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Title: Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine - Volume 57, No. 352, February 1845
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 "Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine - Volume 57, No. 352, February 1845" ***

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  BLACKWOOD'S

  EDINBURGH MAGAZINE.


  NO. CCCLII. FEBRUARY, 1845. VOL. LVII.



  CONTENTS.


  NORTH'S SPECIMENS OF THE BRITISH CRITICS,      133

  THE TOWER OF LONDON. BY THOMAS ROSCOE,         158

  POEMS AND BALLADS OF GOETHE. NO. III.,         165

  SPAIN AS IT IS,                                181

  THE SUPERFLUITIES OF LIFE,                     194

  THE OVERLAND PASSAGE,                          204

  MESMERISM,                                     219

  AESTHETICS OF DRESS. ABOUT A BONNET,           242

  GERMAN-AMERICAN ROMANCES,                      251


  EDINBURGH
  WILLIAM BLACKWOOD AND SONS, 45, GEORGE STREET;
  AND 22, PALL-MALL, LONDON.
  _To whom all Communications (post paid) must be addressed._
  SOLD BY ALL THE BOOKSELLERS IN THE UNITED KINGDOM.

  PRINTED BY BALLANTYNE AND HUGHES, EDINBURGH.



BLACKWOOD'S

EDINBURGH MAGAZINE


No. CCCLII. FEBRUARY, 1845. VOL. LVII.



NORTH'S SPECIMENS OF THE BRITISH CRITICS.

DRYDEN.


Poetry, according to Lord Bacon a Third Part of Learning, must be a
social interest of momentous power. That Wisest of Men--so our dear
friends may have heard--extols it above history and above philosophy, as
the more divine in its origin, the more immediately and intimately
salutary and sanative in its use. Are not Shakspeare and Milton two of
our greatest moral teachers? CRITICISM opens to us the poetry we
possess; and, like a magnanimous kingly protector, shelters and fosters
all its springing growths. What is criticism as a science? Essentially
this--FEELING KNOWN--that is, affections of the heart and imagination
become understood subject-matter to the self-conscious intelligence.
Must feeling perish because intelligence sounds its depths? Quite the
reverse. Greatest minds are those in which, in and out of poetry, the
understanding contemplates the will. Then first the soul has its proper
strength. Disorderly passions are then tamed, and become the massy
pillars of high-built virtue. Criticism? It is a shape of
self-intuition. Confession and penitence, in the church, are a moral and
a religious criticism. The imagination is less august and solemn, but of
the same character. The first age of the world lived by divine
instincts; the later must by reason. How, then, shall we possess the
poetry of our being, unless we guard and arm it? If it be a benign,
holy, potent faculty, nevertheless it cannot, the most delicate of all
our faculties, sustain itself in the strife of opinions raging and
thundering around. Then, if it should rightly hold dominion over us, let
legislative opinion acknowledge, establish, and fortify that impaled
territory. The temper of the times is in sundry respects favourable,
notwithstanding its too frequent possession by an incensed political
spirit. Has there not been for half a century a spontaneous, an ardent,
a loving return in literature, of our own and all countries, to the old
and great in the productions of the human mind--to nature, with all her
fountains? Does not the spirit of man, in the great civilized nations at
this day, travail with desire of knowing itself, its laws, its
conditions, its means, its powers, its hopes? It studies with irregular,
often blind and perverted, efforts; but still it studies--itself. And is
not criticism, when it speaks, much bolder, more glowing and generous,
ampler-spirited, more inspiring, and withal more enquiring and
philosophical? During the whole period we speak of, poetry and
criticism--in nature near akin--with occasional complaints and quarrels,
have flourished amicably together, side by side. Both have been strong,
healthy, and good. Prigs of both kinds--the pert and the pompous--will
keep prating about the shallowness and superficiality of periodical
criticism--deep enough to drown the whole tribe in its very fords. They
call for systems. Why will they not be contented with the system of the
universe?--of which they know not that periodical criticism is a
conspicuous part. Every other year the nations without telescopes see
the rising of some new, bright, particular star. Comets, with tails like
O'Connell, are so common as to lose attraction, and blaze by weekly into
indiscoverable realms. We have constructed an Orrery of Ebony, which we
mean to exhibit at the next great cattle-show, displaying, in their
luminous order, the orbs and orbits of all the heavenly bodies. In the
centre----but this is not the time for such high revelations. We have
now another purpose; and, leaving all those golden urns to yield light
at their leisure, we desire you to take a look along with us at the
choice critics of other days, waked by our potent voice from the
long-gathering dust. In our plainer style, we beg, ladies and gentlemen,
to draw your attention to a series of articles in _Blackwood_, of which
this is Alpha. Omega is intended for a Christmas present to your
great-grandchildren.

Ay, there were giants in those days, as well as in these--also much
dwarfs. But we shall not lose ourselves with you in the darkness of
antiquity--one longish stride backwards of some hundred and fifty years
or so, and then let us leisurely look about us for the Critics. Who
comes here? A grenadier--GLORIOUS JOHN. Him Scott, Hallam, Macaulay,
have pronounced, each in his own peculiar and admirable way, to have
been, in criticism, "a light to his people." Him Samuel Johnson called
"a man whom every English generation must mention with reverence as a
critic and a poet."

"Dryden," says the sage, in a splendid eulogium on his prose writings,
"may be properly considered as the father of English criticism--as the
writer who first taught us to determine, upon principles, the merit of
composition. Of our former poets, the greatest dramatist wrote without
rules, conducted through life and nature by a genius that rarely misled,
and never deserted him. Of the rest, those who knew the laws of
propriety had neglected to teach them." And he adds wisely--"To judge
rightly of an author, we must transport ourselves to his time, and
examine what were the wants of his contemporaries, and what were his
means of supplying them. That which is easy at one time was difficult at
another." Let us, then, examine some of Dryden's expositions of
principles; and first, those on which he defends Heroic Verse in Rhyme,
as the best language of the tragic drama.

This can be done effectually only by following him wherever he has
treated the subject, and by condensing all his opinions into one
consecutive argument.

His first play, (a comedy,) "The Wild Gallant," was brought on the stage
in February 1662-3, and with indifferent success, though he has told us
that it was more than once the divertisement of Charles II. by his own
command, and a favourite with "the Castlemain." "The Rival Ladies" (a
tragi-comedy) was acted and published in the year following, and the
serious scenes are executed in rhyme. Of its success we know nothing in
particular; but Sir Walter thinks that the flowing verse into which some
part of the dialogue is thrown, with the strong point and antithesis
which all along distinguished his style, especially his argumentative
poetry, tended to redeem the credit of the author of the "Wild Gallant."
Up to this time Dryden, now in his thirty-third year, had not written
much; but in his "Heroic Stanzas on the death of Oliver Cromwell,"
"Astrea Redux, or Poem on the Happy Restoration and Return of his Sacred
Majesty," and "A Panegyric on his Coronation," he had not only shown his
measureless superiority to the Sprats and Wallers--poetasters of the
same class after all, though Sprat was always but a small fish, while
Waller was long thought like a whale--but manifested a vigour of thought
and expression that gave assurance of a veritable poet. In those noble
compositions he exults in his conscious power of numerous verse; and,
like an eagle in the middle element, sweeps along majestically on easy
wings. In "The Rival Ladies," the rhymed dialogue is exceedingly
graceful, the blank verse somewhat cumbrous; and, in his dedication to
the Earl of Orrery, he justifies himself "for following the new way; I
mean, of writing scenes _in verse_." It may here, once for all, be
remarked, that in all his disquisitions, by "verse" he usually means
rhyme as opposed to blank verse. "To speak properly," he says, "it is
not so much a new way amongst us, as an old way revived; for many years
before Shakspeare's plays was the tragedy of 'Queen Gorboduc,' in
English verse, written by that famous Lord Buckhurst, afterwards Earl of
Dorset." Dryden here shows how little conversant he then was with the
old English drama. For the tragedy of "Ferrex and Porrex" was first
surreptitiously published under the title of "Gorboduc," who is not
Queen, but King of England; and it is not written in rhyme, but,
excepting the choruses, in blank verse; while Sackville's part of the
play comprehends only the two last acts, of themselves sufficient to
place him in the highest order of Noble Authors. "But supposing," he
continues, "our countrymen had not received this writing till of late,
shall we oppose ourselves to the most polished and civilized nations of
Europe? * * * All the Spanish and Italian tragedies I have yet seen are
writ in rhyme. * * * Shakspeare (who, with some errors not to be avoided
in that age, _had undoubtedly a larger soul of poesy than ever any of
our nation_,) was the first who, to shun the pains of continual rhyming,
invented that kind of writing which we call blank verse, but the French
more properly _prose mesurée_; into which the English tongue so
naturally glides, that in writing prose it is hardly to be avoided."
Here again, it is hardly indeed worth while to remark, is another
mistake; Marlow and several other dramatists having used blank verse
(but how inferior to the divine man's!) before Shakspeare. Coleridge
somewhere quotes a verse or two forming itself in prose composition as a
rarity and a fault; but, though it had better perhaps be avoided, and
though its frequent recurrence would be offensive, yet, when words in
their natural order do form a verse, it might be difficult to give a
good reason why they may not be permitted to do so, more especially if
they are not felt to be a verse insulated among the circumfluent prose.
From the very best prose we could pick out thousands of single verses,
which are to be found only when you seek for them; and not from rich
prose only like Coleridge's own or Jeremy Taylor's, but from the
poorest, like Dr Blair's or Gerald's of Aberdeen. Dryden says he cannot
"but admire how some men should perpetually stumble in a way so
easy"--that is, as blank verse--"into which the English tongue so
naturally glides," and should strive to attain it by inverting the order
of the words, to make the "blanks" sound more heroically--as, for
example, instead of "Sir, I ask your pardon," "Sir, I your pardon ask."
And adds--"I should judge him to have little command of English, when
the necessity of a rhyme should force often upon this rock; though
sometimes it cannot easily be avoided; _and, indeed, this is the only
inconvenience with which rhyme can be charged_." In this lively style
does he pursue his argument in favour of rhyme. For this it is which
makes its adversaries say _rhyme is not natural_! But the fault lies
with the poet who is not master of his art, and either makes a vicious
choice of words, or places them, for rhyme's sake, so unnaturally as no
man would in ordinary speech. But when it is so judiciously ordered that
the first word in the verse seems to beget the second, and that again
the next, till that becomes the last word in the line, which, in the
negligence of prose, would be so; it must then be granted, that rhyme
has all the advantages of prose--_besides its own_.

"Glorious John" (who must have been laughing in his sleeve) then
declares, that the "excellence and dignity of it were never fully known
till Mr Waller taught it;" that it was afterwards "followed in the epic
by Sir John Denham, in his 'Cooper's Hill,' a poem which your lordship
knows, for the majesty of the style, is, and ever will be, the exact
standard of good writing;" and that we are "acknowledging for the
noblest use of it to Sir William D'Avenant, who at once brought it upon
the stage, _and made it perfect in the Siege of Rhodes_!"

Having thus carried things all his own way, he triumphantly declares,
that the advantages which rhyme has over blank verse are so many, that
"it were lost time to name them." And then, with fresh vigour, he sets
himself to name some of the chief--and first, that one illustrated by
Sir Philip Sidney in his "Defence of Poesy," "the help it brings to
memory, which rhyme so knits up by the affinity of sound, that by
remembering the last word in one line, we often call to mind both the
verses." Then, in the quickness of repartees (which in discoursive
scenes fall very often) it has, he says, so particular a grace, and is
so aptly united to them, that the sudden smartness of the answer, and
the exactness of the rhyme, set off the beauty of each other.

But its greatest benefit of all, according to Dryden, is, that it bounds
and circumscribes the fancy. The great easiness of blank verse renders
the poet too luxuriant; he is tempted to say many things which might be
better omitted, or at least shut up in fewer words. But when the
difficulty of artificial rhyming is interposed; where the poet commonly
confines his verse to his couplet, and must continue that verse in such
words that the rhyme shall naturally follow them, not they the rhyme,
the fancy then gives leisure to the judgment to come in; which, seeing
so heavy a task imposed, is ready to cut off all unnecessary expenses.
And this furnishes a complete answer, he maintains, to the ordinary
objection, that rhyme is only an embroidery of verse, to make that which
is ordinary in itself pass for excellent with less examination. For that
which most regulates the fancy, and gives the judgment its busiest
employment, is like to bring forth the richest and clearest thoughts.
The poet examines that most which he produces with the greatest leisure,
and which he knows must pass the severest test of the audience, because
they are aptest to have it ever in the memory. In conclusion, he winds
up skilfully by applying all he has said to "a fit subject"--that is, an
Heroic Play. For neither must the argument alone, but the characters and
persons, be great and noble, otherwise rhymed verse would be out of
place, which, for the reasons assigned, is manifestly suited for the
utterance of lofty sentiments, and for occasions of dignity and
importance. Heroic Plays were then all the rage, and Dryden was
meditating to enter on that career which for many years occupied his
genius, not essentially dramatic, to the exclusion of other kinds of
poetry in which he afterwards excelled all competitors.

Sir Robert Howard's Heroic Play, the "Indian Queen," "part of which was
written by Dryden," and the whole revised and corrected no doubt,
especially in the article of versification, was acted in 1664 with great
applause. "It presented," says Sir Walter, "battles and sacrifices on
the stage, aërial demons singing in the air, and the god of dreams
ascending through a trap, the least of which has often saved a worse
tragedy." Evelyn, in his Memoirs, has recorded, that the scenes were the
richest ever seen in England, or perhaps elsewhere, upon a public stage.
Dryden, by its reception, was encouraged to engraft on it another drama
called the "Indian Emperor"--a continuation of the tale--which had the
most ample success, and, till a revolution in the public taste, retained
possession of the stage. Soon after its publication, Sir Robert Howard,
in a peevish Preface to some plays of his, chose to answer what Dryden
had said in behalf of verse in his Epistle Dedicatory to his "Rival
Ladies," and not only without any mention of his name, but without any
allusion to the "Indian Emperor," while he bestowed the most extravagant
eulogies on the heroic plays of my Lord of Orrery--"in whose verse the
greatness of the majesty seems unsullied with the cares, and the
inimitable fancy descends to us in such easy expressions, that they seem
as if neither had ever been added to the other, but both together
flowing from a height, like birds so high that use no balancing wings,
but only with an easy care preserve a steadiness in motion. But this
particular happiness among those multitudes which that excellent person
is an owner of, does not convince my reason but employ my wonder; yet I
am glad that such verse has been written for the stage, since it has so
happily exceeded those whom we seemed to imitate. But while I give these
arguments against verse, I may seem faulty that I have not only written
ill ones, but written any; but since it was the fashion, I was resolved,
as in all indifferent things, not to appear singular--the danger of the
vanity being greater than the error; and therefore I followed it as a
fashion, though very far off." Sir Robert appears to have been in the
sulks, for some cause not now known, with his great brother-in-law; and
was pleased to punish him by thus publicly pretending ignorance of his
existence as an heroic play-wright. Yet the "Annus Mirabilis" was about
this time dedicated to Sir Robert; and only about a year before, John
had had a helping hand with the "Indian Queen." My Lord of Orrery must
have been a proud man to have his gouty too so fervently kissed by the
jealous rivals. "The muses," Dryden had said in his dedication to that
nobleman, "have seldom employed your thoughts but when some violent fit
of the gout has snatched you from affairs of state; and, like the
priestess of Apollo, you never come to deliver your oracles but
unwillingly and in torments. So we are obliged to your lordship's misery
for our delight. You treat us with the cruel pleasure of a Turkish
triumph, where those who cut and wound their bodies, sing songs of
victory as they pass, and divert others with their own sufferings. Other
men endure their diseases--your lordship only can enjoy them." Dryden,
however, was not disposed to stomach Sir Robert's supercilious silence,
and took a noble revenge in his "Essay on Dramatic Poesy."

This celebrated Essay was first published at the close of 1668; and the
writing of it, Dryden tells us, in a dedication, many years afterwards,
to the Earl of Dorset, "served as an amusement to me in the country,
when the violence of the last plague had driven me from the town.
Seeing, then, our theatres shut up, I was engaged in these kind of
thoughts with the same delight with which men think upon their absent
mistresses." It is in the form of dialogue; under the feigned
appellations of Lisideius, Crites, Eugenius, and Neander, the speakers
are Sir Charles Sedley, Sir Robert Howard, Lord Buckhurst, and Dryden.
Nothing can exceed the grace with which the dialogue is conducted--the
choice of scene is most happy--and the description of it in the highest
degree striking and poetical.

     "It was that memorable day, in the first summer of the late war,
     when our navy engaged the Dutch; a day wherein the two most mighty
     and best appointed fleets which any age had ever seen, disputed the
     command of the greater half of the globe, the commerce of nations,
     and the riches of the universe. While these vast floating bodies,
     on either side, moved against each other in parallel lines, and our
     countrymen, under the happy conduct of his Royal Highness, went
     breaking, little by little, into the line of the enemies, the noise
     of the cannon from both navies reached our ears about the city; so
     that all men being alarmed with it, and in a dreadful suspense of
     the event which they knew was then deciding, every one went
     following the sound as his fancy led him; and leaving the town
     almost empty, some took towards the Park, some cross the river,
     some down it, all seeking the noise in the depth of silence.

     "Amongst the rest, it was the fortune of Eugenius, Crites,
     Lisideius, and Neander, to be in company together, three of them
     persons whom their wit and quality have made known to all the town,
     and whom I have chose to hide under these borrowed names, that they
     may not suffer by so ill a narration as I am going to make of their
     discourse.

     "Taking, then, a barge, which a servant of Lisideius had provided
     for them, they made haste to shoot the bridge, and left behind them
     that great fall of waters which hindered them from hearing what
     they desired; after which, having disengaged themselves from many
     vessels which rode at anchor in the Thames, and almost blocked up
     the passage towards Greenwich, they ordered the watermen to let
     fall their oars more gently; and then every one favouring his own
     curiosity with a strict silence, it was not long ere they perceived
     the air to break about them like the noise of distant thunder, or
     of swallows in a chimney--those little undulations of sound, though
     almost vanishing before they reached them, yet still seeming to
     retain somewhat of their first horror which they had betwixt the
     fleets. After they had attentively listened till such time as the
     sound, by little and little, went from them, Eugenius, lifting up
     his head, and taking notice of it, was the first who congratulated
     to the rest that happy omen of our nation's victory; adding, that
     we had but this to desire in confirmation of it, that we might hear
     no more of that noise which was now leaving the English coast. When
     the rest had concurred in the same opinion, Crites, a person of
     sharp judgment, and somewhat too delicate a taste in wit, which the
     world hath mistaken in him for ill-nature, said, smiling to us,
     that if the concernment of this battle had not been so exceeding
     great, he could scarce have wished the victory at the price he knew
     he must pay for it, in being subject to the reading and hearing of
     so many ill verses as he was sure would be made on that subject;
     adding, that no argument could 'scape some of these eternal
     rhymers, who watch a battle with more diligence than the ravens and
     birds of prey, and the worst of them surest to be first in upon the
     quarry; while the better able, either out of modesty writ not at
     all, or set that due value upon their poems, as to let them be
     often desired and long expected. There are some of those
     impertinent people of whom you speak, answered Lisideius, who, to
     my knowledge, are already so provided either way, that they can
     produce not only a panegyric upon the victory, but, if need be, a
     funeral elegy upon the Duke, wherein, after they have crowned his
     valour with many laurels, they will at last deplore the odds under
     which he fell, concluding that his courage deserved a better
     destiny. All the company smiled at the conceit of Lisideius; but
     Crites, more eager than before, began to make particular exceptions
     against some writers, and said the public magistrates ought to send
     betimes to forbid them; and that it concerned the peace and quiet
     of all honest people that ill poets should be as well silenced as
     seditious preachers."

We may perhaps have occasion, by and by, to notice other important
topics spiritedly and eloquently discussed by these choice spirits in
the barge; meanwhile our business is with the argument, "rhyme _versus_
blank verse," between Crites and Neander. Crites maintains, sometimes in
the very words, Sir Robert's views in the Preface to his plays, in which
he had animadverted on Dryden's dedication to the "Rival Ladies," while
Neander combats them; and it may be observed, that the worthy Baronet is
made to speak forcibly and well--much better indeed, on the whole, than
he does in his own preface. From beginning to end there cannot be
imagined a more fair and gentlemanly dialogue. But first, we cannot
resist giving the very beautiful close.

     "Neander was pursuing this discussion so eagerly, that Eugenius had
     called to him twice or thrice ere he took notice that the barge
     stood still, and that they were at the foot of Somerset stairs,
     where they had appointed it to land. The company were all sorry to
     separate so soon, though a great part of the evening was already
     spent; and stood awhile looking back on the water, upon which the
     moonbeams played, and made it appear like floating quicksilver. At
     last they went up through a crowd of French people, who were
     merrily dancing in the open air, and nothing concerned for the
     noise of guns which had alarmed the town that afternoon. Walking
     three together to the Piazza, they parted there; Eugenius and
     Lisideius to some pleasant appointment they had made, Crites and
     Neander to their several lodgings."

But now to the argument. Crites, who is not more long-winded than may be
permitted to a polite proser, at least on the Thames of a summer
evening, somewhat condensed, reasoneth thus.

A play being the imitation of nature, dialogue is there presented as the
effect of sudden thought; and since no man without premeditation speaks
in rhyme, neither ought he to do it on the stage. The fancy may be
elevated to a higher pitch of thought than it is in ordinary discourse,
for men of excellent and quick parts may speak noble things extempore;
but surely not when fettered with rhyme, for what more unnatural than to
present the most free way of speaking in that which is the most
constrained? The Greek tragedians, therefore, wrote in iambics, the
kind of verse nearest to prose, which with us is blank verse.

The champions of rhyme say that the quickness of repartees receives an
ornament from it in argumentative scenes. But do men not only light on a
sudden upon the wit but the rhyme too? Then must they be born poets. If
they do not seem in the dialogue to make rhymes whether they will or no,
it will look rather like the design of two than the answer of one--as if
your actors hold intelligence together, and perform their tricks like
fortune-tellers by confederacy. The hand of art will be too visible.
Neither is it any answer to say that, however you manage it, 'tis still
known to be a play; for a play is still an imitation of nature, and one
can be deceived only with a probability of truth. The mind of man does
naturally tend to truth, and the nearer any thing comes to the imitation
of it, the more readily will the imagination believe.

Rhyme, it is said, circumscribes a quick and luxuriant fancy, which
would extend itself too far on every subject, did not the labour which
is required to well-turned and polished rhyme set bounds to it. But he
who wants judgment to confine his fancy in blank verse, may want it as
much in rhyme; and he who has it will avoid errors in both kinds. Latin
verse was as great a confinement to the imagination as rhyme; yet Ovid's
fancy was not limited by it, and Virgil needed it not to bind his. In
our own language, Ben Jonson confined himself to what ought to be said,
even in the liberty of blank verse; and Corneille, the most judicious of
the French poets, is still varying the same sense a hundred ways, and
dwelling eternally on the same subject, though confined by rhyme.

Such is the substance of Crites' answer to Dryden's Defence of Rhyme;
and Neander, before replying, begs it to be understood that he excludes
all comedy from his defence, and that he does not deny that blank verse
may be also used; but he asserts that, in Serious Plays, where the
subject and characters are great, and the plot unmixed with mirth, which
might allay or divert those concernments which are produced, rhyme is
there as natural, and more effective, than blank verse--for what other
conditions, he asks, are required to make rhyme natural in itself,
besides an election of apt words, and a right disposition of them? The
due choice of your words expresses your sense naturally, and the due
placing them adapts the rhyme to it. If both the words and rhyme be apt,
one verse cannot be made merely for sake of the other, as Crites had
urged; for supposing there be a dependence of sense betwixt the first
line and the second, then, in the natural position of the words, the
latter line must of necessity flow from the former; and if there be no
dependence, yet still the due ordering of words makes the last line as
natural in itself as the other. A good poet, he affirms, never
establishes the first line till he has sought out such a rhyme as may
fit the verse, already prepared to heighten the second. Many times the
close of the sense falls into the middle of the next verse, or further
off; and he may often avail himself of the same advantages in English
which Virgil had in Latin--he may break off in the hemistich, and begin
another line. The not observing these two last things, makes plays which
are writ in verse so tedious; for though most commonly the sense is to
be confined to the couplet, yet nothing that does run in the same
channel can please always. 'Tis like the murmuring of a stream, which,
not varying in the fall, causes at first attention, at last drowsiness.
Variety of cadence is the best rule, the greatest help to the actor and
refreshment of the audience.

If, then, verse may be made natural in itself, how becomes it unnatural
in a play? The stage, you say, is the representation of nature, and no
man in ordinary conversation speaks in rhyme. True; but neither does he
in blank verse. All the difference between them, when they are both
good, is the sound in one which the other wants; and if so, the
sweetness of it, and other advantages, handled in the Preface to the
"Rival Ladies," all stand good.

The dialogue of plays, you say, is presented as the effect of sudden
thought; but that no man speaks _extempore_ in rhyme, which cannot
therefore be proper in dramatic poesy, unless we could suppose all men
born so much more than poets. But it must not be forgotten that the
question regards the nature of a Serious Play, which is indeed the
representation of nature, but nature wrought up to an high pitch. The
plot, the characters, the wit, the passions, the descriptions, are all
exalted above the level of common converse, as high as the imagination
of the poet can carry them, with proportion to verisimility. Tragedy is
wont to image to us the minds and fortunes of noble persons; and to
portray these exactly, heroic rhyme is nearest nature, as being the
noblest kind of modern verse. Verse, it is true, is not the effect of
sudden thought; but this hinders not that sudden thought may be
represented in verse, since these thoughts are such as must be higher
than nature can raise them without premeditation, especially to a
continuance of them, even out of verse; and consequently you cannot
imagine them to have been sudden, either in the poet or the actors. A
play to be like nature is to be set above it; as statues which are
placed on high are made greater than the life, that they may descend to
the sight in their just proportion.

But rhyme, it has been argued, appears most unnatural in repartees or
short replies, when he who answers (it being presumed he knew not what
the other would say, yet) makes up that part of the verse which was left
incomplete, and supplies both the sound and the measure of it. This,
'tis said, looks rather like the confederacy of two than the answer of
one. But suppose the repartee were made in blank verse, is not the
measure as often supplied there as in rhyme?--the latter half of the
hemistich as commonly made up, or a second line subjoined, as a reply to
the former? But suppose it allowed to look like a confederacy. What more
beautiful than a well-contrived dance? You see there the united design
of many persons to make up one figure: after they have separated
themselves in many petty divisions, they rejoin one by one into a group:
the confederacy is plain among them, for chance could never produce any
thing so beautiful, and yet there is nothing in it that shocks your
sight. True, then, the hand of wit appears in repartee, as it must in
all kinds of verse. When, with the quiet and poignant brevity of it,
there mingles the cadency and sweetness of verse--"the soul of the
hearer has nothing more to desire."

Rhyme was said by its defender to be a help to the poet's judgment, by
putting bounds to a wild overflowing fancy. And it was answered by the
admirer of blank verse, that he who wants judgment in the liberty of his
poesy, may as well show the defect of it when he is confined to verse;
for he who has judgment will avoid errors, and he who has it not will
commit them in all kind of writing. Granted that he who has judgment so
profound, strong, and infallible that he needs no help to keep it always
poised and right, will commit no faults in rhyme or out of it. But where
is that judgment to be found? Take it, therefore, as it is found in the
best poets. Judgment is indeed the master workman in a play; but he
requires many subordinate hands, many tools to his assistance, and rhyme
is one of them--it is a rule and line by which he keeps his building
compact and even, which otherwise lawless imagination would raise
loosely and irregularly--it is, in short, a slow and painful but the
surest kind of working. Second thoughts being usually the best, as
receiving the maturest digestion from judgment, and the last and most
mature product of these thoughts being artful and laboured verse, it may
well be inferred that verse is a great help to a luxuriant fancy, and
that is what the argument opposed was to evince.

Sir Robert, though always made to speak well in the Dialogue, was yet
made to speak on the losing side; and in an address to the reader,
prefixed to "The Great Favourite, or the Duke of Lerma," a tragedy
published soon after, having, by way of retaliation, sharply criticised
some of Neander's dogmas about the drama, brought down on himself a cool
but cutting castigation--more severe than was merited by so small an
offence. His retort, in as far as the question of rhyme or blank verse
is concerned, was, however, to say the best of it, very feeble. "I
cannot, therefore, but beg leave of the reader to take a little notice
of the great pains the author of an Essay of Dramatic Poetry has taken
to prove rhyme as natural in a Serious Play, and more effectual, than
blank verse: Thus he states the question but pursues that which he calls
natural in a wrong application; for 'tis not the question, whether rhyme
or not rhyme be best or most natural for a grave or serious subject; but
what is nearest the nature of that which it presents. Now, after all the
endeavours of that ingenious person, a play will still be supposed to be
a composition of several persons speaking _extempore_, and it is as
certain, that good verses are the hardest things that can be imagined to
be so spoken; so that if any will be pleased to impose the rule of
measuring things to be the best by being nearest to nature, it is
proved, by consequence, that which is most remote from the thing
supposed, must needs be most improper; and therefore I may justly say,
that both I and the question were equally mistaken, for I do own, I had
rather read good than either blank verse or prose, and therefore the
author did himself injury, if he like verse so well in plays, to lay
down rules and raise arguments only unanswerable against himself."

We had rather that Dryden should answer this than we; for much of it
eludes our comprehension. In his "Defence of the Essay on Dramatic
Poesy" he replies thus:--"A play will still be supposed to be a
composition of several persons speaking extempore," quoth Sir Robert; "I
must move leave to dissent from his opinion," requoth John; "for if I am
not deceived, a play is supposed to be the work of the poet, imitating
or representing the conversation of several persons; and this I think to
be as clear as he thinks the contrary." There he has the baronet on the
hip; and gives him a throw. He then makes bold to prove this
paradox--that one great reason why prose is not to be used in Serious
Plays is, "because it is too near the nature of converse." Thus, in
"Bartholomew Fair," or the lowest kind of comedy, where he was not to go
out of prose, Ben does yet so raise his matter, in that prose, as to
render it delightful, which he could never have performed had he only
said or done those very things that are daily spoken or practised in the
fair; for then the fair itself would be as full of pleasure to an
enquiring person as the play, which we manifestly see it is not. "But he
hath made an excellent lazar of it. The copy is of price, though the
original be vile." Even in the lowest prose comedy, then, the matter and
the wording must be lifted out of nature--as _we_ should now say,
idealized. In "Catiline" and "Sejanus" again, where the argument is
great, Ben sometimes ascends into rhyme; and had his genius been proper
for rhyme--which Dryden more than once asserts it was not--"it is
probable he would have adorned those subjects with that kind of writing.
Thus prose," he finely says, "though the rightful prince, yet is by
common consent deposed as too weak for the government of Serious Plays;
and he failing, there now start up two competitors, one the nearer in
blood, which is blank verse; the other more fit for the ends of
government, which is rhyme. Blank verse is, indeed, the nearer prose,
but he is blemished with the weakness of his predecessor. Rhyme (for I
will deal clearly) has somewhat of the usurper in him, but he is brave
and generous, and his dominion pleasing."

It was then, "for the reason of delight," that the ancients wrote all
their tragedies in verse--and not in prose; because it was most remote
from conversation. Rhyme had not then been invented. But again he
reminds his adversary, that it seems to have been adopted by the general
consent of poets in all modern languages--and that almost all their
Serious Plays are written in it, which, though it be no demonstration
that therefore they ought to be so, yet at least the practice first, and
the continuation of it, shows that it attained the end, which was to
please. It is thus that Dryden deals with Sir Robert, as if blank verse
in Serious Plays had not a leg to stand on. Yet throughout he preserves
a wonderful air of candour and moderation, as most becoming the
victorious champion of rhyme. As, for example, where he allows that,
whether it be natural or not in plays, is a problem not demonstrable on
either side. But in reference to Sir Robert's acknowledgment, that he
had rather read good verse than prose, he adds triumphantly, "that is
enough for me; for if all the enemies of verse will confess as much, I
shall not need to prove that it is natural. I am satisfied if it cause
delight; for delight is the chief, if not the only end of poesy;
instruction can be admitted but in the second place, for poesy only
instructs as it delights. It is true, that to imitate well is a poet's
work; but to affect the soul, and to excite the passions, and, above
all, to move admiration, (which is the delight of Serious Plays,) a bare
imitation will not serve. The converse, therefore, which a poet is to
imitate, must be heightened with all the arts and ornaments of poesy;
and must be such as, strictly considered, could never be supposed spoken
by any without premeditation."

In his various argument in defence of the use of rhyme on the stage,
Dryden, we have seen, always speaks of its peculiar adaptation to
"Serious Plays," or "Heroic Plays." In an essay thereon, prefixed to the
"Conquest of Grenada," in the pride of success he says, "whether heroic
verse ought to be admitted into Serious Plays, is not now to be
disputed." And he again takes up the obstinate objection to rhyme, which
he had not yet, it seems, battered to death, that it is not so near
conversation as prose, and therefore not so natural. But it is very
clear to all who understand poetry, that Serious Plays ought not to
imitate conversation too nearly. If nothing were to be traced above that
level, the foundation of poetry would be destroyed. Once grant that
thoughts may be exalted, and that images and actions may be raised above
the life, and described in measure without rhyme, and that leads you
insensibly from your principles; admit some latitude, and having
forsaken the imitation of ordinary converse, where are you now? "You are
gone beyond it, and to continue where you are, is to lodge in the open
fields between two inns." You have lost that which you call natural, and
have not acquired the last perfection of art. It was only custom, he
says, which cozened us so long; we thought because Shakspeare and
Fletcher went no further, that there the pillars of poetry were to be
erected; that because they excellently described passion without rhyme,
therefore rhyme was not capable of describing it. _"But time has since
convinced most men of that error._"

What, then, according to Dryden's idea of it, was a serious or heroic
play? An heroic play, he says, ought to be an imitation, in little, of
an heroic poem; and, consequently, Love and Valour ought to be the
subject of it. D'Avenant's astonishing "Siege of Rhodes"--formerly
declared to be the _beau-idéal_ of an heroic play--was after all, it
seems, wanting in fulness of plot, variety of character, and even beauty
of style. Above all, it was not sufficiently great and majestic. He knew
not, honest man, that, in a true heroic play, you ought to draw all
things as far above the ordinary proportion of the stage, as that is
beyond the common words and actions of human life. The play that
imitates mere nature as she walks in this world, may be written in
suitable language; but, as in epic poetry all poets have agreed that we
shall behold the highest pattern of human life, so in the heroic play,
modelled by the rules of an heroic poem, we must be shown only
correspondent characters. Gods and spirits, too, are privileged to
appear on such a stage, and so are drums and trumpets. But Dryden
himself denies that he was the first to introduce representations of
battles on the English stage, Shakspeare having set him the example;
while Jonson, though he shows no battle, lets you hear in "Catiline,"
from behind the scenes, the shouts of fighting armies. Warlike
instruments, and some fighting on the stage, are indeed necessary to
produce the effects of a heroic play. They help the imagination to gain
absolute dominion over the mind of an audience.

Were we to believe Dryden, his heroic plays were dramatic imitations of
such epic poems as the Iliad and the Æneid. And he has the brazen-faced
assurance to say, that the first image he had of Almanzor, in the
"Conquest of Grenada," was from the Achilles of Homer! The next was
from Tasso's Rinaldo, and the third--_risum teneatis amici--from the
Artaban of Monsieur Calpranede_! Unquestionably our English heroic plays
were borrowed from the French--as these were the legitimate offspring of
the dramas of Calpranede and Scuderi. But Dryden's compositions are
unparalleled in any literature. Nature is systematically outraged in one
and all--from beginning to end. Never was such mouthing seen and heard
beneath moon and stars. Through the whole range of rant he rages like a
man inspired. He is the emperor of bombast. Yet these plays contain many
passages of powerful declamation--not a few of high eloquence; some that
in their argumentative amplitude, if they do not reach, border on the
sublime. Nor are their wanting outbreaks of genuine passion among the
utmost extravagances of false sentiment--when momentarily heroes and
heroines warm into men and women, and for a few sentences confabulate
like flesh and blood.

But it is with Dryden as a critic, not as a poet, that we have now to
do; and we have said these few words about his heroic plays only in
connexion with our account of his argument in support of his doctrine
with regard to heroic verse in rhyme. That blank verse is better adapted
than any other for the drama, has been settled by Shakspeare. But though
Dryden has driven his argument too far, till his doctrine, as he
promulgates it, becomes untenable, as little do we doubt that he has
made good this position, that there may be good plays in rhyme. His
heroic plays are bad, not because they are in rhyme, but because they
are absurd; the rhyme is their chief merit; 'tis not possible to dream
what they had been in blank verse. True, that "All for Love" and "Don
Sebastian" are in blank verse, and may be said, after a fashion, to be
fine plays. But they are constructed on rational principles, and in them
he was doing his best to write like Shakspeare. What reason is there for
believing that those plays, in many respects excellent, are the better
for not being in rhyme? None whatever. Rhyme, in our opinion, would have
given them both a superior charm. In his heroic plays, it often carries
us along with absurdities which we know not whether we should call tame
or wild; it gives an air of originality to trivial commonplaces; it
embellishes what is vigorous, and invigorates what is beautiful; and
among events and characters alike unnatural, its music sustains our
flagging interest, and enables us to read on. There can be no doubt,
that in representations on the stage, the same cause must have been most
effective on audiences accustomed to that kind of pleasure, and who
delighted in rhyme, to them at once a necessary and a luxury of life.
"Aurengzebe," the last of his rhyming plays, is, to our mind, little if
at all inferior to "All for Love," or "Don Sebastian;" and we know that
it was most successful on the stage.

Sir Walter says, "that during the space which occurred between the
writing of the 'Conquest of Grenada,' and 'Aurengzebe,' Dryden's
researches into the nature and causes of harmony of versification, led
him to conclude that the Drama ought to be emancipated from the fetters
of rhyme--and that the perusal of Shakspeare, on whom Dryden had now
turned his attention, led him to feel that something further might be
attained in tragedy than the expression of exaggerated sentiment in
smooth verse, and that the scene ought to represent, not a fanciful set
of agents exerting their superhuman faculties in a fairyland of the
poet's own creation, but human characters acting from the direct and
energetic influence of human passions, with whose emotions the audience
might sympathize, because akin to the feelings of their own hearts. When
Dryden had once discovered that fear and pity were more likely to be
excited by other causes than the logic of metaphysical love, or the
dictates of fantastic honour, he must have found that rhyme sounded as
unnatural in the dialogue of characters drawn upon the usual scale of
humanity, as the plate and mail of chivalry would have appeared on the
persons of the actors." All this is finely said; but does it not assume
the point in question? Dryden may have learned at last from the study of
Shakspeare, (in whom, however, he was well read many years before, as
witness his Essay on Dramatic Poesy,) that "something further might be
attained in tragedy than the expression of exaggerated sentiment in
smooth verse." But we do not see the necessity of the inference, "that
rhyme sounded unnatural in the dialogue of characters drawn upon the
usual scale of humanity." Is rhyme self-evidently unnatural in the
expression, in verse, of strong and deep human passion? To that
question, put thus generally, the right answer is--NO. And is it, then,
necessarily unnatural in the drama?

Like all great powers, that of rhyme is a secret past finding out. In
itself a mere barbarous jingle, it yet gives perfection to speech. The
music of versification has endless varieties of measures, and rhyme
lends enchantment to them all. Not an affection, emotion, or passion of
the soul that may not be soothed by its syllablings, enkindled, or
raised to rapture. Pity and terror, joy and grief, love and devotion,
are all alike sensible of its influence; as the sweet similarities keep
echoing through some artful strain, that all the while is thought by
them who listen to come in simplicity from the unpremeditating heart.
Songs, hymns, elegies, epicedia, epithalamia--rhyme rules alike all the
shadowy tribes. The triumphant ode--the penitential psalm--wisdom's
moral lesson--the philosophic strain "that vindicates the ways of God to
man;" such is the range of rhyme, down all the depths of the pathetic,
up all the heights of the sublime. It is yet unlimited. Where shall we
find its bounds? Let us try.

In the Epos, the poet in person is the relater. But he hides his own
personality in that of the Muse he invokes; and offers himself to his
auditors as the Voice only by which she speaks. She, the Muse, is
thought to be throughout a faithful recorder; for she is supposed to
have access to know all; and however marvellous may be the narrations,
they are accepted with undoubting faith. Since she speaks, or rather
sings, and the auditor only listens, the commonest and the most uncommon
events are, in one respect, upon an even footing. For the hearer must
picture them for himself. All are alike acted absent from the senses,
and before the imagination alone. Hence the Epic Poet has an
extraordinary facility afforded him for introducing into his work that
order of representation which is called the marvellous. For it is just
as easy to the hearer to set before his fancy a giant or a pigmy, as a
man; the one-eyed monster Polyphemus, as the beautiful, the graceful,
the swift, the strong, the sublime, the terrible Achilles. It is just as
easy for him to transport himself in fancy to the summit of Olympus, to
the palace of Jupiter, and to the Council or to the Banquet of the Gods,
or to the deep sea-caves where Thetis sits with her companion nymphs in
the hall of her father, the sea-god Nereus--as it is to remove himself
from the festal hall, where the poet is singing to him and to the other
guests, away to the camp of the Greeks, or to the court of Priam, or to
the bower of Andromache. He has no more difficulty to think of Minerva
darting, in the likeness of a hawk, from the snowy crest of Olympus to
the shore of the Hellespont--or to imagine the Thunderer in his
celestial car, lashing on his golden-maned steeds that pace the clouds
and the air, and waft him at the speed almost of a wish from the
unfolding portals of heaven to the summit of Mount Ida--than when he is
called upon, in the midst of some totally different scene, to figure to
himself a mortal hero, with waving crest, glittering in polished brass,
advancing erect in his war-chariot, hurling his lance that misses his
foe; and in return transpierced by that of his antagonist, falling
backwards to the ground in his resounding arms, and groaning out his
soul in the bloody dust. The truth is, that when you are called upon to
see and to hear _within the mind_, you rejoice in the capacities of
seeing and hearing that are thus unfolded in you, infinitely surpassing
similar capacities which you possess in your bodily eye and ear; and
therefore the stronger the demands that are made, the more readily even
do you comply with them; and in this way, in part, we must understand
the character that is impressed upon the _Iliad_, and the temper of mind
in the hearer answering to the character. It is one of infinite liberty.
The mind of the poet seems to be released from all bonds and from all
bounds; and the temper in the hearer is the same. Another character,
proper to Epic poetry, judging after its great model, the _Iliad_--is
_universality_. In the direct narrative, we have gods and men, heaven,
earth, sea, for seats of action--and, for a moment, a glimpse of hell.
Recollect whilst the conflagration of war is raging, how the poet has
found a moment, at the Scæan Gate, for the touching picture of an heroic
father, a noble mother, and a babe in arms, scared at his father's
dazzling and overshadowing helmet, who smiles, puts it from his head
upon the ground, and lifts up the boy, with a prayer to Jove. Sacrifices
to the gods, games, funeral rites, come in the course of the relation;
and because the scene of the poem is distracted with warfare, the great
poet has found, in the Vulcanian sculptures on the shield of Achilles,
place for images of peace--the labours of the husbandman; the mirthful
gathering in of the vintage with dance and song; the hymeneal pomp led
along the streets. And in the similes, what pictures from animal life
and manners! And then our enchantment is heightened by a prevailing
duplication. Throughout, or nearly so, the transactions that are
presented in the natural, are also presented in the supernatural. Thus
we have earthly councils, heavenly councils; warring men, warring gods;
kings of men, kings of gods; mortal husbands and wives, and sons and
daughters; immortal husbands and wives, and sons and daughters. Palaces
in heaven as on earth. The sea, in a manner, triplicates. Terrestrial
steeds--celestial steeds--marine steeds! The natural and supernatural
are united--when Achilles is half of mortal, half of immortal
derivation; when heavenly coursers are yoked in the chariots of men;
when Juno, for a moment, grants voice to the horse of Achilles; and the
horse, whom Achilles has unjustly reproved, answers prophesying the
death of the hero.

Why Homer made the _Iliad_ in hexameters, no man can tell; but having
done so, he thereby constituted for ever the proper metre of Greek--and
Latin--Epic poetry. But what a multitude of subjects, how different from
one another does that, and every other Epic poem, comprehend! Glory to
the hexameter! it suits them all. Now, in every Epic poem, and in few
more than in the _Iliad_, there are many dramatic scenes. But in the
Greek tragic drama, the dialogue is mainly in iambics; for this reason,
that iambics are naturally suited for the language of conversation. Be
it so. Yet here in the Epic, the dialogue is felt to be as natural in
hexameters as the heart of man can desire. Hear Agamemnon and Achilles.
Call to mind that colloquy in Pelides' tent.

Rhyme is unknown in Greek; and it is of rhyme that we are treating,
though you may not see our drift. From Homer, then, pass on to Ariosto
and Tasso. They, too, are Epic poets who have charmed the world. Their
poems may not have such a sweep as the _Iliad_, still their sweep is
great. Rich in rhyme is their language--rich the stanza they delighted
in--_ottava rima_, how rich the name! Is rhyme unnatural from the lips
of their peers and paladins? No--an inspired speech. Is hexameter blank
verse alone fit for the mouths of Greek heroes--eight-line stanzas of
oft-recurring rhymes for the mouths of Italian? Gentle shepherd, tell me
why.

But the "Paradise Lost" is in blank verse. It is. The fallen angels
speak not in rhyme--nor Eve nor Adam. So Milton willed. But Dante's
Purgatory, and Hell, and Heaven, are in rhyme--ay, and in difficult
rhyme, too--_terza rima_. Yet the damned speak it naturally--so do the
blessed. How dreadful from Ugolino, how beautiful from Beatrice!

But the drama--the drama--the drama--is your cry--what say we to the
drama? Listen, and you shall hear--

The Tragic Drama rose at Athens. The splendid and inexhaustible
mythology of gods and heroes, which had supplied the Epic Muse with the
materials of her magnificent relations, furnished the matter of a new
species of poetry. A palace--or a temple--or a cave by the wild
sea-shore, was painted; actors, representing by their attire, and their
majestic demeanour, heroes and heroines of the old departed world; nay,
upon high occasions, celestial gods and goddesses--trod the Stage and
spoke, in measured recitation, before assembled thousands of spectators,
seated in wonder and awe-stricken expectation. The change to the poet in
the manner of communicating with his hearers, alters the character of
the composition. The stage trodden by living feet, the scenery, voices
from human tongues varying with all the changes of emotion, impassioned
gestures, and events no longer spoken of, but transacted in presence,
before the eyes of the audience, are elements full of power, that claim
for tragedy and impose upon it a character of its own. The heart is more
interested, and the imagination less. Persons who accompany the whole
business that is to be done, with speaking--a poem consisting of
incessant dialogue--must disclose, with more precise and profounder
discovery, the minds represented as engaged. Motives are produced and
debated--the sudden turns of thought--the violent fluctuations of the
passions--the gentle variations of the feelings, appear. Time is given
for this internal display--and a species of poetry arises, distinguished
for the fulness and the decision with which the springs of action in the
human bosom are shown as breaking forth into, and determining, human
action. Meanwhile, the means that are thus afforded to the poet of a
more energetic representation, curb in him the flights of imagination.
To represent Neptune as at three strides from his seat on a mountain-top
descending the slope, that with all its woods quakes under the immortal
feet, and as reaching at the fourth step his wave-covered palace--this,
which was easy between the epic poet and his hearer, becomes out of
place and impossible for tragedy, simply because no actors and no stage
can represent a god so stepping and the hills so trembling. We know what
the pathetically sublime literature was which the drama gave to Athens;
how poets of profound and capacious spirits, who had looked into
themselves--and, so enlightened, had observed human life--were able, by
taking for their subjects the strongly portrayed characters and the
stern situations of the old Greek fable, to unite in their lofty and
impressive scenes the truth of nature and the tender interests which
endear our familiar homes, to the grandeur of heroic recollections, to
the awe of religion, and to the pomp, the magnificence, and the beauty
of a gorgeous yet intellectual art.

The Greek Tragic drama is from end to end in verse; and unavoidably,
because 'tis a part of a splendid religious celebration. It is involved
in the solemn pomp of a festival. Therefore it dons its own solemn
festival robes. The musical form is our key to the spirit. And in that
varying musical form there are three degrees--first, the Iambic, nearest
real speech--second, the Lyrical dialogue, farther off--third, the full
Chorus--utmost removal. Pray, do not talk to us of the naturalness of
the language. You never heard the like spoken in all your days. Natural
it was on that stage--and over the roofless theatre the tutelary deities
of Athens leant listening from the sky.

The model, or law, or self of the English drama, is _Shakspeare_. The
character of his drama is, the imaging of nature. A foremost
characteristic of nature is infinite and infinitely various production,
expressing or intimating an indefatigably and inexhaustibly active
spirit. But such a spirit of life, so acting and producing, appears to
us as a fountain, ever freshly flowing from the very hand of God. All
_that_ Shakspeare's drama images; and thus his art appears to us, as
always the highest art appears to us to be, a Divine thing. The musical
forms of his language should answer; and they do. They are; first,
prose; second, loose blank verse; third, tied blank verse; fourth,
rhyme.[1] This unbounded variety of the musical form really seems to
answer to the premised idea; seems really to clothe infinite and
infinitely varied intellectual production. Observe, we beseech you, what
varieties of music! The rhyme--ay, the rhyme--has a dozen at
least;--couplets--interlaced rhyme--single rhyme and
double--anapests--diverse lyrical measures. Observe, too, that speakers
of all orders and characters use all the forms. Hamlet, Othello, Lear,
Coriolanus, Lance, use prose; Leontes and his little boy, Lear,
Coriolanus, and his domestics--to say nothing of the Steward--Macbeth
and his murderlings, use blank verse. Even Falstaff, now and then, a
verse. All, high and low, wise, merry, and sad, _rhyme_. Fools, witches,
fairies--we know not who else--use lyrical measures. Upon the whole, the
_uttermost_--that is, the musical form--answers herein to the
_innermost_ spirit. The spirit, endlessly-varying, creates
endlessly-varying musical form. The total character is accordingly
self-lawed, irrepressible creation.

Blank verse, then, is the predominating musical form of Shakspeare's
comedies, histories, and tragedies. To such a degree as that _all_ the
other forms often slip from one's recollection; and, to speak strictly,
blank verse must be called the rule; while all other forms are diverse
exceptions.

Only one comedy, the homely and English "Merry Wives of Windsor," has,
for its rule, prose. Even here the two true lovers hold their few short
colloquies in blank verse. And when the concluding fairy masque is
toward, blank verse rages. Page and Ford catch it. The merry wife, Mrs
Page, turns poetess to describe and project the superstitions to be
used. In the fairy-scene Sir John himself, Shakspeare's most dogged
observer of prose, is quelled by the spirit of the hour, and RHYMES. You
would think that the soul of Shakspeare has been held chained through
the play, and breaks loose for a moment ere ending it. All this being
said, it may be asked:--"Why is blank verse the ordinary musical form of
Shakspeare's Dramas?" And the obvious answer appears to be:--"Because it
has a _middle removedness_ or _estrangement_ from the ordinary speech of
men:--raising the language into imagination, and yet not out of
sympathy."

Shakspeare and Sophocles agree in truth and strength, in life, passion,
and imagination. They differ inwardly herein--Shakspeare founds in the
power of nature. Under his hand nature brings forth art. The Attic
tragedy begins from art. Its first condition is order, since it is part
of a religious ceremonial. It resorts to nature, to quicken, strengthen,
bear up art. Nature enters upon the Athenian stage, under a previous
recognition of art as dominant.

From all that has been now said--and it is more than we at first
intended to say--this conclusion follows, that there may be English
rhymed dramas. There are French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian ones--and
fine ones too; and nothing in nature forbids that there may be
infinitely finer. That which universally affects off the stage, in all
kinds of poetry, would, in the work of a great master, affect on it. The
delusion of the theatre overcomes far greater difficulties carried with
us thither in the constitution of our habitual life, than the use of
rhyme by the visionary beings in the mimic scene. Beyond all doubt there
might arise in rhyme a most beautiful romantic drama. Unreal infused
into real, turns real at once into poetry. But this is of all degrees.
In the lowest prose of life there is an infusion which we overlook. We
should drop down dead without it. Let the unreal a little predominate;
and now we become sensible to its presence, and now we _call_ the
compound poetry. Let it be an affair of words, and we require verse as
the fitting form. Our stage and language have settled upon blank verse
as the proper metrical form for the proper measure of the unreal upon
the ordinary tragic stage. Rhymed verse has a more marked separation, or
is more distant from prose than blank verse is. Hence, you might suppose
that it will be fitted on the stage for a surcharge of the unreal.
Dryden's heroic tragedies are a proof, as far as one authority goes; and
even they had great power over audiences willing to be charmed, and
accustomed to what we should think a wide and continued departure from
nature. But imagine a romantic play, full of beautiful and tender
imagination, exquisitely written in rhyme, and modelled to some suitable
mould invented by a happy genius. Why, the "Gentle Shepherd," idealizing
modern Scottish pastoral life, was, in its humble way, an achievement;
and, within our memory, critics of the old school looked on it well
pleased when acted by lads and lasses of high degree, delighting to deem
themselves for an evening the simple dwellers in huts around Habbie's
How.

Let us now collect together all that Dryden has, in different moods of
his unsettled and unsteady mind, written about Shakspeare. In the
Dialogue formerly spoken of, comparisons are made between the modern
English and the modern French drama. "If you consider the plots," says
Neander, "our own are fuller of variety, if the writing, ours are more
quick and fuller of spirit." And he denies--like a bold man as he
was--that the English have in aught imitated or borrowed from the
French. He says our plots are weaved in English looms; we endeavour
therein to follow the variety and greatness of characters, which are
derived to us from Shakspeare and Fletcher; the copiousness and
well-knitting of the intrigues we have from Jonson. These two things he
dares affirm of the English drama, that with more variety of plot and
character, it has equal regularity; and that in most of the irregular
plays of Shakspeare and Fletcher, (for Ben Jonson's are for the most
part regular,) there is a more masculine fancy and greater spirit in the
writing, than there is in any of the French. For a pattern of a perfect
play, he is proposing to examine "the Silent Woman" of Jonson, the most
careful and learned observer of the dramatic laws, when he is requested
by Eugenius to give in full Ben's character. He agrees to do so, but
says it will first be necessary to speak somewhat of Shakspeare and
Fletcher; "his rivals in poesy, and one of them, in my opinion, at least
his equal, perhaps his superior." Malone observes, that the caution
observed in this decision, proves the miserable taste of the age; and
Sir Walter, that Jonson, "by dint of learning and arrogance, fairly
bullied the age into receiving his own character of his merits, and that
he was not the only person of the name that has done so." This is coming
it rather too strong; yet to stand well with others there is nothing
like having a good opinion of one's-self, and proclaiming it with the
sound of a trumpet.

     "To begin, then, with Shakspeare. He was the man who, of all modern
     and perhaps ancient poets, had the largest and most comprehensive
     soul; all the images of nature were still present to him, and he
     drew them, not laboriously but luckily; when he describes any
     thing, you more than see it--you feel it too. Those who accuse him
     to have wanted learning, give him the greater commendation: he was
     naturally learned, he needed not the spectacles of books to read
     nature, he looked inwards and found her there. I cannot say he is
     every where alike; were he so, I should do him injury to compare
     him with the greatest of mankind. He is many times flat and
     insipid; his comic wit degenerating into clenches, his serious
     swelling into bombast. But he is always great when some great
     occasion is presented to him--no man can say he ever had a fit
     subject for his wit, and did not then raise himself as high above
     the rest of poets,

        'Quantum lenta solent inter viburna cupressi.'

     "The consideration of this made Mr Hales of Eton say, that there
     was no subject of which any poet ever writ, but he would produce it
     much better done in Shakspeare: and, however others are now
     generally preferred before him, yet the age wherein he lived, which
     had contemporaries with him, Fletcher, and Jonson, never equalled
     them to him in their esteem; and in the last king's court, when
     Ben's reputation was at highest, Sir John Suckling, and with him
     the greater part of the courtiers, set our Shakspeare far above
     him.

     "Beaumont and Fletcher, of whom I am next to speak, had, with the
     advantage of Shakspeare's wit, which was their precedent, great
     natural gifts, improved by study. Beaumont, especially, being so
     accurate a judge of plays, that Ben Jonson while he lived submitted
     all his writings to his censure, and, 'tis thought, used his
     judgment in correcting, if not contriving, all his plots. What
     value he had for him appeared by the verses he writ to him, and
     therefore I need speak no further of it. The first play that
     brought Fletcher and him into esteem was their 'Philaster;' for
     before that they had written two or three very unsuccessfully, as
     the like is reported of Ben Jonson before he writ 'Every Man in his
     Humour.' Their plots were generally more regular than Shakspeare's,
     especially those which were made before Beaumont's death; and they
     understood and imitated the conversation of gentlemen much better,
     whose wild debaucheries and quickness of wit in repartee no poet
     before them could paint as they have done. Humour, which Ben Jonson
     derived from particular persons, they made it not their business to
     describe; they represented all the passions very lively, but, above
     all, love. I am apt to believe the English language in them arrived
     to the highest perfection--what words have since been taken in are
     rather superfluous than ornamental. Their plays are now the most
     pleasant and frequent entertainments of the stage, two of theirs
     being acted through the year for one of Shakspeare's or Jonson's;
     the reason is, because there is a certain gaiety in their comedies,
     and pathos in their more serious plays, which suits generally with
     all men's humours. Shakspeare's language is likewise a little
     obsolete, and Ben Jonson's wit comes short of theirs.

     "As for Jonson, to whose character I am now arrived, if we look
     upon him while he was himself, (for his last plays were but his
     dotages,) I think him the most learned and judicious writer which
     any theatre ever had. He was a most severe judge; of himself as
     well as others. One cannot say he wanted wit, but rather that he
     was frugal of it in his works; you find little to retouch or alter.
     Wit and language, and humour also, in some measure, we had before
     him; but something of art was wanting to the drama till he came. He
     managed his strength to more advantage than any who succeeded him.
     You seldom find him making love in any of his scenes, or
     endeavouring to move the passions; his genius was too sullen and
     saturnine to do it gracefully, especially when he knew he came
     after those who had performed both to such an height. Humour was
     his proper sphere, and in that he delighted most to represent
     mechanic people. He was deeply conversant in the ancients, both
     Greek and Latin, and he borrowed boldly from them. There is scarce
     a poet or historian among the Roman authors of those times, whom he
     has not translated in 'Sejanus' and 'Catiline.' But he has done his
     robberies so openly, that one may see he fears not to be taxed by
     any law. He invades authors like a monarch; and what would be theft
     in other poets is only victory in him. With the spoils of those
     writers he so represents old Rome to us, in its rites, ceremonies,
     and customs, that, if one of their poets had written either of his
     tragedies, we had seen less of it than in him. If there was any
     fault in his language it was, that he weaved it too closely and
     laboriously, in his comedies especially. Perhaps, too, he did a
     little too much Romanize our tongue, leaving the words, which he
     translated, almost as much Latin as he found them; wherein, though
     he learnedly followed their language, he did not enough follow with
     the idiom of ours. If I would compare him with Shakspeare, I must
     acknowledge him the more correct poet, but Shakspeare the greater
     wit. Shakspeare was the Homer, or father, of our dramatic poets;
     Jonson was the Virgil, the pattern of elaborate writing. I admire
     him, but I love Shakspeare. To conclude of him, as he has given us
     the most correct plays, so, in the precepts which he has laid down
     in his 'Discoveries,' we have as many and profitable rules for
     perfecting the stage as any wherewith the French can furnish us."

Samuel Johnson truly says of the Dialogue, "that it will not be easy to
find, in all the opulence of our language, a treatise so artfully
variegated with successive representations of opposite probabilities, so
enlivened with imagery, and heightened with illustration." But we have
some difficulty in going along with him when he adds--"The account of
Shakspeare may stand as a perpetual model of encomiastic criticism,
exact without minuteness, and lofty without exaggeration. The praise
lavished by Longinus on the attestation of the heroes of Marathon by
Demosthenes, fades away before it. In a few lines is exhibited a
character, so sublime in its comprehension, and so curious in its
limitations, that nothing can be added, diminished, or reformed; nor
can the editors and admirers of Shakspeare, in all their emulation of
reverence, boast of much more than of having diffused and paraphrased
his epitome of excellence; of having changed Dryden's gold for baser
metal, of lower value, though of greater bulk." Since this great
critic's day--ay, with all his defects and perversities, Samuel was a
great critic--what a blaze of illumination has been brought to bear on
the genius of Shakspeare! Nevertheless, all honour to Glorious John!
Next comes the famous prologue:--

  As when a tree's cut down, the secret root
  Lives under ground, and thence new branches shoot;
  So, from old Shakspeare's honour'd dust, this day
  Springs up the buds, a new reviving play.
  Shakspeare, who (taught by none) did first impart
  To Fletcher wit, to labouring Jonson art;
  He, monarch-like, gave those, his subjects, law,
  And is that nature which they paint and draw.
  Fletcher reach'd that which on his heights did grow,
  While Jonson crept and gather'd all below.
  This did his love, and this his mirth digest;
  One imitates him most, the other best.
  If they have since outwrit all other men,
  'Tis with the drops which fell from Shakspeare's pen.
  The storm which vanish'd on the neighbouring shore,
  Was taught by Shakspeare's 'Tempest' first to roar.
  That innocence and beauty which did smile
  In Fletcher, grew on this enchanted isle.
  But Shakspeare's magic could not copied be--
  Within that circle none durst walk but he.
  I must confess 'twas bold, nor would you now
  That liberty to vulgar wits allow,
  Which works by magic supernatural things;
  But Shakspeare's power is sacred as a king's.
  Those legends from old priesthood were received,
  And he them writ as people them believed."

Strange that he who could write so nobly about Shakspeare, could commit
such an outrage on his divine genius as the play to which this is the
prologue--"The Tempest, or the Enchanted Island," a Comedy. It
was--Dryden tells us, and we must believe him--"originally Shakspeare's;
a poet for whom Sir William D'Avenant had particularly a high
veneration, and whom he first taught me to admire." So the two together,
to show their joint and judicious admiration, set about altering "The
Tempest." Fletcher had imitated it all in vain in his "Sea Voyage;" "the
storm, the desert island, and the woman who had never seen a man, are
all implicit testimonies of it." Few more delightful poets than
Fletcher; but in an evil hour, and deserted by his good genius, did he
then hoist his sail. But now cover your face with your hands--and then
shut your ears. "_Sir John Suckling, a professed admirer of our author,
has followed his footsteps_ in his '_Goblins_;' his Regmella being an
open imitation of Shakspeare's Miranda, and his spirits, _though
counterfeit_, yet are copied from Ariel." But Sir William D'Avenant, "as
he was a man of quick and piercing imagination, soon found that somewhat
might be added to the design of Shakspeare, of which neither Fletcher
nor Suckling had ever thought;" "and this excellent contrivance," he was
pleased, says Dryden with looks of liveliest gratitude, "to communicate
to me, and to desire my assistance in it." You probably knew what was
the "excellent contrivance" by which "the last hand"--the hand after
Suckling's--"was put to it;" so that thenceforth the "Tempest" was to be
let alone in its glory. "The counterpart to Shakspeare's plot, namely,
that of a man who had never seen a woman, that by this means these two
characters of innocence and love might the more illustrate and commend
each other. _I confess that from the very first moment it so pleased me,
that I never writ_ any thing with more delight." Sir Walter says it
seems to have been undertaken chiefly with a view to give room for
scenical decoration, and that Dryden's share in the alteration was
probably little more than the care of adapting it to the stage. But
Dryden's own words contradict that supposition, and he further tells us
that his writings received D'Avenant's daily amendments; "and that is
the reason why it is not so faulty as the rest, which I have done
without the help and correction of so judicious a friend." They wrote
together at the same desk. And Dryden found D'Avenant of "so quick a
fancy, that nothing was proposed to him on which he would not suddenly
produce a thought, extremely pleasant and surprising. * * His
imagination was such as could not easily enter into any other man." It
had been easy enough, he adds, to have arrogated more to himself than
was his due in the writing of the play; but "besides the worthlessness
of the action, which deterred me from it, (there being nothing so base
as to rob the dead of his reputation,) I am satisfied I could never have
received so much honour in being thought the author of any poem, how
excellent soever--as I shall from the joining of my imperfections with
the merit and name of Shakspeare and Sir William D'Avenant." From all
this, and more of the same sort, 'tis plain that Dryden's share in the
composition was at least equal to--we should say, much greater
than--D'Avenant's.

You must not meddle with Miranda--for she is all our own. Yet we
cheerfully introduce you to her sister, Dorinda, and leave you all alone
by yourselves for an hour's flirtation. Hush! she is describing the
ship!

  "This floating Ram did bear his horns above,
  And tied with ribands, ruffling in the wind:
  Sometimes he nodded down his head awhile,
  And then the waves did heave him to the moon,
  He climbing to the top of all the billows;
  And then again he curtsied down so low
  I could not see him. Till at last, all sidelong
  With a great crack, his belly burst in pieces."

We had but once before handled this performance--some threescore and ten
years ago, when a man of middle age. We dimly remember being amused in
our astonishment. Now that we are beginning to get a little old, we are,
perhaps, growing too fastidious; yet surely it is something very
shocking. Portsmouth Poll and Plymouth Sall--sisters originating at
Yarmouth--when brought into comparison with Miranda and Dorinda of the
enchanted island, to our imagination seem idealized into Vestal virgins.
True, they were famous--when not half seas over--for keeping a quiet
tongue in their mouths: with them mum was the word. Only when drunk as
blazes, poor things, did they, by word or gesture, offend modesty's most
sacred laws. But D'Avenant's and Dryden's daughters are such leering and
lascivious drabs, so dreadfully addicted to innuendoes and _doubles
entendres_ of the most alarming character, that, high as is our opinion
of the intrepidity of British seamen, we should not fear to back the two
at odds against a full-manned jolly-boat from a frigate in the offing
sent in to fill her water-casks. Caliban himself--and what a Caliban he
has become!--fights shy of the plenireps. Why--if it must be so--we give
our arm to his sister Sycorax, a "fearsome dear" no doubt, but what
better could one expect in a misbegotten monster? Oh, the confounding
mysteries of self-degrading genius!

In the preface to "An Evening's Love; or, the Mock Astrologer," we again
meet with some criticism on Shakspeare. We learn from it that Dryden had
formed the ambitious design of writing on the difference betwixt the
plays of his own age and those of his predecessors on the English stage,
in order to show in what parts of "dramatic poesy we were excelled by
Ben Jonson--I mean, humour and contrivance of comedy; and _in what we
may justly claim precedence of Shakspeare and Fletcher_! namely, in
heroic plays." He had, moreover, proposed to treat "of the improvement
of our language since Fletcher's and Jonson's days, and, consequently,
of our refining the courtship, raillery, and conversation of plays." In
great attempts 'tis glorious even to fail; and assuredly had Dryden
essayed all this, his failure would have been complete. "I would," said
he, with his usual ignorance of his own and his age's worst sins and
defects, "have the characters well chosen, and kept distant from
interfering with each other, which is more than Fletcher _or Shakspeare
did_! * * I think there is no folly so great in any part of our age, as
the superfluity and waste of wit was in some of our predecessors,
particularly Fletcher _and Shakspeare_." Refining the courtship,
raillery, and conversation of plays! We cannot, perhaps, truly say very
much in praise of those qualities in Ben's comedies, admirable as they
are, and superior, in all respects, a thousand times over to the best of
Dryden's and of his contemporaries'; but wilfully blind indeed, or
worse, must the man who could thus write have been to the matchless
grace, vivacity, delicacy, prodigality, and poetry of Shakspeare's
comedy, which as far transcends all the happiest creations of other
men's wit, as the pervading pathos and sublimity of his tragedy all
their happiest inspirations from the holy fountain of ennobling or
pitying tears.

In its day, the following Epilogue caused a great hubbub--

  "They, who have best succeeded on the stage,
  Have still conform'd their genius to their age.
  Thus Jonson did mechanic humours show,
  When men were dull, and conversation low.
  Then comedy was faultless, but 'twas coarse:
  Cobb's tankard was a jest, and Otter's horse.
  And, as their comedy, their love was mean;
  Except by chance, in some one labour'd scene,
  Which must atone for an ill-written play.
  They rose, but at their height could seldom stay:
  Fame then was cheap, and the first comer sped;
  And they have kept it since by being dead.
  But, were they now to write, when critics weigh
  Each line, and every word, throughout a play,
  None of them, no not Jonson in his height,
  Could pass without allowing grains for weight.
  Think it not envy that these truths are told--
  Our poet's not malicious, though he's bold.
  'Tis not to brand them that their faults are shown,
  But by their errors, to excuse his own.
  If love and honour now are higher raised,
  'Tis not the poet, but the age is praised.
  Wit's now arrived to a more high degree;
  Our native language more refined and free;
  Our ladies and our men now speak more wit,
  In conversation, than those poets writ.
  Then, one of these is, consequently, true;
  That what this poet writes comes short of you,
  And imitates you ill (which most he fears,)
  Or else his writing is not worse than theirs.
  Yet, though you judge (as sure the critics will)
  That some before him writ with greater skill,
  In this one praise he has their fame surpast,
  To please an age more gallant than the last."

Dryden was called over the coals for this sacrilegious Epilogue by
persons ill qualified for censors--among others, by my Lord
Rochester--and was instantly ready with his defence--an "Essay on the
Dramatic Poetry of the Last Age." In it he repeats the senseless
assertion, "that the language, wit, and conversation of our age are
improved and refined above the last;" and he takes care to include among
the writers of the last age, _Shakspeare_, Fletcher, and Jonson. "In
what," he asks "does the refinement of a language principally consist?"

     "Either in rejecting such old words or phrases which are ill
     sounding or improper, or in admitting new, which are more proper,
     more sounding, and more luxuriant. * * * Malice and partiality set
     apart, let any man who understands English, read diligently the
     works of _Shakspeare_ and Fletcher, and I dare undertake that he
     will find in every page either some solecism of speech, or some
     notorious flaw in sense; yet these men are reverenced, when we are
     not forgiven. That their wit is great, and many times their
     expressions noble, envy itself cannot deny. But the times were
     ignorant in which they lived. Poetry was then, if not in its
     infancy among us, at least not arrived to its vigour and maturity.
     Witness the lameness of their plots, many of which, especially
     those they writ first, (for even that age refined itself in some
     measure,) were made up of some ridiculous, incoherent story, which
     in one play many times took up the business of an age. I suppose I
     need not name 'Pericles, Prince of Tyre,' _nor the historical plays
     of Shakspeare_, besides many of the rest, as the 'Winter's Tale,'
     'Love's Labour Lost,' 'Measure for Measure,' which were either
     founded on impossibilities, or at least so meanly written, that the
     comedy neither caused your mirth, nor the serious part your
     concernment."

In all this this rash and wretched folly, Dryden shows his ignorance of
the order in which Shakspeare wrote his plays; and Sir Walter kindly
says, that there will be charity in believing that he was not intimately
acquainted with those he so summarily and unjustly condemns. But
unluckily this nonsense was written during the very time he was said by
Sir Walter to have been "engaged in a closer and more critical
examination of the ancient English poets than he had before bestowed
upon them;" and, from the perusal of Shakspeare, learning that the sole
staple of the drama was "human characters acting from the direct and
energetic influence of human passions." Yet Sir Walter was right; only
Dryden's opinions and judgments kept fluctuating all his life long, too
much obedient to the gusts of whim and caprice, or oftener still to the
irregular influences of an impatient spirit, that could not brook any
opposition from any quarter to its domineering self-will. For in not
many months after, in the Prologue to "Aurengzebe," are these noble
lines--

  "But spite of all his pride, a secret shame
  Invades his heart at Shakspeare's sacred name;
  Awed when he hears his godlike Romans rage,
  He, in a just despair, would quit the stage,
  And to an age less polish'd, more unskill'd,
  Does, with disdain, the foremost honours yield."

Less polished--more unskilled! Here, too, he is possessed with the same
foolish fancy as when he said, in the "Defence of the Epilogue,"--"But
these absurdities which those poets committed, may more properly be
called the age's fault than theirs. For besides the want of education
and learning, (which was their particular unhappiness,) they wanted the
benefit of converse. Their audiences were no better, and therefore were
satisfied with what they brought. Those who call theirs the golden age
of poetry, have only this reason for it, that they were then content
with acorns before they knew the use of bread!" Then, after a somewhat
hasty and unconvincing examination of certain incorrectnesses and
meannesses of expression even in Ben Jonson, learned as he was, he asks,
"What correctness after this can be expected from _Shakspeare_ or
Fletcher, who wanted that learning and care which Jonson had? I will
therefore spare myself the trouble of enquiring into their faults, who,
had they lived now, had doubtless written more correctly." Since
Shakspeare's days, too, the English language had been refined, he says,
by receiving new words and phrases, and becoming the richer for them, as
it would be "by importation of bullion." It is admitted, however, that
Shakspeare, Fletcher, and Jonson did indeed beautify our tongue by their
_curiosa felicitas_ in the use of old words, to which it often gave a
rare meaning; but in that they were followed by "Sir John Suckling and
Mr Waller, _who refined upon them_!" But the greatest improvement and
refinement of all, "in this age," is said to have been in wit. Pure wit,
and without alloy, was the wit of the court of Charles the Second, and
of the Clubs. It shines like gold, yea much fine gold, in the works of
all the master play-wrights. Whereas, "Shakspeare, who many times has
written better than any poet in any language, is yet so far from writing
wit always, or expressing that wit according to the dignity of the
subject, that he writes, in many places, below the dullest writers of
ours, or any preceding age. Never did any author precipitate himself
from such height of thought to so low expressions, as he often does. He
is the very Janus of poets; he wears almost every where two faces; and
you have scarce begun to admire the one ere you despise the other." That
the wit "of this age" is much more courtly, may, Dryden thinks, be
easily proved by viewing the characters of gentlemen which were written
in the last. For example--who do you think? Why, MERCUTIO. "Shakspeare
showed the best of his skill in Mercutio; and he said himself that he
was forced to kill him in the third act, to prevent being killed by him.
But for my part I cannot find he was so dangerous a person: I see
nothing in him but what was so exceedingly harmless, that he might have
lived to the end of the play and died in his bed, without offence to any
man." Wit Shakspeare had in common with his ingenious contemporaries;
but theirs, to speak out plainly, "was not that of gentlemen; there was
ever somewhat that was ill-natured and clownish in it, and which
confessed the conversation of the authors." "In this age," Dryden
declares the last and greatest advantage of writing proceeds from
conversation. "In that age" there was "less gallantry;" and "neither did
they (Shakspeare, Ben, and the rest) keep the best company of theirs."
But let the illustrious time-server speak at large.

     "Now, if they ask me, whence it is that our conversation is so much
     refined? I must freely, and without flattery, ascribe it to the
     court; and in it, particularly to the king, whose example gives a
     law to it. His own misfortunes, and the nation's, afforded him an
     opportunity, which is rarely allowed to sovereign princes--I mean
     of travelling, and being conversant in the most polished courts of
     Europe; and, thereby, of cultivating a spirit which was formed by
     nature to receive the impressions of a gallant and generous
     education. At his return, he found a nation lost as much in
     barbarism as in rebellion; and, as the excellency of his nature
     forgave the one, so the excellency of his manners reformed the
     other. The desire of imitating so great a pattern, first awakened
     the dull and heavy spirits of the English from their natural
     reservedness; loosened them from their stiff forms of conversation,
     and made them easy and pliant to each other in discourse. Thus,
     insensibly, our way of living became more free; and the fire of the
     English wit, which was before stifled under a constrained,
     melancholy way of breeding, began first to display its force by
     mixing the solidity of our nation with the air and gaiety of our
     neighbours. This being granted to be true, it would be a wonder if
     the poets, whose work is imitation, should be the only persons in
     three kingdoms who should not receive advantage by it; or, if they
     should not more easily imitate the wit and conversation of the
     present age than of the past.

     "Let us, therefore, admire the beauties and the heights of
     Shakspeare, without falling after him into a carelessness, and, as
     I may call it, a lethargy of thought, for whole scenes together."

Shakspeare lethargic--comatose!

Sir Walter's admiration of "glorious John" was so much part of his very
nature, that he says, "it is a bold, perhaps presumptuous, task to
attempt to separate the true from the false criticism in the foregoing
essay: for who is qualified to be umpire betwixt Shakspeare and Dryden?"
None that ever breathed, better than his own great and good self. Yet
surely he was wrong in saying, that when Shakspeare wrote for the stage,
"wit was not required." Required or not, there it was in perfection, of
which Dryden, with all his endowments, had no idea. The question is not
as he puts it, were those "audiences incapable of receiving the delights
which a cultivated mind derives from the gradual development of a story,
the just dependence of its parts upon each other, the minute beauties of
language, and the absence of every thing incongruous or indecorous?"
They may have been so, though we do not believe they were. But the
question is, are Shakspeare's Plays, beyond all that ever were written,
distinguished for those very excellences, and free from almost all those
very defects? That they are, few if any will now dare to deny. While
the best of Dryden's own Plays, and still more those of his forgotten
contemporaries, infinitely inferior to Shakspeare's in all those very
excellences, are choke-full of all manner of faults and flagrant sins
against decorum and congruity, in the eyes of mere taste; and with a few
exceptions, according to no rules can be rated high as works of art. The
truth of all this manifestly forced itself upon Sir Walter's seldom
erring judgment, as he proceeded in the composition of the elaborate
note, in which he would fain have justified Dryden even at the expense
of Shakspeare. And, as it now stands, though beautifully written, it
swarms with _non-sequiturs_, and perplexing half-truths.

In the Preface to "Troilus and Cressida," (1679,) Dryden again--and for
the last time--descants, in the same unsatisfactory strain, on
Shakspeare. Æschylus, he tells us, was held in the same veneration by
the Athenians of after ages as Shakspeare by his countrymen. But in the
age of that poet, the Greek tongue had arrived at its full perfection,
and they had among them an exact standard of writing and speaking;
whereas the English language, even in his (Dryden's) own age, was
wanting in the very foundation of certainty, "a perfect grammar:" so,
what must it have been in Shakspeare's time?

     "The tongue in general is so much refined since then, that many of
     his words, and more of his phrases, are scarce intelligible. And of
     those which we understand, some are ungrammatical, others coarse;
     and his whole style is so pestered with figurative expressions,
     that it is as affected as it is obscure. It is true that, in his
     latter plays, he had worn off somewhat of the rust; but the tragedy
     which I have undertaken to correct was in all probability one of
     his first endeavours on the stage.... So lamely is it left to us,
     that it is not divided into acts. For the play itself, the author
     seems to have begun it with some fire. The characters of Pandarus
     and Thersites are promising enough; but, as if he grew weary of his
     task, after an entrance or two, he lets them fall; and the latter
     part of the tragedy is nothing but a confusion of drums and
     trumpets, excursions, and alarms. The persons who give name to the
     tragedy are left alive. Cressida is false, and is not punished.
     Yet, after all, because the play was Shakspeare's, and that there
     appeared in some places of it the admirable genius of the author, I
     undertook to remove that heap of rubbish, under which many
     excellent thoughts lay wholly buried. Accordingly, I have
     remodelled the plot, threw out many unnecessary persons, improved
     those which were begun and left unfinished, as Hector, Troilus,
     Pandarus, and Thersites, and added that of Andromache. After that,
     I made, with no small trouble, an order and connexion of all the
     scenes, removing them from the place where they were inartificially
     set; and though it was impossible to keep them all unbroken,
     because the scene must be sometimes in the city and sometimes in
     the court, yet I have so ordered them, that there is a coherence of
     them with one another, and a dependence on the main design: no
     leaping from Troy to the Grecian tents, and thence back again, in
     the same act, but a due proportion of time allowed for every
     motion. I need not say that I have refined the language, which
     before was obsolete; but I am willing to acknowledge, that as I
     have often drawn his English nearer to our times, so I have
     sometimes conformed my own to his; and consequently, the language
     is not altogether so pure as it is significant."

John Dryden and Samuel Johnson resemble one another very strongly in
their treatment of Shakspeare. Both of them seem at times to have
perfectly understood and felt his greatness, and both of them have
indited glorious things in its exaltation. Their praise is the utterance
of worship. You might believe them on their knees before an idol. But
theirs is a strange kind of reverence. It alternates with derision, and
is compatible with contempt. The god sinks into the man and the man is a
barbarian, babbling uncouth speech. "Coarse," "ungrammatical,"
"obscure," "affected," "unintelligible," "rusty!" The words distilled
from the lips of Cordelia, Desdemona, Juliet, Imogen!

Dryden informs us, that ages after the death of Æschylus, the Athenians
ordained an equal reward to the poets who could alter his plays to be
acted in the theatre, with those whose productions were wholly new, and
of their own. But the case, he laments, is not the same in England,
though the difficulties are greater. Æschylus wrote good Greek,
Shakspeare bad English; and to make it intelligible to a refined
audience was a hard job. Sorely "pestered with figurative expressions"
must have been the transmogrifier; and he had to look for wages, not to
a nation's gratitude, but a manager's greed. It was, indeed, a desperate
expedient for raising the funds. In his judgment the Play itself was but
a poor affair--an attempt by an apprentice, that, to be producible,
required the shaping of a master's hand. "Lamely left" it had to be set
on its feet ere it could tread the stage. With what _nonchalance_ does
he throw out "unnecessary persons," and improve "unfinished!" Hector,
Troilus, Pandarus, and Thersites, skilless Shakspeare had but
begun--artful Dryden made an end of them; Cressida, who was false as she
was fair, yet left alive to deceive more men, became a paragon of truth,
chastity, and suicide; and by an amazing stretch of invention, far
beyond the Swan's, was added Andromache. Dryden proudly announces that
"the scenes of Pandarus and Cressida, of Troilus and Pandarus, of
Andromache with Hector and the Trojans, in the second act, are wholly
new; together with that of Nestor and Ulysses with Thersites, and that
of Thersites with Ajax and Achilles. I will not weary my reader with the
scenes which are added of Pandarus and the lovers in the third, and
those of Thersites, which are wholly altered; but I cannot omit the last
scene in it, which is almost half the act, betwixt Troilus and Hector. I
have been so tedious in three acts, that I shall contract myself in the
two last. The beginning scenes of the fourth act are either added, or
changed wholly by me; the middle of it is Shakspeare's, altered and
mingled with my own; three or four of the last scenes are altogether
new; and the whole fifth act, both the plot and the writing, are my own
additions." O heavens! why was it not all "my own?"

No human being can have a right to use another in such a way as this.
Shakspeare's plays were then, and are now, as much his own property as
the property of the public--or rather, the public holds them in trust.
Dryden was a delinquent towards the dead. His crime was sacrilege. In
reading _his_ "Troilus and Cressida," you ever and anon fear you have
lost your senses. Bits of veritable Shakspearean gold, burnished
star-bright, embossed in pewter! Diamonds set in dirt! Sentences
illuminated with words of power, suddenly rising and sinking, through a
flare of fustian! Here Apollo's lute--there hurdy-gurdy.

"For the play itself," said Dryden insolently, "the author seems to have
begun it with some fire;" and here it is continued with much smoke. "The
characters of Pandarus and Thersites are promising enough;" here we
shudder at their performance. Such a monstrous Pandarus would have been
blackballed at the Pimp. Thersites--Shakspeare's Thersites--for Homer's
was another Thersites quite--finely called by Coleridge, "the Caliban of
demagogic life"--loses all individuality, and is but a brutal buffoon
grossly caricatured. The scene between Ulysses and Achilles, with its
wondrous wisdomful speech, is omitted! of itself, worth all the poetry
written between the Restoration and the Revolution.

Spirit of Glorious John! forgive, we beseech thee, truth-telling
Christopher--but angels and ministers of grace defend us! WHO ART THOU?
Shakspeare's ghost.


PROLOGUE, SPOKEN BY MR BETTERTON, REPRESENTING THE GHOST OF SHAKSPEARE.

  "See, my loved Britons, see your Shakspeare rise,
  An awful ghost confess'd to human eyes!
  Unnamed, methinks, distinguish'd I had been
  From other shades, by this eternal green,
  About whose wreaths the vulgar poets strive,
  And, with a touch, their wither'd bays revive.
  Untaught, unpractised, in a barbarous age,
  I found not, but created first the stage;
  And if I drain'd no Greek or Latin store,
  'Twas that my own abundance gave me more.
  On foreign trade I needed not rely,
  Like fruitful Britain, rich without supply.
  In this my rough-drawn play you shall behold
  Some master-strokes, so manly and so bold,
  That he who meant to alter, found 'em such,
  He shook, and thought it sacrilege to touch.
  Now, where are the successors to my name?
  What bring they to fill out a poet's fame?
  Weak, short-lived issues of a feeble age;
  Scarce living to be christen'd on the stage!
  For humour farce, for love they rhyme dispense,
  That tolls the knell for their departed sense.
  Dulness, that in a playhouse meets disgrace,
  Might meet with reverence in its proper place.
  The fulsome clench that nauseates the town,
  Would from a judge or alderman go down--
  Such virtue is there in a robe and gown!
  And that insipid stuff which here you hate,
  Might somewhere else be call'd a grave debate:
  Dulness is decent in the church and state.
  But I forget that still 'tis understood
  Bad plays are best decried by showing good.
  Sit silent, then, that my pleased soul may see
  A judging audience once, and worthy me.
  My faithful scene from true records shall tell,
  How Trojan valour did the Greek excel;
  Your great forefathers shall their fame regain,
  And Homer's angry ghost repine in vain."

The best hand of any man that ever lived, at prologue and epilogue, was
Dryden. And here he showed himself to be the boldest too; and above fear
of ghosts. For though it was but a make-believe, it must have required
courage in Shakspeare's murderer to look on its mealy face. The ghost
speaks well--nobly--for six lines--though more like Dryden's than
Shakspeare's. _That_ was not his style when alive. The seventh line
would have choked him, had he been a mere light-and-shadow ghost. But in
death never would he thus have given the lie to his life. "Untaught," he
might have truly said--for he had no master. "Unpractised!" Nay,
"Troilus and Cressida" sprang from a brain that had teemed with many a
birth. "A barbarous age!" Read--"Great Eliza's golden time," when the
sun of England's genius was at meridian. "Sacrilege to touch!" Prologue
had not read Preface. Little did the "injured ghost" suspect the
spectacle that was to ensue. Much of what follows is, in worse degree,
Drydenish all over. Sweetest Shakspeare scoffed not so!

Suppose Shakspeare's ghost to have slipped quietly into the manager's
box to witness the performance. Poets after death do not lose all memory
of their own earthly visions. Thoughts of the fairest are with them in
Paradise. At first sight of Dorinda he would have bolted.

Dryden says, that "he knew not to distinguish the blown puffy style from
true sublimity." He would then have done so, and no mistake. "The fury
of his fancy often transported him beyond the bounds of judgment, either
in coining of new words and phrases, or racking words which were in use,
into the violence of catachresis." His ears would have been jarred by
Prospero's "polite conversation," so unlike what he, who had not "kept
the best society," was confined to "in a barbarous age." Yet Dryden
confessed that he "understood the nature of the passions," and "made his
characters distinct;" so that "his failings were not so much in the
passions themselves, as in his manner of expression." Unfortunately, his
vocabulary was neither choice nor extensive, and he "often obscured his
meaning by his words, and sometimes made it unintelligible."

     "To speak justly of this whole matter: it is neither height of
     thought that is discommended, nor pathetic vehemence, nor any
     nobleness of expression in its proper place; but it is a false
     measure of all these, something which is like them, and is not
     them; it is the Bristol stone, which appears like a diamond; it is
     an extravagant thought instead of a sublime one; it is a roaring
     madness instead of vehemence; a sound of words instead of sense. If
     Shakspeare were stripped of all the bombasts in his passions, and
     dressed in the most vulgar words, we should find the beauties of
     his thoughts remaining; if his embroideries were burnt down, there
     would still be silver at the bottom of the melting-pot, but I fear
     (at least let me fear it for myself) that we, who ape his sounding
     words, have nothing of his thought, but are all outside; there is
     not so much as dwarf within our giant's clothes. Therefore, let not
     Shakspeare suffer for our sakes; it is our fault, who succeed him
     in an age that is more refined, if we imitate him so ill that we
     copy his failings only, and make a virtue of that in our writings
     which in his was an imperfection.

     "For what remains, the excellency of that poet was, as I have said,
     in the more manly passions; Fletcher's in the softer. Shakspeare
     writ better betwixt man and man; Fletcher betwixt man and woman:
     consequently the one described friendship better--the other love.
     Yet Shakspeare taught Fletcher to write love; and Juliet and
     Desdemona are originals. It is true, the scholar had the softer
     soul, but the master had the kinder. Friendship is both a virtue
     and a passion essentially; love is passion only in its nature, and
     is not a virtue but by accident: good-nature makes friendship, but
     effeminacy love. Shakspeare had an universal mind, which
     comprehended all characters and passions; Fletcher, a more confined
     and limited: for though he treated love in perfection, yet honour,
     ambition, revenge, and generally all the stronger passions, he
     either touched not, or not masterly. To conclude all he was a limb
     of Shakspeare."

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 1: The prose even is, in its music, rude in ordinary folks--or
_artful_, as in Hamlet's admiration of the world.]



THE TOWER OF LONDON.--A POEM.

BY THOMAS ROSCOE.


PART I.

    Proud Julian towers! ye whose grey turrets rise
  In hoary grandeur, mingling with the skies--
  Whose name--thought--image--every spot are rife
  With startling legends--themes of death in life!
  Recall the voices of wrong'd spirits fled--
  Echoes of life that long survived their dead;
  And let them tell the history of thy crimes,
  The present teach, and warn all future times.

    Time's veil withdrawn, what tragedies of woe
  Loom in the distance, fill the ghastly show!
  Oh, tell what hearts, torn from light's cheering ray,
  Within thy death-shades bled their lives away;
  What anxious hopes, strifes, agonies, and fears,
  In thy dread walls have linger'd years on years--
  Still mock'd the patient prisoner as he pray'd
  That death would shroud his woes--too long delay'd!

    Could the great Norman, with prophetic eye,
  Have scann'd the vista of futurity,
  And seen the cell-worn phantoms, one by one,
  Rise and descend--the father to the son--
  Whose purest blood, by treachery and guilt,
  On thy polluted scaffolds has been spilt,
  Methinks Ambition, with his subtle art,
  Had fired his hero to a nobler part.
  Yes! curst Ambition--spoiler of mankind--
  That with thy trophies lur'st the dazzled mind,
  That 'neath the gorgeous veil thy conquests weave,
  Would'st hide thy form, and Reason's eye deceive--
  By what strange spells still dost thou rule the mind
  That madly worships thee, or, tamely blind,
  Forbears to fathom thoughts, that at thy name
  Should kindle horror, and o'erwhelm with shame.

    Alas, that thus the human heart should pay
  Too willing homage to thy bloody sway;
  Should stoop submissive to a fiend sublime
  And venerate e'en the majesty of crime!
  How soon to those that tempt thee art thou near--
  To prompt, direct, and steel the heart to fear!
  Oh, not to such the voice of peace shall speak,
  Nor placid zephyr fan their fever'd cheek;
  Sleep ne'er shall seal their hot and blood-stain'd eye,
  But conscious visions ever haunt them nigh;
  Grandeur to them a faded flower shall be,
  Wealth but a thorn, and power a fruitless tree;
  And, as they near the tomb, with panting breast,
  Shrink from the dread unknown, yet hope no rest!

    Stern towers of strength! once bulwarks of the land,
  When feudal power bore sway with sovereign hand--
  Frown ye no more--the glory of the scene--
  Sad, silent witness of what crimes have been!
  Accurst the day when first our Norman foe
  Taught Albion's high-born Saxon sons to bow
  'Neath victor-pride and insolence--learn to feel
  What earth's dark woes--when abject vassals kneel;
  And worse the hour when his remorseless heir,
  Alike uncheck'd by heaven, or earthly prayer,
  With lusts ignoble, fed by martial might,
  Usurp'd man's fair domains and native right.

    Ye generous spirits that protect the brave,
  And watch the seaman o'er the crested wave,
  Cast round the fearless soul your glorious spell,
  That fired a Hampden and inspired a Tell--
  Why left ye Wallace, greatest of the free,
  His hills' proud champion--heart of liberty--
  Alone to cope with tyranny and hate,
  To sink at last in ignominious fate?
  Sad Scotia wept, and still on valour's shrine
  Our glistening tears, like pearly dewdrops, shine,
  To tell the world how Albyn's hero bled,
  And treasure still the memory of her dead.
  Whose prison annals speak of thrilling deeds,
  How truth is tortured and how genius bleeds?
  Whose eye dare trace them down the tragic stream--
  Mark what fresh phantoms in the distance gleam,
  As dark and darker o'er th' ensanguined page
  The ruthless deed pollutes each later age?
  See where the rose of Bolingbroke's rich bloom
  Fades on the bed of martyr'd Richard's tomb!
  Look where the spectre babes, still smiling fair,
  Spring from the couch of death to realms of air!
  Oh, thought accurst! that uncle, guardian, foe,
  Should join in one to strike the murderous blow.
  Ask we for tears from pity's sacred fount?
  "Forbear!" cries vengeance--"that is my account."
  There is a power--an eye whose light can span
  The dark-laid schemes of the vain tyrant, man.
  Lo! where it pierces through the shades of night,
  And all its hideous secrets start to light--
  In vain earth's puny conquerors heaven defy--
  Their kingdom's dust, and but one throne on high.
  See heaven's applause support the virtuous wrong'd,
  And 'midst his state the despot's fears prolong'd.
  Thou tyrant, yes! the declaration God
  Himself hath utter'd--"I'm the avenging rod!"
  Words wing'd with fate and fire! oh, not in vain
  Ye cleft the air, and swept Gomorrah's plain,
  When, dark idolatry unmask'd, she stood
  The mark of heaven--a fiery solitude!
  And still ye sped--still mark'd the varied page
  In every time--through each revolving age--
  Wherever man trampled his fellow man,
  Unscared by crimes, ye marr'd his ruthless plan--
  Still shall ye speed till time has pass'd away,
  And retribution reigns o'er earth's last day.

    Methinks I hear from each relentless stone
  The spirits of thy martyr'd victims groan,
  And eager whispers Echo round each cell
  The oft repeated legend, and re-dwell,
  With the same fondness that bespeaks delight
  In childhood's heart, when on some winter's night,
  As stormy winds low whistle through the vale,
  It shuddering lists the thrilling ghostly tale.
  It seems but now that blood was spilt, whose stain
  Proclaims the dastard soul--the bloody reign
  Of the Eighth Harry--vampire to his wife,
  Who traffick'd for his divorce with her life;
  So fresh, so moist, each ruddy drop appears
  Indelible through centuries of years!
  And who is this whose beauteous figure moves,
  Onward to meet the reeking form she loves;
  Whose noble mien--whose dignity of grace,
  Extort compassion from each gazing face?
  'Tis Dudley's bride! like some fair opening flower
  Torn from its stem--she meets fate's direst hour;
  Still unappall'd she views that bloody bier,
  Takes her last sad farewell without a tear.

    Each weeping muse hath told how Essex died,
  Favourite and victim, doom'd by female pride.
  How courtly Suffolk spent his latest day,
  And dying Raleigh penn'd his deathless lay.
  Here noble Strafford too severely taught
  How dearly royal confidence is bought;
  Received the warrant which demands his breath,
  And with a calm composure walk'd--to death.
  Nor 'mong the names that liberty holds dear,
  Shall the great Russell be forgotten here;
  His country's boast--each patriot's honest pride--
  For them he lived--for them he wept and died.

    And must we yet another page unfold,
  To glean fresh moral from the deeds of old?
  Ye busy spirits that pervade the air,
  And still with dark intents to earth repair;
  That goad the passions of the human breast,
  And bear the missives of Fate's stern behest--
  Say, stifle ye those thoughts that Heaven reveals--
  The tears of sympathy--the glow that steals
  O'er the young heart, or prompts soft pity's sigh--
  The prayer to snatch from harsh captivity
  The virtuous doom'd--teach but to praise--admire--
  Forbid to catch one spark of generous fire?
  The godlike wish of genius, man to bless,
  With rank and wealth still leaguing to oppress!
  Oh! when shall glory wreathe bright virtue's claim,
  And both to honour give a holier fame?

    Ye towers of death!--the noblest still your prey,
  Here spent in solitude their sunless day;
  In your wall'd graves a living doom they found;
  Broke o'er their night no ray, no gladd'ning sound.
  Yet the mind's splendour, with imprison'd wings,
  Rose high, and shone where the pure seraph sings;
  Where human thought taught conscience it was free,
  And burst the shackles of the Romish See.
  Oh, sweetest liberty! how dear to die!
  Bound by each sacred link;, each holy tie;
  To save unspotted from the spoiler's hand,
  Child of our heart--our own--our native land!
  And, oh! how dear life's latest drop to shed,
  To free the minds by superstition led;--
  To spread with holy earnest zeal abroad,
  That priceless gem--freedom to worship God!
  To keep unmingled with the world's vain lore,
  The faith that lightens every darken'd hour;
  That faith which can alone the sinner save,
  Prepare for death, and raise him from the grave;
  Show how, by yielding all, we surest prove,
  How humbly, deeply, truly, we can love;
  How much we prize that hope divinely given,
  The key--the seal--the passport into heaven.

PART II.

    What sudden blaze spreads through the crimson skies,
  And still in loftier volumes seems to rise?
  What meteor gleams, that from the fiery north,
  In savage grandeur fast are bursting forth,
  And light your very walls? Tell me, ye Towers--
  'Tis Smithfield revelling in his festal hours,
  Fed with your captives: shrieks that wildly pierce
  The roaring flames now undulating fierce,
  And gasping struggles, mingled groans, proclaim
  The power of torture o'er the writhing frame.
  Dark are your dens, and deep your secret cells,
  Whose silent gloom your tale of horrors tells.
  Saw ye how Cranmer dared--yet fear'd to die,
  Trembling 'mid hopes of immortality?
  He stood alone;--a brighter band appears
  Unaw'd by threats--impregnable to fears;
  Who suffer'd glad the sacred truth to spread,
  In mild obedience to its fountain-head.
  And when at length our popish James would see
  Cold superstition bend th' unhallow'd knee,
  The mystic tapers on our altars burn,
  And clouds of incense shade the fragrant urn,
  Shone England's prelates faithful to their call,
  In bonds of truth within thy massive wall.
  See grace divine--see Heaven in mercy pour,
  The balm of peace on Albion's boasted shore.

    Once wrought by captive fingers on thy wall,
  The hero's home and prison, grave and pall,
  What dark lines meet the startled stranger's gaze,
  Thoughts that ennoble--sentiments that raise
  The iron'd captive from captivity,
  How high above the power of tyranny!--
  And ye that wander by the evening tide,
  Where mountains swell or mossy streamlets glide;
  That on fresh hills can hail morn's orient ray,
  And chant with birds your grateful hymns to day;
  Or seek at noon, beneath some pleasant shade,
  To feel the sunbeams cool'd by leafy glade--
  That free as air, morn, noon, and eve, can roam,
  Where'er you list, and nature call your home;
  Learn from a hopeless prisoner's words and fate,
  "Virtue is valour--to be patient, great!"
  When traced on prison walls, such words as these
  Arrest the eye--appall e'en while they please--
  "Ah! hapless he who cannot bear the weight,
  With patient heart of a too partial fate,
  For adverse times and fortunes do not kill,
  But rash impatience of impending ill."

    Yes, still they speak to bosoms that are free
  Within the girdle of captivity;
  Of spirits dauntless, who could spurn the chain
  Of human punishment or mortal pain;
  That e'en amid these precincts of despair,
  Dared free themselves from thraldom's jealous care--
  Bound but by ties of faith and virtue, be
  Heirs of bright hopes and immortality.
  Oh! great mind's proud inscriptions! Who shall tell
  What hand engraved those lines within that cell?
  What heart yet steadfast while around him stood
  Phantoms of death to chill his curdling blood,
  Could battle with despair on reason's throne,
  And conquer where the fiend would reign alone?
  Ah! who can tell what sorrows pierced his breast--
  Ran through each vein, usurp'd his hours of rest?
  What struggle nerved his trembling hand to trace
  With moral courage words he dared to face
  With acts that ask'd new efforts while he wrote
  To man his soul and fix his every thought!
  Tremble, thou tyrant! proud ambition, blush!
  Hearts such as these thy power can never crush.
  Are they forgotten? no, the rugged stone,
  The lap of earth on which they rested lone;
  The very implements of torture there--
  The axe, the rack, the tyrant's jealous care;
  Each mark that meets successive ages' eyes
  Speaks, trumpet-tongued, a fame that never dies;
  And tells the thoughtful stranger, while the tear
  Unbidden starts, that freedom triumph'd here--
  Plumed her immortal wings for nobler flight,
  And bore her martyr'd brave to realms of light.
  Nor false their faith, nor like the fleeting wind,
  Their spirits fled! for theirs the unprison'd mind,
  No tyrant-chains, no bonds of earth and time,
  Could hold from truth and freedom's heights sublime--
  From that bright heaven of science, whence they shed
  Fresh glory o'er man's cause for which they bled.
  Ask what is left? their names forgotten now?
  Their birth, their fortune? not a trace to show
  Where sleeps their dust? Go, seek the blest abode,
  Their mind's pure joy, the bosom of their God!
  Then tell if in the dull cold prison's air,
  And wasted to a living shadow there,
  Earth scarcely knew them! if they were alone
  Where they were cast, to pine away unknown?
  Friends, had they none? nor beam'd a wish to share
  Love, friendship, and to breathe the common air.
  Lost, lost to all! like some lone desert flower,
  Felt they unseen Time's slow consuming power,
  And hail'd each parting day with fond delight,
  As the tired pilgrim greets the waning light?

    No! glad bright spirits, guardians of the mind,
  Were with them; as the demon-powers unbind
  And lash their furies on the conscious breast
  Of earth's fell tyrants who ne'er dream of rest.
  Theirs, too, joy's harbinger, the thoughts aye fed
  With brighter objects than of earth, that shed
  A light within their narrow home, and gave
  A triumph's lustre to the yawning grave.
  And in that hour when the proud heart's o'erthrown,
  And self all-powerless, self is truly known;
  When pride no more could darken the free mind,
  But all to God in firm faith was resign'd--
  Then drank their souls the stream of love divine,
  More richly flowing than the Eastern mine;
  Felt heaven expanding in the heart renew'd,
  And more than friends in desert solitude.

    Peace to thy martyrs! thou art frowning now
  With all the array of bold and martial show;
  The same thy battlements with trophies dress'd,
  Present defiance to the hostile breast;
  Around thy walls the soldier keeps his ward,
  Scared with war's sights no more thy peaceful guard.
  Long may ye stand, the voice of other years,
  And ope, in future times, no fount of tears
  And sorrows like the past, such as have brought
  A mournful gloom and shadow o'er the thought;
  And if the eye one pitying drop has shed,
  That drop is sacred, it embalms the dead.
  What though a thousand years have roll'd away
  Since thy dread walls entomb'd their noble prey;
  To us they speak, ask the warm tear to flow
  For ills now pressing and for present woe;
  Bid us to succour fellow-men who haste
  Along the thorny road of life, and taste
  The bitterness of poverty, endure
  All that befalls the too neglected poor;
  And with no friend, no bounty to assist,
  Steal from the world unwept for and unmiss'd.

    What though no dungeon wrap the wasting clay,
  Or from the eye exclude the cheering ray;
  What though no tortures visibly may tear
  The writhing limbs, and leave their signet there;
  Has not chill penury a poison'd dart,
  Inflicting deeper wounds upon the heart?
  All the decrees the sternest fate may bind,
  To weigh the courage or display the mind--
  All man could bear, with heart unflinching bear,
  Did not a dearer part his sufferings share--
  Worse than the captive's fate--wife, child, his all,
  The husband, and the father's name, appall
  His very soul, and bid him thrilling feel
  Distraction, as he makes the vain appeal.
  Upon his brow, where manhood's hand had seal'd
  Its perfect dignity, is now reveal'd
  A haggard wanness; from his livid eye
  The manly fire has faded; cold and dry,
  No more it glistens to the light. His thought,
  To the last pitch of frantic memory wrought,
  Turns to the partner of his heart and woe,
  Who, weigh'd with grief, no lesser love can know;
  Despair soon haunts the hope that fills his breast,
  And passion's flood in tumult is express'd.

    Amid the plains where ample plenty spreads
  Her copious stores and decks the yellow meads,
  The outcast turns a ghastly look to heaven;
  Oh, not for him is Nature's plenty given;
  Robb'd of the birthright nature freely gave,
  Save that last portion freely left--a grave!
  Oh, that another power would rule man's heart,
  Uncramp its free-born will in every part;
  Mercy more swift, justice more just, more slow,
  Grandeur less prone to deal the cruel blow,
  To bind men's hands with fetters than with alms,
  And spurn the only boon that soothes and calms.

    England! thou dearest child of liberty;
  Free as thine ocean home for ever be;
  Thy commerce thrive; may thy deserted poor
  No more the pangs of poverty endure.
  Then shall thy Towers, proud monument! display
  The thousand trophies of a happier day;
  And genial climes, from earth's remotest shore,
  Their richest tributes to her genius pour,
  With wealth from Ind, with treasures from the West,
  Thy homes, thy hamlets--cities still be blest;
  Till virtue, truth, and justice, shall combine,
  And heavenly hope o'er many a bosom shine;
  Auspicious days hail thy fair Sovereign's reign,
  And happy subjects throng their golden train.



POEMS AND BALLADS OF GOETHE.

No. III.


Goethe, though fertile in poems of the amatory and contemplative class,
was somewhat chary of putting forth his strength in the ballad. We have
already selected almost every specimen of this most popular and
fascinating description of poetry which is at all worthy of his
genius;--at least all of them which we thought likely, after making
every allowance for variety of taste, to fulfil the main object of our
task--to please and not offend. It would have been quite easy for us to
spin out the series by translating the whole section of ballads which
relate to the loves of "the Maid of the Mill," the "Gipsy's Song"--which
somewhat unaccountably has found favour in the eyes of Mrs Austin--and a
few more ditties of a similar nature, all of which we bequeath, with our
best wishes, as a legacy to any intrepid _rédacteur_ who may wish to
follow in our footsteps. For ourselves, we shall rigidly adhere to the
rule with which we set out, and separate the wheat from the chaff,
according to the best of our ability.

The first specimen of our present selection is not properly German, nor
is it the unsuggested and original product of Goethe's muse. We believe
that it is an old ballad of Denmark; a country which possesses, next to
Scotland, the richest and most interesting store of ancient ballad
poetry in Europe. However, although originally Danish, it has received
some touches in passing through the alembic of translation, which may
warrant us in giving it a prominent place, and we are sure that no lover
of hoar tradition will blame us for its insertion.


THE WATER-MAN.

  "Oh, mother! rede me well, I pray;
  How shall I woo me yon winsome May?"

  She has built him a horse of the water clear,
  The saddle and bridle of sea-sand were.

  He has donn'd the garb of knight so gay,
  And to Mary's Kirk he has ridden away.

  He tied his steed to the chancel door,
  And he stepp'd round the Kirk three times and four.

  He has boune him into the Kirk, and all
  Drew near to gaze on him, great and small.

  The priest he was standing in the quire;--
  "What gay young gallant comes branking here?"

  The winsome maid, to herself said she;--
  "Oh, were that gay young gallant for me!"

  He stepp'd o'er one stool, he stepp'd o'er two;
  "Oh, maiden, plight me thy oath so true!"

  He stepp'd o'er three stools, he stepp'd o'er four;
  "Wilt be mine, sweet May, for evermore?"

  She gave him her hand of the drifted snow--
  "Here hast thou my troth, and with thee I'll go."

  They went from the Kirk with the bridal train,
  They danced in glee, and they danced full fain;

  They danced them down to the salt-sea strand,
  And they left them there with hand in hand.

  "Now wait thee, love, with my steed so free,
  And the bonniest bark I'll bring for thee."

  And when they pass'd to the white, white sand,
  The ships came sailing towards the land;

  But when they were out in the midst of the sound,
  Down went they all in the deep profound!

  Long, long on the shore, when the winds were high,
  They heard from the waters the maiden's cry.

  I rede ye, damsels, as best I can--
  Tread not the dance with the Water-Man!

This is strong, pure, rugged Norse, scarcely inferior, we think, in any
way, to the pitch of the old Scottish ballads.

       *       *       *       *       *

Before we forsake the North, let us try "The King in Thule." We are
unfortunate in having to follow in the wake of the hundred translators
of Faust, some of whom (we may instance Lord Francis Egerton) have
already rendered this ballad as perfectly as may be; nevertheless we
shall give it, as Shakspeare says, "with a difference."


THE KING IN THULE.

  There was a king in Thule,
    Was true till death I ween:
  A vase he had of the ruddy gold,
    The gift of his dying queen.

  He never pass'd it from him--
    At banquet 'twas his cup;
  And still his eyes were fill'd with tears
    Whene'er he took it up.

  So when his end drew nearer,
    He told his cities fair,
  And all his wealth, except that cup,
    He left unto his heir.

  Once more he sate at royal board,
    The knights around his knee,
  Within the palace of his sires,
    Hard by the roaring sea.

  Up rose the brave old monarch,
    And drank with feeble breath,
  Then threw the sacred goblet down
    Into the flood beneath.

  He watch'd its tip reel round and dip,
    Then settle in the main;
  His eyes grew dim as it went down--
    He never drank again.

       *       *       *       *       *

We shall now venture on an extravaganza which might have been well
illustrated by Hans Holbein. It is in the ultra-Germanic taste, such as
in our earlier days, whilst yet the Teutonic alphabet was a mystery, we
conceived to be the staple commodity of our neighbours. We shall never
quarrel with a wholesome spice of superstition; but, really, Hoffmann,
Apel, and their fantastic imitators, have done more to render their
national literature ridiculous, than the greatest poets to redeem it.
The following poem of Goethe is a strange piece of sarcasm directed
against that school, and is none the worse, perhaps, that it somewhat
out-herods Herod in its ghostly and grim solemnity. Like many other
satires, too, it verges closely upon the serious. We back it against any
production of M. G. Lewis.


THE DANCE OF DEATH.

  The warder look'd down at the depth of night
    On the graves where the dead were sleeping,
  And, clearly as day, was the pale moonlight
    O'er the quiet churchyard creeping.
  One after another the gravestones began
  To heave and to open, and woman and man
    Rose up in their ghastly apparel!

  Ho--ho for the dance!--and the phantoms outsprung
    In skeleton roundel advancing,
  The rich and the poor, and the old and the young,
    But the winding-sheets hinder'd their dancing.
  No shame had these revellers wasted and grim,
  So they shook off the cerements from body and limb,
    And scatter'd them over the hillocks.

  They crook'd their thighbones, and they shook their long shanks,
    And wild was their reeling and limber;
  And each bone as it crosses, it clinks and it clanks
    Like the clapping of timber on timber.
  The warder he laugh'd, though his laugh was not loud;
  And the Fiend whisper'd to him--"Go, steal me the shroud
    Of one of these skeleton dancers."

  He has done it! and backward with terrified glance
    To the sheltering door ran the warder;
  As calm as before look'd the moon on the dance,
    Which they footed in hideous order.
  But one and another seceding at last,
  Slipp'd on their white garments and onward they pass'd,
    And the deeps of the churchyard were quiet.

  Still, one of them stumbles and tumbles along,
    And taps at each tomb that it seizes;
  But 'tis none of its mates that has done it this wrong,
    For it scents its grave-clothes in the breezes.
  It shakes the tower gate, but _that_ drives it away,
  For 'twas nail'd o'er with crosses--a goodly array--
    And well was it so for the warder!

  It must have its shroud--it must have it betimes--
    The quaint Gothic carving it catches,
  And upwards from story to story it climbs
    And scrambles with leaps and with snatches.
  Now woe to the warder, poor sinner, betides!
  Like a long-legged spider the skeleton strides
    From buttress to buttress, still upward!

  The warder he shook, and the warder grew pale,
    And gladly the shroud would have yielded!
  The ghost had its clutch on the last iron rail
    Which the top of the watch-turret shielded.
  When the moon was obscured by the rush of a cloud,
  ONE! thunder'd the bell, and unswathed by a shroud,
    Down went the gaunt skeleton crashing!

       *       *       *       *       *

A very pleasant piece of poetry to translate at midnight, as we did it,
with merely the assistance of a dying candle!

After this feast of horrors, something more fanciful may not come amiss.
Let us pass to a competition of flowers in the golden, or--if you will
have it so--the iron age of chivalry. The meditations of a captive
knight have been a cherished theme for poets in all ages. Richard the
Lion-heart of England, and James I. of Scotland, have left us, in no
mean verse, the records of their own experience. We all remember how
nobly and how well Felicia Hemans portrayed the agony of the crusader as
he saw, from the window of his prison, the bright array of his Christian
comrades defiling through the pass below. We shall now take a similar
poem of Goethe, but one in a different vein:--


THE FAIREST FLOWER.

THE LAY OF THE CAPTIVE EARL.

  _The Earl._--I know a floweret passing fair,
    And for its loss I pain me;
  Fain would I hence to seek its lair,
    But for these bonds that chain me.
  My woes are aught but light to me,
  For when I roam'd unbound and free
    That flower was ever near me.

  Adown and round the castle's steep,
    I let my glances wander;
  But cannot from the dizzy keep,
    Descry it, there or yonder.
  Oh, he who'd bring it to my sight,
  Or were he knave or were he knight,
    Should be my friend for ever!

  _The Rose._--I blossom bright thy lattice near,
    And hear what thou hast spoken;
  'Tis me--brave, ill-starr'd cavalier--
    The Rose, thou wouldst betoken!
  Thy spirit spurns the base, the low,
  And 'tis the queen of flowers, I know,
    That in thy bosom reigneth.

  _The Earl._--All honour to thy purple cheer,
    From swathes of verdure blowing;
  And so art though to maidens dear,
    As gold or jewels glowing.
  Thy wreaths adorn the fairest face,
  Yet art thou not the flower, whose grace
    In solitude I cherish.

  _The Lily._--A haughty place usurps the rose,
    And haughtier still doth covet;
  But where the lily meekly blows,
    Some gentle eye will love it.
  The heart that beats in faithful breast,
  And spotless is as my white vest,
    Must value me the highest.

  _The Earl._--Spotless and true of heart am I,
    And free from sinful failing,
  Yet must I here a captive lie,
    In loneliness bewailing.
  I see an image fair in you
  Of many maidens pure and true,
    Yet know I something dearer.

  _The Carnation._--That may thy warder's garden show
    In me, the bright carnation,
  Else would the old man tend me so
    With loving adoration?
  In perfect round my petals meet,
  And lifelong are with scent replete,
    And with a burning colour.

  _The Earl._--None may the sweet carnation slight,
    It is the gardener's pleasure,
  Now he unfolds it to the light,
    Now shields from it his treasure.
  But no--the flower for which I pant,
  No rare, no brilliant charms can vaunt,
    'Tis ever meek and lowly.

  _The Violet._--Conceal'd and bending I retreat,
    Nor willingly had spoken,
  Yet that same silence, since 'tis meet,
    Shall now by me be broken.
  If I be that which fills thy thought
  Then must I grieve that I may not
    Waft every perfume to thee.

  _The Earl._--I love the violet, indeed,
    So modest in perfection,
  So gently sweet--yet more I need
    To soothe my heart's dejection.
  To thee alone the truth I'll speak,
  That not upon this rock so bleak
    Is to be found my darling.

  In yon far vale, earth's truest wife
    Sits where the brooks run playing,
  And still must wear a woeful life
    Till I with her am straying.
  When a blue floweret by that spot
  She plucks, and says--FORGET-ME-NOT,
    I feel it here in bondage.

  Yes, when two truly love, its might
    They own and feel in distance,
  So I, within this dungeon's night,
    Cling ever to existence.
  And when my heart is nigh distraught,
  If I but say--FORGET-ME-NOT,
    Hope burns again within me!

       *       *       *       *       *

Such is constant love--the light even of the dungeon! Nor, to the glory
of human nature be it said, is this a fiction. Witness Picciola--witness
those letters, perhaps the most touching that were ever penned, from
poor Camille Desmoulins to his wife, while waiting for the summons to
the guillotine--witness, above all, that fragment signed Quéret-Démery,
which could not get beyond the sullen walls of the Bastile until fifty
years after the agonizing request was preferred, when that
torture-chamber of cruelty was razed indignantly to the ground--"If, for
my consolation, Monseigneur would grant me, for the sake of God and the
most blessed Trinity, that I could have news of my dear wife! were it
only her name on a card to show that she is yet alive! It were the
sweetest consolation I could receive; and I should for ever bless the
greatness of Monseigneur." Poetry has no such eloquence as this.

But we must not digress from our author. Here are a few lines of the
deepest feeling and truth, and most appropriate in the hours of
wretchedness--


SORROW WITHOUT CONSOLATION.

  O, wherefore shouldst thou try
  The tears of love to dry?
    Nay, let them flow!
  For didst thou only know,
    How barren and how dead
  Seems every thing below,
    To those who have not tears enough to shed,
  Thou'd'st rather bid them _weep_, and seek their comfort so.

       *       *       *       *       *

The following stanzas, though rather inferior in merit, may be taken as
a companion to the above. Their structure reminds us of Cowley.


COMFORT IN TEARS.

  How is it that thou art so sad
    When others are so gay?
  Thou hast been weeping--nay, thou hast!
    Thine eyes the truth betray.

  "And if I may not choose but weep,
    Is not my grief mine own?
  No heart was heavier yet for tears--
    O leave me, friend, alone!"

  Come, join this once the merry band,
    They call aloud for thee,
  And mourn no more for what is lost,
    But let the past go free.

  "O, little know ye in your mirth
    What wrings my heart so deep!
  I have not lost the idol yet
    For which I sigh and weep."

  Then rouse thee and take heart! thy blood
    Is young and full of fire;
  Youth should have hope and might to win,
    And wear its best desire.

  "O, never may I hope to gain
    What dwells from me so far;
  It stands as high, it looks as bright,
    As yonder burning star."

  Why, who would seek to woo the stars
    Down from their glorious sphere?
  Enough it is to worship them,
    When nights are calm and clear.

  "Oh, I look up and worship too--
    My star it shines by day--
  Then let me weep the livelong light
    The whilst it is away."

       *       *       *       *       *

A thread from the distaff of Omphale may be stronger than the club of
Hercules. Here is an inconstant Romeo escaped from his Juliet, and yet
unable to shake off the magnetic spell which must haunt him to his dying
day.


TO A GOLDEN HEART.

  Pledge of departed bliss,
  Once gentlest, holiest token!
  Art thou more faithful than thy mistress is,
  That ever I must wear thee,
  And on my bosom bear thee,
  Although the bond that knit her soul with mine is broken?
  Why shouldest thou prove stronger?
  Short are the days of love, and wouldst thou make them longer?

  Lili! in vain I shun thee!
  Thy spell is still upon me.
  In vain I wander through the distant forests strange,
  In vain I roam at will
  By foreign glade and hill,
  For, ah! where'er I range,
  Beside my heart, the heart of Lili nestles still!

  Like a bird that breaks its twine,
  Is this poor heart of mine:
  It fain into the summer bowers would fly,
  And yet it cannot be
  Again so wholly free;
  For always it must bear
  The token which is there,
  To mark it as a thrall of past captivity.

       *       *       *       *       *

Here, again, is Romeo before his escape. Poor Juliet! may we hope that
she still has, and may long possess, the power

  "To lure this tassel-gentle back again."

Death, indeed, were a gentler fate than desertion. Truth to say, Goethe
would have made but a sorry Romeo, for he wanted the great and leading
virtue of constancy; and yet who can tell what Romeo might have become,
after six months' exile in Mantua? Juliet, we know, had taken the place
of Rosaline. Might not some fairer and newer star have arisen to eclipse
the image of the other? We will not credit the heresy. Far better that
the curtain should fall upon the dying lovers, before one shadow of
doubt or suspicion of infidelity has arisen to perplex the clear bright
mirror of their souls!


WELCOME AND DEPARTURE.

  To horse!--away o'er hill and steep!
    Into the saddle blithe I sprung;
  The eve was cradling earth to sleep,
    And night upon the mountains hung.
  With robes of mist around him set,
    The oak like some huge giant stood,
  While, with its hundred eyes of jet,
    Peer'd darkness from the tangled wood.

  Amidst a bank of clouds, the moon
    A sad and troubled glimmer shed;
  The wind its chilly wings unclosed,
    And whistled wildly round my head.
  Night framed a thousand phantoms dire,
    Yet did I never droop nor start;
  Within my veins what living fire!
    What quenchless glow within my heart!

  We met; and from thy glance a tide
    Of stifling joy flow'd into me:
  My heart was wholly by thy side,
    My every breath was breathed for thee.
  A blush was there, as if thy cheek
    The gentlest hues of spring had caught,
  And smiles so kind for me!--Great powers!
    I hoped, yet I deserved them not!

  But morning came to end my bliss;
    A long, a sad farewell we took.
  What joy--what rapture in thy kiss,
    What depth of anguish in thy look!
  I left thee, dear! but after me
    Thine eyes through tears look'd from above;
  Yet to be loved--what ecstacy!
    What ecstacy, ye gods, to love!

Here are three small cabinet pictures of exquisite finish. We have
laboured hard to do justice to them, for the smallest gems are the most
difficult to copy; yet after all we have some doubts of our success.


EVENING.

  Peace breathes along the shade
  Of every hill,
  The tree-tops of the glade
  Are hush'd and still;
  All woodland murmurs cease,
  The birds to rest within the brake are gone.
  Be patient, weary heart--anon,
  Thou, too, shalt be at peace!

       *       *       *       *       *

A CALM AT SEA.

  Lies a calm along the deep,
    Like a mirror sleeps the ocean,
  And the anxious steersman sees
    Round him neither stir nor motion.

  Not a breath of wind is stirring,
    Dread the hush as of the grave--
  In the weary waste of waters
    Not the lifting of a wave.

       *       *       *       *       *

THE BREEZE.

  The mists they are scatter'd,
  The blue sky looks brightly,
  And Eolus looses
  The wearisome chain!
  The winds, how they whistle!
  The steersman is busy--
  Hillio-ho, hillio-ho!
  We dash through the billows--
  They flash far behind us--
  Land, land, boys, again!

       *       *       *       *       *

In one of Goethe's little operas, which are far less studied than they
deserve, although replete with grace, melody, and humour, we stumbled
upon a ballad which we at once recognised as an old acquaintance. Some
of our readers may happen to recollect the very witty and popular ditty
called "Captain Wedderburn's Courtship," a peculiar favourite amongst
the lower orders in Scotland, but not, so far as we knew, transplanted
from its native soil. Our surprise, therefore, was great when we
discovered Captain Wedderburn dressed out in the garb of a _Junker_ of
the middle ages, and "bonny Girzie Sinclair," the Laird of Roslin's
daughter, masquerading as a German _Fraülein_. The coincidence, if it be
not plagiary, is so curious, that we have translated the ballad with a
much freer hand than usual, confessing at the same time that the
advantage, in point of humour and gallantry, is clearly on the side of
the old Mid-Lothian ditty.


THE CAVALIER'S CHOICE.

  It was a gallant cavalier
    Of honour and renown,
  And all to seek a ladye-love
    He rode from town to town.
  Till at a widow-woman's door
    He drew the rein so free;
  For at her side the knight espied
    Her comely daughters three.

  Well might he gaze upon them,
    For they were fair and tall;
  Ye never have seen fairer
    In bower nor yet in hall.
  Small marvel if the gallant's heart
    Beat quicker in his breast:
  'Twas hard to choose, and hard to lose--
    How might he wale the best?

  "Now, maidens, pretty maidens mine,
    Who'll rede me riddles three?
  And she who answers best of all
    Shall be my own ladye!"
  I ween they blush'd as maidens do
    When such rare words they hear--
  "Now speak thy riddles, if thou wilt,
    Thou gay young Cavalier!"

  "What's longer than the longest path?
    First tell ye that to me;
  And tell me what is deeper
    Than is the deepest sea?
  And tell me what is louder
    Than is the loudest horn?
  And tell me what is sharper
    Than is the sharpest thorn?

  "And tell me what is greener
    Than greenest grass on hill?
  And tell me what is crueller
    Than a wicked woman's will?"
  The eldest and the second maid,
    They sat and thought awhile;
  But the youngest she look'd upward,
    And spoke with merry smile.

  "O, love is surely longer far
    Than the longest paths that be;
  And hell, they say, is deeper
    Than is the deepest sea;
  And thunder it is louder
    Than is the loudest horn;
  And hunger it is sharper
    Than is the sharpest thorn;
  I know a deadly poison
    More green than grass on hill;
  And the foul fiend he is crueller
    Than any woman's will!"
  Scarce had the maiden spoken
    When the youth was by her side,
  And, all for what she answer'd him,
    Has claim'd her as his bride.

  The eldest and the second maid,
    They ponder'd and were dumb;
  And there, perchance, are waiting yet
    Till another wooer come.
  Then, maidens, take this warning word,
    Be neither slow nor shy,
  And always, when a lover speaks,
    Look kindly and reply.

       *       *       *       *       *

The following beautiful verses are from Wilhelm Meister. We shall
venture to call them


RETRIBUTION.

  He that with tears did never eat his bread,
    He that hath never lain through night's long hours,
  Weeping in bitter anguish on his bed--
    He knows ye not, ye dread celestial powers.
  Ye lead us onwards into life. Ye leave
    The wretch to fall, then yield him up, in woe,
  Remorse, and pain, unceasingly to grieve;
    For every sin is punished here below.

       *       *       *       *       *

We shall close this number with a series of poems, in imitation, or
rather after the manner of the antique, all of which possess singular
beauty. No man understood or appreciated the exquisite delicacy of the
Greek Anthology better than our author; and although we may, in several
of the versions, have fallen short of the originals, we trust that
enough still remains to convince the reader that we have not exaggerated
their merit.


POEMS AFTER THE MANNER OF THE ANTIQUE.


THE HUSBANDMAN.

  Lightly doth the furrow fold the golden grain within its breast,
  Deeper shroud, old man, shall cover in thy limbs when laid at rest.
  Blithely plough and sow as blithely! Here are springs of mortal cheer,
  And when e'en the grave is closing, Hope is ever standing near.

       *       *       *       *       *

ANACREON'S GRAVE.

  Where the rose is fresh and blooming--where the vine and myrtle spring--
  Where the turtle-dove is cooing--where the gay cicalas sing--
  Whose may be the grave surrounded with such store of comely grace,
  Like a God-created garden? 'Tis Anacreon's resting-place.
  Spring and summer and the autumn pour'd their gifts around the bard,
  And, ere winter came to chill him, slept he safe beneath the sward.


THE BROTHERS.

  Slumber, Sleep--they were two brothers, servants to the Gods above;
  Kind Prometheus lured them downwards, ever fill'd with earthly love;
  But what Gods could bear so lightly, press'd too hard on men beneath;
  Slumber did his brother's duty--Sleep was deepen'd into Death.

       *       *       *       *       *

LOVE'S HOUR-GLASS.

  Eros! wherefore do I see thee, with the glass in either hand?
  Fickle God! with double measure wouldst thou count the shifting sand?
  "_This_ one flows for parted lovers--slowly drops each tiny bead--
  _That_ is for the days of dalliance, and it melts with golden speed."

       *       *       *       *       *

WARNING.

  Do not touch him--do not wake him! Fast asleep is Amor lying;
    Go--fulfil thy work appointed--do thy labour of the day.
  Thus the wise and careful mother uses every moment flying,
    Whilst her child is in the cradle--Slumbers pass too soon away.

       *       *       *       *       *

SOLITUDE.

  Grant, O ye healing Nymphs, that have your haunts
  By rock and stream and lonely forest glade,
  The boon which, in their bosoms' silent depths,
  Your votaries crave! Unto the sad of heart
  Give comfort--knowledge unto him that doubts--
  Possession to the lover, and its joy.
  For unto you the Gods have given, what they
  Denied to man--to aid and to console
  All those soe'er who put their trust in you.

       *       *       *       *       *

PERFECT BLISS.

  All the divine perfections, which, while ere
  Nature in thrift doled out 'mongst many a fair,
    She shower'd with open hand, thou peerless one, on thee!
  And she that was so wond'rously endow'd,
  To whom a throng of noble knees were bow'd,
    Gave all--Love's perfect gift--her glorious self, to me!


THE CHOSEN ROCK.

  Here, in the hush and stillness of mid-noon,
  The lover lay and thought upon his love;
  With blithesome voice he spoke to me: "Be thou
  My witness, stone!--Yet, therefore, vaunt thee not,
  For thou hast many partners of my joy--
  To every rock that crowns this grassy dell,
  And looks on me and my felicity;
  To every forest-stem that I embrace
  In my entrancement as I roam along,
  Stand thou for a memorial of my bliss!
  All mingle with my rapture, and to all
  I lift a consecrating cry of joy.
  Yet do I lend a voice to thee alone,
  As culls the Muse some favourite from the crowd,
  And, with a kiss, inspires for evermore."

       *       *       *       *       *

THE DEATH TRANCE.

  Weep, maiden, here by Cupid's grave! He fell,
  Some nothing kill'd him--what I cannot tell.
  But is he really dead?--I swear not that, in sooth;
  A trifle--nothing--oft revives the youth.

       *       *       *       *       *

PHILOMELA.

  Surely, surely, Amor nursed thee, songstress of the plaintive note,
    And, in fond and childish fancy, fed thee from his pointed dart.
  So, sweet Philomel, the poison sunk into thy guileless throat,
    Till, with all love's weight of passion, strike its notes to every heart.

       *       *       *       *       *

SACRED GROUND.

  A place to mark the Graces, when they come
  Down from Olympus, still and secretly,
  To join the Oreads in their festival,
  Beneath the light of the benignant moon.
  There lies the poet, watching them unseen,
  The whilst they chant the sweetest songs of heaven,
  Or, floating o'er the sward without a sound,
  Lead on the mystic wonder of the dance.
  All that is great in heaven, or fair on earth,
  Unveils its glories to the dreamer's eye,
  And all he tells the Muses. They again,
  Knowing that Gods are jealous of their own,
  Teach him, through all the passion of his verse,
  To utter these high secrets reverently.


THE PARK.

  How beautiful! A garden fair as heaven,
  Flowers of all hues, and smiling in the sun,
  Where all was waste and wilderness before.
  Well do ye imitate, ye gods of earth,
  The great Creator. Rock, and lake, and glade,
  Birds, fishes, and untamed beasts are here.
  Your work were all an Eden, but for this--
  Here is no man unconscious of a pang,
  No perfect Sabbath of unbroken rest.

       *       *       *       *       *

THE TEACHERS.

  What time Diogenes, unmoved and still,
  Lay in his tub, and bask'd him in the sun--
  What time Calanus clomb, with lightsome step
  And smiling cheek, up to his fiery tomb--
  What rare examples there for Philip's son
  To curb his overmastering lust of sway,
  But that the Lord of the majestic world
  Was all too great for lessons even like these!

       *       *       *       *       *

MARRIAGE UNEQUAL.

  Alas, that even in a heavenly marriage,
    The fairest lots should ne'er be reconciled!
  Psyche wax'd old, and prudent in her carriage,
    Whilst Cupid evermore remains the child.

       *       *       *       *       *

HOLY FAMILY.

  O child of beauty rare--
  O mother chaste and fair--
  How happy seem they both, so far beyond compare!
  She, in her infant blest,
  And he in conscious rest,
  Nestling within the soft warm cradle of her breast!
  What joy that sight might bear
  To him who sees them there,
  If, with a pure and guilt-untroubled eye,
  He looked upon the twain, like Joseph standing by.


EXCULPATION.

  Wilt thou dare to blame the woman for her seeming sudden changes,
    Swaying east and swaying westward, as the breezes shake the tree?
  Fool! thy selfish thought misguides thee--find the _man_ that never ranges;
    Woman wavers but to seek him--Is not then the fault in thee?

       *       *       *       *       *

THE MUSE'S MIRROR.

  To deck herself, the Muse, at early morn,
  Wander'd a-down a wimpling brook, to find
  Some glassy pool more quiet than the rest.
  On sped the stream, and ever as it ran
  It swept away her image, which did change
  With every bend and dimple of the wave.
  In wrath the Goddess turn'd her from the spot,
  Yet after her the brook, with taunting tongue,
  Did call--"'Tis plain thou wilt not see the truth
  All purely though my mirror shows it thee!"
  But she, meanwhile, stood with indifferent ear,
  By a far corner of the crystal lake,
  Delightedly surveying her fair form,
  And settling flowerets in her golden hair.

       *       *       *       *       *

PH[OE]BUS AND HERMES.

  The deep-brow'd lord of Delos once, and Maia's nimble-witted son,
  Contended eagerly by whom the prize of glory should be won;
  Hermes long'd to grasp the lyre,--the lyre Apollo hoped to gain,
  And both their hearts were full of hope, and yet the hopes of both were vain.

  For Ares, to decide the strife, between them rudely dash'd in ire,
  And waving high his falchion keen, he cleft in twain the golden lyre.
  Loud Hermes laugh'd maliciously, but at the direful deed did fall
  The deepest grief upon the heart of Phoebus and the Muses all.

       *       *       *       *       *

A NEW LOVE.

  Love, not the simple youth that whilome wound
  Himself about young Psyche's heart, look'd round
  Olympus with a cold and roving eye,
  That had accustom'd been to victory.
  It rested on a Goddess, noblest far
  Of all that noble throng--a glorious star--
  Venus Urania. And from that hour
  He loved her. Ah! to his resistless power
  Even she, the holy one, did yield at last,
  And in his daring arms he held her fast.
  A new and beauteous Love from that embrace
  Had birth; that to the mother owed his grace
  And purity of soul; whilst from his sire
  He borrow'd all his passion, all his fire.
  Him ever where the gracious Muses be
  Thou'lt surely find. Such sweet society
  Is his delight, and his sharp-pointed dart
  Doth rouse within men's breasts the love of ART.

       *       *       *       *       *

THE WREATHS.

  Our German Klopstock, if he had his will,
  Would bar us from the skirts of Pindus old.
  No more the classic laurel should be prized,
  But the rough leaflets of our native oak
  Alone should glisten in the poet's hair;
  Yet did himself, with spirit unreclaim'd
  From first allegiance to those early Gods,
  Lead up to Golgotha's most awful height
  With more than epic pomp the new Crusade.
  But let him range the bright angelic host
  On either hill--no matter. By his grave
  All gentle hearts should bow them down and weep.
  For where a hero and a saint have died,
  Or where a poet sang prophetical,
  Dying as greatly as they greatly lived,
  To give memorial to all after times,
  Of lofty worth and courage undismay'd;
  There, in mute reverence, all devoutly kneel,
  In homage of the thorn and laurel wreath,
  That were at once their glory and their pang!

       *       *       *       *       *

THE SWISS ALP.

  Yesterday thy head was brown, as are the flowing locks of love,
  In the bright blue sky I watch'd thee towering, giant-like, above.
  Now thy summit, white and hoary, glitters all with silver snow,
  Which the stormy night hath shaken from its robes upon thy brow;
  And I know that youth and age are bound with such mysterious meaning,
  As the days are link'd together, one short dream but intervening.



SPAIN AS IT IS.


There exists in this country a numerous class of persons who, if they
were given their choice of an overland journey to India and back, or a
ramble through Spain, occupying the same space of time, would prefer the
former, as likely to be less inconvenient, and decidedly far less
perilous. The wars and rumours of wars, revolutions, rebellions,
skirmishes, and _pronunciamentos_, that newspapers have recorded during
the last ten or twelve years, with an occasional particularly bloody and
barbarous execution by way of interlude, have certainly not been
calculated to reassure timid travellers; nor can we well wonder that, at
the mere mention of an excursion beyond the Pyrenees, tourists are
seized with a vertigo; and that visions, not only of rancid _gaspachos_
and vermin-haunted couches, but of chocolate-complexioned ruffians with
sugar-loaf hats, button-bedecked jackets, fierce mustaches, and lengthy
_escopetas_, peering out of the gloomy recesses of a cork wood, or from
among the silvery foliage of an olive grove, pass before the eyes of
their imagination. Dangers often appear greater at a distance than upon
close examination; many a phantom of ghastly aspect proves upon
inspection to be but a turnip-faced goblin after all: and we suspect
that if some of the timorous would adventure themselves upon Spanish
soil, they might find their precious persons far safer than they had
anticipated; and discover that they were in the hands neither of Caffres
nor cannibals, but amongst a courteous and generous people, who, if
occasionally a little too disposed to slit each other's weasands, on the
other hand are very rarely forgetful of the laws of hospitality, or of
the kindness and protection to which travellers in a foreign land have a
fair claim. We do not mean to recommend Spain as a desirable travelling
ground for those adventurous English dames, whom we have occasionally
met journeying by coachfuls in France, Germany, and other peaceable
lands, unsquired and unescorted save by their waiting-maids: to them the
encounter of _rateros_, _salteadores_, or other varieties of Spanish
banditti, might be in various respects disagreeable; but for men, who,
without leaving Europe, may wish to visit other scenes than those in
which every Cockney tourist has wandered, we know of few expeditions
more interesting than one into the interior of Spain. Fine scenery,
interesting monuments, associations historic, classic, and poetical,
and--which to our thinking is still preferable--a people who, in spite
of Gallo and Anglo manias, still possess great originality of character
and customs, are there to be met with. We cannot do better than refer
those persons who would like additional evidence on the subject, to the
volumes named at foot[2], in which they will see how a man possessed of
prudence, good sense, and good temper, may visit some of the wildest and
least frequented parts of the Peninsula, not only without injury or
annoyance, but with considerable pleasure and profit.

Captain Widdrington's journey to Spain, in the Spring of 1843, had, as
he tells us, a twofold object. He was desirous of observing the effects
of the numerous changes that have taken place in that country since the
death of Ferdinand; and he, at the same time, thought that his
assistance and previous knowledge of the country and people, would be
useful to a scientific friend, Dr Daubeny, who had been commissioned by
the Agricultural Society to examine the formation of phosphorite in
Estremadura. This mineral, it was imagined, might be advantageously
substituted for bones as manure.

The travellers had sketched out their route beforehand, and seem to have
adhered very closely to the plan they had laid down. Proceeding from
Bayonne to Madrid, after a short stay in that capital they struck into
Estremadura; visited the vein of phosphorite, and explored several
interesting districts, into which few travellers penetrate; thence to
the quicksilver mines at Almaden, and to various iron mines and
founderies, through Seville, Ronda, Malaga, and Granada, and back to
Madrid. Here Captain Widdrington separates from his companion, and
continues his peregrinations alone, through the kingdom of Leon, the
Asturias, and Galicia. In his narrative of this somewhat extensive
ramble, the gallant captain displays a very respectable degree of
knowledge on a considerable variety of subjects. Agriculture, geology,
natural history, the resources of Spain, and the best mode of applying
them, political intrigues and changes, the strange and apparently
inexplicable ups and downs of public men, are all touched upon in turn:
and if the earlier portion of his work is worthy of a member of the
learned societies to which he belongs, the latter part is no less
creditable to his habits of observation, and to the soundness of his
judgment.

One of the first things that appear to have struck Captain Widdrington
on arriving at Madrid, was the great activity in the building
department--an activity arising chiefly from the sequestration of the
church property. Convents were being pulled down, or at least altered so
as to render them suitable to other purposes. The ground on which one
had stood had been converted into a public walk--a chapel had been
replaced by a covered market. The large convent of St Thomas was the
headquarters of the national guard; while that of the Trinity had been
appropriated to the reception of works of art, the spoils of the other
convents. One had been sold to a private speculator, who let it out in
chambers; another was the refuge of military invalids; a third, the
convent of St Catalina--which was set fire to while the Duke of
Angouleme was attending, in the year 1823, a mass celebrated in honour
of his successful campaign--had been demolished, and a building for the
senate and deputies was erecting on its site. The names of many of the
streets had been altered to those of various heroes of Spanish liberty;
such as Porlier, Lacy, the Empecinado, and others. The street of the
Alcala had been rebaptized after the Duque de la Victoria; but no doubt,
as the Captain observes, by this time _on a changé tout cela_.

Of the Countess of Mina, who was then _aya_, or governess, to the queen,
some interesting details are given by Captain Widdrington, who had known
her and her husband when they were living in exile at Plymouth
subsequently to the affairs of 1823. Madame Mina appears to be a person
of very superior powers of mind, far better qualified to superintend the
female department of a Spanish queen's education, than the bigoted and
_afrancesada_ dowager-marchioness who preceded her in the office, and in
the selection of whom Maria Christina, with her usual selfishness, had
probably thought more of the political principles and opinions in which
she wished Isabella to be brought up, than of her daughter's future
welfare and happiness. The universal complaint of the _Spanish_ or
national party in the time of Christina was, that the queen's education
was neglected, or, it should rather be said, misconducted. The
queen-dowager's French tendencies were more than suspected. Of course,
when the popular party became in the ascendant, and Madame Mina received
the appointment, alike unsolicited and unexpected, of governess to the
queen, the _afrancesados_ set up a yell of horror and consternation. Her
husband's humble birth, her character, even her piety, and the mourning
habit she had worn ever since her husband's death, were made matters of
reproach to her. But though Mina had been born a tiller of the earth, he
had died a grandee of Spain, ennobled yet more by his patriotism and
great qualities than he could be by the tinsel of a title; the character
of the countess was that of a high-minded and virtuous woman; and as to
the accusation of being a _santarona_, or affectedly pious, it was no
less unjust than malicious. Here is Captain Widdrington's portrait of
her:--

     "Her stature is rather below the middle size, and her person stout,
     with an abundance of the blackest hair simply dressed; eyes very
     large, dark and fuller than usual, even in this classic land of
     them, and beaming with intelligence. Her forehead, and the lower
     part of her face, are remarkable for their development, and an
     admirable study for the phrenologists, who would pronounce them
     models, as indicating firmness of character. Her constant costume
     is the deepest black, which completely covers her person; and when
     she accepted her appointment, it was stipulated that she should
     never be required to lay it aside. The only ornament she wore was a
     simple but rather massive gold chain and cross, which had a
     singularly good effect in relieving the mass of deep black; and her
     manner, noble and serious, bordering on the severe at first sight,
     made her the _beau-idéal_ of a lady abbess."

During the celebrated attack upon the palace at Madrid, on the 7th of
October 1841, the countess gave proof of energy, courage, and presence
of mind, worthy of Mina's widow, and of one who supplied the place of
mother to the queen and infanta of Spain. A most interesting account of
the transactions of that eventful night is to be found in the third
chapter of Captain Widdrington's book; and as he is indebted for the
details to Madame Mina herself, it is no doubt the most accurate that
has appeared before the public. The _alabarderos_, or halberdiers, who
formed the body-guard of the queen, and whose post was in the avenues
leading to the royal apartments, consisted of two hundred sergeants,
picked from the whole army, and placed under the command of a colonel
and lieutenant-colonel, who had the rank of lieutenant and sergeant in
this sacred band. "By the regulations, one-third of this little corps
ought always to have been on duty; but, 'Cosas de Espana,' when the
disturbance broke out, there were only the two officers and seventeen
privates present! The rest were in the town, at supper, or various other
engagements." And on this handful of men devolved the duty of defending
the queen against the attack of as many companies as they numbered
muskets. The first alarm was given by _vivas_ and other noises in the
quadrangle of the palace. Colonel Dulce, the commander of the
halberdiers, descended the stairs to enquire the cause of the uproar,
and was met on the landing-place by a detachment of the Princesa
regiment marching up. He ordered them to halt; they opened fire in
reply. Colonel Dulce retreated to the guard-room, and the skirmish
began. A double flight of steps leads up from one of the principal
entrances of the palace to this guard-room, of which the door is of
considerable size, and covered by a _mampara_ or moveable stuffed
screen, similar to those used in churches abroad. The alabarderos left
the mampara in its place, opening the door no more than was absolutely
necessary to fire through. The assailants took up their station at the
bottom of the stairs, and blazed away, vigorously replied to from the
_sala de armas_. The sides of the doorway and the mampara were riddled,
but the assailants could only fire at a guess, their opponents being
completely concealed behind the screen; and on the other hand, a stone
balustrade at the top of the staircase between the two flights and the
angle of the floor, protected the insurgents. The latter, no doubt,
thought the whole guard was at its post, so steady and incessant was the
fire the alabarderos kept up. To approach the guard-room door was
certain death. General Concha, the same who the other night danced the
third quadrille with Isabel at a court ball, taking the _pas_ of the
Spanish grandees there assembled, was present at this treasonable
attack, at the head of the Princesa regiment, in plain clothes, but with
a drawn sword. About midnight (the firing had begun at half-past
seven--what were the authorities about all that time?) Diego Leon, the
scapegoat of the affair, made his appearance in his usual dashing
attire, a showy hussar uniform, braided, belted, and befrogged, and took
command of the proceedings. "According to his own account, he went to
the foot of the great staircase, and called to the alabarderos to
discontinue firing, lest they should alarm the queen!" but the noise of
the musketry was such, that he could not make himself heard, even with
the aid of a trumpet! Things, however, had not gone as the conspirators
wished; the gallant defence of the halbardiers, which they had not
reckoned upon, had caused them to lose much time, and after a short
consultation Concha and Leon took to flight. Concha hid himself under
the dry arch of a bridge, and afterwards took refuge at the Danish
embassy, where he passed a few days, and was then conveyed from another
embassy (French, of course) to headquarters at Paris. His caution in
wearing plain clothes saved him; while poor Leon, who thought, as he
afterwards said, that uniform was the proper costume for the occasion,
was taken at Colmenar, a few leagues from Madrid. Captain Widdrington
says, with much truth, that nothing could be more characteristic of the
two men than their different mode of acting in this trifling particular.

In the whole affair, Concha was the real director and manager, although
he sheltered himself behind the Count of Belascoain, who was put forward
as being a popular man, especially with the army. A braver or more
dashing cavalry officer than Leon could hardly be found, but he was of
the wrong stuff for a conspirator; his brains, as the Spaniards used to
say in rather a coarse proverb, were in the wrong place. But who that
had ever known or even seen him, could help regretting him, the
chivalrous, the high-hearted soldier, as much loved by his friends as he
was dreaded by his foes! His death was, doubtless, necessary as an
example, and should not be laid at the door of the Spanish government of
the day, but at that of the unprincipled and selfish faction that made a
tool of him. We are surprised to find, by Captain Widdrington's book,
that the petitions for his pardon, sent for signature to the national
guard of Madrid, were torn across and returned, the only name affixed to
them being that of Captain Guardia, who was then dying of wounds
received on the night of the insurrection. This speaks plainly as to the
general feeling in Madrid concerning the necessity of Leon's sentence
being put into execution, the national guard consisting of ten thousand
men, who represent every shade of political opinion.

While the fighting was going on, the Countess of Mina was doing her best
to shield the queen and her sister from the bullets of the insurgents,
who surrounded the royal apartments on three sides, and seem to have
been tolerably careless where they sent their lead. A shot came into the
room where the queen and her sister lay in bed. They were frightened,
and got up, and the attendants placed mattresses on the floor, in the
angle of an alcove, upon which the children lay down, and after some
time fell asleep. "The poor children were hungry, and asked for supper,
but there was nothing to give them; and from two in the afternoon of the
7th, till eight in the morning of the 8th, they did not taste food."
What a curious picture is this! Isabel de Borbon, queen of Spain and the
Indies, lying on a mattress upon the floor, terrified and a-hungered,
her governess, the widow of an ex-peasant and guerilla, keeping watch
beside her; nineteen intrepid soldiers defending her against troops sent
by her own mother to attack her palace and carry off herself!

Nor was this all. There was a private staircase leading from the
_entresol_ of the palace to the royal apartments; and although it had
been blocked up some time previously, the rebels were aware of its
existence, and were heard sawing at the barrier that closed it. "At this
time, the countess told me, she felt it her duty to rouse the queen and
prepare her for the worst, dictating to her the manner in which those
who should enter were to be addressed. The intention was, when they
should arrive at the inner door, to open it for fear of greater
violence, and admit them." If the conspirators could have got possession
of the queen's person, their plan was to wrap her in a cloak and mount
her behind one Fulgosio, who had been a colonel in the Carlist service,
but was included in the convention of Bergara. In this Tartar fashion
she was to have been carried off to the north of Spain.

Captain Widdrington evidently considers that this daring attempt on the
part of Christina's faction, as well as subsequent almost equally
strange events that have occurred in Spain, were in great measure
concerted and organized in France, the money proceeding partly from the
French treasury and partly from the coffers of Christina--coffers which
she had taken excellent care to fill during the period of her regency.
We have been rather amused at the diplomatic caution displayed by the
Captain when alluding to French intrigues. The French are always "our
neighbours," and Louis Philippe "a certain personage." His meaning,
however, is plain enough, and we fully agree with him, that French gold
and French counsels and influence have been at the bottom of most of the
disturbances that have taken place in Spain since the year 1840. But
enough, for the present, of plots and plotters; we shall perhaps find
more of them before we bid our author farewell in Vigo Bay. At present
we will follow him to the mines of Almaden, whither he betakes himself
after rambling through a considerable portion of Estremadura, one of the
most fertile, but neglected and thinly peopled, of Spanish provinces.
"Nothing," he says, "is wanted but a good government to assist the
bounteous hand with which the gifts of Providence have been showered on
this beautiful region." But, alas! instead of a thriving peasantry and
well-tilled soil, what does he meet with? _Despoblados_, or deserts,
with here and there some wretched villages, few and far between, and
from time to time a _cortijo_, or farm-house, with its cultivated patch;
but the general face of the country is _zaral_, ground covered with the
cistus, numerous varieties of that beautiful plant abounding in the
province. Captain Widdrington mentions four sorts he found in
flower--the gum cistus, a large white species without spots, a smaller
white, and the purple kind common in English gardens. Furze, then just
breaking into flower, and _retama_, or brooms, vary the collection;
interesting enough, no doubt, to the botanist, but a melancholy sight
when one reflects on the far better purpose to which this fertile
territory might be applied.

The roads through these districts are, as might be expected, execrable,
intersected by large open ditches to carry off the water; and
subsequently to each journey the diligence requires extensive repairs.
After Truxillo, however, public conveyances are no longer to be found,
and mules supply their place. On these the travellers reach Logrosan,
where is situate the vein of phosphorite that it was one of the objects
of their journey to visit. Four mule-loads of the mineral are taken as a
sample, and forwarded to Seville; and this done, an excursion is made to
the famous sanctuary of Guadelupe, in the sacristy at which place are
some of the finest paintings of Zurbaran. Not the least agreeable
portions of Captain Widdrington's book are his descriptions of the
churches and other edifices he visits, and of the pictures and carvings
they contain. Details of that kind are often apt to be dry and
wearisome; but these are done _con amore_, and varied by reflections and
criticisms, of which many are very interesting.

It had been a matter of deliberation with Captain Widdrington, upon
commencing his wanderings in the Peninsula, whether it were advisable to
be armed or not. The usual advice one gets upon this subject on entering
Spain, is to take neither arms nor money, or at least no more of the
latter than is absolutely necessary for the journey. By being unarmed,
the traveller is said to avoid risk of ill treatment at the hands of any
banditti he may chance to encounter, and who, if they see him with
weapons, are apt either to give him a volley from some ambuscade, or to
murder him for having thought of resistance. Captain Widdrington's
theory is different. He calculates that, as the majority of Spanish
robbers are _rateros_, or ignoble and dastardly cut-purses, who prowl
about by twos and threes, it is just as well to be provided with a few
fire-arms, the mere sight of which may make all the difference between
being robbed or not. He has accordingly armed himself, his companion,
and attendant with muskets; and between Logrosan and Almaden he finds
the advantage of having done so. While passing through a wild and broken
country, with no road, and scarcely any visible track, he perceives
three suspicious-looking customers descending through a field to the
further side of a thicket which he is about to traverse. He calls up his
companions, who are a little in the rear--they look to their arms, and
prepare for a brush. If the three men that have been seen are alone, the
travellers are a match for them; but they may be only the van or
rearguard of a larger force.

"After waiting a little time in silence, there was no appearance of
their emerging from the thicket, which was very close; and, as it would
have been imprudent to enter it, we called out to them to advance. They
were still invisible, but a voice answered--'Come on, we shall not
meddle with you.' We then rode through, and found them on the banks of a
pretty stream that flowed through the ravine, preparing to breakfast;
some beautiful bread, far better than any we could find in the villages,
being part of their intended repast. The man who had answered was
nearest to the ford, and the others a little higher up. Of course we
passed them at the 'recover,' and the simple salutation of _Vaya vd.
con Dios!_ was interchanged. Had we omitted exchanging this compliment,
even with the people we were now dealing with, we should have risked
being thought unpolished."

There is something characteristic and Gil Blas-like about this--Spanish
all over. Pass we on to the Almaden mines, of which there is a detailed
and very interesting account.

The quicksilver mines of Almaden are one of the sure cards of the
Spanish finance minister, and during the late war, especially, were
often a great resource to the poverty-stricken government. When other
sources of revenue failed, there were always to be found speculators
willing to treat for the quicksilver contract; and these mines, like the
tobacco and other monopolies, and the Havanna revenue, have helped many
a Spanish minister in his moment of greatest need. Of course, as the
usual demand was money down, the bargains were frequently made at great
disadvantage to the seller; and, once made, the consumer is entirely at
the mercy of the contractor--the Almaden mines producing a very large
portion of all the quicksilver known to exist in the world. Madame
Calderon de la Barca, in her _Life in Mexico_, alludes to this when
speaking of the unsuccessful mining speculations in that country, where
"heaps of silver lie abandoned, because the expense of acquiring
quicksilver renders it wholly unprofitable to extract it." That lady
further observes, that quicksilver has been paid for at one hundred and
fifty dollars per quintal in real cash, when the same quantity was given
at credit by the Spanish government for fifty dollars. Madame Calderon
is good authority; but we suspect that the cause of such a vast
difference between the price given and demanded by the contractor, must
have been the cash advances required by the Spanish government. "The
contract once made," says Captain Widdrington, "it is clear that,
excepting any qualms of conscience the lessee may be influenced by,
there is no check upon his cupidity. The temptation to charge exorbitant
prices is increased by the habit of the government requiring large sums
to be paid down. This practice, which was unavoidable during the civil
war, when it frequently produced the only ready money they could lay
their hands on, has continued, and must still do so, unless a financial
change take place."

Owing to this state of things, the profit to the government is only
about £75,000 per annum; although we are told that the price has been
raised, in a few years, from thirty-four to eighty-four dollars the
quintal--the price paid to the government we presume. The contract was
taken in 1843 by those great _accapareurs_ of good things, the
Rothschilds. Of course, as long as the civil war lasted, if the
contractors had to give money in advance, the risk they ran entitled
them to a large rate of profit. Had Don Carlos got the upper hand before
they had reimbursed themselves, their lien upon the mines would have
been so much waste paper; or even, without that, they might have been
exposed to considerable loss and delay had Messrs Cabrera, Balmaseda,
Palillos, or others of the same kidney, chosen to take a turn in that
direction, carry off the workmen, destroy or damage the works, or drown
out the mines. Gomez did pay Almaden a visit when he made the tour of
Spain with his expeditionary corps. He burned a part of the town and
plundered all he could; but did no harm to the mine--which was either
very foolish or very considerate of him.

There is room for much curious speculation as to the effect which the
increased and increasing value of quicksilver may have upon the monetary
system of Europe, especially in France and other countries where silver
is the legal currency, and gold very little used on account of the
premium on it. It has been seen above, that, in Mexico, silver is not
worth refining, owing to the dearness of the mineral required for the
purpose. Unless something be discovered as a substitute for quicksilver,
the same result will, in all probability, ensue in other mining
districts; and the natural consequence will be the diminished use of
silver as a circulating medium, and the increased employment of gold,
the more so as the supply of the latter metal has of late years been
greatly augmented--a great deal now coming from Asiatic Russia--while
its wear and tear are very small. This change would not arise from a
scarcity of quicksilver, the quantity and quality of which, at Almaden
at least, improve as the miners get deeper into the vein; and, moreover,
the portion extracted is limited to 20,000 quintals, or weights of 105
pounds English. "All the works are executed in a truly royal manner; and
so capacious and enlarged are the views carried out in the management,
that they only take away about one-half of the mineral, leaving the
other as a legacy to the future possessors of it, and to provide a
supply in case of unforeseen accidents in the workings." There are other
uses besides the refining of silver to which quicksilver is applied; and
should the contractors continue to raise the price of the latter, the
consequence must necessarily be an increase in the value of the former,
and a diminution in its consumption.

There are five thousand men employed at the Almaden establishment, and
most of those who work in the mines suffer, as may be supposed, in their
health, from the unwholesome exhalations. In the summer, when they are
most liable to be affected in that way, work is suspended, the labourers
retire to their respective provinces to recruit, and generally return in
the autumn, restored by their native air. Temperance, cleanliness, and a
milk-diet appear to be the best preservatives from the pernicious
effects of the mercury-infected atmosphere.

Captain Widdrington does not visit Catalonia, which we regret; for we
should like to have had the result of his observations on that turbulent
and troublesome province, to which he once or twice alludes. It must
truly be a difficult thing to legislate for a country split into so many
conflicting interests--fancied interests many of them--as Spain is. The
Catalonians, for instance, have got a notion that they are
cotton-manufacturers--a notion which their northern neighbours do all in
their power to nourish and encourage. Of course, the French would be
much annoyed to see Spanish ports opened to cotton goods at a reasonable
duty, until such time (if it ever arrives) as they can compete
successfully with English manufacturers. It suits their book much better
to have a prohibition, or what amounts to such, imposed on all foreign
cottons. The Pyrenees are high, but it is a long line of frontier from
Port Vendres to Bayonne, and the deuce is in it if they cannot manage to
smuggle more French calicoes and _percales_, and suchlike commodities
into Spain, than would ever be taken by the Spaniards were those
articles admitted at a reasonable duty, which would put a stop to
smuggling by rendering it unprofitable. At present there is a regular
tariff of smugglers' charges for passing goods, so much per cent on the
value, according to the bulk and nature of the articles; and the agents
of this traffic abound in Bayonne, Oleron, Perpignan, and all the
frontier towns. The idea prevailing in Spain, that Espartero intended
entering into a treaty of commerce with England, made him enemies of the
Catalonians, and indeed of the majority of the mercantile classes, most
of the members of which are more or less mad about the importance of
Spanish manufactures, or, at any rate, they seem to be nearly unanimous
in their wish to prohibit foreign goods. It is impossible to persuade
them, so pigheaded are they, that it would be better to admit foreign
manufactures at a fair duty, than to have their markets deluged with
smuggled ones that pay no duty at all. "To these miserable manufactures,
only capable of producing about one-half of what is required for the
consumption of the kingdom," (and that half, be it observed, of inferior
quality, and at vastly higher prices than the same merchandise could be
imported for,) "is the interest of the landed proprietors and commercial
class, as well as that of the entire community, sacrificed."

These manufacturing madmen, the Catalonians, are the plague-spot of the
Peninsula. Obstinate, fiery, and selfish, they think only of themselves,
and of what they consider their interests, petty and miserable as the
latter are compared to those of the rest of Spain. The real interests of
the country are obvious to any but prejudiced understandings. It is a
land flowing with milk and honey, or, what is far better, with wine and
oil; abounding in valuable products, of which the export might be vastly
increased by admitting the manufactures of countries possessing,
perhaps, a less-favoured soil and climate, but a more industrious
population. Instead of making bad calicoes at a high price, let the
Spaniards set to work to clear and plant their _despoblados_--let them
improve their system of agriculture, their mode of producing oil; let
them cut canals and make roads, and get something like decent
communications between towns and provinces. The irrigation of the soil
in Spain is also a matter of great importance, and which, in many parts
of the country, is at present sadly neglected. There are vast districts
that remain uninhabited and barren, solely because people will not build
or live where they are beyond a certain distance from water; districts
where every thing is parched and dry for the greater part of the year,
and where the land, although rich in its nature, becomes worthless from
excessive drought. The system of Artesian wells might, we are persuaded,
be introduced to great advantage in Spain; and for such, as well as for
canals, railways, and similar improvements, abundance of foreign capital
would be forthcoming, if--and here is the sticking point--Spaniards
would only show a disposition to remain quiet, and turn their attention
to the arts of peace, instead of ruining their country, wasting their
blood, and degrading the national character, by all these unmeaning and
unprofitable _pronunciamentos_ and skirmishings. It is probably not very
important at this moment who rules over the Spaniards, provided the
government have power and energy enough to keep them from cutting each
others' throats, and to prevent their getting into a confirmed habit of
revolutions and rebellions. "In all the larger towns of Spain," we quote
Captain Widdrington, "there is a crowd of idlers, characters with little
or no occupation, frequenters of theatres and _cafés_, great readers of
journals, and considerable politicians, pretenders to small places,
excessively ignorant, and ready to join in any movement provided it be
attended with little personal risk to themselves. A large portion of
this class took a very active part in opposing the government, and were
delighted to figure in _juntas_, or fill other analogous situations,
giving them a momentary importance, and possibly a few dollars at the
public expense." And this is one of the great causes of the unsettled
state of Spain, the immense number of idlers. Wars and revolutions,
producing an unflourishing state of trade and agriculture, have
discouraged Spaniards, during the last thirty or forty years, from
putting their children to trades or professions. "There is no knowing
how long this war may last," they used to say during the Carlist
contest; "and as long as it lasts, there is no good to be done in
Spain." So, instead of bringing up their sons to work, they just let
them live on from day to day, gossiping and smoking; and at the present
moment there are many hundred thousand young and middle-aged men of the
lower and middle classes, especially the latter, who are idlers by
profession, and exactly correspond to Captain Widdrington's description.
These gentry have nothing particular to lose by any political rumpus,
and they flatter themselves they may gain; besides, they cannot be
always playing _monté_ or taking the _siesta_; and even if they could, a
change is sometimes agreeable. Now and then, too, they get tired of
hearing Aristides called the Just--that is a very common thing with
Spaniards--some mischievous political agent comes amongst them, they are
soon excited, get hold of an old musket or rusty fowling-piece, chuck up
their _sombreros_, cry _viva la Libertad!_ and rush about the town
uttering _gritos_; and in a few hours, and before they have any clear
idea of what they have been doing, they are told that they are heroes
and patriots, that "_Spaniards_ never shall be slaves," and all the rest
of the humbug and claptrap that revolutionary agitators always have upon
their tongue's tip. The poor idiots, fizzing and boiling over with their
fire-new enthusiasm, aimless and causeless as it is, are in ecstasies
for about a week, or until they discover, what is pretty often the case,
that instead of being better off, they have exchanged King Log for King
Stork. The fact is, Spaniards are not at present fit for a mild and
constitutional government. Espartero, who had got the country into
something like a state of respectability, fell into the error of
imagining that they were; and such was in great measure the cause of his
overthrow. The iron and remorseless rule of a Narvaez will perhaps suit
them better, and of a certainty it is what a large portion of them
richly deserve.

To those persons who wish to understand what many have doubtless found
rather incomprehensible; namely, the causes, immediate and remote, that
led to the deposition of the Duque de la Victoria and the triumph of the
Moderado party--we recommend the attentive perusal of Captain
Widdrington's book, especially the chapter entitled, "On the
Pronunciamentos and Fall of the Regency." That chapter is a very
complete manual of the Spanish politics of the day, in a lucid and
simple form; and we were much pleased to find our own theories and
opinions on the subject confirmed by an eyewitness, and by so shrewd an
observer as Captain Widdrington. He traces the share that each party and
class in Spain took in the recent changes; and proves satisfactorily
enough, what every one who is acquainted with Spanish character and
feelings must have already been pretty certain of, that the revolution
in question was not a national one, but the result of intrigue, bribery,
and delusion--the work of a faction, aided by foreign gold. The
ill-judged selection of Lopez for minister, and the still more
injudicious act of agreeing to a _programme_ which he was afterwards
compelled to repudiate, were the fatal mistakes made by Espartero, who
was placed in a situation of extreme difficulty by his wish to govern
constitutionally. "It is impossible not to respect and admire the
firmness with which, to the very last, he carried through the principle,
sacrificing his station and rank to it; but, as far as the interests of
his country were concerned, no greater mistake was ever made in
government than the selection of Lopez." It is customary in Spain for a
new minister to make public his programme, or plan of campaign--but this
is considered a mere matter of form. In that of Lopez, however, amidst
the usual commonplaces, one article of vital importance had insinuated
itself; it was that of the amnesty, "which was so speciously made out as
completely to answer the purpose for which it was intended, that of
paving the way for bringing back the _afrancesado_ leaders who were
engaged in the attempt to carry off the Queen, in October 1841." It was
not deemed sufficient to recall the regent's mortal enemies; an attempt
was made to isolate him, by dismissing his most faithful friends, even
to the distinguished officer who acted as his private secretary, and who
now bears him company in his exile. Espartero naturally kicked at
this--as who would not in his place?--dismissed Lopez, and dissolved the
Chamber. But the people, especially those troublesome fellows the
Andalusians and Valencians, had got the fraternizing fit strong upon
them, and were mad after the programme. Juntas were
formed--pronunciamentos made--and misrule was again the order of the
day.

As to the conduct of the army towards Espartero, it was unquestionably
most disgraceful; but it must be borne in mind that a large proportion
of the officers were his personal enemies, especially those of the
regiments of guards, which had been broken up after the war, when many
of the officers passed into line regiments. Others were partisans of
Leon, of Narvaez, or Christina; and another large section were won over
by the profuse promotion given by the juntas, who, as soon as the
pronunciamentos began, assumed the functions of government, and
scattered epaulets in absurd profusion. Truly, as Captain Widdrington
observes, one has heard of bloody wars and sickly seasons, and rapid
advancement consequent thereon, but nothing ever equalled the promotion
that was now given; and this system Espartero was also obliged to adopt,
in order not to be deserted by the lukewarm among his adherents, or by
those whom the prospect of a step of rank might have influenced to leave
him. There can be little doubt, too, that bribery was largely employed
by the Moderados. Witness the instance of Colonel Echalecu, which is no
case of suspicion, but an official and publicly known fact. He was
offered four millions of reals (forty thousand pounds sterling) to
surrender the fort of Montjuich, and a French steamer was put at his
disposal to convey him away. To the immortal honour of this gallant
Basque soldier be it said, he was proof against the temptation; true to
his colours, to his general, and to the established constitution of his
country, he held out the fort to the very last, and only gave it up when
every hope was lost, and the new order of things completely victorious.
The Moderados had the good sense to continue so faithful an officer in
his command; but, at the time of Amettler's revolt, he refused to
bombard Barcelona, and of course resigned. His, however, was a solitary
instance of virtue; far less brilliant baits were found irresistible by
the mass of officers, who used their influence to bring over the
soldiery, a credulous and ignorant class in Spain. The men, there is no
question, were disposed to stand by the regent, and some even held out
against their officers till compelled to give in; but at last all
followed in the stream, led away partly by habits of obedience, partly
by the hopes held out to them of more regular pay and better rations,
and still more by the prospect of obtaining their discharge previous to
the legal expiration of their term of service--the latter being the
strongest argument that can be urged to Spanish soldiers.

The peasantry, with the exception, perhaps, of those around certain
towns, had neither voice nor part in the change; the nobility, sunk in
sloth and smothered by incapacity, looked on as idle spectators; and a
vast many of the restless and excitable spirits who got up the
revolution, were mere instruments in the hands of a faction, and knew
not what they did. Hear Captain Widdrington--

     "The parties who began the pronunciamentos had neither the
     intention nor the slightest idea, that the result of their
     proceedings would be the fall of the regency. This I can most
     positively assert to be fact."

The Spaniards, especially those of the south, had got a sort of Utopian
notion into their very ill-furnished heads, that all parties were to
"kiss and be friends." The projected amnesty which Espartero so
unfortunately agreed to, was the cause of this idea getting ground. It
took them upon their weak side, carried them entirely off their legs;
and, acting under the influence of this frothy enthusiasm, they ran
a-muck, as the saying is, and only awakened from their day-dream to
curse the changes that their own folly had so largely contributed to
bring about.

As to any body attempting to divine what will be the next move upon the
Spanish chessboard, it is out of the question, and nobody who knows the
character of the people will attempt to do it. Unquestionably there is
no such country in the world for anomalies of all kinds. _Cosas de
Espana!_ as Captain Widdrington amusingly enough says, when he meets
with some huge piece of inconsistency that astonishes even him,
accustomed though he be to the most contradictory vagaries on the part
of his Iberian friends. And it is exactly what intelligent Spaniards
themselves say, when similar absurdities on the part of their countrymen
are pointed out or reproached to them. "_Que quiere vd hombre_," cry
they with a shrug, "_son cosas de Espana_." What can we say to you? They
are Spanish doings.

At Almaden the Captain finds a magnificent road leading to the town,
which had been commenced at great expense by a former governor. For some
distance it is fit for an approach to the largest capital, but on a
sudden it terminates--in a mule-track! _Cosas de Espana_. "I entered
Corunna just before nightfall, and although a regular fortress, seaport,
and chief place of the province--_Cosas de Espana_--not a sentinel was
mounted on the works!" Guards desert their post--witness the attack on
the palace, when seventeen men were present out of sixty-five; a
governor is absent from his province at the very time when he is most
wanted there; an official is sent for by one of his superiors, and
returns for answer that he can certainly come if necessary, but hopes he
shall be excused, as it would occasion him the trouble of dressing
himself--this in the middle of the day. The creature was no doubt lying
on a mattress, half naked, with a cigar in his mouth. These are
instances of "_Cosas de Espana_," always odd and sometimes
unintelligible, but usually to be explained by the system of laxity and
inattention to the duties of their respective posts and stations that
seems to extend to nearly all classes in Spain.

Captain Widdrington professes the strictest impartiality in the accounts
and opinions he gives; and if we venture to point out an instance where
we think he has deviated a little from the straight line he drew for
himself at starting, it is only because his having done so in the
particular we refer to, is rather creditable to him than otherwise, and
is exactly the error that most warm-hearted men who passed any length of
time in the very agreeable society of Spaniards, would be apt to fall
into. But we cannot help thinking, that in some respects he takes too
favourable a view of the Spanish character; that he is led away by his
love for the nation. The following passages are rather remarkable--

"No people in existence," he says, "are so little anarchical in their
habits, or live, unless under immediate excitement, in a more orderly
and peaceable manner, or are so easily governed. The presiding genius of
the country is tranquillity, and quiet, inoffensive demeanour, in every
class of society, and in every part of the kingdom; nor is there any
necessity, unless where domination, or unpopular and false principles
are the object, for the application of force to coerce them at any time.
What they want, by their universal consent, is a steady, progressive,
and intelligent government, that will lead the way in the changes and
improvements which every class, at least the far greater majority, are
desirous of seeing carried out, but which their indolence and easy
habits prevent originating with themselves alone."

"_Aide toi, et Dieu t'aidera_," says the French proverb. It is really a
pity that a proper dry-nurse cannot be procured for these quiet and
inoffensive people, who have been slaughtering each other, with small
intermission, for the last ten years, to say nothing of previous
instances of mansuetude. Unfortunately, however, they are as jealous of
being helped as, according to Captain Widdrington's own admission, they
are incompetent to help themselves. "_Es una lastima_," as they would
say; but really at this rate there seems no chance of their ever getting
their country into a prosperous, or even a decent, state. We fully agree
with Captain Widdrington in liking the Spanish character as a whole, in
appreciating its fine qualities, in rendering ample justice to that
courtesy of feeling and manner so agreeable to those who have
intercourse with Spaniards, and that may truly be called national,
seeing that it is found as commonly under the coarse _manta_ of the
muleteer as beneath the velvet-lined _capa_ of the high-born hidalgo;
but we have some small experience of Spain, and a more considerable one
of Spaniards, and we cannot for the life of us think them so tractable
and easy to guide into the right path, or so exceedingly averse to
bloodshed. "The truth is, that, excepting in cases of deadly feud, which
sometimes happen, in no country in the world is life more
secure."--(Vol. ii. p. 358.) We will not contradict the Captain, but it
has always appeared to us that human life is rated at a much lower value
in Spain than in any other civilized country we are acquainted with, and
that the natural consequence of that low valuation is the cool
indifference with which blood is there so frequently and abundantly
poured out upon the most trifling and insufficient grounds.

At the end of a chapter on the church in Spain, we find a notice of Mr
Borrow's proceedings for the propagation of the Scriptures in the
Peninsula--proceedings which seem to have resulted in perfect failure.
"As to the object of the undertaking, it was not only a most complete
and entire failure, but of such a nature as entirely to defeat any
future attempt of the same kind." The meaning of this is clear, although
the sentence is of a curious turn. Further on, the Captain says--"It is
impossible not to regret, that the very large sums annually sent out of
the country, from the most pure and really religious and conscientious
motives, on this and other undertakings, producing equally little
result, were not devoted to the building or endowing of churches and
chapels in our own manufacturing districts, where they are so very much
needed."

How can Captain Widdrington make such an observation as this latter one?
Surely he must be aware how much more interesting it is to provide for
the spiritual wants of people at a distance than for those of people in
our country. What missionary society, worthy of the name, would
undertake a church-building crusade into Lancashire or Yorkshire? It is
too near home, too commonplace. But let them discover some region at the
antipodes, inhabited by copper-coloured gentry with feathers upon their
heads and curtain rings through their noses, and _there_ is a worthy
field for the labours of the pious. In like manner, poor Spain, which
really might be allowed to set its temporal house a little in order,
before being expected to a depart from the faith that has been universal
in it since the expulsion of the Saracen, was deemed sufficiently
distant and dangerous to be interesting, and "the great London Caloro"
girded up his loins and departed thither. Of the peril he encountered,
the acquaintances he made, of how he galloped through the country on
silver-grey _burras--Anglicé_, female donkeys--and dropped tracts in
public walks and concealed Testaments in ruins and other queer places,
where robbers _might_ go, _might_ find them, and _might_ be improved by
their perusal, has he not written a most marvellous and amusing account
for the benefit of generations present and to come? Notwithstanding,
however, his missionary avocations and Munchausenish tendencies, we have
a sneaking kindness for friend Borrow, having collected from his
writings that he is a fellow of considerable pluck and energy, of
adventurous spirit, with a sharp eye for a good horse, and who would, no
doubt, have made an excellent dragoon, had it pleased God to call him to
that way of life. But we must say, that his manner of spreading the
Scriptures in Spain, puts us considerably in mind of those peripatetic
advertisers, whose handbills, thrust _nolens volens_ into the fist of
the passer-by, are for the most part cast unread into the gutter. It
would be curious to calculate the proportion borne by those Testaments
that Mr Borrow succeeded in getting really circulated and read in Spain,
to the very large number which he acknowledges to have been confiscated,
burnt, stolen on the road, or otherwise lost. The expense of the mission
must have been very considerable, and the same funds might have been
employed in this country with tenfold advantage both to humanity and the
Christian religion.

There is a certain class of writers, some of whom ought to know better,
who have lately taken up the cudgels upon the pseudo-philanthropic side
of the question, and have expended a vast deal of uncalled-for
indignation and maudlin sympathy upon the rich and poor of this
country--the former of whom they would make out to be the most selfish
and hard-hearted of created beings, and the latter the most amiable and
ill-treated. According to these writers, it would appear as if no man,
with less than seven children to provide for, and more than ten
shillings a-week to do it with, could be possessed of any one of the
Christian virtues. Charity and kindness of heart exist, they would have
us to believe, in an inverse ratio to income, and the _warmest_ men, in
city parlance, are invariably those of the coldest feelings. The sickly
cant of this style of writing in a country where charity, both public
and private, is so extensive and practical; and its probable ill effects
in rendering the poorer classes discontented, are too evident for it to
be necessary to dwell upon them. It would be far better if the writers
who go to such large expense of sympathetic ink, would change the
direction of their virtuous indignation, and try if they have sufficient
influence to put an end to this foreign tract and testament mongering,
whether its scene be in Spain or at a greater distance.

Before concluding, Captain Widdrington alludes to a growing shyness
towards English travellers in some of the large southern towns, owing to
the indiscretions, exaggerations, and absurdities of certain
tour-writers. It is a lamentable fact that, now-a-days, every booby who
gets on board a steamer, and leaves England for a few weeks or months,
thinks himself entitled to perpetrate a book about what he sees and
hears. We would fain whisper to such persons, that mere locomotion never
qualified any body to write a book, even of travels; that some powers of
observation, and a certain correctness of judgment, and even some
previous acquaintance with the history and character of the nation they
visit, are also necessary; and if, after that, they still persisted in
their designs, we would beg of them to remember that light words are apt
to travel both far and fast; that some part of their lucubrations may
possibly reach the countries they refer to--perhaps through the
instrumentality of the trunkmakers; and that in any case they should
avoid giving unfavourable details, even if true, of the private life and
habits of people who have shown them kindness and hospitality--details,
the data of which, if investigated, would be found, in most instances,
to be absurd and ridiculously insufficient. Some travelling bagman, or
half-fledged subaltern on his way to the Mediterranean, gets ashore at
Cadiz or Gibraltar, takes a run through three or four of the principal
Andalusian cities, perhaps has a letter of introduction, or else meets
at a _fonda_ with some good-natured Spaniard, who compassionates his
"goose look" and evident helplessness, invites him to his house, and
introduces him at a tertulia or two. The gosling picks up a few Spanish
sentences, hears a few anecdotes from some lying valet-de-place, who has
attached himself to the Señor Ingles, and leaves the country after a few
weeks', perhaps days', residence, considerably bewildered by all the
novelties he has seen, but without the slightest real addition to his
previous knowledge of Spanish character and customs. Six months
afterwards, the new work on Spain by Ensign Epaulet or Tedious Twaddle,
Esquire, issues forth, borne on a mighty blast of puffery, from the
laboratory of some fashionable publisher.

     "Nothing can be more harmless," says Captain Widdrington, "than
     this mode of making a livelihood, provided their effusions are kept
     within the bounds of moderation and charity, as well as confined to
     such views as a rapid transit enables any one unacquainted with the
     language and the people to make during a few hours' sojourn in the
     place. This rule, however, has been broken in upon; and as it
     unluckily happens that the females are generally a favourite
     subject for the tirades of that class of writers, their random
     assertions on subjects they had no means of investigating, and most
     assuredly did not speak of from their own knowledge and experience,
     have made both the Gaditanas and Malaguanas, and their relations
     and countrymen, extremely irate."

And with good reason, too, say we. It is not the first time we have
heard this sort of thing complained of. The practice is one that cannot
be too severely reprehended and we shall look out for such offenders in
future.

There are a number of anecdotes and pleasant bits scattered through
Captain Widdrington's work, which is a happy blending of the amusing and
instructive, neither predominating to the injury of the other; and we
take leave both of the book and its accomplished author, with much
respect and gratitude. Before doing so, however, and having said much in
commendation, Captain Widdrington will perhaps permit us to offer him a
slight and well-intended hint in the contrary sense. When next the
truant-fit comes over him, and he favours us with the result of his
researches and observations in Spain or any other country--and we hope
it will not be long before he does thus favour us--may he be able to
devote rather more time to the mere authorship part of the work, to the
correction and chastening of his style. His sentences are often terribly
piled up and intricate, and some are really illogical in their
construction, to the extent of being difficult of comprehension. That
kind of negligence in an author, considerably diminishes the reader's
enjoyment even of the most interesting book. Captain Widdrington should
bear in mind, that however sterling his matter may be, some attention to
manner is also expected, and that the appearance, at least, of the most
valuable gems is deteriorated by an inelegant setting. Nevertheless, in
this book-making age, it may be considered highly creditable to an
author when faults of form and not of substance are the greatest with
which he can be reproached.

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 2: _Spain and Spaniards in 1843._ By Captain S. E.
WIDDRINGTON, R.N., K.T.S., F.R.S., F.G.S. _A Journey across the Desert
from Ceylon to Marseilles, &c. &c._ By Major and Mrs GRIFFITH. 2 vols.
_Facts in Mesmerism, with Reasons for a Dispassionate Enquiry into it._
By the Rev. CHAUNCY HARE TOWNSHEND, A.M.]



THE SUPERFLUITIES OF LIFE.

A TALE ABRIDGED FROM TIECK.


CHAPTER I.

In the month of February, at the close of an exceedingly severe winter,
a singular tumult took place in the town of ----, the origin, progress,
and final pacification of which, gave rise to the most strange and
contradictory reports. Where every one _will_ relate, and no one knows
any thing of the matter, it is natural that the simplest circumstance
should become invested with an air of the marvellous.

It was in one of the narrowest streets of the populous suburbs of the
town that this mysterious event took place. According to some, a traitor
or desperate rebel had been discovered and captured by the police;
others said that an atheist, who had secretly conspired with others to
tear up Christianity by the roots, had, after an obstinate resistance,
surrendered himself to the authorities, and was now lying in prison,
there to learn better principles. All agreed that the criminal had
defended himself in the most desperate manner. One man, who was a
profound politician and an execrable shoemaker, laboured to convince his
neighbours that the prisoner was at the head of a hundred secret
societies, which had their ramifications over France, Germany, Spain,
Italy, and the far East; and that, in fact, a monstrous insurrection was
on the very point of breaking out in the furthest parts of India, which,
like the cholera, would spread over Europe, and set in flame all its
combustible material.

Thus much was certain, that a tumult had arisen in a small house in the
suburbs; that the police had been called in; that the populace had made
an uproar; that some eminent personage was seen amongst the crowd; and
that, after a little time, all became still again, without any body
being the wiser. In the house itself certain devastations had
undoubtedly been made, which some explained one way, some another,
according to their humours: the carpenters and joiners were busy in
repairing them.

In this house had lived a man of whom no one in the neighbourhood knew
any thing. Whether he was a poet or a politician, a native or a
foreigner, no one could divine. The wisest were at fault. This only was
certain, that the unknown lived in a most quiet and retired manner; he
was seen on none of the promenades, nor in any public place; he was
young, was pronounced to be handsome, and his newly married bride, who
shared his solitude with him, was described as being miraculously
beautiful.

It was about Christmas time when this young couple were sitting together
over the stove in their little apartment. "Of a truth," said the young
man, "how all this is to end is a riddle. All our resources seem now
exhausted."

"Alas! yes, Henry," answered the beautiful Clara, to whom this was
addressed; "but whilst you, dearest, are still cheerful, I cannot feel
myself unfortunate."

"Fortunate and unfortunate," replied Henry, "shall be with us but empty
words. The day when you quitted your father's house, and for my sake
abandoned all other considerations, decided our fortune for all our
lifetime to come. To live and to love, this is our watchword; in what
manner exactly we live shall be indifferent."

"Indeed we are deprived of almost every thing," said the young wife,
"except each other. But I knew you were not rich, and you knew when I
left my father's house I could bring nothing with me; so love and
poverty came to us hand in hand. And now this little chamber, which we
never quit, and the talking together, and the looking into the eyes we
love--this is all our life."

"Right! right!" said Henry, and springing up from his seat, he embraced
his charming companion with renewed fondness. "Here are we like Adam and
Eve in their paradise; and I think," he added, looking round the
apartment as he spoke, "no angel will come down from heaven for the
express purpose of driving us out of it."

"If it were not," said Clara, a little dejected, "that the wood begins
to fail--and this winter is certainly the severest I ever knew"----

"Certainly," said Henry; "some fuel must somewhere be found. It is
inconceivable that we should be allowed to freeze from without, with all
this warm love within us. Quite impossible! I cannot help laughing
amidst it all, with a sense of ridiculous embarrassment, at the idea
that so simple a thing as a little coin cannot be procured."

Clara smiled. "If only," said she, "we had some superfluous furniture,
any brass pans or copper kettles."

"Ah! if only we were millionaires!" interrupted Henry gaily; "then we
could get wood in abundance, and perhaps," he added, looking slyly over
to the stove where some bread-soup was in preparation for their very
temperate repast, "some better fare for dinner. But," he continued in a
tone of humorous banter, which he frequently adopted, and pushing back
his chair a few paces as he spoke, "while you superintend the household
concerns, and give the necessary orders to the cook, I will withdraw
into my study. Now, what would I not write if only pen, paper, and ink,
were to be got at; and how studiously would I read if but a book could
be procured."

"You must _think_, dearest," said Clara waggishly; "the stock of
thoughts, it is to be hoped, is not quite so low as our wood."

"Dearest wife," he replied, "the cares of our establishment demand all
your attention; let me proceed undisturbed with my studies. I will
read," he continued, speaking as if to himself, "the journal I formerly
kept in our palmy days of stationery. And it strikes me that it would be
particularly profitable to study it backwards; to begin at the end, and
so lay a proper foundation for a full comprehension of the beginning.
All true wisdom goes in a circle, and is typified by a serpent biting at
its own tail. We will begin this time at the tail."

Opening his journal at the last page, he began to read in the same
subdued tone--"They tell a tale of a raving criminal, who, being
condemned to death by starvation, ate himself gradually up. This is, in
fact, the story of life, and of all of us. In some there remains nothing
but the stomach and the mouth. With us there is left the soul, which is
expressly said to be inconsumable. So far as externals are concerned, I
have certainly flayed and devoured myself. That I should, up to this
day, have retained a certain dress-coat--I, who never go out--was
perfectly ridiculous. Mem.--Next birthday of my wife to appear before
her in a waist-coat and shirt sleeves, as it would be highly indecorous
to present myself to a person of her rank in a frock-coat somewhat
overworn."

Here he came to the end both of the page and the book. Turning back, he
commenced at the page immediately preceding--"One can live very well
without napkins. And now I think of it, what are these miserable napkins
but a niggardly expedient for saving the table-cloth? Nay, what is this
table-cloth itself but a base economy for sparing the table! I pronounce
them both to be mere superfluities; both shall be sold, that we may eat
off the table in the manner of the patriarchs. We will live in the
fashion of our magnanimous ancestors. It is in no cynical,
Diogenes-humour that I banish them from the house, but from a resolution
not to follow the example of this poor-spirited age, which encumbers
itself with extravagant superfluities out of a sordid economy."

"Exactly so," said Clara laughing. "Meanwhile, on the proceeds of those
and other superfluities, I invite you to a repast which, at all events,
shall not savour of extravagance."

So saying, they sat down to their bread-soup. He who had seen them,
whatever he might have thought of the dinner, would have envied those
who partook of it, so cheerful were they, so joyful, so full of freaks
and frolics, over their simple provender. When the bread-soup was
dispatched, Clara slyly brought from the stove a covered plate, and set
before her astonished husband--a reserve of potatoes! "Long live thou
second Sir Walter Raleigh!" cried Henry. Whereupon they drank to each
other out of the pure element, and _hob-nobbed_ with such glee, that
Clara looked anxiously the next moment at the glasses, to see that they
had not cracked them in their enthusiasm.

The dinner concluded, they drew their chairs, by way of variety, up to
the solitary window of their apartment, and amused themselves with
looking at the fantastic filigree work with which the frost had
decorated the inside of the glass.

"My aunt used to maintain," said Clara, "that the room was warmer with
this ice on the window than when the glass was clear."

"Possibly!" replied Henry. "But on the strength of this faith I would
not dispense with the fire."

"How wonderfully various," said Clara, "are these ice-flowers! Is it not
strange, one seems to have seen them all in reality, yet cannot give a
name to a single one of them? And look how one grows over the other, and
how the noble leaves seem to expand, even as we speak of them."

"It is your sweet breath, my dear, that is calling up these ghosts and
spirits of departed flowers," said Henry. "I imagine that some invisible
genius is reading all thy gentle and loving fancies, and pictures them
forth, as they arise, in these flower-phantoms; so that, by looking at
this glass, I know, even while you are silent, that your thoughts are
full of love--that they are dwelling upon me."

A fond kiss was the answer and the reward of this pretty speech.

Henry took up his journal, and beginning at the ante-penultimate page,
read aloud:--"To-day--Sold to that old miser of a bookseller, my rare
copy of Chaucer, the costly edition of Caxton. My friend, the dear,
noble Andreas Vandelmeer, made me a present of it on my birthday, when
we were at the university together. He had written to London for it
himself: paid an enormous price for it; and then had it bound, after his
own taste, in rich Gothic style. The old hunks of a bookseller will, no
doubt, send it back to London, and will get for it tenfold what he has
given me. I ought, at least, to have cut out the leaf where the
circumstance of this gift is recorded; and here I have written some
lamentable lines, signed with my present name and address. This is
vexatious. Parting with this book almost persuades me that something
like want is pressing on us; for, without doubt, it was the most
precious thing I possessed, and the memorial of my dearest and my only
friend. Oh, Andreas Vandelmeer! art thou still living? Where art thou?
And dost thou still think of me?"

"I saw your pain," said Clara, as he concluded, "when you sold that
book; but this friend of your youth--you have never described him to
me."

"He was in person," replied Henry, "somewhat resembling myself--rather
older and more staid. We knew each other as boys at school. I might say
he almost persecuted me with his love, so passionately did he press it
on me. He was ever complaining that my friendship was too cold. Rich as
he was, and tenderly as he had been brought up, no indulgence had made
him selfish. On leaving the university, he determined on going to India,
that distant land of wonder having fascinated his ardent imagination.
There was then quite a storm of entreaties and supplications that I
should accompany him. He assured me that I should make my fortune there,
as his own forefathers had in fact done. But my mother died about this
time, and my friends, moreover, procured for me a position in the
diplomatic body. He persuaded me, at least, to entrust to him the small
fortune I had inherited from my mother, that he might employ it
advantageously for me; a request which I have always suspected was made
in order that he might have, some future time, a pretext and disguise
for his generosity. We took leave of each other, and I repaired, in the
suite of my ambassador, to the town where your father resided--and
where"----

"The history becomes tolerably well known to us both. But this noble
Andreas--did you never hear of him again?"

"I received two letters," answered Henry, "from that remote quarter of
the world. After which I heard, but through no authentic source, that he
died of the cholera. So far as fortune was concerned, I was left as you
see, entirely dependent on myself. Still, I enjoyed the favour of my
ambassador--was not unpopular at my court--could reckon on some powerful
friends;--but all this has disappeared."

"All this, alas!" said Clara, "you have sacrificed for me. And I also am
a fugitive from home."

"Then love must supply all. And so it has, and so it will. Has not our
honeymoon, as they vulgarly call it, lasted nearly a year?"

"It shall last for ever!" said Clara. Then after a pause, which was
filled up as lovers' pauses usually are, she added. "But the worst blow
of all was the loss of your own book;--that dear poetry you had written.
If we had but kept a copy of it, we might have passed many hours of
these winter evenings in reading it. But then," she added, with a smile
and a sigh at the same time, "we should have wanted a candle."

"We talk--we gossip," said Henry, "which is much better. I hear the
sweet tones of your voice; you sing me a song, or you break suddenly out
into that heavenly laugh of yours. What is there not in that musical,
jubilee laugh? When I hear it, angel mine, I am not only delighted, I
muse, I meditate, I am rapt. How much of character is there in a laugh!
You know no man till you have heard him laugh--till you know when and
how he will laugh. There are occasions--there are humours when a man
with whom we have been long familiar, shall quite startle and repel us,
by breaking out into a laugh which comes manifestly right from his
heart, and which yet we had never heard before. Even in fair ladies with
whom I have been much pleased, I have remarked the same thing. As in
many a heart a sweet angel slumbers unseen till some happy moment
awakens it, so there sleeps often in gracious and amiable characters,
deep in the background, a quite vulgar spirit, which starts into life
when something rudely comical penetrates into the less frequented
chambers of the mind. Our instinct teaches us that in that being there
lies something we must take heed of.

"As to that young and thoughtless publisher," continued Henry, "who
became bankrupt and ran off with my glorious manuscript, he, no doubt,
did us good service; for how easily might my intercourse with him, while
the book was being printed, have led to our discovery? Your father has
not yet, be assured, relinquished his pursuit of us--my passport would
have been examined again with severer scrutiny--something, no doubt,
would have led to the suspicion that the name I bear is assumed. We
should have been separated. So, angel mine, we are happy as we are--most
happy!"

It had now grown dark, and the fire was burned out; a candle to talk by
would have been certainly superfluous: so they retired early to their
sleeping apartment. Here they could continue their chat in the dark,
quite heedless of the heavy fall of snow that was encumbering their
windows.


CHAPTER II.

Next morning, at approach of dawn, Clara hastened up to run to the
stove, to awake the sparks in the ashes. Henry soon came to her
assistance, and they laughed like children, as, with all their efforts,
the flame would _not_ come. At last, with much puffing and blowing, the
shavings kindled, and slips of wood were most artistically laid on so as
to heat the little stove without any waste of the precious store. "You
see, Henry dear," said Clara, "there is hardly enough for to-morrow, and
then"----

"A fresh supply must be had," said her husband, in a tone as if this
matter of supply was the simplest thing in the world; whereas he well
knew, that whatever stock of money remained to them, must be reserved
for the still more essential article of food. After breakfast, he again
took up his journal. "How I long to come to that page which records how
you and I, dearest, ran away with one another."

"O Heaven!" cried Clara, "how strange, how unexpected as that eventful
moment! For some days my father had shown a certain ill-humour towards
me, and had spoken in a quite unusual manner. He had before expressed
his surprise at your frequent visits; now he did not name you, but
talked _at_ you, and spoke continually of young men who refused to know
their own position. If I was silent on these occasions he was angry; and
if I spoke it was still worse: he grew more and more bitter. One
morning, just as I was going out in the carriage to pay some visits, my
faithful maid ran down the steps after me, and, under pretence of
adjusting my dress, whispered into my ear that all was discovered--that
my desk had been broken open, and your letters found--and that, in a few
hours, I was to be sent off a prisoner to an aunt in a distant part of
the country. How sudden was my resolution! I had not ridden far before I
alighted from the carriage, under pretence of buying something at a
trinket-shop. I sent the coachman and servant away, bidding them return
for me in at hour, and then"----

"And then," interrupted Henry, "how delighted was I, how almost
terrified with joy, to see you suddenly enter my apartments! I had just
returned from my ambassador, and had by good chance some blank passports
with me; I filled one up with the first name that occurred; and then,
without further preparation, we entered a hired carriage, crossed the
borders, were married, and were happy."

This animated dialogue was interrupted by the entrance of an old woman,
by name Christina, who had formerly been Clara's nurse. In their flight
they had entered into her little cottage as a place where they could
safely stop to rest themselves, and the faithful old dame had entreated
them to take her with them. She now lived in a small room below, in the
same house, and entirely supported herself by going out to work amongst
the neighbors. She entered the room at present to mention that she
should not sleep that night in her own apartment below; but that,
nevertheless, she should return next morning early enough to make their
usual daily purchases for them. Clara followed her out of the room to
speak with her apart. Henry, in her absence, as if relieved from the
necessity of supporting his spirits, or deprived of the power which
sustained them, sunk his head upon the table, and burst into tears.

"Why cannot I," he muttered to himself, "work with my hands as this
poor woman does? I have still health and strength. But no--I dare
not--she would then, for the first time, feel the misery of our
position; she would torture herself to work also; besides, we should be
discovered and separated--and, come what may, while we can yet live, we
are happy."

Clara returned in excellent spirits. They sat down to their frugal and
cheerful meal, to which some additions had been made by the obstinate
kindness of old Christina. "I could not have the heart to refuse her,"
said Clara. "Now, if only wood were not wanting, all would be well."

The next morning Clara slept longer than usual. She was surprised, on
waking, to see that the day had dawned, and still more to find that her
husband had left her side. Her astonishment was further increased when
she heard, in the next room, a crashing and grating noise, as of one
sawing through an obstinate piece of timber. She got up as speedily as
possible, to ascertain the cause of these unusual events.

"Henry," she cried, as she entered the room, "what are you about there?"

"Sawing wood, my dear," he replied, as he looked up panting from his
labours.

"But how in the world did you come by that saw, and this famous piece of
wood?"

"I remembered," answered Henry, "having seen in the loft above us, soon
after we came here, in one of my voyages of discovery, a saw and a
hatchet, belonging, I suppose, to some previous tenant of our apartment,
or perhaps to our old landlord. So much for these brave tools. As to
this noble piece of wood, it was till this morning the banister to our
staircase. Observe what solid, substantial men our ancestors were! What
a broad, magnificent piece of oak! This will make a quite different sort
of fire from your deal shavings and slips of fir."

"But," cried Clara, "the damage to the house!"

"No one comes to see us," said Henry. "We know these steps, and indeed
seldom or never go down them. The old Christina is the only person who
will miss it, and I will say to her very gravely--Look you, old lady, do
you think that a noble oak of the forest is to be hewn down, and then
planed and polished by carpenters and joiners, merely that you may come
up and down these steps a little more easily? No, no, such a magnificent
banister is a most palpable superfluity."

"Since it is done," said Clara, "I will at least take my share in this
new species of woodcraft."

So they laid the beam, which filled the apartment, on two chairs, and
first they sawed with united efforts at the middle to make it the more
manageable. It was hard work, for the oak was tough, and the saw was
old, and the workmen were more willing than skilful; but at length it
came in two with a crash.

"Well," said Clara, as she looked up, and threw her ringlets aside, her
face glowing with the unwonted exercise, "this work has one advantage at
least; we want no fire this morning to warm us."

After sawing off several square blocks, Henry set to work with his
hatchet to cleave them into pieces fit for the stove. It was fortunate
that, during this operation, which made the walls of their little
dwelling re-echo, their landlord was absent. Nor were the neighbours
likely to be much surprised at the noise, as many handicraftsmen
inhabited that locality.

On this eventful day breakfast had been forgotten; dinner and breakfast
were consolidated into one meal. This being dispatched with their usual
cheerfulness, they retired to their seat by the window. To-day there was
no frost upon the glass; and the sky--all that could be seen of it--was
clear as crystal. It was a curiously simple prospect which this window
presented. Underneath them, over the ground-floor of the house, had been
constructed--for what reason it would not be easy to say--a tiled roof,
which projected in such a manner as completely to hide the narrow street
from their view. In front stretched the long low roof of a building,
which seemed to be used as a warehouse; and on both sides they were
hemmed in by the blank projecting walls and the tall chimneys of larger
houses--so that certain masses of brickwork, a long roof, and a fragment
of the open sky, was all that the eye could possibly command. This
complete isolation suited the lovers very well; for, besides that it
effectually concealed them from the discovery of their pursuers, it
permitted them to stand at the window, and talk and caress, without the
restraint occasioned by envious spectators. When they first occupied the
apartment, if they heard an unusual noise out of doors, they naturally
ran to the window to look down into the street; and it was not till
after many fruitless experiments that they learned to sit quiet on such
occasions. It was quite an event if a cat was seen stealthily making its
way over the long sloping roof in front of them. In the summer, when the
sparrows built their nests in the tall chimneys on either side, and were
perpetually flying to and fro, twittering, caressing, quarrelling--this
was quite a society. When a chimney-sweeper once thrust out his black
face from one of these chimneys, and shouted aloud to testify the
accomplishment of his ascent, it was an event that brought a shriek of
surprise from Clara.

Thus passed the days, and the pair were happy as kings, though they were
living very like beggars. Very singular was their power of abstraction
from the future, their entire satisfaction with the present. Clara, it
is true, cast some anxious thoughts after the wood; but Henry brought in
every morning the necessary supply: there was no symptoms of failure.
She thought indeed, of late, that the grain of the wood seemed altered;
but it burned as well as ever.

"Where," said Clara, one morning, "where is our faithful Christina? I
have not seen her for many a day. You rise in the morning before I can
get up--you take in the bread and the water-jug--I never see her. Why
does she not come up? Is she ill?"

"No," said Henry, with a slight embarrassment of manner, which his wife
did not fail to detect.

"Ah! you conceal something from me" she cried. "I will go down directly
and see what is the matter with her."

"It is so long since you descended these steps, and there is no
banister--you will fall."

"No, no, I know the steps--I could find them in the dark."

"Those steps," said Henry, with a mock solemnity of manner--"those steps
will you never tread again!"

"Oh, there is something you conceal from me!" exclaimed Clara. "Say what
you will, I will go down and see Christina."

She turned quickly round and opened the door, but Henry clasped her as
quickly in his arms.

"My dear," cried he, "will you break your neck?"

The secret was at once disclosed. They stepped together to the
landing-place. There were no longer any stairs to be seen. Clara clasped
her little hands as she looked first down into the dark precipice below,
and then at her husband, who maintained the most comical gravity in the
world. She then ran back to the stove, snatched up one of the pieces of
wood, and, looking at it closely, said--"Ah, now I see why the grain was
so different! So, then, we have burned up the stairs?"

"So it seems," answered Henry, quite calmly. "I hardly know why I kept
this secret from you--perhaps that you might not be distressed by any
superfluous scruples. Now that you know it, I am sure you will find it
quite reasonable."

"But Christina?"

"Oh, she is quite well! In the morning I let her down a cord, to which
she fastens her little basket. This I draw up, and afterwards the
water-jug. Our housekeeping proceeds in the most orderly fashion in the
world. When the banister was at an end, it struck me that one half at
least of the steps of our staircase might be dispensed with; it was but
to step a little higher, as one is forced to do in many houses. With the
help of Christina, who entered into this philosophical view of the
matter, I broke off the first, third, fifth, and so forth. When one half
of the steps was consumed, the other half was also condemned as
superfluous--for what do we want with stairs, we who never go out?"

"But the landlord?"

"He will not return till Easter. Meanwhile the weather will be getting
milder, and there are still some old doors and planks up above, which I
shall pronounce altogether superfluous. Therefore warm thee, dearest
Clara, without any care for the future."

Things, however, did not quite fall out as expected. On the afternoon of
that very same day, a carriage was heard to drive up to the little
house. They heard the rattling of the wheels, the stopping of the
vehicle, the descent of the passengers. It was in vain to put their
heads out of window, they could see nothing there. But they heard the
sound of unpacking, then the greeting of neighbours--it was evident,
beyond a doubt, that their dreaded landlord had returned home much
sooner than he ought. The heavy tread of the gouty gentleman now
resounded in the passage--the crisis was at hand. Henry stood at the
half-open door, listening. Clara sat within, regarding him with a
questioning look.

"I must go up," the landlord was now heard to say; "I must go up, and
see after my lodgers. I hope they are as cheerful as ever, and the young
wife as pretty."

There was a pause. The old man was groping about in the dark.

"How is this?" he muttered to himself. "Don't know my own house! Not
here--not there! Ulric! Ulric! help here!"

Ulric, his servant and factotum, came to his assistance.

"Help me up these stairs," said the landlord. "I am blinded--bewitched!
I cannot find the steps, and yet they were broad enough!"

"Herr Emmerich," said the old and somewhat surly domestic, "you are a
little giddy from travelling."

"An hypothesis," whispered Henry, turning to his wife, "which unhappily
will not hold."

"Zounds!" cried Ulric, who had run his head against the wall, "I have
lost my wits too!"

"I am groping right and left," said the landlord, "and all round, and up
above. I think the devil has taken the stairs!"

"Another hypothesis," whispered Henry, "and a very bold one."

Meanwhile the more sensible domestic had at once run for a light. This
he now returned with, and, holding it up in his sturdy fist, he
illuminated the quite empty space.

"Ten thousand devils!" exclaimed the landlord, as he gazed around and
above him with astonishment. "This is the strangest business! Herr
Brand! Herr Brand! Is any one up there?"

It was of no use to deny himself. Henry stepped out, bent over the
landing, and saw, by the uncertain flicker of the light, the portly form
of his landlord.

"Ah, my worthy friend, Herr Emmerich!" he called out in the blandest
manner imaginable, "you are most welcome. It speaks well for the gout
that you have returned so much earlier than your appointed time. I am
delighted to see you looking so well."

"Your obedient servant," answered the other; "but that is not the
question. What has become of my stairs?"

"Stairs! were there any stairs here?" said Henry. "Indeed, my friend, I
go out so seldom, or rather not at all, that I take no notice of any
thing out of my own chamber. I study, I work--I concern myself about
little else."

"Herr Brand," said the landlord, half choking with rage, "we must speak
about this in another tone! You are the only lodger. You shall give an
account before a court of justice"--

"Be not overwroth," replied Henry. "If you really contemplate legal
proceedings, I think I can be of use to you; for, now I think of it, I
perfectly remember that there _were_ stairs here, and have a vivid
recollection of having, in your absence, used them."

"Used them!" cried the old man, stamping with his feet; "and how used
them? You have destroyed them--you have destroyed the house."

"Nay, do not exaggerate, Herr Emmerich. I cannot ask you to walk
up-stairs, or you might see that these rooms we inhabit are in a perfect
state of preservation. As to this ladder, which was but an asses' bridge
for tedious visitors and bad men, I removed it with great difficulty, as
being superfluous."

"But these steps," cried Emmerich, "with their noble banister, these
two-and-twenty broad, strong oaken steps, were an integral part of my
house. Old as I am, I never heard of a lodger who dealt as he pleased
with the stairs of a house."

"Be patient," said Henry, "and you shall hear the real connexion of
events. The post failed in bringing our necessary remittances; the
winter was unusually severe; all ordinary means of procuring fuel were
wanting; I had recourse to this sort of forced loan. At the same time I
did not think, respected sir, that you would return before the warm
summer weather."

"Nonsense!" said the landlord. "Summer weather! Do you think that these
my stairs will sprout out again, like asparagus, when the summer comes?"

"Really," said Henry, "I am not sufficiently acquainted with the growth
and habits of the stair-plant to determine."

"Ulric!" cried the wrathful landlord, "run for the police. You shall
find this no jesting matter."

The police arrived. The inspector was scandalized at the outrage which
had been committed, and summoned the delinquent to surrender.

"Never!" said Henry. "An Englishman says well that his house is his
castle; and mine is a castle with the drawbridge up."

"There is an easy remedy for that," said the officer, who thereupon
called for a ladder, and gave command to his men to mount, to bind the
criminal with cords, and bring him down to his condign punishment.

The house was now filled with the people of the neighbourhood. Men,
women, and children had been attracted to the spot, and a crowd of
curious spectators, assembled in the street, made their comments upon
the business. Clara had seated herself near the window, not a little
embarrassed; but as she saw that her husband still retained his
accustomed cheerfulness, she also kept her self-possession--not,
however, without much wondering how it would all end. Henry came in for
a moment to hearten her, and also to fetch something from the room.

"We are shut up, my dear," said he, "like our famous Götz in his
Taxthausen. This obstinate trumpeter has summoned me to surrender at
mercy, and I will now answer him in the manner of our great model."

Clara smiled.

"Your fate is my fate," she said, and added to herself in a low voice:
"I think, if my father saw us now, he would forgive all."

Henry again stepped out upon the landing, and seeing they were verily
bringing in a ladder, called to them in a solemn tone--"Gentlemen,
bethink you what you do. I have been prepared, weeks ago, for every
thing--for the very worst that can happen. I will not be taken prisoner,
but intend to defend myself to the last drop of my blood. Here do I
bring two blunderbusses loaded with ball, and this old cannon, a fearful
piece of ordnance, full to the throat with every destructive ingredient.
I have in this chamber powder and ball, cartridges, lead, all things
necessary to sustain the war; whilst my brave wife, who has been
accustomed to fire-arms, will load the pieces as I fire them. Advance,
therefore, if you wish blood to flow."

Henry had laid two sticks and an old boot upon the floor.

The leader of the police, who could distinguish nothing in the dark,
beckoned to his men to stand back.

"Better," said he to Herr Emmerich, "that we starve out this formidable
rebel."

"Starve, indeed!" said Henry: "we are provided for months to come with
all sorts of dried fruits--plums, pears, apples, biscuits. The winter is
nearly passed, but should fuel fail us, there is still in the roof above
much superfluous timber."

"Oh, hear the heathen!" cried Emmerich in agony. "First he breaks to
pieces the bottom of my house, and then he threatens to unroof it."

"It is beyond all example," said the officer.

Many of the spectators, however, were secretly pleased at the distress
of the avaricious landlord. Some suggested the calling in of the
military, with their guns.

"For Heaven's sake, no!" cried Emmerich; "the house will then be utterly
destroyed."

"You are quite right," said Henry. "And have you forgotten what for many
years every newspaper has been repeating to us, that the first
cannon-shot, let it fall where it may, will set all Europe in blaze?"

"He is a demagogue, a carbonaro," said the officer. "Who knows what
confederates he may have even in this crowd which surrounds us?"

The alarm of the officer seemed, for a moment, to be justified, for a
shout was now heard from some of the populace who were collected in the
street. Emmerich and the officer turned round to enquire into the
meaning of this new demonstration. Henry took the opportunity to whisper
a word to his young wife.

"Be of good cheer," he said; "we gain time. We shall be able to
capitulate. Perhaps even a Sickingen may come to our rescue."

The shout of the mob had been occasioned by the appearance of a
brilliant equipage, which made its way slowly through the thronged and
narrow street. The footmen were clad in splendid livery, and a coachman,
covered with lace, drove four prancing steeds. The mob might be excused
for shouting "The king! The king!" The carriage stopped before the door
of the house which was now become the great point of attraction, and a
nobleman descended, elegantly attired and decorated with orders and
crosses.

"Does a certain Herr Brand live here?" enquired the illustrious
stranger; "and what means all this uproar?"

Hereupon fifty different voices made answer with as many different
accounts. The landlord, stepping forward, pointed to the dilapidated
condition of the house, and explained the real state of affairs. The
stranger continued to advance into the hall, and called with a loud
voice, "Does Herr Brand live here?"

"Yes," replied Henry from above; "but who is this that asks?"

"The ladder here!" cried the stranger.

"No one ascends to this place!" said Henry.

"Not if he brings back the Chaucer, the edition of Caxton?"

"O Heaven! the good angel may ascend!" and immediately ran back to Clara
to communicate the joyful news. "Our Sickingen is verily come!" he
exclaimed. Tears of joy were starting to his eyes.

A few words from the stranger, addressed to the landlord and the
officer, produced a sudden calm. The ladder was raised, and Henry, in a
moment, was in the arms of his old friend Andreas Vandelmeer! All was
now joy and congratulation in the little apartment, as Henry introduced
to his friend his dear and beautiful wife. The first greetings passed,
Vandelmeer informed them that the small fortune which Henry had
entrusted to his care had increased and multiplied itself, and that he
might now consider himself a rich man. Vandelmeer, on his return from
India, had landed at the port of London. There it had occurred to him to
procure some antiquarian present for his friend, like that which he had
formerly given him. Entering the bookseller's where his previous
purchase had been made, he saw a Chaucer, which attracted his attention
from its similarity to the one he had procured for his friend. It was,
in fact, the same. It had found its way back to its original owner. On
opening it, he found some melancholy lines written on the fly-leaf, and
signed with his present name and address. He immediately repurchased the
book, and hastened to the discovery, and, as it proved, the rescue of
his friend.

To complete the happiness of all parties, he was able to inform them
that the father of Clara had laid aside his anger, and was desirous of
discovering his daughter only that he might receive and forgive her.
What need to say more? Even the landlord was content, and had reason to
congratulate himself on the devastation committed on his staircase.



THE OVERLAND PASSAGE.


Our intercourse with India has become so important within these few
years, and the rapid transit by the isthmus of Suez has become so
favourite a passage, that the public naturally feel an extreme curiosity
relative to every circumstance of the route. The whole is a splendid
novelty, sufficiently strange to retain some portion of the old wonder
which belongs to all things Arabian; sufficiently wild to supply us with
the scenes and adventures of barbarism; and yet sufficiently brought
within the sphere of European interests, to combine with the romance of
the wilderness, at once Oriental pomp and the powers and utilities of
civilized and Christian society. The contrast is of the most exciting
kind:--we have the Bedouin, with his lance and desert home, hovering
round the European carriage, but now guarding what his fathers would
have plundered; the caravan with all its camels, turbaned merchants, and
dashing cavalry, moving along the river's bank, on whose waters the
steam-boat is rushing; the many-coloured and many-named tribes of the
South, meeting the men of every European nation in the streets where the
haughty Osmanli was once master. The buildings offer scarcely a less
singular contrast:--the lofty, prison-like, close casemented fronts of
the huge Mahometan dwellings, frowning in grim repose upon the spruce
shops and glittering hotels of the French and Italian trader and
tavern-keeper; and though last, most memorable of all--the old Pasha,
the only man in existence who has given a new being to a people; the
true regenerator of his country, or rather the creator of a nation out
of one of the most abject, exhausted, and helpless races of mankind.
Egypt, the slave of the stranger for a thousand years, trampled on by
Saracen, Turk, Mameluke, and Frenchman; but by the enterprise and
intelligence of this extraordinary individual, suddenly raised to an
independent rank, and actually possessing a most influential interest in
the eyes of Europe and Asia.

The route of the travellers begins with Ceylon. Ceylon is a fine
picturesque island, very fertile, strikingly placed for commerce, and
containing a tolerably intelligent population. Yet we do not seem to
have made much of its advantages hitherto; Singapore and even Hong-Kong
are likely to throw it into eclipse; and the chief benefit of its
possession is in keeping away foreign powers from too near an inspection
of our settlements in India. But its shores have the richness of
vegetation which belongs to the tropics, and the variety of aspect which
is so often found in the Asiatic islands. The Major and his wife
embarked on board the steamer "The India," in May 1844. The view from
the Point de Galle is striking. The town is shaded by trees, which give
it the look of richness and freshness that contributes such a charm to
the Oriental landscape. On the left of the bay is a headland clothed
with tropic vegetation. In front are two islands, giving variety to the
bay. Behind is the esplanade, shut in by hills covered with cocoa-nut
trees. At the foot of those hills is the native town and bridge, also
shaded by trees. Crowds of canoes, of various shapes and colours, moored
along the shore, complete the scene.

The passengers were discontented with the India. They never saw any
thing like the dirt of the ship. The coal-dust penetrated into every
thing. It was in vain to sigh for a clean face and hands, for they were
unattainable. This must be true; yet it passes our comprehension. We
cannot understand why coal-dust should make its appearance at all for
the affliction of the passengers. It certainly blackens no one in our
European steamers. Its business is in the engine-room, and we never
heard of its making its _entrée_ into either the saloon or the cabin.
The India is complained of as being very ill adapted for the service, as
unwieldy, and inadequate to face the south-west monsoon. Yet the vessel
was handsomely decorated: the saloon was profusely ornamented with
gilding, cornices, and mirrors; the tables were richly veneered, and the
furniture was of morocco leather. All this exhibits no want of
liberality on the part of the proprietors; but a much heavier charge is
laid on the carelessness which allowed this handsome vessel to be
infested with disgusting vermin. "The swarms of cock-roaches," says Mrs
Darby Griffiths, "almost drove me out of my senses. The other day sixty
were killed in our cabin, and we might have killed as many more. They
are very large, about two inches and a half long, and run about my
pillows and sheets in the most disgusting manner. Rats are also very
numerous." Now, all this we can as little comprehend as the coal-dust.
If such things were, they must have arisen from the most extraordinary
negligence; and we hope the proprietors, enlightened by Mrs Darby
Griffith's book, will have the vessel cleansed out before her next
voyage.

The monsoon was now direct against them, and the probability was, that
instead of getting to Aden in its teeth, their coal-dust would fail, and
they would be driven back to Bombay for more. But the commander of one
of the Oriental Company's ships, who was fortunately a passenger,
advised the captain to go south, for the purpose of meeting winds which
would afterwards blow him to the north-west. The advice was as
fortunately taken. They steamed till within two degrees of the line, and
then met with a south wind. This, however, though it drove them on their
course, made them roll terribly. The India was not prepared for this
rough treatment. There was not a swing-table in the ship. The
consequence was, that bottles of wine were rolling in every direction;
geese, turkeys, and curry were precipitated into the laps of the
unfortunate people on the lee-side; while those on the weather-side were
thrown forward with their faces on their plates. This was treatment
which probably John Bull would not like; but being a philosopher, and
besides a native of an island, he would endure it as one of the
necessities of nature. But there were four French passengers on board
who took it in a different way, and probably conceiving that a vessel at
sea was something in the nature of a stage-coach, and the Indian ocean a
high-road, they felt themselves peculiarly ill-used by this tossing; and
at every instance of having a bottle of wine emptied into their drapery,
they regarded it as a national insult, and complained bitterly to the
captain. The French are a belligerent people, and we are surprised that
this series of aggressions by the billows has not been taken up by Mons.
Thiers and his friends, as an additional evidence of the malice of
England to the _grande nation_. Sea-sickness, starvation, and the loss
of their claret, were acts worthy, indeed, of _perfide Albion_. The
captain himself was one of the victims to the "movement." The fair
tourist thus draws his portrait--whether the captain will admire either
the sketch or the limner, is another question. He is described as "an
immensely fat, punchy man, resembling a huge ball, with great fat red
cheeks which almost conceal his eyes, and a small turned-up nose." He
was, of course, always seated at the head of the table, and, she
supposed, considered it beneath his dignity to have his chair tied; but
this world is all made up of compromises and compensations--if the
captain preserved his dignity, he lost his balance. A surge came, "his
fixity of tenure was gone in a moment, and this solid dignitary was shot
forth, chair and all, and rolled against the bulkhead. Every body was in
roars of laughter."

But though all this was toil and trouble for the miserable lords and
ladies of the creation, it was delight for the masters and mistresses of
the mighty element around them. The inhabitants of the ocean were in
full sport; whales were seen rushing through the brine, porpoises were
sporting with their sleek skins in the highest enjoyment through the
billows, and shoals of dolphins filled the waves with their splendid
pea-green and azure. It was an ocean fête, a _bal-paré_ of the finny
tribe, a gala-day of nature; while miserable men and women were
shrinking, and shivering, and sinking in heart, in the midst of the
animation, enjoyment, and magnificence of the world of waters. On the
third night of their sailing, the wind became higher, and the swell from
the south stronger than ever. They pitched about in the most dreadful
manner, and during the night two sails were carried away, and the
fore-topmast. They were now in peril; but they had the steam in reserve,
and steered for their port. On the 9th of June they were in smooth
water, running up between the coasts of Arabia and Africa. The weather
now suddenly changed; the sun became intensely hot, and though forty
miles from the shore, they were visited by numerous butterflies,
dragon-flies, and moths. In two days after, they sailed through an
orange-coloured sea, filled with a shoal of animalculæ fifteen miles
long. On the next day they came in sight of the harbour of Aden. This
whole track was the voyage from which the Arabian story-tellers have
fabricated such wonders. One of the voyages of the celebrated Sinbad the
sailor, the most picturesque of all voyagers, was over this very ocean.
The orange-coloured waters, the strong effluvium of the waves
intoxicating the brain, the wild headlands of Africa--each the dwelling
of a necromancer--the Maldives, filled with mermaids and sea-monsters,
the volcanic blaze that guarded the entrance to the Red Sea, the fiery
mountains of Aden, the Hadramant, or region of Death, the Babelmandeb,
or Gate of Tears, the Isle of Perim, and the Cape of Burials, wild,
black, and terrific--fill the Arab imagination with wonders that throw
all modern invention to an immeasurable distance.

The town of Aden is not seen from the sea; it lies behind the mountains,
which are first visible. To look at the coast from this spot, nothing
but a sandy desert presents itself. The peninsula is joined to the
mainland, Arabia Felix, by a narrow sandy isthmus, nearly level with the
ocean. It is only 14,000 feet wide. There are three rocky islands in the
bay, one of which, commanding the isthmus, is fortified. The passengers
of the India were disturbed during the whole day by the yells of the
Arabs who were bringing the coals on board. They look more like demons
than human beings. "The coal-dust, of which we had lost sight for some
time, now began once more to turn every thing into its own colour. The
coolies employed in this service come from the coast of Zanzibar. They
keep up a continual yell during their work, and perform a kind of dance
all the time." They must be very well paid, and this is the true secret
of making men work. The African is no more lazy than other men, when he
can get value for his labour. This is the true secret for abolishing the
slave trade. Those men come hundreds or thousand of miles to cover
themselves with coal-dust, in an atmosphere where the thermometer
sometimes rises to 120° in the shade, and work "day and night until they
have finished their task," roaring and dancing all the time,
besides--and all this for the stimulant of wages. It is to be presumed
that their performance is "piece-work," the only work which brings out
the true effort of the labourer. Their zeal was said to be so great,
that every hundred tons of coal embarked cost the life of a man. But the
Africans have learned to drink grog; an accomplishment which we should
have thought they would not be long in acquiring, and since that period,
they live longer. This, we must acknowledge, is a new merit in grog; it
is the first time that we have heard of it as a promoter of longevity.

The Arabs on the coast form two classes, perfectly distinct, at least in
their conduct to the English. The class of warriors, being robbers by
profession, are extremely anxious to rob us, and still more indignant at
our preventing their robbery of others. Their piracies have suffered
grievously from the vigilance of our gun-boats, and they have once or
twice actually attempted to storm our fortifications. The consequence
is, that they have been soundly beaten, the majority have left their
carcasses behind them, and the survivors have been taught a "moral
lesson," which has kept them at a respectful distance. But the Arab
cultivators are decent and industrious men, and form the servants of the
town. Whether we shall ever make a great southern colony of the country
adjoining the peninsula, must be a question of the future. But it is
said that a very fine and healthy country extends to the north, and that
the mountains visible from Aden enclose valleys of singular
productiveness and beauty.

Taste in personal decoration differs a good deal in the south from that
of the north. The Arab, with a face as black as ink, thinks an enormous
shock of red hair the perfection of taste; he accordingly dyes his hair
with lime, and thus makes himself, unconsciously, the regular demon of
the stage.

The entrance to the new British settlement is through masses of the
boldest and wildest rocks. After passing a defile between two mountains,
we come to the only access on this side, the "lofty mountains forming an
impregnable fortification." This entrance is cut through the solid rock.
A strong guard of sepoys is posted there. The passage is so high and
narrow, that "one might almost compare it to the eye in a darning
needle." This is a female comparison, but an expressive one. Issuing
from the pass, the whole valley of Aden lay like a map beneath, bounded
on three sides by precipitous mountains, rising up straight and barren
like a mighty wall, while on the fourth was the sea; but even there the
view was bounded by the island rock of Sera, thus completing the
fortification of this Eastern Gibraltar.

Here the travellers were welcomed by a hospitable garrison surgeon and
his wife, found a dinner, an apartment, great civility, and a romantic
view of the Arab landscape by moonlight. They heard the drums and pipes
of one of the regiments, and were "startled by the loud report of a
cannon, which shook the frail tenement, and resounded with a lengthened
echo through the hills. It was the eight o'clock gun, which stood only a
stone's throw from the house, and on the same rock." The lady, as a
soldier's wife, ought to have been less alarmed; but she was in a land
where every thing was strange. "We were literally sleeping out in the
open air; as there were no doors, windows, or venetians to close, and
every breath of wind agitated the frail walls of bamboo and matting, I
was awoke in the night by the musquitto curtains blowing up; the wind
had risen, and came every now and then with sudden gusts; but its breath
was so soft, warm, and dry, that I, who had never ventured to bear a
night-blast in Ceylon, felt that it was harmless."

Aden, in earlier times, formed one of the thirteen states of Yemen; and
prodigious tales are told of its opulence, its mosques and minarets, its
baths of jasper, and its crescents and colonnades. But Arabia is
proverbially a land of fable, and the glories of Aden exhibit Arabian
imagination in its highest stage. Possibly, while it continued a port
for the Indian trade, it may have shared the wealth which India has
always lavished on commerce. But a spot without a tree, without a mine,
and without a manufacture, could never have possessed solid wealth under
the languid industry and wild rapine of an Arab population. When we
recollect, too, how long the Turks were masters of this corner of
Arabia, we may well be sceptical of the opulence of periods when the
sword was the law. No memorials of its prosperity remain; no ruined
temples or broken columns attest the magnificence or the taste of an
earlier generation. Its only hope of opulence must be dated from its
first possession by the British. But the barrenness of the soil forbids
substantial wealth; and though the native merchants, relying on the
honour of British laws and the security of British arms, are flocking
into it by hundreds, and will soon flock into it by thousands, it must
be at best but a warehouse and a fortress, though both will, in all
probability, be of the most magnificent description. The population is
of the miscellaneous order which is to be found in all the Eastern
ports. The Parsees, the handsome and industrious race who are to be seen
every where in India; the Jews, keen and indefatigable, who are to be
seen in every part of the world; and the Arabs, whose glance and gesture
seem to despise both, are already crowding this half camp, half
capital. From eighty to a hundred camels, every morning, supply the
markets of Aden. They bring in baskets of fine fruit, grapes, melons,
dates, and peaches. The greater number bring also poultry, grass, and
straw. Troops of donkeys carry water in skins to every part of the town;
and there is no want of the necessaries of life, though of course they
are dear. Aden is excessively hot, but regarded as healthy. The air is
pure, dry, and elastic. The engineers are building works on the
different commanding positions; and Aden, within a few years, will
probably be the strongest fortification, as it is already one of the
finest ports, east of the Mediterranean. But we look to nobler
prospects; the inland country is perhaps one of the finest regions in
the world. Almost within view of Aden lies a country as picturesque as
Switzerland, and as fertile as the valleys of the tropics. It is
singularly salubrious; and, in point of extent, may be regarded as
unlimited. We see no possible reason why Aden should not, in the course
of a few years, be made the capital of a great Arabian colony. Conquest
must not be the means, but purchase might not be difficult; and
civilization and Christianity might be spread together through immense
territories, formed in the bounty of nature, and only waiting to be
filled with a free and vigorous population. It is only the centre and
north of Arabia that is desert. The coast, and especially the southern
extremity, are fertile. Without the ambition of empire, or the desire of
encroachment, British enterprize might here find a superb field, and the
Arabian peninsula might, for the first time in history, be added to the
civilized world.

The travellers now ran up the Red Sea. The navigation has greatly
improved within these few years, in consequence of the intercourse
between England and India. Surveys have been made, and charts have been
formed, which almost divest the passage of peril. But the navigation is
still intricate, in consequence of the coral rocks and numerous shoals,
which, however, may be escaped by due vigilance, and the experienced
mariner has nothing to fear. The aspect of the coast, of both Africa and
Arabia, is wild and repulsive; but some compensation for the monotony of
the shores is to be found in the sea itself. When calm, the transparency
of the water exhibits the bottom to the depth of thirty fathoms. "And
what a new world is discovered through this vale of waters! what
treasures for the naturalist!" The sands are overspread with forests of
coral plants of every colour, shells of remarkable beauty; and, in the
midst of this sub-aqueous landscape, fish of brilliant hues sporting in
all directions. At length they reached the gulf of Suez, with the blue
peaks of Sinai in the distance, and continued running up the gulf, which
was one hundred and sixty miles long, until Suez came in sight. Here all
is dreary: deserts and sand-banks form the whole landscape. Arab boats
came alongside, and conveyed the passengers from the steamer. The town
looked dismal; its walls and fortifications were in decay; the
landing-place was crowded by sickly-looking creatures, the evident
victims of malaria, and the chief ornament of the place was a large
white-washed tomb. This condition of things was not much improved when
the party found themselves in the hotel of Messrs Hill and Co.
Musquittoes, and every species of frightful insect, made war against
sleep; and when their reign had passed away, and the travellers rose,
crowds of flies continued the persecution. The travellers made a bad
bargain in paying their passage-money at once from Suez to Alexandria;
and it is described as the wiser mode to pay only to Cairo, and then
take the choice of the several conveyances which are sure to be found
there. The Arab drivers and carriers seem to have fully acquired those
arts of extortion, which flourish in such abundance wherever English
money is to be found. They cheat, and lie, and cajole, with
extraordinary assiduity; and the majority of the passengers on this
occasion seem to have been detained unnecessarily on the road, and
treated badly at the station houses. The first part of the desert is
rather rocky than sandy, and the road seems to have been formed chiefly
by the carriage wheels. It is covered with great pieces of stone and
rock, which sorely tried the patience of the travellers. Hundreds of
carcasses of camels lie in the way; the flesh is soon eaten by the
wolves and rats, while the bones bleach in the sun. Little troops of
Arabs were met from time to time, sometimes on camels and sometimes on
horses. They were armed to the teeth, as black as negroes, and looked
ferocious enough to make any party of pacific travellers tremble for
their goods and chattels. But they were the patrols of Mohammed Ali, and
guardians of the goods which in other days they would have delighted to
plunder. There are eight stations on this road through the desert, all
built by that man of wonders, the Pasha. Of these, four are only
stables; but four are houses for the reception of travellers. They are
generally from twelve to sixteen miles apart. The station No. 6, though
by no means possessing the comforts of an English hotel, must be a
miracle to the old travellers of the desert. It consists of two
chambers, a kitchen, and servants' room, with a large public saloon
occupying the whole of one end, and completing a little centre court.
Three sides of the saloon were furnished with divans. There was a long
table in the centre, with several chairs, and a glass window at each end
of the room. But this was unluckily the season of flies, and they were
the torment of the travellers; table, wall, ceiling, and floors swarmed
with them. They flew into the face, the eyes, and the mouth. Thousands
of musquittoes were also buzzing round and biting every thing. The
breakfast was no sooner laid on the table than it was blackened with
flies. The beds were hiving, and intolerable. No. 4, the halfway-house,
was rather better. It is the largest of them all, and has a long row of
bedrooms, and two public saloons. It has a large courtyard, in which
were turkeys, geese, sheep, and goats, for the use of travellers. The
Arab coachman here tried a trick of the road. He sent up a message that
he had observed the lady looked very much tired, and that he therefore
advised them to get to the end of their journey as quickly as possible;
that they had better start in two hours, as the moon was very bright,
and that he would take them into Cairo by breakfast-time in the morning.
But it was suspected that this haste was in order that the passengers
waiting at Cairo to go by the India steamer should be conveyed across
the desert by himself, so they declined his offer, and enjoyed their
night's rest. On rising in the morning, they felt that they had reason
to congratulate themselves on their refusal of the night's journey; for
they found even the morning air bitter, and the atmosphere a wet fog.
The aspect of the country had now changed. Chains of hills disappeared,
and all was level sand. On the way they saw the mirage, sometimes
assuming the appearance of a distant harbour, at others, of an inland
lake reflecting the surrounding objects on its surface; and they met one
of the picturesque displays of Arabia, a wealthy Bey going on a
pilgrimage to Mecca. He had a train of twenty or thirty camels. Those
carrying himself and his harem had superb trappings. The women were
seated in large open boxes, hanging on each side as paniers. There were
red silk embroidered curtains hung round, like those on a bedstead, and
an awning over all. The bey was smoking his splendid pipe, and behind
came a crowd of slaves with provisions. The road on approaching Cairo
grew rougher than ever; it was often over ridges of rock just appearing
above the sand. The Pasha's "commissioners of paving" seem to have
slumbered on their posts as much as if they had been metropolitan. At
last a "silvery stream" was seen winding in the horizon--the "glorious
Nile!" The country now grew picturesque; a forest of domes and minarets
arose in the distance; and the Pyramids became visible. The road then
ran through a sort of suburb, where the Bedouins take up their quarters
on their visits to buy grain, they being not suffered within the walls.
It then passed between walled gardens filled with flowers, shrubs,
orange and olive trees; most of the walls were also surmounted with a
row of pillars, interlaced with vines--a species of ornament new to us,
but which, we should conceive, must add much to the beauty, external
and internal, of a garden. Cairo was entered at last; and its lofty
houses, and the general architecture of this noblest specimen of a
Mahometan capital, delighted the eyes which had so long seen nothing but
the sea, the rocky shore, and the desert. Cairo is, like all the rest of
the world, growing European, and even English. It has its hotels; and
the traveller, except that he hears more Arabic, and inhales more
tobacco smoke, will soon begin to imagine himself in Regent street. The
"Eastern Hotel" is a good house, where Englishmen get beefsteaks, port
wine, and brown stout; read the London papers; have waiters who at least
do their best to entertain them in their own tongue; and want nothing
but operas and omnibuses. But the dress still makes a distinction, and
it is wholly in favour of the Mussulman. All modern European dresses are
mean; the Oriental is the only man whose dress adds dignity to the human
form. When Sultan Mahmoud stripped off the turban, and turned the noble
dress of his people into the caricature of the European costume, he
struck a heavier blow at his sovereignty than ever was inflicted by the
Russian sabre or the Greek dagger. He smote the spirit of his nation.
The Egyptian officials wear the fez, or red nightcap--the fitting emblem
of an empire gone to sleep. But the general population of Egypt wear the
ancient turban, the finest ornament of the head ever invented by man;
that of the Egyptian Mahometan is white muslin; that of the Shereefs, or
line of Mahomet, is green; that of the Jews and Copts is black. The
remaining portions of the costume are such as, perhaps, we shall soon
see only upon the stage. The embroidered caftan, the flowing gown, the
full trouser of scarlet or violet-coloured cloth, the yellow morocco
boot, the jewelled dagger, and velvet-sheathed cimeter--all the
perfection of magnificence and taste in costume. The ample beard gives
completeness to the majesty of the countenance, and finishes the true
character of the "lord of the creation."

The citadel of Cairo has a melancholy and memorable name, from the
horrid massacre of the Mamelukes in 1811, when four hundred and seventy
of those showy soldiers were murdered, and but one escaped by leaping
his horse from the battlements. The horse was killed; the man is now a
bey in the Pasha's service. The citadel stands on a hill, and contains
the Pasha's palace, a harem, a council-hall, police-offices, and a large
square, where the massacre was perpetrated. The view from the windows of
the palace is superb. Cairo is seen immediately beneath, skirted by
gardens on the right. Beyond those the mosques of the caliphs, and as
far as the eye can reach, the Arabian desert. In front is the Nile, a
silver stream, covered with sails of every description, till it is lost
in the groves of the Delta. The ports of Boulac and old Cairo, with
numerous villages, stud its banks, and from its bosom rise verdant
islands. To the left, the Nile is still visible, and beyond are seen the
Pyramids, which, though twelve miles off, appear quite close, from the
transparency of the air. In the citadel is also a mosque, now building
by the order of the Pasha. It is constructed of Oriental alabaster, is
of great size, already exhibits fine taste, and promises to be one of
the most beautiful structures in Egypt. But the Pasha has not yet
attained the European improvement of lamps in the streets. After
nightfall, the only light is from the shops, which, when they close,
leave the street in utter darkness. However, most of the pedestrians
carry lamps with them. How does it happen that no gas company has taken
pity upon this Egyptian darkness, and saved the Cairans from the chance
of having their throats cut, or at least their bones broken; for during
the summer a considerable portion of the poorer population sleep in the
streets? Still the Pasha is a man of taste, fond of living in gardens,
and sensible enough to have the garden of his favourite palace at
Shoobra laid out by a Scotch gardener. He used to reside a great deal
there, but now chiefly lives, when at Cairo, in the house of his
daughter, a widow, where his apartments are in the European style.
Nothing surprises a European traveller more than the people themselves;
and no problem can seem more mysterious than the means by which they are
enabled to supply so much expensive costume. The Egyptian gentleman
seems to want for nothing, wherever they find the money to pay for it.
Fine houses, fine furniture, fine horses, and fine clothes, seem to be
constantly at the command of a crowd who have nothing to do, who produce
nothing, and yet seem to have every thing. The Egyptian or Turkish lady
is an absolute bale of costly clothing--the more breadths of silk they
carry about them the better. Before leaving her home, she puts over her
house costume a large loose robe called a _tob_, made of silk or satin,
and always of some gay colour, pink, yellow, red, or violet. She next
puts on her face veil, a long strip of the finest white muslin, often
exquisitely embroidered. It is fastened just between the eyes, conceals
all the other features, and reaches to the feet. She next envelopes
herself in large cloak of rich black silk, tied round the head by a
piece of narrow riband. Her costume is completed by trousers of silk
gauze, and yellow morocco boots, which reach a considerable way up the
legs. How any human being can bear such a heap of clothing, especially
under the fiery sun and hot winds of Egypt, is to us inconceivable. It
must melt all vigour out of the body, and all life out of the soul; but
it is the fashion, and fashion works its wonders in Egypt as well as
elsewhere. The veil across the mouth, in a climate where every breath of
fresh air is precious, must be but a slower kind of strangulation. But
the preparative for a public appearance is not yet complete. Women of
condition never walk. They ride upon a donkey handsomely caparisoned,
sitting astride upon a high and broad saddle, covered with a rich Turkey
carpet. They ride with stirrups, but they never hold the reins; their
hands are busy in keeping down their cloaks. A servant leads the donkey
by the bridle. Their figures, when thus in motion, are the most
preposterous things imaginable. Huge as they are, the wind, which has no
respect for persons, gets under their cloaks, and blows them up to three
times their natural size. Those are the ladies of Egypt; the lower
orders imitate this absurdity and extravagance as far as they can, and
with their face veils, the most frightful things possible, shuffle
through the streets like strings of spectres. Poverty and labour may by
possibility keep the lower ranks in health; but how the higher among the
females can retain health, between their want of exercise, their full
feeding, their hot baths, and this perpetual hot bath of clothing,
defies all rational conjecture. The Egyptians of all ranks are terribly
afraid of what they call the evil eye, and stifle themselves and
children in all kinds of rags to avoid being bewitched. The peasants are
a fine-looking, strong-bodied race of men; but many of them are met
blind of an eye. This is attributed to the reluctance to be soldiers for
the glory of the Pasha. But Mohammed Ali was not to be thus tricked, and
he raised a regiment of one-eyed men. In other instances they are said
to have knocked out the fore-teeth to avoid biting a cartridge, or to
have cut off a joint of the first finger to prevent their drawing a
trigger. Even thus they are not able to escape the cunning Pasha. But
this shows the natural horror of the conscription; and we are not
surprised that men should adopt any expedient to escape so great a curse
and scandal to society. It is extraordinary that in this 19th century,
even of the Christian world, such an abomination should be suffered to
exist in Europe. It is equally extraordinary that it exists in every
country but England, and she can have no prouder distinction. The
habeas-corpus and her free enlistment, are two privileges without which
no real liberty can ever exist, and which, in any country, it would be
well worth a revolution, or ten revolutions, to obtain. Hers is the only
army into which no man can be forced, and in which every man is a
volunteer. And yet she has never wanted soldiers, and her soldiers have
never fought the worse. It is true, that when she has a militia they are
drawn by ballot from the population; but no militiaman is ever sent out
of the country; and as to those who are drawn, if they feel disinclined
to serve in this force, which acts merely as a national guard, ten
shillings will find a substitute at any time. It is also true that
England has impressment for the navy; but the man who makes the sea his
livelihood, adopts his profession voluntarily, and with the knowledge
that at some time or other he may be called upon to serve in the royal
navy. And even impressment is never adopted but on those extreme
emergencies which can seldom happen, and which may never happen again in
the life of man. But on the Continent, every man except the clergy, and
those in the employment of the state, is liable to be dragged to the
field, let his prospects or his propensities be what they may. In every
instance of war, parents look to their children with terror as they grow
up to the military age. The army is a national curse, and parental
feelings are a perpetual source of affliction. If the great body of the
people in Europe, instead of clamouring for imaginary rights, and
talking nonsense about constitutions, which they have neither the skill
to construct, nor would find worth the possession if they had them,
would concentrate their claims in a demand for the habeas-corpus, and
the abolition of the conscription, they would relieve themselves from
the two heaviest burdens of despotism, and obtain for themselves the two
highest advantages of genuine liberty.

One of the curiosities of Cairo is the hair-oil bazar. The Egyptian
women are prodigious hairdressers and the variety of perfumes which they
lavish upon their hair and persons, exceed all European custom and
calculation. This bazar is all scents, oil, and gold braids for the
hair. It is nearly half a mile long. The odour, or the mixture of
odours, may well be presumed to be overpowering, when every other shop
is devoted to scented bottles--the intervening ones, containing perfumed
head-dresses, formed of braids of ribands and gold lace, which descend
to the ground. A warehouse of Turkish tables exhibited the luxurious
ingenuity of the workers in mother-of-pearl. They were richly wrought in
gold and silver ornaments. Within seven miles of Cairo, there still
exists a wonder of the old time, which must have made a great figure in
the Arab legends--a petrified forest lying in the desert, and which, to
complete the wonder, it is evident must have been petrified while still
standing. The trees are now lying on the ground, many of the trunks
forty feet long, with their branches beside them, all of stone, and
evidently shattered by the fall. Cairo, too, has its hospital for
lunatics; but this is a terrible scene. The unfortunate inmates are
chained and caged, and look like wild beasts, with just enough of the
human aspect left to make the scene terrible. A reform here would be
well worth the interference of European humanity. We wish that the
Hanwell Asylum would send a deputation with Dr Connolly at its head to
the Pasha. No man is more open to reason than Mohammed Ali, and the
European treatment of lunatics, transferred to an Egyptian dungeon,
would be one of the best triumphs of active humanity.

The travellers at length left Cairo, and embarked on board Mills and
Company's steam-boat, named the Jack o' Lantern. It seemed to be merely
one of the common boats that ply on the river, with the addition of a
boiler and paddles, and is probably the smallest steamer extant.
However, when they entered the cabin upon the deck, they found every
thing nicely arranged and began to think better of their little vessel.
They had another advantage in its smallness, as the Nile was now so low
that numbers of vessels lay aground, and a large steamer would probably
have been unable to make the passage. The river seemed quite alive with
many-formed and many-coloured boats. Their picturesque sails, crossing
each other, made them at a distance look almost like butterflies
skimming over the water. The little steamer drew only two feet and a
half of water. She is jestingly described as of two and a half Cairo
donkey power. About six miles from Boulac, they passed under the walls
of Shoobra palace and gardens. Its groves form a striking object, and
its interior, cultivated by Greek gardeners, is an earthly Mahometan
paradise. It has bower-covered walks, gardens carpeted with flowers,
ever-flowing fountains, and a lake on which the luxurious Pasha is rowed
by the ladies of his harem. The Nile winds in the most extraordinary
manner across the tongues of land; boats and sails are seen close,
which are in reality a mile further down the stream. The banks were high
above the boat, through the present shallowness of the river. They were
chiefly of brown clay, and were frequently cut into chasms for the
purposes of irrigation. As they shot along, they saw large tracts
covered with cotton, wheat, Indian corn, and other crops. Date-trees in
abundance, the leaves large and like those of the cocoa, the fruit
hanging in large clusters, when ripe of a bright red. Water-melons
cultivated every where, often on the sandy banks of the river itself,
three or four times the size of a man's head, and absolutely loading the
beds. Numbers of the Egyptian villages were seen in the navigation of
the river. The houses are huddled together, are of unbaked clay, and
look like so many bee-hives. Every village has its date-trees, and every
hut has pigeons. The peasants in general seem intolerably indolent, and
groups of them are every where lying under the trees. Herds of fine
buffaloes, twice the size of those in Ceylon, were seen along the shore,
and sometimes swimming the river. Groups of magnificent cattle, larger
and finer than even our best English breed, were driven occasionally to
water at the river side. The Egyptian boats come to an anchor every
night; but the Jack o' Lantern dashed on, and by daybreak reached the
entrance of the Mahoudiah Canal, on which a track-boat carries
passengers to Alexandria. A high mound of earth here separates the canal
from the Nile, which flows on towards Rosetta. This embankment is about
forty feet wide. Some of Mrs Griffith's observations are at least
sufficiently expressive; for example:--"All the children, and some past
the age of what are usually styled little children, were running about
entirely devoid of clothing. We observed a great deal of this in Egypt.
_Men_ are often seen in the same condition; and the women of the lower
orders, having concealed their heads and faces, appear to think they
have done _all that is necessary_." This is certainly telling a good
deal; nothing more explicit could be required. The track-boats are
odious conveyances, long and narrow, and the present one very dirty, and
swarming with cockroaches. They were towed by three horses, ridden by
three men. In England one would have answered the purpose. The Canal
itself is an extraordinary work, worthy of the country of the Pyramids,
and one of the prodigies which despotism sometimes exhibits when the
iron sceptre is combined with a vigorous intellect. It is ninety feet
wide and forty-eight miles long, and yet was completed in six weeks. But
it took the labour of 250,000 men, who worked, if the story be true,
night and day. Along the canal were seen several large encampments of
troops, rather rough instruments, it is true, for polishing African
savagery into usefulness, but perhaps the only means by which great
things could have been done in so short a period as the reign of
Mohammed Ali. An Italian fellow-passenger, who had resided in Egypt
twenty-five years, gave it as the result of his experience, that without
the strong hand of power, the population would do nothing. Bread and
onions being their food, when those were obtained they had got all that
they asked for. They would leave their fruitful land to barrenness, and
would prefer sleeping under their trees, to the simplest operation of
agriculture in a soil that never requires the plough. Yet they are
singularly tenacious of their money, and often bury it, keeping their
secret to the last. The Italian told them that he was once witness to a
scene exactly in point. He accompanied the tax-gatherer to a miserable
village, where they entered one of the most miserable huts. The
tax-gatherer demanded his due, the Egyptian fell at his feet, protesting
that his family were starving, and that he had not a single coin to buy
bread. The tax-gatherer, finding him impracticable, ordered some of his
followers to give him a certain number of stripes. The peasant writhed
under the stripes, but continued his tale. The beating was renewed on
two days more, when the Italian interfered and implored mercy. But the
officer said that he must continue to flog, as he was certain that the
money would come forth at last. After six days' castigation, the
peasant's patience could hold out no longer. He dug a hole in the floor
of his hut, and exhibited gold and silver to a large amount.

All this may be true; but it would be an injustice to human nature to
suppose that man, in any country, would prefer dirt, poverty, and
idleness, to comfort, activity, and employment, where he could be sure
of possessing the fruits of his labours. But where the unfortunate
peasant is liable to see his whole crop carried off the land at the
pleasure of one of the public officers, or the land itself torn from
him, or himself or his son carried off by the conscription, how can we
be surprised if he should think it not worth the while to trouble his
head or his hands about any thing? Give him security, and he will work;
give him property, and he will keep it; and give him the power of
enjoying his gains in defiance of the tax-gatherer, and he will exhibit
the manliness and perseverance which Providence has given to all.
Whether even the famous Pasha is not still too much of a Turk to venture
on an experiment which was never heard of in the land of a Mahometan
before, must be a matter more for the prophet than the politician; but
Egypt, so long the most abject of nations, and the perpetual slave of a
stranger, seems rapidly approaching to European civilization, and by her
association with Englishmen, and her English alliance, may yet be
prepared to take a high place among the regenerated governments of the
world.

The road from the termination of the canal to Alexandria, about two
miles long, leads through a desert track. At last the Mediterranean
bursts upon the eye. In front rise Pompey's stately and well-known
pillar, and Cleopatra's needle. High sand-banks still intercept the view
of Alexandria. At length the gates are passed, a dusty avenue is
traversed, the great square is reached, and the English hotel receives
the travellers. Mahometanism is now left behind, for Alexandria is
comparatively an European capital. All the houses surrounding the great
square, including the dwellings of the consuls, have been built within
the last ten years by Ibrahim Pasha, who, prince and heir to the throne
as he is, here performs the part of a speculative builder, and lets out
his houses to Europeans. These houses are built as regularly as those in
Park Crescent, and are two stories high above the Porte Cochère. They
all have French windows with green Venetian shutters, and the whole
appearance is completely European. The likeness is sustained by
carriages of every description, filled with smartly dressed women,
driving through all the streets--a sight never seen at Cairo, for the
generality of the streets are scarcely wide enough for the passage of
donkeys. But the population is still motley and Asiatic. Turbans, caps,
and the scarlet fez, loose gowns, and embroidered trousers, make the
streets picturesque. On the other hand, crowds of Europeans, tourists,
merchants, and tailors, are to be seen mingling with the Asiatics; and
the effect is singularly varied and animated.

The pageant of the French consul-general going to pay his respects to
the Viceroy, exhibited one of the shows of the place. First came a
number of officers of state, in embroidered jackets of black cachmere,
ornamented gaiters, and red morocco shoes. Each wore a cimeter, an
essential part of official costume. Next followed a fine brass band;
after them came a large body of infantry in three divisions, the whole
in heavy marching order. Their discipline and general appearance were
striking; they wore the summer dress, consisting of a white cotton
jacket and trousers, with red cloth skull-caps, and carried their
cartouche-boxes, cross-belts, and fire-locks in the European manner. The
next feature, and the prettiest, consisted of the Pasha's led horses, in
number about eighteen, all beautiful little Arabs, caparisoned with
crimson and black velvet, and cloth of gold. We repeat the description
of one, for the sake of tantalizing our European readers with the
Egyptian taste in housings. "The animal was a chestnut horse, of perfect
form and action. His saddle was of crimson velvet, thickly ribbed by
gold embroidery. His saddle-cloth was entirely of cloth of gold,
embossed with bullion, and studded with large gems; jewelled pistols
were seen in the holsters; the head-piece was variegated red, green,
and blue; embroidered and golden tassels hung from every part." But the
European portion of the scene by no means corresponded to the Oriental
display. The French consul followed in a barouche and pair, with his
_attachés_ and attendants in carriages; but the whole were mean-looking.
The French court-dress, or any court-dress, must appear contemptible in
its contrast with the stateliness of this people of silks and shawls,
jewelled weapons, and cloth of gold.

Mohammed Ali is, after all, the true wonder of Egypt. A Turk without a
single prejudice of the Turk--an Oriental eager for the adoption of all
the knowledge, the arts, and the comforts of Europe--a Mahometan
allowing perfect religious toleration, and a despot moderating his
despotism by the manliest zeal for the prosperity of his country; he has
already raised himself to a reputation far beyond the rank of his
sovereignty, and will live in the memories of men, whenever they quote
the names of those who, rising above all the difficulties of their
original position, have proved their title to the mastery of nations.

The Pasha affected nothing of the usual privacy, or even of the usual
pomp, of rajahs and sultans. He was constantly seen driving through
Alexandria, in a low berlin with four horses. The berlin was lined with
crimson silk, and there, squatting on one of the low broad seats, sat
the Viceroy. Two of his officers generally sat opposite to him, and by
his side his grandson--a handsome child between eight and nine years
old, of whom he seems remarkably fond. Like so many other eminent men,
his stature is below the middle size. His countenance is singularly
intelligent, his nose aquiline, and his eye quick and penetrating. He
does not take the trouble to dye his beard, as is the custom among
Orientalists. He wears it long and thick, and in all its snows. Years
have so little affected him, that he is regarded as a better life than
his son Ibrahim--his general, and confessedly a man of ability. But his
second son, Said Pasha, the half brother of Ibrahim, is regarded as
especially inheriting the talents of his father. He is an accomplished
man, speaks English and French fluently, seems to enter into his
father's views with great intelligence, and exhibits a manliness and
ardour of character which augur well for his country. But the appearance
of the Pasha is not without its attendant state. In front of his berlin
ride a number of attendants, caracoling in all directions. Behind the
carriage rides his express, mounted on a dromedary, in readiness to
start with despatches. The express is followed by his pipe-bearer; the
pipe-bearer followed by a servant mounted on a mule, and carrying the
light for the Pasha's pipe. The cavalcade is closed by a troop of the
officers in waiting, mounted on showy horses.

At length the day of parting arrived, and the travellers embarked on
board the Tagus steamer. The view of Alexandria from the sea is stately.
A forest of masts, a quay of handsome houses, and the viceroyal palace
forming one side of the harbour, tell the stranger that he is
approaching the seat of sovereignty. The sea was rough, but of the
bright blue of the Mediterranean, and the steamer cut swiftly through
the waves. The vessel was clean and well arranged, the weather was fine,
and the travellers began to feel the freshness and elasticity of
European air. At length they arrived at Malta, and heard for the first
time for years, the striking of clocks and the ringing of church-bells.
They were at length in Europe. But there is one penalty on the return
from the East, which always puts the stranger in ill-humour. They were
compelled to perform quarantine. This was intolerably tedious,
expensive, and wearisome; yet all things come to an end at last, and,
after about a fortnight, they were set at liberty.

Malta, in its soil and climate, belongs to Africa--in its population,
perhaps to Italy--in its garrison and commerce, to Europe--and in its
manners and habits, to the East. It is a medley of the three quarters of
the Old World; and, for the time, a medley of the most curious
description. The native carriages, peasant dresses, shops, furniture of
the houses, and even the houses themselves, are wholly unlike any thing
that has before met the English eye. Malta, in point of religious
observances, is like what St Paul said of Athens--it is overwhelmingly
pious. The church-bells are tolling all day long. Wherever it is
possible, the cultivation of the ground exhibits the industry of the
people. Every spot where earth can be found, is covered with some
species of produce. Large tracts are employed in the cultivation of the
cotton plant--fruit-trees fill the soil--the fig-tree is
luxuriant--pomegranate, peach, apple, and plum, are singularly
productive. Vines cover the walls, and the Maltese oranges have a
European reputation. The British possession of Malta originated in one
of those singular events by which short-sightedness and rapine are often
made their own punishers. The importance of Malta, as a naval station,
had long been obvious to England; and when, in the revolutionary war,
the chief hostilities of the war were transferred to the Mediterranean,
its value as a harbour for the English fleets became incalculable. Yet
it was still in possession of the knights; and, so far as England was
concerned, it might have remained in their hands for ever. A national
sense of justice would have prevented the seizure of the island, however
inadequate to defend itself against the navy of England. But Napoleon
had no such scruples. In his expedition to Egypt, he threw a body of
troops on shore at Malta; and, having either frightened or bribed its
masters, or perhaps both, plundered the churches of their plate, turned
out the knights, and left the island in possession of a French garrison.
Nothing could be less sagacious and less statesmanlike than this act;
for, by extinguishing the neutrality of the island, he exposed it to an
immediate blockade by the English. The result was exactly what he ought
to have foreseen. An English squadron was immediately dispatched to
summon the island; it eventually fell into the hands of the English, and
now seems destined to remain in English hands so long as we have a ship
in the Mediterranean. Malta is a prodigiously pious place, according to
the Maltese conception of piety. Masses are going on without
intermission--they fast twice a-week--religious processions are
constantly passing--priests are continually seen in the streets,
carrying the Host to the sick or dying. When the ceremonial is performed
within the house, some of the choristers generally remain kneeling
outside, and are joined by the passers-by. Thus crowds of people are
often to be seen kneeling in the streets. The Virgin, of course, is the
chief object of worship; for, nothing can be more true than the
expression, that for one prayer to the Deity there are ten to the
Virgin; and confession, at once the most childish and the most perilous
of all practices, is regarded as so essential, that those who cannot
produce a certificate from the priest of their having confessed, at
least once in the year, are excluded from the sacrament by an act of the
severest spiritual tyranny; and, if they should die thus excluded, their
funeral service will not be performed by the priest--an act which
implies a punishment beyond the grave. And yet the morals of the Maltese
certainly derive no superiority from either the priestly influence or
the personal mortification.

The travellers now embarked on board the Neapolitan steamer,
Ercolano--bade adieu to Malta, and swept along the shore of Sicily.
Syracuse still exhibits, in the beauty of its landscape, and the
commanding nature of its situation, the taste of the Greeks in selecting
the sites of their cities. The land is still covered with noble ruins,
and the antiquarian might find a boundless field of interest and
knowledge. Catania, which was destroyed about two centuries ago, at once
by an earthquake and an eruption, is seated in a country of still more
striking beauty. The appearance of the city from the sea is of the most
picturesque order. It looks almost encircled by the lava which once
wrought such formidable devastation. But the plain is bounded by verdant
mountains, looking down on a lovely extent of orange and olive groves,
vineyards, and cornfields. But the grand feature of the landscape, and
the world has nothing nobler, is the colossal Etna; its lower circle
covered with vegetation--its centre belted with forests--its summit
covered with snow--and, above all, a crown of cloud, which so often
turns into a cloud of flame. The travellers were fortunate in seeing
this showy city under its most showy aspect. It was a gala-day in
Catania; flags were flying on all sides--fireworks and illuminations
were preparing--an altar was erected on the Cave, and all the world were
in their holiday costume. As the evening approached the scene became
still more brilliant, for the fireworks and illuminations then began to
have their effect. The evening was soft and Italian, the air pure, and
the sky without a cloud. From the water, the scene was fantastically
beautiful; the huge altar erected on the shore, was now a blaze of
light; the range of buildings, as they ascended from the shore,
glittered like diamonds in the distance. Fireworks, in great abundance
and variety, flashed about; and instrumental bands filled the night air
with harmony. The equipages which filled the streets were in general
elegant, and lined with silk; the dresses of the principal inhabitants
were in the highest fashion, and all looked perfectly at their ease, and
some looked even splendid. A remark is made, that this display of wealth
is surprising in what must be regarded as a provincial town. But this
remark may be extended to the whole south of Italy. It is a matter of
real difficulty to conceive how the Italians contrive to keep up any
thing approaching to the appearance which they make, in their Corsos,
and on their feast-days. Without mines to support them, as the Spaniards
were once supported; without colonies to bring them wealth; without
manufactures, and without commerce, how they contrive to sustain a life
of utter indolence, yet, at the same time, of considerable display, is a
curious problem. It is true, that many of them have places at court, and
flourish on sinecures; it is equally true, that their manner of living
at home is generally penurious in the extreme; it is also true that
gaming, and other arts not an atom more respectable, are customary to
supply this yawning life. Yet still, how the majority can exist at all,
is a natural question which it must require a deep insight into the
mysteries of Italian existence to solve. Whatever may be the secret, the
less Englishmen know on these subjects the better; communion with
foreign habits only deteriorates the integrity and purity of our own. On
the Continent, vice is systematized--virtue is scarcely more than a
name; and no worse intelligence has long reached us than the calculation
just published in the foreign newspapers, that there were 40,000 English
now residing in France, and 4000 English families in that especial sink
of superstition and profligacy, Italy.

The sail from the Sicilian straits to Naples is picturesque. The
Liparis, with their volcanic summits, on one side--the Calabrian
highlands, on the other--a succession of rich mountains, clothed with
all kinds of verdure, and of the finest forms; and around, the perpetual
beauty of the Mediterranean. The travellers hove to at Pizza, in the
gulf of Euphania, the shore memorable for the gallant engagement in
which the English troops under Stuart, utterly routed the French under
Regnier--a battle which made the name of Maida immortal. Pizza has
obtained a melancholy notoriety by the death of Murat, who was shot by
order of a court-martial, as an invader and rebel, in October 1815.
Murat's personal intrepidity, and even his _fanfaronade_, excited an
interest for him in Europe. But he was a wild, rash, and reckless
instrument of Napoleon's furious and remorseless policy; the commandant
of the French army in Spain in 1808 could not complain of military
vengeance; and his death by the hands of the royal troops only relieved
Europe of the boldest disturber among the fallen followers of the great
usurper.

The finest view of Naples is the one which the mob of tourists see the
last. Its approaches by land are all imperfect--the city is to be seen
only from the bay. Floating on the waters which form the most lovely of
all foregrounds, a vast sheet of crystal, a boundless mirror, a tissue
of purple, or any other of the fanciful names which the various hues and
aspects of the hour give to this renowned bay, the view comprehends the
city, the surrounding country, Posilipo on the left, Vesuvius on the
right, and between them a region of vineyards and vegetation, as poetic
and luxuriant as poet or painter could desire.

The wonders of Pompeii are no longer wonders, and people go to see them
with something of the same spirit in which the citizens of London
saunter to Primrose hill. It was a beggarly little place from the
beginning; and the true wonder is, how it could ever have found
inhabitants, or how the inhabitants could ever have found room to eat,
drink, and sleep in. But Herculaneum is of a higher rank. If the
Neapolitan Government had any spirit, it would demolish the miserable
villages above it, and lay open this fine old monument of the cleverest,
though the most corrupt people of the earth, to the light of day. In all
probability we should learn from it more of the real state of the arts,
the manners, and the feelings of the Greek, partially modified by his
Italian colonization, than by any other record or memorial in existence.
In those vaults which still remain closed, owing to the indolence or
stupidity of the existing generation, eaten up as it is by monkery, and
spending more upon a _fête_ to the Madonna, or the liquifying of St
Januarius's blood, than would lay open half the city, there is every
probability that some of the most important literature of antiquity
still lies buried. Why will not some English company, tired of railroad
speculations and American stock, turn its discharge on Herculaneum, pour
its gold over the ground, exfoliate the city of the dead, recover its
statues, bronzes, frescoes, and mosaics, transplant them to Tower
Stairs, and sell them by the hands of George Robins, for the benefit of
the rising generation? This seems their only chance of revisiting the
light of day; for the money of all foreign sovereigns goes in fêtes and
fireworks, new patterns of soldiers' caps, and new costumes for the
maids of honour.

We have now glanced over the general features of these volumes. They are
light and lively, and do credit to the writer's powers of observation.
The result of his details, however, is to impress on our minds, that the
"overland passage" is not yet fit for any female who is not inclined to
"rough it" in an extraordinary degree. To any woman it offers great
hardships; but to a woman of delicacy, the whole must be singularly
repulsive. Something is said of the decorations of the work proceeding
from the pencil of the lady's husband. Whether the lithographer has done
injustice to them, we know not; but they seem to us the very reverse of
decoration. The adoption, too, of new modes of spelling the Oriental
names, is wholly unnecessary. Harem, turned into Hharéem--Dervish into
Derwéesh--Mameluke into Memlook, give no new ideas, and only add
perplexity to our knowledge of the name. These words, with a crowd of
others, have already been fixed in English orthography by their natural
pronunciation; and the attempt to change them always renders their
pronunciation--which is, after all, the only important point--less true
to the original. On the whole, the "overland passage" seems to require
immense improvements. But we live in hope; English sagacity and English
perseverance will do much any where; and in Egypt they have for their
field one of the most important regions of the world.



MESMERISM.

     "They say miracles are past, and we have our philosophical persons
     to make modern and familiar, things supernatural and
     causeless."--_All's Well that Ends Well, Act II., Scene 3._


From the many crude, illiterate, and unphilosophical speculations on the
subject of mesmerism which the present unwholesome activity of the
printing-press has ushered into the world, there is one book which
stands out in prominent and ornamental relief--a book written by a
member of the Church of England, a scholar and a gentleman; and the
influence of which, either for good or for harm, is not likely to be
ephemeral. Few, even of the most incredulous, can read with attention
the first half of "Facts in Mesmerism, by the Rev. Chauncy Hare
Townshend," of which a second edition has recently appeared, without
being staggered. The author leads the reader up a gentle slope, from
facts abnormal, it is true, but not contradictory to received notions,
to others deviating a little more from ordinary experience; and thence,
by a course of calm narrative, to still more anomalous incidents; until
at length, almost unconsciously, the incredible seems credible,
impossibilities and possibilities are confounded, and miracles are no
longer miraculous.

There is much difficulty in dealing with such a book; gentlemanly
courtesy, which should grant what it would demand, and an unavoidable
faith in the purity of the author's intentions, entirely prevent our
treating it as the work of an empiric. It is evident that the author
believes what he writes, that the facts in mesmerism are facts to him;
to those unprepared by previous experience for the fallacies which the
enthusiastic temperament is led into, the book would be irresistible; to
those, however, accustomed to physical or phsycological investigation,
the last half of the work does much to unravel the web which the first
half has been engaged in weaving. When the author departs from the
narrative of facts, and endeavours to render those facts consistent with
reason and experience, we see the one-sided bias of his mind--we see
that he is not a judge but an advocate; and the faith which we should
repose on the circumstantial narrative of a gentleman, becomes changed
into the courtesy with which we listen to an honourable but deceived
enthusiast.

If the utilitarian school has done harm by its hasty attempts to reduce
every thing to rule and to the dominion of human reason, no stronger
proof than this book need be given of the evils to which the opposite
extreme of transcendental philosophy has given rise. As an instance of
the fallacies to which one-sided philosophic views may lead, Mr
Townshend says, that if asked of what use is the eye if we can see
without it, he might answer, "To show us how to make a camera obscura."
The case is put illustratively, and we are far from wishing to take it
literally to the author's disadvantage; but, in setting at nought the
ordinary and sufficient reasoning on this subject, the author himself is
obliged to adopt a similar but weaker line of argument. Unfortunate it
is, that even in philosophy the judicial character is so rare; it is
vainly imagined that error may be counteracted by antagonist error; and
because neutrality is too often the companion of impotence, impartiality
is supposed to be synonymous with neutrality.

It will be seen from the above, that Mr Townshend has failed to convince
us that all the "facts in mesmerism" are facts; and certainly if he has
failed, the herd of peripatetic lecturers[3] on the so-called science
are not likely to have succeeded; but, although unconvinced of the
marvellous, we are by no means indisposed to believe some of the
abnormal phenomena of mesmerism. We have witnessed several mesmeric
exhibitions--we have never seen any effect produced which was
contradictory to the possible of human experience, in which collusion or
delusion was fairly negatived. We insist on our right to doubt, to
disbelieve. The more startling the proposition, the more rigorous should
be the proof; we have never seen the tests which are applied to the most
trifling novelty in physical science applied to mesmeric _clairvoyance_,
and withstood. The advocates of it challenge enquiry in print, but they
shrink from, or sink under, experiment.

In endeavouring to analyse the work before us, and to examine generally
the phenomena of mesmerism, we shall do our utmost to avoid the vices of
partial advocacy which we censure; we moreover agree with Mr Townshend,
that ridicule is not the weapon to be used. Satire, when on the side of
the majority, is persecution; it is striking from a vantage
ground--fair, perhaps, when the individual contends with the mass, as
when an author writes to expose the fallacies of social fashion; but
unfair, and very frequently unsuccessful, when directed against
partially developed truths, or even against such phenomena as we believe
mesmerism presents, viz. novel and curious psychical truths, o'erclouded
with the dense errors of sometimes enthusiasm, sometimes knavery. We
shall soberly examine the subject, because we think that much good may
be done by its investigation. The really skilful and judicious steer
clear of it from a fear of compromising their credit for commonsense;
and while the caution necessarily attendant upon habitual scientific
studies, dissuades the best men from meddling with that which may blight
their hardly-earned laurels, the public is left to be swayed to and fro
by an under-current of fallacious half-truths, far more seductive and
dangerous than absolute falsehoods. We cannot undertake to say, thus far
is true, and thus far false;--to mark out the actual limits of true
mesmeric phenomena, demands the very difficult and detailed enquiries
which, for the reasons just mentioned, have been hitherto withheld;--but
we think we shall be able to succeed in showing, that, though there be
much error, there is some truth, and truth of sufficient importance to
merit a calm and careful investigation.

We may class the phenomena of mesmerism, as asserted by its professors,
as follows:--

     1st. Sleep, or coma, induced by external agency, (partly mental,
     partly physical.)

     2d. Somnambulism, or, as called by Mr Townshend, sleep-waking;
     _i.e._ certain faculties rendered torpid while others are
     sensitive.

     3d. Insensibility to pain and other external _stimuli_.

     4th. Physical attraction to the mesmeriser, and repulsion from
     others; community of sensation with the mesmeriser.

     5th. Clairvoyance, or the power of perception without the use of
     the usual organs; and second-sight, or the power of prediction
     respecting the mesmeric state and remedial agencies.

     6th. Phreno-mesmerism, or the connexion between phrenology and
     mesmerism.

     7th. Curative effects.

We believe these categories will include all the leading phenomena of
mesmerism. We purpose to give instances of these, partly derived from
our own experience, and partly from the book of Mr Townshend, or other
the best sources to which we can have recourse; to state fearlessly what
we believe may be true, and what we entirely disbelieve; and then to
examine the arguments by which the reason of the public has been
assailed, and in many cases rendered captive.

First, then, as to the power of induced coma, we will relate an instance
which came under our own observation, and which serves to demonstrate
that a power may be exercised by one human being over another which will
produce a comatose or cataleptic state. In the Christmas week of the
year 1842, we dined at a friend's house with a party of eight, (numeric
perfection for a dinner-party, according to the ingenious author of the
_Original_.) In the evening, Mackay's book on popular delusions being on
the drawing-room table, some one asked if the author had treated of
mesmerism. Upon this, one of the party who had recently returned from
London--a man who had led a studious life, and of a highly nervous
temperament--said he had recently witnessed a mesmeric exhibition, and
would undertake to mesmerise any one present. Upon this, two or three
ladies volunteered as patients; and he commenced experimenting upon a
lady of some twenty-five years old, whom he had known intimately from
childhood, clever, and well read, but rather imaginative. To make the
thing more ridiculous, he knelt on both knees, and commenced making
passes with both hands slowly before her eyes, telling her, whenever she
took her eyes off, to look fixedly at him, and keeping a perfectly grave
face when every body around was laughing unreservedly. After this had
endured for some three minutes, the lady's eyes gradually closed, she
fell forwards, and was only prevented from farther falling by being
caught by the mesmeriser. He shook her, and, in rather a rough manner,
brought her to her senses; then, suspicious lest she had been purposely
deceiving him, questioned her seriously as to whether her sleep were
feigned or real. She assured him that it was not simulated, that the
sensation was irresistible, different from that of ordinary sleep, and
by no means unpleasant; but that the only disagreeable part was the
being roused. Upon this, the gentleman declared that he knew nothing of
mesmerism, and that, had he believed there was any thing in it, he would
not have attempted the joke. Another lady present, married, and having a
family, was now most anxious to have the experiment repeated upon her.
She said she had before sat to an experienced mesmeriser, who had
failed, and she was still incredulous, and believed that M---- had merely
given way to an imaginative temperament. It required considerable
persuasion to induce the gentleman who had before operated to try any
more experiments. He protested that he knew nothing about it, that he
had once seen a person said to be in the mesmeric state; but that, if he
succeeded again in inducing coma, he knew not at all how to awake the
patient. Curiously enough, he was instructed in the manipulation by the
sceptical patient, who had previously seen public mesmeric exhibitions.
After some further persuasion, and with the permission of the lady's
husband, who was present, he commenced again the same passes as with the
former patient, the only difference being, that he was in this case
sitting instead of kneeling. The patient kept constantly bursting into
fits of laughter, and as constantly apologising, telling him that his
gravity of face was irresistible. Of the other persons present, some
laughed, others were too much terrified to laugh, but they kept up a
constant running fire of comment, satirical and serious, upon the
mesmeriser and mesmerisee. In four or five minutes, the fits of laughter
of the latter assumed a rather unnatural character. It was evident she
forced herself to laugh in spite of the strongest disinclination, and in
a minute or two more she fixed into a state of ghastly catalepsy, the
eyes wide open, but the lids fixed, the features all rigid, (except the
lower lip, which was convulsed,) and pale as a corpse. The bystanders,
now much frightened, interfered, and laid hold of the mesmeriser. After
some time, water being given her to drink, she came to herself, and
appeared not to have suffered from the experiment.

Notwithstanding the external difference of the case from the first, she
described her sensations as the same; viz. a sleep differing from
ordinary sleep, pleasing and irresistible, but the rousing very
disagreeable. The lady's husband now insisted on being operated on
himself. This was done, and entirely without success. Another lady was
also experimented on with no success; at least she said she felt sleepy,
but nothing more, which was not extraordinary, as it was now getting
late. When questioned as to what means he had used, the mesmeriser said
he had done nothing but stare steadily at the patients, making them also
look fixedly at him, and move his hands slowly and in uniform
directions, his instructor in these manoeuvres having been Tyrone
Power in the farce of _His Last Legs_. He stated that soon after the
commencement of the experiment, he felt an almost irresistible tendency
to go on with it; but whether this resulted from a conviction that he
was exercising some unknown influence, or from mere experimental
curiosity, he would not undertake to say--"this only was the witchcraft
he had used."

The result was to all present conclusive as to the production of some
effect inexplicable upon received theories. The second case defied
simulation, and we believe it was equally removed from hysteria. The
patient was a strong-minded person, of a temperament neither nervous nor
hysterical, to all appearance perfectly calm, except when overcome by a
sense of the ridiculous, and before the experiment obstinately
incredulous. It was certainly a strong case. Any hypothesis to account
for it would be hasty; but one point suggests itself to us as arising
from the remark made by the mesmeriser, viz. that the only influence he
was conscious of using was that of a fixed determined stare. This may
possibly afford some key to a more philosophical examination of these
curious phenomena.

The fabled effects of the basilisk, the serpent, and the evil eye, have
probably all some facts for their foundation. The effect of the human
eye in arresting the attacks of savage animals is better authenticated,
and its influence upon domestic animals may be more easily made the
subject of experimental proof. Let any one gaze steadily at a dog half
dozing at the fireside--the animal will, after a short time, become
restless, and if the stare be continued, will quit his resting-place,
and either shrink into a corner, or come forward and caress the person
staring. How much of this may be due to the habitual fixed look of stern
command with which censure or punishment is accompanied, it may be
difficult to say; but the fact undoubtedly is, that some influence,
either innate or induced, is exercised. Again, those who, in society,
habitually converse with an averted glance, we generally consider
wanting in moral force. We doubt the man who doubts himself. On the
other hand, if, in conversation, the ordinary look of awakened interest
be prolonged, and the eyes are kept fixed for a longer period than
usual, an embarrassed and somewhat painful feeling is the result; an
indistinct impulse makes it difficult to avert the eye, and at the same
time a consciousness of that impulse is an inducement to avert it. We
lay no undue stress upon these phenomena; but they are phenomena, and
fair subjects for scientific investigation. An explanation of mesmerism
has been sought in the physical effect of the stare alone; thus it is
said that, if a party look intently at a prominent object fixed to his
forehead, he will in time be thrown into mesmeric coma. There is more in
it, we think, than this; there is an influence exerted by that nearest
approach to the intercourse of soul--"the gaze into each other's
eyes"--the extent and _normæ_ of which are unknown. The schoolboy's
experiment of staring out of countenance, is not so bad a test of moral
power as it would at first sight be deemed to be.

The second case we shall relate is also one at which we were personally
present, but one in which both mesmeriser and mesmerisee were, if we may
use the term, adepts--the former a gentleman of fortune and education;
the latter a half-educated young man, who had been in service as a
footman. We shall designate them as Mr M---- and G----.

At this "_soirée magnétique_" G. was brought in in the sleep-waking
state, walking, or rather staggering, and holding the arm of Mr M., his
eyes to all appearance perfectly closed, and his gait and gestures those
of a drunken man. After some little time he was detached from the
mesmeriser, and followed him to different parts of the room. When in
proximity Mr M. raised his hand, the patient's hands followed it, his
legs the same, while they receded from the hands and legs of any other
of the party present. Some of these effects were certainly curious, and
not easy of explanation. The mesmeriser would walk or stand behind the
patient, and, waving his hands somewhat after the manner of the cachuca
dancer, the hands of the patient followed his with tolerable but not
unerring precision. We determined to bear in mind these effects when
some other phenomena were exhibiting, and try whether similar results
would ensue when the attention of the parties was devoted to other
subjects. When the attention of every body present was intently strained
upon some experiments which we shall presently mention, we approached,
as though watching the experiment, very near to G., and frequently
without his at all flinching; at other times we were told by Mr M. not
to come too near, and once in particular we observed, that having had
one knee and toe in close juxtaposition, almost in contact, with the
patient's, we retained it so for several seconds before he withdrew his
leg. These facts, which would probably be explained by mesmerists on the
ground of the whole power of sensation being concentrated upon one
object, rendered, however, the experiments upon mesmeric attraction
inconclusive. Passing over several experiments, such as the
mesmerisation of water, showing community of taste, in which, after some
hesitation, the patient selected from three or four glasses of water one
which had been tasted by the mesmeriser, we come to the most important
point, viz. the clairvoyance. One of the party stood behind the patient,
and he was asked how the former was dressed; his reply, after some
hesitation was, "not over nice--he has a queerish waist-coat on," (it
was a plain white.) A book was then taken off the table--one of the
annuals. Mr M. held his hands tightly over the eyes of G., and the
title-page was presented open opposite the covered eyes of the latter;
after struggling and moving his head about for some time, just as if
endeavouring to catch a glimpse of the book, he mentioned the place of
publication, and afterwards the title. Other experiments were proposed,
such as holding a book behind the party, or to different parts of his
body; but of these some did not succeed, others were not tried. To
obviate the doubt of the book having been previously seen, we were
requested to write, in large letters, a word on a card, such as a
slightly educated person could read, and to present it, looking at the
same time as closely as we wished at the eyes of G., the lids of which
were, as before, apparently tightly held down by Mr M. We did so: the
word was _Peru_; and, after some struggles, the word was read certainly
without an exposure of any part of the eye to us. We now proposed, as
likely to be more satisfactory, to write another word on a similar card,
and, instead of the hands of the mesmeriser being held over the eyes, to
place a piece of thin paper over the card. This, it was said, was
useless and would not succeed, as the influence would not be transmitted
through the person of the mesmeriser; we then proposed that he (the
mesmeriser) should place his hand over the card; in short, that the card
should be blinded and not the eye. Our reason will be obvious. According
to the known laws of vision, viz. the convergence of all the rays of
light to a focus in the eye, were the least part of this exposed,
vision, though imperfect, of every object within the visual angle, would
follow; but, were the object covered, a partial opening would assist
vision but little, and only _quoad_ the part exposed. The experiment
thus performed would have been optically conclusive; and we cannot see,
according to any of the mesmeric hypotheses, any mesmeric reason why it
should not have succeeded: it was, however, declined. We are obliged to
omit many other points in this evening's proceedings to avoid prolixity.
Though many facts were curious, and certainly not easy of explanation by
ordinary means, there was nothing which defied it; every _experimentum
crucis_ failed, and we, of course, remained unconvinced.

The third case which we shall instance, was one at which we were also
personally present. Having been invited to view the mesmeric experiments
of Dr B., we arrived at his house, with a friend, at about ten in the
morning, and having been duly introduced to the Doctor in one room, were
instantly ushered into another, when a scene presented itself certainly
one of the most extraordinary we have ever witnessed. There were seven
females in the room, and not one man. On a sofa near the fire-place, a
young girl sat upright, supported by cushions, her eyes were fixed, and
opposite her stood a middle-aged woman, slowly moving her hands before
the eyes of the patient. On the hearth-rug near this lay a woman covered
with a coarse blanket. She appeared sound asleep, was breathing heavily,
and looked deadly pale. A third patient was seated on a chair, also
undergoing the mesmeric passes from another woman; and on the opposite
side of the room from the fire-place, two others were seated on chairs,
with their heads hanging on their shoulders, and eyes closed.
Description cannot convey the mystic and fearful appearance of this room
and its inmates to the first glance of the unexpectant spectator. Not a
word was spoken; the solemn silence, the immobility and deathlike pallor
of the objects, was awful--they were as breathing corpses. The clay-cold
nuns evoked from their tombs, presented not a more unearthly spectacle
to Robert of Normandy. The free-and-easy expressions of Dr B., however,
which first broke the silence, instantly dissolved the spell. "That
woman," he said, pointing to her on the floor, "has a disease of the
liver, and her left lung is somewhat affected. I think we shall do her
good. She is now getting into the clairvoyant state. She can see into
the next room." He then stooped over her, and said, "How are you, Mary?"
She replied, "I have the pain in my side very bad." He approached his
hand to the part affected, and again withdrew it several times, opening
the fingers as it neared, and closing them as it receded, as though he
would gently extract the pain. He again asked her how she felt; she said
better. He then pointed to the girl on the sofa, and said, "She is deaf
and dumb. We cannot get her asleep." He subsequently pointed out other
of the patients, and mentioned their ailments. These, and the sombre
darkness of the room, accounted to us for the unnatural paleness of the
patients. Dr B. next asked one of two sleeping patients to follow him
into another room. We accompanied him, and his experiments upon the
female, whom we shall call S., commenced. First of all, he placed her
hands with the palms together, and making with his fingers motions the
converse of those made in the former case, asked us to endeavour to
separate them. We did, and _instantly succeeded_, with no more effort
than would be expected were any woman of average strength purposely to
hold her hands together. "Ah!" said the Doctor, "not an easy matter, is
it?" We made no reply. He then walked, having on a pair of
loudly-creaking boots, to the other end of the room, and looked sternly
at the patient. She, after a second or two, followed him, and sat on the
same chair. He then said, "I willed her to come to me."

He next asked our friend to hold the patient's hands, and ask her a
question _mentally_, without expressing it.

After some little time she frowned, and endeavoured to withdraw her
hands.

_Dr._ "Ah, she does not like your question! Ask her another."

After some time she burst out into a fit of laughter.

_Dr._ "Ah, you have tickled her fancy now!"

What the question asked by our friend was, did not transpire. This
experiment having been so successful, we were asked to do the same. Not
without a feeling of shame we complied; and, taking hold of the
patient's hands, we mentally asked her the question--"Are you single or
married?" which question did not appear to us to involve any
metaphysical subtilty. However, after struggling and frowning for some
time, she said, with a sort of hysteric gasp, "He's a funny man!"

_Dr B._ "Ah, she can't make you out!"

We are not aware to what feature in our character the epithet _funny_
will apply; but probably our self-esteem will not permit us justly to
appreciate the appositeness of this somewhat ambiguous epithet. So much,
however, for the power of divination, with which the mesmeriser seemed
perfectly satisfied. Dr B. now showed us a camomile flower, put it in
his mouth, and chewed it. The patient made a face as if tasting
something disagreeable, and, in answer to his questions, said it was
bitter. He then did the same with a lozenge; and after some time,
required, according to the doctor, for the removal of the bitter taste,
she said she tasted _lozenges_.

_Dr B._ "There you see the community of taste." Dr B. now touched her
forehead a little above and outside of the eyebrows; she burst out
laughing.

_Dr B._ "I touched the organ of gaiety." He then did the same with the
organs of music; she set up an old English ditty. Then touching these
organs with one hand, and placing the other on the top of her head, she
instantly changed the ballad to a doleful psalm-tune. Affection,
philo-progenitiveness, were in turn touched, the doctor stating aloud
beforehand what organ he was going to excite. We should weary our
readers with a detail of the platitudes which ensued.

She was asked what was going on in the next room, and said, "Ah, Sophy
may try, but cannot get the girl asleep!" A few other experiments, such
as suspending chairs on her arms, &c., followed, and we returned to the
next room, where the deaf and dumb girl was found _fast asleep_. Upon
being asked how long she had been so, the female mesmeriser replied,
"Just after you left the room." No comment was made upon the answer of
the clairvoyante patient above given, which appeared to have been
forgotten by all but ourselves.

Had we been anxious to give a factitious interest to our narrative, we
should certainly have avoided a description of the above cases, which
could not at the same time be made to possess graphic interest, and to
relate accurately the real facts as presented; but we have selected them
as having happened to ourselves, and as being shown not by public
exhibitors, but by parties both holding a highly respectable station in
life, and being, as we believe, among the best examples to be found of
English mesmerisers. Although invited as sceptical spectators, and the
experiments being in nowise confidential, we feel that the exhibition
not being public, we have no right to mention the names of the parties.

It will be obvious that the three exhibitions we have selected differed
much in character. The first, as we have stated, to our minds defied
collusion or self-deception. The second was open to either construction,
though, from the character of the parties, we should think collusion
was, in the highest degree, improbable; and the experiments, although
not conclusive, were very curious, and some of them not easy of
explanation. In the third case, transparent and absurd as the
experiments seemed to us, and as the account of them will probably
appear to our readers, the doctor, from his position and practice, must
have been seriously injured by his mesmeric experiments; and therefore
there is fair reason to believe, that he was not a party to a fraud
which must have been objectless, and professionally injurious to him;
but how a man of experience could be carried away by such flimsy
devices, is a psychological curiosity, almost as marvellous as the
asserted phenomena of mesmerism.

We are aware that, in giving the above accounts of experiments which we
have personally witnessed, our authority, being anonymous, is of no
great weight. We state them to avoid the charge of writing on what we
have not seen, and to show that we do not attempt unfairly to decry
mesmerism without seeing it fairly tried; if we felt justified in giving
the names of the parties, these instances would be much more conclusive.
Nearly all the cases in Mr Townshend's book are given without the names
of parties, probably for similar reasons to those which have induced us
to withhold them.

The above cases supply instances of all the phenomena included in our
categories, except those of insensibility to pain, powers of prediction,
and the curative effects. Having never personally seen cases of this
description, we shall select examples of them from the book of Mr
Townshend and others; but before we give these instances, we will
extract from Mr Townshend's book his account of the first mesmeric
sitting at which he was present. This will give the reader a fair idea
of his attractive style, and of his state of mind previously to
witnessing, for the first time, mesmeric effects.

     "If to have been an unbeliever in the very existence of the state
     in question, can add weight to my testimony, my reader, should he
     also be a heretic on the subject, may be assured that his
     incredulity in this respect can scarcely be greater than mine was,
     up to the winter of 1836. That, at the time I mention, I should be
     both ignorant and prejudiced on the score of mesmerism, will not
     surprise those who are aware of its long proscription in England,
     and the want of information upon it, which, till very lately,
     prevailed there.

     "In the course of a residence at Antwerp, a valued friend detailed
     to me some extraordinary results of mesmerism, to which he had been
     an eyewitness. I could not altogether discredit the evidence of one
     whom I knew to be both observant and incapable of falsehood; but I
     took refuge in the supposition that he had been ingeniously
     deceived. Reflecting, however, that to condemn before I had
     examined was as unjust to others as it was unsatisfactory to
     myself, I accepted readily the proposition of my friend to
     introduce me to an acquaintance of his in Antwerp, who had learned
     the practice of the mesmeric art from a German physician. We waited
     together on Mr K----, the mesmeriser, (an agreeable and
     well-informed person,) and stated to him that the object of our
     visit was to prevail on him to exhibit to us a specimen of his
     mysterious talent. To this he at first replied that he was rather
     seeking to abjure a renown that had become troublesome--half the
     world viewing him as a conjurer, and the other half as a getter-up
     of strange comedies; 'but,' he kindly added, 'if you will promise
     me a strictly private meeting, I will, this evening, do all in my
     power to convince you that mesmerism is no delusion.' This being
     agreed upon, with a stipulation that the members of my own family
     should be present on the occasion, I, to remove all doubt of
     complicity from every mind, proposed that Mr K---- should mesmerise
     a person who should be a perfect stranger to him. To this he
     readily acceded; and now the only difficulty was to find a subject
     for our experiment. At length we thought of a young person in the
     middling class of life, who had often done fine work for the ladies
     of our family, and of whose character we had the most favourable
     knowledge. Her mother was Irish, her father, who had been dead some
     time, had been a Belgian, and she spoke English, Flemish, and
     French, with perfect facility. Her widowed parent was chiefly
     supported by her industry: and, in the midst of trying
     circumstances, her temper was gay and cheerful, and her health
     excellent. That she had never seen Mr K---- we were sure; and of
     her probity and incapacity for feigning we had every reason to be
     convinced. With our request, conveyed to her through one of the
     ladies of our family, for whom she had conceived a warm affection,
     she complied without hesitation. Not being of a nervous, though of
     an excitable temperament, she had no fears whatever about what she
     was to undergo. On the contrary, she had rather a desire to know
     what the sensation of being mesmerised might be. Of the phenomena
     which were to be developed in the mesmeric state, she knew
     absolutely nothing; thus all deceptive imitation of them, on her
     part, was rendered impossible.

     "About nine o'clock in the evening, our party assembled for what,
     in foreign phrase, is called 'une séance magnétique.' Anna M----,
     our mesmerisee, was already with us. Mr K---- arrived soon after,
     and was introduced to his young patient, whose name we had
     purposely avoided mentioning to him in the morning; not that we
     feared imposition on either hand, but that we were determined, by
     every precaution, to prevent any one from alleging that imposition
     had been practised. Utterly unknown as the parties were to each
     other, a game played by two confederates was plainly out of the
     question. Almost immediately after the entrance of Mr K---- we
     proceeded to the business of the evening. By his directions
     Mademoiselle M---- placed herself in an arm-chair at one end of the
     apartment, while he occupied a seat directly facing hers. He then
     took each of her hands in one of his, and sat in such a manner as
     that the knees and feet of both should be in contact. In this
     position he remained for some time motionless, attentively
     regarding her with eyes as unwinking as the lidless orbs which
     Coleridge has attributed to the Genius of destruction. We had been
     told previously to keep utter silence, and none of our
     circle--composed of some five or six persons--felt inclined to
     transgress this order. To me, novice as I was at that time in such
     matters, it was a moment of absorbing interest: that which I had
     heard mocked at as foolishness, that which I myself had doubted as
     a dream, was, perhaps, about to be brought home to my conviction,
     and established for ever in my mind as a reality. Should the
     present trial prove successful, how much of my past experience must
     be remodelled and reversed!

     "Convinced, as I have since been, to what valuable conclusions the
     phenomena of mesmerism may conduct the enquirer, never, perhaps,
     have I been more impressed with the importance of its pretensions
     than at that moment, when my doubts of their validity were either
     to be strengthened or removed. Concentrating my attention upon the
     motionless pair, I observed that Mademoiselle M---- seemed at her
     ease, and occasionally smiled or glanced at the assembled party;
     but her eyes, as if by a charm, always reverted to those of her
     mesmeriser, and at length seemed unable to turn away from them.
     Then a heaviness, as of sleep, seemed to weigh down her eyelids,
     and to pervade the expression of her countenance; her head drooped
     on one side; her breathing became regular; at length her eyes
     closed entirely, and, to all appearance, she was calmly asleep, in
     just seven minutes from the time when Mr K---- first commenced his
     operations. I should have observed that, as soon as the first
     symptoms of drowsiness were manifested, the mesmeriser had
     withdrawn his hands from those of Mademoiselle M----, and had
     commenced what are called the mesmeric passes, conducting his
     fingers slowly downward, without contact, along the arm of the
     patient. For about five minutes, Mademoiselle M---- continued to
     repose tranquilly, when suddenly she began to heave deep sighs, and
     to turn and toss in her chair. She then called out, 'Je me trouve
     malade! Je m'étouffe!' and rising in a wild manner, she continued
     to repeat, 'Je m'étouffe!' evidently labouring under an oppression
     of the breath. But all this time her eyes remained fast shut, and
     at the command of her mesmeriser, she took his arm and walked,
     still with her eyes shut, to the table. Mr K---- then said,
     'Voulez-vous que je vous éveille?'--'Oui, oui,' she exclaimed; 'je
     m'étouffe.' Upon this Mr K---- again operated with his hands, but
     in a different set of movements, and taking out his handkerchief,
     agitated the air round the patient, who forthwith opened her eyes,
     and stared about the room like a person awaking from sleep. No
     traces of her indisposition, however, appeared to remain; and soon
     shaking off all drowsiness, she was able to converse and laugh as
     cheerfully as usual. On being asked what she remembered of her
     sensations, she said that she had only a general idea of having
     felt unwell and oppressed: that she had wished to open her eyes,
     but could not, they felt as if lead were on them. Of having walked
     to the table she had no recollection. Notwithstanding her having
     suffered, she was desirous of being again mesmerised, and sat down
     fearlessly to make a second trial. This time it was longer before
     her eyes closed, and she never seemed to be reduced to more than a
     state of half unconsciousness. When the mesmeriser asked her if she
     slept, she answered in the tone of utter drowsiness, 'Je dors, et
     je ne dors pas.' This lasted some time, when Mr K---- declared that
     he was afraid of fatiguing his patient, (and probably his
     spectators too,) and that he should disperse the mesmeric fluid. To
     do so, however, seemed not so easy a matter as the first time when
     he awoke the sleep-waker; with difficulty she appeared to rouse
     herself; and even after having spoken a few words to us, and risen
     from her chair, she suddenly relapsed into a state of torpor, and
     fell prostrate to the ground, as if perfectly insensible. Mr K----,
     entreating us not to be alarmed, raised her up--placed her in a
     chair, and supported her head with his hand. It was then that I
     distinctly recognised one of the asserted phenomena of mesmerism.
     The head of Mademoiselle M---- followed every where, with unerring
     certainty, the hand of her mesmeriser, and seemed irresistibly
     attracted to it as iron to the loadstone. At length Mr K----
     succeeded in thoroughly awaking his patient, who, on being
     interrogated respecting her past sensations, said that she retained
     a recollection of her state of semi-consciousness, during which she
     much desired to have been able to sleep wholly; but of her having
     fallen to the ground, or of what had passed subsequently, she
     remembered nothing whatever. To other enquiries she replied, that
     the drowsy sensation which first stole over her was rather of an
     agreeable nature, and that it was preceded by a slight tingling,
     which ran down her arms in the direction of the mesmeriser's
     fingers. Moreover she assured us, that the oppression she had at
     one time felt was not fanciful, but real--not mental, but bodily,
     and was accompanied by a peculiar pain in the region of the heart,
     which, however, ceased immediately on the dispersion of the
     mesmeric sleep. These statements were the rather to be relied upon,
     inasmuch as the girl's character was neither timid nor
     imaginative."--(P. 38-42.)

We would willingly give the whole of the second sitting of the same
patient, in which were developed the phenomena of,

1st, "Attraction towards the mesmeriser."

2d, "A knowledge of what the mesmeriser ate and drank, indicating
community of sensation with him."

3d, "An increased quickness of perception."

4th, "A development of the power of vision."

Our space will not permit us to give these in detail. We shall therefore
give an extract from the third sitting, where the clairvoyance was more
decidedly developed, and the impressions of Mr Townshend on the
phenomena he had witnessed are stated.

     "Upon first passing into the mesmeric state, Theodore seemed
     absolutely insensible to every other than the mesmeriser's voice.
     Some of our party went close to him, and shouted his name; but he
     gave no tokens of hearing us until Mr K----, taking our hands, made
     us touch those of Theodore and his own at the same time. This he
     called putting us '_en rapport_' with the patient. After this
     Theodore seemed to hear our voices equally with that of the
     mesmeriser, but by no means to pay an equal attention to them.

     "With regard to the development of vision, the eyes of the patient
     appeared to be firmly shut during the whole sitting, and yet he
     gave the following proofs of accurate sight:--

     "Without being guided by our voices, (for, in making the
     experiment, we kept carefully silent,) he distinguished between the
     different persons present, and the colours of their dresses. He
     also named with accuracy various objects on the table, such as a
     miniature picture, a drawing by Mr K----, &c. &c.

     "When the mesmeriser left him, and ran quickly amongst the chairs,
     tables &c., of the apartment, he followed him, running also, and
     taking the same turns, without once coming in contact with any
     thing that stood in his way.

     "He told the hour accurately by Mr K----'s watch.

     "He played several games at dominoes with the different members of
     our family, as readily as if his eyes had been perfectly open.

     "On these occasions the lights were placed in front of him, and he
     arranged his dominoes on the table, with their backs to the
     candles, in such a manner that, when I placed my head in the same
     position as his own, I could scarcely, through the shade,
     distinguish one from the other. Yet he took them up unerringly,
     never hesitated in his play, generally won the game, and announced
     the sum of the spots on such of his dominoes as remained over at
     the end, before his adversaries could count theirs. One of our
     party, a lady who had been extremely incredulous on the subject of
     mesmerism, stooped down, so as to look under his eyelids all the
     time he played, and declared herself convinced and satisfied that
     his eyes were perfectly closed. It was not always, however, that
     Theodore could be prevailed upon to exercise his power of vision.
     Some words, written by the mesmeriser, of a tolerable size, being
     shown to him, he declared, as Mademoiselle M---- did on another
     occasion, that it was too small for him to distinguish.

     "Towards the conclusion of the sitting, the patient seemed much
     fatigued, and, going to the sofa, arranged a pillow for himself
     comfortably under his head; after which he appeared to pass into a
     state more akin to natural sleep than his late sleep-waking. Mr
     K---- allowed him to repose in this manner for a short time, and
     then awoke him by the usual formula. A very few motions of the hand
     were sufficient to restore him to full consciousness, and to his
     usual character. The fatigue of which he had so lately complained
     seemed wholly to have passed away, together with the memory of all
     that he had been doing for the last hour.

     "I must now pause to set before my reader my own state of mind
     respecting the facts I had witnessed. I perceived that important
     deductions might be drawn from them, and that they bore upon
     disputed questions of the highest interest to man, connected with
     the three great mysteries of being--life, death, and immortality.
     On these grounds I was resolved to enter upon a consistent course
     of enquiry concerning them; though as yet, while all was new and
     wonderful to my apprehension, I could scarcely do more than observe
     and verify phenomena. It was, however, necessary that my views,
     though for the present bounded, should be distinct. I had already
     asked respecting mesmeric sleep-waking, 'Does it exist?' and to
     this question, the cases which had fallen under my notice, and
     which were above suspicion, seemed to answer decidedly in the
     affirmative: but it was essential still further to enquire, 'Does
     it exist so generally as to be pronounced a part--though a rarely
     developed part--of the human constitution?' In order to determine
     this, it was requisite to observe how far individuals of different
     ages, stations, and temperaments, were capable of mesmeric
     sleep-waking. I resolved, therefore, by experiments on as extensive
     a scale as possible, to ascertain whether the state in question
     were too commonly exhibited to be exceptional or idiosyncratic.
     Again, the two cases that I had witnessed coincided in
     characteristics; but could this coincidence be accidental? It might
     still be asked, 'Were the phenomena displayed uncertain, mutable,
     such as might never occur again; or were they orderly, invariable,
     the growth of fixed causes, which, being present, implied their
     presence also?' In fine, was mesmeric sleep-waking not only a
     state, but entitled to rank as a distinct state, clearly and
     permanently characterized; and, as such, set apart from all other
     abnormal conditions of men? On its pretensions to be so considered,
     rested, I conceived, its claims to notice and peculiar
     investigation: to decide this point was, therefore, one of my chief
     objects; and, respecting it, I was determined to seek that
     certainty which can only be attained by a careful comparison of
     facts, occurring under the same circumstances. To sum up my
     intentions, I desired to show that man, through external human
     influence, is capable of a species of sleep-waking different from
     the common, not only inasmuch as it is otherwise produced, but as
     it displays quite other characteristics when produced."--(P.
     49-52.)

In the subsequent portions of the book, similar and still more wondrous
phenomena are produced by Mr Townshend. He mesmerises several Cambridge
friends. He procures two patients, designated by the names of Anna M----
and E---- A----, who are said to be very susceptible of the mesmeric
state, and sight or mesmeric perception is manifested in a dark closet,
with large towels over the head, through the abdomen, through cards,
books, &c. &c. Anna M. is mesmerised unconsciously when in a separate
house from the mesmeriser; they predict remedies for themselves and
others, read thoughts,[4] state how they and others can be further
mesmerised and demesmerised.

As an instance of the curative effects, and the power of predicting
remedies, we cite the following:--

     "Accident threw in my way a lad of nineteen years of age, a Swiss
     peasant, who for three years had nearly lost the faculty of sight.
     His eyes betrayed but little appearance of disorder, and the
     gradual decay of vision which he had experienced, was attributed to
     a paralysis of the optic nerve, resulting from a scrofulous
     tendency in the constitution of the patient. The boy, whom I shall
     call by his Christian name of Johann, was intelligent,
     mild-tempered, extremely sincere, and extremely unimaginative. He
     had never heard of mesmerism till I spoke of it before him, and I
     then only so far enlightened him on the subject, as to tell him
     that it was something which might, perhaps, benefit his sight. At
     first he betrayed some little reluctance to submit himself to
     experiment, asking me if I were going to perform some very painful
     operation upon him; but, when he found that the whole affair
     consisted in sitting quiet, and letting me hold his hands, he no
     longer felt any apprehension.

     "Before beginning to mesmerise, I ascertained, with as much
     precision as possible, the patient's degree of blindness. I found
     that he yet could see enough to perceive any large obstacle that
     stood in his way. If a person came directly before him, he was
     aware of the circumstance, but he could not at all distinguish
     whether the individual were man or woman. I even put this to the
     proof. A lady of our society stood before him, and he addressed her
     as 'mein herr,' (sir.) In bright sunshine he could see a white
     object, or the colour scarlet, when in a considerable mass, but
     made mistakes as to the other colours. Between small objects he
     could not at all discriminate. I held before him successively, a
     book, a box, and a bunch of keys, and he could not distinguish
     between them. In each case he saw something, he said, like a
     shadow, but he could not tell what. He could not read one letter of
     the largest print by means of eyesight; but he was very adroit in
     reading by touch, in books prepared expressly for the blind,
     running his fingers over the raised characters with great rapidity,
     and thus acquiring a perception of them. Whatever trifling degree
     of vision he possessed, could only be exercised on very near
     objects: those which were at a distance from him, he perceived not
     at all. I ascertained that he could not see a cottage at the end of
     our garden, not more than a hundred yards off from where we were
     standing.

     "These points being satisfactorily proved, I placed my patient in
     the proper position, and began to mesmerise. Five minutes had
     scarcely elapsed, when I found that I produced a manifest effect
     upon the boy. He began to shiver at regular intervals, as if
     affected by a succession of slight electric shocks. By degrees this
     tremour subsided, the patient's eyes gradually closed, and in about
     a quarter of an hour, he replied to an enquiry on my part--'Ich
     schlaffe, aber nicht ganz tief'--(I sleep, but not soundly.) upon
     this I endeavoured to deepen the patient's slumber by the mesmeric
     passes, when suddenly he exclaimed--his eyes being closed all the
     time--'I see--I see your hand--I see your head!' In order to put
     this to the proof, I held my head in various positions, which he
     followed with his finger; again, he told me accurately whether my
     hand was shut or open. 'But,' he said, on being further questioned,
     'I do not see distinctly.--I see, as it were, sunbeams (sonnen
     strahlen) which dazzle me.' 'Do you think,' I asked, 'that
     mesmerism will do you good?' 'Ja freilich,' (yes, certainly,) he
     replied; 'repeated often enough, it would cure me of my blindness.'

     "Afraid of fatiguing my patient, I did not trouble him with
     experiments; and his one o'clock dinner being ready for him, I
     dispersed his magnetic sleep. After he had dined, I took him into
     the garden. As we were passing before some bee-hives, he suddenly
     stopped, and seemed to look earnestly at them: 'What is it you
     see?' I asked. 'A row of bee-hives,' he replied directly, and
     continued--'Oh! this is wonderful!--I have not seen such things for
     three years.' Of course, I was extremely surprised, for though I
     had imagined that a long course of mesmerisation might benefit the
     boy, I was entirely unprepared for so rapid an improvement in his
     vision. My chief object had been to develop the faculty of sight in
     sleep-waking; and I can assure my readers, that this increase of
     visual power in the natural state was to me a kind of miracle, as
     astonishing as it was unsought. My poor patient was in a state of
     absolute enchantment. He grinned from ear to ear, and called out,
     'Das ist prächtig!' (This is charming!) Two ladies now passed
     before us, when he said, 'Da sind zwei fräuenzimmer!' (There go two
     ladies!) 'How dressed?' I asked. 'Their clothes are of a dark
     colour,' he replied. This was true. I took my patient to a
     summer-house that commanded an extensive prospect. I fear almost to
     state it, but, nevertheless, it is perfectly true, that he saw and
     pointed out the situation of a village in the valley below us. I
     then brought Johann back to the house, when, in the presence of
     several members of my family, he recognised, at first sight,
     several small objects, (a flowerpot, I remember, amongst other
     things,) and not only saw a little girl, one of our farmers'
     children, sitting on the steps of a door, but also mentioned that
     she had a round cap on her head. In the house, I showed Johann a
     book, which, it will be remembered, he could not distinguish before
     mesmerisation, and he named the object. But, though making great
     efforts, he could not read one letter in the book. Having
     ascertained this, I once more threw Johann into the mesmeric state,
     with a view to discover how far a second mesmerisation could
     strengthen his natural eyesight. As soon as I had awaked him, at
     the interval of half an hour, I presented him with the same book,
     (one of Marryat's novels,) when he accurately told me the larger
     letters of the title-page, which were as follows--'Outward Bound.'
     Johann belonging to an institution of the blind situated at some
     distance from our residence, I had unhappily only the opportunity
     of mesmerising him three times subsequently to the above successful
     trial. The establishment, also, of which he was a member, changed
     masters; and its new director having prejudices on the score of
     mesmerism, there were difficulties purposely thrown in the way of
     my following up that which I had so auspiciously begun."--(Pp.
     176-179)

Many of these cases of clairvoyance, given by Mr Townshend, appear on
the face of them ambiguous; thus the reading is said to be effected with
difficulty and imperfectly, the difficulty to be increased by the
superposition of obstacles. Others, as related, certainly admit of no
explanation by deductions from ordinary experience. All we can say of
them, therefore, is, that we have fairly sought to see such phenomena,
and have never succeeded; when we see them, and can properly test them,
we will believe them. But from the internal evidence of the latter
portion of Mr Townshend's book, which we shall presently discuss, we
cannot, although not doubting his honesty of purpose, set our faith upon
his experiments and judgment.

Mr Townshend gives no account of the phreno-mesmerism, or of the
surgical operations performed without any evidence of pain during the
mesmeric states. We have already related one of the former exhibitions,
which, we think, requires no further comment. Viewed abstractedly, the
attempt to support by the assumed accuracy of one science, at best in
its infancy, and confessedly fallible, another still more so, is making
too large demands upon public credulity to require much counter
argument. With regard to the surgical cases, they stand on a very
different ground; three operations, among the most painful of those to
which man is ever subjected, are alleged to have been performed during
the mesmeric state--Madame Plantin, amputation of cancerous breast; and
James Wombwell and Mary Ann Lakin, amputation of the leg above the knee.
The case of Wombwell was canvassed at length at the Royal Medical and
Chirurgical Society of London; and in that and the other cases there
seems to have been no question raised as to the facts of the patients
having undergone the operation without the usual evidence of suffering.
In Wombwell's case the divided end of the sciatic nerve was purposely
(it appears to us very wantonly) touched with the forceps, but without
any appearance of sensation on the part of the patient. In all these
cases the medical men most opposed to mesmerism seem to have admitted
the fact, and to have rested their incredulity on the various cases
known to them, of parties having borne operations with such fortitude as
not to have expressed the usual cries of suffering.

In Madame Plantin's case it is stated; that she subsequently confessed
to a nurse in an hospital, that she felt the full pain, but purposely,
and by great effort, kept silent. This confession is, however, strongly
denied by Dr Elliotson and others, and does not appear to be clearly
substantiated.

A professional "_odium_" appears to have arisen on the subject; and,
from the controversial tone of the speaking and writing on both sides,
it is difficult to get at the truth. We must say, however, that,
admitting the facts, which the antagonists of mesmerism seem to do, we
are more inclined to believe the paralysis of nervous sensation by
mesmeric influence, than that, with such inadequate motives as the
_patients_ could feel, they should have such marvellous self-control as
to feign sleep, and keep their whole muscular system in a relaxed state,
while suffering such exquisite pain. Medical men are, indeed, better
judges of the power of endurance and simulation than we can pretend to
be; but, to make their testimony conclusive, they should have witnessed
the operation. The elaborate research for causes explanatory of an
unseen case, lessens the weight of authority which would otherwise be
very high.

Many other minor cases, such as teeth drawn, and division of tendons,
are given; and though we have never had an opportunity of witnessing
such effects, we must say we think, from their benefit to suffering
humanity, the possibility, however remote, of their truth, deserves
more calm and dispassionate enquiry than appears hitherto to have been
given them.

While doctors, however, seek to explain, by various profound theories,
the efficient causes of asserted mesmeric cures, a member of the Church
of England, and popular preacher at Liverpool, the Rev. Hugh M. Neill,
M.A., has cut the Gordian knot, by a sermon preached at St Jude's
Church, on April 10th, 1842, and published in Nos. 599 and 600 of the
_Penny Pulpit_, price twopence. By this sermon it appears to have
occurred to the philosophic mind of the reverend divine, that mesmeric
marvels may be accounted for as accomplished by the direct agency of
Satan! Doubtless Satan is as actively at work in this the nineteenth
century, as in any anterior period of our history; but we are inclined
to think the progress of civilization has opened a sufficient number of
channels for his ingenuity, without rendering it necessary that he
should alarm the devout by miraculously interfering to assuage human
suffering.

We have given above as many instances as our space will permit, of the
asserted phenomena of mesmerism; and now to return to Mr Townshend's
book.

In taking a general view of the lines of argument adopted by the author
to support the possibility or probability of mesmerism, we perceive they
are of two sorts, essentially different, and in some measure
inconsistent with each other.

1st, It is very properly argued, that our whole knowledge of the normal
course of nature is derived from experience; that a law is a mere
generalization from that experience, and is not any thing intrinsically
or necessarily true. Thus, if the sun were to rise in the west
to-morrow, instead of in the east, it would at first sight appear to be
a deviation from natural laws; in other words, a miracle. If, however,
the latter circumstance were wanting, after the first sensation of the
marvellous had subsided, the philosopher would enquire, whether, instead
of being a deviation from a law, it were not a subordinate instance of
some higher law, of which the period of history had been too short to
give any co-ordinate instances; and were it found, by a long course of
experience, that in every 4000 years a similar retrocession of the earth
took place, a new law would be established. Applying this to mesmerism,
it is said our notions of sleep and waking, of sight and hearing, and of
the possible limits and modes of sensation, are derived from experience
alone; we cannot estimate or understand the _modus agendi_ of a new
sensation, because we have never experienced it. If, then, it be proved,
by the acts of A, B, or C, that they attain cognizance of objects by
other means than those which any known organ of sensation will permit,
you must admit the fact, and by degrees its _rationale_ will become
supported by the same means as all other truths are supported, viz. by
habitual experience. Its law is, indeed, nothing but its constant
recurrence under similar circumstances. To take Mr Townshend's own mode
of enunciating this--

     "Are we entitled to conclude, in any case, that, because we have
     not hitherto been able to assign a law to certain operations, they
     are therefore absolutely without law? Are we to assert, that the
     orderly dispositions of the universe are deformed by a monstrous
     exception; or is it not wiser to believe that our own knowledge is
     in fault, whenever Nature appears inconsistent with herself? Surely
     we have enough order around us to suggest, that all which to us
     seems chance, is 'direction which we cannot see;' that all apparent
     anomalies are but like those discords which, in the most masterly
     music, prepare the transitions from one noble passage to another,
     and are actually essential to the general harmony. In many
     instances this is not mere conjecture. How much of fancied
     imperfection and disorder has fled before our investigation! The
     motions of comets at first appear to offer an exception to the
     exact arrangements of the universe.--'They traverse all parts of
     the heavens. Their paths have every possible inclination to the
     plane of the ecliptic; and, unlike the planets, the motion of more
     than half of those which have appeared has been retrograde--that
     is, from east to west.' Yet have we been able to detect the
     elements of regularity in the midst of all this seeming confusion,
     and to predict with certainty the day, the hour, and the minute of
     a comet's return to our region of the sky.

     "Experience also shows, that apparently insulated and lawless
     phenomena may not only be reduced to a law, but to a well-known
     law; that many a familiar agent puts on strange disguises; and that
     events, with which, in their mazy channels, we seem to be
     unacquainted, may be perfectly recognised by us at their source.
     Thus galvanism and magnetic force are proved, by recent
     discoveries, to be only forms of electricity; showing that a fact
     may be altered, not in itself, but in the circumstances that
     surround it, and that complexity of development is perfectly
     consistent with unity of design. Instances like these, while they
     encourage us to enquiry, should teach us to believe that all which
     is needed to vindicate the regularity of nature is a more extended
     observation on our parts."--(Pp. 14-15.)

This is the highest and safest ground for the advocate of mesmerism to
tread; to support himself on this he has only to demonstrate his facts
beyond the possibility of a doubt, and the truth of the phenomena,
however inconsistent with previous experience, must in the end be
admitted. But to support him on this high ground his proof must be
demonstrative; he must be able to say--I ask not for faith, nor even a
balanced mind; but doubt to the utmost, examine with the most rigorous
scepticism; I stand upon the facts alone; I offer no explanation, or at
least I make their truth dependent upon no explanation. They are or they
are not. I will prove their existence, and I will defy you to disprove
them.

It will not, we conceive, be denied, that one essential attribute of the
social mind, a jealousy of credence in apparent anomalies, is a just and
necessary guard upon human knowledge. If mere assertion were believed,
every succeeding day would upset the knowledge of the preceding day; and
however high the character of the assertor of new and abnormal facts may
be, he must not expect them to be received upon the strength of his
assertion. The best men may be deceived, and the best men may be led
astray by enthusiasm. When the slightest discovery in physical science
is published, it is immediately assailed by doubts from every quarter;
and its promulgator, if he be accustomed to research and trained to
scientific investigation, never complains of these doubts, because he
knows the vast number of perplexing deceptions in which he has himself
been entangled, and the caution with which he himself would receive a
similar announcement.

It is vain to cite instances of truths unappreciated by the age in which
they were advanced. We deprecate as much as any the persecution with
which occasionally men who have seen far in advance of their age have
been attacked; but the saying, "Malheureux celui qui est en avance de
son siècle," is not always true: if the new truth be difficult of
demonstration it will be proportionately tardy of reception, but if easy
of proof it is very rapidly received. As an example of this we may
instance the discovery of Volta. In the history of physical science,
never was a more sudden leap taken than by this illustrious man--that a
juxtaposition of matter in its least organic form should produce such
surprising effects upon the human organism, was to the world, as it
existed in the year 1800, a most marvellous phenomenon; and had the link
in the finest chain of proof been wanting, men would have been justified
in any degree of scepticism or incredulity. But it was easy of
demonstration; any one with a dozen discs of iron and zinc, and the same
number of penny-pieces, could satisfy himself; and the consequence was,
the discovery was instantly admitted. Let mesmerists put the same power
of self-satisfaction into the hands of the world, and doubt will be at
once removed; if, as they say, their science is not of equal exactitude,
they must bide their time and not complain.

Magnetism and electricity, moreover, often cited by Mr Townshend, and
undoubtedly the most surprising additions to human knowledge within the
historical period, though abnormal, are not contradictory to
experience--they were an entirely new series of facts added to our
previous store--they did not destroy or lessen the force of any
previously received truths. Not so mesmerism, and therefore the more
stringent should be, and is, the proof required.

Come we now to the second class of arguments adopted in favour of
mesmerism, and by the same persons (Mr Townshend, for instance) as
support the first. Mr Townshend says, (p. 29,) "to the mesmeriser the
facts of mesmerism are no miracles;" and yet he avers that mesmerism can
make the blind see and the deaf hear. (Pp. xxxii., and 178.) We cannot
very clearly see his notion of a miracle. Passing over this, however,
and taking him to assert what the first branch of his argument requires
to be asserted, that there is no miracle, or that there is nothing but
the contradiction of a necessary truth, such as that three angles of a
triangle are equal to two right angles, which _may_ not fall within some
natural law of which we have not all the data--we cannot see why, in the
second half of his book, he so sedulously endeavours to prove that
mesmerism is consistent with experience, and may be supported upon
similar grounds, and accounted for by similar theories, to those by
which the agency of the imponderable forces is established and accounted
for. After using every argument in his power to show the fallibility of
experience, and the reasons why we should not disbelieve mesmerism
because contradictory to it, which contradiction he admits in terms, the
author writes a chapter, the title of which is, "Conformity of Mesmerism
with General Experience."--(P. 155.) As instances of these reverse modes
of viewing the subject, we quote the following passages--the one taken
from the commencement of the book, where the first line of argument is
adopted; the other from the latter portion, where the second is.

     "Thus, then, till the initial step towards a comprehension of
     mesmerism be taken anew, there is no hope that it will ever be
     understood or appreciated. Why unavailingly seek to reduce it to a
     formula of which it is unsusceptible? If we ascribe it to a power
     already ascertained, why not treat it, at least, as an entirely new
     function of that power? Why limit it to what we know, when,
     possibly, it may be destined to extend the boundaries of our
     knowledge? Why are we to be trammelled with foregone conclusions?
     Yet upon these very restrictions the opponents of mesmerism insist;
     thus taking away from men the means of investigating the agency in
     question, by forcing them to set about it in the wrong way."--(P.
     12.)

Having, then, thus expressed himself in the early part of the work,
towards the close we find the following sentence. "Taking this simple
view of sensation, (that objects should be brought into a certain
relation with us by something intermediate,) we find nothing in
mesmerism contradictory of nature. Under its influence, the human frame
continues to be still a system of nerves acted upon by elastic media,
for the purpose of conveying to us the primal impulse of the Almighty
Mind, which made, sustains, and moves the universe--having, as I trust,
shown the conformity of mesmerism in all essential points with the
principles of nature, and the inferences of reason," &c. &c.

If we are to admit mesmerism as a series of facts apparently
inconsistent with experience, it is most hasty and unphilosophical to
attempt to generalize it by crude hypotheses. To rest its probable truth
upon these hypotheses, is to take a totally different ground, and one
much lower and more assailable. We have no desire to be
hypercritical--to expose minor scientific inaccuracies in the work
before us; but we do not hesitate to assert, that, independently of its
inconsistency with the previous course of reasoning, the hypothesis or
hypotheses of Mr Townshend are most unsatisfactory.

Heat, light, electricity, magnetism, are by some regarded as specific
fluids; by others, as undulations of one or more specific fluid; and by
a third class, as undulations or polarizations of ordinary matter. Thus,
by the first, light would be viewed as a material emanation from the
luminous body; by the second, as an undulation of an imponderable ether,
existing between the luminous body and the recipient; and by the third,
as an undulation of the air, glass, or other matter, placed between the
luminous body and the object. The last would regard the ether in the
planetary spaces, not as a specific imponderable fluid, but as a highly
attenuated expansion of air, gas, or other matter, having all the
functions of ordinary matter. Whewell has, indeed, published a
_demonstration_ that all matter is ponderable, and that imponderable
matter is not a conceivable idea. Be this as it may, the diversity of
opinion on this point shows the difficulty the mind finds in departing
from the truths of phenomena to the uncertainties of hypothesis; but if
hypothesis be justifiable, which it is only on the ground of absolute
necessity to link together, and render conventionally intelligible,
certain undoubted, undeniable facts, which have been associated together
under the terms _electricity_, _magnetism_, &c.--how difficult and
dangerous it must be when the facts which it seeks to associate are
denied by the mass of thinking men, when they are confessed to be
mysterious and irregular by their most strenuous advocates, each of whom
differs, in many respects, as to these facts!

These difficulties have by no means been conquered by Mr Townshend. At
p. 11, he objects to this mode of theorizing, in the following strong
terms:--

     "A certain school of German writers especially have theorized on
     our subject, after the false method of explaining one class of
     phenomena in nature by its fancied resemblance to another. Wishing,
     perhaps, to avoid the error of the spiritualists, who solve the
     problem in debate by the power of the soul alone, they have
     ransacked the material world for analogies to mesmerism, till the
     mind itself has been endued with its affinities and its poles. Such
     attempts as these have done the greatest disservice to the cause we
     advocate. They submit it to a wrong test. It is as if the laws of
     light should be applied to a question in acoustics. It is as if we
     should expect to find in a foreign kingdom the laws and customs of
     our own."--(P. 11.)

And yet, in the subsequent parts of his book, he asserts mesmerism to be
capable of "reflection like light"--to have "the attraction of
magnetism"--to be "transferred like heat;" to escape from a point like
electricity, and to have the sympathetic undulations of sound!--(Pp.
335, 6, 7, and 8.)

Such general resemblances as the following are given:---

     "We know that electricity is capable of all that modification in
     its action which our case demands. Sometimes its effects are sudden
     and energetic; sometimes of indefinite and uninterrupted
     continuance. It is 'capable of moving with various degrees of
     facility through the pores or even the substance of matter;' and is
     not impeded in its action by the intervention of any substance
     whatever, provided it be not in itself in an electric state. This
     capacity of varied action and of pervading influence, has already
     been shown to characterize the mesmeric medium."--(P. 335.)

Why, what is here stated of electricity, may be said of heat, of light,
of any force, and its moving through the pores may be denied as easily
as asserted; by many it is thought to be a molecular polarization, and
not a transmission.

Zinc and silver are said (p. 237) to "produce a taste resulting from the
galvanic concussion, and not from any actual flavour." This is
incorrect; zinc and silver produce a taste when in voltaic
communication, because they decompose the saliva, and eliminate acid and
alkaline constituents.

Further on it is said, (p. 237,) "A spark drawn by means of a pointed
metal from the nose of a person charged with electricity, will give him
the sensation of smelling a phosphoric odour." This is also an erroneous
assumption; the electric spark, in passing through the atmosphere,
combines its constituents, and forms nitrous acid. This has a pungent
smell; probably there are some other physical changes wrought upon the
constituents of the atmosphere by the electric spark, which are now
objects of anxious enquiry to natural philosophers; yet none of them
have any doubt that the electric smell is the result of a physical or
chemical action of the spark, by which either the air is decomposed, or
fine portions of metal carried off, or both. So again--

     "The electric medium is a far more swift and subtle messenger of
     vision than is the luminous ether. 'A wheel revolving with celerity
     sufficient to render its spokes invisible, when illuminated by a
     flash of lightning, is seen for an instant with all its spokes
     distinct, as if it were in a state of absolute repose, because,
     however rapid the motion may be, the light has already come and
     ceased before the wheel has had time to turn through a sensible
     space.' Again, some ingenious experiments, by Professor Wheatstone,
     demonstrate to a certainty, that the speed of the electric fluid
     much surpasses the velocity of light. It is, therefore, a different
     medium; yet can it serve for all the purposes of vision, and even
     in a superior manner. After hearing these things, shall we start at
     the notion of mesmeric sensation being conveyed through another
     medium than that in ordinary action? Even should the sleep-waker
     perceive the most distant objects, (as some are said to have done,)
     can we, from the moment a means of communication is hinted to us,
     be so much amazed? If his perception be more vivid, there seems to
     be an efficient cause in his abjuring the grosser media for such as
     are more swift and subtle."--(P. 272.)

The electric medium is _not_ a messenger of vision. To call the light
produced by the electric spark electricity, would be the same as to call
magnetism electricity, heat electricity, motion electricity--for all
these are produced by it, and it by them. All modes of force are capable
of producing the other phenomenal effects of force. It is an obvious
fallacy to call the medium which transmits electric light, an electric
medium; this, if carried out, would overthrow natural as well as
conventional divisions, would subvert "the pales and forts of reason."

Mr Townshend, accustomed to metaphysical abstractions, shows, in these
and many other instances, a want of acquaintance with physical science,
and entirely fails when he bases his reasoning upon it. Many of the
arguments of Mr Townshend are of such a transcendental nature, that we
fear, should we attempt to follow them, our readers would lose their
clairvoyance in the mist of metaphysical speculation. The following will
give a fair specimen of the conclusion to which such reasoning tends:--

     "Indeed, if we lay to heart the deceptiveness and mutability of all
     the external species of matter, at the same time considering that
     we have no reason to deem it capable of change in its ultimate and
     imperceptible particles; if, also, we reflect, that whatever is not
     palpable in itself is yet indicated by its effects, forces us on
     pure reason by withdrawing at once the aid and the illusion of our
     external senses, we shall perhaps come to the conclusion that the
     Invisible is the only true, exclaiming, with the old Latinist,
     'Invisibilia non decipiunt.'"--(P. 355.)

And yet the facts of mesmerism are to be judged of by the very senses
which mesmerism proves to be so fallacious. It is because we _see_ that
E---- A---- reads when the book is presented to the back of his hand,
that we are to believe that he does not perceive with the usual organs.
Upon the rule which the author adopts, that "the invisible is the only
true," we cannot rely upon our deceptive organs and should disbelieve
mesmerism _because_ we see it.

To analyse, in detail, the hypotheses of Mr Townshend would be quite
impossible in our limited space. We might, indeed, adopt method
sometimes used in controversial writing, and string together a parallel
column of minor contradictions. This would however, not only be totally
devoid of interest to the reader, but is not the object we have in view.
We seek not for critical errors or inconsistencies, but merely to
examine if there be any broad lines of truth or probability in his
theory. It is summed up as follows:--

     "The real nature of vision is as shut to the vulgar as the mesmeric
     mode of sight is to the learned.

     "By the eye we appreciate light and colour only: the rest is an
     operation of the judgment.

     "Viewed metaphysically, seeing is but a particular kind of
     knowledge: viewed physically, seeing consists in certain nervous
     motions, responsive to the motions of a medium. That medium, in our
     ordinary condition, is light, the action of which seems cut off and
     intercepted in the case of mesmeric vision.

     "When, therefore, we hear that a mesmerised person has correctly
     seen an object through obstacles which to us appear opaque, we,
     conceiving no means of communication between the person and the
     object, exclaim that the laws of nature have been violated. But, in
     all cases where information is conveyed through interrupted spaces,
     show but the means of communication, and astonishment ceases.

     "When we know that there is a medium permeating, in one or other of
     its forms, all substances whatever, and that this medium is
     eminently capable of exciting sensations of sight; and when we take
     this in conjunction with a heightened sensibility in the
     percipient person, rendering him aware of impulses whereof we are
     not cognisant, we are no longer inclined to deny a fact or suppose
     a miracle.

     "Finally, all sensation has but one principle. All that is required
     for its production is, that objects should be brought into a
     certain relation with us by something intermediate; and this is
     effected by the impulsions of certain media upon nerves, the last
     changes in which are the immediate forerunners of completed
     sensation."--(P. 279.)

In short, we think we do not unfairly express the author's theory in the
following query. As the application of the highest human powers (those
of Newton, for instance) have resolved the transmission of light to the
sensorium into the vibrations of an all-pervading ether, what is more
probable than that a similar ethereal medium may convey sensations of
objects through other channels? This may be, but another important
ingredient is wanting, viz. organization, or definite molecular
arrangement. Prick the eye, and, by the resulting morbid derangement,
change the molecular arrangement of its particles, and vision is
destroyed; pulverise the glass through which you look, and it is no
longer transparent. The ether (if there be an ether) in the pores of
these substances, can only convey correct impressions when these
particles have a definite arrangement; but the mesmeric ether is
dependent upon no such necessity. Density and tenacity, opacity and
transparency, homogeneous or heterogeneous bodies, are all equally
penetrable. And what is more strange, the mesmeric ether conveys
correct, and not distorted impressions. The same perception of form
which is conveyed through air, is convoyed through the cover of a book,
through the bones of the skull, or the muscles of the stomach. And,
still more extraordinary, this impression is identical as to the mental
idea it conveys with that conveyed in the normal manner through the eye.
The mesmeric ether has, therefore, not only the power of conveying
impressions, but of preserving their continuity through any impediment.
The formal impressions of a chair or table, which are conveyed by
ordinary vision in right lines to the retina, if these lines be
distorted by any intervening want of uniformity in the matter, are
proportionally distorted. Let striæ of glass of different density
intervene in an optical lens, and the objects are distorted; increase
the number of striæ, the object is more imperfect; and carry the
molecular derangement further, opacity is the result. Transparency and
opacity, then, viewed apart from all hypotheses, resolve themselves into
organization or molecular arrangement. Yet, by the mesmeric medium, a
chair or table is conveyed to the recipient in its distinct form, or,
what amounts to the same thing for the argument of conformity, they give
to the mind distinct ideas of these objects. If, then, there be a
mesmeric medium, which, being a purely hypothetic creation, cannot be
disproved, its requisites must be so totally at variance with the
requisites of ordinary ethereal media, that none of the rules which can
be applied to this can be applied to that. The arguments of Mr Townshend
depend on analogy, where there is no analogy.

Many of the objects of vision, all indeed by which reading is effected,
are purposely constructed to suit the peculiar organization of the
eye--they are artifices specially appropriated to given sensations; thus
_black_ letters are printed on _white_ paper, because experience has
told us that black reflects no light, while white reflects all the
incident light. If we wish to read by another sense, we adapt our object
to such a sense; thus, for those who read by the finger, raised letters
are prepared, differing from the matrix in position but not in colour;
if we read by the ear, we address it by sounds and not by forms or
colours; and it would be far from impracticable to read by smell or
taste, by associating given odours or given tastes with given ideas.

In all this, however, each sense requires a peculiar education and long
training--it is only by constant association of the word _table_ with
the thing _table_, that we connect the two ideas; but mesmeric
clairvoyance not only conveys things as things in all their proper forms
and colours, (p. 164,) without the intervention of the usual senses, but
it also dispenses with education or association, or instantly adapts to
a new sense the education hitherto specially and only adapted to
another.

Thus the mesmeric medium should, and does, according to Mr Townshend,
(pp. 97, 99, 101,) convey to the person accustomed to read by the eye,
ideas and perceptions which he has hitherto associated with the
sight--to him accustomed to read by touch, ideas associated with
touch--and so of the rest, and that not of sight or touch of the object
itself, but of a mere arbitrary symbol of the object.

_Table_ of five letters or forms--_table_ of two sounds, bearing no
resemblance to these letters or forms, or to the thing--_table_ but a
mere conventional substitute for the purpose of human convenience, yet
by the all-potent mesmeric medium, for which they have not been
previously framed, are definitely conveyed, and produce the require
perception and the required association.

We trust we need go no further to show that mesmeric clairvoyance has,
at all events, no conformity with general experience; and that, if it be
true, the proofs of its truth cannot be based on its analogy with other
sensations. To sum up our arguments, we say--1st, That without
undervaluing testimony, mesmeric clairvoyance is not sufficiently proved
by competent witnesses to be admitted as fact: 2d, The reasoning in
support of it is insufficient, and, in most cases, fallacious.

Perhaps the best arguments employed by Mr Townshend in favour of the
possibility of clairvoyance, are the authenticated cases of normal
sleepwalking; these have been very little examined, but appear, in one
respect, strikingly to differ from mesmeric coma. The eyes of the
somnambulist are said to be open, and therefore there is every optical
power of vision, and an increase of ordinary visual perception is all
that is requisite. The acts performed by the sleepwalker are, moreover,
generally those to which he is habitually accustomed; and, when this is
not the case, he fails, as many disastrous accidents have too fatally
testified.

At the close of Mr Townshend's book is a short appendix, containing some
testimonials to the verity of mesmeric effects. Several of these are
anonymous, and the value of their authority cannot therefore be judged
of. Others are testimonies to mesmeric effects produced upon the
patients, E---- A---- or Anna M----. None of these are from persons of
very high authority; and they are, certainly, not such as would induce
us to rest our faith upon them. We grant to them their full right to be
convinced; but their testimony is not of sufficient force to produce
conviction in others. The two last testimonials, however, are of a very
different character. One of these is by Professor Agassiz, and the other
by Signor Ranieri of Naples. Both these are testimonials, not to any
effect produced upon an accustomed patient, but upon the testifiers
themselves; and the former, coming from a man of high distinction, and
accustomed to physical research, is undoubtedly of great weight. We
therefore give it in full.

     "Desirous to know what to think of mesmerism, I for a long time
     sought for an opportunity of making some experiments in regard to
     it upon myself, so as to avoid the doubts which might arise on the
     nature of the sensations which we have heard described by
     mesmerised persons. M. Desor, yesterday, in a visit which he made
     to Berne, invited Mr Townshend, who had previously mesmerised him,
     to accompany him to Neufchatel, and try to mesmerise me. These
     gentlemen arrived here with the evening courier, and informed me of
     their arrival. At eight o'clock I went to them. We continued at
     supper till half past nine o'clock, and about ten o'clock Mr
     Townshend commenced operating upon me. While we sat opposite to one
     another, he, in the first place, only took hold of my hands, and
     looked at me fixedly. I was firmly resolved to arrive at a
     knowledge of the truth, whatever it might be; and therefore, the
     moment I saw him endeavouring to exert an action upon me, I
     silently addressed the Author of all things, beseeching him to give
     me power to resist the influence, and to be conscientious in regard
     to myself, as well as in regard to the facts. I then fixed my eyes
     upon Mr Townshend, attentive to whatever passed. I was in very
     suitable circumstances; the hour being early, and one at which I
     was in the habit of studying, was far from disposing me to sleep. I
     was sufficiently master of myself to experience no emotion, and to
     repress all flights of imagination, even if I had been less calm;
     accordingly it was a long time before I felt any effect from the
     presence of Mr Townshend opposite me. However, after at least a
     quarter of an hour, I felt a sensation of a current through all my
     limbs, and from that moment my eyelids grew heavy. I then saw Mr
     Townshend extend his hands before my eyes, as if he were about to
     plunge his fingers into them; and then make different circular
     movements around my eyes, which caused my eyelids to become still
     heavier. I had the idea that he was endeavouring to make me close
     my eyes; and yet it was not as if some one had threatened my eyes,
     and, in the waking state, I had closed them to prevent him. It was
     an irresistible heaviness of the lids, which compelled me to shut
     them, and by degrees I found that I had no longer the power of
     keeping them open; but did not the less retain my consciousness of
     what was going on around me; so that I heard M. Desor speak to Mr
     Townshend, understood what they said, and heard what questions they
     asked me, just as if I had been awake; but I had not the power of
     answering. I endeavoured in vain several times to do so; and when I
     succeeded, I perceived that I was passing out of the state of
     torpor in which I had been, and which was rather agreeable than
     painful.

     "In this state I heard the watchman cry ten o'clock; then I heard
     it strike a quarter past; but afterwards I fell into a deeper
     sleep, although I never entirely lost my consciousness. It appeared
     to me that Mr Townshend was endeavouring to put me into a sound
     sleep; my movements seemed under his control, for I wished several
     times to change the position of my arms, but had not sufficient
     power to do it, or even really to will it; while I felt my head
     carried to the right or left shoulder, and backwards or forwards,
     without wishing it; and, indeed, in spite of the resistance which I
     endeavoured to oppose, and this happened several times.

     "I experienced at the same time a feeling of great pleasure in
     giving way to the attraction, which dragged me sometimes to one
     side, sometimes to the other; then a kind of surprise on feeling my
     head fall into Mr Townshend's hand, who appeared to me from that
     time to be the cause of the attraction. To his enquiry if I were
     well, and what I felt? I found I could not answer, but I smiled; I
     felt that my features expanded in spite of my resistance; I was
     inwardly confused at experiencing pleasure from an influence which
     was mysterious to me. From this moment I wished to wake, and was
     less at my ease; and yet on Mr Townshend asking me, whether I
     wished to be awakened, I made a hesitating movement with my
     shoulders. Mr Townshend then repeated some frictions, which
     increased my sleep; yet I was always conscious of what was passing
     around me. He then asked me, if I wished to become lucid, at the
     same time continuing, as I felt, the frictions from the face to the
     arms. I then experienced an indescribable sensation of delight, and
     for an instant saw before me rays of dazzling light, which
     instantly disappeared. I was then inwardly sorrowful at this state
     being prolonged--it appeared to me that enough had been done with
     me; I wished to awake, but could not, yet when Mr Townshend and M.
     Desor spoke, I heard them. I also heard the clock, and the watchman
     cry, but I did not know what hour he cried. Mr Townshend then
     presented his watch to me, and asked if I could see the time, and
     if I saw him; but I could distinguish nothing. I heard the clock
     strike the quarter, but could not get out of my sleepy state. Mr
     Townshend then woke me with some rapid transverse movements from
     the middle of the face outwards, which instantly caused my eyes to
     open, and at the same time I got up, saying to him, 'I thank you.'
     It was a quarter past eleven. He then told me, and M. Desor
     repeated the same thing, that the only fact which had satisfied
     them that I was in a state of mesmeric sleep, was the facility with
     which my head followed all the movements of his hand, although he
     did not touch me, and the pleasure which I appeared to feel at the
     moment when, after several repetitions of friction, he thus moved
     my head at pleasure in all directions."--(P. 385 to 388.)

This we think a most interesting and valuable document, and the best key
we have ever seen to the _facts_ of mesmerism. It is the production of a
resolute, religious, and philosophic mind, and bears all the impress of
truth; it proves that there are facts worthy of the most careful
investigation--it proves a power of inducing a comatose or sleep-waking
state--an influence exercised by one mind over another--and it goes far
to prove a physical attraction subsisting between two persons in
mesmeric relation. But, on the other hand, how strikingly do the
phenomena here described differ from those exhibited by the other
patients. In those cases, to use the general proposition of Mr
Townshend, "the sleep-waker seems incapable of analysing his new
sensations while they last, still more of remembering them when they are
over. The state of mesmerism is to him as death."--(P. 156.) Here, on
the other hand, the patient analyses all the sensations he experienced,
and recollects them when they are over; here, notwithstanding the
efforts of the mesmeriser, the production of the mesmeric effect, and no
resistance on the part of the mesmerisee, the latter does not become
clairvoyant; "_je ne distinguais rien_," are the emphatic words of
Professor Agassiz.

Precisely similar is the testimony of Signor Ranieri, the historian--

     Having been mesmerised by my honourable friend Mr Hare Townshend, I
     will simply describe the phenomena which I experienced before,
     during, and after my mesmerisation. Mr Townshend commenced by
     making me sit upon a sofa, he sat upon a chair opposite me, and
     keeping my hands in his, placed them on my knees. He looked at me
     fixedly, and from time to time let go my hands, and placed the
     points of his fingers in a straight line opposite my eyes, at an
     inch, I should think, from my pupils; then, describing a kind of
     ellipse, he brought his hands down again upon mine. After he had
     moved his hands thus alternately from my eyes to my knees for ten
     minutes, I felt an irresistible desire to close my eyelids. I
     continued, nevertheless, to hear his voice, and that of my sister,
     who was in the same room. Whenever they put questions to me, I
     always answered him correctly; but the whole of my muscular system
     was in a state of peculiar weakness, and of almost perfect
     disobedience to my will; and, consequently, the pronunciation of
     the words with which I wished to answer had become extremely
     difficult.

     "Whilst I experienced to a certain point the effects of sleep, not
     only was I not a stranger to all that was passing around me, but I
     even took more than usual interest in it. All my conceptions were
     more rapid; I experienced nervous startings to which I am not
     accustomed; in short, my whole nervous system was in a state of
     perfect exaltation, and appeared to have acquired all the
     superabundance of power which the muscular system had lost.

     "The following are the principal phenomena which I was able to feel
     distinctly. Mr Townshend did not fail to ask me occasionally if I
     could see him or my sister without opening my eyelids; but this was
     always impossible, and all that I could say I had seen was a
     glimmering of light, interrupted by the black and confused images
     of the objects presented to me; a light which appeared to me a
     little less clear than that which we commonly see when we shut the
     eyelids opposite the sun or a candle.

     "Mr Townshend at last determined to demesmerise me. He began to
     make elliptical movements with his hands, the reverse of those
     which he had made at the commencement; I could now open my eyes
     without any kind of effort, my whole muscular system became
     perfectly obedient to my will; I was able to get up, and was
     perfectly awake; but I remained nearly an hour in a kind of
     stupefaction very similar to that which sometimes attacks me in the
     mornings, if I rise two or three hours later than usual."--(P. 388
     to 390.)

Similar, as to the general conclusions, are the reports of the French
Academy and the testimonies of all rigorous and well-conducted
scientific examination. These testimonies apply to facts which it is the
duty of those experimentalists and physiologists, who have time and
opportunity at their disposal, fairly to investigate.

The insensibility to pain, and to the effects of the galvanic shock, are
also within the limits of the credible--and the latter is the more easy
of proof, as being incapable of simulation. As we stated at the
commencement, so we repeat here; mesmerism has been too little
investigated by competent persons, and is too much mystified by
charlatanism, to enable us accurately to define the limits of the true
and false, far less to predict what may be the discoveries to which it
may lead. With regard to the facts of clairvoyance, we are at present
entirely incredulous. Mr Townshend says, p. 91--

     "Let, then, body after body of learned men deny the phenomena of
     mesmerism, and logically disprove their existence; an appeal may
     ever, and at any moment, be made to the proof by experiment; and
     even should experiment itself fail a thousand times, the success of
     the thousandth and first trial would justify further examination.
     Till the authority of observation can be wholly set aside, the
     subject of our enquiry can never be said to have undergone its
     final ostracism."

This is certainly a strong proposition; nevertheless it is with the hope
that observation may be directed to the _facts_ of mesmerism, that we
have written the preceding pages. In reasoning on a subject, we can use
only those lights which experience has given us. The efficacy of logical
disproof, somewhat contemptuously treated by Mr Townshend in the above
passage, is yet fully vindicated by the latter half of the book itself,
which is an endeavour, logically, to bring home mesmerism to the
understanding of men of experience. It is vain to make light of logic,
when the parties who set it at nought are themselves obliged to use it
to prove its own worthlessness. You must not exalt _reason_, and we will
give you the _reason_ why--this cuts their own ground from under them.
We so far agree with the last quoted sentence, as to admit that, when
experiments fairly tried by competent parties have and do succeed,
mesmerism will be established--hitherto they have _not_ succeeded. The
alleged proofs are not brought home to the observation of cautious,
thinking men; and reason, thus at once derided and appealed to, is
unsatisfied. Time "may bring in its revenges," may show things which
would be to us marvellous; and we deny no future possibilities. At
present, we admit some very curious phenomena, which we would willingly
see further examined; but we are unconvinced of those facts of mesmerism
enounced by its professors, which wholly contradict our previous
experience. Upon what we consider the only safe grounds for the general
admission of newly asserted facts, the evidence in support of these
should more than counterpoise the evidence for their rejection. Up to
the present time, balancing, as we have endeavoured to do, impartially,
the evidence in favour of clairvoyance, and the preternatural powers of
mesmerism, against those of an opposite tendency, the former seems to us
inordinately outweighed. On the other hand, the production, by external
influence, either of absolute coma or of sleep-waking, whether resulting
from imagination in the patient, or from an effort of the will on the
part of the mesmeriser, or from both conjointly, has been too lightly
estimated and too little examined. This alone is in itself an effect so
novel, so mysterious, and apparently so connected with the mainsprings
of sentient existence, as to deserve and demand a rigorous, impartial,
and persevering scrutiny.

       *       *       *       *       *

Since this article was written, the letters of Miss Martineau have
appeared. Had these been published earlier, we should undoubtedly have
noticed them at some length; they have not, however, induced us to alter
any thing we have written; they have, indeed, confirmed one remark made
above. The effects described by Miss Martineau as produced upon herself,
are credible and not preternatural, while the second-sight of the girl
J---- is preternatural and not credible; _i. e._ not credible as
preternatural, otherwise easily explicable.

In this, as in every mesmeric case, the marvellous effects are developed
by the uneducated--the most easily deceived, and the most ready to be
deceivers.

The clairvoyant writers have greatly the advantage of the sceptics in
one respect, viz. the public interest of their communications. Every one
reads the description of new marvels, few care to examine the arguments
in contravention of them.

          "Pol, me occidistis, amici,
  Non servastis, ait, cui sic extorta voluptas,
  Et demptus per vim mentis gratissimus error."

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 3: For an account of one of the most notorious of the public
exhibitions of mesmeric clairvoyance, we refer the reader, who may feel
sufficiently interested in the matter, to the papers of Dr Forbes in the
_Lancet_, New Series, Vol. i. p. 581, and to the counter statement in
the _Zoist_, Vol. ii. No. 7.]

[Footnote 4: P. 316.]



ÆSTHETICS OF DRESS.

NO. II.

ABOUT A BONNET.


So then, having "put down" hats, we come to bonnets; this is the due
order of things--hats should be taken off before bonnets always; "common
politeness makes us stop and do it." And here, as the immortal Butler
found it necessary in olden times to lament the perils that environed a
man meddling with a hard subject, so we might well indulge in an
ejaculation at what may be our fate if we presume to take liberties with
the head-dress of the ladies. Actæon, when he contemplated Diana
_simplicem munditiis_, paid a severe penalty in the transformation of
his own head; and so, perhaps, we may incur--but never mind; the task,
worthy of a Hercules, (for the hydra of female fashion is more than
hundred-headed,) must be gone through with, and the _scrivano umillimo_
must push his pen even under the pole of a lady's bonnet.

The best-dressed woman in the world was our great-great-great
progenitrix; we really cannot trace up the pedigree, but you all know
whom we mean--your common mother and ours: we have the highest authority
among our own poets for saying so. There can be no doubt that her
_coiffure_ was perfect. It is a law of nature--it was true then--it has
been true ever since--it is indisputable at the present day--the
expressive beauty of a woman lies in her face: whatever, therefore,
conceals the face is a disfigurement, and inherits the principle of the
ugly. Ye who would study the æsthetics of human habiliments, look at the
lovely lines of the female face; contemplate that fairest type of the
animated creation; observe the soft emotions of her gentle soul, now
shooting forth rays of tender light from between her long enclasping
eyelashes, now arching her rosy lips into the playful lineaments of
Cupid's mortal bow; or gaze upon the subdued and affectionate
contentment of the maternal countenance--remember, while you were yet
young, your mother's look of love, that look which was all-powerful to
master your fiercest passions in your wildest mood--who will say that
the female face ought to be concealed? As far as we, the more powerful,
though not the better, portion of the human race are concerned--off with
the bonnet! off with the veil! say we. But there are others to be
consulted in settling this preliminary dogma of taste--the feelings and
the inclinations of woman herself are entitled to at least as much
regard as the imperious wishes of man. She, who possesses the bright but
fleetly fading gift of beauty, has also that inestimable, indefinable
accompaniment of it--modesty. Beauty is too sensitive a gem to be always
exposed to the light of admiration; it must be ensheathed in modesty for
its rays to retain their primitive lustre; it would perish from exposure
to the natural changes of the atmosphere, but it would die much sooner
from the incomprehensible, yet positive, effects of moral lassitude. To
use a commonplace simile, gentle reader, woman's beauty is like
champagne, it gets terribly into a man's head: do not, however, leave
the cork out of your champagne bottle--the sparkling spirit will all
evaporate; and do not quarrel with your sweet-heart if she muffles up
her face sometimes, and will not let you look at it for a week
together--her eyes will be all the brighter when you next see them.
There is a good cause for it; man is an ungrateful, hardly-pleased
animal; every indulgence that woman grants him loosens her power over
him. Women have an innate right to conceal their heads!

We arrive, then, at the foundation of taste for a lady's head-dress. Her
face, her head, is naturally so beautiful, that the less it is
concealed--as far as the mere gratification of the eye is concerned--the
better; but the necessity for veiling and protecting this precious
object is so inevitable, that a suitable extraneous covering must be
provided; let that covering be as consonant to her natural excellence as
it is possible to make it.

Now, we are not going to write a history of all the changes of female
head-dress that have taken place since the world began: nothing at all
of the kind. We refer the curious amateur to the work of that learned
Dutchman--we forget his name, 'tis all the same--_De Re Vestiaria_; or
he may look into Wilkinson's _Ancient Egyptians_--there is a pretty
considerable variety of bonnets or caps to be seen therein, we
calculate. If he be a decided _cognoscente_, let him rather go to the
Attic gallery in the British Museum, and examine the Panathenaic
procession, where the virgins are in the simple attire of the best days
of Greece: but here, or in any of the monuments of that foster-country
of art, and in all the series of Roman sculpture and coins, he will find
no head-dress for a female beyond that of the veil. The great artists
and the great conquerors of the world never tolerated any thing beyond
this flowing drapery of the veil, as the covering for their wives' or
daughters' heads. They were satisfied with the beautiful contrast given
by the curving lines of its graceful folds; they admired its simplicity;
and they saw the perfect suitableness of its nature to its purpose. The
veil could be hastily drawn over the head, so as to conceal every
feature, and protect it from the gaze of man or the roughness of the
seasons--and it could as easily be withdrawn partially to allow of "a
sidelong glance of love," or wholly to give "a gaze of welcome," to a
relation and a friend. Happy men those old Greeks and Romans! they had
no bills for milliners--whatever their jewellers' accounts might have
come to! When they travelled, their slaves were not pestered with
bonnet-boxes and similar abominations--a clean yard or two of
Phoenician gauze, or Asian linen, set up Mrs Secretary Pericles, or
Mrs General Cæsar, with a braw new veil. There was little caprice of
fashion--the veil would always fall into something like the same or at
least similar folds; and we do believe that, for a thousand years or
more, the type of the _mode_ remained fixed. Whether the ancient
Asiatics made their women wear precisely the same mask-veils as those
jealous rascals the Turks and Arabs do at the present day, we do not
know, and we are not now going to enquire: we only wish to protest, _en
passant_, against these same modern Eastern veils; they are the most
frightful, unclassical, unbecoming things ever invented as face-cases.
Our present purpose is with the head-dress of modern British ladies--let
us look into their bonnets.

And truly a bonnet, taken by itself, without the jewel that often lies
under it--a bonnet _per se_--is as bad a thing as a hat; something
between a coal-scuttle and a bread-basket; it is only fit to be married
to the hat, and, let us add--settled in the country. But it is,
nevertheless capricious in its ugliness, just as its possessor is
capricious in her prettiness; for, look at it from behind, its lines do
not greatly deviate from the circular form of the head; it seems like a
smart case;--look at it from before; there it is seen to best advantage
as an oval frame, set with ribands, flowers, and laces, for the sweet
picture within; but look at it from the side, and the genuine, vulgar,
cookmaid form of the coal-scuttle is instantly perceived. It serves in
this view evidently as blinkers do to a horse in harness, just to keep
the animal from shying, or to guard off a chance stroke of the whip. But
it is uncommonly tantalizing into the bargain. You walk along Regent
Street some fine day, and for a hundred paces or more you are troubled
by the crowd keeping you always in the rear of an old, faded, frumpy
bonnet, that hinders you from watching a sweet little _chapeau-de-soie_
immediately beyond. Your patience is exhausted, and your curiosity
driven to the highest pitch of anxiety; you make a desperate stride,
push by the old bonnet, and look round with indignation to see what
beldam had thus been between you and the "cynosure of neighbouring
eyes:"--whew! 'tis the pretty young shop-girl that served you with your
last pair of gloves, and measured them so fascinatingly along your hand,
that your heart still palpitates with the electrical touch of her
fingers. You pocket your indignation, exchange one of your blandest
smiles, and pass on, still striding to see what lovely features grace
that exquisite _chapeau_. Half afraid, of course--for she is a lady
evidently, and you pique yourself on being a perfect gentleman--you
venture, as you pass, to let your eye just glance within the sacred
enclosure of blonde and primroses;--pshaw! it's old Miss Thingamy, that
you had to hand down to dinner the other day at Lady Dash's; and
instantly catching your eye, she gives you a condescending nod, and
you're forced to escort her all the way up to Portland Place! It's
enough to make a man hang himself; and, to say the truth, many a poor
fellow has been ruined by bonnets before now--even Napoleon himself had
to pay for _thirty-six_ new bonnets within _one month_ for Josephine!

Bonnets, however, have more to do with women than with men; and we defy
our fair friends to prove that these articles of dress, about which they
are always so anxious, (a woman--a regular genuine woman, reader--will
sacrifice a great deal for a bonnet,) are either useful or ornamental.
And first, for their use; if they were good for any thing, they would
protect the head from cold, wet, and sunshine. Now, as far as cold is
concerned, they do so to a certain degree, but not a tenth part so well
as something else we shall talk of by and by; as for wet--what woman
ever trusted to her bonnet in a shower of rain? What woman does not
either pop up her parasol, or green cotton umbrella, or, if she has not
these female arms, ties over it her pocket-handkerchief, in a vain
attempt to keep off the pluvious god? Women are more frightened at
spoiling their bonnets than any other article of their dress: let them
but once get their bonnets under the dripping eaves of an umbrella, and,
like ostriches sticking their heads under ground, they think their whole
persons safe;--we appeal to any man who has walked down Cheapside with
his eyes open, on a rainy day, whether this be not true. And then for
the sun--who among the ladies trust to her bonnet for keeping her face
from freckling? Else why all the paraphernalia of parasols? why all
these endless patents for sylphides and sunscreens of every kind, form,
and colour? why can you never meet a lady in a summerwalk without one of
these elegant little contrivances in her hand? Comfort, we apprehend,
does not reside in a bonnet: look at a lady travelling, whether in a
carriage or a railroad diligence--she cannot for a moment lean back into
one of the nice pillowed corners of the vehicle, without running
imminent risk of crushing her bonnet; her head can never repose; she has
no travelling-cap, like a man, to put on while she stows away her bonnet
in some convenient place: the stiffened gauze, or canvass, or paper, of
which its inner framework is composed, rustles and crackles with every
attempt at compression; and a pound's worth or two of damage may be done
by a gentle tap or squeeze. Women, if candid, would allow that their
bonnets gave them much more trouble than comfort, and that they have
remained in use solely as conventional objects of dress--we will not
allow, of ornament. The only position in which a bonnet is becoming--and
even then it is only the modern class of bonnets--is, when they are
viewed full front: further, as we observed before, they make a nice
_encadrement_ for the face: and, with their endless adjuncts of lace,
ribands, and flowers, they commonly set off even moderately pretty
features to advantage. But is only the present kind of bonnet that does
so; the old-fashioned, poking, flaunting, square-cornered bonnet never
became any female physiognomy: it is only the small, tight,
come-and-kiss-me style of bonnet now worn by ladies, that is at all
tolerable. All this refers, however, only to that portion of the fairer
half of the human race which is in the bloom and vigour of youth and
womanhood: those that are still in childhood, or sinking into the vale
of years, cannot have a more inappropriate, more useless, covering for
the head than what they now wear, at least in England. Simplicity, which
should be the attribute of youth, and dignity, which should belong to
age, cannot be compatible with a modern bonnet: fifty inventions might
be made of coverings more suitable to these two stages of life.

How, then, has it come to pass that women have persuaded themselves, or
have been overpersuaded, into the belief that a bonnet is the highest
point of perfection in their dress? It has all been done by a foolish
imitation of the caprices of French milliners, themselves actuated by
millions of caprices and fancies--but at the same time by one
steadily-enduring principle, that novelty and change, no matter how
useless, how extravagant, form the soul of their peculiar trade. For,
note it down--the bonnet mania has not mounted upwards from the lower to
the higher ranks of society; on the contrary, it has been a regular
plant, sown as a trifling casual seed in the hotbed of some silly
creature's brain, and then sending down its roots into many an inferior
class. Any one who has crossed the British Channel, knows that the
bonnet--as we understand the word in England--is not an article of
national costume in any portion of the world except our own
island--America and Australia we place, of course, out of the pale of
taste. In France itself, the peasantry, and all classes of women
immediately under the conventional denomination of ladies, wear
_bonnets_. This word does not signify the same thing as with us, gentle
reader. The French word _bonnet_ means a snow-white cap, whether rising
into an enormous cone, like those of the Norman beauties, or limited to
a jaunting frill and lappels, like those of the Parisian grisettes. The
real bonnets, the French female _chapeau_, is worn only by those who
call themselves ladies; and this difference of costume marks a most
decided difference of rank and self-esteem in the various grades of
Gallic society. In the Bourbonnois, it is true, and in some parts of
Switzerland and Germany, straw-hats of various sizes are worn by the
peasantry; but these do not resemble the actual bonnet of the nineteenth
century. Who does not know the exquisite national head-dresses of the
Italian and Spanish women, from pictorial representation, if not from
actual inspection? Who has not read of the Greek cap and veil? Who has
not heard of the national caps of Poland, Hungary, and Russia? Not the
slightest approximation to the eccentricity of the bonnet is to be found
in any of these. In all of them, not caprice, but the more rational
qualities of use and ornament, have been studiously regarded. It is in
England only that our lower classes of women have abandoned their
national costume, and are content to suffer the inconvenient
consequences of imitating their superiors. Let any one who has traversed
Europe only recall to his mind the appearances of the female peasants as
to their head-dress, whether in their houses or in the fields, and
comparing them with the tattered, dirty things worn by the labourers'
wives and daughters of England, say which are to be preferred in point
of taste--which are the cleanest--which are the most becoming.

Not to go too far back into the mist of antiquity, the earliest traces
that we can find of hats being commonly worn in England, are to be met
with somewhere in the first half of the last century. Previous to that
time ladies wore hoods and caps; and in the Middle Ages muffled their
heads in wimples and veils; but some time or other--in the reign of the
second George, we believe--some lady or other stuck on her head a round
silk hat with a low crown and a broad brim, perfectly circular, and the
brim or ledge at right angles to the crown or head-piece. This she
subsequently changed into a straw one, and this was the root of the
evil--_hinc illæ lachrymæ!_ We are aware that, at the gay court of Louis
XIV., and even before he had a court, Mademoiselle de Montpensier, when
she went to battle or to hunt, wore a gold-laced semi-cocked hat: so did
Madame de Montespan when she accompanied the king to one of his grand
_parties de chasse_. But then, at the same time, these illustrious
"leaders of _ton_" put on gold-embroidered male coats, and evidently
endeavoured to transform themselves into men while partaking in manly
sports and dangers. Their hunting-hats bore no more relation to the
bonnets of their descendants, than do the black beaver hats of the
latter, when they mount their horses in Hyde Park or the Bois de
Boulogne. Indeed this very custom of wearing the male hat, is derived by
our modern belles from the times we are speaking of. Plain beaver or
felt hats were worn by some of our farmers' wives as early as the reign
of Charles I.; but, to judge from the prints of that date, they borrowed
them from their husbands. And to a period like this is to be traced the
custom, still extant throughout most parts of Wales, for the women to
wear the same head-costume as the men. The round ladies' hat, however,
of the middle and end of the last century, may be seen in its primitive
state in those enormous circles of straw, brought from Tuscany, and sold
in our milliners' shops, fit to be pinched and cut into the prevailing
fashion. The hats, both of men and women--when once they had quitted the
becoming costume of the Middle Ages--arose out of one and the same type;
a large circle of stuff with a projecting central cap for the skull.
Human invention, in the matter of hats, seems for several centuries to
have rested in this solitary idea. When this circular adumbral and
pluvial roofing had to be adapted to the female head, it was found
advisable to fasten it down to the cranium--not, indeed, by any screw
driven therein, nor by any intriguing with the locks of woman's hair,
but by the simple expedient of ribands passing under the chin. The
difficulty consisted in attaching the upper ends of these ribands; for
if they were sewn on under the overlapping brim, the same brim would
take liberties on a windy day, and would flap up and down like an Indian
punka. If they were sewn outside, they acted like the sheets of a ship's
sail, and pulled down the struggling circumference into two ugly
projections, bellying out before and behind. However, women, for
comfort's sake, having got an awkward article to deal with, preferred
the latter alternative--tied down their hats with ribands, (men, be it
remembered, at the same time, tied _up_ their brims into the prim, high,
cocked shape,) and called these ugly coverings "gipsy hats." We remember
something like them, dear reader,

  "When first we went a-gipsying, long long ago."

Before matters had arrived at this pitch of ugliness, the ladies of the
court of George III.--the very antipodes of that of Louis XIV.--had
essayed, under the auspices of good Queen Charlotte, to render the round
hat, with the straight-projecting brim, less ugly; but their invention
carried them no further than to surround it, at one time, with a deep
ruff of ribands, or they crushed it into an untidy rumble-tumble shape;
at another, they let copious streamers float from the crown down their
backs; or again, they gave it a monstrous pitch up behind. There is this
to be said in their excuse--they hardly knew what parasols and umbrellas
were. They wielded enormous fans, nearly two feet long; they had
capuchins to their cloaks; and they delighted in the rotundity of hoops.
Peace be with the souls of our grandmothers! Good old creatures! they
were not very tasty, to be sure; but they wore glorious stiff taffety
fardingales, and they have left us many an ample commode full of real
china. As times wore on, and as the free-and-easy revolutionary school
came to inculcate their loose doctrines on women as well as men, the
ladies began to find the hinder pokes of their hats uncommon nuisances;
and so, in a fit of spleen, one day the Duchess of G----, or some other
woman of fashion, cut off this hinder protuberance, and appeared, to the
scandal of her neighbours, _plus_ the front poke, _minus_ the back one.
This was a daring, free-thinking, revolutionary innovation. Somebody had
probably done it at Paris before her; but the startling idea had gone
forth--women began to see daylight through their hats--the dawn of
emancipation appeared--clip, clip, went the scissors, and, for the time
being, the dynasty of gipsy hats had ceased to reign. Hereupon--the
consequence of all changes of dynasties--whether of bonnets or Bourbons,
'tis much the same--a fearful period of anarchy ensued: every milliner's
shop in Paris and London was pregnant with new shapes--bonnets
periodically overturned bonnets, numbers were devoted to the block every
week, and each succeeding month saw fresh competitors for public favour
coming to the giddy vortex of fashion. Husbands suffered dreadfully
during those troublous times: many a man's temper and purse were then
irremediably damaged; and there seemed to be no means of escaping from
this reign of female terror, this bonnetian chaos, until the great peace
of 1814 brought about a prompt solution. Here, to be classical in so
grave a matter, we may observe, that, just as Virgil in his Georgics
represents a civil tumult, even in its loudest hubbub, to be suddenly
calmed by the appearance of some man of known virtue and authority, so
in London--and therefore in England--the visit of an illustrious lady,
and the cut of her bonnet, appeased the agitated breasts of our fair
countrywomen, and reduced their fancy to a fixed idea. The Grand-duchess
of Oldenburg came over with her brother, the Emperor of all the Russias,
and wore on her head, not a coronet--but such a bonnet!

  "Ye powers who dress the head, if such there are,
  And make the change of woman's taste your care!"

--so Cowper might well have exclaimed, had he been then living. Tell us,
ye gods, whence did her imperial highness derive the idea of her bonnet?
Truly, we can conjecture no other source, than these very words
designating her rank, for the bonnet was imperial--none but such a lady
would have dared to originate it; and it was also high--high indeed! The
crown rose eighteen inches in perpendicular altitude from the nape of
the neck, while the front poke retained the modest dimensions of the
original gipsy hat. We recollect the duchess in Hyde Park with this
monstrous headgear, and the women all in ecstacy at the delightful
novelty. The success of this bonnet was universal--it was a "tremendous
hit," as they say in the play-bills; every woman that could afford it
raised her crown, and Oldenburgized her head. Well, this fashion lasted
tolerably long; it had the great value of rendering public opinion
nearly uniform; but it got old, as all fashions must do, and died a
natural death--not without an heir, a worthy heir. The new idea, you
will perceive, was that of inordinate length, in one way or the other.
The duchess had got it all up aloft--up in her top-royals--the new
bonnet (we really do not know who invented it, but some wicked little
hussy at Paris, no doubt) had it all down below, in the main-sail; the
crown dwindled to nothing, and out went the front poke to exactly the
same length, eighteen inches. This was truly exquisite--every body was
in raptures. The bonnet was tied tight under the chin, and to see a
woman's face you had to look down a sort of semi-funnelled hollow, where
the ambiguous shade of her countenance was illuminated only by the
radiance of her eyes. Here, too, the success was immense; the mothers of
us, the young bloods, the choice spirits of the present day, all wore
bonnets of this kind, when our governors went wooing them in
narrow-brimmed overtopping hats. The next change of any note worth
mentioning, was one of comparatively recent times, such as some of us
may remember their first loves in; it was derived from a partial return
to the primitive round expanded hat, and was in its chief glory, when
that last great piece of French dirty work, the Revolution of 1830, was
perpetrated. Women had retrograded to the old circular idea; they had
given up their pokes. It was too much--female folly had, it was
supposed, worn itself out--a revolution was wanted, and it came. To wear
the hat, however, in its primitive rotundity was impossible--it would
have suited a lady in the West Indies, but not in Europe; to tie down
the brim would not do, it would have been re-adopting the worn-out
fashions; so, just as was done in the Parisian political revolution, a
compromise of principles was resorted to--women cut off part of their
brims, turned the circle into a sort of eccentric oval, and rejoiced in
the redundant curve projecting now from the left, now on the right side
of their heads. Ribands, stiffened out into gigantic bows, set forth the
ample _chapeau_ right gaily; the brim stretched itself out with all the
insolence of a public favourite; and at length Tom Hood showed us how a
lady might go to church on a rainy day, and shelter the whole family
beneath her maternal hat. The present queen of the French wore an
enormous chapeau of this kind at the audience which Louis Philippe gave
to the peers and deputies that came to offer him the throne; every lady
in England, of a certain age, has worn a hat of the same sort.

We are bound to allow that this hat had something of the useful in it:
the ample size of the brim effectually warded off both sun and rain; and
we much question whether the parasol trade did not rather languish under
its influence. But then it had corresponding disadvantages; it was
unbearable in a windy day, and rendered any thing like close contact
with a friend impossible. To get a kiss from your pretty cousin, or your
maiden aunt, if you met them in the street, was quite out of the
question, unless you previously doffed your hat; and, as for two young
ladies laying their heads together and whispering soft secrets, no such
thing was practicable. The downfall, therefore, of such stiff and
unwieldy hats might have been foretold from an early period of their
existence; it came, and with it a counter-revolution--a restoration of
the legitimist bonnet. But, mark the malignity of a certain elderly
personage, whose name and residence we never mention in ears polite; a
change, a final change, came, and it came from the source of all
abominations--Paris! Yes! 'twas a pure and genuine invention of the
fickle people--of _la jeune France_! We gave up the restored bonnet, and
we adopted the little, reduced, cut-away, impudent bonnet of the present
moment. Now, with regard to the actual origin of this same form of
bonnet, which has met with universal approbation, but which has no
really good qualities to recommend it, except those of portability and
warmth to the ears of the wearer--we make, with some regret, the
following assertion, upon the accuracy of which we stake our æsthetic
reputation. We were witnesses of the fact; any man in Paris, who had his
eyes about him, must have witnessed the same thing; we appeal to all the
_lions_ of the Bois, or the Boulevard des Italiens: these small bonnets,
and the peculiar mode of wearing them at the back of the head were first
introduced in Paris by a class of persons, to whom we cannot make any
more definite allusion than to say that their names must not be
mentioned. These people invented these bonnets, and wore them for nearly
six months before they were imitated; and then, the fashion being taken
up by the milliners, became general both in France and England. A
corresponding change in the cut of the upper portions of ladies' gowns,
and in the manner of putting on the shawl--that very cut and manner now
universally adopted--came from the same source, and at the same time.
These changes added greatly to female comfort, we admit; and they were
founded, mainly, on principles of good taste; but they had also other
causes, obvious to the æsthetician and the ethnologist, which we abstain
from noticing. Once more, having been eye-witnesses to the change, and
having at the time maliciously speculated within our own breasts as to
how long it would take for such a _mode_ to run the round of women's
heads--our anticipations having been fully realized--we pledge ourselves
to the accuracy of this statement.

Well, then, having thus run a-muck against bonnets, what reparation are
we to make to the fair sex, for abusing their taste and condemning their
practice? We will try to point out to them certain leading ideas, which
may bring them back to sounder principles, and make the covering of
their heads worthy of the beauty of their faces. And here, as in the
case of hats, the first thing to be aimed at must be, utility--the
second, ornament. Be it observed, too, that we are writing for the
latitude of England; because in this respect, as in most others, the
climate ought to decide upon the basis of national costume. Now an
Englishwoman, of whatever grade she may be, requires, when she goes out
of doors, protection principally from wet, next from cold, and lastly
from heat. Her head-dress, to be really useful, ought to comprise
qualities that will effect these three objects. The substance,
therefore, of the covering cannot consist of cotton, linen, or silk, at
_all_ times of the year; these substances will do for the more
temperate or the hotter seasons, but not in winter--that is to say, they
will not be serviceable during five months out of the twelve. In this
inclement season nothing but woollen cloth or fur ought to be the
principal article of female head-dress; only these two substances will
effectually keep off wet and cold. They may be lined with silk or any
other soft substance, but the foundation, we repeat, ought to be fur or
woollen cloth; both of them articles of English manufacture or
preparation--one varying through all degrees of price; the other within
the reach of most persons, even in the middling classes of society. In
the summer, silk, linen, cotton, or any other light fabric, will effect
the purpose proposed--protection from the rays of the sun, and from the
casual wet that may occur--though from the last, less than from the
first inconvenience. So much for the common _substance_ of an
Englishwoman's out-of-door head-dress--for the _material_, that is to
say: its use should always be modified by the rank and occupation of the
wearer. The _form_ must be ascertained from a reference to the
principles laid down above, as to the combining a proper degree of
concealment, with the due exhibiting of the beautiful features of the
female face; the covering should afford ample concealment when wanted,
but should also admit of the head being completely exposed when
required. Now, the veil gives abundant concealment, but does not admit
of total removal, and is rather inconvenient to the wearer; it is apt to
get in the way, and is in danger of causing a slovenly, or even a dirty,
appearance; it is more suited for in-door, than for out-of-door
use--more for a warm than a cold climate. The _hood_ is the best thing
we know of, for combining the two requisites of complete concealment and
complete exposure. It unites by its shape all the purposes of form, to
the applicability of any kind of soft material; and it is suitable to
the climate of this country at any period of the year. But, "how ugly!"
the ladies will exclaim--"who could bear to tie her head up in a
pudding-bag?--Does not the very form of the hood approach too nearly to
that of the head, and thus violate a fundamental principle of
æsthetics?" Our reply must be, that there are various kinds of hoods,
and that, if they be considered ugly, it is more from their strangeness,
through long disuse, than from any fault in their natural form. Besides,
the very principle of concealment, so essential to a woman's modesty,
militates rather against the principle of beauty; we admit it to be a
difficulty--we would even say that the head of the female while
out-of-doors, amid the busy throng, does not admit of the same degree of
ornament as the head of the male. If we can make woman's covering
graceful, it is enough; the beauty of it should be reserved for the
drawing-room and the boudoir--it should not be exhibited in the street.
And after all, beauty for beauty, we will back a hood against a bonnet
any day in the week.

Bear with us, however, gentle ladies, while we explain to you how we
would have you make and wear your hoods; and, to do so the better,
examine with us some of those delightful portraits of the time of Rubens
and Vandyke, when, among the nobler classes of females, dress had
certainly attained a high, if not its highest point of picturesque and
elegant effect. Look at some of those admirable Flemish pictures, where
you will see many a pretty face enveloped in a fur-trimmed hood, and
observe how much grace and modest dignity is given by that simple
habiliment. It is something of this kind which we would recommend. For
example--if a hood, so cut as not to admit of too close a conformation
to the shape of the head, were attached to a tippet which might descend
and protect the shoulders, or come even lower, at the fancy of the
wearer, and were fastened round the neck, the hood itself might be
elevated so as to cover the head, and might be drawn even over the face;
or it might be instantly thrown back, and would lie on the upper part of
the neck in picturesque and graceful folds. The lines of such a
covering, not so flowing, indeed, as those of a veil, would yet be not
inelegant; and they would afford sufficient contrast to the features of
the face, while they would be far superior to the unmeaning rigidity of
the bonnet. Hoods, such as those, are even now worn by some ladies for
carriage purposes, or while going to evening parties; and they would
look just as well in the bright light of the sun, as by the pale rays of
the moon. Consider for a moment the comfort and the utility of such a
dress; what a complete protection from cold, and, if necessary, from
wet! Even in summer, the hood would keep off the sun's beams much more
effectually than any bonnet; it would be light, warm, portable--useable
at pleasure, always ornamental, always becoming. These hoods would be of
service, whether for a walk or for a journey in a carriage; they would
not need to be disentangled from the person like bonnets; they would
merely have to be thrown back; they never could get spoiled by crushing;
they never would need cumbrous boxes to be carried in; and, what is
worthy of consideration, their cost might always be suited to the means
of the wearer. They would admit of any kind of ornament that would not
destroy their principle of utility;--for ornament ceases to be ornament
when it negatives the purpose of the object to which it is applied--it
becomes in such a case a mere excrescence: they might be edged and lined
with any, the most sumptuous or the plainest materials: they might be
attached round the neck by rich cords of gold and jewelled clasps; or
they might be fastened with simple ribands. Thus, in spring time, a
young and high-born damsel might wear her hood and tippet of
light-coloured silk or brocade, edged with ermine or swan's-down, and
attached with silver cords and clasps of pearl--while the noble matron
might wear the same of crimson or purple velvet, edged with sable, and
attached with golden cords and diamonds. The peasant's wife and daughter
might use hoods of black, blue, or grey woollen cloth, lined with grey
linen, edged with plain riband, and fastened with a simple button. How
much better, how much more rational, how much more becoming, such
head-dresses as these, than the gay but useless ribands, feathers, and
chapeaux of the one class, or the misshapen, uncomfortable,
untidy-looking bonnets of the other! According to the present system, it
is almost impossible to infer the rank of a lady from her external
costume--many a milliner's girl has passed for a duchess before
now--whereas by the adoption of articles of dress, founded on principles
like those of the hood, some decisive marks of distinction might be
obtained. Thus the rich furs and the jewels, or the gold brocade of the
princess, might indeed be imitated by the merchant's wife--who at the
present day is nearly her equal in wealth--the representative of
political power in, what is called, a constitutional government; but the
shop-girl and the dancing-mistress might break their hearts with spite,
ere they could set up a system of dress in keeping with hoods of the
kind alluded to. We do not recommend, that distinction of dress
according to difference of rank should be carried to an undue limit; for
in the present age of the world, and especially in our country, where
the basis of society is shifting, and where the pivots of the commonweal
are loose, too little distinction of rank is allowed; rank is not
respected as it ought to be; but, nevertheless, the promiscuous jumbling
together and confounding of all men is carried too far; it is one of the
elements of republicanism and anarchy that we should do well to
discourage. To ladies, more than to men, would distinctions of dress be
useful, and with them they would be more practicable of reintroduction;
any thing that would tend to augment the outward respect of men for
women, and of women for each other, would be so much gained toward a
revival of some of the soundest maxims of former days.

Bonnets, then, to Orcus! Hoods to the seventh heaven!

  H. L. J.



GERMAN-AMERICAN ROMANCES.

THE VICEROY AND THE ARISTOCRACY, OR MEXICO IN 1812.

PART THE FIRST.


The most obvious defect of the German school of romance is the universal
tendency of its writers to the indefinite and periphrastic, and the
consequent absence of the characteristic and the true in their
descriptions both of human and of external nature. Much of this
prevailing habit may perhaps be attributed to the example of Goethe,
who, in his works of fiction, narrates the adventures of A and B,
residing in the town of C, situate in some nameless and inscrutable
section of Germany. And when, to all this mystery, is superadded the
ponderous and ungraceful style of most German writers, and the Latin
construction of their interminable sentences, for the solution of which
the reader must wade to the final word, the lack of good original
novels, and the universal preference, in Germany, of translations from
French and English authors, will be readily accounted for. The main
source of these defects in the German writers may be found in their
retired and bookish habits. Shut up in their studies, with no companions
but their books and their meerschaums, and viewing the eternal world
through the loopholes of retreat, often anxious, too, to advance and
illustrate some pet theory of their own, their writings smell horribly
of the lamp, and are long-winded, tedious, and unnatural. Another cause
of the deficiencies above-named, may perhaps be discovered in the
severity of German censorship, and the apprehension that more clearness
and identity in their descriptions of persons and places might be
twisted into political and personal allusions.

The admitted superiority of French and English works of fiction, may be
attributed to the widely different habits of the writers. Nearly all the
French, and many of the English writers of the present day, are men of
the world, eschewing solitude, and mixing largely in society. The good
effects of this frequent collision with their fellow-men are visible in
their works, many of which display a deep knowledge of human nature, a
vivid power of description, and a command of dialogue, not only spirited
and natural, but often rising with the occasion into dramatic point and
brilliancy.

At length, however, a new and radiant star has arisen in the cloudy
firmament of German fiction--a novel-writer whose works exhibit a
striking example of entire exemption from the defects so evident in the
great majority of his brethren. This is a nameless personage, known
among German reviewers as Der Unbekannte, or the Unknown, and who has
broken ground that no German writer had hitherto ventured upon. Some
have supposed him to be a Pennsylvanian, a considerable part of which
state was originally colonized by Germans, whose descendants still, to a
large extent, preserve the language and habits of the mother country.
Another report stated him to be a native German, who had emigrated to
Louisiana, and established himself there as a planter. Nothing definite,
in short, is known; but what is certain is, that he has been long
resident in the United States and in Mexico, and has made excellent use
of his opportunities for becoming acquainted with those countries and
their inhabitants. His subjects are, with slight exceptions,
Transatlantic, his materials original, his style singularly natural and
forcible; proving that however rugged the German language may appear in
the works of others, it will yield to the hand of a master, and readily
adapt itself to every subject.

Our readers will probably not have forgotten a series of American,
Texian, and Mexican tales and sketches, which have appeared during the
last few months in the pages of this magazine. With some alterations and
adaptations, intended to render them more acceptable to English tastes,
they are selections from the works of the writer above described. These
works being published, as already mentioned, anonymously, and at prices
beyond the means of most German readers, are but partially known and
read even in Germany; and in this country they are entirely unknown,
such portions excepted as have appeared without a name in our recent
numbers. Having there presented our readers with specimens only, and for
the most part of his latest works, we will now proceed to give them some
account of one of his earliest and most important productions--a Mexican
historical romance of striking interest, dated two years subsequently to
the first revolutionary outbreak in Mexico, and exhibiting a degree of
descriptive and dramatic power unparalleled in the whole range of German
fiction.

When, in the year 1776, the British colonies, now known as the United
States of America, made their declaration of independence, the struggle
that ensued was unmarked by any circumstances of particular atrocity or
blood-thirstiness, except perhaps, occasionally, on the part of the
Indian allies of either party. The fight was between men of the same
race, who had been accustomed to look upon each other as countrymen and
brothers, and whose sympathies and feelings were in many respects in
unison; it was fought manfully and fairly, as beseemed civilized men in
the eighteenth century of the Christian era. Whatever wrongs, real or
imaginary, the British Americans had to complain of, they had none that
sufficed, even in their own eyes, to justify reprisals or cruelties
beyond those which the most humanely conducted and least envenomed wars
inevitably entail. But it was under strikingly different circumstances
that the second of the two great republics which, with the exception of
British possessions, now comprise the whole civilized portion of the
North American continent, started into existence. In the former instance
was seen the young and vigorous country which, having attained its
majority, and feeling itself able to dispense with parental
guardianship, asserted its independence, and vindicated it, with a
strong hand, it is true, but yet with a warm heart and a cool judgment.
In the latter case it was the spring of the caged tiger, that for years
had pined in narrow prison beneath the scourge of its keeper, whom it at
last turned upon and rent in its fury.

Subdued by the fierce assault of a handful of desperate adventurers, the
history of Mexico, from the earliest period of its conquest, is one
continuous record of oppression and cruelty on the one hand, of long and
bitter suffering on the other. Deprived of its religious and customs,
its priesthood and legitimate sovereigns mercilessly tortured and slain,
its temples and institutions annihilated, its very history and
traditions blotted out, Mexico, in the hands of the Spaniards, was
rapidly transformed from a flourishing and independent empire into a
huge province; while its inhabitants became a disposable horde, on whom
the conquerors seemed to think they were conferring a benefit, when they
made gift of them by hundreds and thousands, like sheep or oxen, to a
lawless and reckless soldiery. Their houses and lands, sometimes even
their wives and children, were snatched from them, and they were driven
in herds to labour in the mines, or condemned to carry burdens over
pathless and precipitous mountains; like the Gibeonites of old, they
were made hewers of wood and drawers of water to all the congregation.
Expelled from the towns, and confined to hamlets and villages, whence
they were only summoned to toil in the service of their oppressors, they
became in time entirely brutalized, losing the finer and more noble
qualities that distinguish man from the beast of the forest, and
retaining only a bitter sense of their degradation, a vivid impression
of the sufferings they daily endured, and a gloomy instinctive longing
after a bloody revenge.

With these Indians, who, at the commencement of the present century,
composed two-fifths of the population of Mexico, may be classed a race
of beings equally numerous, equally unfortunate and destitute, and still
wilder and more despised--namely, the various castes sprung from the
intercourse of the conquerors of the country, of their successors and
slaves, with the aborigines. These half-bloods, who united the apparent
stupidity and real apathy of the Indian with the lawlessness and
impatience of restraint of their white fathers, found themselves driven
out into a world that branded them for the accident of their birth;
deprived of all property, and reduced to the most ignoble employments;
continual objects of fear and detestation to the better classes, because
they had nothing to risk, and every thing to gain, by a political
convulsion. Such were the principal elements of a population which,
after centuries of patient endurance, was at last roused to enter the
lists and struggle for its independence, with all the fury of the
captive who breaks the long-worn fetters from his chafed and bleeding
limbs, and seeks his deliverance in the utter extermination of his
jailers.

For three hundred years had the Mexicans groaned under the lash of their
taskmasters, ruled by monarchs whom they never beheld, and enduring
innumerable evils, without nourishing a single rebellious or
revolutionary thought. If the breeze of liberty that blew over from the
north, occasionally awakened in their minds the idea of an improved
state of things, the hope, or rather wish, speedily died away, crushed
and annihilated under the well-combined system of oppression employed by
the Spaniards. The nobles had ranged themselves entirely on the side of
the government, the middle classes had followed their example, and the
people were compelled to obey. All was quiet in Mexico, long after
insurrections had broken out in Spanish colonies further south; and this
state of tranquillity was not even disturbed, when news were brought of
the invasion of Spain by its hereditary foe, of the occupation of Madrid
by French armies, and of the scenes of butchery that took place in that
capital on the second day of May 1808. The Mexicans, far from availing
themselves of this favourable opportunity to proclaim their own
independence, hastened to give proofs of their sympathy with the
aggrieved honour of the mother country; and on all sides resounded
curses upon the head of the powerful usurper who had ousted their
legitimate but unknown monarch from his throne, and now detained him in
captivity. Intelligence of the Junta's declaration of war against
Napoleon was received with unbounded applause, and all were striving to
demonstrate their enthusiasm in the most efficient manner, when a royal
decree arrived, issued by the very prince whose misfortunes they were
deploring, and by which Mexico was ordered to recognise as its sovereign
the brother of that usurper who had dispossessed its rightful king.

A stronger proof of Ferdinand's unworthiness to rule, could hardly have
been given to the Mexicans than the decree in question. Loyalty had long
been an article of faith with the whole nation; but even as the blindest
superstition is sometimes metamorphosed on a sudden into total
infidelity, passing from one extreme to the other, so was all feeling of
loyalty utterly extinguished in the breast of the Mexican people by this
instance of regal abjectness. It would have been long before they
revolted against their hereditary Spanish ruler; but to find themselves
given away by him in so ignominious a manner, was a degradation which
they felt the more deeply from its being almost the only one that had
been hitherto spared them. Discontent was universal; and by a unanimous
and popular movement, the decree was publicly burned.

With just indignation did the Mexicans now discover that those persons
who had hitherto most prided themselves on their loyalty and fidelity to
the king and the reigning dynasty, were precisely the first to transfer
their allegiance to the new sovereign. The whole of the government
officers, Spaniards nearly to a man, hastened to take measures for the
surrender of the nation to its new ruler, without even enquiring whether
it approved of the change. One man only was in favour of a more
honourable expedient, and that man was Iturrigaray, the viceroy. Well
acquainted with the cowardice and cunning of his captive sovereign, the
former of which qualities had dictated the decree, he had nevertheless
formed a plan to preserve Mexico for him, in accordance with the wish of
its population. A junta, composed of Spaniards and of the most
distinguished Mexicans, was to represent the nation till the arrival of
further news or orders from Europe. This plan was generally approved of
by the Mexicans, who looked forward with unbounded delight to the moment
when they should have a voice in the public affairs of their country.
The joy was universal; but in the very midst of this joy, and of the
preliminaries to the carrying out of this project, the author of it, the
viceroy himself, was seized in his palace by his own countrymen,
conducted with his family to Vera Cruz, and slipped off to Spain as a
state prisoner.

By this lawless proceeding, it was made evident to the weakest
comprehension, that so long as the Spaniard ruled, the Mexican must
remain in a state of unconditional slavery; that he could never hope to
obtain a share in the management of his country; and that the act of
violence of which Iturrigaray had been the victim, had been solely
caused by the disposition he had shown to pave the way for the gradual
emancipation of the Creoles. From this moment may be dated the decision
of the Mexicans to get rid of the Spaniards at any price; and a
conspiracy was immediately organized, which was joined by at least a
hundred of the principal Creoles, and by a far larger number of the
middle classes, and of the military--the object being to shake off the
ignominious yoke that pressed so heavily upon them. The treason of one
of the conspirators, who on his death-bed, in confession, betrayed his
confederates, accelerated the outbreak of the plot.

It was at nine o'clock on the evening of the 15th September 1810, that
Don Ignacio Allende y Unzaga, captain in the royal regiment _de la
Reyna_, came in all haste from Gueretaro to Dolores, and burst into the
dwelling of Padre Hidalgo, the parish priest of the latter place, with
news that the conspiracy had been discovered, and an order issued to
take prisoners, dead or alive, all those concerned in it. With the
prospect of certain death before their eyes, the two conspirators held a
short consultation, and then hastened to announce to their friends their
firm decision to stake their lives upon the freedom of their country.
Two officers, the lieutenants Abasalo and Aldama, and several musicians,
friends and companions of the cura, joined them, and by these men,
thirteen in number, was the great Mexican revolution begun.

Whilst Hidalgo, a crucifix in his left hand, a pistol in his right,
hurried to the prison and set at liberty the criminals confined there,
Allende proceeded to the houses of the Spanish inhabitants, and
compelled them to deliver up their plate and ready money. Then, with the
cry of "_Viva la Independencia, y muera el mal gobierno!_" the
insurgents paraded the streets of Dolores. The whole of the Indian
population ranged themselves under the banner of their beloved curate,
who, in a few hours, found himself at the head of some thousand men.
They took the road to Miguel el Grande, and, before reaching that place,
were joined by eight hundred recruits from Allende's regiment. Shouting
their war-cry of "Death to the Gachupins!"[5] the rebels reached San
Felipe; in three days their numbers amounted to twenty thousand; at
Zelaya, a whole regiment of Mexican infantry, and a portion of the
cavalry regiment of the Principe, came over to them. On they went,
"Mueran los Gachupinos!" still their cry, to Guanaxato, the richest city
in Mexico, where they were joined by some more troops. Indians kept
flowing in from all sides, and the mob, for it was little more, soon
reached fifty thousand men. The fortified alhondega, or granary, at
Guanaxato, was taken by storm; the Spaniards and Creoles who had shut
themselves up there with their treasures, were massacred; upwards of
five millions of hard dollars fell into the hands of the insurgents.
This success brought more Indians from all parts of the country. There
were soon eighty thousand men collected together, but amongst them were
hardly four thousand muskets. Pressing forward, by way of Valladolid,
towards Mexico, they totally defeated Colonel Truxillo at Las Cruces,
and, on the 31st October, looked down from the rising ground of Santa Fé
upon the capital city, within the walls of which were thirty thousand
Léperos,[6] who awaited but the signal to break into open insurrection.
Only two thousand troops of the line garrisoned Mexico; Calleja, the
commander-in-chief, was a hundred leagues off; another general, the
Count of Cadena, sixty; in the mountains the people were rising in
favour of the revolution; another patriot chief was marching from
Tlalnepatla to support Hidalgo, while the viceroy was preparing to
retire to Vera Cruz. The fate of Mexico was, according to all
appearance, about to be decided; one bold assault, and the Indians would
again be the rulers of the country. But on the very day after their
arrival within sight of Mexico, Hidalgo, with his hundred and ten
thousand men, commenced a retreat. The capital was saved; and from that
day may be dated the sufferings and reverses of the patriots.

Or the 7th November, at Aculco, Hidalgo met the united Spanish and
Creole army, and was defeated in the combat that ensued. Soon
afterwards, Allende experienced a like misfortune at Marfil; and a third
action, near Calderon, decided the fate of the campaign. Hidalgo himself
was betrayed at Acalito, with fifty of his companions, and put to death.

The first act of the revolutionary drama was over, within six months
after the bloody curtain had been raised; but the torch of insurrection,
far from being extinguished by the fall of its bearer, had divided and
multiplied itself, as if to spread the conflagration with more
certainty. Thousands of those who had escaped from the battle-fields of
Aculco, Marfil, and Calderon, now spread themselves through the
different provinces, and commenced a war of extermination that was
destined, slowly but surely, to sweep away their unappeasable tyrants.
Most of these bands were commanded by priests, lawyers, or adventurers,
who acted without plan or concert, and possessed little or no
qualification for their post as leaders, save their hatred of the
Gachupins. But few of the better class of Creoles were to be found
amongst the insurgents; and the strife was to all appearance between the
Indians and half-bloods, on the one hand, and the property and
intelligence of the country, represented by the Spaniards and Creoles,
on the other.

The Creoles, although considerably less oppressed than the coloured
races, had felt themselves more so; because, being more enlightened and
civilized, they had a livelier feeling and perception of the yoke than
the Indians and half-castes. Children and descendants of the Spaniards,
who looked with sovereign contempt upon every thing Creole, even to
their own offspring, the white Mexicans imbibed hatred of Spain almost
with their mothers' milk. Far from enjoying what the letter of the law
gave them, the same rights as their European fathers, they found
themselves driven back among the people; while all offices and posts
were filled by Spaniards, who, for the most part, came to Mexico in
rags, and left it possessed of immense wealth. Even the possession of
magnificent estates, with their incalculable subterranean treasures, was
of precarious benefit to the Creoles; for the Spaniards paid small
respect to the laws of property, and, in the name of their royal master,
assumed unlimited power over the land.

The bitterness of feeling consequent on this state of things, at length
roused into activity the latent desire of freedom from the Spanish rule,
a freedom which was to have been obtained by the conspiracy already
referred to. On a given day, there was to have been a general rising
throughout Mexico; all the Spanish officers and _employés_ were to have
been arrested, and their places filled by Creoles; the seaports were to
have been seized and garrisoned, so as to prevent succours coming to the
Spaniards from the neighbouring island of Cuba. The discovery and
premature outbreak of the plot, as already mentioned, were the causes of
its failure. Hidalgo, who was too deeply compromised to recede, had put
himself at the head of the revolution, and enraged against the Creoles,
who had, for the most part, managed to draw their heads out of the
noose, commenced with his Indians a war of extermination that spared
neither Spaniards nor Creoles. This terrible blunder on the part of the
soldier-priest, of itself decided the fate of the outbreak. The Creoles
were compelled to unite with the very Spaniards whose downfall they had
been plotting; and it was mainly through their co-operation that the
three battles with the rebels had been won. The Spaniards, however,
instead of being grateful for the assistance they had received from the
Creoles, persisted in looking upon the latter as a pack of unlucky
rebels, whose treason had not even been rendered respectable by success.

Enraged at the revolt that had threatened to deprive their king of his
supremacy, and themselves of the plunder of the richest country in the
world, the Spaniards applied themselves to obviate the possibility of
any future rebellion, by pretty much the same measures that a bee-hunter
takes to secure himself against the stings of the bees before seizing
their honey, namely, by fire and the axe. Twenty-four cities, both large
and small, and innumerable villages, were razed to the ground during the
first eighteen months of the revolution, and their inhabitants utterly
exterminated, as a punishment for having favoured the insurgents. Even
then, these bigoted and barbarous servants of legitimacy were not
satisfied with this wholesale slaughter. Through the medium of the
church, and in the name of the divine Trinity and of the blessed Virgin,
they proclaimed a solemn amnesty, and those among the credulous and
unfortunate rebels who availed themselves of it were mercilessly
massacred. This infamous and blasphemous piece of bad faith rendered any
pacification of the country impossible, and went far towards uniting the
whole population against its contemptible and blood-thirsty tyrants.

Amongst the adventurers who had joined Hidalgo on his triumphant march
from Guanaxato to Mexico, was his old friend and schoolfellow, Morellos,
rector of Nucupetaro. Hidalgo received him as a brother, and
comnissioned him to raise the standard of revolt in the south-western
provinces of Mexico. Morellos, who was then sixty years of age, repaired
to his appointed post with only five followers. In Petalan he was joined
by twenty negroes, to whom he promised their freedom; and soon
afterwards several Creoles ranged themselves under his banner. Unlike
the unfortunate Hidalgo, he began the war on a small scale, and after
the fashion of those guerillas who in Spain had done so much mischief to
the French armies. Gradually enlarging the sphere of his operations, he
had, during a sixteen months' warfare, gained several not unimportant
advantages over the Spanish generals. Report represented him as a man of
grave and earnest character--quite the converse of the hasty and
unreflecting Hidalgo--of sound judgment, irreproachable morals, and far
more liberal and extended views than could have been expected from the
confined education of a Mexican priest. The influence he possessed over
the Indians was said to be unbounded.

At the time at which the action of the book now before us commences,
namely, upon a carnival day of the year 1812, Morellos had marched into
the vicinity of Mexico at the head of his little army. The principal
leaders of the patriots, Vittoria, Guerero, Bravo, Ossourno, and others,
had placed themselves under his orders; and the moral weight of his name
seemed to be at last producing what had been wanting since the death of
Hidalgo--namely, that unanimity in the operations of the patriots, and
that degree of discipline amongst their troops, which were calculated to
gain them the confidence of the nation.

The first two chapters of the "Viceroy" are of so striking a nature, and
give such strange and startling glimpses of the state of Mexican society
and feeling at that period, that, with some slight abridgement, we shall
here translate them both.


CHAPTER THE FIRST.

  "'Tis known, at least it should be, that throughout
    All countries of the Catholic persuasion,
  Some weeks before Shrove Tuesday comes about,
    The people take their fill of recreation,
  And buy repentance, ere they grow devout,
    However high their rank, or low their station,
  With fiddling, feasting, dancing, drinking, masking,
  And other things which may be had for asking."

  BYRON.

The siesta was over; and the profound stillness in which the capital of
New Spain had been buried during the preceding two hours, was suddenly
broken by the hum of innumerable voices. The noise, which commenced in
the suburbs, extended itself rapidly, and increased almost to a roar,
scaring away the gallinazos and other birds of prey, that were as usual
seeking food in the streets and squares of the city of Mexico. Thousands
of the inhabitants arose from their resting-places under the porticoes
of houses, churches, and palaces, or hurried forth from the great bazar,
eager to celebrate the carnival with that boundless mirth and license by
which Roman Catholic nations seem to console themselves for the fasts
and privations that are to succeed it.

The variety of the costumes in which the maskers had arrayed themselves
was endless, while the profanity of some of them was no less remarkable.
Here might be seen a gigantic _tenatero_, or porter, in a sergeant's
jacket, and with the enormous cocked hat of a Spanish general upon his
head, a globe and sceptre in one hand, in the other a pasteboard cross,
strutting proudly about in the character of the Redeemer of Atolnico;[7]
while around him a party of Indians, Zambos, and Metises, metamorphosed
into Apostles, Pharisees, and Jewish women, performed dances of very
questionable propriety in honour of their divine master. In another
place, Adam and Eve were incessantly driven out of Paradise by an angel
with a flaming sword--the three figures resembling very much the same
persons, as they used to be represented in the halfpenny woodcuts of the
past century. Beside them, _Dios el Padre_ led off a dance to the sound
of a cracked guitar, which St Cecilia was twanging as an accompaniment
to the nasal melody of the gangaso;[8] and a little further on, the
child Jesus, mounted on a jackass, was flying into Egypt, and squirting,
as he went, streams of water into the open windows of houses, and into
the faces of the passers-by. Mingled with the mummers were crowds of
loathsome _léperos_; and again, amongst these might be seen numerous
groups of perfumed dandies and elegantly dressed ladies, who contrasted
with the throng of Indians as swamp-lilies do with the filth and
corruption of a pestilential marsh. In spite of the broad sunlight,
rockets were going off on all sides, to the great amusement of the
Indians, who burst out into screams of wild delight each time that one
of the fiery missiles caused alarm and confusion amongst the gaily
attired dames who thronged the balconies, and gazed down from their
windows upon the motley scene. The contrast of all this movement and
uproar with the silence and solitude that had reigned so few moments
before, was startling. It was as if the earth had suddenly opened and
vomited forth the thousands of Mulattoes and Zambos, Indians, Metises,
and Creoles,[9] that now sang, danced, chattered, screamed, and
shouted--doing their utmost worthily to play their part in the
time-honored saturnalia of the Romish church.

Differing from the custom of more refiled, although perhaps not more
enlightened, countries, only a very few of the numerous parties of
maskers seemed to aim, by their costume or action, at a satire on the
follies, foibles, or occurrences of the times. Now and then, however, an
exception was to be met with; and this was especially remarkable in a
group which it becomes necessary here to describe.

It consisted of twelve persons, the majority of whom were fantastically
attired in the national costumes of the various Indian tribes. These
were grouped round a _carro_, or two-wheeled cart in so picturesque a
manner, that it was easy to see that their performance had been
preconcerted and rehearsed. They wore symbols of mourning, and seemed
acting as pall-bearers and followers of a funeral; while upon the cart
itself were two figures, in which the horrible and the comic were
blended after a most extraordinary fashion. One of them was a Torso,
from whose breast and headless neck, and on the stumps of his arms and
legs, blood was incessantly dropping, and as fast as it dropped, it was
greedily licked up by several persons in Spanish masks and dresses. The
mutilated form seemed still to have life in it, for it groaned and gave
out hollow sounds of agony and complaint; at the same time struggling,
but in vain, to shake off a monster that sat vampire-like upon its body,
and dug its tiger claws into the breast of the sufferer. The aspect of
this monster was as strange as that of its victim. It had the cowl, and
the sleek but sinister countenance of well-fed Dominican friar; on its
right hand was fixed a blazing torch, on its left stood a dog that
barked continually; its head was covered with a brass basin, apparently
meant to represent the barber helmet of the knight of La Mancha. From
the shoulders of the figure protruded a pair of dusky wings, not unlike
those with which griffins and other fabulous monsters are represented in
old books of heraldry; its back was terminated by the tail of the
coyote, or Mexican wolf; while the claws with which it seemed digging
into the very bowels of the Torso, were those of caguar or tiger.

This singular pageant passed through the Tacuba street into that of San
Agustin, thence through the Plateria and the Calle Aguila into the
quarter of the city known as the Trespana, where it came to a halt
before the hotel of the same name. During this progress, the crowd of
Indians, Metises, and other coloured races, had been augmented by
numerous parties of Creoles; while the Spaniards contented themselves
with gazing distrustfully at the procession from the windows of their
houses. The strange group was now surrounded by thousands of Zambos,
Creoles, Metises, and Indians, presenting a variety and originality of
costume, physiognomy, and colour--a contact and contrast of the most
costly and sumptuous habiliments with the meanest and most disgusting
rags, such as it would be in vain to seek in any other country than
Mexico.

Amongst the most elegantly dressed of those whom the enigmatical
masquerade attracted, was a young man, of whom it would have bee
difficult to say to what race he belonged. His face was covered by a
closely-fitting silken mask, in which every hue of the rainbow was
blended, but which, nevertheless, was adapted so admirably to his
features, as at first to leave the spectators in doubt whether it were
not the real colour of his skin. He skipped airily out of the fonda of
Trespana into the street, cast a keen but hasty glance around him, and
then began to make his way through the mob that surrounded the pageant.
There was a nameless something in his manner and appearance that caused
the throng to open him a willing passage towards the object of general
curiosity.

"Foolish mob! brainless mob! swinish mob!" cried the stranger, when he
at length stood beside the cart upon which the monster was still rending
its hapless victim; "whither are ye running, and pressing, and crowding,
and what are ye come to see? Know ye not that in Mexico it is forbidden
to see, especially to see clearly?"

The tone of the speaker, his sudden appearance, and the bold originality
of his manner, contrasted strongly with the timidity of the other
Creoles, who had all in their turn approached the cart cautiously,
viewed it for a few moments with an air of mistrust, and then withdrawn
themselves to a distance, in order to await in safety what might next
ensue. The daring address of the new-comer, so different from this
prudent behaviour, did not fail to attract universal attention.

"What now, men of Mexico, or of Anahuac, if you prefer that name, Aztecs
and Tenochtitlans and Othomites, and Metises and Zambos and Salta-atras,
and whites, whom the devil fly away with," added he in a lower tone, "or
at least with one-twentieth of them?"[10]

"Bravo!" vociferated hundreds of Metises and Zambos, whom the last few
words had suddenly enlightened as to the political opinions of the
speaker. "Bravo! _Escuchad!_ Hear him!"

The object of this applause was apparently busied examining the
composition of the pageant. When silence was restored, he again turned
to the crowd.

"And so you would like to know what it means?" said he. "Fools! know ye
not that knowledge is forbidden? And yet, if you are any better than a
parcel of mules, you may see and understand."

"And if we _are_ no better than mules?" cried a voice.

"Then will I be your _arriero_, and drive you," replied the stranger
laughing, and tripping round the cart. "Mules! ay, _Madre de Dios!_ that
are ye, and have been all the days of your lives, ever since the gloomy
Gachupin yonder"--and he pointed to the monster, half monk, half
beast--"has chosen for his resting-place the body of the poor unhappy
creature, whom some call Anahuac, some Mexitli, and some Guatemozin.[11]
Mules, ay, threefold mules! Poor mules!" added he, in a tone of mingled
compassion and contempt.

"Poor mules!" sighed the surrounding spectators, gazing alternately at
the speaker and at the bleeding Torso.

On a sudden, the masked cavalier raised the cowl of the monster-monk,
and the severed head of the Torso rolled out from it. The features were
Indian, modelled and coloured in so masterly a manner, that the
resemblance they were intended to convey struck every body, and hundreds
of voices simultaneously exclaimed--

"Guatemozin!"

"Guatemozin!" was repeated from mouth to mouth, while the _pregonero_ or
crier, as the crowd had already christened the speaker, continued to
lift the veil from the significant allegory before him.

"See!" cried he, "here have his claws struck deepest. 'Tis in Guanaxato
and Guadalajara."

A shudder seemed to run through the crowd.

"'Tis Tio Gachupin," continued the pregonero with a strange laugh, "who
would fain play with you the same game that he did three centuries since
with poor Guatemozin. And see! 'tis Guatemozin's ghost that appears
bleeding before ye, and claims vengeance at your hands!"

It had now become evident to the surrounding crowd, that the pageant had
a deep and dangerous political meaning. The spectators had greatly
increased, and were each moment increasing, in number; the flat roofs
and the _miradores_, or latticed balconies, of the surrounding houses,
were crowded with gazers, while the street presented the appearance of a
sea of heads. A deep silence reigned, broken only by an occasional
whisper, or by the peculiar kind of low shuddering murmur that the
Indian is apt to utter when reminded of the power and prosperity of his
forefathers. Suddenly there was a loud cry.

"Vigilancia! Vigilancia!" was shouted from a distant balcony. The word
passed from mouth to mouth.

"Vigilancia!" repeated the pregonero; "_gracias_, thanks, Señoras y
Señores," added he, with a laugh and a slight bow, and then was lost in
the crowd. There was a movement round the ghastly group upon the cart,
which the next instant disappeared; and when the alguazils, by the aid
of their staves, had forced themselves a passage to the spot where the
pageant had been, no trace of it remained save fragments of wood and
pasteboard, that were showered from all sides upon their detested heads.
The crowd itself separated and dispersed in different directions; no
inconsiderable portion of it entering the hotel, in front of which the
scene had passed.

This hotel or _fonda_, the first in Mexico at that time, was then, as
now, a great resort of the highest and lowest classes of the
population--that is to say, of the greatest luxury and most squalid
misery that the world can show. The ground floor was used as a sort of
bazar, in which various articles of Mexican manufacture were exposed for
sale; while the rooms on the upper story were appropriated to the
reception of guests, and furnished with a sumptuousness that contrasted
strangely with the appearance of the majority of those who frequented
them.

In the first of these rooms stood a long and broad table, somewhat
resembling a billiard-table, but upon which, instead of balls and cues,
were piles of silver and gold, amounting to thousands of dollars; while
the wardrobe of the players, who sat and stood around, did not appear to
be worth as many farthings. Excepting the jingle of the money, and the
words _Señor_ and _Señoria_, occasionally uttered, scarcely a sound was
heard; but upon the excited and eager countenances of the gamblers,
which varied with every change in their luck, might be read the flushed
exultation of the winners, and the suppressed fury of the less
fortunate--a fury that, to judge from their fiery glances and set teeth,
might momentarily be expected to break out into fierce and deadly
strife.

The occupants of the second saloon were, if possible, still more
repulsive than those of the first. Men, women, and children--some half
naked--some with the most loathsome rags for a covering--were lying,
sitting, squatting, and crouching in every part of the room--some sunk
into a kind of doze--others, on the contrary, actively engaged in
ridding their own and their children's heads of those inhabitants that
seemed to constitute the sole wealth of this class of people--an
occupation which they pursued with as great zeal and apparent interest,
as if it had been absolutely essential to the proper celebration of the
festival-day. A third room was devoted to the chocolate and sangaree
drinkers, who might be seen emptying their cups and glasses with as much
satisfaction and relish, as if the sight of the poverty and squalor that
surrounded them gave additional zest to the draught; while, all about
them, between and under chairs, tables, and benches, the wretched
Léperos lay grovelling. Parties of richly-dressed Spaniards and Creoles,
both men and women, their eyes still heavy from the siesta, were each
moment entering, preceded by negro or mulatto girls carrying cigars and
sweetmeats, and screaming out, "_Plaza, plaza, por nuestras
señoras!_--Make way for our ladies!" A summons, or rather command, which
the _cortejos_, with their sticks and sabres, were ever ready to
enforce.

"_Caramba! Que bella y querida compania!_" exclaimed, on a sudden, the
same voice that a short time previously had explained the dangerous
allegory in the street below. The owner of the voice, however, wore
another mask and dress, although his present costume, like his previous
one, was that of a _caballero_ or gentleman. He glanced round the room
with that supercilious air which young men of fashion and quality are
apt to assume when amongst persons whom they consider immeasurably
inferior to themselves.

"_C--jo à la bonanza!_ Here's to try my luck!" cried he, stepping up to
the gambling table, and placing a rouleau of dollars on a card, which
the next moment won. "Bravo, bravissimo! Doble!"

He won a second time, and placed the stake, which was now a heavy one,
upon a fresh card.

"Triplo!" cried he. Fortune again favoured him. His luck still holding
good, he won a fourth time; and the banker, rising from his seat with a
savage curse upon his lips, pushed over the whole of his bank to the
fortunate player, and left the table with a look of hate and rage that
one would have thought must be the prelude to a stab. Nothing of the
sort, however, ensued. The man removed from his ears the two reals
which, according to Mexican usage, he had stuck there for luck; called
to the waiter, and uttered the word "_cigarros!_" as he showed one coin,
and "_aguardiente de caña!_" as he exhibited the other. Having thus
disposed of his last real, he draped his cloak over his shoulder with
such skill, that the end of it hung down to his heels, concealing the
tattered condition of that very essential part of his dress called
trousers. He then awaited, with perfect composure, the refreshment he
had ordered. Meanwhile, the fortunate winner took a couple of reals from
a small purse, stuck one in each ear, accompanying the action with the
sign of the cross, and prepared in his turn to hold the bank.

"_Plaza, gavillas!_" cried several voices just at this moment. "Make
room, knaves, for the señoras!" and in came a party of Spanish soldiers,
accompanied by their mistresses--the latter dressed out in a style that
many European ladies of the highest rank might well have envied. Before
each of them walked three mulatto girls, whose sole dress consisted of a
short and loosely-fitting silk petticoat, reaching to the knees; their
hair being confined in nets of gold thread, and their arms encircled
with bracelets of the same metal. One of these hand-maidens bore an open
box of cigars, out of which the lady and her cortejo from time to time
helped themselves; another had a basket with various comfits, which was
also frequently put in requisition, and the third carried the purse.

"Plaza!" was again the cry; and at the same time, the companions of the
ladies, well-conditioned sub-officers of the Spanish troops, swung their
canes and sabres, and the terrified Indians, and Metises, and Zambos
tumbled and rolled off their benches and chairs as if they had been
mowed down.

"_Demonio!_ What is all this?" exclaimed the new banker, who had already
taken his seat at the table, but now sprang suddenly up. "_Por todos
bastos et bastas de todo el mundo_--By every card in the pack!"----

He spoke in so threatening a tone, and his gesticulation was so
thoroughly Mexican in its vehemence, that three of the sergeants sprang
upon him at once.

"_Gojo, que quieres?_ Dog! what do you mean?"

"Dog!" repeated the Mexican, and his right hand disappeared under his
cloak--a movement which was immediately imitated by the owners of the
white, black, brown, and greenish physiognomies by which he was
surrounded. The three Spaniards stepped back as precipitately as they
had advanced. Meanwhile, the fourth sergeant approached the table, and,
seizing upon the cards, invited the company to stake their money against
a bank which he put down. The effect of this invitation was no less
extraordinary than rapid. The same men who, an instant before, had been
ready to espouse their countryman's quarrel to the death--for such had
been the meaning of the mysterious fumbling under the cloaks--no sooner
perceived that the cards had changed masters, than they called to the
Mexican with one voice--

"_Por el amor de Dios, señor_--leave us in peace, and God be with your
señoria!"

"Ay, go, and the devil take you!" growled the Spaniards.

The young man gazed in turn at his countrymen and at the sergeants; and
then, as if struck by the curious contrast between the courtesy of the
former and the rudeness of the latter, he laughed right out, swept
together his winnings, and walked away from the table, whistling a
bolero.

The sort of ramble which the masked cavalier now commenced through the
adjoining saloons, seemed for some time to have no particular object. He
strutted across one, paused for a moment in the next to take a sip out
of a friend's liqueur glass, dipped a biscuit into the chocolate of one
acquaintance, and helped another to finish his sangaree; and so lounged
and loitered about, till he found himself in the last of the suite of
rooms, which was then unoccupied. Stepping up to a door at the further
end of the apartment, he knocked at it, at the same time uttering the
words, "_Ave Maria purissima!_"

The door was opened.

"_Sin peccado concebida!_" added the Mexican, when he saw that the
occupants of the room did not make the usual reply to his pious but
customary salutation. "For God's sake, señores, is there neither piety
nor politeness among ye? Could you not say, '_Sin peccado concebida?_'"


CHAPTER THE SECOND.

  "Verdades diré en camisa,
  Poco menos que desnuda."

  QUEVEDO.

The company assembled in the room which the masked cavalier entered
consisted of some five-and-twenty young men, in whose picturesque
Spanish-Mexican costume, velvets, silk, and gold embroidery had been
employed with lavish profusion. The air of scornful superciliousness
with which they glanced at the intruder, and the indifference with which
they seemed to regard the heaps of gold that lay glittering on the
table, denoted them to be practised gamblers, or, which in Mexico is the
same thing, noblemen of the highest rank. The saloon was richly
furnished; chairs, sofas, and tables of the most costly woods, and
splendidly gilt, cushions, drapery, and chandeliers, after the newest
fashion.

"Sixteen to the doubloon!" cried the new-comer, apparently noways
abashed by the contemptuous manner of his reception, as he stepped up to
the table, and placed a roll of dollars upon a card.

"_No pueden._ It cannot be," replied the banker, pushing back the silver
with his wooden rake.

"It cannot be," echoed several of the players in the same short
contemptuous tone. "_Una sociedad con fuero._ A private and privileged
society."

"_Una sociedad con fuero!_" repeated the stranger, shaking his head.
"All due respect for _fueros_, so long as they are respected and
respectable. But know you not, Señores, that _our_ fuero is the older
one?"

"Thy fuero older, _gato_?" drawled one of the noblemen.

"Ay, truly is it. 'Tis the fuero of the carnival, and dates from the
time that Mother Church first fell into her dotage."

"Mother Church in her dotage! Knave, what mean ye?"

"Your Señorias need only look into the street to see what I mean. She
has practised folly till she has become a fool. 'Tis just like the
mother country, who has drunk Mexican blood till she has grown
bloodthirsty."

The young cavaliers became suddenly attentive.

"_Paz! Señor_;" said the banker, "such words are dangerous. Begone, in
God's name, and beware of the alguazils and the Cordelada."[12]

"_Paz!_" replied the stranger; "peace, do you say? Would you have peace
and quiet? They are no more to be found in Mexico. Quiet!" repeated he,
with a fiery enthusiasm in his voice and gesture, "you will have as
little of it as Pedrillo had--

  "No rest by day
  No sleep by night,
  For poor Pedrillo,
  The luckless wight."

And he broke, on a sudden, into the beautiful and piquant air of
Pedrillo, which he sang with a taste and spirit that made the assembled
cavaliers gaze at him open-mouthed. At the same moment, a guitar and
castanets were heard in the adjoining room, accompanying the song.

Either the charm of the surprise, or the originality of the individual
who thus appositely introduced this popular fragment from the
masterpiece of a favourite composer, produced an electrifying effect
upon the young noblemen. They sprang from their chairs, and, at the
conclusion of the song, a score of doubloons fell ringing at the feet of
the singer.

"_Otra vez!_ Encore, encore!" was the universal cry.

"Señorias," said the banker, who alone appeared dissatisfied at this
interruption, and now approached the stranger; "I warn you, Señorias! I
recognise in this _caballero_"--he spoke the word in an ironical and
depreciating tone--"the same _gentilhombre_ whom the alguazils were so
lately seeking. Beware! his presence may get us into trouble."

"Ha! are you the fellow who played the alguazils such a trick?" cried
several of the young men.

Instead of replying, the stranger stamped with his foot; and, as if the
stamp had been the blow of an enchanter's wand, two folding-doors,
opposite to those by which he had entered the apartment, suddenly
opened, and four dancing figures, with flesh-coloured silk masks upon
their faces, and clothed in tightly-fitting dresses of the same
material, bounded into the room.

"Señorias! _Por el amor de Dios!_" cried the banker, imploringly.

As he spoke, two guitar-players, who accompanied the dancers, began
twanging their instruments; and the young men, absorbed in contemplation
of the graceful and luxuriant forms of the two female dancers, paid no
attention to his entreaties and warnings. Hastily gathering up his bank,
he packed it into a box, and left the saloon with all possible despatch.

And now, to the music of the guitars and the clatter of the castanets,
the two couples of dancers began a performance, of which the most vivid
pen would fail to portray the graceful and fascinating voluptuousness.
They commenced with the bolero, and thence glided, with a stamping of
the feet and whirling of the arms, into the more licentious fandango.
But the sensual character of the latter dance was so far veiled and
refined by the grace and elegance of the dancers, that what is usually
a mere appeal to the senses, became in their performances the very
poetry of motion. The young noblemen remained as though entranced, their
eyes fixed upon the dancers, and totally unable to give utterance to
their delight. While thus absorbed, they were suddenly startled by a
hoarse inarticulate sound, proceeding from the further corner of the
room. At the same moment the dance ceased; dancers and musicians retired
through the door by which they had entered, and a figure became visible
that will probably excite the astonishment of the reader as much as it
did that of the young cavaliers who now first perceived it.

Upon an ottoman extending along one side of the apartment, there
reclined, in a half-lying, half-sitting posture, a person whose dress
was that of a Moslem of the highest rank. His robe and turban were both
green, and in the folds of the latter was interwoven a chain, or wreath,
of precious stones, of extraordinary beauty and apparent value. In
striking contrast with this rich attire were the features of the Turk,
which were singularly repulsive. A low forehead receded from above a
pair of bluish-grey eyes, in the glazed, hard look of which, perfidy,
cruelty, and pride seemed to have taken up their abode. From between the
eyes protruded a long nose, curved like that of a bird of prey, over an
upper lip indicative of gluttony and the coarsest animal propensities;
the mouth was large, the lower lip hung relaxed and slavering over a
long square chin. The complexion was in good keeping with the false and
malignant expression of the countenance, being of an indefinite tint,
that could be classed under no particular colour.

"_Por el amor de Dios!_" cried the young noblemen, now really alarmed.
"What is this? What does it mean?" And they hesitatingly approached the
ottoman, and then again shrunk back, as if scared by some loathsome and
unnatural object.

Beside the figure two other Moslems were kneeling, one in a green, the
other in a snow-white turban. Their hands were folded upon their
breasts, and their faces bowed till they almost touched the carpet.

"Brr!" growled the Moslem in a tone more like the grunt of a wild boar
than the voice of a human being, and stretching himself peevishly out
upon the ottoman. His kneeling attendants started, rose respectfully to
their feet, and taking a step backwards, began conversing in a subdued
tone, and without appearing aware of the presence of the Mexicans, who
on their part were so bewildered by this strange scene that they seemed
to have lost the power of speech and movement.

"Zil ullah!" exclaimed he of the white turban. "Allah be with us! His
sublimity has again spoken! Spoken, but how little!" added he in a
disconsolate tone. "Right willingly would Ben Haddi commence this very
day a barefooted pilgrimage"----

"And Bultshere," interrupted the other, "would kiss the black stone of
Ararat"----

"If," resumed the first speaker, "his sublimity might be thereby healed
of his malady. Zil ullah! 'Tis three days since his highness tasted of
the bean of Mocha, or of the glorious juice that transports the true
believer, while yet living, into the realms of Paradise."

"Three days," continued his companion, "since he deigned to permit the
soft caresses of the beauteous Zuleima, or the ardent embraces of the
dark-eyed Fatima. What can be the cause?"

"Indigestion," quoth Green-turban.

"Cares of state," rejoined White-turban. "We must amuse his highness.
There are new Almas and Odalisques arrived. He will perhaps deign to
witness their performance."

And so saying, he approached the Caliph, for such was the high rank of
the personage whom the sitting Moslem was intended to represent, and
throwing himself prostrate on the ground, preferred his request.

A reply was returned in a sort of affirmative grunt, whereupon the
vizier arose in great joy, stepped back to his former place, and after
giving three distinct but not loud stamps upon the floor, retreated with
his companion into a corner of the room. Scarcely had he done so, when,
to the redoubled astonishment of the Mexican cavaliers, the
folding-doors again flew open, and four couples of dancers tripped in,
attired in costumes so rich and magnificent as to eclipse even that of
the Caliph. They were followed by four negroes, two of whom bore guitars
of Moorish make and appearance, the third the East Indian _tomtom_ or
drum, and the fourth the Persian flute.

For a brief space the eight dancers stood in mute expectation, awaiting
a signal to begin. This was given by a Brr! from the Sultan, who at the
same time vouchsafed to raise his head, and manifest an intention of
witnessing the entertainment offered him.

An adagio on the guitars, gradually increasing in volume, and in which
the tap of the tomtom mingled like the rolling of distant thunder,
opened the dance. Then came the sharp and yet mellow clack of the
dancers' castanets, and finally the soft tones of the flute, blending
the whole into harmony. The dancers seemed to follow and imitate by
their action each change of the music: at first, and with wonderful
grace and elegance, they fell into a group or _tableau_, their silken
scarfs, of transparent texture and bright and varied colours, floating
in the air like rainbows, behind which glanced the houri-like forms of
the women. Presently the music glided from the adagio into the allegro;
the steps of the dancers became quicker, their gestures more animated,
the play of their limbs more voluptuous. With the exception of one
couple, every glance and movement of the performers seemed directed or
aimed at the Caliph. This couple consisted of the most sylph-like and
exquisitely formed of the four female dancers, and of a Persian warrior,
who was pursuing her, and from whom she strove coyly to escape. With
admirable grace and skill did these two figures detach themselves from
their companions, in order to continue a while their simulated flight
and pursuit. The fairy feet of the fugitive scarcely touched the ground,
and such charm and fascination were in her movements that the Caliph
several times raised his eyelids and gave a grunt of approval. At each
of these indications on the part of the despot, the anxiety of the poor
Persian seemed to increase till it bordered on despair, and so naturally
was this despair portrayed as to draw a loud bravo from the spectators:
only the Caliph appeared insensible to the refined play of these elegant
dancers. Once or twice, indeed, his dull eyes seemed to emit a ray of
animal delight, but this quickly faded away; and even the triumph of the
Persian, when his mistress finally fell panting and yielding into his
arms, was insufficient to rekindle it.

"Brr!" cried the Commander of the Faithful, in the same harsh grunting
voice as before; "and you call that pastime, that which we have seen a
thousand and one times? By the beard of the Prophet, vizier," he
continued in a louder tone, "if I have no sleep to-day, nor appetite
to-morrow, there is the bowstring for you, and the stake for your
Almas!"

At this terrible threat the vizier stood speechless with horror, while
the mouth of the alarmed emir gaped to an unnatural extent: the dancers
paused, as though suddenly turned to stone, in the very same posture in
which the menace of the Caliph had surprised them. One of the
_bayadères_ remained with her leg in a horizontal position, the point of
her toe almost in her partner's open mouth; another, in the terror of
the moment, had entangled her foot in the ample robe of the emir, who
now began to run up and down in his extremity of consternation,
compelling her to dance after him on one leg; in short, all the actors
in this strange scene expressed so naturally, by dumb show, their
amazement and alarm, that the Caliph burst into a loud fit of laughter.

"Allah Akbar!" cried vizier and emir and dancers, with one voice, and
then all burst forth in loud praises of the goodness of Allah, who,
through the agency of his slaves, had done so great a wonder, and
extracted a refreshing laugh from his highness. This unanimous
demonstration of affection on the part of his loving subjects, seemed
pleasing to the potentate. He nodded, and the emir, encouraged by this
sign of approbation, ventured to draw nearer.

"With all submission"--he began.

"By the Prophet's beard!" interrupted the Caliph, "we know what thou
wouldst say before it is spoken. We require not a vizier to talk, but to
act as a leech, and draw blood where it is too rich or corrupt. How
thinkest thou? If I were to impale one of these lazy dancers, would
terror make the others dance better?"

"On the contrary, please your highness, it would lame them. 'Twere
better to impale a swine from the herd called the people--one who
possesses zechins. Your highness's treasury is empty, and these Almas
are as poor as the mice in the churches of the Giaours, and withal right
useful servants of the state."

"Thou sayest well; by the Prophet, they _are_ useful servants of the
state," cried the Caliph, stroking his belly as he spoke, "and they may
be assured of our grace and favour. Strike off the heads of some dozen
or two knaves in the quarter of the Bezestein, and let the half of their
zechins be given to these poor devils."

There was a gentle tapping at the door, which the vizier hastened to
open, and returned with the news that the chief of the mollahs humbly
solicited the favour of an audience.

"Again cares of state, and nothing but cares of state!" groaned the
Caliph, allowing his head to fall on his breast as if in reflection.
"'Tis well," he said at last in a peevish tone. "We will receive the
spiritual shepherd of our kingdom. Away with these mummers! 'tis not
fitting that the expounder of the Koran should find us in such carnal
company."

Dancers and musicians now stepped into the background, and the doors
opened to admit the tall figure of the head mollah, who entered with
eyes fixed upon the floor; and, on finding himself in presence of the
Caliph, knelt down and touched the carpet with his forehead.

"Speak thy business," said the Sultan, "and quickly. We have been
already much engrossed with affairs of government, more, perhaps, than
is good for the feeble state of our bodily health."

"Bismillah!" quoth the high priest gravely, "we have caused prayers to
be offered up from each minaret of the mosques, and have commanded that
all true believers should bestrew themselves with dust and ashes. We
have sent men upon the holy pilgrimage, and to kiss the black stone of
Ararat in order that the sufferings of your sublimity may be
alleviated."

"Thou hast done well, oh mollah!" replied the Sultan.

"Luminary of the World, whose light is brighter than the sun," continued
the head mollah; "we have also, with regard to this malady of your
highness, consulted the book that serves us instead of all the wisdom of
the Giaour, and therein have we found that Haroun al Raschid was
afflicted with a like evil, which he unquestionably brought on himself
through too great attention to the duties of his government."

"Hold there, mollah!" interrupted the Caliph in a voice of thunder, "and
weigh thy words before thou speakest. Duties of government, sayest thou?
Duties! Who has duties? A worm like myself, that we have been pleased to
exalt out of the dust; but we have nought to do either with such
reptiles or with duty; we, the vicar of the Prophet. Our pleasure is
your duty, and our will your law."

"Doubtless, doubtless, Light of the World," cried the mollah, hastening
to correct his error. "Thy unworthy servant meant to say, pleasures.
When Haroun al Raschid found himself in similar moments of suffering and
despondency, which he unquestionably brought on by too great attention
to his pleasures"--

"Slave!" again interrupted the Caliph, "dost thou mock us, saying that
our glorious ancestor exhausted himself with pleasures, thus striving to
make it appear that we do the same? Do we not each day perform nine
times nine prostrations, our face towards Mecca? Did we not, no longer
back than yesterday, sign our name full twenty times to the
death-warrants of those scurvy and unbelieving hounds who dared to
blaspheme us, the Prophet's vicegerent, and to say in the
Bezestein--What said the dogs? Have we not given orders to hang, impale,
and exterminate like noisome vermin, all those who dare in any way to
think or have an opinion? Have we not made this order public, to the
great glorification of the Prophet and of our own name?"

The Caliph paused for a moment. Then turning suddenly to the
mollah--"You may inform us," said he, "what our ancestor Haroun al
Raschid was wont to do when afflicted like ourselves with heaviness of
spirit."

"Bismillah!" again began the mollah. "When Haroun al Raschid was thus
afflicted, he applied to the book which we have brought with us, and
which your highness, if he so pleases, can see and even read"--

"Miserable wretch!" thundered the Caliph, with a glance of scorn at the
speaker and his book. "Wherefore do we maintain you, and those like you,
if it is not to do for us what we hold it beneath our dignity to do for
ourselves? And is not the reading of books beneath our dignity? Do not
all books contain the ideas and notions of a pack of scoundrels, who
talk about things which they do not understand, and that in no wise
concern them? Have we not decreed that the bowstring should be the
portion of all those who are reported to be either writers or readers of
books? And have we not therefore taken into our service a parcel of
idlers, of whom thou art the chief, and whose duty it is to read and
think for the whole of our people?"

"And why should the Light of the World read?" replied the mollah after a
respectful pause. "He who is already the source of all earthly wisdom,
the joy and admiration of all nations? How shall I express my
wonder--how shall I sufficiently praise his high qualities?"--

"Stop, mollah!" cried the Caliph. "Know that it does not please us to be
praised or wondered at by such as thou. Truly thy praises stink in our
nostrils, and are as discords in our ears. It becometh not worms like
thyself, whom we have raised from the dirt, and can again dash back into
it, to seek to spy out our good qualities, lest at the same time they
should discern"--our bad ones, the Caliph would probably have said, but
he left the sentence unfinished.

"Thou shouldst look up at us," continued he, "as to the sun, in which
neither good nor evil can be seen, but of which the presence is known by
its effects. And now tell us what Haroun al Raschid did, when assailed
by despondency even as we ourselves are."

"Allah Akbar! Haroun al Raschid, when afflicted like your highness, was
wont to disguise himself in various ways, as a merchant, a soldier, or a
sailor"----

"All that is well known to us," interposed the Caliph; "but although we
are disposed to follow the example of our glorious ancestor so far as we
can, without too great exertion of mind or body, yet we doubt whether
just now we---- Thou knowest," he continued, interrupting himself, and
in a lower tone, "that although Haroun al Raschid was certainly our
forefather, yet our blood, improving by descent, is even purer and more
illustrious than his. We cannot, therefore, condescend to imitate him in
the way you speak of. But we will undertake a work that shall be far
more pleasing to the Prophet. With our own hands will we embroider a
twelfth under petticoat for his blessed mother, so that she may have one
for each month in the year."

During the latter part of this dialogue, a whispering had been more than
once audible at the door of the apartment. This circumstance, implying
the presence of listeners, might well endanger the necks of the daring
representatives of the Caliph and his courtiers; but nevertheless,
without allowing themselves to be discomposed by the vicinity of spies,
the Moslems had played out their parts, and the Caliph now rose from his
ottoman with all the dignity of an eastern despot, repeating, as he did
so, to his attendants, what great things he would do, and how he would
stitch with his own hands a twelfth under petticoat for the mother of
the Prophet. The procession had nearly reached the door by which it had
entered, when one of the young Mexicans, recovering apparently from the
state of inaction in which this extraordinary scene had plunged him and
his companions, suddenly sprang forward, gazed earnestly in the face of
the Caliph, and then started back again with a cry of horror.

"_Por el amor de Dios! Fernando el Rey!_ 'Tis his majesty, King
Ferdinand!" cried the young nobleman. "Stop, traitor!" he exclaimed,
again advancing and endeavouring to seize the Caliph. But even in this
moment of peril, the latter did not forget his assumed dignity. With a
look of the most profound contempt he strode out of the apartment, while
the gigantic mollah, seizing the Creole by the collar, raised him from
the ground like a feather, and hurling him back into the room, followed
the Commander of the Faithful, and shut the door.

Before the Mexican cavaliers had recovered from their alarm at the
daring and treasonable dramatic satire of which they had so unwittingly
been made spectators, the other doors were thrown violently open, and
several alguazils burst into the apartment. After a hurried glance round
the room, perceiving that the objects of their search had disappeared,
they darted out again at the opposite door, and hastened through the
adjacent saloons, uttering loud curses and cries of treason. This
furious but fruitless chase led them through the whole suite of
apartments, till they came round again to the room where the young
noblemen were still assembled.

"_Todos diabolos!_" cried one of the police agents, running to the
window, "yonder go the villains, they have escaped us this
time.--Demonio!" vociferated he, with a fury that made the foam fly from
his lips.

"And so, Caballeros!" snarled he to the Creoles, who now stood in
trembling alarm, and fully enlightened by the rage of the alguazils as
to the enormity of the treasonable pasquinade they had witnessed; "so
you have been pleased to take the person of his most sacred majesty for
your sport and laughing-stock?"

"Don Bautista, on our honour, we knew not."

"By _our_ honour," yelled another alguazil, "you shall pay for this with
your heads, Creole hounds that ye are!"

"Don Iago," cried the insulted cavaliers in a threatening tone, "we say
that on our _honour_"----

"Say what you please," interrupted the alguazil, "but I tell you that if
I were viceroy"----

"Your turn may come. You are a born Gachupin," cried one of the
cavaliers with a bitter sneer.

"I am a Spaniard," retorted the other; "and you are nothing but wretched
Creoles; vile, miserable Creoles; _y basta!_"

The very earth-worm will turn when trodden upon, and this last insult
was too much even for Creole endurance. The young men made a furious
rush at the alguazil; but he had foreseen the storm and effected a
timely retreat.

Hundreds of Creoles of the middle classes, Metises, Zambos, and
Spaniards, had assembled in the adjoining apartment, and looked on at
the scene without showing any sympathy either with the police or the
young Mexicans. The latter gazed for a second or two at each other in
perplexity and dismay, and then separating, disappeared through the
different doors.

Some extraordinary scenes and incidents grow out of this masquerade, or
rather out of the punishment to which the young noblemen who witnessed
it are sentenced. But, lest we should exceed our limits, we must reserve
further extracts for a second notice of this very remarkable book.


FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 5: Gachupin is an untranslatable word of Mexican origin. The
Spaniards asserted it to mean a hero on horseback; the Indians and
coloured races, who applied it as a term of contempt and reproach to the
Spaniards and their dependent Creoles, understood by it a thief.]

[Footnote 6: The word Léperos, which, literally translated, means
lepers, is the term applied to the homeless and houseless wretches who
are to be seen wandering by thousands about the city and suburbs of
Mexico. They consist of beggars, mechanics, writers, and even artists.
The most industrious amongst them work one, or at most two, days in the
week, and the dress of these consists of thin trousers, a sort of cloak,
and a straw hat. Their dwelling is in any hole or corner, under the
arcades of the houses, or in the mud cottages of the suburbs. Some of
the work they produce is wonderful for its beauty and ingenuity. They
manufacture the finest gold chains, surpassing any thing of the kind
that is to be found in Europe. Their statuettes and images of saints are
often masterpieces. During the revolution their character as a class
became materially worse. There are more than ten thousand of them who do
literally nothing, possess nothing, and lie about the streets stark
naked, with the exception of a tattered woollen blanket.]

[Footnote 7: The chapel of the Redeemer of Atolnico is situated on the
summit of a steep and high mountain, two and a half leagues from Miguel
el Grande, and is much resorted to by pilgrims. On the high altar are
statues of the Saviour, the Virgin Mary, and Mary Magdalen, of solid
silver, studded with rubies and emeralds. There are also in the same
church thirty other altars, with statues as large as life, pillars,
crosses, and candlesticks, all of the same metal. The sums that are each
year offered up at this shrine, are said to amount to considerably more
than one hundred thousand dollars.]

[Footnote 8: A monotonous species of dance.]

[Footnote 9: Creoles are born in Mexico of white parents. The Metises
are the descendants of whites and Indians, the Mulattoes of whites and
Negroes, the Zambos, or Chinos, of Negroes and Indians. The unmixed
races are Spaniards, Creoles, Indians, and Negroes. _Salta-atras_,
literally, a spring backwards, is the term applied to those of whom the
mothers were of a whiter race than the fathers.]

[Footnote 10: The Spaniards, at the period here referred to, (1812,) the
rulers and tyrants of Mexico, were estimated at 60,000 souls, or
one-twentieth of the white population of the country.]

[Footnote 11: Anahuac, the ancient name of Mexico. Mexitli, the god of
war of the Mexicans. Guatemozin, the last Mexican emperor. He was
tortured in the time of Cortes, to induce him to reveal the place where
his treasures were concealed; and subsequently hung for conspiracy, by
order of the same Spanish chief.]

[Footnote 12: One of the three principal prisons in Mexico.]

_Edinburgh: Printed by Ballantyne and Hughes, Paul's Work._





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