she: "how comes it that he is a gentleman and thou a pedler?"

"Well, because my mother was a gypsy, and his a gentlewoman."

"What brought him to these parts?"

"Trouble, they say."

"What trouble?"

"Nay, I know not." This after a slight but visible hesitation.

"But you have heard say."

"Well, I am always on the foot, and don't bide long enough in one place
to learn all the gossip. But I do remember hearing he was gone to sea:
and that was a lie, for he had settled here, and married you. I'fackins,
he might have done worse. He has got a bonny buxom wife, and a rare fine
boy, to be sure."

And now the pedler was on his guard, and determined he would not be the
one to break up the household he saw before him, and afflict the
dove-eyed wife and mother. He was a good-natured fellow, and averse to
make mischief with his own hands. Besides, he took for granted Griffith
loved his new wife better than the old one; and, above all, the
punishment of bigamy was severe, and was it for him to get the Squire
indicted, and branded in the hand for a felon?

So the women could get nothing more out of him; he lied, evaded,
shuffled, and feigned utter ignorance; pleading, adroitly enough, his
vagrant life.

All this, however, aroused vague suspicions in Mrs. Vint's mind, and she
went and whispered them to her favorite, Paul Carrick. "And, Paul," said
she, "call for what you like, and score it to me; only treat this pedler
till he leaks out summut: to be sure he'll tell a man more than he will

Paul entered with zeal into this commission: treated the pedler to a
chop, and plied him well with the best ale.

All this failed to loose the pedler's tongue at the time, but it muddled
his judgment: on resuming his journey, he gave his entertainer a wink.
Carrick rose and followed him out.

"You seem a decent lad," said the pedler, "and a good-hearted one. Wilt
do me a favor?"

Carrick said he would, if it lay in his power.

"O, it is easy enow," said the pedler. "'T is just to give young Thomas
Leicester, into his own hand, this here trifle as soon as ever he comes
home." And he handed Carrick a hard substance wrapped up in paper.
Carrick promised.

"Ay, ay, lad," said the pedler, "but see you play fair, and give it him
unbeknown. Now don't you be so simple as show it to any of the
womenfolk. D' ye understand?"

"All right," said Carrick, knowingly. And so the boon companions for a
day shook hands and parted.

And Carrick took the little parcel straight to Mrs. Vint, and told her
every word the pedler had said.

And Mrs. Vint took the little parcel straight to Mercy, and told her
what Carrick said the pedler had said.

And the pedler went off flushed with beer and self-complacency; for he
thought he had drawn the line precisely; had faithfully discharged his
promise to his lady and benefactress, but not so as to make mischief in
another household.

Such was the power of Ale--in the last century.

Mercy undid the paper and found the bullet, on which was engraved

    "I LOVE KATE."

As she read these words a knife seemed to enter her heart, the pang was
so keen.

But she soon took herself to task. "Thou naughty woman," said she.
"What! jealous of the dead?"

She wrapped the bullet up; put it carefully away; had a good cry; and
was herself again.

But all this set her watching Griffith, and reading his face. She had
subtle, vague misgivings, and forbade her mother to mention the pedler's
visit to Griffith yet awhile. Womanlike she preferred to worm out the

On the evening of his return from Lancaster, as he was smoking his pipe,
she quietly tested him. She fixed her eyes on him, and said, "One was
here to-day that knows thee, and brought thee this." She then handed him
the bullet, and watched his face.

Griffith undid the paper carelessly enough; but, at sight of the bullet,
uttered a loud cry, and his eyes seemed ready to start out of his head.

He turned as pale as ashes, and stammered piteously, "What? what? what
d'ye mean? In Heaven's name, what is this? How? Who?"

Mercy was surprised, but also much concerned at his distress; and tried
to soothe him. She also asked him piteously, whether she had done wrong
to give it him. "God knows," said she, "'t is no business of mine to go
and remind thee of her thou hast loved better mayhap than thou lovest
me. But to keep it from thee, and she in her grave,--O, I had not the

But Griffith's agitation increased instead of diminishing; and, even
while she was trying to soothe him, he rushed wildly out of the room,
and into the open air.

Mercy went, in perplexity and distress, and told her mother.

Mrs. Vint, not being blinded by affection, thought the whole thing had a
very ugly look, and said as much. She gave it as her opinion that this
Kate was alive, and had sent the token herself, to make mischief between
man and wife.

"That shall she never," said Mercy, stoutly; but now her suspicions were
thoroughly excited, and her happiness disturbed.

The next day, Griffith found her in tears. He asked her what was the
matter. She would not tell him.

"You have your secrets," said she; "and so now I have mine."

       *       *       *       *       *

Griffith became very uneasy.

For now Mercy was often in tears, and Mrs. Vint looked daggers at him.

All this was mysterious and unintelligible, and, to a guilty man, very

At last he implored Mercy to speak out. He wanted to know the worst.

Then Mercy did speak out. "You have deceived me," said she. "Kate is
alive. This very morning, between sleeping and waking, you whispered her
name; ay, false man, whispered it like a lover. You told me she was
dead. But she is alive, and has sent you a reminder, and the bare sight
of it hath turned your heart her way again. What shall I do? Why did you
marry me, if you could not forget her? I did not want you to desert any
woman for me. The desire of my heart was always for your happiness. But
O Thomas, deceit and falsehood will not bring you happiness, no more
than they will me. What shall I do? what shall I do?"

Her tears flowed freely, and Griffith sat down, and groaned with horror
and remorse, beside her.

He had not the courage to tell her the horrible truth,--that Kate was
his wife, and she was not.

"Do not thou afflict thyself," he muttered. "Of course, with you putting
that bullet in my hand so sudden, it set my fancy a wandering back to
other days."

"Ah!" said Mercy, "if it be no worse than that, there's little harm. But
why did thy namesake start so at sight of thy picture?"

"My namesake!" cried Griffith, all aghast.

"Ay, he that brought thee that love-token,--Thomas Leicester. Nay, for
very shame, feign not ignorance of him. Why, he hath thy very mole on
his temple, and knew thy picture in a moment. He is thy half-brother; is
he not?"

"I am a ruined man," cried Griffith, and sank into a chair without power
of motion.

"God help me, what is all this?" cried Mercy. "O Thomas, Thomas, I could
forgive thee aught but deceit: for both our sakes speak out, and tell me
the worst. No harm shall come near thee while I live."

"How can I tell thee? I am an unfortunate man. The world will call me a
villain; yet I am not a villain at heart. But who will believe me? I
have broken the law. Thee I could trust, but not thy folk; they never
loved me. Mercy, for pity's sake, when was that Thomas Leicester here?"

"Four days ago."

"Which way went he?"

"I hear he told Paul he was going to Cumberland."

"If he gets there before me, I shall rot in gaol."

"Now God forbid! O Thomas, then mount and ride after him."

"I will, and this very moment."

He saddled Black Dick, and loaded his pistols for the journey; but, ere
he went, a pale face looked out into the yard, and a finger beckoned. It
was Mercy. She bade him follow her. She took him to her room, where
their child was sleeping; and then she closed and even locked the door.

"No soul can hear us," said she; "now look me in the face, and tell me
God's truth. Who and what are you?"

Griffith shuddered at this exordium; he made no reply.

Mercy went to a box and took out an old shirt of his,--the one he wore
when he first came to the "Packhorse." She brought it to him and showed
him "G. G." embroidered on it with a woman's hair. (Ryder's.)

"Here are your initials," said she; "now leave useless falsehoods; be a
man, and tell me your real name."

"My name is Griffith Gaunt."

Mercy, sick at heart, turned her head away; but she had the resolution
to urge him on. "Go on," said she, in an agonized whisper: "if you
believe in God and a judgment to come, deceive me no more. The truth, I
say! the truth!"

"So be it," said Griffith, desperately: "when I have told thee what a
villain I am, I can die at thy feet, and then thou wilt forgive me.

"Who is Kate?" was all she replied.

"Kate is my wife."

       *       *       *       *       *

"I thought her false; who could think any other? appearances were so
strong against her: others thought so beside me. I raised my hand to
kill her; but she never winced. I trampled on him I believed her
paramour: I fled, and soon I lay a-dying in this house for her sake. I
told thee she was dead. Alas! I thought her dead to me. I went back to
our house (it is her house) sore against the grain, to get money for
thee and thine. Then she cleared herself, bright as the sun, and pure as
snow. She was all in black for me; she had put by money, against I
should come to my senses and need it. I told her I owed a debt in
Lancashire, a debt of gratitude as well as money: and so I did. How have
I repaid it? The poor soul forced five hundred pounds on me. I had much
ado to keep her from bringing it hither with her own hands. O, villain!
villain! Then I thought to leave thee, and send thee word I was dead,
and heap money on thee. Money! But how could I? thou wast my
benefactress, my more than wife. All the riches of the world can make no
return to thee. What, what shall I do? Shall I fly with thee and thy
child across the seas? Shall I go back to her? No; the best thing I can
do is to take this good pistol, and let the life out of my dishonorable
carcass, and free two honest women from me by one resolute act."

In his despair he cocked the pistol; and, at a word from Mercy, this
tale had ended.

But the poor woman, pale and trembling, tottered across the room, and
took it out of his hand. "I would not harm thy body, nor thy soul," she
gasped. "Let me draw my breath and think."

She rocked herself to and fro in silence.

Griffith stood trembling like a criminal before his judge.

It was long ere she could speak, for anguish. Yet when she did speak, it
was with a sort of deadly calm.

"Go tell the truth to _her_, as you have done to me; and, if she can
forgive you, all the better for you. I can never forgive you, nor yet
can harm you. My child! my child! Thy father is our ruin. O, begone,
man, or the sight of you will kill us both."

Then he fell at her knees; kissed, and wept over her cold hand; and, in
his pity and despair, offered to cross the seas with her and her child,
and so repair the wrong he had done her.

"Tempt me not," she sobbed. "Go, leave me! None here shall ever know thy
crime, but she whose heart thou hast broken, and ruined her good name."

He took her in his arms, in spite of her resistance, and kissed her
passionately; but, for the first time, she shuddered at his embrace; and
that gave him the power to leave her.

He rushed from her, all but distracted, and rode away to Cumberland;
but not to tell the truth to Kate, if he could possibly help it.


At this particular time, no man's presence was more desired in that
county than Griffith Gaunt's.

And this I need not now be telling the reader, if I had related this
story on the plan of a miscellaneous chronicle. But the affairs of the
heart are so absorbing, that, even in a narrative, they thrust aside
important circumstances of a less moving kind.

I must therefore go back a step, before I advance further. You must know
that forty years before our Griffith Gaunt saw the light, another
Griffith Gaunt was born in Cumberland: a younger son, and the family
estate entailed; but a shrewd lad, who chose rather to hunt fortune
elsewhere than to live in miserable dependence on his elder brother. His
godfather, a city merchant, encouraged him, and he left Cumberland. He
went into commerce, and in twenty years became a wealthy man,--so
wealthy that he lived to look down on his brother's estate, which he had
once thought opulence. His life was all prosperity, with a single
exception; but that a bitter one. He laid out some of his funds in a
fashionable and beautiful wife. He loved her before marriage; and, as
she was always cold to him, he loved her more and more.

In the second year of their marriage she ran away from him; and no
beggar in the streets of London was so miserable as the wealthy

It blighted the man, and left him a sore heart all his days. He never
married again; and railed on all womankind for this one. He led a
solitary life in London till he was sixty-nine; and then, all of a
sudden, Nature, or accident, or both, changed his whole habits. Word
came to him that the family estate, already deeply mortgaged, was for
sale, and a farmer who had rented a principal farm on it, and held a
heavy mortgage, had made the highest offer.

Old Griffith sent down Mr. Atkins, his solicitor, post haste, and
snapped the estate out of that purchaser's hands.

When the lands and house had been duly conveyed to him, he came down,
and his heart seemed to bud again, in the scenes of his childhood.

Finding the house small, and built in a valley instead of on rising
ground, he got an army of bricklayers, and began to build a mansion with
a rapidity unheard of in those parts; and he looked about for some one
to inherit it.

The name of Gaunt had dwindled down to three, since he left Cumberland;
but a rich man never lacks relations. Featherstonhaughs, and Underhills,
and even Smiths, poured in, with parish registers in their laps, and
proved themselves Gauntesses, and flattered and carneyed the new head of
the family.

Then the perverse old gentleman felt inclined to look elsewhere. He knew
he had a namesake at the other side of the county, but this namesake did
not come near him.

This independent Gaunt excited his curiosity and interest. He made
inquiries, and heard that young Griffith had just quarrelled with his
wife, and gone away in despair.

Griffith senior took for granted that the fault lay with Mrs. Gaunt, and
wasted some good sympathy on Griffith junior.

On further inquiry he learned that the truant was dependent on his wife.
Then, argued the moneyed man, he would not run away from her but that
his wound was deep.

The consequence of all this was, that he made a will very favorable to
his absent and injured (?) namesake. He left numerous bequests; but made
Griffith his residuary legatee; and, having settled this matter, urged
on, and superintended his workmen.

Alas! just as the roof was going on, a narrower house claimed him, and
he made good the saying of the wise bard,--

              "Tu secanda marmora
    Locas sub ipsum funus et sepulchri
    Immemor struis domos."

The heir of his own choosing could not be found to attend his funeral;
and Mr. Atkins, his solicitor, a very worthy man, was really hurt at
this. With the quiet bitterness of a displeased attorney, he merely sent
Mrs. Gaunt word her husband inherited something under the will, and she
would do well to produce him, or else furnish him (Atkins) with proof of
his decease.

Mrs. Gaunt was offended by this cavalier note, and replied very like a
woman, and very unlike Business.

"I do not know where he is," said she, "nor whether he is alive or dead.
Nor do I feel disposed to raise the hue and cry after him. But favor me
with your address, and I shall let you know should I hear anything about

Mr. Atkins was half annoyed, half amused, at this piece of indifference.
It never occurred to him that it might be all put on.

He wrote back to say that the estate was large, and, owing to the terms
of the will, could not be administered without Mr. Griffith Gaunt; and,
in the interest of the said Griffith Gaunt, and also of the other
legatees, he really must advertise for him.

La Gaunt replied, that he was very welcome to advertise for whomsoever
he pleased.

Mr. Atkins was a very worthy man; but human. To tell the truth, he was
himself one of the other legatees. He inherited (and, to be just, had
well deserved) four thousand guineas, under the will, and could not
legally touch it without Griffith Gaunt. This little circumstance
spurred his professional zeal.

Mr. Atkins advertised for Griffith Gaunt, in the London and Cumberland
papers, and in the usual enticing form. He was to apply to Mr. Atkins,
Solicitor, of Gray's Inn, and he would hear of something greatly to his

These advertisements had not been out a fortnight, when Griffith Gaunt
came home, as I have related.

But Mr. Atkins had punished Mrs. Gaunt for her _insouciance_, by not
informing her of the extent of her good fortune; so she merely told
Griffith, casually, that old Griffith Gaunt had left him some money, and
the solicitor, Mr. Atkins, could not get on without him. Even this
information she did not vouchsafe until she had given him her £500, for
she grudged Atkins the pleasure of supplying her husband with money.

However, as soon as Griffith left her, she wrote to Mr. Atkins to say
that her husband had come home in perfect health, thank God; had only
stayed two days, but was to return in a week.

When ten days had elapsed, Atkins wrote to inquire.

She replied he had not yet returned; and this went on till Mr. Atkins
showed considerable impatience.

As for Mrs. Gaunt, she made light of the matter to Mr. Atkins; but, in
truth, this new mystery irritated her and pained her deeply.

In one respect she was more unhappy than she had been before he came
back at all. Then she was alone; her door was closed to commentators.
But now, on the strength of so happy a reconciliation, she had
re-entered the world, and received visits from Sir George Neville, and
others; and, above all, had announced that Griffith would be back for
good in a few days. So now his continued absence exposed her to sly
questions from her own sex, to the interchange of glances between female
visitors, as well as to the internal torture of doubt and suspense.

But what distracted her most was the view Mrs. Ryder took of the matter.

That experienced lady had begun to suspect some other woman was at the
bottom of Griffith's conduct; and her own love for Griffith was now
soured. Repeated disappointments and affronts, _spretæque injuria
formæ_, had not quite extinguished it, but had mixed so much spite with
it that she was equally ready to kiss or to stab him.

So she took every opportunity to instil into her mistress, whose
confidence she had won at last, that Griffith was false to her.

"That is the way with these men that are so ready to suspect others.
Take my word for it, Dame, he has carried your money to his leman. 'Tis
still the honest woman that must bleed for some nasty trollop or other."

She enforced this theory by examples drawn from her own observations in
families, and gave the very names; and drove Mrs. Gaunt almost mad with
fear, anger, jealousy, and cruel suspense. She could not sleep, she
could not eat; she was in a constant fever.

Yet before the world she battled it out bravely, and indeed none but
Ryder knew the anguish of her spirit, and her passionate wrath.

At last there came a most eventful day.

Mrs. Gaunt had summoned all her pride and fortitude, and invited certain
ladies and gentlemen to dine and sup.

She was one of the true Spartan breed, and played the hostess as well as
if her heart had been at ease. It was an age in which the host struggled
fiercely to entertain the guests; and Mrs. Gaunt was taxing all her
powers of pleasing in the dining-room, when an unexpected guest strolled
into the kitchen: the pedler, Thomas Leicester.

Jane welcomed him cordially, and he was soon seated at a table eating
his share of the feast.

Presently Mrs. Ryder came down, dressed in her best, and looking
handsomer than ever.

At sight of her, Tom Leicester's affection revived; and he soon took
occasion to whisper an inquiry whether she was still single.

"Ay," said she, "and like to be."

"Waiting for the master still? Mayhap I could cure you of that
complaint. But least said is soonest mended."

This mysterious hint showed Ryder he had a secret burning his bosom. The
sly hussy said nothing just then, but plied him with ale and flattery;
and, when he whispered a request for a private meeting out of doors, she
cast her eyes down, and assented.

And in that meeting she carried herself so adroitly, that he renewed his
offer of marriage, and told her not to waste her fancy on a man who
cared neither for her nor any other she in Cumberland.

"Prove that to me," said Ryder, cunningly, "and may be I'll take you at
your word."

The bribe was not to be resisted. Tom revealed to her, under a solemn
promise of secrecy, that the Squire had got a wife and child in
Lancashire; and had a farm and an inn, which latter he kept under the
name of--Thomas Leicester.

In short, he told her, in his way, all the particulars I have told in

Which told it the best will never be known in this world.

She led him on with a voice of very velvet. He did not see how her cheek
paled and her eyes flashed jealous fury.

When she had sucked him dry, she suddenly turned on him, with a cold
voice, and said, "I can't stay any longer with you just now. She will
want me."

"You will meet me here again, lass?" said Tom, ruefully.

"Yes, for a minute, after supper."

She then left him, and went to Mrs. Gaunt's room, and sat crouching
before the fire, all hate and bitterness.

What? he had left the wife he loved, and yet had not turned to her!

She sat there, waiting for Mrs. Gaunt, and nursing her vindictive fury,
two mortal hours.

At last, just before supper, Mrs. Gaunt came up to her room, to cool her
fevered hands and brow, and found this creature crouched by her fire,
all in a heap, with pale cheek, and black eyes that glittered like

"What is the matter, child?" said Mrs. Gaunt. "Good heavens! what hath

"Dame!" said Ryder, sternly, "I have got news of him."

"News of _him_?" faltered Mrs. Gaunt. "Bad news?"

"I don't know whether to tell you or not," said Ryder, sulkily, but with
a touch of human feeling.

"What cannot I bear? What have I not borne? Tell me the truth."

The words were stout, but she trembled all over in uttering them.

"Well, it is as I said, only worse. Dame, he has got a wife and child in
another county; and no doubt been deceiving her, as he has _us_."

"A wife!" gasped Mrs. Gaunt, and one white hand clutched her bosom, and
the other the mantel-piece.

"Ay, Thomas Leicester, that is in the kitchen now, saw her, and saw his
picture hanging aside hers on the wall. And he goes by the name of
Thomas Leicester. That was what made Tom go into the inn, seeing his own
name on the signboard. Nay, Dame, never give way like that. Lean on
me,--so. He is a villain,--a false, jealous, double-faced villain."

Mrs. Gaunt's head fell back on Ryder's shoulder, and she said no word;
but only moaned and moaned, and her white teeth clicked convulsively

Ryder wept over her sad state: the tears were half impulse, half

She applied hartshorn to the sufferer's nostrils, and tried to rouse her
mind by exciting her anger. But all was in vain. There hung the betrayed
wife, pale, crushed, and quivering under the cruel blow.

Ryder asked her if she should go down and excuse her to her guests.

She nodded a feeble assent.

Ryder then laid her down on the bed with her head low, and was just
about to leave her on that errand, when hurried steps were heard outside
the door; and one of the female servants knocked; and, not waiting to be
invited, put her head in, and cried, "O, Dame, the Master is come home.
He is in the kitchen."


Mrs. Ryder made an agitated motion with her hand, and gave the girl such
a look withal, that she retired precipitately.

But Mrs. Gaunt had caught the words, and they literally transformed her.
She sprang off the bed, and stood erect, and looked a Saxon Pythoness:
golden hair streaming down her back, and gray eyes gleaming with fury.

She caught up a little ivory-handled knife, and held it above her head.

"I'll drive this into his heart before them all," she cried, "and tell
them the reason _afterwards_."

Ryder looked at her for a moment in utter terror. She saw a woman with
grander passions than herself; a woman that looked quite capable of
executing her sanguinary threat. Ryder made no more ado, but slipped out
directly to prevent a meeting that might be attended with terrible

She found her master in the kitchen, splashed with mud, drinking a horn
of ale after his ride, and looking rather troubled and anxious; and, by
the keen eye of her sex, she saw that the female servants were also in
considerable anxiety. The fact is, they had just extemporized a lie.

Tom Leicester, being near the kitchen window, had seen Griffith ride
into the court-yard.

At sight of that well-known figure, he drew back, and his heart quaked
at his own imprudence, in confiding Griffith's secret to Caroline Ryder.

"Lasses," said he, hastily, "do me a kindness for old acquaintance.
Here's the Squire. For Heaven's sake, don't let him know I am in the
house, or there will be bloodshed between us. He is a hasty man, and I'm
another. I'll tell ye more by and by."

The next moment Griffith's tread was heard approaching the very door,
and Leicester darted into the housekeeper's room, and hid in a cupboard

Griffith opened the kitchen door, and stood upon the threshold.

The women courtesied to him, and were loud in welcome.

He returned their civilities briefly; and then his first word was, "Hath
Thomas Leicester been here?"

You know how servants stick together against their master! The girls
looked him in the face, like candid doves, and told him Leicester had
not been that way for six months or more.

"Why, I have tracked him to within two miles," said Griffith,

"Then he is sure to come here," said Jane, adroitly. "He wouldn't ever
think to go by us."

"The moment he enters the house, you let me know. He is a
mischief-making loon."

He then asked for a horn of ale; and, as he finished it, Ryder came in,
and he turned to her, and asked her after her mistress.

"She was well, just now," said Ryder; "but she has been took with a
spasm; and it would be well, sir, if you could dress, and entertain the
company in her place awhile. For I must tell you, your being so long
away hath set their tongues going, and almost broken my lady's heart."

Griffith sighed, and said he could not help it, and now he was here, he
would do all in his power to please her. "I'll go to her at once," said

"No, sir!" said Ryder, firmly. "Come with me. I want to speak to you."

She took him to his bachelor's room, and stayed a few minutes to talk to

"Master," said she, solemnly, "things are very serious here. Why did you
stay so long away? Our dame says some woman is at the bottom of it, and
she'll put a knife into you if you come a-nigh her."

This threat did not appall Griffith, as Ryder expected. Indeed, he
seemed rather flattered.

"Poor Kate!" said he; "she is just the woman to do it. But I am afraid
she does not love me enough for that. But indeed how should she?"

"Well, sir," replied Ryder, "oblige me by keeping clear of her for a
little while. I have got orders to make your bed here. Now, dress, like
a good soul, and then go down and show respect to the company that is in
your house; for they know you are here."

"Why, that is the least I can do," said Griffith. "Put you out what I am
to wear, and then run and say I'll be with them anon."

Griffith walked into the dining-room, and, somewhat to his surprise,
after what Ryder had said, found Mrs. Gaunt seated at the head of her
own table, and presiding like a radiant queen over a brilliant assembly.

He walked in, and made a low bow to his guests first: then he approached
to greet his wife more freely; but she drew back decidedly, and made him
a courtesy, the dignity and distance of which struck the whole company.

Sir George Neville, who was at the bottom of the table, proposed, with
his usual courtesy, to resign his place to Griffith. But Mrs. Gaunt
forbade the arrangement.

"No, Sir George," said she; "this is but an occasional visitor; you are
my constant friend."

If this had been said pleasantly, well and good; but the guests looked
in vain into their hostess's face for the smile that ought to have
accompanied so strange a speech and disarmed it.

"Rarities are the more welcome," said a lady, coming to the rescue; and
edged aside to make room for him.

"Madam," said Griffith, "I am in your debt for that explanation; but I
hope you will be no rarity here, for all that."

Supper proceeded; but the mirth languished. Somehow or other, the chill
fact that there was a grave quarrel between two at the table, and those
two man and wife, insinuated itself into the spirits of the guests.
There began to be lulls,--fatal lulls. And in one of these, some unlucky
voice was heard to murmur, "Such a meeting of man and wife I never

The hearers felt miserable at this personality, that fell upon the ear
of silence like a thunderbolt.

Griffith was ill-advised enough to notice the remark, though clearly not
intended for his ears. For one thing, his jealousy had actually revived
at the cool preference Kate had shown his old rival, Neville.

"Oh!" said he, bitterly, "a man is not always his wife's favorite."

"He does not always deserve to be," said Mrs. Gaunt, sternly.

When matters had gone that length, one idea seemed to occur pretty
simultaneously to all the well-bred guests; and that idea was, _Sauve
qui peut_.

Mrs. Gaunt took leave of them, one by one, and husband and wife were
left alone.

Mrs. Gaunt by this time was alarmed at the violence of her own passions,
and wished to avoid Griffith for that night at all events. So she cast
one terribly stern look upon him, and was about to retire in grim
silence. But he, indignant at the public affront she had put on him, and
not aware of the true cause, unfortunately detained her. He said,
sulkily, "What sort of a reception was that you gave me?"

This was too much. She turned on him furiously. "Too good for thee, thou
heartless creature! Thomas Leicester is here, and I know thee for a

"You know nothing," cried Griffith. "Would you believe that
mischief-making knave? What has he told you?"

"Go back to _her_!" cried Mrs. Gaunt furiously. "Me you can deceive and
pillage no more. So, this was your jealousy! False and forsworn
yourself, you dared to suspect and insult me. Ah! and you think I am the
woman to endure this? I'll have your life for it! I'll have your life."

Griffith endeavored to soften her,--protested that, notwithstanding
appearances, he had never loved but her.

"I'll soon be rid of you, and your love," said the raging woman. "The
constables shall come for you to-morrow. You have seen how I can love,
you shall know how I can hate."

She then, in her fury, poured out a torrent of reproaches and threats
that made his blood run cold. He could not answer her: he _had_
suspected her wrongfully, and been false to her himself. He _had_ abused
her generosity, and taken her money for Mercy Vint.

After one or two vain efforts to check the torrent, he sank into a
chair, and hid his face in his hands.

But this did not disarm her, at the time. Her raging voice and raging
words were heard by the very servants, long after he had ceased to
defend himself.

At last she came out, pale with fury, and, finding Ryder near the door,
shrieked out, "Take that reptile to his den, if he is mean enough to lie
in this house,"--then, lowering her voice, "and bring Thomas Leicester
to me."

Ryder went to Leicester, and told him. But he objected to come. "You
have betrayed me," said he. "Curse my weak heart and my loose tongue. I
have done the poor Squire an ill turn. I can never look him in the face
again. But 'tis all thy fault, double-face. I hate the sight of thee."

At this Ryder shed some crocodile tears; and very soon, by her
blandishments, obtained forgiveness.

And Leicester, since the mischief was done, was persuaded to see the
dame, who was his recent benefactor, you know. He bargained, however,
that the Squire should be got to bed first; for he had a great dread of
meeting him. "He'll break every bone in my skin," said Tom; "or else I
shall do _him_ a mischief in my defence."

Ryder herself saw the wisdom of this. She bade him stay quiet, and she
went to look after Griffith.

She found him in the drawing-room, with his head on the table, in deep

She assumed authority, and said he must go to bed.

He rose humbly, and followed her like a submissive dog.

She took him to his room. There was no fire.

"That is where you are to sleep," said she, spitefully.

"It is better than I deserve," said he, humbly.

The absurd rule about not hitting a man when he is down has never
obtained a place in the great female soul; so Ryder lashed him without

"Well, sir," said she, "methinks you have gained little by breaking
faith with me. Y' had better have set up your inn with me, than gone and
sinned against the law."

"Much better: would to Heaven I had!"

"What d' ye mean to do now? You know the saying. Between two stools--"

"Child," said Griffith, faintly, "methinks I shall trouble neither long.
I am not so ill a man as I seem; but who will believe that? I shall not
live long. And I shall leave an ill name behind me. _She_ told me so
just now. And oh! her eye was so cruel; I saw my death in it."

"Come, come," said Ryder, relenting a little; "you mustn't believe every
word an angry woman says. There, take my advice; go to bed; and in the
morning don't speak to her. Keep out of her way a day or two."

And with this piece of friendly advice she left him; and waited about
till she thought he was in bed and asleep.

Then she brought Thomas Leicester up to her mistress.

But Griffith was not in bed; and he heard Leicester's heavy tread cross
the landing. He waited and waited behind his door for more than half an
hour, and then he heard the same heavy tread go away again.

By this time nearly all the inmates of the house were asleep.

About twenty-five minutes after Leicester left Mrs. Gaunt, Caroline
Ryder stole quietly up stairs from the kitchen, and sat down to think it
all over.

She then proceeded to undress; but had only taken off her gown, when she
started and listened; for a cry of distress reached her from outside the

She darted to the window and threw it open.

Then she heard a cry more distinct, "Help! help!"

It was a clear starlight night, but no moon.

The mere shone before her, and the cries were on the bank.

Now came something more alarming still. A flash,--a pistol shot,--and an
agonized voice cried loudly, "Murder! Help! Murder!"

That voice she knew directly. It was Griffith Gaunt's.


Ryder ran screaming, and alarmed the other servants.

All the windows that looked on the mere were flung open.

But no more sounds were heard. A terrible silence brooded now over those
clear waters.

The female servants huddled together, and quaked; for who could doubt
that a bloody deed had been done?

It was some time before they mustered the presence of mind to go and
tell Mrs. Gaunt. At last they opened her door. She was not in her room.

Ryder ran to Griffith's. It was locked. She called to him. He made no

They burst the door open. He was not there; and the window was open.

While their tongues were all going, in consternation, Mrs. Gaunt was
suddenly among them, very pale.

They turned, and looked at her aghast.

"What means all this?" said she. "Did not I hear cries outside?"

"Ay," said Ryder. "Murder! and a pistol fired. O, my poor master!"

Mrs. Gaunt was white as death; but self-possessed. "Light torches this
moment, and search the place," said she.

There was only one man in the house; and he declined to go out alone.
So Ryder and Mrs. Gaunt went with him, all three bearing lighted links.

They searched the place where Ryder had heard the cries. They went up
and down the whole bank of the mere, and cast their torches' red light
over the placid waters themselves. But there was nothing to be seen,
alive or dead,--no trace either of calamity or crime.

They roused the neighbors, and came back to the house with their clothes
all draggled and dirty.

Mrs. Gaunt took Ryder apart, and asked her if she could guess at what
time of the night Griffith had made his escape. "He is a villain," said
she, "yet I would not have him come to harm, God knows. There are
thieves abroad. But I hope he ran away as soon as your back was turned,
and so fell not in with them."

"Humph!" said Ryder. Then, looking Mrs. Gaunt in the face, she said,
quietly, "Where were you when you heard the cries?"

"I was on the other side of the house."

"What, out o' doors, at that time of night!"

"Ay; I was in the grove,--praying."

"Did you hear any voice you knew?"

"No: all was too indistinct. I heard a pistol, but no words. Did you?"

"I heard no more than you, madam," said Ryder, trembling.

No one went to bed any more that night in Hernshaw Castle.


This mysterious circumstance made a great talk in the village and in the
kitchen of Hernshaw Castle; but not in the drawing-room; for Mrs. Gaunt
instantly closed her door to visitors, and let it be known that it was
her intention to retire to a convent; and, in the mean time, she desired
not to be disturbed.

Ryder made one or two attempts to draw her out upon the subject, but was
sternly checked.

Pale, gloomy, and silent, the mistress of Hernshaw Castle moved about
the place, like the ghost of her former self. She never mentioned
Griffith; forbade his name to be uttered in her hearing; and, strange to
say, gave Ryder strict orders not to tell any one what she had heard
from Thomas Leicester.

"This last insult is known but to you and me. If it ever gets abroad,
you leave my service that very hour."

This injunction set Ryder thinking. However, she obeyed it to the
letter. Her place was getting better and better; and she was a woman
accustomed to keep secrets.

A pressing letter came from Mr. Atkins.

Mrs. Gaunt replied that her husband had come to Hernshaw, but had left
again; and the period of his ultimate return was now more uncertain than

On this Mr. Atkins came down to Hernshaw Castle. But Mrs. Gaunt would
not see him. He retired very angry, and renewed his advertisements, but
in a more explicit form. He now published that Griffith Gaunt, of
Hernshaw and Bolton, was executor and residuary legatee to the late
Griffith Gaunt of Coggleswade; and requested him to apply directly to
James Atkins, Solicitor, of Gray's Inn, London.

In due course this advertisement was read by the servants at Hernshaw,
and shown by Ryder to Mrs. Gaunt.

She made no comment whatever; and contrived to render her pale face

Ryder became as silent and thoughtful as herself, and often sat bending
her black judicial brows.

       *       *       *       *       *

By and by dark mysterious words began to be thrown out in Hernshaw

"He will never come back at all."

"He will never come into that fortune."

"'T is no use advertising for a man that is past reading."

These, and the like equivocal sayings, were followed by a vague buzz,
which was traceable to no individual author, but seemed to rise on all
sides, like a dark mist, and envelop that unhappy house.

And that dark mist of Rumor soon condensed itself into a palpable and
terrible whisper,--"Griffith Gaunt hath met with foul play."

       *       *       *       *       *

No one of the servants told Mrs. Gaunt this horrid rumor.

But the women used to look at her, and after her, with strange eyes.

She noticed this, and felt, somehow, that her people were falling away
from her. It added one drop to her bitter cup. She began to droop into a
sort of calm, despondent lethargy.

Then came fresh trouble to rouse her.

Two of the county magistrates called on her in their official capacity,
and, with perfect politeness, but a very grave air, requested her to
inform them of all the circumstances attending her husband's

She replied, coldly and curtly, that she knew very little about it. Her
husband had left in the middle of the night.

"He came to stay?"

"I believe so."

"Came on horseback?"


"Did he go away on horseback?"

"No; for the horse is now in my stable."

"Is it true there was a quarrel between you and him that evening?"

"Gentlemen," said Mrs. Gaunt, drawing herself back, haughtily, "did you
come here to gratify your curiosity?"

"No, madam," said the elder of the two; "but to discharge a very serious
and painful duty, in which I earnestly request you, and even advise you,
to aid us. Was there a quarrel?"

"There was--a mortal quarrel."

The gentlemen exchanged glances, and the elder made a note.

"May we ask the subject of that quarrel?"

Mrs. Gaunt declined, positively, to enter into a matter so delicate.

A note was taken of this refusal.

"Are you aware, madam, that your husband's voice was heard calling for
help, and that a pistol-shot was fired?"

Mrs. Gaunt trembled visibly.

"I heard the pistol-shot," said she; "but not the voice distinctly. O, I
hope it was not his voice Ryder heard!"

"Ryder, who is he?"

"Ryder is my lady's maid: her bedroom is on that side the house."

"Can we see Mrs. Ryder?"

"Certainly," said Mrs. Gaunt, and rose and rang the bell.

Mrs. Ryder answered the bell, in person, very promptly; for she was
listening at the door.

Being questioned, she told the magistrates what she had heard down by
"the mere"; and said she was sure it was her master's voice that cried
"Help!" and "Murder!" And with this she began to cry.

Mrs. Gaunt trembled and turned pale.

The magistrates confined their questions to Ryder.

They elicited, however, very little more from her. She saw the drift of
their questions, and had an impulse to defend her mistress there
present. Behind her back it would have been otherwise.

That resolution once taken, two children might as well have tried to
extract evidence from her as two justices of the peace.

And then Mrs. Gaunt's pale face and noble features touched them. The
case was mysterious, but no more; and they departed little the wiser,
and with some apologies for the trouble they had given her.

The next week down came Mr. Atkins, out of all patience, and determined
to find Griffith Gaunt, or else obtain some proof of his decease.

He obtained two interviews with Ryder, and bribed her to tell him all
she knew. He prosecuted other inquiries with more method than had
hitherto been used, and elicited an important fact, namely, that
Griffith Gaunt had been seen walking in a certain direction at one
o'clock in the morning, followed at a short distance by a tall man with
a knapsack, or the like, on his back.

The person who gave this tardy information was the wife of a certain
farmer's man, who wired hares upon the sly. The man himself, being
assured that, in a case so serious as this, no particular inquiries
should be made how he came to be out so late, confirmed what his wife
had let out, and added, that both men had taken the way that would lead
them to the bridge, meaning the bridge over the mere. More than that he
could not say, for he had met them, and was full half a mile from the
mere before those men could have reached it.

Following up this clew, Mr. Atkins learned so many ugly things, that he
went to the Bench on justicing day, and demanded a full and searching
inquiry on the premises.

Sir George Neville, after in vain opposing this, rode off straight from
the Bench to Hernshaw, and in feeling terms conveyed the bad news to
Mrs. Gaunt; and then, with the utmost delicacy, let her know that some
suspicion rested upon herself, which she would do well to meet with the
bold front of innocence.

"What suspicion, pray?" said Mrs. Gaunt, haughtily.

Sir George shrugged his shoulders, and replied, "That you have done
Gaunt the honor to put him out of the way."

Mrs. Gaunt took this very differently from what Sir George expected.

"What!" she cried, "are they so sure he is dead,--murdered?"

And with this she went into a passion of grief and remorse.

Even Sir George was puzzled, as well as affected, by her convulsive


Though it was known the proposed inquiry might result in the committal
of Mrs. Gaunt on a charge of murder, yet the respect in which she had
hitherto been held, and the influence of Sir George Neville, who, having
been her lover, stoutly maintained her innocence, prevailed so far that
even this inquiry was private, and at her own house. Only she was
present in the character of a suspected person, and the witnesses were
examined before her.

First, the poacher gave his evidence.

Then Jane, the cook, proved that a pedler called Thomas Leicester had
been in the kitchen, and secreted about the premises till a late hour;
and this Thomas Leicester corresponded exactly to the description given
by the poacher.

This threw suspicion on Thomas Leicester, but did not connect Mrs. Gaunt
with the deed in any way.

But Ryder's evidence filled this gap. She revealed three serious

First, that, by her mistress's orders, she had introduced this very
Leicester into her mistress's room about midnight, where he had remained
nearly half an hour, and had then left the house.

Secondly, that Mrs. Gaunt herself had been out of doors after midnight.

And, thirdly, that she had listened at the door, and heard her threaten
Griffith Gaunt's life.

This is a mere _précis_ of the evidence, and altogether it looked so
suspicious, that the magistrates, after telling Mrs. Gaunt she could ask
the witnesses any question she chose, a suggestion she treated with
marked contempt, put their heads together a moment and whispered. Then
the eldest of them, Mr. Underhill, who lived at a considerable distance,
told her gravely he must commit her to take her trial at the next

"Do what you conceive to be your duty, gentlemen," said Mrs. Gaunt, with
marvellous dignity. "If I do not assert my innocence, it is because I
disdain the accusation too much."

"I shall take no part in the committal of this innocent lady," said Sir
George Neville, and was about to leave the room.

But Mrs. Gaunt begged him to stay. "To be guilty is one thing," said
she, "to be accused is another. I shall go to prison as easy as to my
dinner; and to the gallows as to my bed."

The presiding magistrate was staggered a moment by these words; and it
was not without considerable hesitation he took the warrant and prepared
to fill it up.

Then Mr. Houseman, who had watched the proceedings very keenly, put in
his word. "I am here for the accused person, sir, and, with your good
leave, object to her committal--on grounds of law."

"What may they be, Mr. Houseman?" said the magistrate, civilly; and laid
his pen down to hear them.

"Briefly, sir, these. Where a murder is proven, you can commit a subject
of this realm upon suspicion. But you cannot suspect the murder as well
as the culprit, and so commit. The murder must be proved to the senses.
Now in this case, the death of Mr. Gaunt by violence is not proved.
Indeed, his very death rests but upon suspicion. I admit that the law of
England in this respect has once or twice been tampered with, and
persons have even been executed where no _corpus delicti_ was found; but
what was the consequence? In each case the murdered man turned out to be
alive, and justice was the only murderer. After Harrison's case, and
----'s, no Cumberland jury will ever commit for murder, unless the
_corpus delicti_ has been found, and with signs of violence upon it.
Come, come, Mr. Atkins, you are too good a lawyer, and too humane a man,
to send my client to prison on the suspicion of a suspicion, which you
know the very breath of the judge will blow away, even if the grand jury
let it go into court. I offer bail, ten thousand pounds in two sureties;
Sir George Neville here present, and myself."

The magistrate looked to Mr. Atkins.

"I am not employed by the crown," said that gentleman, "but acting on
mere civil grounds, and have no right nor wish to be severe. Bail by all
means: but is the lady so sure of her innocence as to lend me her
assistance to find the _corpus delicti_?"

The question was so shrewdly put, that any hesitation would have ruined
Mrs. Gaunt.

Houseman, therefore, replied eagerly and promptly, "I answer for her,
she will."

Mrs. Gaunt bowed her head in assent.

"Then," said Atkins, "I ask leave to drag, and, if need be, to drain
that piece of water there, called 'the mere.'"

"Drag it or drain it, which you will," said Houseman.

Said Atkins, very impressively, "And, mark my words, at the bottom of
that very sheet of water there, I shall find the remains of the late
Griffith Gaunt."

       *       *       *       *       *

At these solemn words, coming as they did, not from a loose
unprofessional speaker, but from a lawyer, a man who measured all his
words, a very keen observer might have seen a sort of tremor run all
through Mr. Houseman's frame. The more admirable, I think, was the
perfect coolness and seeming indifference with which he replied, "Find
him, and I'll admit suicide; find him, with signs of violence, and I'll
admit homicide--by some person or persons unknown."

All further remarks were interrupted by bustle and confusion.

Mrs. Gaunt had fainted dead away.


Of course pity was the first feeling; but, by the time Mrs. Gaunt
revived, her fainting, so soon after Mr. Atkins's proposal, had produced
a sinister effect on the minds of all present; and every face showed it,
except the wary Houseman's.

On her retiring, it broke out first in murmurs, then in plain words.

As for Mr. Atkins, he now showed the moderation of an able man who feels
he has a strong cause.

He merely said, "I think there should be constables about, in case of an
escape being attempted; but I agree with Mr. Houseman that your
worships will be quite justified in taking bail, provided the _corpus
delicti_ should not be found. Gentlemen, you were most of you neighbors
and friends of the deceased, and are, I am sure, lovers of justice; I do
entreat you to aid me in searching that piece of water, by the side of
which the deceased gentleman was heard to cry for help; and, much I
fear, he cried in vain."

The persons thus appealed to entered into the matter with all the ardor
of just men, whose curiosity as well as justice is inflamed.

A set of old, rusty drags was found on the premises; and men went
punting up and down the mere, and dragged it.

Rude hooks were made by the village blacksmith, and fitted to
cart-ropes; another boat was brought to Hernshaw in a wagon; and all
that afternoon the bottom of the mere was raked, and some curious things
fished up. But no dead man.

The next day a score of amateur dragsmen were out; some throwing their
drags from the bridge; some circulating in boats, and even in large

And, meantime, Mr. Atkins and his crew went steadily up and down,
dragging every foot of those placid waters.

They worked till dinner-time, and brought up a good copper pot with two
handles, a horse's head, and several decayed trunks of trees, which had
become saturated, and sunk to the bottom.

At about three in the afternoon, two boys, who, for want of a boat, were
dragging from the bridge, found something heavy but elastic at the end
of their drag: they pulled up eagerly, and a thing like a huge turnip,
half gnawed, came up, with a great bob, and blasted their sight.

They let go, drags and all, and stood shrieking, and shrieking.

Those who were nearest them called out, and asked what was the matter;
but the boys did not reply, and their faces showed so white, that a
woman, who saw them, hailed Mr. Atkins, and said she was sure those boys
had seen something out of the common.

Mr. Atkins came up, and found the boys blubbering. He encouraged them,
and they told him a fearful thing had come up; it was like a man's head
and shoulders all scooped out and gnawed by the fishes, and had torn the
drags out of their hands.

Mr. Atkins made them tell him the exact place; and he was soon upon it
with his boat.

The water here was very deep; and though the boys kept pointing to the
very spot, the drags found nothing for some time.

But at last they showed, by their resistance, that they had clawed hold
of something.

"Draw slowly," said Mr. Atkins: "and, _if it is_, be men, and hold

The men drew slowly, slowly, and presently there rose to the surface a
Thing to strike terror and loathing into the stoutest heart.

The mutilated remains of a human face and body.

The greedy pike had cleared, not the features only, but the entire flesh
off the face; but had left the hair, and the tight skin of the forehead,
though their teeth had raked this last. The remnants they had left made
what they had mutilated doubly horrible; since now it was not a skull,
not a skeleton; but a face and a man gnawed down to the bones and hair
and feet. These last were in stout shoes, that resisted even those
voracious teeth; and a leathern stock had offered some little protection
to the throat.

The men groaned, and hid their faces with one hand, and pulled softly to
the shore with the other; and then, with half-averted faces, they drew
the ghastly remains and fluttering rags gently and reverently to land.

Mr. Atkins yielded to nature, and was violently sick at the sight he had
searched for so eagerly.

As soon as he recovered his powers, he bade the constables guard the
body (it was a body, in law), and see that no one laid so much as a
finger on it until some magistrate had taken a deposition. He also sent
a messenger to Mr. Houseman, telling him the _corpus delicti_ was found.
He did this, partly to show that gentleman he was right in his judgment,
and partly out of common humanity; since, after this discovery, Mr.
Houseman's client was sure to be tried for her life.

A magistrate soon came, and viewed the remains, and took careful notes
of the state in which they were found.

Houseman came, and was much affected both by the sight of his dead
friend, so mutilated, and by the probable consequences to Mrs. Gaunt.
However, as lawyers fight very hard, he recovered himself enough to
remark that there were no marks of violence before death, and insisted
on this being inserted in the magistrate's notes.

An inquest was ordered next day, and, meantime, Mrs. Gaunt was told she
could not quit the upper apartments of her own house. Two constables
were placed on the ground-floor night and day.

Next day the remains were removed to the little inn where Griffith had
spent so many jovial hours; laid on a table, and covered with a white

The coroner's jury sat in the same room, and the evidence I have already
noticed was gone into, and the finding of the body deposed to. The jury,
without hesitation, returned a verdict of wilful murder.

Mrs. Gaunt was then brought in. She came, white as a ghost, leaning upon
Houseman's shoulder.

Upon her entering, a juryman, by a humane impulse, drew the sheet over
the remains again.

The coroner, according to the custom of the day, put a question to Mrs.
Gaunt, with the view of eliciting her guilt. If I remember right, he
asked her how she came to be out of doors so late on the night of the
murder. Mrs. Gaunt, however, was in no condition to answer queries. I
doubt if she even heard this one. Her lovely eyes, dilated with horror,
were fixed on that terrible sheet, with a stony glance. "Show me," she
gasped, "and let me die too."

The jurymen looked, with doubtful faces, at the coroner. He bowed a
grave assent.

The nearest juryman withdrew the sheet. The belief was not yet extinct
that the dead body shows some signs of its murderer's approach. So every
eye glanced on her and on It by turns; as she, with dilated,
horror-stricken eyes, looked on that awful Thing.



The Court of Chancery.--Feeling a desire to see for myself the highest
embodiment of English law where it lurked--a huge and bloated
personification of all that was monstrous and discouraging to
suitors--in the secret place of thunder, just behind the altar of
sacrifice, forever spinning the web that for hundreds of years hath
enmeshed and overspread the mightiest empire upon earth with
entanglement, perplexity, and procrastination, till estates have
disappeared and families have died out, sometimes, while waiting for a
decision,--I dropped into the Court of Chancery.

The first thing I saw was the Lord Chancellor himself,--Lord Eldon,--the
mildest, wisest, slowest, and most benignant of men,--milder than
Byron's Ali Pacha, wiser than Lord Bacon himself; and, if not altogether
worthy of being called "the greatest, wisest, meanest of mankind," like
his prototype, yet great enough as a lawyer to set people wondering what
he would say next. He was quite capable of arguing a question on both
sides, and then of deciding against himself; and so patient, withal,
that he had just then finished a sitting of three whole days to Sir
Thomas Lawrence, for a portrait of his hand,--a beautiful hand, it must
be acknowledged, though undecided and womanish, as if he had never quite
made up his mind whether to keep it open or shut.

And the next thing I took notice of, after a hurried glance at the
carved ceiling and painted windows, and over the array of bewigged and
powdered solicitors and masters,--a magnificent bed of cauliflowers, in
appearance, with some of the finest heads I ever saw in my life--out of
a cabbage-garden,--was a large, dark, heavy picture of Paul before
Felix, by Hogarth, representing these great personages at the moment
when Felix, that earliest of Lord Chancellors, having heard Paul
through, says: "Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient
season, I will call for thee." Lord Eldon was larger than I supposed
from the portrait above mentioned. And this is the more extraordinary,
because the heads of Lawrence, like those of ancient statuary, are
always smaller than life, to give them an aristocratic, high-bred air,
and the bodies are larger. The expression of countenance, too, was
benignity itself,--just such as Titian would have been delighted
with,--calm, clear, passionless, without a prevailing characteristic of
any strength. "Felix trembled," they say. Whatever Felix may have done,
I do not believe that Lord Eldon would have trembled till he had put on
his night-cap and weighed the whole question by himself at his chambers.

       *       *       *       *       *

_Kean._--Wishing to see how this grotesque but wonderful actor--a
mountebank sometimes and sometimes a living truth--would play at home
after driving us all mad in America, I went to see him in Sir Giles
Overreach. He played with more spirit, more of settled purpose, than
with us, being more in earnest, I think, and better supported. There is
one absurdity in the play, which was made particularly offensive by
Oxberry's exaggeration. The dinner is kept waiting, and the whole
business of the play suspended, for the Justice to make speeches. But
the last scene was capital,--prodigious,--full of that dark, dismal,
despairing energy you would look for in a dethroned spirit, baffled,
like Mephistopheles, at the very moment his arm is outstretched, and his
long, lean fingers are clutching at the shoulder of his victim. Being
about to cross blades with his adversary, in a paroxysm of rage he
plucks at the hilt of his sword, and stops suddenly, as if struck with
paralysis, pale, and gasping for breath, and says,--in that far-off,
moaning voice we all remember in his famous farewell to the "big wars
that make ambition virtue,"--"The widow sits upon my arm, and the
wronged orphan's tear glues it to the scabbard,--it will _not_ be
drawn," etc., etc.,--or something of the sort. It was not so much a
thrilling as a curdling you felt.

       *       *       *       *       *

_Young, in Sir Pertinax._--Very good, though full of stage trick, or
what they call, when they get bothered, or would like to bother you,
stage _business_;--as where he throws his pocket-handkerchief before him
on leaving the stage, somewhat after the style of Macready in Hamlet,
which Forrest called _le pas à mouchoir_, and took the liberty of
hissing. Good Scotch, generally, with a few wretched blunders, though
his "booin', and booin', and booin'," and his vehement snuff-taking, and
the declaration that "he could never stand oopright in the presence of a
great mon in a' his life," were evidently copied from, or suggested by,
George Frederick Cooke, who borrowed both from Macklin, if we may trust
surviving contemporaries.

       *       *       *       *       *

_Robert Owen._--Breakfasted with Robert Owen, after having attended a
conference of the brotherhood, where they talked a world of nonsense,
and argued for a whole hour, without coming to a conclusion, about
whether we are governed by circumstances or circumstances are governed
by us. You would swear Owen was a Yankee, born and bred. He has the
shrewd, inquisitive look, the spare frame, the sharp features, of a
Connecticut farmer, and constantly reminds me of Henry Clay when he
moves about. He is evidently sincere; but such a visionary! and so
thoroughly satisfied that the world is coming to an end just as he would
have it, that he allows no misgivings to trouble him, and never loses
his temper, nor "bates one jot of heart or hope," happen what may. The
last time we met--only three days ago--his great project was coming up
before Parliament, and he told me, in confidence, that he was sure of a
favorable result,--that he had counted noses, and had the most
comfortable assurances from all the great leaders of the day,--and in
short, between ourselves, that grass would be growing on the London
Exchange within two years. The petition came up on the day appointed,
and was allowed to drop out of the tail end of the cart, almost without
a remark. But so far was he from being disheartened, that he lost no
time in preparing for a trip across the Atlantic, which he had long had
in contemplation, but was hindered from taking by the hopes he had been
persuaded to entertain from his friends in Parliament, and by the
business at Lanark,--a manufacturing place which he had built up of
himself in Scotland, with eminent success, and most undoubted practical

Wishing to leave a record with me for future ages, he wrote as follows
in my album, with a cheerfulness, an imperturbability, a serene
self-confidence, past all my conceptions of a visionary or enthusiast.

     "I leave this country with a deep impression that my visit to
     America will be productive of permanent benefit to the Indian
     tribes, to the negro race, and to the whole population of the
     Western Continent, North and South, and to Europe.


     "LONDON, 4th September, 1824."

What a magnificent scheme! How comprehensive and how vast! But nothing
came of it, beyond the translation of his son, Robert Dale Owen, to this
country,--a very clever, well-educated, and earnest, though rather
awkward and sluggish young man, who has achieved a large reputation
here, and will be yet more distinguished if he lives, being well
grounded and rooted in the foundation principles of government, and both
conscientious and fearless.

       *       *       *       *       *

_Old Bailey._--This and other like places, of which we have all read so
much that we feel acquainted with them, not as pictures or descriptions,
at second hand, but as decided and positive realities, I lost no time in

I found the court-room small, much smaller than the average with us,
badly arranged, and worse lighted. A prisoner was up for burglary. He
was a sullen, turbulent-looking fellow; and his counsel, an Old Bailey
lawyer, was inquiring, with a pertinacity that astonished while it
amused me, about the dirt in a comb. His object was to ascertain
"whether it had been used or _not_"; and, as there were two sides to it,
which side had become dirty from being carried in the pocket, and which
from legitimate use. Before the prisoner was a toilet-glass, in which he
could not help seeing his own pale, haggard, frightened face whenever he
looked up,--a refinement of barbarism I was not prepared for in a
British court of justice. I occupied a seat in the gallery, surrounded
by professional pickpockets, burglars, and highwaymen, I dare say; for
they talked freely of the poor fellow's chances, and like experts.

       *       *       *       *       *

_Joanna Baillie._--"Here," said Lady Bentham, wife of General Sir
Samuel Bentham, the originator of that Panopticon, which was the germ
of all our prison discipline as well as of all penitentiary
improvements, the world over,--"Here is an autograph you will think
worth having, I am sure, after what I have heard you say of the writer,
and of her tragedies, and I want you to see her";--handing me, as she
spoke, the following brief note, written upon a bit of coarse paper
about six inches by four.

     "If you are perfectly disengaged this evening, Agnes and I will
     have the pleasure of taking tea with you, if you give us leave.

     "J. BAILLIE."

Now, if there was a woman in the world I wanted to see, or one that I
most heartily reverenced, it was Joanna Baillie. Her "De Montfort" I had
always looked upon as one of the greatest tragedies ever written,--equal
to anything of Shakespeare's for strength of delineation, simplicity,
and effect, however inferior it might be in the superfluities of genius,
in the overcharging of character and passion, of which we find so much
in Shakespeare; and, on the whole, not unlike that wonderful Danish
drama, "Dyveke," or a part of "Wallenstein."

My great desire was now to be satisfied. We met, and I passed one of the
pleasantest evenings of my life with _Mrs._ Baillie, as they called her,
Lady Bentham, her most intimate if not her oldest friend, and "sister

I found Mrs. Baillie wholly unlike the misrepresentations I had seen of
her. She was rather small,--though far from being diminutive, like her
sister Agnes,--with a charming countenance, full of placid serenity,
almost Quakerish, beautiful eyes, and gray hair, nearly white indeed,
combed smoothly away from her forehead. We talked freely together,
avoiding the shop, and the impression she left on my mind was that of a
modest, unpretending gentlewoman, full of quiet strength and shrewd
pleasantry, with a Scottish flavor, but altogether above being brilliant
or showy, even in conversation with a stranger and an author. She
questioned me closely about my country and about the people, and
appeared to take much interest in our doings and prospects. Her sister
Agnes never opened her mouth, to the best of my recollection and belief,
though she listened with her eyes and ears to the conversation, and
appeared to enjoy it exceedingly; and as for Lady Bentham, though a
clever woman of large experience and great resources, such was her
self-denial and her generous admiration of the "queenly stranger," as I
had called her friend in sport,--remembering how it was applied to the
magnificent Siddons, when she represented Jane de Montfort,--that she
did nothing more and said nothing more than what was calculated to bring
out her friend to advantage. There was nothing said, however, from which
a person unacquainted with the writings of Joanna Baillie would have
inferred her true character,--no flashing lights, no surprises, no
thunder-bursts. The conversation was, at the best, but sociable and
free, as if we were all of the same neighborhood or household; but
knowing her by her great work on the Passions, I was profoundly
impressed, nevertheless, and left her well satisfied with her
revelations of character.

       *       *       *       *       *

_Catalani._--What a magnificent creature! How majestic and easy and
graceful! And then what a voice! One would swear she had a nest of
nightingales and a trumpet obligato in her throat. No wonder she sets
the great glass chandeliers of the Argyle rooms ringing and rattling
when she charges in a bravura.

That she is, in some passages, a little--not vulgar--but almost vulgar,
with a dash of the contadina, is undeniable; and she certainly has not a
delicate ear, and often sings false; yet, when that tempestuous warbling
in her throat breaks forth, and the flush of her heart's blood hurries
over her face and empurples her neck, why then "bow the high banners,
roll the answering drums," and shut up, if you wouldn't be torn to
pieces by a London mob.

Say what you will, you must acknowledge--you _must_--that you never
heard such a voice before, if there ever was one like it on earth,--so
full and so impassioned, so rich and sympathetic. More educated, more
brilliant organs there may be, like those of Pasta or Velluti, poor
fellow!--more satisfying to the ear,--but none, I believe, so satisfying
to the heart; none that so surely lifts you off your feet, and blinds
and deafens you to all defects, and sets you wandering far away through
the empyrean of musical sounds, till you are lost in a labyrinth of
triumphant harmonies. The sad, mournful intonations of Velluti may bring
tears into your eyes, but you are never transported beyond yourself by
his piteous wailing.

And yet, if you will believe me, this woman has just been called out of
bed to a London audience, who, instead of paying a guinea or half a
guinea to hear her in opera, are paying only 2_s._ 6_d._ a head to hear
her let off "God s_h_ave the King!" like a roll of musical thunder. She
appears "in _dish-abille_" as they call it here, and in _tears_. And why
is she summoned? Because the _sufferin'_ people, having understood that
she shares the house, insist on having their half-crowns and sixpences
returned. It has been quite impossible to hear a word, ever since they
were informed that she had been taken suddenly ill, and was not allowed
to appear by her medical attendants. But what of that? Dead or alive, a
British audience must have her out. And so a great banner was lifted on
which was inscribed "Catalani sent for!" and then, after a while, as the
uproar continued, and the outcries grew more violent, and the white
handkerchiefs more and more stormy and threatening, another inscription
appeared, "Catalani coming!" And lo! she comes! and comes weeping. But
the people refuse to be comforted. And why? Because of their
disappointment? Because of their passion for music? No indeed; but
because they are told that she is to go snacks with the manager; and,
her parsimony being proverbial, they are determined to rebuke it in a
liberal spirit. Pshaw!

These people pretend to love music, and to love it with such a devouring
passion that nothing less than the very best will satisfy them, cost
what it may. Yet the opera-house, with the patronage of the royal
family, the nobility, and the gentry, and open only twice a week, is
never full even at the representation of the finest works of genius; and
when such an artist as Catalani is engaged at one of the theatres, and
the people are admitted for theatre prices, the first thing they do,
after crowding the house to suffocation, is to call for "God save the
King," or, if Braham is out, for "Kelvin Grove." Enthusiasts
indeed,--carried away, and justly, by "Black-eyed Susan," or "Cherry
Ripe," which they do understand, feel, and enjoy,--they are all ready to
swear, and expect you to believe, that their passion is for opera
music,--Italian or German, the Barber of Seville, or _Der Freischütz_.
And therefore I say again, Pshaw!

       *       *       *       *       *

_John Dunn Hunter._--This luckiest and boldest of humbugs, whose book,
by the merest accident, has obtained for him the favor of the Duke of
Sussex, and, through the Duke, access to the highest nobility, has just
been presented at Court, and is not a little mortified that his Majesty,
on receiving a copy of the book, Hunter's "Captivity among the Indians,"
did not inquire after his health or make him a speech. He does not so
much mind paying five guineas for the loan of a court suit, consisting
of a single-breasted claret coat with steel buttons, a powdered tie,
small-clothes, white-silk stockings, and a dress sword,--with
instructions on which side it is to be worn, and how it is to be managed
in backing out so as not to get between his legs and trip him up,--nor
the having to pay for being mentioned in the Court Journal by a fellow
who is called the King's Reporter; but then he will have the worth of
his money, and so takes it out in grumbling and sulking. Not long ago
he sent a note through the penny-post, sealed with a wafer, directed to
the Marchioness of Conyngham, the king's mistress, in reply to an
invitation from her ladyship, which he accepted, to meet the king! At
least, such was the interpretation he put upon it. And now, after all
this, to be fobbed off with a bow by "Gentleman George," the "fat
friend" of poor Brummell, was indeed a little too bad.

Nothing he can say or do, however, will undeceive these people. Though
he cannot shout decently, cannot bear fatigue or pain, is so far from
being swift of foot that he is not even a good walker, talks little or
no Indian, and is continually outraging all the customs of society after
getting well acquainted with them, and doing all this by calculation, as
in the case of the note referred to above, they persist in believing his
story. I shall have to expose him.--P. S. I have exposed him.

While speaking just now of his acquaintance with the Duke of Sussex, who
was very kind to him, and a believer to the last, I said that it was
obtained for him by accident. It was in this way. At the house where he
lodged a Mr. Norgate of Norfolk--not far from Holkham, the seat of Mr.
Coke afterward Earl of Leicester--was also a lodger. Mr. Norgate invited
Hunter down to his father's, and they went over to Holkham together. And
there they met the Duke of Sussex, a great friend of Mr. Coke, both
being Liberals and Oppositionists. His Royal Highness took a great fancy
to Hunter, got him to sit to Chester Harding for his picture, gave him a
gold watch and lots of agricultural tools to subdue the Indians with,
and stuck to him through thick and thin, till I found it necessary to
tear off the fellow's mask.

On separating from me, before I had got possession of the facts which
soon after appeared in the "London Magazine," he wrote in my album the
following sententious and pithy apothegm, which, of course, only went to
show the marvellous power of adaptation to circumstances which would
naturally characterize the man, if his story were true. It was in this
way his dupes reasoned. If he sealed a letter with a wafer, and sent it
through the penny-post to a woman of rank, that proved his neglected
education or a natural disregard of polite usage, and of course that he
had been carried off in childhood by the Indians, and knew not where to
look for father or mother, sister or brother,--while, on the contrary,
if he used wax, and set the seal upon it which had been given to him by
the Duke of Sussex, that showed, of course, the sagacity and readiness
of adaptation which ought to characterize the hero of Hunter's
narrative. In short, he was another Princess Caraboo, or young
Chatterton, or Cagliostro, or Count Eliorich, all of whom were made
great impostors by the help of others, the over-credulous and the
over-confident in themselves.

     "He who would do great actions," writes our enormous bug-a-boo,
     "must learn to _empoly_ his powers to the least possible loss.
     The possession of brilliant and extraordinary talents" (this
     was probably meant for me, as he had been trying to prevail
     upon my "brilliant and extraordinary talents" to return to
     America with him, and go among the savages about the
     neighborhood of the Rocky Mountains, and there establish a
     confederacy of our own) "is not always the most valuable to its
     possessor. Moderate talents, properly directed, will enable one
     to do a great deal; and the most distinguished gifts of nature
     may be thrown away by an unskilful application of them.

     "J. D. HUNTER.

     "LONDON, 15th May, 1824."

       *       *       *       *       *

_Kean at a Public Dinner._--A terrible outcry just now, in consequence
of certain exposures and a published correspondence. At a public dinner,
he says he is going to America. The Duke of York, who presides, cries
out, "No, no!" Shouts follow and the rattling of glasses, and men leap
on the chairs and almost on the tables, repeating the Duke's "No, no!"
till at last Kean promises to make an apology from the stage,--a
perilous experiment, he will find, after which he cannot stay here. The
object of Price, who has engaged him, is to kill off Cooper. The best
actors now get fifty guineas a week, or twenty-five pounds a night for
so many nights, play or pay, with a benefit.

       *       *       *       *       *

_Architecture._--I have seen no greater barbarisms anywhere than I find
here. The screen of Carleton House,--a long row of double columns, with
a heavy entablature supporting the arms of Great Britain,--"that and
nothing more"; the doings of Inigo Jones in his water-gates and arches,
with two or three orders intermixed; and the late achievements of Mr.
Nash along Regent Street,--with the church spire, which has the
attractiveness and symmetry of an exaggerated marlin-spike, for a
vanishing point,--are of themselves enough to show that the people here
have no taste, and no feeling for this department of the Fine Arts,
however much they may brag and bluster.

But I have just returned from a visit to one of Sir Christopher Wren's
masterpieces, which has greatly disturbed my equanimity, and obliges me
to modify my opinion. It is a church back of the Mansion House; and is
the original of Godefroy's Unitarian church at Baltimore, beyond all
question: the dome rests on arches, and springs into the air, as if
buoyed up and aspiring of itself. Bad for the music, however. Here I
find West's picture of the Martyrdom of St. Stephen, with a figure which
he has repeated in "Christ Healing the Sick," and a woman,--or young
man, you do not feel certain which,--weeping upon the hand of the
martyr, precisely as in a painting in Baltimore Cathedral by Renou, who
must have borrowed or stolen it from West, if West did not borrow or
steal it from him.

       *       *       *       *       *

_Drawings._--I have just returned from visiting a collection of drawings
by the old masters,--Raphael, Michael Angelo, Rembrandt, Titian, &c.,
&c. Wonderful, to be sure! There is a pen-and-ink drawing by Munro, of
uncommon merit; another from a capital old engraving by Tiffen, hardly
to be distinguished from an elaborate line engraving, full of good faces
and straight lines, with nothing picturesque. A moonlight and cottage by
Gainsborough, very fine. Jackson's and Robinson's miniatures, and
sketches in water-colors,--charming. Leslie's designs, with Stothard's
on the same subject, are delightfully contrasted: Leslie's, neatly
finished and full of individuality; Stothard's, a beautiful, free
generalization, without finish. (But the engraver understands him, and
finishes for him, adding the hands and feet in his own way.) It is a
representation of Jeanie Deans's interview with the Queen. Leslie's
figure is standing; Stothard's, kneeling: yet both are expressive and
helpful to our conceptions. Here, too, I saw Rembrandt's celebrated
"Battle of Death," with a skeleton blowing a horn, and helmeted and
plumed, and having a thigh-bone for a battle-axe,--shadows on the
shoulders of horsemen, and skeleton feet;--on the whole, a monstrous
nightmare, such as you might expect from Fuseli after a supper on raw
beef, but never from such a painter as Rembrandt.

       *       *       *       *       *

_Phrenology._--There must be something in this new science,--for they
persist in calling it a science,--though I cannot say how much. Just
returned from a visit to De Ville, in the Strand, in company with
Chester Harding, Robert M. Sully, the painter, and Humphries, the
engraver,--each differing from the others in character and purpose; yet,
after manipulating our crania, this man says of each what all the rest
acknowledge to be true, and what, said of any but the particular person
described, would be preposterous. Why are the busts of Socrates and
Solon what they should be, according to this theory of Gall and
Spurzheim? Were they modelled from life, or from characters resembling
them? Compared the head of a Greek boy with that of a young Hottentot.
One was largely developed in the intellectual region, the other in the
animal region, and the latter cries whenever his home or his mother is
mentioned. Both are at school here. Thurtell's head is a great
confirmation, which anybody can judge of. I must find time for a
thorough investigation.

P. S.--I have kept my promise, and am thoroughly satisfied. Phrenology
deserves to be called a science, and one of the greatest and best of
sciences, notwithstanding all the quackery and self-delusion that I find
among the professors. I have now studied it and experimented upon it for
more than thirty years, and have no longer any misgivings upon the
subject, so far as the great leading principles are involved.

       *       *       *       *       *

_Manners._--If we do not record our first impressions they soon
disappear; and the greatest novelties are overlooked or forgotten.
Already I begin to see women with heavily-laden wheel-barrows, without
surprise. I have now learned, I hope, that a postman's rap is _one_,
_two_, and no more; a servant's, _one_; while a footman gives from four
to twenty, as hard as he can bang, so as to startle the whole
neighborhood and make everybody run to the windows. Eating fish with a
knife said to be fatal. Great personages give you a finger to shake. I
did not know this when I took the forefinger of a cast-off mistress, the
original of Washington Irving's Lady Sillicraft, a painted and withered
old vixen, who meant to signify her liking for me, as I had reason to
believe. Moles are reckoned such a positive beauty here that my
attention has been called to them, as to fine eyes or a queenly bearing.
A _fine_ woman here means a large woman, tall, dignified, and showy,
like a fine horse or a fine bullock.

Never shall I forget the looks and tones of a bashful friend, in
describing his embarrassment. He was at Holkham, the seat of Mr. Coke,
our Revolutionary champion, who, being in Parliament at the time, moved,
session after session, the acknowledgment of our independence,--am I
right here?--and actually gave the health of George Washington at a
large dinner-party while the Revolutionary fires were raging. There was
a large company at dinner, but for his life my friend did not know what
to do with the ladies nor with his hands. Goes through room after room
to get his dinner; is called upon to serve a dish he has never seen
before, and knows not how to manage. Asked to take wine, and wants to
ask somebody else, but cannot recall the name of a single person within
reach, and whispers to the servant for relief, while his eye travels up
and down both sides of the long table; is reminded of the guest who said
to himself, loud enough to be overheard by the waiter behind his chair,
"I wish I had some bread," to which the waiter replied without moving,
"I wish you had." Durst not offer his arm to a lady, lest he should
violate some of the multitudinous every-day usages of society, and so,
instead of enjoying his dinner, just nibbled and choked and watched how
others ate of the dishes he had never seen before. Yet this man was no
fool, he was not even a blockhead; but he was frightened out of all
propriety nevertheless. Poor fellow! Soon after this he went to Paris,
and, having picked up a few French sentences, undertook to pass off one
upon a servant who took his cloak as he entered the hotel of a French
celebrity in a violent rainstorm. He flung the phrase off with an air,
saying, "Mauvais temps," whereupon the word was passed up from mouth to
mouth, and, to his unutterable horror, he was introduced to the company
as M. Mauvais Temps.

       *       *       *       *       *

_Painting._--I have just been to see Mulready's famous "Lion and Lamb."
He is a Royal Academician; and, spite of the cleverness we see in every
touch, we are reminded of Pison's reply to the Academician, who asked
what he was,--"I? O, I am nobody; not even an Academician." The picture
is about eighteen by twenty-two inches, and belongs to his Majesty,
George the Fourth. It represents two boys, a little child, a woman, and
a dog. One boy has broken the strap of his trousers, and, bracing
himself up for a clinch, is evidently encroaching on the other with his
foot. He stands with his legs on the straddle, both fists made up for
mischief, and head turned away in profile, with hat and books flung down
upon the turf; while the other--the lamb--keeps his satchel in his hand,
with one arm raised to parry the blow he is expecting. He has a meek,
boyish face, and we have it in full. The back of the child is towards
you, the mother terribly frightened; parts very fine, but as a whole the
picture is not worthy of its reputation, to say nothing of the
extravagant price paid for it,--some hundreds of guineas, they say.

       *       *       *       *       *

_Greenwich Fair._--Having read so much in story-books and novels, from
my earliest childhood,--at one time in the gilt-covered publication of
E. Newbury, St. Paul's Church Yard, and after that in larger books,--of
the rioting at Greenwich Fair (another Donnybrook in its way), I
determined to see for myself, and went down for the purpose, April 19th,
1824. Universal decorum characterized the whole proceedings till the day
was over, after which there was a large amount of dancing and frolicking
and sight-seeing and beer-drinking, but no drunkenness and no
quarrelling. The people were saucy, but good-natured, like the Italian
rabble, with their plaster confectionery, at a carnival. Women and girls
would run down the long green slope together, which it is said the
cockneys believe to be the highest land in the world, after Richmond
Hill; and many of them stumble and slip and roll to the bottom,
screaming and laughing as they go. This I understand to be a favorite
pastime with people who are big enough to know better; for a part of the
fun, and that which all seem to enjoy most, is in tripping one another
up. Plenty of giants and dwarfs to be seen for a penny, with white
Circassians, silver-haired, and actors of all sorts and sizes. "Walk in,
ladies and gentlemen! walk in! Here's the rope-dancing and juggling,
with lots of gilt gingerbread,--and all for sixpence! Here is the great
Numidian lion!"--leading forth a creature not larger than a
moderate-sized English mastiff,--"with a throat like a turnpike gate,
and teeth like mile-stones, and every hair on his mane as big as a
broomstick!" It was worth sixpence to see the fellow's face when he said
this; but most of the people round me seemed to believe what they heard
rather than what they saw. Actors and actresses turn out and dance and
strut before the curtain.

Went into the Hospital, of which we have all heard so much, and into the
Chapel. Here is the best picture West ever painted, I think. It is the
shipwreck of St. Paul, with the viper and the fire: rocks rather crowded
and confused; on the right are two figures, frequently, I had almost
said always, to be found in his pictures, and always together. Old man
on the right, capital!--Roof of the Hospital highly ornamented, though
chaste, with painted pilasters, fluted; ceiling done by Sir James
Thornhill, and is really a grand affair, not only for coloring and
drawing, but for composition and general treatment. Architecture of the
building, once a palace, worthy of the highest commendation, though it
needs a back part to correspond with the two wings. Cupolas made to
correspond, but seem rather out of place,--not wanted.

Had quite an adventure before I got away. I saw a young girl running
down hill by herself. She fell, and stained her white frock all over one
hip of a grass-green. She seemed to be much hurt and near fainting. I
found her young, pretty, and modest, as you may readily infer from what
follows,--usually if you hear of a woman being run over in the street,
you may be sure she is neither young nor pretty,--and so seeing her
greatly distressed about the figure she cut, and companionless, I took
pity on her, and going with her found, after some search, an old woman
in a garret with a husband, child, and grandchild, all huddled and
starving in one room together. The husband was a waterman. He had
"stove" his boat some years before, and was never able to get another;
had two sons at sea; paid two shillings a week for the room, which they
said was one shilling too dear, being only large enough to allow of two
or three chairs, a table, and a turn-up bed. Poor Sarah took off her
frock and washed it before me, without a sign of distress or
embarrassment; and then we went off together and had a bit of a
dance,--a rough-and-tumble fore-and-after,--at the nearest booth. With
her bonnet off, and neat cap, her beautiful complexion and dark hair and
eyes, how happened it that she was really modest and well-behaved? And
how came she there? After some resolute questioning, I determined to see
her home, at least so far as to set her down in safety in the
neighborhood where she lived. The coach was crowded with strangers. It
was late, and they were silent, and I thought sulky. Just as we were
passing a lamp, after we had entered a wide thoroughfare, I saw a man's
face under a woman's bonnet. Though not absolutely frightened, I was
rather startled, and more and more unwilling to leave the poor girl to
the mercy of strangers; for I saw, or thought I saw, signs of
intelligence between two of the party; and in short, I never left her
till the danger was over.

There were mountebanks and fortune-tellers and gypsies at every turn.
The prettiest I met with told my fortune. "You are liked better by the
women," said she, "than by the men." Very true. "You are loved by a
widow named Mary." My landlady was a widow, and her name was Mary.
"Which do you like best, Mary or Bessie?" In addition to Mary, there was
another pleasant friend, supposed to be a natural daughter of George
IV., named Bessie. But how the plague did the little gypsy know this? I
found out, I believe, long after the whole affair was forgotten. There
was present, without my knowledge, a man who was always full of such
tricks, who knew me well, and who threw the gypsy in my way and put her
up to all she knew. This was Humphries the engraver.

There was a great ball too,--a magnificent ball,--one shilling entrance.
More than fifty couples stood up for a contra-dance, and tore down the
middle and up outside, and cast off, as if they were all just out of a
lunatic hospital. And yet, as I have said before, I believe, there was
no drunkenness and no quarrelling.

       *       *       *       *       *

_Shooting the Bridge._--Wanting to go to the Tower, I took a boat above
London Bridge at the wrong time of the tide, in spite of all
remonstrances, and came near being swamped. Not being a good swimmer,
and aware that people were often drowned there, I cannot understand what
possessed me; but as the watermen were not afraid, and asked no
questions, why should I be troubled? For aught they knew, I might be
made of cork, or have a swimming-jacket underneath my coat, or a pocket
life-preserver ready to be blown up at a moment's notice; and they were
sure of the fee. At the mouth of the St. John's River, New Brunswick,
they have a fall both ways, at a certain time of tide, through which and
up and down which boats and rafts plunge headlong so as to take away
your breath, while you are watching them from the bridge; but really,
this little pitch of not more than three or four feet under London
Bridge I should think more dangerous, and the people seem to think so
too, for they are always on the watch after the tide turns, and swarm
along the parapets, and rush from one side to the other, as the wherry
shoots through the main arch, with a feeling akin to that of the man who
followed Van Amburgh month after month to see him "chawed up" by the
lion or tiger.

       *       *       *       *       *

_Major Cartwright._--Another fast friend of our country and the
institutions of our country, and always ready to take up the
quarter-staff in our defence. A great reformer, and honest as the day is
long. Wrote much in favor of American independence in 1774, and, with
Sir Francis Burdett and others, who chose to meddle with the British
Constitution wherever they found a fragment large enough to talk about,
has been visited by the government, and tried and imprisoned. His book
on the British Constitution is, though somewhat visionary, both original
and ingenious. He is six feet high, with a very broad chest; wears a fur
cap and blue cotton-velvet dressing-gown in the sultriest weather; is a
great admirer of Jeremy Bentham, Mrs. Wheeler, and Fanny Wright, by the

       *       *       *       *       *

_Woolwich._--After spending a day here under special advantages, I have
succeeded in seeing whatever was worth seeing for my purpose, and in
getting a fine sketch of a Woolwich Pensioner by Sully,--Robert M.
Sully, nephew of Thomas Sully, and a capital draughtsman,--to serve as a
companion piece for the Greenwich Pensioner by the same artist. The man
had served against us in the Revolutionary War, and participated in the
"affair" of Bunker Hill. The shovel hats, the long chins and retreating
mouths of these aged men at Greenwich, are wonderfully hit off by
Cruikshank, with a mere flourish of the pen. I have a scene in a
watch-house, with half a score of heads, thoroughly Irish, drunk or
sleepy, and as many more of these shovel hats, which the clever artist
amused himself with scratching off,--as we sat talking together at a
table,--on a little bit of waste paper, which fluttered away in the
draft from a window, and fell upon the floor.

Saw a prodigious quantity of guns to be "let loose" in the dock-yard, to
which I was admitted as a great privilege. When Alexander of Russia and
the king of Prussia were admitted after the war, they were greatly
disappointed and mortified, I was told, at seeing such a vast
accumulation of warlike material. They supposed England to be exhausted.

The English artillery is far superior in details to the French, though
not half so abundant. Where the French bring eighty pieces at once into
the field, the English never have more than twenty pieces. The English
lost only two guns in the whole Peninsular war; the French lost nearly
eleven hundred, Waterloo included.

At Woolwich there are two or three hundred acres full of machinery, with
saw-mills, planing-mills, &c. Saw, among other inventions and
improvements, anchor shanks made largest about one third of the distance
from the crown, where they always bend or break; an original
screw-cutter of uncommon merit; and a perpetual capstan for drawing in
wood for the mill.

       *       *       *       *       *

_Illuminations._--His Majesty's birthday. By one odd arrangement of
colored lamps, which was intended for George IV., it reads thus,
_Giver_, being G. IV. R. The populace break windows which are not
lighted up. The king's tradesmen are most astonishing in their
manifestations of loyalty; and, among others, I see an establishment
with this inscription: "Bug Destroyer to his Majesty."

       *       *       *       *       *

_Chimney-Sweeps._--May 1. The little monsters appear in cocked hats and
gilt paper, with their faces painted, and with dancing and music, and a
very pretty girl pirouetting in a hogshead of cut paper, with large boys
about her, like trees dancing. Of course, we are constantly reminded of
Edward Wortley Montagu, and of his delightful experience with the

       *       *       *       *       *

_John Randolph._--This madman is full of his vagaries here; says the
most offensive things, but in such a high-bred, supercilious, if not
gentlemanly way, that people cannot make up their minds about him, nor
whether to cut him dead or acknowledge him for a genius and a humorist.
Sir Robert Inglis says, publicly, that Mr. Randolph "on these boards"
claimed for Virginia the first attempt at abolition. "And I am disposed
to believe the gentleman correct," adds Sir Robert, "because of his
opportunities for knowledge." Whatever related to the United States was
received better than anything else in the proceedings of to-day at the
Freemasons' Tavern. Very comfortable and gratifying.

       *       *       *       *       *

_Marquis of Stafford's Gallery._--Here I find about three hundred fine
pictures, most of them by the old masters, and a large part worthy of
enthusiastic admiration. Thirty-eight in the National Gallery cost sixty
thousand pounds. What, then, are these worth as a collection?

       *       *       *       *       *

_Cary, the Translator of Dante._--Met him at Mr. Griffith's,--Sylvanus
Urban's,--another great friend of our country, who insisted on my
occupying the seat which Dr. Franklin used to sit in, and after him Lord
Byron. Mr. Cary has a good, sensible face, is about five feet seven in
height, and forty-six years old, very moderate of speech, and talks with
a low voice. Among the guests were Captain Brace, who was with Lord
Exmouth when he put through the Dey of Algiers after the fashion of our
Preble. He seemed about sixty, with gray hair, and a youthful

       *       *       *       *       *

_Horticultural Exhibition._--Great show and surprising. No sales made.
Pears better than ours; peaches nearly as good, and sell from a shilling
to one and sixpence apiece. They resemble not our New Jersey or Maryland
peaches, but such as grow about Boston. Grapes fine, nectarines capital;
gooseberries, plums, mulberries, currants, all better than ours; apples
wretched, "not fit to give the pigs," liked all the better for being
hard, or ligneous.

I have just understood here, on the best authority, that Mr. Coke, of
Norfolk, did move for an abandonment of the war, session after session,
and finally gave the casting vote as mover. He did also give
Washington's health at his own table once, with a large company of
leading men about him, in the hottest part of the struggle. He looks
like one of Trumbull's generals or statesmen, of the old Revolutionary
type, and not unlike Washington himself, or General Knox.

       *       *       *       *       *

_Duke of Sussex._--Prodigious; even Chester Harding, who is a large man,
over six feet, appears under-sized alongside of his Royal Highness. Went
to a meeting for the encouragement of the arts. The Duke presided, and,
being popular and willing so to continue, he made a speech. "Ladies and
gentlemen," said he, "it affords me gratification to see, to recognize,
so many persons assembled for the encouragement of what I may say is one
of the best institutions of the country. Good deal of business coming
up. I shall therefore reserve myself for the conclusion, and now call
upon the Secretary to read the proceedings." Effect of the show seems to
be very good. Some persons, girls and women, received three prizes.

       *       *       *       *       *

_Theatre._--Munden's farewell. Dosey and Sir Robert Bramble; among the
finest pieces of acting I ever saw,--rich, warm, and full of
unadulterated strength. Terrible crush at the entrance, the corners
being neither stuffed nor rounded. Great screaming and screeching. "Take
care o' that corner!" "Mind there!" "Oh! oh! you'll kill me!" "There
now, lady's killed!" And it was indeed about as much as a woman's life
was worth to venture into such a brutal mob. No consideration for women,
as usual. They are pushed, crowded, overthrown sometimes, and sometimes
trampled on without remorse or shame, as at the Duke of York's funeral.

       *       *       *       *       *

_Washington Irving._--Met him for the second time, and had more reason
than ever for believing that, with all his daintiness and
fastidiousness, he is altogether a man, hearty and generous, and his
books, with all their shifting shadows, but a transcript of himself and
of his unacknowledged visions and meditations. His pleasantry, too, is
delightful; and, as you cannot question his truthfulness, he gains upon
you continually, even while you pity his girlish sensitiveness. I do not
see any picture of him that satisfies me, or does him justice. Newton
cannot paint a portrait, nor indeed can Leslie; and the result is, that
what we have foisted off upon us for portraits are only


Where the Wind River Chain of the Rocky Mountains stretches far away to
the east, and the Bitter Root Range far away to the northwest, like
giant arms holding in their embrace the fertile valleys whence the
myriad springs which form the two great rivers of the continent take
their rise,--on the northern border of the United States, and accessible
only through leagues of desert,--lie the gold fields of Montana. Four
years ago all this region was _terra incognita_. In 1805, Lewis and
Clarke passed through it; but beyond a liberal gift of geographical
inaccuracies, they have left only a few venerable half-breeds as relics
of their journey. Among the Indians, what they did and said has passed
into tradition; and the tribes of which they speak, the Ke-heet-sas,
Minnetarees, Hohilpoes, and Tus-he-pahs, are as extinct as the dodo.
Later explorers have added little to the scanty stock of information,
save interesting descriptions of rich valleys and rough mountain scenery
and severe hardships in the winters. For the most part, it was a country
unexplored and unknown, and held by the various Indian tribes in the
Northwest as a common hunting-ground.

One bright morning in August, 1864, after a brief rest at Salt Lake, we
left Brigham's seraglios for this new El Dorado. We had taken the long
trip of twelve hundred miles on the overland stage, which Mr. Bowles
describes in his admirable book "Across the Continent." But his was the
gala-day excursion of Speaker Colfax and his party, so full of studied
and constant attention as to lead Governor Bross to tell the good people
of Salt Lake, a little extravagantly, that the height of human happiness
was to live in one of Holladay's stages. This life loses its rose-color
when nine inside passengers, to fortune and to fame unknown, are viewed
as so much freight, and transported accordingly.

It is four hundred miles due north from Salt Lake City to Montana. The
low canvas-covered Concord hack, in which we travel, is constructed with
an eye rather to safety than comfort, and, like a city omnibus, is never
full. Still, our passengers look upon even their discomforts as a joke.
They are most of them old miners, hard-featured but genial and kindly,
and easily distinguished from men reared in the easy life of cities. Mr.
Bowles describes them as characterized by a broader grasp and more
intense vitality. I could not but notice, particularly, their freedom
from all the quarrels and disagreements sometimes known among travellers
in the States. The heavy revolver at every man's belt, and the miner's
proverbial love of fair play, keep in every one's mind a clear
perception of the bounds of _meum_ and _tuum_.

I must hurry over our four days' journey and its many objects of
interest. All the first day we ride through brisk Mormon villages,
prosperous in their waving cornfields and their heavy trade with the
mines. At a distance is the Great Salt Lake,--properly an inland sea,
like the Caspian and Sea of Aral,--having a large tributary, the Bear
River, and no outlet. Crossing Bear River, and the low mountains beyond,
we follow down the Portneuf Cañon to Snake River, or Lewis's Fork of the
Columbia, along which and its affluents lies the rest of our journey.

Hurrying past the solitary station-houses, and over here and there a
little creek, our fourth night brings us to a low hill, which we need to
be told is a pass of the Rocky Mountains. We cross this during the
night, and morning dawns upon us in a level prairie among the network of
brooks which form the extreme sources of the Missouri. Here, more than
sixty years ago, Lewis and Clarke followed the river up to the "tiny
bright beck," so narrow that "one of the party in a fit of enthusiasm,
with a foot on each side, thanked God that he had lived to bestride the
Missouri." It is called Horse Prairie, from the circumstance that they
here bartered for horses with the Shoshonee Indians. They had often seen
the men, mounted on fleet steeds, watching them like timid antelopes at
a distance, but never allowing this distance to lessen. No signs or
proffered presents could induce a near approach. One lucky day, however,
Captain Lewis surprised a chattering bevy of their squaws and made
prisoner a belle of the tribe. Finding all effort to escape hopeless,
the woman held down her head as if ready for death. There was among them
the same effeminate fear of capture and the same heroic fortitude when
death seemed inevitable, that Clive and Hastings found in the Bengalee.
But the Captain gallantly painted her tawny cheeks with vermilion, and
dismissed her loaded with presents. It is hardly necessary to add, that
captures of Shoshonee Sabines were not long matters of difficult
accomplishment. Very soon all the chiefs followed, with a rather
exuberant cordiality towards the party, and with forced smiles the
explorers "received the caresses and no small share of the grease and
paint of their new friends."

Lewis and Clarke called Horse Prairie by the prettier name of Shoshonee
Cove. But the names they gave have passed into as deep oblivion as the
forgotten great man, Rush, whose pills they publish to the world as a
sovereign specific in bilious fevers. Of all the names on their map only
those of the three forks of the Missouri, from President Jefferson and
his Secretaries Madison and Gallatin, remain. The unpoetical miner has
invented a ruder nomenclature; and on the rivers which they called
Wisdom, Philosophy, and Philanthropy, he bestows the barbarous names of
Big Hole, Willow Creek, and Stinking Water.

A few hours' ride brings us to Grasshopper Creek, another affluent of
the Missouri, and, like them all, a crooked little stream of clear cold
water, fringed with alders and willows, and with a firm pebbly bed,
along which the water tinkles a merry tune. What a pity that these pure
mountain children should develop to such a maturity as the muddy
Missouri! Parallel with this little stream, where it winds into a narrow
chasm between abrupt mountain walls, winds a crooked street, with a
straggling row of log-cabins on either side, and looking from the
mountain-tops very much like the vertebræ of a huge serpent. This is
Bannack, so called from the Indian tribe whose homes were in the
vicinity. These were the bravest, the proudest, and the noblest looking
Indians of the mountains till the white man came. Yet seldom has there
been a stronger illustration of the inexorable law, that when a superior
and inferior race come in contact the lower is annihilated. Every step
of the white man's progress has been a step of the red man's decay. And
now this tribe, once so warlike, is a nation of spiritless beggars,
crouching near the white settlements for protection from their old
foes, over whom in times past they were easy victors.

At Bannack, in the summer of 1862, a party of Colorado miners, lost on
their way to Gold Creek in the Deer Lodge Valley, discovered the first
rich placer diggings of Montana. A mining town grew up straightway; and
ere winter a nondescript crowd of two thousand people--miners from the
exhausted gulches of Colorado, desperadoes banished from Idaho, bankrupt
speculators from Nevada, guerilla refugees from Missouri, with a very
little leaven of good and true men--were gathered in. Few of them speak
with pleasant memories of that winter. The mines were not extensive, and
they were difficult to work. Scanty supplies were brought in from Denver
and Salt Lake, and held at fabulous prices. An organized band of
ruffians, styled Road Agents, ruled the town. Street murders were daily
committed with impunity, and travellers upon the road were everywhere
plundered. Care was not even taken to conceal the bodies of the victims,
which were left as food for the wolves by the roadside.

Next year, the discovery of richer mines at Virginia left Bannack a
deserted village of hardly two hundred people. It is a dull town for the
visitor; but the inhabitants have all Micawber's enthusiastic trust in
the future, and live in expectation of the wealth which is to turn up in
the development of the quartz lodes. We visited the most famous of these
lodes,--the Dacotah,--almost every specimen from which is brilliant with
little shining stars of gold. And deep down in the shaft of this lode
has been found a spacious cave full of stones of a metallic lustre,
sending out all the tints of the rainbow, and many-colored translucent
crystallizations, varying from the large stalactites to the fragile
glass-work that crumbles at the touch.

Leaving Bannack, the road ascends a very lofty range of mountains, and
passes by much wild and picturesque scenery. Mountaineers call these
ranges, where they separate two streams, by the name of "divides." They
have a scanty but nutritious herbage, and are for many months in the
year covered with snow. On many of them a stunted growth of hybrid pines
and cedars flourishes in great abundance. These, with the quaking ash
and cottonwood along the streams, are the only woods of Montana. None of
the harder woods, such as oak or maple, are found. It is inconceivably
grand from the top of this range to look out upon the endless succession
of vast peaks rolling away on every side, like waves in the purple
distance. High above them all towers Bald Mountain,--the old Indian
landmark of this section,--like Saul among his brethren. I have crossed
this range in the gray of a February morning, with the thermometer at
thirty-five below zero, and I never felt such a sense of loneliness as
in gazing out from our sleigh--little atom of life as it seemed--upon
this boundless ocean of snow, whose winters had been unbroken solitude
through all the centuries.

Over this divide we pass among a low range of hills seamed with veins of
silver, having already a more than local reputation. The hills embosom a
clear little creek called after the yellow rattlesnake, which is almost
as plentiful a luxury in these wilds as the grasshopper. It is, however,
less venomous than its Eastern brethren, for not even the oldest
inhabitant can instance a death from its bite. Nervous people avoid it
studiously, but it has many friends among the other animals. The
prairie-dog, the owl, and the rattlesnake live a happy family in one
burrow, and the serpent has another fast friend in the turtle-dove.
These doves are called the rattlesnake's brothers-in-law, and there runs
a pretty legend, that when an Indian kills one of them, or mocks their
plaintive cry, they tell the rattlesnake, who lies in wait and avenges
the wrong by a deadly sting. And when one of the snakes is killed, the
turtle-doves watch long over his dead body and chant mournful dirges at
his funeral.

The road to Virginia passes through the basin in which lie the
tributaries of Jefferson Fork. It is a barren waste. Being in the rich
mineral section of the country, its agricultural resources are
proportionally deficient. Providence does not sprinkle the gold among
the grain lands, but, by the wise law of compensation, apportions it to
remote and volcanic regions which boast of little else. Along the
water-courses is a narrow belt of cottonwood, and then rise the low
table-lands, too high for irrigation, and with a parched, alkaline soil
which produces only the wild sage and cactus. Miners curse this
sprawling cactus most heartily, and their horses avoid its poisonous
porcupine thorns with great care. All through these brown wastes one
sees no shelter for the herds, no harvests of grain or hay, and wonders
not a little how animal life--as well the flocks of antelope, elk, and
deer in the mountains, as the cattle and horses of the rancheros--is
preserved through the deep snows of the Northern winter. But even when
the mountains are impassable, there is seldom snow in the valleys; and
along the sides of the hills grow stunted tufts of bunch-grass, full of
sweetness and nutriment. Horses always hunt for it in preference to the
greener growth at the water's edge. And it is not an annual, but a
perennial, preserving its juices during the winters, and drawing up sap
and greenness into the old blades in the first suns of spring. This
bunch-grass grows in great abundance, and it is only in winters of
extreme severity that animals suffer from a lack of nourishing food.

Specks of gold may be found in a pan of dirt from any of these streams,
followed back to the mountain chasm of its source. Upon one of them, in
June, 1863, a party of gold-hunters stopped to camp on their return to
Bannack, after an unsuccessful trip to the Yellowstone. While dinner was
being cooked, one of them washed out a pan of dirt and obtained more
than a dollar. Further washings showed even greater richness; and,
hurrying to Bannack, they returned at once with supplies and friends,
and formed a mining district. In the absence of law, the miners frame
their own law; and so long as its provisions are equal and impartial, it
is everywhere recognized. The general principle of such laws is to grant
a number of linear feet up and down the gulch or ravine to the first
squatter, upon compliance with certain conditions necessary for mutual
benefit. In deliberations upon these laws, technicalities and ornament
are of little weight, and only the plainest common-sense prevails.
Prominent among their conditions was a provision--for the exorcism of
drones--that every claim must be worked a fixed number of days in each
week, or else, in the miners' expressive vocabulary, it should be
considered "jumpable." Compliance with law was never more rigidly
exacted by Lord Eldon than by the miners' judges and courts, and in the
first days of this legislation a hundred revolvers, voiceless before any
principle of justice, yet too ready before any technicality, fixed the
construction of every provision beyond all cavil.

This was the beginning of Virginia Gulch, from which twenty-five
millions of dollars in gold have been taken, and which has to-day a
population of ten thousand souls. The placer proved to be singularly
regular, almost every claim for fifteen miles being found profitable.
From the mouth of the cañon to its very end, among snows almost
perpetual, are the one-storied log-cabins, gathered now and then into
clusters, which are called cities, and named by the miner from his old
homes in Colorado and Nevada. In travelling up the crazy road, with
frowning mountains at our left, and yawning pit-holes at our right, we
pass seven of these cities,--Junction, Nevada, Central, Virginia,
Highland, Pine Grove, and Summit.

Virginia, the chief of the hamlets, has since developed into an
organized city, and the capital of the Territory. Its site was certainly
not chosen for its natural beauty. Along the main gulch are the
mines,--huge piles of earth turned up in unsightly heaps. At one side
of the mines, and up a ravine which crosses the gulch at right angles,
lies the city. In shape it was originally like the letter T, but its
later growth has forced new streets and houses far up the hillsides. Not
so much regard was paid, in laying the foundations of the new city, to
its future greatness, as Penn gave when he planned Philadelphia. The
miner only wanted a temporary shelter, and every new-comer placed a
log-cabin of his own style of architecture next the one last built.
Where convenience required a street, lo! a street appeared. There were
no gardens, for beyond the narrow centre of the ravine only sage-brush
and cactus would grow. But the mines thrived, and also grew and thrived
the little city and its vices.

Gradually a better class of buildings appeared. What were called hotels
began to flourish; but it was long before the monotony of bacon, bread,
and dried apples was varied by a potato. And for sleeping
accommodations, a limited space was allotted upon the floor, the guest
furnishing his own blankets. A theatre soon sprang up. And either
because of the refined taste of some of the auditors, or the advanced
talent of the performers, the playing was not the broad farce which
might have been entertaining, but was confined to Shakespeare and heavy
tragedy, which was simply disgusting. This style of acting culminated in
the _début_ of a local celebrity, possessed of a sonorous voice and
seized with a sudden longing for Thespian laurels. He chose the part of
Othello, and all Virginia assembled to applaud. The part was not well
committed, and sentences were commenced with Shakespearian loftiness and
ended with the actor's own emendations, which were certainly
questionable improvements. Anything but a tragic effect was produced by
seeing the swarthy Moor turn to the prompter at frequent intervals, and
inquire, "What?" in a hoarse whisper. A running colloquy took place
between Othello and his audience, in which he made good his assertion
that he was rude in speech. Since then, Shakespeare has not been
attempted on the Virginia boards. "Othello's occupation's gone"; and all
tragic efforts are confined to the legitimate Rocky Mountain drama.
"Nick of the Woods" has frequently been produced with great applause,
though the illusion is somewhat marred by the audible creaking of the
wheels of the boat in which the Jibbenainosay sails triumphantly over
the cataract.

Sunday is distinguished from other days in being the great day of
business. The mines are not worked and it is the miners' holiday. All is
bustle and confusion. A dozen rival auctioneers vend their wares, and
gallop fast horses up and down the street. The drinking and gambling
saloons and dance-houses are in full blast, all with bands of music to
allure the passing miner, who comes into town on Sunday to spend his
earnings. The discoverer of Virginia is the miner _par excellence_,--a
good-natured Hercules clad in buckskin, or a lion in repose. All the
week he toils hard in some hole in the earth for this Sunday folly. The
programme for the day is prepared on a scale of grandeur in direct ratio
to the length of his purse. The necessity of spending the entire week's
earnings is obvious, and to assist him in doing so seems to be the only
visible means of support of half the people of the town. The dance-house
and the gambling-saloon, flaunting their gaudy attractions, own him for
the hour their king. His Midas touch is all-powerful. I must confess,
with all my admiration for his character, that his tastes are low. I
know that the civilization of the East would bore him immeasurably, and
that he considers Colt, with his revolvers, a broader philanthropist
than Raikes with his Sunday schools. But he is frank and open, generous
and confiding, honorable and honest, scorning anything mean and
cowardly. Mention to him, in his prodigal waste of money, that a poor
woman or child is in want of the necessaries of life, and the
purse-strings open with a tear. Tell him that corruption and wrong have
worked an injury to a comrade or a stranger, and his pistol flashes only
too quickly, to right it. Circumstances have made him coarse and brutal,
but below all this surface beats a heart full of true instincts and
honest impulses. I am certain the recording angel will blot out many of
his sins, as he did those of Uncle Toby. His means exhausted, he
abdicates his ephemeral kingdom, and, uncomplaining, takes his pick and
shovel, his frying-pan, bacon, and flour, and starts over the mountains
for new diggings. Yet he gains no wisdom by experience. The same
bacchanalian orgies follow the next full purse.

The Road Agents came to the new city from Bannack increased in strength
and boldness. Long impunity had made them scarcely anxious to conceal
their connection with the band. Life and property were nowhere secure.
Spies in Virginia announced to confederates on the road every ounce of
treasure that left the city, and sometimes reports came back of
robberies of the coaches, sometimes of murder of the travellers, and
still more frequently the poor victim was never heard of after his
departure. There were no laws or courts, except the miners' courts, and
these were powerless. Self-protection demanded vigorous measures, and a
few good men of Bannack and Virginia met together and formed a Vigilance
Committee, similar in all respects to that which has had such a
beneficent influence in the growth of California. It was, of course,
secret, and composed of a mere handful. It must be secret, for the Road
Agents had so overawed the people that few dared acknowledge themselves
as champions of law and order. They had threatened, and they had the
power to crush such an organization at its inception, by taking the
lives of its members. But moving stealthily and unknown, the little
organization grew. Whenever a good man and true was found, he became a
link of the chain. At last it tried its power over a notorious desperado
named Ives, by calling a public trial of the miners. It was a citizens'
trial, but the Vigilantes were the leading spirits. Ives confronted his
accusers boldly, relying on the promised aid of his confederates. They
lay in wait to offer it, but the criminal was too infamous for just men
to hesitate which side to take, and the cowards, as always in such
cases, though probably a numerical majority, dared not meet the issue.
Ives was hanged without any attempt at rescue.

The proceedings thus vigorously commenced were as vigorously continued.
The Road Agents still trusted their power, and the contest was not
settled. The Vigilantes settled it soon and forever. One morning their
pickets barred every point of egress from Virginia. A secret trial had
been held and six well-known robbers sentenced to death. Five of them
were one by one found in the city. The quickness of their captors had
foiled their attempts at escape or resistance, and their impotent rage
at seeing every point guarded sternly by armed Vigilantes knew no
bounds. They were all executed together at noon. It was a sickening
scene,--five men, with the most revolting crimes to answer for, summoned
with hardly an hour's preparation into eternity. Yet they are frequently
spoken of with respect because they "died game." All of them, drinking
heavily to keep up their courage, died with the most impious gibes and
curses on their lips. Boone Helm, a hoary reprobate, actually said, as
the block was being removed from him, "Good by, boys! I will meet you in
hell in five minutes." Harsh measures were these, but their effect was
magical. One of the leaders had been hanged at Bannack, and the others
as fast as found were promptly executed,--perhaps thirty in all. A few
fled, and are heard of now and then among the robbers of Portneuf Cañon;
but under the sway of the Vigilantes life and property in Virginia
became safer than to-day in Boston. For minor offences they banished the
guilty, and for grave offences they took life. As their history is now
recounted by the people, there is no man who does not praise their work
and agree that their acts were just and for the public good. The first
courts were held in December, 1864, and the Vigilantes were the earliest
to support their authority. They are still in existence, but as a
support and ally of the courts, and only appearing when the public
safety demands the most rigorous dealing.

Virginia can never be a pretty city, but in many respects it is a model
one. The earlier log-houses are now giving way to substantial stores of
granite; and the number of gambling and tippling shops is steadily
decreasing, the buildings being taken up by the wholesale traders. An
organized city government preserves strict police regulations. Two
thriving churches have grown up, and very recently the principal
merchants have agreed to close their houses on the Sabbath. The old
residents are bringing in their wives and children, and society
constantly gains in tone. Erelong, it will compare favorably with the
steadiest town in the land of steady habits.

Eight miles above Virginia is Summit. Its name sufficiently designates
its location, which is at the head of the gulch and among the highest
mountains. The sun is not seen there till a late hour in the winter, and
the few who make it their home burrow closely as rabbits from the bitter
cold and deep snows. The placer diggings are at their greatest depth
here, but exceedingly rich. Here also are the richest gold lodes of the
Territory. All the quartz seems impregnated with gold, sometimes in
little pockets of nuggets, sometimes spattered by the intense heat of
old into all forms of wires and spangles.

Quartz mining is yet in its rudest form. The gold is buried in solid
rock, and requires heavy crushing-mills and cumbrous machinery, which
must be built and transported at immense expense by capitalists. It is a
question with such capitalists how certain is the promise of returns.
The uncertainty of mining, as shown by the results of ventures in
Colorado, has naturally deterred them. Under the old process of crushing
the quartz to powder by stamps, and then separating the gold by
amalgamation with quicksilver, but twenty-five per cent of the gold is
saved. After the amalgamation a practical chemist could take the
"tailings" of the Dacotah ore, and produce almost the full assay of the
original rock. Very much depends in the mountain territories upon the
success of experiments, now in operation, with the various new
desulphurizing processes. This success established, the wealth of the
territories is incalculable.

All the mining of Montana is now confined to the placer or gulch
diggings. There are many of these, but probably none to compare in all
respects with those at Virginia. At Bannack is found purer gold, at
Biven's are larger nuggets, and many diggings at McClellan's yield
larger amounts per day. But these are lotteries,--some claims paying
largely to-day and nothing to-morrow, or one yielding enormously, while
the next, after all the labor and expense of opening, gives nothing.
They are called "spotted," while nearly every claim at Virginia has
yielded with great regularity. How the gold came into these gulches is
of little consequence to the miner. It suffices him to know that it is
there, and his practical experience enables him to point out its
location with great accuracy, though without any scientific knowledge of
its origin. Most probably, far away in the Preadamite periods, when
these mountains were much loftier than to-day, they were cloven and
pierced by volcanic fires, and then into their innumerable vents and
fissures infiltrated the molten quartz and the base and precious metals.
Afterwards followed the period of the glaciers, and all the working of
the seasons and chemical decompositions. Traces of the glaciers and the
rotten burnt quartz of the volcanic periods exist everywhere. Thus
washing and crumbling away in the waters and suns of untold springs and
summers, the gold has come down the mountain gorges into the valleys
below. The manner of gathering it is rude and incomplete enough. In all
the gulches, at depths varying from six to fifty feet, is a _bed-rock_
of the same general conformation as the surface. Usually this is
granite; but sometimes before reaching the primitive rock two or three
strata of pipe-clay--the later beds of the stream, upon which frequently
lies a deposit of gold--are passed. Upon the bed-rock is a deposit, from
three to four feet in depth, of gravel and boulders, in which the gold
is hidden. This is called by the miners "pay-dirt," and to remove it to
the surface and wash it is the end of mining. It is an expensive and
laborious process indeed. The water has first to be controlled; and in
mines of not too great depth this is done by a drain ditch along the
bed-rock, commenced many claims below. In this all the claim-holders are
interested, and all contribute their quota of the labor and expense of
digging it. The district laws permit every person to run such a drain
through all the claims below his own, and force every man to contribute
alike towards its construction, on pain of not being allowed to use the
water, even though it flows through his own land. The water controlled,
the rest is mere physical labor, which only bones and sinews of iron can
endure. In the shallow diggings the superincumbent earth above the
pay-dirt is removed, and the process is called "stripping." In deep
diggings a shaft is sunk to the bed-rock, and tunnels are run in every
direction,--and this is called "drifting." The roof is supported by
strong piles, but these supports too frequently give way, and hurry the
poor miners to untimely deaths. The pay-dirt, in whichever way obtained,
is then shovelled into the sluice-boxes,--a series of long troughs, set
at the proper angle to prevent the gold from washing past, or the dirt
from settling to the bottom. Managed with the skill which experience has
taught, the constant stream of water carries over the sand, while the
gold, being seven times heavier, sinks to the bottom, and is caught by
cross-bars called "_riffles_," placed there for the purpose. In the
lower boxes is frequently placed quicksilver, with which the lighter
particles amalgamate. During the washings the larger stones and boulders
are removed by a fork. These boxes, after a successful day's work, are a
pleasant sight to see, all brilliant with gold and black sand and
magnetic iron. All is gold that glitters. The heavy sand and iron are
separated by a more careful washing by hand and by the magnet. Of
course, all this system is very rude and imperfect,--so much so, that it
has been found profitable in California to wash over the same earth nine

The gold-dust thus obtained is the only circulating medium in the
Territory, and is the standard of trade. Treasury notes and coin are
articles of merchandise. Everybody who has gold has also his little
buckskin pouch to hold it. Every store has its scales, and in these is
weighed out the fixed amount for all purchases according to Troy weight.
An ounce is valued at eighteen dollars, a pennyweight at ninety cents,
and so on. It is amusing to notice how the friction of the scales is
made by some men--particularly the Jews, whose name is legion--to work
them no loss. In _weighing in_, the scale-beam bows most deferentially
to the gold side; but in _weighing out_, it makes profound obeisance to
the weights. The same cupidity has given rise to two new terms in the
miners' glossary,--_trade dust_ and _bankable dust_. Bankable dust means
simply gold, pure and undefiled. Trade dust is gold with a plentiful
sprinkling of black sand, and is of three grades, described very clearly
by the terms _good_, _fair_, and _dirty_. The trader, in receiving our
money, complains if it does not approximate what is bankable, but in
paying us his money pours out a combination in which black sand is a
predominating ingredient. Many merchants even keep a saucer of black
sand in readiness to dilute their bankable gold to the utmost thinness
it will bear.

As might be expected, the courts were hardly opened before grave
questions arose as to the construction of contracts based on this
anomalous currency. Notes were usually made to pay a given number of
"dollars, in good, bankable dust." But the laws recognized no such
commodity as a dollar in dust. The decision of the court protecting a
trickster in paying treasury-notes worth but fifty cents for the gold
loaned by a friend, savored to the plain miner of rank injustice. To
avoid even this opportunity for a legal tender, sometimes notes promised
to pay a certain number of ounces and pennyweights, with interest at a
fixed rate. The question was immediately sprung as to whether such an
agreement was to be construed as a promissory note, or was to be sued
for as a contract to do a specified act, by setting out a breach and
claiming damages for the non-performance. The miners listened to the
long discussions on these points impatiently, and compared the courts
unfavorably with the miners' courts, which unloosed all such Gordian
knots with Alexander's directness.

In the month of September, 1864, reports came to Virginia of mines on
the Yellowstone. The reports were founded on some strange tales of old
trappers, and were clothed with a vagueness and mystery as uncertain as
dreams. Yet on such unsubstantial bases every miner built a pet theory,
and a large "stampede" took place in consequence. I started with a party
for the new mines, early in October. A day's ride brought us to the
Madison Fork, a broad, shallow stream, difficult of fording on account
of its large boulders, and flowing through a narrow strip of arable
land. Very different is the Gallatin, beyond. It is cut up into narrow
streams of a very rapid current, and waters a valley of surprising
fertility. The Snakes called it Swift River. This valley is forty miles
long and from ten to fifteen wide, and rising at its sides into low
plateaus plenteously covered with rich bunch-grass. It is already
pre-empted by farmers, and by easy irrigation are produced all the
hardier vegetables and cereals, in quantity, size, and closeness of
fibre not equalled on the Iowa prairies. The valley gradually widens as
you descend the stream, until, at the junction of the Three Forks, it
stretches into a broad prairie, sufficient alone to supply all the mines
with grain and vegetables. A few enterprising speculators once laid out
a town here, with all the pomp and circumstance of Martin Chuzzlewit's
Eden. Pictures of it were made, with steamers lying at the wharves and a
university in the suburbs. Liberal donations of lots were made to the
first woman married, to the first newspaper, to the first church, to the
first child born. But there were no mines near, and the city never had
an inhabitant. The half-dozen buildings put up by the proprietors are
left for the nightly carnivals of bats and owls.

On our road we passed a half-dozen huts, dignified with the name of
Bozeman City. Here lives a Cincinnatus in retirement, one of the great
pioneers of mountain civilization, named Bozeman. To him belongs the
credit of having laid out the Bozeman Cut-off, on the road from Fort
Laramie to Virginia, and he is looked up to among emigrants much as
Chief-Justice Marshall is among lawyers. I saw the great man, with one
foot moccasoned and the other as Nature made it, giving Bunsby opinions
to a crowd of miners as to the location of the mythical mines.

Parting from him, we crossed a high range of mountains, and from their
tops looked down upon the spiral line of the Yellowstone, marked by the
rich tints of its willows and cottonwoods, red, yellow, and green, in
the crisp frosts of October. The air on these mountain-tops is much
rarefied, and so very clear and pure that objects at a great distance
seem within the reach of an easy walk. The Yellowstone flows in the
eastern portion of Montana through an uninhabitable desert called the
Mauvaises Terres, or Bad Lands, which, mingling their soil with its
waters, give it the yellow color from which it is named. These lands are
vast wastes, covered with what appears to be pine ashes. No signs of
vegetation are found, but they are abundant in strange petrifactions. I
have seen from them petrified reptiles and portions of the human body,
having a pearly lustre and inlaid with veins, and looking like the
finest work in _papier-maché_.

The valley of the Upper Yellowstone has a thin, rocky soil, almost
worthless for farming land. But what a paradise it would be for Izaak
Walton and Daniel Boone! Quaint old Izaak would have realized a dream of
Utopia in watching in the crystal stream its millions of speckled trout.
It almost seems as if the New England trout had learned their proverbial
wariness from long experience. There is none of it in these Yellowstone
fish. They leap at the bare hook with the most guileless innocence.
Trout are rarely found in the waters of the Missouri, but they fill all
the brooks west of the mountains. They bite ravenously; one veracious
traveller going so far as to assert that they followed him from the
water far into the woods, and bit at the spurs on his boots. But
mountaineers, even of the most scrupulous veracity, are occasionally
given to hyperbole. Daniel Boone, too, would have found his paradise of
a solitude undisturbed by white men, and full of wild game. Every night
our camp was entertained with the hungry cry of wolves, the melancholy
hooting of owls, and the growls of bears crackling the underbrush. The
grizzly bear is not found in Montana; only the small black and cinnamon
bears are seen. When wounded, these exhibit the most extreme ferocity;
but persons who choose to avoid them will find them always willing to
preserve the most distant relations. The most interesting of all the
wild animals is the antelope. Every hour we passed flocks of these
little fellows. They are timid as school-girls, but as inquisitive as
village gossips; and while frightened and trembling at our presence,
they could not resist keeping long in our view, and stopping every few
moments to watch us, with most childish curiosity. Though fleet as the
wind, I have seen many of the meek-eyed little fellows watch too long,
and pay for their curiosity with their lives.

The most eastern settlement of Montana is at the mouth of a cañon near
the Yellowstone, one hundred and thirty miles from Virginia. A party of
Iowa emigrants found fair prospects here, and made it their home,
calling their mines Emigrant Gulch, and their half-dozen log-huts
Yellowstone City. Their gulch is rich in gold, but the huge boulders,
many tons in weight, make it impossible to obtain the treasure by the
present rude methods. The few profitable claims are high up in the
mountains, and are free from ice only in the hottest days of summer.
Even the donkeys, so much in use in transporting supplies to the
mountain miners, cannot travel here, and every pound of flour is carried
on men's backs over giddy paths almost impassable for the chamois. Still
the emigrants went to work with a will, and full of confidence. They
built themselves log-cabins, not so convenient as those at
Virginia,--for they had not the miner's knack of reaping large results
from such limited resources,--but still substantial and comfortable.
They enacted written laws, as ample as the Code Napoleon. Almost every
day during our visit they met to revise this code and enact new
provisions. Its most prominent feature was the ample protection it
afforded to women in the distribution of lots in their prospective city,
and the terrible punishment with which it visited any man who dared
offer one of them an insult. They certainly founded their republic on
principles of adamant, but in spite of high hopes and wise laws the
boulders refused to move. Even Iowa enterprise at last gave way under
constant disaster, and the people of the little city are one by one
forsaking it for the older mines.

The swift Yellowstone and the Colorado rise in lakes in the enchanted
Wind River Mountains. Mr. Stuart mentions the weird tales, told by
trappers and hunters, of places--avoided, if possible, by man and
beast--in these mountains where trees and game and even Indians are
petrified, and yet look natural as in life. These trappers are
accustomed to exaggerate. I remember hearing a very serious account from
one of them of a vast mountain of quartz so transparent that he could
see mules feeding on the other side. There is also a story of a trapper
who was lost in the fastnesses of the mountains years ago, and wandered
for many days among streams whose bottoms were pebbled with gold. It is
the miner's romance to repeat these fables of the Wind River Mountains,
and to look forward to the day when the Indians shall be forced to yield
them to his enterprise.

We arrived at Virginia at the end of October, and the commencement of
the long mountain winter. The snows were soon blown in deep drifts over
the hills, and the roads became almost impassable. A few hardy
prospecters braved them in the search for quartz lodes, but many
perished, and others were brought back to the city with frozen limbs.
The mines lay idle, and the business of the city, dependent upon them
for support, was completely stagnant. It was humanity living a squirrel
life among its little garners of roots and nuts. But as usual, the
reason of humanity fell far behind the instinct of the squirrel. Before
spring came, the supply of flour at Virginia failed, and the most
hideous of all calamities was threatened,--a famine. The range on the
Salt Lake road lay utterly impassable under more than fifteen feet of
snow. No mails had arrived for three months. The fear of famine soon
became a panic, and flour speedily rose from twenty dollars per sack of
one hundred pounds to one hundred and ten dollars in gold. A mob was
organized by the drones, who would rather steal than work; and the
miners were wrought upon by statements that a few speculators held an
abundance of flour, and were extorting money from the necessities of the
people. The Robespierres of the new reform drew the miners into passing
a resolution to place all the flour in Virginia in the hands of a
committee, with authority to distribute it among the most needy, at a
fair and reasonable compensation, payable to the owner. A riot followed,
and the flour-merchants quietly awaited the mob behind barricades of
their own flour. The County Sheriff stood at the front of these with
cocked revolver, and threatened to kill the first who advanced. The
thieves knew that he did not threaten idly, and, though a hundred were
ready to follow, not one was bold enough to lead. The riot failed for
want of a courageous leader, and towards night slowly dwindled away.
Another mob followed in a few days; but the merchants had sold their
flour at sacrifices, and the booty was only a few sacks. The want of
this staff of life caused great suffering. All other vegetable food was
rapidly consumed, and for six weeks the poorer classes were forced to
live on beef alone. The effect was in all cases an inability to labor,
and in some cases serious sickness.

While thus cut off from all communication with the outer world, and
buried in the dull town, there was little for us to do save to study
each other's characters and talk the miners' language. In all new and
thinly settled countries, many ideas are expressed by figures drawn from
the pursuits of the people. Among the Indians, more than half of every
sentence is expressed by signs. And miners illustrate their conversation
by the various terms used in mining. I have always noticed how clearly
these terms conveyed the idea sought. Awkwardness in comprehending this
dialect easily reveals that the hearer bears the disgrace of being a
"pilgrim," or a "tender-foot," as they style the new emigrant. To master
it is an object of prime necessity to him who would win the miner's
respect. Thus the term "adobe," the sun-dried brick, as applied to a
man, signifies vealiness and verdancy. A "corral" is an enclosure into
which the herds are gathered; hence a person who has everything arranged
to his satisfaction announces that he has everything "corralled." A man
fortunate in any business has "struck the pay-dirt"; unfortunate, has
"reached the bed-rock." Everything viewed in the aggregate, as a train,
a family, or a town, is an "outfit." I was much at a loss, on my first
arrival, to comprehend the exact purport of a miner's criticism upon a
windy lawyer of Virginia,--"When you come to pan him out, you don't find
color." But this vocabulary is not extensive, and the pilgrim soon
learns to perceive and use its beauties.

Helena, the second point of importance in the Territory, is one hundred
and twenty-five miles north from Virginia. We travel to it over a fine,
hard road, through the low valleys of the Missouri. The beauty and
richness of these valleys increase as we leave Virginia, and everywhere
the green spots are becoming the homes of thrifty farmers. On the divide
near Boulder Creek are wonderful proofs of the gradual levelling of the
mountains, in the huge blocks of rock piled up in the most grotesque
shapes. Many of these are colossal pillars, surmounted by boulders
weighing many tons. The softer rock and gravel have washed down the
ravines, leaving these as monuments of the primal ages. The ravines
penetrate the mountain on every side, and little by little wear the
monster away. The beavers choose the prettiest nooks in them for their
villages, and the miner, finding the water cut off, often learns that in
a single night these busy architects have built a tight and closely
interwoven dam up the stream, which it takes him many hours to demolish.
Is it strange that, in speaking of the beaver dam, he should sometimes
transpose the words?

We ride down the pleasantest of the ravines, till it develops into the
Prickly Pear River, and past embryo cities,--at present noticeable for
nothing except their rivalry of each other,--and hurry on to Last Chance
Gulch and the city of Helena. A few emigrants from Minnesota had been
here for many months. They made no excitement, no parade, but steadily
worked on amid their majestic mountain scenery, and asked no heralding
of their wealth. On either side of their cabins grew tall pines straight
as arrows, and in front spread a vast fertile valley watered by clear
rivulets, marked here and there with the low cottages of the rancheros,
and dotted everywhere with innumerable herds of cattle. Beyond the
Missouri rose abruptly chains of snow-capped mountains, glistening in
the sunlight and veined with gold and silver. Reports of these men came
at times to Virginia,--reports always of a quiet and unostentatious
prosperity. In the winter of 1864 their secret became known, and half
the nomadic population of Virginia hurried to the new mines, and puzzled
the slow-moving Minnesotians by their bustle and activity. Claims
advanced rapidly in price, and the discoverers reaped fortunes. A city
rose like an exhalation. Yet I never saw better order than in the
earliest days of Helena, though I am afraid that Hangman's Tree could
tell some stories of too much haste and injustice in taking the lives of

The hundred ravines near Helena showed gold, and every one of them was
soon claimed from mouth to source. Every night I heard the clattering
hoofs of the stampeders for some new gulch, starting in the utmost
secrecy to gain the first right for themselves and friends. A trifling
hint induces these stampedes. A wink from one old miner to another, and
hundreds mounted their horses to seek some inaccessible mountain
fissure. The more remote the diggings, so much the greater the
excitement. Half the people of Helena lately hurried, in the depth of
winter, to diggings on Sun River, (where many and many a brave fellow
perished in the snows,) to learn that far richer mines had lain
unclaimed for months within a stone's throw of their homes. The
excitement over quartz lodes rapidly followed; and every spot on the
mountains which showed any slight indications of auriferous quartz was
claimed by the prospecters. Hardly a third of these can ever prove rich,
but here and there is one of great value.

Helena, supported by the trade of the surrounding mines, already rivals
Virginia. Perhaps in years to come it may have a larger population and a
more reckless enterprise. One hundred and fifty miles north from Helena
is Fort Benton, an old fortified post of the American Fur Company, and
the head of navigation on the Missouri. Steamers have arrived here in
the spring, but the uncertainty of the water will fix the terminus of
travel at some point farther down. A town charter for such a terminus
was granted to a party of Virginia speculators at the mouth of Maria's
River. They called it Ophir, which a friend of mine says is a very
appropriate name and of poetic origin, being derived from Cowper's line,

    "O for a lodge in some vast wilderness!"

On the first visit of the proprietors to their new site, every one of
them was murdered and scalped by the Indians.

These regions are held by the Blackfeet, who, with their offshoots, the
Bloods, Gros Ventres, and Piegans, are the most formidable Indians of
Montana. They are polygamists, being in that respect exceptional among
the Indians. But Catlin rather unsentimentally apologizes for this, on
the ground that the chiefs are required to give expensive
entertainments, in getting up which the labor of a hundred wives is no
trifling assistance. Attempts have long been made to civilize and
Christianize these savages by the Catholic missions under Father de
Smet, and the government has furthered these attempts by establishing a
fine farm on Sun River. The chiefs would sometimes be induced to
stolidly witness the grain-planting; but Captain Mullan quietly
describes all this waste of philanthropy in the words: "I can only
regret that the results as yet obtained would not seem commensurate with
the endeavors so manfully put forth."

The noble Indians of history and poetry do not exist among the Indians
of to-day. You seek in vain for Logan or Pocahontas, for Uncas or
Minnehaha. The real Indians are cruel and treacherous, lazy and filthy,
crafty and ungrateful. Many of them live upon ants and grasshoppers, and
at the best only know enough to preserve in the rudest manner a few of
the commonest roots and berries.

These tribes have no history and no growth. They live a mere animal
life. Even their few traditions are rude and disgusting enough. I am
indebted to Mr. Stuart for a fair example of the Bannack superstitions,
from which not even Longfellow could glean any poetry or beauty. Among
the caves in the rocks dwells a race of fairy imps, who, with arrow and
quiver, kill game upon the mountains, and sing boisterous songs on the
cliffs in summer evenings. Whenever an Indian mother leaves her infant,
one of these pleasant cannibals devours it straightway, and takes its
place, crying piteously. When the poor woman returns and seeks to pacify
her child, the little usurper falls ravenously upon her. Fire-arms,
knives, and stones are all powerless; and when the screams of the woman
bring the men to her help, the destroyer runs away and leaves her in a
dying condition. She always dies before morning. When little children
play at a distance from camp, these fairies seek to sport among them.
Lucky is it for those timid few who, frightened at the long tail,
scamper away from the intruder; for, when allowed to mingle in the
sport, he suddenly seizes the fairest child, and hurries away to make a
dainty meal off him with his little wives in elfin-land. To the Indian
men the fairies profess a real friendship; and when they meet one near
their dwellings they invite him in and feast him, and press him to stay
all night. He invariably declines the polite invitation with his thanks,
and his regrets that he has killed an elk and must take it home before
the wolves can eat it.

Beyond the main chain of the Rocky Mountains are the Deer Lodge and
Bitter Root Valleys, celebrated for their great grazing capabilities. I
rode through these valleys in June, passing up the Pipestone Creek,
whose waters flow into the Missouri, and down the Silver Bow, whose
waters flow into the Columbia. At the highest point we could almost see
the springs of either river, flowing on one hand to the Atlantic, on the
other to the Pacific. How widely are these children of the same mother
separated! Summer sprinkles all the ravines with innumerable
wild-flowers, which make a rich carpet even up close to the white line
of the snow. I found among them wild varieties of the harebell,
larkspur, and sunflower, and many pansies. Upon the Silver Bow Creek is
a city of the same name, built in the winter, when it was hoped that
spring would prove the richness of its mines. From a distance it looked
like a large town; but upon riding in, we found only here and there a
straggling inhabitant. Other mines proved richer, and any purchaser can
buy its best house for less than the cost of drawing the logs to build
it. At Deer Lodge in this valley,--almost equal in extent and fertility
to that of the Gallatin,--old Johnny Grant lived for many years a life
of patriarchal serenity among his wives and concubines, his flocks and
herds. By constant presents of beads and whiskey, and many a warm meal
when on the war-path, he had raised himself high in the esteem of the
savages, and had a favorite squaw from almost every tribe among his
wives. When the Flatheads passed by, no woman appeared at his hearth but
a Flathead; when the Blackfeet came, the sole wife of his bosom was a
Blackfoot. Thus for many years, almost the only white man in these
solitudes, he lived at peace with the natives, a sharer in all their
spoils and arbiter in all their quarrels. And when the patriarch was
gathered to his fathers, he left cattle on a thousand hills to his son.
Young Johnny is a mere repetition of his father. He cannot read or
write, and in conversation his nominatives are not always true to his
verbs; but he has all the slyness and craftiness of the Indian. I heard
that he was immensely disgusted at the white immigration. He
acknowledges that his beeves are of greater value, and he has no small
admiration for dollars and cents; but he fears that his moral and
intellectual standing will suffer.

Passing down the Deer Lodge River,--

            "In the continuous woods
    Where rolls the Oregon, and hears no sound
    Save his own dashings,"--

we come to a pass through the mountains, called Hell-Gate by the
Flatheads, because through it rode the scalping parties of the Eastern
tribes. Beyond is the sunny valley of the Bitter Root. It has long been
settled by hardy trappers and hunters, and by comfortable farmers with
well-stored barns and granaries and fenced fields. There is a charm
about this isolated life, and a freshness and exhilaration about these
Daniel Boones, that one meets nowhere else. Many of them are old army
officers, men of education, who left the exploring parties to which they
were attached to make their homes among the wild allurements of this
fascinating valley. It is pleasant to hear their stories of life among
the Indians, and their accounts of the strange features of the
mountains, their animal life, their flora and minerals. Most of them
have squaw wives, and are rearing large families of ugly pappooses, and
many have amassed wealth by their long trade with the fur companies. The
great Hudson's Bay Company has for many years had a station in this
valley, and drawn from it large quantities of costly furs and skins.
Here and farther west is spoken the famous Chinnook jargon, invented by
the Company to facilitate its trade with the Indians. It borrows words
from the English, from the French, from all the Indian tongues, and
works them all into an incongruous combination. It has an entire lack of
system or rule, but is quickly learned, and is designed to express only
the simplest ideas. The powerful influence of the Company introduced it
everywhere, and it was found of indispensable utility. Ardent
Oregonians are said to woo their coy maidens in its unpronounceable
gutturals. The white man is called "Boston" in this tongue, because the
first whites whom the Oregon Indians met came in a Boston ship.

The best Indians of the mountains dwell in this valley,--the Flatheads
and Pend' d'Oreilles. Many of them are devoted Catholics, but liable at
times to lapse into intoxication. The Jesuits have a thriving mission
among them, with a neat church, whose clear ringing bell sounds
strangely enough in the mountain recesses. The strict asceticism of the
fathers, their careful nursing of the sick and wounded, and their
cordial co-operation in all objects of philanthropy, have enabled them
to wield an immense influence among the Indians. The white miners also,
who have often lain sick or frost-bitten in their hospitals, except
these zealous priests in their too common sneers at religion. Captain
Mullan quite reflects the universal sentiment when he says: "The only
good that I have ever seen effected among these people [the Indians] has
been due to the exertions of these Catholic missionaries."

I have hurried over the points of interest in the early days of Montana.
But any picture of its shifting life can only be a view of one of the
combinations of the kaleidoscope. The discovery of new mines, and the
abandonment of old ones, the fresh advent of gold-seekers and the exodus
of the winners of fortunes, the increase of facilities for travel and of
all the comforts of life, are daily and perceptibly working out new
combinations. But while welcoming all changes tending towards refinement
and a higher civilization, the careful observer of the life of these
remote people can point to some qualities among them which he would have
unchangeable as their grand old mountains,--their frankness and honesty
of purpose, their love of justice, and their sturdy democracy.


_The Poems of_ THOMAS BAILEY ALDRICH. Boston: Ticknor and Fields.

The things which please in these poems are so obvious, that we feel it
all but idle to point them out; for who loves not graceful form, bright
color, and delicate perfume? Of our younger singers, Mr. Aldrich is one
of the best known and the best liked, for he has been wise as well as
poetical in his generation. The simple theme, the easy measure, have
been his choice; while he is a very Porphyro in the profusion with which
he heaps his board with delicates:--

      "Candied apple, quince and plum and gourd;
    With jellies soother than the creamy curd,
    And lucent syrops tinct with cinnamon;
    Manna and dates, in argosy transferred
    From Fez; and spicèd dainties, every one,
    From silken Samarcand to cedared Lebanon."

And the feast is well lighted, and the guest has not to third his way
through knotty sentences, past perilous punctuation-points, to reach the
table, nor to grope in the dark for the dainties when he has found it.
We imagine that it is this charm of perfect clearness and accessibility
which attracts popular liking to Mr. Aldrich's poetry; afterwards, its
other qualities easily hold the favor won. He is endowed with a singular
richness of fancy, and he has well chosen most of his themes from among
those which allow the exercise of his best gifts. He has seldom,
therefore, attempted to poetize any feature or incident of our national
life; for this might have demanded a realistic treatment foreign to his
genius. But it is poetry, the result, which we want, and we do not care
from what material it is produced. The honey is the same, whether the
bee stores it from the meadow-clover and the wild-flower of our own
fields, or, loitering over city wharves, gathers it from ships laden
with tropic oranges and orient dates.

If Mr. Aldrich needed any defence for the poems in which he gives rein
to his love for the East and the South, he would have it in the fact
that they are very beautiful, and distinctively his own, while they
breathe full east in their sumptousness of diction, and are genuinely
southern in their summer-warmth of feeling. We doubt if any poet of
Persia could have told more exquisitely than he what takes place


    "_When the Sultan Shah-Zaman_
    _Goes to the city Ispahan_,
    Even before he gets so far
    As the place where the clustered palm-trees are,
    At the last of the thirty palace-gates,
    The pet of the harem, Rose-in-Bloom,
    Orders a feast in his favorite room,--
    Glittering squares of colored ice,
    Sweetened with syrop, tinctured with spice,
    Creams, and cordials, and sugared dates,
    Syrian apples, Othmanee quinces,
    Limes, and citrons, and apricots,
    And wines that are known to Eastern princes;
    And Nubian slaves, with smoking pots
    Of spicèd meats and costliest fish,
    And all that the curious palate could wish,
    Pass in and out of the cedarn doors:
    Scattered over mosaic floors
    Are anemones, myrtles, and violets,
    And a musical fountain throws its jets
    Of a hundred colors into the air.
    The dusk Sultana loosens her hair,
    And stains with the henna-plant the tips
    Of her pearly nails, and bites her lips
    Till they bloom again,--but, alas! _that_ rose
    Not for the Sultan buds and blows;
    _Not for the Sultan Shah-Zaman,
    When he goes to the city Ispahan._

      "Then, at a wave of her sunny hand,
    the dancing girls of Samarcand
    Float in like mists from Fairy-land!
    And to the low voluptuous swoons
    Of music rise and fall the moons
    Of their full, brown bosoms. Orient blood
    Runs in their veins, shines in their eyes:
    And there, in this Eastern Paradise,
    Filled with the fumes of sandal-wood,
    And Khoten musk, and aloes and myrrh,
    Sits Rose-in-Bloom on a silk divan,
    Sipping the wines of Astrakhan;
    And her Arab lover sits with her.
    _That's when the Sultan Shah-Zaman
    Goes to the city Ispahan._

      "Now, when I see an extra light,
    Flaming, flickering on the night
    From my neighbor's casement opposite,
    I know as well as I know to pray,
    I know as well as a tongue can say,
    _That the innocent Sultan Shah-Zaman
    Has gone to the city Ispahan._"

As subtilely beautiful as this, and even richer in color and flavor than
this, is the complete little poem which Mr. Aldrich calls a fragment:--


    "So, after bath, the slave-girls brought
    The broidered raiment for her wear,
    The misty izar from Mosul,
    The pearls and opals for her hair,
    The slippers for her supple feet,
    (Two radiant crescent moons they were,)
    And lavender, and spikenard sweet,
    And attars, nedd, and richest musk.
    When they had finished dressing her,
    (The eye of morn, the heart's desire!)
    Like one pale star against the dusk,
    A single diamond on her brow
    Trembled with its imprisoned fire!"

Too long for quotation here, but by no means too long to be read many
times over, is "Pampinea," an idyl in which the poet's fancy plays
lightly and gracefully with the romance of life in Boccaccio's
Florentine garden, and returns again to the beauty which inspired his
dream of Italy, as he lay musing beside our northern sea. The thread of
thought running through the poem is slight as the plot of
dreams,--breaks, perhaps, if you take it up too abruptly; but how
beautiful are the hues and the artificing of the jewels strung upon it!

    "And knowing how in other times
    Her lips were ripe with Tuscan rhymes
    Of love and wine and dance, I spread
    My mantle by almond-tree,
    'And here, beneath the rose,' I said,
    'I'll hear thy Tuscan melody.'
    I heard a tale that was not told
    In those ten dreamy days of old,
    When Heaven, for some divine offence,
    Smote Florence with the pestilence;
    And in that garden's odorous shade,
    The dames of the Decameron,
    With each a loyal lover, strayed,
    To laugh and sing, at sorest need,
    To lie in the lilies in the sun
    With glint of plume and silver brede!
    And while she whispered in my ear,
    The pleasant Arno murmured near,
    The dewy, slim chameleons run
    Through twenty colors in the sun;
    The breezes broke the fountain's glass,
    And woke æolian melodies,
    And shook from out the scented trees
    The lemon-blossoms on the grass.
    The tale? I have forgot the tale,--
    A Lady all for love forlorn,
    A rose-bud, and a nightingale
    That bruised his bosom on the thorn:
    A pot of rubies buried deep,
    A glen, a corpse, a child asleep,
    A Monk, that was no monk at all,
    In the moonlight by a castle wall."

As to "Babie Bell," that ballad has passed too deeply into the popular
heart to be affected for good or ill by criticism,--and we have only to
express our love of it. Simple, pathetic, and real, it early made the
poet a reputation and friends in every home visited by the newspapers,
in which it has been printed over and over again. It is but one of
various poems by Mr. Aldrich which enjoy a sort of perennial fame, and
for which we have come to look in the papers, as we do for certain
flowers in the fields, at their proper season. In the middle of June,
when the beauty of earth and sky drives one to despair, we know that it
is time to find the delicately sensuous and pensive little poem
"Nameless Pain" in all our exchanges; and later, when the summer is
subject to sudden thunderstorms, we look out for "Before the Rain," and
"After the Rain." It is very high praise of these charming lyrics, that
they have thus associated themselves with a common feeling for certain
aspects of nature, and we confess that we recur to them with greater
pleasure than we find in some of our poet's more ambitious efforts.
Indeed, we think Mr. Aldrich's fame destined to gain very little from
his recent poems, "Judith," "Garnaut Hall," and "Pythagoras"; for when
it comes to be decided what is his and what is his period's, these poems
cannot be justly awarded to him. To borrow a figure from the polygamic
usages of our Mormon brethren, they are sealed to Mr. Aldrich for time
and to Mr. Tennyson for eternity. They contain many fine and original
passages: the "Judith" contains some very grand ones, but they must bear
the penalty of the error common to all our younger poets,--the error of
an imitation more or less unconscious. It is to the example of the
dangerous poet named that Mr. Aldrich evidently owes, among other minor
blemishes, a mouse which does some mischief in his verses. It is a
wainscot mouse, and a blood-relation, we believe, to the very mouse that
shrieked behind the mouldering wainscot in the lonely moated grange.
This mouse of Mr. Aldrich's appears twice in a brief lyric called
"December"; in "Garnaut Hall," she makes

          "A lodging for her glossy young
    In dead Sir Egbert's empty coat of mail,"

and immediately afterwards drags the poet over the precipice of

            "'T was a haunted spot.
    A legend killed it for a kindly home,--
    A grim estate, which every heir in turn
    Left to the orgies of the wind and rain,
    The newt, the toad, the spider, and the mouse."

A little of Costar's well-known exterminator would rid Mr. Aldrich of
this rascal rodent. Perhaps, when the mouse is disposed of, the poet
will use some other word than _torso_ to describe a headless, but not
limbless body, and will relieve Agnes Vail of either her shield or her
buckler, since she can hardly need both.

We have always thought Mr. Aldrich's "Palabras Cariñosas" among the most
delicious and winning that he has spoken, and nearly all of his earlier
poems please us; but on the whole it seems to us that his finest is his
latest poem, "Friar Jerome's Beautiful Book"; for it is original in
conception and expression, and noble and elevated in feeling, with all
our poet's wonted artistic grace and felicity of diction. We think it
also a visible growth from what was strong and individual in his style,
before he allowed himself to be so deeply influenced by study of one
whose flower indeed becomes a weed in the garden of another.

_The United States during the War._ By AUGUST LAUGEL. New York:
Baillière Brothers. Paris: Germer Baillière.

_The Civil War in America._ An Address read at the last Meeting of the
Manchester Union and Emancipation Society. By GOLDWIN SMITH. London:
Simpkin, Marshall, & Co. Manchester: A. Ireland & Co.

As a people, we are so used to policeman-like severity or snobbish
ridicule from European criticism, that we hardly know what to make of
the attentions of a Frenchman who is not an Inspector Javert, or of an
Englishman who is not a Commercial Traveller. M. Laugel eulogizes us
without the least patronage in his manner; Mr. Goldwin Smith praises us
with those reserves which enhance the value of applause. We are
ourselves accustomed to deal generously and approvingly with the facts
of our civilization, but our pride in them falls short of M. Laugel's;
and our most sanguine faith in the national future is not more cordial
than Mr. Goldwin Smith's.

The diverse methods in which these writers discuss the same aspects and
events of our history are characteristic and interesting, and the
difference in spirit is even greater than that of form,--greater than
the difference between a book, which, made from articles in the _Revue
de Deux Mondes_, recounts the political, military, and financial
occurrences of the last four years, sketches popular scenes and
characters, and deals with the wonders of our statistics, and a slender
pamphlet address, in which the author concerns himself rather with the
results than the events of our recent war. This is always Mr. Smith's
manner of dealing with the past; but in considering a period known in
all its particulars to his audience, he has been able to philosophize
history more purely and thoroughly than usual. He arrives directly and
clearly at the moral of the Ilias Americana, and sees that Christianity
is the life of our political system, and that this principle, without
which democracy is a passing dream, and equality an idle fallacy,
triumphed forever in the downfall of slavery. He has been the first of
our commentators to discern that the heroism displayed in the war could
only come from that principle which made our social life decent and
orderly, built the school-house and the church, and filled city and
country with prosperous and religious homes. He has seen this principle
at work under changing names and passing creeds, and has recognized that
here, for the first time in the history of the world, a whole nation
strives to govern itself according to the Example and the Word that
govern good men everywhere.

In the Introduction to his book, M. Laugel declares as the reasons for
his admiration of the United States, that they "have shown that men can
found a government on reason, where equality does not stifle liberty,
and democracy does not yield to despotism; they have shown that a people
can be religious when the State neither pays the Church nor regulates
belief; they have given to woman the place that is her due in a
Christian and civilized society." It is this Introduction, indeed, that
will most interest the American reader, for here also the author
presents the result of his study of our national character in a sketch
that the nation may well glass itself in when low-spirited. The truth
is, that we looked our very best to the friendly eyes of M. Laugel, and
we cannot but be gratified with the portrait he has made of us. An
American would hardly have ventured to draw so flattering a picture, but
he cannot help exulting that an alien should see us poetic in our
realism, curious of truth and wisdom as well as of the stranger's
personal history, cordial in our friendships, and not ignoble even in
our pursuit of wealth, but having the Republic's greatness at heart as
well as our own gain.

In the chapters which succeed this Introduction, M. Laugel discusses, in
a spirit of generous admiration, the facts of our civilization as they
present themselves in nearly all the States of the North and West; and
while he does not pretend to see polished society everywhere, but very
often an elemental ferment, he finds also that the material of national
goodness and greatness is sound and of unquestionable strength. He falls
into marvellously few errors, and even his figures have not that bad
habit of lying to which the figures of travellers so often fall victims.

The books of M. Laugel and Mr. Goldwin Smith come to us, as we hinted,
after infinite stupid and dishonest censure from their countrymen; but
the intelligent friendship of such writers is not the less welcome to us
because we have ceased to care for the misrepresentations of the French
and English tourists.

_Hospital Life in the Army of the Potomac._ By WILLIAM HOWELL REED.
Boston; William V. Spencer.

The advice of friends, so often mistaken, and so productive of mischief
in goading reluctant authorship to the publication of unwise, immature,
or feeble literature, prevailed upon Mr. Reed to give the world the
present book; and we have a real pleasure in saying that for once this
affectionate counsel has done the world a favor and a service. We have
read the volume through with great interest, and with a lively
impression of the author's good sense and modesty. In great part it is a
personal narrative; but Mr. Reed, in recounting the story of the
unwearied vigilance and tenderness and dauntless courage with which the
corps of the Sanitary Commission discharged their high duties, contrives
to present his individual acts as representative of those of the whole
body, and to withdraw himself from the reader's notice. With the same
spirit, in describing scenes of misery and suffering, he has more
directly celebrated the patience and heroism of the soldiers who bore
the pain than the indefatigable goodness that ministered to them,
though he does full justice to this also. The book is a record of every
variety of wretchedness; yet one comes from its perusal strengthened and
elevated rather than depressed, and with new feelings of honor for the
humanity that could do and endure so much. Mr. Reed does not fail to
draw from the scenes and experiences of hospital life their religious
lesson, and throughout his work are scattered pictures of anguish
heroically borne, and of Christian resignation to death, which are all
the more touching because the example of courage through simple and
perfect faith is enforced without cant or sentimentality.

The history of the great Christian aspect of our war cannot be too
minutely written nor too often read. There is some danger, now the
occasion of mercy is past, that we may forget how wonderfully complete
the organization of the Sanitary Commission was, and how unfailingly it
gave to the wounded and disabled of our hosts all the succor that human
foresight could afford,--how, beginning with the establishment of depots
convenient for the requisitions of the surgeons, it came to send out its
own corps of nurses and watchers, until its lines of mercy were
stretched everywhere almost in sight of the lines of battle, and its
healing began almost at the hour the hurt was given. Mr. Reed devotes a
chapter to this history, in which he briefly and clearly describes the
practical operation of the system of national charity, accrediting to
Mr. Frank B. Fay the organization of the auxiliary corps, and speaking
with just praise of its members who perished in the service, or clung to
it, till, overtaken by contagion or malaria, they returned home to die.
The subject is dealt with very frankly; and Mr. Reed, while striving to
keep in view the consoling and self-recompensing character of their
work, does not conceal that, though they were rewarded by patience and
thankfulness in far the greater number of cases, their charities were
sometimes met by disheartening selfishness and ingratitude. But they
bore up under all, and gave the world such an illustration of practical
Christianity as it had never seen before.

Mr. Reed's little book is so earnestly and unambitiously written, that
its graphic power may escape notice. Yet it is full of picturesque
touches; and in the line of rapidly succeeding anecdote there is nothing
of repetition.

_A History of the Gypsies: with Specimens of the Gypsy Language._ By
WALTER SIMPSON. Edited, with Preface, Introduction, and Notes, and a
Disquisition on the Past, Present, and Future of Gypsydom, by JAMES
SIMPSON. New York: M. Doolady.

The history of the Gypsies, according to the editor of the present work,
is best presented in a series of desultory anecdotes which relate
chiefly to the Egyptian usages of murder, pocket-picking, and
horse-stealing, and the behavior of the rogues when they come to be
hanged for their crimes. Incidentally, a good deal of interesting
character is developed, and both author and editor show a very intimate
acquaintance with the life and customs and speech of an inexplicable
people. But here the value of their book ends; and we imagine that the
earlier Simpson, who contributed the greater part of it in articles to
Blackwood's Magazine, scarcely supposed himself to be writing anything
more than sketches of the Scotch Gypsies whom he found in the different
shires, and of the Continental and English Gypsies of whom he had read.
The later Simpson thought it, as we have seen, a history of the Gypsies,
and he has furnished it with an Introduction and a Disquisition of
amusingly pompous and inconsequent nature. His subject has been too much
for him, and his mental vision, disordered by too ardent contemplation
of Gypsies, reproduces them wherever he turns his thought. If he values
any one of his illusions above the rest,--for they all seem equally
pleasant to him,--it is his persuasion that John Bunyan was a Gypsy. "He
was a tinker," says our editor. "And who were the tinkers?" "Why,
Gypsies, without a doubt," answers the reader, and makes no struggle to
escape the conclusion thus skilfully sprung upon him. Will it be
credited that the inventor of this theory was denied admittance to the
columns of the religious newspapers in this country, on the flimsy
pretext that the editors could not afford the space for a disquisition
on John Bunyan's Gypsy origin?

The comparison of the Gypsy language in this book with a dialect of the
Hindostanee is interesting and useful, and the accounts of Gypsy habits
and usages are novel and curious; and otherwise the work is a mass of
rather entertaining rubbish.

_Eros. A Series of connected Poems._ By LORENZO SOMERVILLE, London:
Trübner & Co.

_Patriotic Poems._ By FRANCIS DE HAES JANVIER. Philadelphia: J. B.
Lippincott & Co.

_The Contest: a Poem._ By G. P. CARR. Chicago: P. L. Hanscom.

_Poems._ By ANNIE E. CLARK. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott & Co.

All these little books are very prettily printed and very pleasingly
bound. Each has its little index and its little dedication, and each its
hundred pages of rhymes, and so each flutters forth into the world.

    "Dove vai, povera foglia frale?"

To oblivion, by the briefest route, we think; and we find a pensive
satisfaction in speculating upon the incidents of the journey. Shall any
one challenge the wanderers in their flight, and seek to stay them?
Shall they all reach an utter forgetfulness, and be resolved again into
elemental milk and water, or shall one of them lodge in a dusty library,
here and there, and, having ceased to be literature, lead the idle life
of a curiosity? We imagine another as finding a moment's pause upon the
centre-table of a country parlor. Perhaps a third, hastily bought at a
railway station as the train started, and abandoned by the purchaser,
may at this hour have entered upon a series of railway journeys in
company with the brakeman's lamps and oil-bottles, with a fair prospect
of surviving many generations of short-lived railway travellers. We
figure to ourselves the heart-breaking desolation of a village-tavern,
where, on the bureau under the mirror, to which the public comb and
brush are chained, a fourth might linger for a while.

But in all the world shall anybody read one of these books? We fancy not
even a critic; for the race so vigilantly malign in other days has lost
its bitterness, or has been broken of its courage by the myriad numbers
of the versifiers once so exultingly destroyed. Indeed, that cruel
slaughter was but a combat with Nature,--

    "So careful of the type she seems,
    So careless of the single life";

and from the exanimate dust of one crushed poetaster she bade a thousand
rhymesters rise. Yet one cannot help thinking with a shudder of the
hideous spectacle of "Eros" in the jaws of Blackwood or the mortal
Quarterly, thirty years ago; or of how ruthlessly our own Raven would
have plucked the poor trembling life from the "Patriotic Poems," or "The
Contest," or the "Poems."

The world grows wiser and better-natured every day, and the tender
statistician has long since stayed the hand of the critic. "Why strike,"
says the gentle sage, "when figures will do your work so much more
effectually, and leave you the repose of a compassionate soul? Do you
not know that but one book in a thousand survives the year of its
publication?" etc., etc., etc. "And then as to the infinite reproduction
of the species," adds Science, "_is_ Nature,

    "'So careful of the single type?' But no,
    From scarped cliff and quarried stone
    She cries, 'A thousand types are gone.'"

Patience! the glyptodon and the dodo have been dead for ages. Perhaps in
a million years the poetaster also shall pass.

_Thirty Years of Army Life on the Border._ By COLONEL R. B. MARCY, U. S.
A. With Numerous Illustrations. New York: Harper and Brothers.

There is not much variety in frontier life, it must be confessed, though
there is abundant adventure. A family likeness runs through nearly all
histories of bear-fights, and one Indian-fight might readily be mistaken
for another. So also bear-fighters and Indian-fighters are akin in
character, and the pioneers who appear in literature leave a sense of
sameness upon the reader's mind. Nevertheless, one continues to read of
them with considerable patience, and likes the stories because he liked
their ancestral legends when a boy.

Colonel Marcy's book offers something more than the usual attractions of
the class to which it belongs; for it contains the history of his own
famous passage of the Rocky Mountains in mid-winter, and notices of many
frontiersmen of original and striking character (like the immortal
Captain Scott), as well as much shrewd observation of Indian nature and
other wild-beast nature. All topics are treated with perfect
common-sense; if our soldierly author sometimes philosophizes rather
narrowly, he never sentimentalizes, though he is not without poetry; and
he is thoroughly imbued with the importance of his theme. One,
therefore, suffers a great deal from him, in the way of unnecessary
detail, without a murmur, and now and then willingly accepts an old
story from him, charmed by the simplicity and good faith with which he
attempts to pass it off as new.

The style of the book is clear and direct, except in those parts where
light and humorous narration is required. There it is bad, and seems to
have been formed upon the style of the sporting newspapers and the local
reporters, with now and then a hint from the witty passages of the
circus, as in this colloquy:--

"'Mought you be the boss hossifer of that thar army?'

"'I am the commanding officer of that detachment, sir.'

"'Wall, Mr. Hossifer, be them sure 'nuff sogers, or is they only
make-believe chaps, like I see down to Orleans?'

"'They have passed through the Mexican war, and I trust have proved
themselves not only worthy of the appellation of real, genuine soldiers,
but of veterans, sir.'"

And so forth. We like Colonel Mercy when he talks of himself better than
when he talks for himself. In the latter case he is often what we see
him above, and in the former he is always modest, discreet, and

_Memoirs of a Good-for-Nothing._ From the German of JOSEPH VON
EICHENDORFF, by CHARLES GODFREY LELAND. With Vignettes by E. B. Bensell.
New York: Leypoldt and Holt.

When, as Heine says, Napoleon, who was Classic like Cæsar and Alexander,
fell to the ground, and Herren August Wilhelm and Friedrich Schlegel,
who were Romantic like Puss in Boots, arose as victors, Baron von
Eichendorff was one of those who shared the triumph. He wrote plays and
poems and novels to the tunes set by the masters of his school, but for
himself practically he was a wise man,--held comfortable offices all his
life long, and, in spite of vast literary yearning, sentiment, and
misanthropy, was a Philister of the Philisters. The tale which Mr.
Leland translates so gracefully is an extravaganza, in marked contrast
to all the other romances of Eichendorff, in so far as it is purposely
farcical, and they are serious; but we imagine it does not differ from
them greatly in its leading qualities of fanciful incoherency and
unbridled feebleness. An idle boy, who is driven from home by his
father, the miller, and is found with his violin on the road to nowhere
by two great ladies and carried to their castle near Vienna,--who falls
in love with one of these lovely countesses, and runs away for love of
her to Italy, and, after passing through many confused adventures there,
with no relation to anything that went before or comes after, returns to
the castle, and finds that his lovely countess is not a countess, but a
poor orphan adopted by the great folk,--and so happily marries
her,--this is the Good-for-Nothing and his story. A young student of the
German language, struggling through the dusty paths of the dictionary to
a comprehension of the tale, would perhaps think it a wonderful romance,
when once he had achieved its meaning; but being translated into our
pitiless English, its poverty of wit and feeling and imagination is
apparent; and one is soon weary of its mere fantasticality.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 18, No. 106, August, 1866" ***

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