By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 15, No. 88, February, 1865
Author: Various
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 15, No. 88, February, 1865" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.

(This file was produced from images generously made
available by Cornell University Digital Collections.)



_A Magazine of Literature, Art, and Politics._


Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1865, by TICKNOR AND
FIELDS, in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District of


On the 8th of July, 1843, Washington Allston died. Twenty-one years have
since gone by; and already his name has a fine flavor of the past added
to its own proper aroma.

In twenty-one years Art has made large advances, but not in the
direction of imagination. In that rare and precious quality the works of
Allston remain preëminent as before.

It is now so long ago as 1827 that the first exhibition of pictures at
the Boston Athenæum took place; and then and there did Allston first
become known to his American public. Returned from Europe after a long
absence, he had for some years been living a retired, even a recluse
life, was personally known to a few friends, and by name only to the
public. The exhibition of some of his pictures on this occasion made
known his genius to his fellow-citizens; and who, having once felt the
strange charm of that genius, but recalls with joyful interest the happy
hour when he was first brought under its influence? I well remember,
even at this distance in time, the mystic, charmed presence that hung
about the "Jeremiah dictating his Prophecy to Baruch the Scribe,"
"Beatrice," "The Flight of Florimel," "The Triumphal Song of Miriam on
the Destruction of Pharaoh and his Host in the Red Sea," and "The
Valentine." I was then young, and had yet to learn that the quality that
so attracted me in these pictures is, indeed, the rarest virtue in any
work of Art,--that, although pictures without imagination are without
savor, yet that the larger number of those that are painted are
destitute of that grace,--and that, when, in later years, I should visit
the principal galleries of Europe, and see the masterpieces of each
master, I still should return to the memory of Allston's works as to
something most precious and unique in Art. I have also, since that time,
come to believe, that, while every sensitive beholder must feel the
charm of Allston's style, its intellectual ripeness can be fully
appreciated only by the aid of a foreign culture.

Passing through Europe with this impression of Allston's genius, in the
Venetians I first recognized his kindred; in Venice I found the school
in which he had studied, and in which Nature had fitted him to study:
for his eye for color was like his management of it,--Venetian. His
treatment of heads has a round, ripe, sweet fulness which reminds one
of the heads in the "Paradiso" of Tintoretto,--that work which deserves
a place in the foremost rank of the world's masterpieces. The great
praise implied in this comparison is justly due to Allston. The texture
and handling of his work are inimitable. Without any appearance of
labor, all crudeness is absorbed; the outlines of objects are not so
much softened as emptied of their color and substance, so that the light
appears to pass them. The finishing is so judicious that the spectator
believes he could see more on approaching nearer. The eye searches the
shade, and sees and defines the objects at first concealed by it. The
eye is not satiated, but by the most artful means excited to greater
appetite. The coloring is not so much harmonious as harmony itself, out
of which melodies of color play through the picture in a way that is
found in no other master but Paul Veronese. As Allston himself expressed
it, he liked to echo his colors; and as an echo is best heard where all
else is silence, so the pure repose of these compositions gives
extraordinary value to such delicate repetitions of color. The effect
is, one might say, more musical than pictorial. This peculiar and
musical effect is most noticeable in the landscapes. They are like odes,
anthems, and symphonies. They run up the scale, beginning with the
low-toned "Moonlight," through the great twilight piece called "After
Sunset," the "Forest Scene," where it seems always afternoon, the gray
"Mountain Landscape," a world composed of stern materials, the cool
"Sunrise on the Mediterranean," up to the broad, pure, Elysian daylight
of the "Italian Landscape," with atmosphere full of music, color, and
perfume, cooled and shaded by the breezy pines, open far away to the
sea, and the sky peopled with opalescent clouds, trooping wide on their
celestial errands.

Of this last landscape the poetic merit is as great as the artistic
excellence is unrivalled. Whoever has made pictures and handled colors
knows well that a subject pitched on a high key of light is vastly more
difficult to manage than one of which the highest light is not above the
middle tint. To keep on that high key which belongs to broad daylight,
and yet preserve harmony, repose, and atmosphere, is in the highest
degree difficult; but here it is successfully done, and again reminds us
of the Paul Veronese treatment. Though a quiet picture, it is full of
brilliancy. It represents a broad and partly shaded expanse, full, also,
of light and sweet sunshine, through which the eye travels till it rests
on the distant mountain, rising majestically in grand volcanic forms
from the horizon plains. The sky is filled with cloudy veils, floating,
prismatic; some quiet water, crossed by a bridge which rests on round
arches, is in the middle distance; and a few trees near the foreground
form the group from which rises the stone-pine, which is the principal
feature in the picture, and gives it its character. As I write this, I
fear that any reader who has not seen the picture to which I refer will
immediately think of Turner's Italian landscapes, so familiar to all the
world through engravings, where a stone-pine is lifted against the sky
as a mass of dark to contrast with the mass of light necessarily in the
same region of the picture. But such effects, however legitimate and
powerful in the hands of Turner, were not in Allston's manner; they
would ruin and break the still harmony which was the law of his mind and
of his compositions. Under this tree, on the path, fall flickering spots
of sunshine, in which sit or stand two or three figures. The scarlet and
white of their dresses, catching the sunshine, make the few high notes
that cause the whole piece to throb like music.

There is also a large Swiss landscape, possessing in an extraordinary
degree the pure, keen atmosphere, as well as the grand mountain forms,
of the Alpine spaces. To look on this piece exhilarates as does the
sight of the Alps themselves; and it strikes the eye as a shrill
trumpet sound the ear. This landscape, a grand antithesis to the last
described, marks a great range of power in the mind that produced them

But Allston was not a landscape-painter. His landscapes are few in
number, though great in excellence. They are poetic in the truest sense;
they are laden with thought and life, and are of "imagination all
compact." They transport the beholder to a fairer world, where, through
and behind the lovely superficies of things, he sees the hidden ideal of
each member,--of rock, sea, sky, earth, and forest,--and feels by a
clear magnetism that he is in presence of the very truth of things.

We now come to a class of Allston's pictures which are known chiefly,
perhaps only, in Boston. They are justly prized by their owners as
possessions of inestimable value; they are the works that more than
others display his peculiar genius. I allude to certain ideal heads and
figures called by these names: "Beatrice," "Rosalie," "The Bride," "The
Spanish Girl," "The Evening Hymn," "The Tuscan Girl," "Miriam," "The
Valentine," "Lorenzo and Jessica," "The Flight of Florimel," "The Roman
Lady," and others; and I shall give a short description of the most
important of these, sometimes in my own words, and sometimes in those of
one who is the only writer I can find who has said anything distinctive
about the works of Allston. I refer to William Ware, who died in the act
of preparing a course of lectures on the Genius of Allston,--a task for
which he was well qualified by his artistic organization, his long study
of Art, and his clear appreciation of Allston's power.

In these smaller ideal pieces Allston seems to have found his own
genius, so peculiar are they, so different from the works of all other
masters, and so divine in their expressive repose. I say divine in their
repose with full intention; for this is a repose, not idle and
voluptuous, not poetic and dreamy, but a repose full of life, a repose
which commands and controls the beholder, and stirs within him that
idealism that lies deep hidden in every mind. These pieces consist of
heads and figures, mostly single, distinct as individuals, and each a
heaven of beauty in itself.

The method of this artist was to suppress all the coarser beauties which
make up the substance of common pictures. He was the least _ad
captandum_ of workers. He avoided bright eyes, curls, and contours,
glancing lights, strong contrasts, and colors too crude for harmony. He
reduced his beauty to her elements, so that an inner beauty might play
through her features. Like the Catholic discipline which pales the face
of the novice with vigils, seclusion, and fasting, and thus makes room
and clears the way for the movements of the spirit, so in these figures
every vulgar grace is suppressed. No classic contours, no languishing
attitudes, no asking for admiration,--but a severe and chaste restraint,
a modest sweetness, a slumbering intellectual atmosphere, a graceful
self-possession, eyes so sincere and pure that heaven's light shines
through them, and, beyond all, a hovering spiritual life that makes each
form a presence.

Perhaps the two most remarkable and original of the pieces I have named
above are the "Beatrice" and the "Rosalie." Of the "Beatrice" there has
been much discussion whether she could have been intended to represent
the Beatrice of Dante. To me it appears that there is nothing like that
world- and heaven-renowned lady in this our Beatrice. She sits alone:
one sees that in the expression of her eyes. Her dress is of almost
conventual simplicity; the colors rich, but sober; the style flowing and
mediæval. She has soft brown hair; soft, velvet-soft, brown eyes;
features not salient, but rounded into the contours of the head; her
whole expression receptive, yet radiant with sentiment. The complexion
of a tender rose, equally diffused, gives an indescribable air of
healthful delicacy to the face. The expression of the whole figure is
that of one in a very dream of sentiment. Her twilight eyes see without
effort into the very soul of things, as other eyes look at their
surfaces. The sentiment of this figure is so powerful that by its gentle
charm it fastens the beholder, who gazes and cannot withdraw his eyes,
wondering what is the spell that can so hold him to that face, which is
hardly beautiful, surely without surface beauty. I once heard a person
who was unaccustomed to the use of critical terms say of these creations
of Allston, "Here is beauty, but not the beauty that glares on you"; and
this phrase, so odd, but so original, well describes the beauty of this
Beatrice, who, though now transfigured by sentiment and capable of being
a home-goddess, does not seem intended to shine in starry circles.

But for the beauty of execution in this picture, it is unsurpassed. It
is in this respect like the most beautiful things ever painted by
Raphael,--like the Madonna del Cardellino, whose face has light within,
"_luce di dentro_," as is the expressive Italian phrase,--and is also
like another picture that I have seen, attributed to Raphael, in the
collection of the late Baron Kestner at Rome.

Visiting the extremely curious and valuable gallery of this gentleman,
the Hanoverian Minister at Rome, after making us begin at the beginning,
among the very early masters, he led us on with courteous determination
through his specimens of all the schools, and made us observe the
characteristics of each school and each master, till at last we rested
in the last room, where hung a single picture covered with a silken
curtain. This at last, with sacred and reverent ceremony, was drawn
aside, and revealed a portrait by Raphael,--the portrait of a lady,
young and beautiful, and glowing with a tender sentiment which recalled
to my remembrance these heads by Allston, not alone in the sentiment,
but in the masterly beauty of the painting. M. Kestner told us he
supposed the picture to be a portrait of that niece of Cardinal Bibbiena
to whom Raphael was betrothed. The picture had come into his possession
by one of those wonderful chances which have preserved so many valuable
works from destruction. At a sale of pictures at Bologna, he told us he
noticed a very ordinary head, badly enough painted, but with very
beautiful hands,--hands which betrayed the work of a master; and he
conjectured this to be some valuable picture, hastily covered with
coarse work to deceive the emissaries of a conqueror when they came to
select and carry off the most valuable pictures from the galleries of
the conquered city. He gave his agent orders to purchase it, and when in
his possession a little careful work removed the upper colors and
discovered one of the most beautiful heads ever painted even by Raphael.
Though it may and will seem extravagant, I am satisfied that there are
several heads by Allston that would lose nothing by comparison with this
admirable work. Indeed, though M. Kestner's picture is a portrait, it is
a work so entirely in the same class with the "Beatrice," the "Rosalie,"
the "Valentine," and some other works of Allston, in sentiment and
execution, that the comparison is fairly challenged.

"Rosalie" is different from "Beatrice." She seems listening to music;
and so the little poem written by the author, and recited by him when
showing the picture newly finished to his friends, describes her. The
face indicates, not a dream of sentiment, like that of "Beatrice," but
rather a rapture. She is "caught on a higher strain." She is a creature
as passionate as tender; more like Juliet than like Miranda; fit to be
the love of a poet, and to reward his song with the overflowing cup of
love. In this figure also beauty melts into feeling. The composition of
color is masterly; in the draperies it is inlaid in opposing fields, by
which means the key of the whole is raised, and the rising rapture of
expression powerfully seconded. Did I not fear to insist too much on
what may be only a private fancy, I should say that these colors
reverberate like some rich orchestral strain of music.

"The Roman Lady reading." This Roman lady might be the mother of the
Gracchi, so stately and of so grand a style is she. But she is a modern,
for she reads from a book. She might be Vittoria Colonna, the loved of
Michel Angelo, so grave, so dignified is her aspect. The whole figure is
reading. A vital intelligence seems to pass from the eyes to the book.
Nothing tender in this woman, who, if a Roman, takes life after the
"high Roman fashion." The beauty and perfect representation of the hands
should be noticed here, as well as in the "Rosalie" and "Beatrice."

"Triumphal Song of Miriam on the Destruction of Pharaoh and his Hosts in
the Red Sea." This is a three-quarter length figure. She stands singing,
with one hand holding the timbrel, the other thrown aloft, the whole
form up-borne by the swelling triumphal song. I hardly know what it is
in this picture which takes one back so far into the world's early days.
The figure is neither antique nor modern; the face is not entirely of
the Hebrew type, but the tossing exultation seems so truly to carry off
the wild thrill of joy when a people is released from bondage, that it
is almost unnecessary to put the words into her mouth,--"Sing ye to the
Lord, for He hath triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider hath He
thrown into the sea." This figure is dramatically imaginative. In
looking at it, one feels called on to sing triumphal songs with Miriam,
and not to stand idly looking. The magnetism of the artist at the moment
of conception powerfully seizes on the beholder.

"The Valentine" is described by William Ware[A] as follows.

"For the 'Valentine' I may say, though to some it may seem an
extravagance, I have never been able to invent the terms that would
sufficiently express my admiration of that picture,--I mean, of its
color; though as a whole it is admirable for its composition, for the
fewness of the objects admitted, for the simplicity and naturalness of
the arrangement. But the charm is in the color of the flesh, of the
head, of the two hands. The subject is a young woman reading a letter,
holding the open letter with both the hands. The art can go no further,
nor as I believe has it ever gone any further. Some pigments or
artifices were unfortunately used, which have caused the surface to
crack, and which require the picture now to be looked at at a further
remove than the work on its own account needs or requires; it even
demands a nearer approach, in order to be well seen, than these cracks
will permit. But these accidental blemishes do not materially interfere
with the appreciation and enjoyment of the picture. It has what I
conceive to be that most rare merit,--it has the same universal hue of
nature and truth in both the shadows and the lights which Nature has,
but _Art_ almost never, and which is the great cross to the artist. The
great defect and the great difficulty, in imitating the hues of flesh,
lies in the shadows and the half-shadows. You will often observe in
otherwise excellent works of the most admirable masters, that, the
moment their pencil passes to the shadows of the flesh, especially the
half-shadows, truth, though not always a certain beauty, forsakes them.
The shadows are true in their degree of dark, but false in tone and hue.
They are true shadows, but not true flesh. You see the form of a face,
neck, arm, hand in shadow, but not flesh in shade; and were that portion
of the form sundered from its connection with the body, it could never
be told, by its color alone, what it was designed to be. Allston's
wonderful merit is, (and it was Titian's,) that the hue of life and
flesh is the same in the shadow as in the light. It is not only shadow
or dark, but it is flesh in shadow. The shadows of most artists, even
very distinguished ones, are green, or brown, or black, or lead color,
and have some strong and decided tint other than that of flesh. The
difficulty with most seems to have been so insuperable, that they cut
the knot at a single blow, and surrendered the shadows of the flesh, as
an impossibility, to green or brown or black. And in the general
imitation of the flesh tints the greatest artists have apparently
abandoned the task in despair, and contented themselves with a correct
utterance of form and expression, with well-harmonized darks and lights,
with little attention to the hues of Nature. Such was Caravaggio always,
and Guercino often, and all their respective followers. Such was Michel
Angelo, and often Raffaelle,--though at other times the color of
Raffaelle is not inferior in truth and glory to Titian, greatest of the
Venetian colorists: as in his portraits of Leo X., Julius, and some
parts of his frescos. But for the most part, though he had the genius
for everything, for color as well as form, yet one may conjecture he
found color in its greatest excellence too laborious for the careful
elaboration which can alone produce great results, too costly of time
and toil, the sacrifice too great of the greater to the less. Allston
was apparently never weary of the labor which would add one more tint of
truth to the color of a head or a hand, or even of any object of still
life, that entered into any of his compositions. Any eye that looks can
see that it was a most laborious and difficult process by which he
secured his results,--by no superficial wash of glaring pigments, as in
the color of Rubens, whose carnations look as if he had finished the
forms at once, the lights and the darks in solid opaque colors, and then
with a free, broad brush or sponge washed in the carmine, lake, and
vermilion, to confer the requisite amount of red,--but, on the contrary,
wrought out in solid color from beginning to end, by a painful and
sagacious formation, on the palette, of the very tint by which the
effect, the lights, shadows, and half-shadows, and the thousand almost
imperceptible gradations of hue which bind together the principal masses
of light and shade, was to be produced."

Here Mr. Ware undoubtedly errs in attributing the success of Allston's
flesh tints to the use of solid color alone. Such effects are not
possible without the aid of transparent colors in glazing; but it is the
judicious combination of solid with transparent pigments, combined not
bodily on the palette, but in their use on the canvas, that gives to
oil-painting all its unrivalled power in the hands of a master. Allston
was accustomed to inlay his pictures in solid crude color with a medium
that hardened like stone, and to leave them months and even years to dry
before finishing them with the glazing colors, which worked in his hands
like magic over such a well-hardened surface. By this method of working
he was able to secure solidity of appearance, richness of color, unity
of effect, and atmospheric repose and tenderness enveloping all objects
in the picture. Many of his unfinished works are left in the first stage
of this process, showing precisely how far he relied on the use of solid
color; and by comparing the works left in this state with his finished
pictures, one may see how much he was indebted to the use of transparent
glazes for the beauty, tenderness, and variety of color in the last
stages of his work.

In 1839 there was an exhibition in Boston of such of the works of
Allston as could be borrowed for the occasion. This was managed by the
friends of the artist for his benefit. The exhibition was held in
Harding's Gallery, a square, well-lighted room, but too small for the
larger pictures. It was, however, the best room that could be procured
for the purpose. Here were shown forty-five pictures, including one or
two drawings. There was something peculiarly happy in this exhibition of
works by a single mind. On entering, the presence of the artist seemed
to fill the room. The door-keeper held the door, but Allston held the
room; for his spirit flowed from all the walls, and helped the spectator
to see his work aright. This accompaniment of the artist's presence,
which hangs about all truly artistic works, is disturbed in a
miscellaneous collection, where jarring influences contend, and the
worst pictures outshine and outglare the best, and for a time triumph
over them. But in this exhibition no such disturbance met one, but
rather one was received into an atmosphere of peace and harmony, and in
such a temper beheld the pictures.

The largest picture on the walls was "The Dead Man restored to Life by
touching the Bones of the Prophet Elisha." This is a great subject,
greatly treated, full of power and expression.

The next in size was "Jeremiah dictating his Prophecy to Baruch, the
Scribe." This picture contains two figures, both seated. It is a picture
the scale of which demands that it be seen from a distance, though its
perfect execution makes a nearer view desirable also. If it were seen at
the end of some church aisle, through arches, and with a good light upon
it, the effect would be much enforced. It is a picture of extraordinary
expression. The Prophet, the grandest figure among the sons of men, with
those strange eyes that Allston loved to paint,--eyes which see
verities, not objects,--is looking not upward, but forward, not into
space, but into spirit; with one hand raised, as if listening, he
receives the heavenly communication, which the beautiful youth at his
feet is writing in a book. The force and beauty of this work are
unsurpassed. It is a perfect picture: grand in design, perfect in
composition, splendid in color, successful in execution, and the figures
full of expression,--for the inspiration of the Prophet seems to
overflow into the Scribe, whose attitude indicates enthusiastic
receptiveness; it is, indeed, in every pictorial quality that can be
named, admirable.

The other pictures in this collection, with the exception of the large
Swiss landscape, were of cabinet size. Some of them have been already
described in this paper. I will give Mr. Ware's description of "Lorenzo
and Jessica," and of "The Spanish Girl." Mr. Ware says:--

"But perhaps the most exquisite examples of repose are the 'Lorenzo and
Jessica,' and 'The Spanish Girl.' These are works also to which no
perfection could be added,--from which, without loss, neither touch nor
tint could be subtracted. We might search through all galleries, the
Louvre or any other, for their equals or rivals in either conception or
execution. I speak of these familiarly, because I suppose you all to be
familiar with them. The first named, the 'Lorenzo and Jessica,' is a
very small picture, one of the smallest of Allston's best ones; but no
increase of size could have enlarged its beauty or in any sense have
added to its value. The lovers sit side by side, their hands clasped, at
the dim hour of twilight, all the world hushed into silence, not a cloud
visible to speck the clear expanse of the darkening sky, as if
themselves were the only creatures breathing in life, and they absorbed
into each other, while their eyes, turned in the same direction, are
turned upon the fading light of the gentle, but brilliant planet, as it
sinks below the horizon: the gentle brilliancy, not the setting, the
emblem of their mutual loves. As you dwell upon the scene, your only
thought is, May this quiet beauty, this delicious calm, never be
disturbed, but may

    'The peace of the scene pass into the heart!'

In the background, breaking the line of the horizon, but in fine unison
with the figures and the character of the atmosphere, are the faint
outlines of a villa of Italian architecture, but to whose luxurious
halls you can hardly wish the lovers should ever return, so long as they
can remain sitting upon that bank. It is all painted in that deep,
subdued, but rich tone, in which, except by the strongest light, the
forms are scarcely to be made out, but to which, to the mind in some
moods, a charm is lent, surpassing all the glory of the sun.

"'The Spanish Girl' is another example to the same point. It is one of
the most beautiful and perfect of all of Mr. Allston's works. The
Spanish girl gives her name to the picture, but it is one of those
misnomers of which there are many among his works. One who looks at the
picture scarcely ever looks at, certainly cares nothing for, the
Spanish girl, and regards her as merely giving her name to the picture;
and when the mind recurs to it afterwards, however many years may have
elapsed, while he can recall nothing of the beauty, the grace, or the
charms of the Spanish maiden, the landscape, of which her presence is a
mere inferior incident, is never forgotten, but remains forever as a
part of the furniture of the mind. In this part of the picture, the
landscape, it must be considered as one of the most felicitous works of
genius, where, by a few significant tints and touches, there is unveiled
a world of beauty. You see the roots of a single hill only, and a remote
mountain-summit, but you think of Alps and Andes, and the eye presses
onwards till it at last rests on a low cloud at the horizon. It is a
mere snatch of Nature, but, though only that, every square inch of the
surface has its meaning. It carries you back to what your mind imagines
of the warm, reddish tints of the Brown Mountains of Cervantes, where
the shepherds and shepherdesses of that pastoral scene passed their
happy, sunny hours. The same deep feeling of repose is shown in all the
half-developed objects of the hill-side, in the dull, sleepy tint of the
summer air, and in the warm, motionless haze that wraps sky, land, tree,
water, and cloud. It is quite wonderful by how few tints and touches, by
what almost shadowy and indistinct forms, a whole world of poetry can be
breathed into the soul, and the mind sent rambling off into pastures,
fields, boundless deserts of imaginary pleasures, where only is warmth
and sunshine and rest, where only poets dwell, and beauty wanders abroad
with her sweeping train, and the realities of the working-day world are
for a few moments happily forgotten."

"The Flight of Florimel" is an upright landscape. Florimel, on a white
horse, is rushing with long leaps through the forest. The horse and
rider are so near the front of the picture as to occupy an important
space in the foreground. The lady, in her dress of beaten gold, with
fair hair, and pale, frightened face, clings with both hands to her
bridle, and half looks back towards her pursuer. The color of this
picture is of exquisite beauty. The tender white and pale yellows of the
horse and rider show like fairy colors in a fairy forest. The whole is
wonderfully light and airy, flickering between light and shade. The
forest has no heavy glooms. The light breaks through everywhere. The
forms of the trees are light and piny; the red soil is seen, the roots
of the trees, the broken turf, the sandy ground. All the colors are
delightfully broken up in the mysterious half-light which confuses the
outlines of every object, without making them shadowy. Such a picture
one might see with half-shut eyes in a sunny wood, if one had more
poetry than prose in one's head, and were well read in the "Faërie

"A Mother Watching her Sleeping Child." This is a very small picture,
remarkable only for its tender sentiment and delightful coloring. The
child is nude; the flesh tints of a tender rose, painted with that
luminous effect which leaves no memory of paint or pencil-touch behind

"American Scenery." This is a small landscape, with something of the
Indian Summer haze; and a solitary horseman trotting across the
foreground with an indifferent manner, as if he would soon be out of
sight, wonderfully enhances the quietness of the scene.

"Isaac of York." This head of a Jew is powerfully painted, warm and
rich; as also are two heads called "Sketches of Polish Jews," which were
painted at one sitting.

"A Portrait of Benjamin West, late President of the Royal Academy," has
all the most admirable qualities that a simple portrait can have.

"A Portrait of the Artist, painted in Rome," is very interesting, from
the youthful sweetness of the face.

"Head of St. Peter" is a study for the head of St. Peter in a large
picture of the Angel delivering Peter from Prison. In this large
picture, lately brought from England to Boston, the head of the angel
is of surpassing beauty, and makes a powerful contrast with that of the
Apostle, whose strong Hebrew features are flooded with the light which
surrounds his heavenly deliverer.

"The Sisters." This picture represents two young girls of three-quarter
size, the back of one turned toward the spectator. In the Catalogue is a
note by the artist, who says,--"The air and color of the head with
golden hair was imitated from a picture by Titian, called the Portrait
of his Daughter,--but not the character or the disposition of the hair,
which in the portrait is a crop; the action of the portrait is also
different, holding up a casket with both hands. The rest of the picture,
with the exception of the curtain in the background, is original." Now
this is a very modest as well as honest statement of the artist; for
both the figures seem perfectly original, and do not recall Titian's
Daughter to the memory, except as an example of a successful study of
Titian's color, which I believe all are permitted, nay, recommended, to
imitate, if they can. It is, however, quite true, that this picture is
less Allstonian than the rest, which makes his explanation welcome. It
was undoubtedly painted as a study, and was not an original suggestion
of his own mind, as almost everything he has left evidently was,--if
internal evidence is evidence enough. Allston himself said, that he
never painted anything that did not cost him his whole mind; and those
who read his genius in his works can easily believe this statement.

"The Tuscan Girl." This is a very lovely little picture. It is not a
study of costume, but a picture of dreamy girlhood musing in a wood. The
sentiment of this charming little picture is best described in a little
poem with which its first appearance was accompanied, and which opens

    "How pleasant and how sad the turning tide
      Of human life, when side by side
      The child and youth begin to glide
        Along the vale of years:
    The pure twin-being for a little space,
    With lightsome heart, and yet a graver face,
      Too young for woe, but not for tears!"

I will not occupy any more space with describing the pictures in this
unique collection. All were not brought together that might have been.
One very remarkable small picture, called "Spalatro, or the Bloody
Hand," was not with these. Its distance from Boston probably prevented
its being risked on the dangers of a long journey.

There are several pictures by Allston in England. Of these I cannot
speak, as I have not seen them. Of one, however, "Elijah in the Desert,"
Mr. Ware gives so striking a description, that I will quote nearly the
whole of it.

"I turn with more pleasure to another work of Mr. Allston, even though
but few can ever have seen it, but which made upon my own mind, when I
saw it immediately after it was completed, an impression of grandeur and
beauty never to be effaced, and never recalled without new sentiments of
enthusiastic admiration. I refer to his grand landscape of 'Elijah in
the Desert,'--a large picture of perhaps six feet by four. It might have
been more appropriately named an Asian or Arabian Desert. That is to
say, it is a very unfortunate error to give to either a picture or a
book a name which raises false expectations; especially is this the case
when the name of the picture is a great or imposing one which greatly
excites the imagination. What could be more so than this, 'Elijah in the
Desert, fed by Ravens'? Extreme and fatal was the disappointment to
many, on entering the room, when, looking on the picture, no Elijah was
to be seen; at least you had to search for him among the subordinate
objects, hidden away among the grotesque roots of an enormous
banyan-tree; and the Prophet, when found at last, was hardly worth the
pains of the search. But as soon as the intelligent visitor had
recovered from his first disappointment, the objects which then
immediately filled the eye taught him, that, though he had not found
what he had been promised, a Prophet, he had found more than a Prophet,
a landscape which in its sublimity excited the imagination as
powerfully as any gigantic form of the Elijah could have done, even
though Michel Angelo had drawn it. It is meant to represent, and does
perfectly represent, an illimitable desert, a boundless surface of
barrenness and desolation, where Nature can bring forth nothing but
seeds of death, and the only tree there is dead and withered, not a leaf
to be seen nor possible. The only other objects, beside the level of the
desert, either smooth with sand or rough with ragged rock, are a range
of dark mountains on the right, heavy lowering clouds which overspread
and overshadow the whole scene, the roots and wide-spread branches of an
enormous banyan-tree, through the tortuous and leafless branches of
which the distant landscape, the hills, rocks, clouds, and remote plains
are seen. The roots of this huge tree of the desert, in all directions
from the main trunk, rise upward, descend, and root themselves again in
the earth, then again rise, again descend into the ground and root
themselves, and so on, growing smaller and smaller as the process is
repeated, till they disappear in the general level of the plain, or lose
themselves among the rocks, like the knots and convolutions of a huge
family of boa-constrictors. The branches, which almost completely fill
the upper part of the picture, are done with such truth to general
Nature, are so admirable in color, so wonderful in the treatment of
their perspective, that the eye is soon happily withdrawn from any
attention to the roots, among which the Prophet sits, receiving the food
with which the ravens, as they float towards him, miraculously supply
him.... You forgot the Prophet, the ravens, the roots, and almost the
branches, though these were too vast and multitudinous to be overlooked,
and were, moreover, truly characteristic, and dwelt only upon the heavy
rolling clouds, the lifeless desert, the sublime masses of the distant
mountains, and the indeterminate misty outline of the horizon, where
earth and heaven became one. The picture was, therefore, a landscape of
a most sublime, impressive character, and not a mere representation of a
passage of Scripture history. It would have been a great gain to the
work, if the Scripture passage could have been painted out, and the
desert only left. But, as it is, it serves as one further illustration
of the characteristic of Mr. Allston's art, of which I have already
given several examples. For, melancholy, dark, and terrific almost, as
are all the features of the scene, a strange calm broods over it all, as
of an ocean, now overhung by black threatening clouds, dead and
motionless, but the sure precursors of change and storm; and over the
desert hang the clouds which were soon to break and deluge the parched
earth and cover it again with verdure. But at present the only motion
and life is in the little brook Cherith, as it winds along among the
roots of the great tree. The sublime, after all, is better expressed in
the calmness, repose, and silence of the 'Elijah,' than in the tempests
of Poussin or Vernet, Wilson or Salvator Rosa."

"Belshazzar's Feast." Any criticism of Allston's works would be very
imperfect which did not speak of his "Belshazzar's Feast,"--because,
though the picture was never finished, it occupied so large a part of
the life and thoughts of Allston, that it demands some mention. It had
been an object of great interest among Allston's friends before it had
been seen by one of them. It was intended by him to fulfil a commission
from certain gentlemen of Boston for a large picture, the subject of
which was to be chosen by himself. A sum of money was also placed at his
disposal with the commission, in order to secure to him leisure and
freedom from care, that he might work at his ease, and do justice to his
thought. This commission was the result of the confidence in him and his
genius which was felt by those friends who knew him best.

The picture was begun, went forward, and was nearly completed, when an
important change in the structure of the work was determined on, and
undertaken with great courage. As often unfortunately happens in such
cases, the interruption to the flow of thought was fatal to the success
of the picture. It was laid aside for many years, but was the work
actually in hand at the time of Allston's death. When, after that event,
his studio was entered by his nearest friends, and the picture so long
guarded with jealous reserve was first seen, it was found to be in a
disorganized, almost chaotic state. But though fragmentary, the
fragments were full of interest. Many passages were perfectly painted,
and the whole intention was full of grandeur and beauty. But a picture
left in that state should never have been publicly shown. Deeply
interesting to artists, and to those familiar with the genius of
Allston, it could be only a puzzling wonder to those who go to an
exhibition to see finished pictures, and who do not understand those
which are not finished. With this work such persons could have no
concern. Yet, by what appears a great error of judgement, this worse
than unfinished picture was made the subject of a public exhibition,
though in a state of incompleteness which the artist during life would
not permit his nearest friend to behold. And as if this violation of his
wishes were not enough, a stolen and travestied copy soon appeared, and
was heralded by placards, on which the words "Great Picture by
Washington Allston" were seen in letters large enough to be read across
the street, and on which the words "Copy of" were in such very small
type that they were unnoticed, except by those who looked for them. This
copy went to other cities, and gave of course a most erroneous
impression of the great painter's genius.

Among the half-finished pictures found in the studio of Allston after
his death were several designs on canvas in chalk or umber. These seemed
so valuable, and their condition so perishable, that it was thought best
to have them engraved. This was undertaken by a friend and admirer of
the artist, Mr. S. H. Perkins, who arranged the designs and
superintended the engraving, and published the work with the aid of a
partial subscription and at his own risk. The brothers Cheney engraved
the outlines, and with peculiar skill and feeling imitated the broadly
expressive chalk lines by combining several delicately traced lines into
one. These outlines and sketches were published in 1850.

There are, first six plates of outlines from heads and figures in a
picture of "Michael setting the Watch." This picture must have been
painted in England, and in unknown here except by these outlines. From
these alone great strength of design might be inferred. There are,
besides, "A Sibyl," sitting in a cave-like, rocky place, the eyes
dilated with thought, the mouth tenderly fixed; the cave is open to the
sea. This design would have proved one of the most characteristic works
of Allston, had it been painted. "Dido and Æneas." Then four plates from
figures of angels in "Jacob's Dream." This is a picture painted in
England for Lord Egremont, and is mentioned in Leslie's Recollections,
by the editor of that work, in a minor key of praise. Then comes the
outline of a single figure, "Uriel sitting in the Sun." This picture was
also painted in England. As Allston was fond of referring to it, and
describing the methods he used to represent the light of the sun behind
the angel, as if he felt satisfied with the result, it may be inferred
that the effort to do so difficult a thing was successful. The sun was
painted over a white ground with transparent glazings of the primary
colors laid and dried separately, thus combining the colors
prismatically to produce white light. The figure of the sitting angle is
grandly original,--of the most noble proportions, and full of watchful
life, as of one conscious of a great trust.

Then come three compositions, with many figures,--"Heliodorus," "Fairies
on the Seashore," and "Titania's Court." These show as much power in
composition as the single figures do in design.

The "Fairies on the Seashore" is an exquisitely graceful design, both in
the figures and the landscape. It is a perfect poem, even as it stands
in the outline. A strip of sea, a breaking wave, a rocky island, and on
the beach begins a stream of fairies, diminishing as it curves up into
the sky. The last one on the shore seems lingering, and the next one to
her draws her upwards. The design when painted would have had the lower
part of the picture in the shadow of night, and the coming morn in the
sky, the light of which should be caught on the distant figures up among
the clouds.

"Titania's Court" is in a moon-lighted space in the forest. Six fairies
are dancing in a ring. More are coming out of the depths of the wood and
off its rocky heights, hand in hand,--a flow of graceful figures. On the
right side of the picture sits Titania, served by her Indian page, who
kneels before her, holding an acorn-cup. This page is delicately
differenced from the fairies by his straight hair, his features,
Asiatic, though handsome, his girdle and bracelets of pearls, and a
short striped skirt about his loins. The fairies all have flowing
drapery or none, and features regular as Greeks. Two little figures in
the air above Titania's head are fanning her with butterflies' wings;
others are bringing water in shells and flower-cups; others playing on
musical instruments. This is better than most pictures of this
often-painted subject, because in it fancy does not override
imagination, but helps and serves it.

Another design was in chalk, on a dark canvas, of a ship at sea in a
squall. This is wonderfully imitated in the engraving,--even all the
blotches and erasures are there. The curves of the waves in a rolling
sea were never better caught in all their subtle force. The clouds have
great suggestions.

There is a figure of "The Prodigal Son," from a pencil drawing; and a
"Prometheus," also from a pencil sketch.

Allston seemed equally at home in drawing powerful figures in action, or
delicate dreamy figures in repose. He had the true imaginative power
which realizes and understands all natural forms.

We have thus given a few words of description to some of these
remarkable pictures. We do not hope to convey any idea of them to those
who have not seen them, for a picture is by its very nature incapable of
being described in words. That which makes it a picture takes it out of
the sphere of words. Neither do we attempt to analyze the genius of this
great painter. We can enumerate some of his artistic qualities: his
power in color, so creative; the still, reposeful spirit of his
creations, reminding one of Beato Angelico; his grandly expressive
forms; his powerful color compositions; and above all, that greatest
crowning merit, that his works are, almost without exception, vitalized
by an imaginative force which makes them living presences. Such effects
are not produced by talent, however great, by culture, however perfect,
but by a mind which is a law to itself,--in other words, a genius. Such,
and nothing less, was Washington Allston.


[A] _Lectures on the Works and Genius of Washington Allston._ Boston:
Phillips, Sampson, & Co. 1852.



In the summer of 1812, when the good people of Connecticut were feeling
uncommonly bitter about the declaration of war against England, and were
abusing Mr. Madison in the roundest terms, there lived in the town of
Canterbury a fiery old gentleman, of nearly sixty years, and a sterling
Democrat, who took up the cudgels bravely for the Administration, and
stoutly belabored Governor Roger Griswold for his tardy obedience to the
President in calling out the militia, and for what he called his absurd
pretensions in regard to State sovereignty. He was a man, too, who meant
all that he said, and gave the best proof of it by offering his military
services,--first to the Governor, and then to the United States General
commanding the Department.

Nor was he wholly unfitted: he was erect, stanch, well knit together,
and had served with immense credit in the local militia, in which he
wore the title of Major. It does not appear that his offer was
immediately accepted; but the following season he was invested with the
command of a company, and was ordered back and forth to various
threatened points along the seaboard. His home affairs, meantime, were
left in charge of his son, a quiet young man of four-and-twenty, who for
three years had been stumbling with a very reluctant spirit through the
law-books in the Major's office, and who shared neither his father's
ardor of temperament nor his political opinions. Eliza, a daughter of
twenty summers, acted as mistress of the house, and stood in place of
mother to a black-eyed little girl of thirteen,--the Major's daughter by
a second wife, who had died only a few years before.

Notwithstanding the lack of political sympathy, there was yet a strong
attachment between father and son. The latter admired immensely the
energy and full-souled ardor of the old gentleman; and the father, in
turn, was proud of the calm, meditative habit of mind which the son had
inherited from his mother. "There is metal in the boy to make a judge
of," the major used to say. And when Benjamin, shortly after his
graduation at one of the lesser New England colleges, had given hint of
his possible study of theology, the Major answered with a "Pooh! pooh!"
which disturbed the son,--possibly weighed with him,--more than the
longest opposing argument could have done. The manner of the father had
conveyed, unwittingly enough, a notion of absurdity as attaching to the
lad's engaging in such sacred studies, which overwhelmed him with a
sense of his own unworthiness.

The Major, like all sound Democrats, had always been an ardent admirer
of Mr. Jefferson and of the French political school. Benjamin had a
wholesome horror of both,--not so much from any intimate knowledge of
their theories, as by reason of a strong religious instinct, which had
been developed under his mother's counsels into a rigid and exacting

The first wife of the Major had left behind her the reputation of "a
saint." It was not undeserved: her quiet, constant charities,--her
kindliness of look and manner, which were in themselves the best of
charities,--a gentle, Christian way she had of dealing with all the
vagrant humors of her husband,--and the constancy of her devotion to all
duties, whether religious or domestic, gave her better claim to the
saintly title than most who wear it. The Major knew this, and was proud
to say it. "If," he was accustomed to say, "I am the most godless man in
the parish, my wife is the most godly woman." Yet his godlessness was,
after all, rather outside than real: it was a kind of effrontery,
provoked into noisy display by the extravagant bigotries of those about
him. He did not believe in monopolies of opinion, but in good average
dispersion of all sorts of thinking. On one occasion he had horrified
his poor wife by bringing home a full set of Voltaire's Works; but
having reasoned her--or fancying he had--into a belief in the entire
harmlessness of the offending books, he gratified her immensely by
placing them out of all sight and reach of the boy Benjamin.

He never interfered with the severe home course of religious instruction
entered upon by the mother. On the contrary, he said, "The boy will need
it all as an offset to the bedevilments that will overtake him in our
profession." The Major had a very considerable country practice, and had
been twice a member of the Legislature.

His second wife, a frivolous, indolent person, who had brought him a
handsome dot, and left him the pretty black-eyed Mabel, never held equal
position with the first. It was observed, however, with some surprise,
that under the sway of the latter he was more punctilious and regular in
religious observances than before,--a fact which the shrewd ones
explained by his old doctrine of adjusting averages.

Benjamin, Eliza, and Mabel,--each in their way,--waited news from the
military campaign of the Major with great anxiety; all the more because
he was understood to be a severe disciplinarian, and it had been rumored
in the parish that two or three of his company, of rank Federal
opinions, had vowed they would sooner shoot the captain than any foreign
enemy of the State. The Major, however, heard no guns in either front or
rear up to the time of the British attack upon the borough of
Stonington, in midsummer of 1814. In the defence here he was very
active, in connection with a certain artillery force that had come down
the river from Norwich; and although the attack of the British Admiral
was a mere feint, yet for a while there was a very lively sprinkling of
shot. The people of the little borough were duly frightened, the
"Ramilies" seventy-four gun-ship of his Majesty enjoyed an excellent
opportunity for long-range practice, and the militia gave an honest
airing to their patriotism. The Major was wholly himself. "If the
rascals would only attempt a landing!" said he; and as he spoke, a
fragment of shell struck his sword-arm at the elbow. The wound was a
grievous one, and the surgeon in attendance declared amputation to be
necessary. The Major combated the decision for a while, but loss of
blood weakened his firmness, and the operation was gone through with
very bunglingly. Next morning a country wagon was procured to transport
him home. The drive was an exceeding rough one, and the stump fell to
bleeding. Most men would have lain by for a day or two, but the Major
insisted upon pushing on for Canterbury, where he arrived late at night,
very much exhausted.

The country physician declared, on examination next morning, that some
readjustment of the amputated limb was necessary, which was submitted to
by the Major in a very irritable humor. Friends and enemies of the
wounded man were all kind and full of sympathy. Miss Eliza was in a
flutter of dreary apprehension that rendered her incapable of doing
anything effectively. Benjamin was as tender and as devoted as a woman.
The wound healed in due time, but the Major did not rally. The drain
upon his vitality had been too great; he fell into a general decline,
which within a fortnight gave promise of fatal results. The Major met
the truth like a veteran; he arranged his affairs, by the aid of his
son, with a great show of method,--closed all in due time; and when he
felt his breath growing short, called Benjamin, and like a good officer
gave his last orders.

"Mabel," said he, "is provided for; it is but just that her mother's
property should be settled on her; I have done so. For yourself and
Eliza, you will have need of a close economy. I don't think you'll do
much at law; you once thought of preaching; if you think so now, preach,
Benjamin; there's something in it; at least it's better than

A fit of coughing seized him here, from which he never fairly rallied.
Benjamin took his hand when he grew quiet, and prayed silently, while
the Major slipped off the roll militant forever.


The funeral was appointed for the second day thereafter. The house was
set in order for the occasion. Chairs were brought in from the
neighbors. A little table, with a Bible upon it, was placed in the
entrance-way at the foot of the stairs, that all might hear what the
clergyman should say. The body lay in the parlor, with the Major's sword
and cocked hat upon the coffin; and the old gentleman's face had never
worn an air of so much dignity as it wore now. Death had refined away
all trace of his irritable humors, of his passionate, hasty speech. It
looked like the face of a good man,--so said nine out of ten who gazed
on it that day; yet when the immediate family came up to take their last
glimpse,--the two girls being in tears,--in that dreary half-hour after
all was arranged, and the flocking-in of the neighbors was waited for,
Benjamin, as calm as the dead face below him, was asking himself if the
poor gentleman, his father, had not gone away to a place of torment. He
feared it; nay, was he not bound to believe it by the whole force of his
education? and his heart, in that hour, made only a feeble revolt
against the belief. In the very presence of the grim messenger of the
Eternal, who had come to seal the books and close the account, what
right had human affection to make outcry? Death had wrought the work
given him to do, like a good servant; had not he, too,--Benjamin,--a
duty to fulfil? the purposes of Eternal Justice to recognize, to
sanction, to approve? In the exaltation of his religious sentiment it
seemed to him, for one crazy moment at least, that he would be justified
in taking his place at the little table where prayer was to be said, and
in setting forth, as one who knew so intimately the shortcomings of the
deceased, all those weaknesses of the flesh and spirit by which the
Devil had triumphed, and in warning all those who came to his burial of
the judgments of God which would surely fall on them as on him, except
they repented and believed. Was he not, indeed, commissioned, as it
were, by the lips of the dead man to "cry aloud and spare not"?

Happily, however, the officiating clergyman was of a more even temper,
and he said what little he had to say in way of "improvement of the
occasion" to the text of "judge not, that ye be not judged."

"We are too apt," said he, (and he was now addressing a company that
crowded the parlors and flowed over into the yard in front, where the
men stood with heads uncovered,) "we are too apt to measure a man's
position in the eye of God, and to assign him his rank in the future, by
his conformity to the external observances of religion,--not
remembering, in our complacency, that we see differently from those who
look on from beyond the world, and that there are mysterious and secret
relations of God with the conscience of every man, which we cannot
measure or adjust. Let us hope that our deceased friend profited by such
to insure his entrance into the Eternal City, whose streets are of gold,
and the Lamb the light thereof."

The listeners said "Amen" to this in their hearts; but the son, still
exalted by the fervor of that new purpose which he had formed by the
father's death-bed, and riveted more surely as he looked last on his
face, asked himself, if the old preacher had not allowed a kindly
worldly prudence to blunt the sharpness of the Word. "Why not tell these
friendly mourners," thought he, "that they may well shed their bitterest
tears, for that this old man they mourn over has lived the life of the
ungodly, has neglected all the appointed means of escape, has died the
death of the unrighteous, and must surely suffer the pains of the second
death? Should not the swift warning be brought home to me and to them?"

Sudden contact with Death had refined all his old religious impressions
to an intensity that shaped itself into a flaming sword of retribution.
All this, however, as yet, lay within his own mind, not beating down his
natural affection, or his grief, but struggling for reconcilement with
them; no outward expression, even to those who clung to him so nearly,
revealed it. The memorial-stone which he placed over his father's grave,
and which possibly is standing now within the old churchyard of
Canterbury, bore only this:--

              REUBEN JOHNS.
          1ST SEPT., 1814.

And a little below,--

    "Christ died for all."


It will be no contravention of the truth of this epitaph, to say that
the Major had been always a most miserable manager of his private
business affairs; it is even doubtful if the kindest fathers and best
husbands are not apt to be. Certain it is, that, when Benjamin came to
examine, in connection with a village attorney, (for the son had
inherited the father's inaccessibility to "profit and loss" statements,)
such loose accounts as the Major had left, it was found that the poor
gentleman had lived up so closely to his income--whether as lawyer or
military chieftain--as to leave his little home property subject to the
payment of a good many outstanding debts. There appeared, indeed, a
great parade of ledgers and day-books and statements of accounts; but it
is by no means unusual for those who are careless or ignorant of
business system to make a pretty show of the requisite implements, and
to confuse themselves, in a pleasant way, with the intricacy of their
own figures.

The Major sinned pretty largely in this way; so that it was plain, that,
after the sale of all his available effects, including the library with
its inhibited Voltaire, there would remain only enough to secure a
respectable maintenance for Miss Eliza. To this end, Benjamin determined
at once that the residue of the estate should be settled upon
her,--reserving only so much as would comfortably maintain him during a
three years' course of battling with Theology.

The younger sister, Mabel,--as has already been intimated,--was provided
for by an interest in certain distinct and dividend-bearing securities,
which--to the honor of the Major--had never been submitted to the
alembic of his figures and "accounts current." She was placed at a
school where she accomplished herself for three or four years; and put
the seal to her accomplishments by marrying very suddenly, and without
family consultation,--under which she usually proved restive,--a young
fellow, who by aid of her snug fortune succeeded in establishing himself
in a thriving business; and as early as the year 1820, Mabel, under her
new name of Mrs. Brindlock, was the mistress of one of those fine
merchant-palaces at the lower end of Greenwich Street in New York City,
which commanded a view of the elegant Battery, and were the admiration
of all country visitors.

Benjamin had needed only his father's hint, (for which he was ever
grateful,) and the solemn scenes of his death and burial, to lead him to
an entire renunciation of his law-craft and to an engagement in fervid
study for the ministry. This he prosecuted at first with a devout old
gentleman who had been a pupil of President Edwards; and this private
reading was finished off by a course at Andover. His studies completed,
he was licensed to preach; and not long after, without any consideration
of what the future of this world might have in store for him, he
committed the error which so many grave and serious men are prone to
commit,--that is to say, he married hastily, after only two or three
months of solemn courtship, a charming girl of nineteen, whose only idea
of meeting the difficulties of this life was to love her dear Benjamin
with her whole heart, and to keep the parlor dusted.

But unfortunately there was no parlor to dust The consequence was that
the newly married couple were compelled to establish a temporary home
upon the second floor of the comfortable house of Mr. Handby, a
well-to-do farmer, and the father of the bride. Here the new clergyman
devoted himself resolutely to Tillotson, to Edwards, to John Newton, and
in the intervals prepared some score or more of sermons,--to all which
Mrs. Johns devoutly listening in their fresh state, without ever a wink,
entered upon the conscientious duties of a wife. From time to time some
old clergyman of the neighborhood would ask the Major's son to assist
him in the Sabbath services; and at rarer intervals the Reverend Mr.
Johns was invited to some far-away township where the illness or absence
of the settled minister might keep the new licentiate for four or five
weeks; on which occasions the late Miss Handby was most zealous in
preparing a world of comforts for the journey, and invariably followed
him up with one or two double letters, "hoping her dear Benjamin was
careful to wear the muffler which his Rachel had knit for him, and not
to expose his precious throat,"--or "longing for that quiet home of
_their own_, which would not make necessary these _cruel separations_,
and where she should have the uninterrupted society of her dear

To all such the conscientious husband dutifully replied, "thankful for
his Rachel's expression of interest in such a sinner as himself, and
trusting that she would not forget that health or the comforts of this
world were but of comparatively small importance, since this was 'not
our abiding city.' He trusted, too, that she would not allow the
transitory affections of this life, _however dear they might be_, to
engross her to the neglect of those which were _far more_ important. He
permitted himself to hope that Rachel" (he was chary of endearing
epithets) "would not murmur against the dispensations of Providence, and
would be content with whatever He might provide; and hoping that Mr.
Handby and family were in their usual health, remained her Christian
friend and devoted husband, Benjamin Johns."

It so happened, that, after this discursive life had lasted for some ten
months, a serious difficulty arose between the clergyman and the parish
of the neighboring town of Ashfield. The person who served as the
spiritual director of the people was suspected of leaning strongly
toward some current heresy of the day; and the suspicion being once set
on foot, there was not a sermon the poor man could preach but some
quidnunc of the parish snuffed somewhere in it the taint of the false
doctrine. The due convocations and committees of inquiry followed
sharply after, and the incumbent received his dismissal in due form at
the hands of some "brother in the bonds of the Gospel."

A few weeks later, Giles Elderkin of Ashfield, "Society's Committee,"
invited, by letter, the Reverend Benjamin Johns to come and "fill their
pulpit the following Lord's day"; and added,--"If you conclude to preach
for us, I shall be pleased to have you put up at my house over the

"There you are," said Mr. Handby, when the matter was announced in
family conclave,--"just the man for them. They like sober, solid
preaching in Ashfield."

"I call it real providential," said Mrs. Handby; "fust-rate folks, and
't a'n't a long drive over for Rachel."

Little Mrs. Johns looked upon the grave, earnest face of her husband
with delight and pride, but said nothing.

"I know Squire Elderkin," says Mr. Handby, meditatively,--"a clever man,
and a forehanded man, very. It's a rich parish, son-in-law; they ought
to do well by you."

"I don't like," says Mr. Johns, "to look at what may become my spiritual
duty in that light."

"I wouldn't," returned Mr. Handby; "but when you are as old as I am,
son-in-law, you'll know that we have to keep a kind of side-look upon
the good things of this world,--else we shouldn't be placed in it."

"_He_ heareth the young ravens when they cry," said the minister,

"Just it," says Mr. Handby; "but I don't want your young ravens to be

At which Rachel, with the slightest possible suffusion of color, and a
pretty affectation of horror, said,--

"Now, papa!"

There was an interuption here, and the conclave broke up; but Rachel,
stepping briskly to the place she loved so well, beside the minister,
said, softly,--

"I hope you'll go, Benjamin; and do, please, preach that beautiful
sermon on Revelations."


Thirty or forty years ago there lay scattered about over Southern New
England a great many quiet inland towns, numbering from a thousand to
two or three thousand inhabitants, which boasted a little old-fashioned
"society" of their own,--which had their important men who were heirs to
some snug country property, and their gambrel-roofed houses odorous with
traditions of old-time visits by some worthies of the Colonial period,
or of the Revolution. The good, prim dames, in starched caps and
spectacles, who presided over such houses, were proud of their tidy
parlors,--of their old India china,--of their beds of thyme and sage in
the garden,--of their big Family Bible with brazen clasps,--and, most
times, of their minister.

One Orthodox Congregational Society extended its benignant patronage
over all the people of such town; or, if a stray Episcopalian or
Seven-Day Baptist were here and there living under the wing of the
parish, they were regarded with a serene and stately gravity, as
necessary exceptions to the law of Divine Providence,--like scattered
instances of red hair or of bow-legs in otherwise well-favored families.

There were no wires stretching over the country to shock the nerves of
the good gossips with the thought that their neighbors knew more than
they. There were no heathenisms of the cities, no tenpins, no travelling
circus, no progressive young men of heretical tendencies. Such towns
were as quiet as a sheepfold. Sauntering down their broad central
street, along which all the houses were clustered with a somewhat dreary
uniformity of aspect, one might of a summer's day hear the rumble of the
town mill in some adjoining valley, busy with the town grist; in autumn,
the flip-flap of the flails came pulsing on the ear from half a score of
wide-open barns that yawned with plenty; and in winter, the clang of
axes on the near hills smote sharply upon the frosty stillness, and
would be straightway followed by the booming crash of some great tree.

But civilization and the railways have debauched all such quiet,
stately, steady towns. There are none of them left. If the iron cordon
of travel, by a little divergence, has spared their quietude, leaving
them stranded upon a beach where the tide of active business never
flows, all their dignities are gone. The men of foresight and enterprise
have drifted away to new centres of influence. The bustling dames in
starched caps have gone down childless to their graves, or, disgusted
with gossip at second hand, have sought more immediate contact with the
world. A German tailor, may be, has hung out his sign over the door of
some mouldering mansion, where, in other days, a doughty judge of the
county court, with a great raft of children, kept his honors and his
family warm. A slatternly "carryall," with a driver who reeks of bad
spirit, keeps up uneasy communication with the outside world, traversing
twice or three times a day the league of drive which lies between the
post-office and the railway-station. A few iron-pated farmers, and a few
gentlemen of Irish extraction who keep tavern and stores, divide among
themselves the official honors of the town.

If, on the other hand, the people maintain their old thrift and
importance by actual contact with some great thoroughfare of travel,
their old quietude is exploded; a mushroom station has sprung up;
mushroom villas flank all the hills; the girls wear mushroom hats. A
turreted monster of a chapel from some flamboyant tower bellows out its
Sunday warning to a new set of church-goers. There is a little coterie
of "superior intelligences," who talk of the humanities, and diffuse
their airy rationalism over here and there a circle of the progressive
town. Even the meeting house, which was the great congregational centre
of the town religion, has lost its venerable air, taken off by some new
fancy of variegated painting. The high, square pews are turned into
low-backed seats, that flame on a summer Sunday with such gorgeous
millinery as would have shocked the grave people of thirty years ago.
The deep bass note which once pealed from the belfry with a solemn and
solitary dignity of sound has now lost it all amid the jangle of a
half-dozen bells of lighter and airier twang. Even the parson himself
will not be that grave man of stately bearing, who met the rarest fun
only benignantly, and to whom all the villagers bowed,--but some new
creature full of the logic of the schools and the latest
conventionalisms of manner. The homespun disciples of other days would
be brought grievously to the blush, if some deep note of the old bell
should suddenly summon them to the presence of so fine a teacher,
encompassed with such pretty appliances of upholstery; and, counting
their chances better in the strait path they knew on uncarpeted floors
and between high pews, they would slink back into their graves
content,--all the more content, perhaps, if they should listen to the
service of the new teacher, and, in their common-sense way, reckon what
chance the dapper talker might have,--as compared with the solemn
soberness of the old pastor,--in opening the ponderous doors for them
upon the courts above.

Into this metamorphosed condition the town of Ashfield has possibly
fallen in these latter days; but in the good year 1819, when the
Reverend Benjamin Johns was invited for the first time to fill its
pulpit of an early autumn Sunday, it was still in possession of all its
palmy quietude and of its ancient cheery importance. And to that old
date we will now transfer ourselves.


Every other day the stage-coach comes into Ashfield from the north, on
the Hartford turnpike, and rumbles through the main street of the town,
seesawing upon its leathern thoroughbraces. Just where the pike forks
into the main northern road, and where the scattered farm-houses begin
to group more thickly along the way, the country Jehu prepares for a
triumphant entry by giving a long, clean cut to the lead-horses, and two
or three shortened, sharp blows with his doubled lash to those upon the
wheel; then, moistening his lip, he disengages the tin horn from its
socket, and, with one more spirited "chirrup" to his team and a petulant
flirt of the lines, he gives out, with tremendous explosive efforts, a
series of blasts that are heard all down the street. Here and there a
blind is coyly opened, and some old dame in ruffled cap peers out, or
some stout wench at a back door stands gazing with her arms a-kimbo. The
horn rattles back into its socket again; the lines are tightened, and
the long lash smacks once more around the reeking flanks of the leaders.
Yonder, in his sooty shop, stands the smith, keeping up with his elbow a
lazy sway upon his bellows, while he looks admiringly over coach and
team, and gives an inquisitive glance at the nigh leader's foot, that
he shod only yesterday. A flock of geese, startled from a mud-puddle
through which the coach dashes on, rush away with outstretched necks,
and wings at their widest, and a great uproar of gabble. Two
school-girls--home for the nooning--are idling over a gateway, half
swinging, half musing, gazing intently. There is a gambrel-roofed
mansion, with a balustrade along its upper pitch, and quaint ogees of
ancient joinery over the hall-door; and through the cleanly scrubbed
parlor-windows is to be seen a prim dame, who turns one spectacled
glance upon the passing coach, and then resumes her sewing. There are
red houses, with their corners and barge-boards dressed off with white,
and on the door-step of one a green tub that flames with a great pink
hydrangea. Scattered along the way are huge ashes, sycamores, elms, in
somewhat devious line; and from a pendent bough of one of these last a
trio of school-boys are seeking to beat down the swaying nest of an
oriole with a convergent fire of pebbles.

The coach flounders on,--past an old house with stone chimney, (on which
an old date stands coarsely cut,) and with front door divided down its
middle, with a huge brazen knocker upon its right half,--with two St.
Luke's crosses in its lower panels, and two diamond-shaped "lights"
above. Hereabout the street widens into what seems a common; and not far
below, sitting squarely and authoritatively in the middle of the common,
is the red-roofed meeting-house, with tall spire, and in its shadow the
humble belfry of the town academy. Opposite these there comes into the
main street a highway from the east; and upon one of the corners thus
formed stands the Eagle Tavern, its sign creaking appetizingly on a
branch of an overhanging sycamore, under which the stage-coach dashes up
to the tavern-door, to unlade its passengers for dinner, and to find a
fresh relay of horses.

Upon the opposite corner is the country store of Abner Tew, Esq.,
postmaster during the successive administrations of Mr. Madison and Mr.
Monroe. He comes out presently from his shop-door, which is divided
horizontally, the upper half being open in all ordinary weathers; and
the lower half, as he closes it after him, gives a warning jingle to a
little bell within. A spare, short, hatchet-faced man is Abner Tew, who
walks over with a prompt business-step to receive a leathern pouch from
the stage-driver. He returns with it,--a few eager townspeople following
upon his steps,--reenters his shop, and delivers the pouch within a
glazed door in the corner, where the postmistress _ex officio_ Mrs.
Abner Tew, a tall, gaunt woman in black bombazine and spectacles,
proceeds to assort the Ashfield mail. By reason of this division of
duties, the shop is known familiarly as the shop of "the Tew partners."

Among the waiting expectant, who loiter about among the sugar-barrels of
the grocery department, there presently appears--with a new tinkle of
the little bell--a stout, ruddy man, just past middle age, in
broad-brimmed white beaver and sober homespun suit, who is met with a
deferential "Good day, Squire," from one and another, as he falls
successively into short parley with them. A self-possessed, cheery man,
who has strong opinions, and does not fear to express them; Selectman
for the last eight years; who has presided in town-meeting time out of
mind; member of the Legislature, and once a Senator for the district.
This was Giles Elderkin, Esq., the gentleman who, on behalf of the
Ecclesiastical Society, had conducted the correspondence with the
Reverend Mr. Johns; and he was now waiting his reply. Thus is presently
brought to him by the postmistress, who, catching a glimpse of the
Squire through the glazed door, has taken the precaution to adjust her
cap-strings and dexterously to flirt one or two of the more apparent
creases out of her dingy bombazine. The letter brings acceptance, which
the Squire, having made out by private study near to the dusky window,
announces to Mrs. Tew,--begging her to inform the people who should
happen in from "up the road."

"I hope he'll suit, Squire," says Mrs. Tew.

"I hope he may,--hope he may, Mrs. Tew; I hear well of him; there's good
blood in him. I knew his father, the Major,--likely man. I hope he may,
Mrs. Tew."

And the Squire, having penned a little notice, by favor of one of the
Tew partners, proceeds to affix it to the meeting-house door; after
which he walks to his own house, with the assured step of a man who is
conscious of having accomplished an important duty. It is the very house
we just now saw with the ponderous ogees over its front, the balustrade
upon its roof, and the dame in spectacles at the window: this latter
being the spinster, Miss Meacham, elder sister to the wife of the
Squire, and taking upon herself, with active zeal and a neatness that
knew no bounds, the office of housekeeper. This was rendered necessary
in a manner by the engagement of Mrs. Elderkin with a group of young
flax-haired children, and periodic threats of addition to the same. The
hospitalities of the house were fully established, and no state official
could visit the town without hearty invitation to the Squire's table.
The spinster received the announcement of the minister's coming with a
quiet gravity, and betook herself to the needed preparation.


Mr. Johns, meantime, when he had left the Handby parlor, where we saw
him last, and was fairly upon the stair, had replied to the suggestion
of his little wife about the sermon on Revelations with a fugitive kiss,
and said, "I will think of it, Rachel."

And he did think of it,--thought of it so well, that he left the
beautiful sermon in his drawer, and took with him a couple of strong
doctrinal discourses, upon the private hearing of which his charming
wife had commented by dropping asleep (poor thing!) in her chair.

But the strong men and women of Ashfield relished them better. There was
a sermon for the morning on "Regeneration the work only of grace"; and
another for the afternoon, on the outer leaf of which was written, in
the parson's bold hand, "The doctrine of Election compatible with the
infinite goodness of God." It is hard to say which of the two was the
better, or which commended itself most to the church full of people who
listened. Deacon Tourtelot,--a short, wiry man, with reddish whiskers
brushed primly forward,--sitting under the very droppings of the pulpit,
with painful erectness, and listening grimly throughout, was inclined to
the sermon of the morning. Dame Tourtelot, who overtopped her husband by
half a head, and from her great scoop hat, trimmed with green, kept her
keen eyes fastened intently upon the minister on trial, was enlisted in
the same belief, until she heard the Deacon's timid expression of
preference, when she pounced upon him, and declared for the Election
discourse. It was not her way to allow him to enjoy an opinion of his
own getting. Miss Almira, their only child, and now grown into a spare
womanhood, that was decorated with another scoop hat akin to the
mother's,--from under which hung two yellow festoons of ringlets tied
with lively blue ribbons,--was steadfastly observant; though wearing a
fagged air before the day was over, and consulting on one or two
occasions a little vial of "salts," with a side movement of the head,
and an inquiring nostril.

Squire Elderkin, having thrown himself into a comfortable position in
the corner of his square pew, is cheerfully attentive; and at one or two
of the more marked passages of the sermon bestows a nod of approval, and
a glance at Miss Meacham and Mrs. Elderkin, to receive their
acknowledgment of the same. The young Elderkins (of whom three are of
meeting-house size) are variously affected: Miss Dora, being turned of
six, wears an air of some weariness, and having despatched all the
edible matter upon a stalk of caraway, she uses the despoiled brush in
keeping the youngest boy, Ned, in a state of uneasy wakefulness. Bob,
ranking between the two in point of years, and being mechanically
inclined, devotes himself to turning in their sockets the little bobbins
which form a balustrade around the top of the pew; but being diverted
from this very suddenly by a sharp squeak that calls the attention of
his Aunt Joanna, he assumes the penitential air of listener for full
five minutes; afterward he relieves himself by constructing a small
meeting-house out of the psalm-books and Bible, his Aunt Joanna's
spectacle-case serving for a steeple.

There was an air of subdued reverence in the new clergyman, which was
not only agreeable to the people in itself, but seemed to very many
thoughtful ones to imply a certain respect for them and for the parish.
The men of that day in Ashfield were intolerant of mere elegances, or of
any jauntiness of manner. But Mr. Johns was so calm and serious, and yet
gave so earnest expression to the old beliefs they had so long
cherished,--he was so clearly wedded to all those rigidities by which
the good people thought it a merit to cramp their religious
thinking,--that there was but one opinion of his fitness.

Deacon Tourtelot, sidling down the aisle after service, out of hearing
of his consort, says to Elderkin, "Smart man, Squire."

And the Squire nods acquiescence. "Sound sermonizer,--sound sermonizer,

These two opinions were as good as a majority-vote in the town of
Ashfield,--all the more since the Squire was a thorough-going
Jeffersonian Democrat, and the Deacon a warm Federalist, so far as the
poor man could be warm at anything, who was on the alert every hour of
his life to escape the hammer of his wife's reproaches.

So it happened that the parish was called together, and an invitation
extended to Brother Johns to continue his ministrations for a month
further. Of course the novitiate understood this to be the crucial test;
and he accepted it with a composure, and a lack of impertinent effort to
please them overmuch, which altogether charmed them. On four successive
Saturdays he drove over to Ashfield,--sometimes stopping with one or the
other of the two deacons, and at other times with Squire Elderkin,--and
on one or two occasions taking his wife by special invitation. Of her,
too, the people of Ashfield had but one opinion: that she was of a
ductile temper was most easy to be seen; and there was not a
strong-minded woman of the parish but anticipated with delight the power
and pleasure of moulding her to her wishes. The husband continued to
preach agreeably to their notions of orthodoxy, and at the end of the
month they gave him a "call," with the promise of four hundred dollars a
year, besides sundry odds and ends made up by donation visits and

This sum, which was not an inconsiderable one for those days, enabled
the clergyman to rent as a parsonage the old house we have seen, with
the big brazen knocker, and diamond lights in either half of its green
door. It stood under the shade of two huge ashes, at a little remove
back from the street, and within easy walk from the central common. A
heavy dentilated cornice, from which the paint was peeling away in flaky
patches, hung over the windows of the second floor. Within the door was
a little entry--(for years and years the pastor's hat and cane used to
lie upon a table that stood just within the door); from the entry a
cramped stairway, by three sharp angles, led to the floor above. To the
right and left were two low parlors. The sun was shining broadly in the
south one when the couple first entered the house.

"Good!" said Rachel, with her pleasant, brisk tone,--"this shall be your
study, Benjamin; the bookcase here, the table there, a nice warm carpet,
we'll paper it with blue, the Major's sword shall be hung over the

"Tut! tut!" says the clergyman, "a sword, Rachel,--in my study?"

"To be sure! why not?" says Rachel. "And if you like, I will hang my
picture, with the doves and the olive-branch, above it; and there shall
be a shelf for hyacinths in the window."

Thus she ran on in her pretty house-wifely manner, cooing like the doves
she talked of, plotting the arrangement of the parlor opposite, of the
long dining-room stretching athwart the house in the rear, and of the
kitchen under a roof of its own, still farther back,--he all the while
giving grave assent, as if he listened to her contrivance: he was only
listening to the music of a sweet voice that somehow charmed his ear,
and thanking God in his heart that such music was bestowed upon a sinful
world, and praying that he might never listen too fondly.

Behind the house were yard, garden, orchard, and this last drooping away
to a meadow. Over all these the pair of light feet pattered beside the
master. "Here shall be lilies," she said; "there, a great bunch of
mother's peonies; and by the gate, hollyhocks";--he, by this time,
plotting a sermon upon the vanities of the world.

Yet in due time it came to pass that the parsonage was all arranged
according to the fancies of its mistress,--even to the Major's sword and
the twin doves. Esther, a stout middle-aged dame, and stanch
Congregationalist, recommended by the good women of the parish, is
installed in the kitchen as maid-of-all-work. As gardener, groom, (a
sedate pony and square-topped chaise forming part of the establishment,)
factotum, in short,--there is the frowzy-headed man Larkin, who has his
quarters in an airy loft above the kitchen.

The brass knocker is scoured to its brightest. The parish is neighborly.
Dame Tourtelot is impressive in her proffers of advice. The Tew
partners, Elderkin, Meacham, and all the rest, meet the new housekeepers
open-handed. Before mid-winter, the smoke of this new home was piling
lazily into the sky above the tree-tops of Ashfield,--a home, as we
shall find by and by, of much trial and much cheer. Twenty years after,
and the master of it was master of it still,--strong, seemingly, as
ever; the brass knocker shining on the door; the sword and the doves in
place. But the pattering feet,--the voice that made music,--the tender,
wifely plotting,--the cheery sunshine that smote upon her as she
talked,--alas for us!--"All is Vanity!"


A little more than two centuries ago, Thomas Hobbes of Malmesbury
published his great treatise on government, under the title of
"Leviathan; or, the Matter, Form, and Power of the Commonwealth,
Ecclesiastical and Civil,"--in which he denied that man is born a social
being, that government has any natural foundation, and, in a word, all
of what men now agree to be the first principles, and receive as axioms,
of social and civil science; and declared that man is a beast of prey, a
wolf, whose natural state is war, and that government is only a
contrivance of men for their own gain, a strong chain thrown over the
citizen,--organized, despotic, unprincipled power. To this faithless and
impious work, which at least did good by shocking the world and rallying
many of the best minds to develop and defend the true principles of
society and the state, he put a fit frontispiece, a picture of the vast
form of Leviathan, the Sovereign State, the Mortal God,--a gigantic
figure, like that of Giant Despair or the horrid shapes we have
sometimes seen pictured as brooding over the Valley of the Shadow of
Death,--a Titanic form, whose crowned head and mailed body fill the
background and rise above the distant hills and mountain-peaks in the
broad landscape which is spread out below, with fields, rivers, harbors,
cities, castles, churches, towns and villages, and ships upon the seas
and in the ports. Its body and limbs are made up of countless human
figures, of every class, all bending reverently toward the sovereign
head. Its arms stretch forward to the foreground. In one hand it holds a
magnificent crosier, in the other a mighty sword, which reach across and
cover the whole. It is surrounded with emblems of power, of which it is
the life and embodiment. In the front is a fortified city, with its
streets and gate, its cathedral rising high above all other structures,
surmounted by the cross, the flag flying from the forts, the sentinel on
the ramparts. Its fortresses seem to defy and command the whole empire
over which Leviathan predominates. To show more fully how all-pervading
and resistless is the power of this monster made of mortal men, and the
means and extent of its control in Church and State, to impress the
senses, the emblems of its spheres and its instruments are depicted
below. First is a castle on a rocky height, with the smoke rolling from
its battlements, from which a cannon has just been fired; opposite, a
church, with a figure holding the cross above its roof of faith; here a
coronet, opposite a mitre; here is a cannon, to thunder in civil war;
opposite are the mythic thunderbolts for the fulminations of the Church;
below are arms, drums, banners and flags, helmet and halberd, spear and
sword and matchlock; opposite appears a front, between the devilish
horns of which, marked "dilemma," is formed a sort of trophy, made up of
a trident spear, labelled "syllogism," and bifurcated weapons, named
"real and intentional," "spiritual and temporal," and one beyond whose
long straight point, labelled "direct," there is another sharp, keen
one, curving round and covering it, labelled "indirect"; last is the
battle-field, with armies rushing together in deadly charge, their flags
flying above the long lines whose sloping spears bristle above the
clouds of smoke and dust, the cavalry and foot engaged with sabres and
pistols, men and horses fallen, the victors, the wounded, the dying, and
the dead,--the dread arbitrament of war; opposite, the judges ranged in
formal order, with their caps and black robes,--a Rhadamanthine
tribunal. Seeing such a summary and embodiment of his idea, a man will
shudder the more he ponders on such a conception of the state as such a
monstrous idol, which men have fashioned out of their own bodies and
invested with the attributes of superhuman power, and worshipped as the
creator of Justice and Law, Peace and Order, Truth and Religion, and
served and obeyed as their Tyrant and King.

The American state,--which, as Franklin said, "first set forth religious
truth as the basis of government," formed by the people, who, calling on
all mankind to witness their solemn appeal to the Supreme Judge of the
world, "pledged themselves," as Adams said, "to extinguish Slavery as
soon as practicable,"--the state formed to establish justice,--the state
for which the founders reverently adopted as the true emblem the Goddess
of Liberty,--had, at the time when Slavery, the patricide, waged this
war to finish the revolution already almost complete, so essentially
changed, that it bore a striking resemblance to that dreadful picture of
the giant form of the Leviathan. _Populus Romanus repente factus est

It will be difficult to decide which branch of our government was most
efficient in producing this change; as it will be difficult for one who
considers the principle, or want of principle, on which this Juggernaut
was constructed, to decide which would be the more horrible, a decision
by battle or by the robed ministers of evil. But as the Leviathan,
Slavery,--the Mortal God, the incarnation of Evil,--is growing more and
more shadowy, and men again behold the heavenly Guardian of their State,
Americans feel, and the world agrees, that war, though it reaches other
classes and in different form, is really attended with less horror and
woe at the time than several judicial decisions have occasioned; and
that the lasting results of battles are incalculably more insignificant
than the judgments of courts may be.

       *       *       *       *       *

Roger Brooke Taney was, when nearly sixty years old, placed at the head
of the Judiciary, at a critical time in American affairs. The Slave
Power, so successful in extending its dominion, and already the
controlling influence in the government, was pressing its unholy and
arrogant demands openly and without shame. It had destroyed civil
liberty in the Slave States, and was fast destroying it in the Free. It
was stifling the right of petition in Congress, and smothering free
speech in the States. The Executive was recommending that the mails
should be sifted for its safety. The question of the right of Slavery in
the Territories and the Free States was taking form, and the
slave-catchers claimed to hunt their prey through the Northern States,
without regard to the rights of freemen or the law of the land. Taney
had long been known as an astute and skilful lawyer, a man of ability
and learning in his profession--as ability and learning are commonly
gauged. He had been Attorney-General of Maryland, and in 1831 had been
appointed Attorney-General of the United States. He was an ardent
partisan supporter of the administration; and in 1833, when Duane
refused to remove the deposits, he was appointed to the Treasury as a
willing servant, and did not hesitate to do what was expected of him.

In 1835, while the country was deeply agitated by questions concerning
the rights of States and the powers of the government, he was nominated
to a vacancy on the Supreme Bench. His opinions on those questions were
well known, and the consideration of his nomination indefinitely

But some time after the death of Chief Justice Marshall, which occurred
on the 6th of July, 1835, Taney was nominated as his successor, and in
1836, the political complexion of the Senate having in the mean time
changed, was confirmed by party influence, and took his seat at the head
of the Judiciary in January, 1837.

He was essentially a partisan judge, as much so as were the judges of
King Charles, who decided for the ship-money in accordance with their
previously announced opinions. The President wrote him a letter in which
he thanked him for abandoning the duties of his profession and promptly
aiding him by removing the deposits; and Webster declared he was the
pliant tool of the Executive. The Massachusetts, Kentucky, and New York
cases in the very first volume of the Reports showed that, if not swift
to do the work for which he had been selected, he did not hesitate to
embody his political principles in judicial decisions. But we do not
intend to examine these, or to review the long series of decisions,
extending over more than a quarter of a century, and through more than
thirty volumes, on the common or even the grander questions discussed in
that tribunal, which will all, or nearly all, be unknown,--save to the
profession,--and will have but little influence on the welfare of the
country and the course of history. We would consider only the more
important of those decisions touching Slavery, the cause of this
Revolution, which have already shaped the course of events, and become
the record of his character as a jurist, a patriot, and a man.

His private opinions about Slavery are not matter of comment or inquiry.
There are two official opinions given by him while Attorney-General in
1831 which relate to the matter. In one of these he had to consider
whether the United States would protect the right of a slave-master over
his slave, employed as a seaman on a ship trading to one of the States,
in which he expressed the opinion that the United States could not, by
treaty, control the several States in the exercise of their power of
declaring a slave free on being brought within their limits. In the
other, he held that a person removing his slaves with him to Texas,
merely for a temporary sojourn, and with the intention of returning
again in a short time to the United States, might safely bring his
slaves back with him. But he then declared, that if the owner had placed
his slaves in Texas as their domicile, he would be liable to
prosecution, under the act of Congress, if he should bring them back
into the United States.

In 1837, the very year Taney took his seat on the Supreme Bench, he gave
the opinion of the Court in the cases of the Garonne and the Fortune,
two vessels libelled, under the act of 1818, for bringing as slaves into
New Orleans persons who had, in 1831 and 1835, been carried to France
and some of them manumitted there. The judge then said that, "assuming
that by French law they were entitled to freedom, there is nothing in
this act to prevent their mistress bringing them back and holding them
_as before_."

He seems to have considered it immaterial, or to have been ignorant,
that, in accordance with the maxim, "Once free, forever free," declared
in the courts of his own State of Maryland, the courts of Louisiana
held, as did those of Kentucky and other States also, that, "having been
for one moment in France, it was not in the power of her former owner to
reduce her again to slavery," and to have forgotten the doctrines of one
of his own opinions.

Slavery, when he came upon the bench, began to look to the Supreme Court
as its surest defence.

The Prigg case, as it is called, or, as lawyers call it, Prigg _vs._ The
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, was an amicable suit; the parties in
interest being the States of Maryland and Pennsylvania, which were
represented by the ablest counsel, who came into court, as Johnson,
Attorney-General of Pennsylvania, said, "to terminate disputes and
contentions which were arising, and had for years arisen, along the
border line between them, on the subject of the escape and delivering up
of fugitive slaves." The counsel regarded themselves, as he said, as
engaged in "the work of peace," and "of patriotism also."

Edward Prigg and others were indicted in Pennsylvania for kidnapping a
negro woman on the 1st of April, 1837. The cause came to trial before
the York Quarter Sessions, May 22, 1839; and the counsel agreed that a
special verdict should be taken and judgment rendered, and thereupon the
case carried up, so as to present the questions of law arising, under
the Pennsylvania Emancipation Act of 1780, upon the United States act of
1793 touching fugitives from labor, and the statute of Pennsylvania
passed in 1826, which provided for the seizure and surrender of fugitive
slaves and for the punishment of kidnapping. The case was made up and
presented in that spirit of compromise which has been the bane and
delusion of America, (as if there could be any compromise of
justice,)--the counsel for Pennsylvania claiming that their statute was
auxiliary to that of the United States, really beneficial to Slavery,
and that they advocated the true interests of the South as well as of
the Union and the North,--in order to have the Judiciary authoritatively
settle the vital question of the rights of the master in the seizure,
and of the States in the rendition, of fugitive slaves. The Court
decided, fully, that the master had a right to seize his fugitive slave
wherever he could find him, and take him back without process; that the
law of 1793 was constitutional; and that the United States had the
exclusive power of legislation on that matter.

But this did not satisfy Chief Justice Taney. He agreed that the master
had the right of seizure. He declared that this right was the law of
each State, and that no State had power to abrogate or alter it, and
foreshadowed the idea that the Constitution carried Slavery over all
the Territories and States. But he dissented from the Court when they
held the Pennsylvania act to be invalid. And without relying on any
principle, without any discussion of, or the slightest allusion to, any
authorities or the great fundamental questions involved in that issue,
he coolly depicted the inconveniences the slave-catcher might be subject
to in States where there was but one District Judge, and how essentially
he would be aided by the State legislation; and pointed out to his
brethren those "_consequences_" which they did "_not contemplate_" and
to which they "did not suppose the opinion they had given would lead."
And he said that, where the States had such statutes, "it had not
heretofore been supposed necessary, in order to justify those laws, to
refer them to the questionable powers of internal and local police. They
were believed to stand upon surer and safer grounds, to secure the
delivery of the fugitive slave to his lawful owner."

Counsel said, "The long, impatient struggle on that question was nearly
over. The decision of this Court would put it at rest." It was not so.
This decision was made in 1843. But from that time the strife over that
question was more violent than ever. The Slave Power took this decision
as a new concession and guaranty. It certainly affirmed the right of the
master to exercise his absolute power, in the most offensive form, to be
beyond control of all legislation whatever, State or National. The Court
doubtless meant, as the States and the counsel did, by giving to
Congress the exclusive power of legislation on the surrender of
fugitives from labor, to settle this question in such form as to satisfy
the Slave Power.

If the opinion of Mr. Webster be worth anything, they forgot the maxim,
"Judicis est jus dicere, non dare." Most surely Taney ignored his
State-Rights doctrines when, looking far on for the interests of Slavery
and the convenience of slave hunters, he held the United States
authorized to legislate on the matter; and, disguising the poison under
the phrase, "the Constitution and every clause of it is part of the law
of every State of the land," he put forth the dogma that the rendition
clause merely provided for the rights of citizens, "put them under
protection of the General Government," and made "the rights of the
master the law of each State." He was declaring a rule of government,
not a rule of law, and creating a theory for the defence of property in

In 1850 he went a step farther. A Kentucky slave-owner had been in the
habit of letting some of his slaves go into Ohio to sing as minstrels.
He filed a bill against a steamboat and her captain to recover the value
of those slaves, who, after their return, had been carried across the
river and escaped. It must be remembered that they had not first
escaped, but had been _carried_ to Ohio. But here, again, without
recurring to any of the principles presented and fairly involved in such
an issue, again looking far on to consequences in the interest of
Slavery, again ignoring, not only the first principles of jurisprudence
and the declared ends of the Constitution, but even his own political
State-Rights doctrine, (for if these men had not escaped, why could not
Ohio free them?) he declared a doctrine pregnant with mischief,--that
each State had the absolute right to decide the status of all persons
within its limits. This, too, has gone with war. But his intent is none
the less clear. The theory was obviously stated with a far-reaching view
to remote consequences. And it must be considered in connection with the
fact that, in lieu of the old rule which had been recognized by the
Slave States, that a slave, by being carried to a Free State or
domiciled for a day in a foreign country by whose law he was
enfranchised, was liberated forever,--once free, free forever and
everywhere,--the Slave Power was beginning to assert a new rule for
reënslavement by recapture and on return.

But the Slave Power, having controlled the executive and directed the
legislative branch of the government, again turned to judicial power as
the surest, and best able to work out easily the largest and most
lasting results. The Dred Scott case was begun in 1854, and brought up,
twice argued, and finally decided in 1856; Chief Justice Taney
delivering the opinion of the Court. The facts and result of that case
are well known. In a cause dismissed for want of jurisdiction, this
Court pretended to decide that no person of African slave descent could
ever be a citizen of the United States, and that the adoption of the
Missouri Compromise line by the Congress of 1820, acquiesced in for
thirty-five years, was unconstitutional. This doctrine was entirely
extrajudicial, and, as one of the judges declared, "_an assumption_ of

We do not propose to discuss this decision. It was the lowest depth. It
probably did more than all legislative and executive usurpations to
revive the spirit of liberty,--to recall the country to the principles
of the founders of the Constitution. It began the good work,--_evoking_
the truth, by showing its own fiendish principles,--which the war is
likely to finish forever. We wish, however, to give an analysis of the
doctrines and reasons on which his decision was based, and therefrom to
show what is the true place of Roger Brooke Taney as a jurist and a

Now the course of his argument was this,--admitting that all persons who
were citizens of the several States at the time of the adoption of the
Constitution became citizens of the United States, to show that persons
of African descent, whose ancestors had been slaves, were not in any
State citizens.

And first, he tries to show this "by the legislation and histories of
the times, and the language used in the Declaration of Independence";
and after referring to the laws of two or three Colonies restricting
intermarriage of races, and affirming that, though freed, colored
persons were in all the Colonies held to be no part of the people, and
declaring that "in no nation was this opinion more uniformly acted upon
than by the English government and people," admitting that "the general
words '_all men_ are created equal,' etc., would seem to embrace the
whole human family," and that the framers of the Declaration were "high
in their sense of honor, and incapable of asserting principles
inconsistent with those on which they were acting," he argues that,
because they had not fully carried out, and did not afterwards fully
carry out, their avowed principles by instant and universal
emancipation, therefore he can give to as plain and absolute words as
were ever written, expressive of universal laws, a force just opposite
to their terms;--a new form of argument, which begins by assuming the
truth of the proposition desired, and ends by denying the truth of the
admitted premises.

He then proceeds, to inquire if the terms "we, the people," in the
Constitution, embraced the persons in question. Here, too, he admits
that they did embrace all who were members of the several States. Then,
turning round the power given Congress to end the slave-trade after
1808, and arguing from it as a reserved right to acquire property till
that time; laying aside the fact that the framers of the Declaration had
acted on their declared principles, and that in many States, as in
Massachusetts and Vermont, even in Southern States, as in North Carolina
they remained till 1837, many freed colored persons were citizens at
that time, with the remark, that "the numbers that had been emancipated
at that time were but few in comparison with those held in slavery,"
assuming that the very acts of the States suppressing the slave-trade
helped instead of destroying his argument; arguing from the fact that
Congress had not authorized the naturalization of colored persons, or
enrolled them in the militia; arguing even from State laws passed in the
most passionate moments as late as 1833; going back to the old Colonial
acts of Maryland in 1717, and of Massachusetts in 1705; even coming down
to the fact that Caleb Cushing gave his opinion that they could not have
passports as citizens; denying that the "free inhabitants" in the
Articles of Confederation, which he was forced to concede did in terms
embrace freemen, actually did include them, because the quota of land
forces was proportioned to the white inhabitants,--he affirmed that they
were not and never could become citizens, that neither the States nor
the nation had power to lift them from their abject condition. The
United States could naturalize Indians. But neither the United States
nor the individual States could make colored persons citizens.

The Chief Justice stated that colored persons were not, at the time of
the adoption of the Constitution, citizens under the laws of the several
States and the laws of the civilized world. But he knew, for it had been
shown to him in the arguments, that such persons, and many who had been
slaves, were then citizens in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and North
Carolina, as they likewise were in Vermont, Pennsylvania, and in other
States. And he knew--for in 1831 he himself said it was "a fixed
principle of the law of England, that a slave becomes free as soon as he
touches her shores"--that he declared as law what was not the law of
civilized nations; that in 1762 Lord Northington declared that "as soon
as a man sets foot on English ground he is free"; and that Lord
Mansfield had, in 1772, held that "Slavery is so odious that it cannot
be established without positive law." He knew (or he declared what he
did not know) that at that day the sentiment in France was so directly
to the contrary, that in 1791 the law was "_Tout individu est libre
aussitôt qu'il est en France_." At the time to which he referred, public
opinion in the American States and in foreign countries, and the
legislation of the various States, were just the opposite of what he
stated them to be. Liberty was just at the moment more truly the
sentiment of the country and of states in amity with it than at any
other. The assertion, that colored persons could not be and were not
citizens of the several States, was simply false. In most if not in all
of the States such persons were citizens. In 1776, the Quakers refused
fellowship with such as held slaves; that sect, through all the States,
enfranchised their slaves, who, on such enfranchisement, became
citizens. American courts were not behind the English courts. States
adopted the language of the Declaration into their Constitutions for the
purpose of universal emancipation, and the courts decided that that was
its effect. At the time of the adoption of the Constitution the leading
men of all sections considered emancipation essential to the realization
of the American idea; for their government was founded on a theory, and
avowed principles, which rendered it necessary, and which, with the
performance of the pledges of the States and the exercise of the powers
directly given to the Union, would make liberty universal and perpetual.

Taney even argued that persons of African descent could not be citizens,
because they could "enter every State when they pleased, without pass or
passport, and without obstruction, to sojourn there as long as they
pleased, to go where they please, at every hour of the day or night,
without molestation, unless they committed some violation of law for
which a white man would be punished; and it would give them full liberty
of speech, in public and in private, upon all subjects upon which its
own citizens might speak, to hold public meetings," and "to bear arms"!
As if this would not be to a true jurist and just judge expounding a
Constitution made "to establish justice" itself the ground to for
deciding that citizenship was opened to them by emancipation; as if the
blessings of liberty ought not to prevail over any inconveniences to

His argument from subsequent legislation was perfectly idle. For, at
most, the statutes of Naturalization and Enrolment merely showed that
Congress did not then choose to apply to colored persons the power given
to them in absolute terms, and which he admits they had as to Indians.
While in other statutes, as that of 1808, of Seamen, and in several
treaties, as, for instance, those whereby Louisiana, Florida, and New
Mexico were acquired, colored persons are expressly named as citizens.

Having denied the clear facts of history, renounced the obligation of
explicit language, professed to stand on an argument every member of
which was destructive of his conclusion, he thus stated the result:
"They were at that time," 1789, "considered as a subordinate and
inferior class of beings, who had been subjugated by the dominant race,
and, whether emancipated or not, yet remained subject to their
authority, and had no rights or privileges but such as those who held
the power and the government might choose to grant them"; that the
opinion had obtained "for more than a century" that they were "beings of
an inferior order," with "no rights which the white man was bound to
respect," who "might justly and lawfully be reduced to slavery," "an
ordinary article of merchandise and traffic wherever a profit could be
made of it"; and this opinion was then "fixed and universal in the
civilized portion of the white race,"--"an _axiom_ in morals as well as
politics." He then declares, that to call them "citizens" would be "an
abuse of terms" "not calculated to exalt the character of the American
citizen in the eyes of other nations."

No wonder the nations pointed the finger of scorn, and cried out, "Is
this the perfection of beauty, the joy of the whole earth? Shade of
Jefferson! is this the reading America was to give the Declaration? Did
you publish a lie to the world? Spirits of Franklin, Adams, and
Washington! is this your work? Americans! is this your character?"

He declares, further, that the Court has no right to change the
construction of the Constitution; that "it speaks in the same words,
with the same meaning and intent, with which it spoke when it came from
the hands of its framers, and was voted on and adopted by the people of
the United States. Any other rule of construction would abrogate the
judicial character of this Court, and make it the mere reflex of the
popular opinion or passion of the day. This Court was not created by the
Constitution for such purposes. Higher and graver trusts have been
confided to it; and it must not falter in the path of duty!" Would to
God it had not faltered in the path of duty, that it had been true to
those higher and graver trusts! Would that it had not been the mere
reflex of popular opinion or the passion of the day, that it had not
abrogated its judicial character! Would that it had read the plain words
in the holy spirit in which they were written! Would that it had left
the Constitution as it was, and, instead of thus writing its own
condemnation, had shown how efficient an instrument that Constitution
would be, if fearlessly used to carry out the great principles of
humanity for which its preamble declares it was established!

Here is the key to the new distinction between the Constitution as it is
and the Constitution as it was. But as it was in the beginning, so it is
and shall be.

But Taney could not stop here. Compromises had been made through the
other branches of the government,--compromises held sacred for more than
a generation, in the vain hope to appease the insatiate lust of the
Slave Power. He went on with a longer and lower argument to declare one
branch of the Compromise--the act of Congress prohibiting slavery in
territory north of 36° 30'--void.

Even more,--for he seemed determined to make clean work of it,--he went
on to say that a slave who had been made free by being taken (not
escaping, but by being carried by his owner) to a Free State was reduced
to slavery again on arriving back in the State from which he had been
taken, and that that was the result of Strader _vs._ Graham, which
declared that the _status_ of persons, whether free or slave, depended
on the State law. Here, again, he sacrificed his cherished party
principles to his love for Slavery. Else how could the State to which
the slave had been carried be deprived of its right to enfranchise, or
how could the United States power be extended further than to the
expressly granted case of escape?

But no. He was a judicial Calhoun. His dogma was that the fundamental
law guaranteed property in man. He declared that therefore Congress
could not interfere with it in the Territories. Before he was judge, he
admitted the right of sojourn. There was but one step more,--the sacred
right of slave property in Free States. It was involved in what he had
already said, and was not so great an anomaly as he had already
sanctioned; for if the Constitution guarantees this property in every
State,--if the States do not reserve the power to interfere with
it,--if, in case of escape, Congress has the power to reclaim it,--why
is not the owner to be guaranteed it in the States as well as in the

In looking across this long judicial Sahara of twenty-seven years, there
is but one oasis. In the Amistad case, the Court did declare that Cinque
and the rest, who had been kidnapped, had the right to regain their
natural liberty, even at the cost of the lives of those who held them in
bondage; and for once the Court, speaking by Story, did appeal to the
laws of nature and of nations, and decide the case "_upon the eternal
principles of justice_." But all else is, in the light of this question
of Slavery, by which this age will be remembered and judged, a dreary,
barren waste of shifting, blinding, stifling sand.

History will tell whether America is to be judged by the words spoken by
him who so long held the highest seat in her courts. We do not think she
has fallen to such a depth. He did not speak for her; but he did for

By this record will the world judge Chief Justice Taney. His great
familiarity with the special practice; his knowledge of the peculiar
jurisdiction of his tribunals; his acquaintance with the doctrines and
decisions of the common law, with equity and admiralty; his opinions on
corporate and municipal powers and rights, on land claims, State
boundaries, the Gaines case, the Girard will, on corporations; his
decisions on patent-rights and on copyrights; his opinions extending
admiralty jurisdiction to inner waters, on liability of public officers,
and rights of State or national taxation, on the liquor and passenger
laws, on State insolvent laws, on commercial questions, on belligerent
rights, and on the organization of States,--after doing service for the
day in the mechanical branch of his craft, will soon be all forgotten.
But the slavocrats' revolution of the last two generations, and the
Secession war, and the triumph of Liberty, will be the theme of the
world; and he, of all who precipitated them, will be most likely, after
the traitor leaders, to be held in infamous remembrance; for he did more
than any other individual,--more than any President, if not more than
all,--more in one hour than the Legislature in thirty years,--to extend
the Slave Power. Indeed, he had solemnly decided all and more than all
that President Buchanan, closing his long political life of servility in
imbecility, in December, 1860, asked to have adopted as an "explanatory
amendment" of the Constitution, to fully satisfy the Slave Power. Well
would it have been for that Power, for a while at least, had its members
recollected that "no tyranny is so secure, none so remediless, as that
of executive courts"; well for them,--if it is better to rule in hell
than serve in heaven,--but worse for the world, had they been patient.
But the dose of poison was too great. Nature relieved itself. War came,
not the ruin, but the only salvation, of the state.

The movements of events have been so rapid, the work of generations
being done in as many years, that Taney's character is already historic;
and we can judge of it by his relation to the great event which alone
will preserve it from oblivion.

In judging his public character as the head of the Judiciary of America,
consider the _cause_ he sought to promote, his motives, the means he
used, his resources as a jurist and a lawyer in that cause, the intended
effect and actual results.

And of the cause this must be said and agreed by all, that there was
never one of which a court could take cognizance in America, England, or
the world so utterly evil and infamous as that of Slavery in the United
States. Did he realize its extent? Yes, there were "few freedmen
compared with the slaves," say only sixty thousand out of seven hundred
thousand in 1789. He fully realized that, in repudiating the promise
made for those seven hundred thousand, a pledge made with the most
solemn appeal to man and to God, he utterly destroyed the rights and
hopes of four million men. He knew he was deciding, for a vast empire,
weal or woe; and he knew it was woe, or he had no sense of justice.

And his motives? He was not venal, not corrupt, not a respecter of
persons. But there is something bad besides venality, corruption, and
personal partiality. The worst of motives is disposition to serve the
cause of evil. The country knows, the world will declare, none served it
so well. But was he conscious of serving it? Yes,--unless the traitors
so eagerly sought to put all these interests under his jurisdiction
without motive,--unless his eager and unnecessary, and, as was declared
and is now agreed, assumed jurisdiction over it, his "far-seeing" care
and untiring defence of them, their appeal to his decisions, were all
mistakes,--unless all these, and his manner, their motives, and the
assured results, coincided so as by the law of chances was
impossible,--he was conscious. To deny it is to say that he was imbued
with the spirit of evil.

The world knows by what means he assumed to settle these questions. We
have seen something of the nature of his arguments. With these, too, men
are somewhat familiar, and by these let them judge of him as a jurist.

There is not in them all one faint recognition of the axioms of
law,--one position founded on the laws of nature or the rules of eternal
justice and the right,--one notice of the great primal rules laid down
by all jurists and great judges of ancient and modern times, or of the
precepts of religion by which any magistrate in a Christian land must
expect to be governed, or to be held infamous forever. Nay, more: he
does not recognize at all those fundamental principles of the
Constitution and Declaration which are stated in plain terms in the
first lines of both. He did worse than torture and pervert language: he
reversed its meaning. He denied the undoubted facts of history. He
denied the settled truths of science. He slandered the memory of the
founders of the government and framers of the Declaration. He was ready
to cover the most glorious page of the history of his country with
infamy, and insulted the intelligence and virtue of the civilized world.

Where, outside his "_axiom in morals and politics_" can be found so
monstrous a combination of ignorance, injustice, falsehood, and impiety?
Ignorant of the meaning of an "axiom"; denying the truths of science;
falsifying history; setting above the Constitution the most odious
theory of tyranny, long before exploded; scoffing at the rules of
justice and sentiments of humanity,--he tied in a knot those cords which
must end the life of his country or be burst in revolution.

He well knew, too, what would be the effects of his decision. Avowedly
he was ready to lay the time-honored principles of civil right and the
ancient law at the feet of the Slave Power. The passions of a mighty
people never raged more fiercely than whilst that last cause was before
his court,--save in open war; and there was almost war then. He
well-knew nothing would so force them to desperation,--the desperation
of unlicensed barbarism or the immovable determination of truth and
justice driven to the wall. He knew, or if he did not, was so ignorant
that he was incompetent, that in such a contest on such fundamental
principles, such a decision must end in revolution and civil war. If he
dreamed of peace, then he was ready to seal the doom of four million,
and at the end of this century of ten million souls.

In all these decisions he appeals to no one great principle. There is
little in all his judgments to raise him above the rank of respectable
jurists; and in these, presenting the fairest occasion ever offered to a
true lawyer, to one fit to be called an American, nothing that will not
cover his name with infamy, where, on far lesser occasions, Hale and
Holt, Somers and Mansfield, covered theirs with honor, and added to the
glory of their country, and did good to mankind.

He was not, indeed, of that class of the bad to which the profane
Jeffreys and Scroggs and the obscene Kelyng belong. But he was as prone
to the wrong as was Chief Justice Fleming in sustaining impositions, and
Chancellor Ellesmere in supporting benevolences for King James; as ready
to do it as Hyde and Heath were to legalize "general warrants" "by
expositions of the law"; as Finch and Jones, Brampton and Coventry, were
to legalize "ship-money" for King Charles; as swift as Dudley was under
Andros; as Bernard and Hutchinson and Oliver were in Colonial times to
serve King George III.; as judges have been in later times to do like
evil work. Some of these, perhaps, had no conscious intent to do
specific wrong. Their failure was judicial blindness; their sin,
unconscious love of evil. But this question of Slavery towers above all
others that Taney ever had to consider; America professed a loftier
standard of justice than England ever adopted; the question of the
liberty of a race is more important, the question whether the State is
founded on might or on right is more vital, than those of warrants and
ship-money, benevolences and loans; and Roger Brooke Taney sinks below
all these tools of Tyranny.

Hobbes said, that, "when it should be thought contrary to the interest
of men that have dominion that the three angles of a triangle should
equal two right angles, that truth would be suppressed." Taney did deny
truths far plainer than that,--the axioms of right itself. He did more
than any other man to make actual that awful picture of the Great
Leviathan, the Mortal God. How just, how true, were those last symbols
of the State founded on mortal power! The end of the dread conflict of
battle is the same as the end of the equally dreadful issue of the

But those he served themselves with the sword cut the knot he so
securely tied; his own State was tearing off the poisoned robe in the
very hour in which he was called before the Judge of all. America stood
forth once more the same she was when the old man was a boy. The work
which he had watched for years and generations, the work of evil to
which all the art of man and the power of the State had been
subservient, that work which he sought to finish with the fatal decree
of his august bench, one cannon-shot shattered forever.

He is dead. Slavery is dying. The destiny of the country is in the hand
of the Eternal Lord.



    A strong and mighty Angel,
      Calm, terrible, and bright,
    The cross in blended red and blue
      Upon his mantle white!

    Two captives by him kneeling,
      Each on his broken chain,
    Sang praise to God who raiseth
      The dead to life again!

    Dropping his cross-wrought mantle,
      "Wear this," the Angel said;
    "Take thou, O Freedom's priest, its sign,--
      The white, the blue, and red."

    Then rose up John de Matha
      In the strength the Lord Christ gave,
    And begged through all the land of France
      The ransom of the slave.

    The gates of tower and castle
      Before him open flew,
    The drawbridge at his coming fell,
      The door-bolt backward drew.

    For all men owned his errand,
      And paid his righteous tax;
    And the hearts of lord and peasant
      Were in his hands as wax.

    At last, outbound from Tunis,
      His bark her anchor weighed,
    Freighted with seven score Christian souls
      Whose ransom he had paid.

    But, torn by Paynim hatred,
      Her sails in tatters hung;
    And on the wild waves, rudderless,
      A shattered hulk she swung.

    "God save us!" cried the captain,
      "For nought can man avail:
    Oh, woe betide the ship that lacks
      Her rudder and her sail!

    "Behind us are the Moormen;
      At sea we sink or strand:
    There's death upon the water,
      There's death upon the land!"

    Then up spake John de Matha:
      "God's errands never fail!
    Take thou the mantle which I wear,
      And make of it a sail."

    They raised the cross-wrought mantle,
      The blue, the white, the red;
    And straight before the wind off-shore
      The ship of Freedom sped.

    "God help us!" cried the seamen,
      "For vain is mortal skill:
    The good ship on a stormy sea
      Is drifting at its will."

    Then up spake John de Matha:
      "My mariners, never fear!
    The Lord whose breath has filled her sail
      May well our vessel steer!"

    So on through storm and darkness
      They drove for weary hours;
    And lo! the third gray morning shone
      On Ostia's friendly towers.

    And on the walls the watchers
      The ship of mercy knew,--
    They knew far off its holy cross,
      The red, the white, and blue.

    And the bells in all the steeples
      Rang out in glad accord,
    To welcome home to Christian soil
      The ransomed of the Lord.

    So runs the ancient legend
      By bard and painter told;
    And lo! the cycle rounds again,
      The new is as the old!

    With rudder foully broken,
      And sails by traitors torn,
    Our Country on a midnight sea
      Is waiting for the morn.

    Before her, nameless terror;
      Behind, the pirate foe;
    The clouds are black above her,
      The sea is white below.

    The hope of all who suffer,
      The dread of all who wrong;
    She drifts in darkness and in storm,
      How long, O Lord! how long?

    But courage, O my mariners!
      Ye shall not suffer wreck,
    While up to God the freedman's prayers
      Are rising from your deck.

    Is not your sail the banner
      Which God hath blest anew,
    The mantle that De Matha wore,
      The red, the white, the blue?

    Its hues are all of heaven,--
      The red of sunset's dye,
    The whiteness of the moon-lit cloud,
      The blue of morning's sky.

    Wait cheerily, then, O mariners,
      For daylight and for land;
    The breath of God is in your sail,
      Your rudder is His hand.

    Sail on, sail on, deep-freighted
      With blessings and with hopes;
    The saints of old with shadowy hands
      Are pulling at your ropes.

    Behind ye holy martyrs
      Uplift the palm and crown;
    Before ye unborn ages send
      Their benedictions down.

    Take heart from John de Matha!--
      God's errands never fail!
    Sweep on through storm and darkness,
      The thunder and the hail!

    Sail on! The morning cometh,
      The port ye yet shall win;
    And all the bells of God shall ring
      The good ship bravely in!





All of us children were sent to the public school as soon as we were old
enough. There was no urgency required to get us off in the morning, as
we were too fond of books and reading to be found lagging as to time,
neither were we often caught at the tail of a class. Fred was
particularly smart in his studies, and was generally so much in advance
of myself as to be able to give me great assistance in things that I did
not fully understand, and there was so much affection between us that he
was always ready to play the teacher to us at home.

When fifteen years old, I was taken from school,--my education was
finished,--that is to say, I had received all I was to get, and that was
supposed to be enough for me: I was not to shine in the world. Though
far short of what the children of wealthy parents receive at fashionable
establishments, yet it was quite sufficient for my station in life,
which no one expected me to rise above. I had not studied either French
or music or dancing, nor sported fine dresses or showy bonnets; for our
whole bringing up was in keeping with our position. Was I not to be a
sewing-girl?--and how improper it would have been to educate me with
tastes which all the earnings of a sewing-girl would be unable to
gratify! I presume, that, if we had had the means, notwithstanding our
peculiarly strict training, we should have been indulged in some of
these superfluities. I know that I could easily have learned to enjoy
them quite as much as others do. But we were so taught at home that the
desire for them was never so strong as to occasion grief because it
could not be gratified. I think we were quite as happy without them.

As soon as I had left school, my mother installed me as her assistant
seamstress. She had at intervals continued to work for the slop-shops,
in spite of the low prices and the discourteous treatment she received;
and now, when established as her regular helper, I saw and learned more
of the trials inseparable from such an employment. I had also grown old
enough to understand what they were, and how mortifying to an honorable
self-respect. But I took to the needle with almost as great a liking--at
least at the beginning--as to my books. The desire to assist my mother
was also an absorbing one. I was as anxious to make good wages as she
was; for I now consumed more stuff for dresses, as well as a more costly
material, and in other ways increased the family expenses. It was the
same with Fred and Jane,--they were growing older, and added to the
general cost of housekeeping, but without being able to contribute
anything toward meeting it.

A girl in my station in life feels an honorable ambition to clothe
herself and pay for her board, as soon as she reaches eighteen years of
age. This praiseworthy desire seems to prevail universally with those
who have no portion to expect from parents, if their domestic training
has been of the right character. It does not spring from exacting
demands of either father or mother, but from a natural feeling of duty
and propriety, and a commendable pride to be thus far independent. If
able to earn money at any reputable employment, such girls eagerly
embrace it. They pay their parents from their weekly wages as
punctually as if boarding with a stranger, and it is to many of them a
serious grief when dull times come on and prevent them from earning
sufficient to continue these payments.

So unjustly low is the established scale of female wages, that girls of
this class are rarely able to save anything. They earn from two to three
dollars per week, and in thousands of cases not more than half of the
larger sum. It is because of these extremely small wages that the price
of board for a working-woman is established at so low a figure,--being
graduated to her ability to pay. But low as the price may be, it
consumes the chief part of her earnings, leaving her little to bestow on
the apparel in which every American woman feels a proper pride in
clothing herself. She must dress neatly at least, no matter how the
doing so may stint her in respect of all bodily or mental recreation;
for, with her, appearance is everything. A mean dress would in many
places exclude her from employment,--while a neat one would insure it.
Then, if working with other girls in factories, or binderies, or other
places where girls are largely employed, and where even a fashionable
style of dress is generally to be observed, she feels it necessary to
maintain a style equal to that of her fellow-workers. Thus the tax
imposed upon her by the absolute necessity of keeping up a genteel
appearance absorbs all the remainder of her little earnings.

Not so with the servant-girl in a family. She pays no board-tax,--her
earnings are all profit. But thus having more to spend on dress, she
clothes herself in expensive fabrics, until she generally outshines even
her mistress. So numerous is this class in our country, so high are
their wages, and so uniformly do they spend their earnings in costly
goods of foreign manufacture, all now paying an excessive import duty,
that I am half inclined to think these foreign cooks and chambermaids
may even be depended on to pay the interest of the public debt, if not
the great bulk of the debt itself. Their consumption of imported fabrics
on which a high duty is levied is very large, and no increase of price
seems to prevent them from continuing to purchase. Whoever shall inquire
of a shopkeeper on this subject will be told that this class of women
generally buy the most expensive goods. Indeed, one has only to observe
them in the street to see that they all have silks as essential to their
outfit, with abundance of laces and other foreign stuffs.

The change from the low wages, the hard work, and the mean fare in
Ireland to the high pay, the light work, and the abundant food of the
kitchens in this country, seems to produce a total revolution in their
habits and aspirations. Look at them as they land upon our wharves, all
of them in the commonest attire, the very coarsest shoes, many without
bonnets. Mark the contrast in their appearance which only a few months'
employment as cooks or chambermaids produces. Every thread of the cheap
home-made fabrics in which they came to this country has disappeared;
and in place of them may be seen flashy silks or equally flashy chintzes
or delaines, all the product of foreign looms. Every dollar they may
have thus far earned has been spent in personal adornment. At home,
extremely low wages and scanty employment made money comparatively
unattainable. Here, high wages and an active competition for their
services have put money into their hands so plenteously as to open to
them a new life. They see that American women generally dress
extravagantly; that even their own countrywomen whom they meet on their
arrival here are expensively attired; and the power of these pernicious
examples is such, that, when aided by that natural fondness for personal
decoration which I freely confess to be inherent in my sex, they begin
their new career by imitating them. At home, public example taught them
to be saving of their money; here, it teaches no other lesson than to
spend it. There, it came slowly and painfully, and was consequently
valued; here, it comes readily and for the asking, and is parted with
almost as quickly as it has been earned. I have never been the victim of
this common infatuation, to spend my last dollar on a dress that would
not become my station; I have been the architect of my own bonnets; I
have never been the owner of a silken outfit.

The idea of this class of women being large enough to pay the interest
on our public debt, in the shape of duties on the imported goods which
they consume, will of course excite a smile in all to whom it is
suggested. It will be a wonder, moreover, how the attention of a quiet
sewing-girl like myself should have been drawn to a subject so
exclusively within the domain of masculine thought. But all know that
the nation has been feeling the pressure of a universal rise of prices.
When any woman comes to buy the commonest article of dry goods for the
family, she finds that foreign fabrics are generally much higher in
price than goods of the same quality made in this country. On asking the
reason for this difference, she is told it is owing to the tariff, to
the greatly enhanced duty that has been put on foreign goods, and that
those who buy and consume them must pay this duty in the shape of an
increase of price. I have resolutely refused to purchase the imported
goods, and preferred those made at home, thus unconsciously becoming a
member of the woman's league for the support of domestic manufactures.

But it is not so with the army of foreign servant-girls among us. They
choose the finest and most expensive articles, loaded as they are with a
heavy duty. There are millions of American women who purchase in the
same way. This craving after foreign luxuries seems to be unconquerable
by anything short of absolute inability to indulge in it. But I suppose
there must always be somebody to purchase and consume these imported
goods. And perhaps, after all, it is well that there should be; for if
the nation is to pay a great sum every year for interest out of its
import duties, it could hardly raise the means, unless there were an
army of thoughtless American women and Irish servant-girls to help it do
so. If they are willing to undertake the task, I am sure they have my

If the reader should be surprised at the idea of the interest on the
public debt being paid from the extravagance of one class of women, he
will be more so at the assertion made by a speaker in the highest
deliberative body in the country, that another class would be able to
pay the debt itself. He said our dairy-women alone were able to do
it,--that in ten years they would churn it out,--because within that
short period they would produce butter enough to discharge the whole
amount. This may be all true; for how should I know the number of cows
in this country, or the disposition of the dairy-maids? But I presume he
had not consulted them as to whether they were willing to milk cows and
churn butter for a term of ten years for the sole benefit of the nation.
I am inclined to think they would make no such patriotic sacrifice,
except on compulsion. But with tawdry servant-girls and equally tawdry
ladies, the case is widely different; the latter pursue their great task
voluntarily; indeed, it would seem that they rather enjoy it; so that
the more one reflects on the idea, the less absurd does it appear.

It is very certain that the Irish who come among us have for many years
been sending home millions of dollars to pay the passage hither of
friends whom they had left behind. When these friends arrive here, and
have earned money enough, they repeat the process of sending for others
whom they in turn have left. The most limited inquiry will show how
universal this system of thus helping one another has become. Thus the
stream of remittances swells annually. The millions of money so
transmitted proves the ability of this class to achieve great pecuniary
results in a certain direction. That they thus exert themselves is
strong evidence of the intense affection existing among them. There are
innumerable instances of the father of a large family of children coming
out as a pioneer, then sending for the most useful child, and their
joint savings being devoted to sending for others, until finally the
amount becomes large enough to bring the mother with the younger
children,--the latter being meanwhile generally supported at home from
savings remitted with affectionate punctuality from this country, until
the happy day when they, too, receive the order for a passage. Many
times the entire family of a widowed mother, with the mother herself,
has been thus transferred to our shores from the savings of the son or
daughter who first ventured over. I refer to this remarkable trait in
the Irish character, not to censure, but to praise.

But they remit only a fraction of their total earnings, yet that
fraction constitutes a very large sum. The remainder, which so many of
them spend principally in dress, must be enormous. I have neither the
taste nor the talent for reducing it to figures; but the more one looks
at this question, the more reasonable does the idea seem that the Irish
servant-girls, together with the flash women of this country, have
deliberately undertaken to pay the interest on our great national debt.

How much it costs to clothe one of these gaudy creatures I cannot say;
but the silks and finery worn by them are known to every shopkeeper as
expensive articles. As I have never been able to indulge in such, I have
been content to admire them as they flirted by me in the street, or
swept up the aisles of our church on Sunday. It is so natural for a
woman to admire ornament in dress, that I could not avoid being struck
with the finish of an exquisite bonnet, the shape of a fashionable
cloak, or the pattern of an elegant collar. All these were paraded
through the streets and in the church, as much to my gratification as to
that of the wearers. They felt a pride in making the display, and a
pleasure in beholding it. I was like the poor lodger in the upper story
of an old house, the windows of which overlooked a magnificent garden.
The wealthy proprietor had lavished on his domain all that taste and art
and money could command to make it gorgeous with shrubbery and flowers.
The poor lodger, equally fond of floral beauties, beheld their glories,
and inhaled their soft perfumes, as fully and as appreciatively as the
owner. No emotion of envy disturbed her,--no longing to possess that of
which she enjoyed gratuitously so abundant a share. Her mere oversight
was all the possession she desired.

It was ever thus with me when the fine dresses of others swept by me
over the pavement. I confess that I admired, but no repining thought
ever came to disturb the perfect contentment with which I regarded my
plainer costume. It was no grief to me to be unable to indulge in these
luxuries. I saw them all, which was more than even the wearers could
say. They wore them for the gratification of the crowd of lookers-on;
and if the crowd were gratified, their mission was fulfilled. But I did
sometimes think upon the cost of these expensive outfits,--how some
girls equally poor with me must toil and struggle to obtain means for an
indulgence so unbecoming their position,--how others, the wealthy ones,
who, having never earned a dollar, knew nothing of its value, clothed
themselves with all the lavish finery that money could command, while
the meek sewing-girl who passed them on her way to the tailor's might
perhaps be kept from starving by the sums expended on the rich silks
which hung round them in superfluous flounces, or the costly brilliants
which depended from their ears.

It was said by Solomon, that "every wise woman buildeth her house." It
was averred by another wise man, that the mother of a family must
furnish it with brains, and that he never knew a man or woman of large
capacity who had a foolish mother. It is historically true that the
great men of all ages have been the children of wise and careful
mothers. Such women understand the art of skilfully managing the whole
machinery of the family. Taste and manners come to such by nature. They
cultivate the heart, the mind, and the conscience. They moderate the
aspirations of their daughters, and purify and elevate those of their
sons. It is from the influence which such mothers exercise over the
household that respectability and happiness result. My mother taught us
moderation in our views, and conformity to our position in life,
especially to avoid overstepping it in the article of dress. She was at
the very foundation of our house; it may be said that she built it.
While, therefore, our appearance was uniformly neat and genteel, none of
us were at any time dressed extravagantly. Thus educated from childhood,
it became a fixed habit of the mind to feel no envious longings at the
display which others made.

But curiosity could not be repressed. It was always interesting to know
the cost of this or that fine article which others wore. There was
little difficulty in obtaining this information as to the outfits of our
neighbors. The fine lady invariably told her acquaintances how much her
cloak or bonnet cost, and from these the information was communicated to
the servants, whence it quickly radiated over the entire neighborhood.
The pride seemed to be, not that the new bonnet was a superb affair, but
that such a fashionable artist produced it, and that it cost so much
money. Had it been equally beautiful at half the cost, or the handiwork
of an obscure milliner, it would have been considered mean. Thus,
instead of a necessity for being extravagant, it struck me there was a
desire to be so, and principally in order that others, when they looked
on the display, might be awed into deference, if not into admiration, by
exact knowledge of the number of dollars which dangled from the
shoulders of the fashionable butterfly. This boastful parade of
information as to how much one expends in this or that article implies
an undertone of vulgarity peculiar to those who have nothing but money
to be proud of. The cultivated and truly genteel mind is never guilty of
it. Yet it somehow prevails too extensively among American women.
Display is a sort of mania with too many of them. A family in moderate
circumstances marries off a daughter with a portion of only two or three
thousand dollars, yet it is all laid out in furnishing a house which is
twice as spacious as a first start in life can possibly require. Not a
dollar is saved for the future. The wedding also has its shams. Costly
silver plate is hired in large quantities from the manufacturer, and
spread ostentatiously over tables, to which the wedding-guests are
invited, that they may admire the pretended presents thus insincerely
represented as having been made to the bride. When the feast is over, it
is all returned to the maker. Truth is sacrificed to display. The latter
must be had, no matter what may become of the former.

As I was animated by the common ambition of all properly educated girls
in my position, to pay my own way, so I worked with my needle with the
utmost assiduity. I worked constantly on such garments as my mother
could obtain from the shops, going with her to secure them, as well as
to deliver such as we had made up, each of us very frequently carrying a
heavy bundle to and fro. Should the tailor sell the cheapest article in
his shop, scarcely weighing a pound, he was all courtesy to the buyer,
and his messenger would be despatched half over the city to deliver it.
Not so, however, with the sewing-women. There was no messenger to wait
on them; their heavy bundles they must carry for themselves.

The prices paid to us were always low. As the character of the work
varied, so did the price. Sometimes we brought home shirts to make up at
only twenty cents apiece, sometimes pantaloons at a trifle more, and
sometimes vests at a shilling. No fine lady knows how many thousand
stitches are required to make up one of these garments, because she has
never thus employed her fingers. But I know, because I have often sat a
whole day and far into the night, in making a single shirt. No matter
how sick one might feel, or how sultry and relaxing the weather, the
work must go on; for it must be delivered within a specified time. I
have seen the most heartless advertisements in the newspapers, calling
on some one, giving even her name and the place of her residence, to
return to the tailor certain articles she had taken to make up, with a
threat to prosecute her, if they were not returned immediately. But the
poor sewing-girl thus publicly traduced as a thief may have been taken
ill, and been thus disabled from completing her task; she may have lived
a great distance from the shop, and had no one to send with notice of
her illness, so as to account for the non-delivery of the work; yet in
her helplessness the stigma of dishonesty has been cruelly cast upon

One of my schoolmates, the eldest child of a widow who had five others
to provide for, had just begun working for a shop situated a full mile
from her mother's residence. She was a bright, lively, and highly
sensitive girl of sixteen. The day after bringing home a heavy bundle of
coarse pantaloons, she was taken down with brain-fever. It was believed
that she had been overcome by the effort required of her young and
fragile frame in carrying the great burden under a hot noonday sun. She
languished for days, but with intervals of consciousness, during which
her inability to finish the work at the stipulated time was her constant
anxiety. Her mother soothed her apprehension by assurances that a delay
of a few days in the delivery could be of no consequence; and so
believing, in fact, she sent no message to the tailor that her child was
ill and unable to complete her task. A week of suffering thus passed.
Saturday came and went without the work being delivered to her employer.
But the poor girl was better, even convalescent; another week would
probably enable her to resume the needle. On Sunday I went to see her.
She was quiet, and in her right mind, but still anxious about her
failure to be punctual.

I volunteered to call the next morning and inform the employer of her
illness. I did so. He was in a mean shop, whose whole contents had been
displayed in thick festoons, of jackets, shirts, and pantaloons, on the
outside, where a man was pacing to and fro upon the pavement, whose
vocation it was to accost and convert into a purchaser every passer-by
who chanced even to look, at his goods. I was most unfavorably impressed
with all that I saw about the shop. When I went in, the impression
deepened. There sat the proprietor in his shirt-sleeves, a
vulgar-looking creature, smoking a cigar; neither did he rise or cease
to puff when I accosted him. Why should he? I was only a sewing-girl. I
told him my business,--that my friend had been ill and unable to
complete her work, but that she was now recovering, and would return it
before many days. Putting on a sneer so sinister and vicious that it was
long before I ceased to carry it in my memory, he replied,--

"It's of no consequence,--I've seen to it. She's too late."

Though the man's manner was offensive, yet I attached no particular
meaning to his words. But on reaching home, my mother showed me an
advertisement in a widely circulated penny-paper which we took, warning
the poor sick sewing-girl to return her work immediately, on pain of
being prosecuted. There was her name in full, and the number of the
house in the little court where she lived. My mother was almost in tears
over the announcement. We knew the family well; they were extremely
poor, had been greatly afflicted by sickness, while the mother was a
model of patient industry, with so deep a sense of religious obligation
that nothing but her perfect reliance on the wisdom and goodness of God
could have supported her through all her multiplied afflictions. Her
husband had been for years a miserable drunkard, as well as dreadfully
abusive of his wife and family. The daughter had sat next to me at
school, to and from which we had been in the daily habit of going
together. I had a strong affection for her. It was natural that I should
be overwhelmed with indignation at the man who had perpetrated this
wanton outrage, and excited with alarm for my poor friend, should she be
made acquainted with it. All day I was in an agony of apprehension for
her. It was impossible for me to go to her, as she lived a great way
off, and we, too, had work on our hands which was pressingly required at
the end of the week.

But that evening I stole off to see her. I had no sooner set foot within
the narrow court than it was apparent that something had gone wrong.
There was a group of neighbors gathered round the door, conversing in a
subdued tone, as if overtaken by a common calamity. They told me that my
poor young friend was dying! Some one, at the very hour when I was in
the shop of the unfeeling tailor, excusing the delinquency of his sick
sewing-girl, had incautiously gone up into her chamber with the morning
paper, and, in the absence of her mother, had read to the unfortunate
girl the terrible proclamation of her shame. The effect was immediate
and violent. The fever on her brain came back with renewed intensity,
and absolute madness supervened. All day she raved with agonizing
incoherency, no medical skill availing to mitigate the violence of the
attack. As evening came on, it brought exhaustion of strength, with
indications of speedy dissolution. When I reached the bedside, the poor
body lay calm and still; but the yet unconquered mind was breaking forth
in occasional flashes of consciousness. Suddenly starting up and looking
round the group at her bedside, she exclaimed,--

"A thief, mother! I am not a thief!"

Oh, this death-bed--the first that I had ever seen--was awful! But my
nervous organization enabled me to witness it without trepidation or
alarm. Love, sympathy, regret, and indignation were the only emotions
that took possession of my heart. I even held in my own the now almost
pulseless hand of this poor victim of a brutal persecution, and felt the
lessening current of her innocent life become weaker and weaker. For
three long hours--long indeed to me, but far longer to her--we watched
and prayed. Suddenly the restlessness of immediate dissolution came over
her. Turning to her mother, she again exclaimed, as if perfectly

"Dear mother, tell them I was not a thief!"

Oh, it was grievous unto heart-breaking to see and hear all this! But it
was the last effort, the last word, the closing scene. I felt the
pulsation stop short; I looked into her face; I saw that respiration had
ceased; I saw the lustre of the living eye suddenly disappear: her
gentle spirit had burst the shackles which detained it here, and winged
its flight, we humbly trusted, to a mansion of eternal rest.

Not until then did a single tear come to relieve me. We sat by the poor
girl's bedside in weeping silence. No heavier heart went to its pillow
that night than mine.

I have related this incident as an illustration of the hazards to which
needle-women are exposed when dealing with the more unprincipled
employers. I will not say that tragedies of this character are of
frequent occurrence,--or that the provocation to them has not been too
often given. There have no doubt been frequent instances of employers
being defrauded by sewing-women who have dishonestly failed to return
the work taken out, even giving to them a fictitious name and residence.
In such cases, an effort to obtain redress by public exposure, the only
apparent remedy, might seem excusable. But though the fraud is
vexatious, yet, as the utmost that a sewing-girl could steal would be of
small value, the resort to newspaper exposure seems to be a very harsh
mode of obtaining restitution. It appears to me that vengeance, more
than restitution, is the object of him who hastily adopts it. It may
lead to sad and even fatal mistakes,--fatal to life itself, as well as
to the purest reputation, the only capital which too many sewing-women

My weekly earnings with the needle, while a girl, never reached a sum
more than enough to board and clothe me. But I felt proud of being able
to accomplish even what I did. When any little sum for recreation was
wanted, it was cheerfully handed out to me, but our recreations were
rare and cheap, for we selected those which were moderate and homely. My
father taught me to work in the garden; and there I spent many odd hours
in hoeing among the vegetables and flowers, clearing the beds of weeds,
and raking the ground smooth and even. This employment was beneficial to
health and appetite, and afforded an excellent opportunity for
reflection. He taught me all the botanical names that he had picked up
from the gentlemen for whom he worked, having acquired an amusing
fondness for remembering and repeating them. I learned them all, because
he desired me to do so, and because I saw it gratified him for me to
take an interest in such things. I do not think this kind of knowledge
did him much good; for he was unable to give reasons when I inquired for

But for the use of these sonorous designations for common things was a
sort of conversational hobby with him. I cannot say that he was unduly
proud of the little draughts of learning he had thus taken at the
neighboring fountains, but rather that it became a sort of passion with
him, yet regulated by a sincere desire to impart to his children all the
knowledge he had himself acquired. There was great merriment among us
when he first began to use some of these hard botanical names. He did so
with the utmost gravity of countenance, which only increased our
amusement. I remember one summer evening he told Fred, on leaving the
supper-table, to go out and pull up a _Phytolacca_ that was going to
seed just over the garden-fence. Fred stopped in amazement at hearing so
strange a word; and I confess that it bewildered even me. Then followed
the very explanation which father had intended to give. He told us it
was a poke-bush.

"Oh," said Fred, with a broad laugh, "is that all?"

But the word was forthwith written down, so as to impress it on our
memories, and none of us have yet forgotten it. It was singular,
moreover, how the imitative faculty gained strength among us. We
children acquired the habit of speaking of all our garden-plants by such
outlandish names as father then taught us,--not seriously, of course,
but as a capital piece of fun. We knew no more of relations and
affinities than he, and so used these names much as parrots repeat the
chance phrases they sometimes learn; still, the faint glimmerings of
knowledge thus early shed upon our minds came back to us in after life,
and, explained and illustrated by study and observation, now serve as
positive lights to the understanding.

I thus learned a great deal by working in the garden, and at the same
time became extremely fond of it, taking the utmost delight in planting
the seeds and watching the growth of even a cabbage-head, as well as in
keeping the ground clear of interloping weeds. I even learned to combine
the useful with the beautiful, which some have declared to be the
highest phase of art. Fred did all the digging, and in dry times was
very ready to water whatever might be suffering from drought.

My mother encouraged these labors as aids to health. The time they
occupied could be spared from the needle, as the garden required
attention but a few months, and only occasionally even then, while the
needle could be employed the whole year round. Besides, the family
earnings were not all absorbed by our weekly expenses. We had no rent to
pay, and there was nothing laid out in improvements. Hence a small
portion of father's earnings was carefully laid by every week,--not
enough to make us rich, but still sufficient to prevent us, if
continued, from ever becoming poor.

While thus industriously working with the needle, we began to feel the
effect on female labor which the introduction of sewing-machines had
occasioned. The prices given by the tailors were not only becoming less
and less, but our employers were continually more exacting as to the
quality of the work, and evidently more independent of us. In very busy
seasons, when they really needed all the clothing we could make up, they
were courteous enough, because they were then unable to do without us.
But the introduction of sewing-machines seemed to revolutionize their
behavior. As every movement of the machine was exactly like every other,
so there was an astonishing uniformity in the work it performed; and if
it made the first stitch neatly, all the succeeding ones must be equally
neat. Hence the beautiful regularity of the work it turned out. It
looked nicer than any we could do by hand, though in reality not more
substantial. Its amazing rapidity of execution was another element of
superiority, against which, it was believed, no sewing-woman could
successfully contend.

Heretofore, I had noticed that our employers had, on numerous occasions,
set up the most frivolous pretexts for reducing our wages. In all my
experience they never once advanced them, even when crowding us so hard
as to compel us to sew half the night. The standing cry was that we must
work for less, but there was never a lisp of giving us more. At one time
the reason was--for reasons were plenty enough--that the merchant had
advanced the prices of his cloths; at another, that a new tariff had
enhanced the cost of goods; at another, that the men in their employ had
struck for higher wages. Generally, the reason alleged for the new
imposition on us was foolish and unsatisfactory, and to most women, who
knew so little of merchandise and tariffs, quite incomprehensible. The
whole drift was, that, as others laid it on the tailors, the latter must
lay it on the sewing-women. But all the reasons thus set before us I
turned over in my mind, and thought a great deal about. I never had the
uncomplaining timidity of my mother, when dealing with these men,--and
so, on more than one occasion, was bold enough to speak out for our
rights. It struck me, from the various pretexts set up for cutting down
our scanty wages, that they were untrue, and had been trumped up for the
sole purpose of cheapening our work. Some of them were so transparently
false that I wondered how any one could have the impudence to present
them. Those who did so must have considered a sewing-woman as either too
dull to detect the fallacy, or too timid to expose and resent it.

We had on one occasion just begun sewing for a tailor who was considered
to be of the better class,--that is, one who kept a shop in a
fashionable street, and sold a finer and better description of goods
than were to be found in the slop-shops,--and while making up a dozen
fine vests, were congratulating ourselves on having advanced a step in
our profession. The man was very civil to us, and had justly acquired
the reputation, among the sewing-women, of dealing fairly and
courteously with those he employed. When our first dozen vests were
done, we took them in. There was a decided commendation as to the
excellence of the work,--it was entirely satisfactory,--the price was
paid,--but if we wanted more, he would have to pay us so much less. This
was at the very beginning of the season, when such vests would be in
demand. Had it been at the close, when sales were dull and little work
needed, I could have understood why a reduction was demanded, or why no
more vests were to be given out; but now I could not, and felt mortified
and indignant.

My mother said nothing. On such occasions she invariably submitted to
the imposition without remonstrance. It is the misfortune of most
sewing-women to be obliged to bear these hard exactions in silence.
Continued employment is with them so great a necessity as to compel them
to do so. But not feeling this urgency myself, and being now grown a
little older, and no doubt a little bolder, I ventured to address the
tailor in reply.

"Why do you ask us to take less for our work, Sir?"

"Goods have gone up, Miss," he responded. "The importers charge us
twenty per cent more."

"Do you require _them_ to take less, as you do us?"

"Oh," said he, "they're very independent. We may buy or not, they say,
just as we please. Everybody wants these goods,--they are very scarce in
the market, and we must pay the advance or go without them."

"Then," I added, "if the goods are so scarce and desirable, the vests
made of them ought to be equally so, and thus command a corresponding
advance from the consumer."

"Certainly," he quickly replied, "we put the advanced cost on the

"Then the same reason holds good to make him pay more and us to take
less," I replied, with an impetuosity of tone and manner that I could
not resist, "If you get the advance out of him, why do you take it off
of us?"

I saw that my mother was growing restless and uneasy, but I continued,--

"Do you consider the reason you have given for reducing our scanty wages
to be either just or generous? You require us to sit up half the night
to get this work done, that you may supply customers who, by your own
statement, will pay you as good a profit on our next week's work as you
get on that which we have just delivered. You advance your own prices,
but cut down ours. By the money paid us you see that we have made only
four dollars in the week, and now you ask us to work for three. Can two
women live on three dollars a week? You might"----

I was so fully under way, that there is no knowing what more I might
have said, had not my mother stopped me short. But my indignation was
roused, and I was about to begin again, when the tailor interposed by

"Do as you please, Miss,--that's my price,--and yours too, or not, just
as you choose."

Just then the man's wife came into the shop, and called off his
attention from us. I noticed that she was dressed in the extreme of the
fashion. There were silks, and laces, and jewelry in abundance, the
profits of the unrequited toil of many poor sewing-women. I told my
mother we would take no more vests from this shop, and would look for a
new employer, and started to go out. But she, being less excitable,
lingered, asked for a second bundle, and came out with it on her arm. I
carried it home, but it weighed heavily on my hands. We made up the
vests, but the otherwise pleasant labor of my needle was embittered by
the reflection of how great a wrong had been done to us. The sting of
this imposition continued to rankle in my heart so long as we were the
bondwomen of this particular man.

This persistent tendency to a reduction of wages acquired new strength
from the introduction of sewing-machines. As they came gradually into
general use, we found the cry raised in all the shops that machine-work
was so much better than hand-work, that nothing but the former was
wanted,--customers would have no other. I am satisfied that this also
was to some extent a mere pretext to accomplish a fresh reduction of
prices. The work may really have been better done, yet, notwithstanding
that fact, we were told the shops would continue to employ us at
hand-work, if we would do it at the same rate with the machine-work. It
was thus evident that it was not a question as to the quality of the
sewing, but simply one of price. Machinery had been made to compete with
muscle, and we were fairly in a dilemma which occasioned us an amount of
uneasiness that was truly distressing.

I did not attempt to fly in the face of this state of things by argument
or repining. I saw the result--at least I thought so--from the
beginning. To satisfy my doubts, I first went to see the machines while
in operation. How they could possibly overcome the mechanical
perplexities of needle and thread I could not imagine; neither, when I
saw them performing their work with such beautiful simplicity, could I
clearly understand how it was done. But my curiosity was gratified, and
my doubts resolved,--the great fact was made manifest. It struck me with
a sort of dismay. My mother was with me on this occasion, and she was
quite as much discouraged as myself, for her darling theory of the
supremacy of the needle had been blown to the winds. She would be
compelled to admit that hereafter the machine was to be paramount, and
the seamstress comparatively obsolete.

It could not be denied that the machines were capable of doing work as
beautifully as it could be done by needle-women. Then we were confounded
by the amazing rapidity with which they made the stitches. We saw that
it was vain to expect our slow fingers to compete with the
lightning-like velocity attained by simply putting the foot upon a
treadle. I have no doubt that thousands of sewing-girls, all over the
country, were equally astonished and disheartened, when they came to be
assured of the success of these machines. They must have seen, as we
did, that prices would speedily go down. Indeed, all who were in
immediate communication with the tailors became aware, at a very early
day, of the downward tendency. I confess that no other result was to be
expected, and that in this instance the call upon us was not entirely a
pretext of the tailors, but a necessity forced upon them by a new agency
suddenly introduced into their business, which they must immediately
counteract or embrace, or else give up their occupation.

The first tailor who bought a dozen machines found no difficulty in
having as many girls taught to operate them. The makers saw to it that
no impediment to their sale should occur from girls of ordinary
intelligence being unable to use them; so the first sewers were taught
either by the inventors themselves or by the skilled mechanics who
constructed the machines. As the girls learned quickly, so, when only a
small number had become expert at using them, they served as teachers to
others. Thus the operatives were multiplied almost as rapidly as the
machines. It was quite as difficult, at the first introduction, to
obtain the machines as it was to procure operators, so immediately was
the invention recognized by a vast industrial interest as the forerunner
of a complete revolution in all departments of sewing.

But, as already mentioned, the first tailor who bought machines was able
to set them at work directly. As one machine would perform about as much
in a day as ten women, the saving in the labor of the nine thus
dispensed with enabled him to reduce the price of his manufactured goods
to a figure so low that he could undersell all others in the trade.
Cheapness being everywhere the cry, he who sold at the lowest rates was
able to dispose of the most goods. It is not likely that he gave his
customers the full benefit of all the saving made by discharging nine
girls out of ten. This was large; for, while he saved their wages, he
made little or no advance in those of the remaining girl, who now did on
a machine as much work as the whole ten had previously done with their
needles. The only difference to her was, that she dropped the needle,
and employed a machine. She was, in either case, a mere sewing-girl; and
if she made her two or three dollars a week, it was enough. She had
never made more: why should she be permitted to do so now? It would have
been altogether contrary to usage to permit such a hand to have any
benefit from any general improvement or economy in the employer's great
establishment. The men are frequently able to exact it, but the women

A tailor thus underselling all others, and yet making greater profits
than ever, invited imitation and competition. All who were able to
procure machines did so as fast as the inventors could supply the
demand. This became so enormous and pressing that new manufactories were
speedily established, and rival machines came into use by scores.
Clothing-shops and other establishments went into operation with a
hundred machines in each, throwing multitudes of sewing-women out of
employment. Steam was called in to take the place of female fingers. The
human, machine was suddenly discarded,--turned off, without notice or
compunction, to seek other occupation, or to suffer for want of it.

No wonder that we should be dismayed when such a prospect as this was
seen opening itself before us. Neither is it to be wondered at that
prices broke down as the revolution progressed. I was confounded at the
low rates to which wages fell. The price for making a shirt was reduced
one half. Fine bosoms, crowded with plaits and full of seams, were made
for a few cents per dozen. Even the mean slop-shop work was so poorly
paid, that no woman, working full time, could earn much more than a
dollar a week. If ill, or with a family of children to look after, her
case was apparently hopeless. How all the sewing-women thus suddenly
reduced to idleness were to gain a livelihood I could not comprehend. A
cry of distress rose up from the toiling inmates of many a humble home
around us. The privilege to toil had been suddenly withdrawn from them.

Even my mother, as I have said, began to wake up from the delusion under
which she had hitherto labored, that the needle was a woman's best and
surest dependence; for here was a revolution that had not entered into
her imagination. Though not at any time impoverished or even straitened
by it, yet she saw how others were; and it led her to think that women
might be not only usefully employed at many new things, but that they
ought to be qualified by education for even a variety of occupations, so
that, when one staff gave way, another would remain to lean upon. I
suggested that the reason why so many were at that time idle was, that
all of them had been brought up to do the same thing,--to sew,--and that
they did not seek employment in other pursuits because their industrial
education had not been sufficiently diversified; they were not
qualified, and consequently would not be employed.

A woman can become expert at the needle only by proper training through
a regular apprenticeship. If necessary in that instance, it is equally
so in all others. Every great city abounds in employments for which
women are especially fitted, both mentally and physically; and they are
shut out from them only for want of proper training, and the deplorable
absence of available facilities for acquiring it. The boy is
apprenticed, serves out his time, and secures remunerative wages. Why
not give a similar training to his sister? If girls were properly
instructed, they would be profitably employed. It has been so with the
seamstress: why should it be otherwise in a different sphere?

At no time had we been in the habit of telling my father the particulars
of our experience with the tailors. He heard only incidentally how
little we earned, while our greatest grievances were rarely spoken of
before him. The truth is, that he had a very poor opinion of the craft.
I am sure, that, if he had known as much of them as we did, it would
have been even more unfavorable. But here was an entirely new trouble to
be met and overcome, requiring the utmost wisdom of the whole family to
master it. As to our ceasing work, no one dreamed of that; the anxiety
was, to be kept at it. Our consultations and discussions were
consequently frequent and long. My father joined in these with great
interest, but could suggest no remedy.

I had noticed that our penny paper was crowded with advertisements for
girls who understood working on a sewing-machine; and I learned from
several of my acquaintances that not only was the demand for such
operatives unlimited, but that an expert hand was able to earn quite as
much as with the needle formerly, while some were earning much more. It
struck me that I had overlooked the important fact that all the sewing
for the public was still to be done by women, even though machines had
been invented on which to do it: in our first depression, we had
innocently supposed that in future it was to be done by men. It was
obvious, then, that our only course was to get machines,--one for my
mother, and one for myself. I knew that I should learn quickly, and was
sure that I could earn as much as any one else.

My mother entered heartily into the plan, as it held out to us the
certainty of continued employment. We explained the case to my father,
and he also approved of the project, and agreed to buy us a machine. He
thought it better to begin with only one, to see whether we could
understand it, and find a sale for our work, as well as how we liked it.
Besides, when these machines were first made, the inventors exacted an
exorbitant price for them,--they, too, in this way levying a cruel tax
on the sewing-women. The cost at that time was from a hundred and twenty
to a hundred and fifty dollars. My father could manage to provide us
with one, but the expense of two was more than he could assume. I was
then within a few weeks of being eighteen; and it was arranged that I
should devote the intervening time to learning how to operate a machine,
by attending one of the schools for beginners then opened by lady
teachers, and that the new purchase should be my birthday present. So,
paying ten dollars for instruction, and agreeing to work eight weeks
without wages, I took my position, with more than a dozen others, as a
learner at the sewing-machine.



There is a class of persons to whom art in general is but a fashionable
luxury, and music in particular but an agreeable sound, an elegant
superfluity serving to relieve the tedium of conversation at a soiree,
and fill up the space between sorbets and supper. To such, any
philosophical discussion on the æsthetics of art must seem as puerile an
occupation as that of the fairy who spent her time weighing grains of
dust with a spider's web. Artists, to whom, through a foreign prejudice
which dates back to the barbarism of the Middle Ages, they persist in
refusing any high place in the social scale, are to them only petty
tradesmen dealing in suspicious wares (in most instances unshrewdly,
since they rarely get rich, which aggravates their position); while what
they call performers are looked upon by them as mere tricksters or
jugglers, who profit by the dexterity of their fingers, as dancers and
acrobats by the suppleness of their limbs. The painter whose works
decorate their saloons figures in the budget of their expenses on a line
with the upholsterer, whose hangings they speak of in the same breath
with Church's "Heart of the Andes," and Rosa Bonheur's "Cattle Fair."

It is not for such people that I write; but there are others,--and to
these I address myself,--who recognize in the artist the privileged
instrument of a moral and civilizing influence; who appreciate art
because they derive from it pure and ennobling inspirations; who respect
it because it is the highest expression of human thought, aiming at the
absolute ideal; and who love it as we love the friend to whom we
confide our joys and sorrows, and in whom we find a faithful response to
every movement of the soul.

Lamartine has said, with truth, "Music is the literature of the heart;
it commences where speech ends." In fact, music is a psycho-physical
phenomenon. In its germ, it is a sensation; in its full development, an
ideal. It is sufficient not to be deaf to perceive music, at least, if
not to appreciate it. Even idiots and maniacs are subject to its
influence. Not being restricted to any precise sense, going beyond the
mere letter, and expressing only states of the soul, it has this
advantage over literature, that every one can assimilate it to his own
passions, and adapt it to the sentiments which rule him. Its power,
limited in the intellectual order to the imitative passions, is in that
of the imagination unlimited. It responds to an interior, indefinable
sense possessed by all,--the ideal.

Literature is always objective: it speaks to the understanding, and
determines in us impressions in keeping with the determined sense which
it expresses. Music, on the contrary, may be, in turn, objective and
subjective, according to the disposition in which we find ourselves at
the moment of hearing it. It is objective when, affected only by the
purely physical sensation of sound, we listen to it passively, and it
suggests to us impressions. A march, a waltz, a flute imitating the
nightingale, the chromatic scale imitating the murmuring of the wind in
the "Pastoral Symphony," may be taken as examples.

It is subjective when, under the empire of a latent impression, we
discover in its general character an accordance with our psychological
state, and we assimilate it to ourselves; it is then like a mirror in
which we see reflected the movements which agitate us, with a fidelity
all the more exact from the fact that, without being conscious of it, we
ourselves are the painters of the picture which unrolls itself before
our imagination.

Let me explain. Play a melancholy air to a proscript thinking of his
distant home; to a deserted lover; to a mother mourning the loss of a
child; to a vanquished warrior;--and be assured they will all
appropriate to themselves the plaintive harmonies, and fancy they detect
in them the accents of their own grief.

The fact of music is still a mystery. We know that it is composed of
three principles,--air, vibration, and rhythmic symmetry. Strike an
object in an exhausted receiver, and it produces no sound, because no
air is there; touch a ringing glass, and the sound stops, because there
is no vibration; take away the rhythm of the simplest air by changing
the duration of the notes that compose it, and you render it obscure and
unrecognizable, because you have destroyed its symmetry.

But why, then, do not several hammers striking in cadence produce music?
They certainly comply with the three conditions of air, vibration, and
rhythm. Why is the accord of a third so pleasing to the ear? Why is the
minor mode so suggestive of sadness? There is the mystery,--there the
unexplained phenomenon.

We restrict ourselves to saying that music, which, like speech, is
perceived through the medium of the ear, does not, like speech, call
upon the brain for an explanation of the sensation produced by the
vibration on the nerves; it addresses itself to a mysterious agent
within us, which is superior to intelligence, since it is independent of
it, and makes us feel that which we can neither conceive nor explain.

Let us examine the various attributes of the musical phenomenon.

1. _Music is a physical agent._ It communicates to the body shocks which
agitate the members to their base. In churches the flame of the candles
oscillates to the quake of the organ. A powerful orchestra near a sheet
of water ruffles its surface. A learned traveller speaks of an iron ring
which swings to and fro to the murmur of the Tivoli Falls. In
Switzerland I excited at will, in a poor child afflicted with a
frightful nervous malady, hysterical and catalyptic crises, by playing
in the minor key of E flat. The celebrated Doctor Bertier asserts that
the sound of a drum gives him the colic. Certain medical men state that
the notes of the trumpet quicken the pulse and induce slight
perspiration. The sound of the bassoon is cold; the notes of the French
horn at a distance, and of the harp, are voluptuous. The flute played
softly in the middle register calms the nerves. The low notes of the
piano frighten children. I once had a dog who would generally sleep on
hearing music, but the moment I played in the minor key he would bark
piteously. The dog of a celebrated singer whom I knew would moan
bitterly, and give signs of violent suffering, the instant that his
mistress chanted a chromatic gamut. A certain chord produces on my sense
of hearing the same effect as the heliotrope on my sense of smell and
the pine-apple on my sense of taste. Rachel's voice delighted the ear by
its ring before one had time to seize the sense of what was said, or
appreciate the purity of her diction.

We may affirm, then, that musical sound, rhythmical or not, agitates the
whole physical economy,--quickens the pulse, incites perspiration, and
produces a pleasant momentary irritation of the nervous system.

2. _Music is a moral agent._ Through the medium of the nervous system,
the direct interpreter of emotion, it calls into play the higher
faculties; its language is that of sentiment Furthermore, the motives
which have presided over particular musical combinations establish links
between the composer and the listener. We sigh with Bellini in the
finale of La Somnambula; we shudder with Weber in the sublime
phantasmagoria of Der Freischutz; the mystic inspirations of Palestrina,
the masses of Mozart, transport us to the celestial regions, toward
which they rise like a melodious incense. Music awakens in us
reminiscences, souvenirs, associations. When we have wept over a song,
it ever after seems to us bathed in tears.

A celebrated pianist tells me that, in a city where he was giving
concerts, he became acquainted with a charming young girl. He was twenty
years old, and had all the poetic and generous illusions of that
romantic age. She was sixteen. They loved each other without daring to
confess it, and perhaps without knowing it themselves. But the hour of
separation came: he was passing his last evening at her house. Observed
by the family, he could only furtively join hands with her at the moment
of parting. The poem was but commenced, to be arrested at the first
page: he never saw her again. Disheartened, distracted with grief, he
wandered through the dark streets, until at two in the morning he found
himself again under her windows. She too was awake. Their thoughts,
drawn together by that divine tie which merits the name of love only in
the morning of life, met in unison, for she was playing gently in the
solitude of her chamber the first notes of a mazurka which they had
danced together. "Tears came to my eyes," said my friend, "on hearing
this music, which seemed to me sublime; it was the stifled plaint of her
heart; it was her grief which exhaled from her fingers; it was the
eternal adieu. For years I believed this mazurka to be a marvellous
inspiration, and it was not till long after, when age had dispelled my
illusions and obliterated the adored image, that I discovered it was
only a vulgar and trivial commonplace: the gold was changed to brass."

The old man, chilled by years, may be insensible to the pathetic accents
of Rossini, of Mozart: but repeat to him the simple songs of his youth,
the present vanishes, and the illusions of the past come back again. I
once knew an old Spanish general who detested music. One day I began to
play to him my "Siege of Saragossa," in which is introduced the "Marcha
Real" (Spanish national air), and he wept like a child. This air
recalled to him the immortal defence of the heroic city, behind the
falling walls of which he had fought against the French, and sounded to
him, he said, like the voice of all the holy affections expressed by the
word _home_. The mercenary Swiss troops, when in France and Naples,
could not hear the "Ranz des Vaches" (the shepherd song of old and rude
Helvetia) without being overcome by it. When from mountain to mountain
the signal of revolt summoned to the cause the three insurgent Cantons,
the desertions caused by this air became so frequent that the government
prohibited it. The reader will remember the comic effect produced upon
the French troops in the Crimea by the Highlanders marching to battle to
the sound of the bagpipe, whose harsh, piercing notes inspired these
brave mountaineers with valor, by recalling to them their country and
its heroic legends. Napoleon III. finds himself compelled to allow the
Arab troops incorporated into his army their barbarous tam-tam music,
lest they revolt. The measured beat of the drum sustains the soldier in
long marches which otherwise would be insupportable. The Marseillaise
contributed as much toward the republican victories of 1793, when France
was invaded, as the genius of General Dumouriez.

3. _Music is a complex agent._ It acts at once on life, on the instinct,
the forces, the organism. It has a psychological action. The negroes
charm serpents by whistling to them; it is said that fawns are
captivated by a melodious voice; the bear is aroused with the fife;
canaries and sparrows enjoy the flageolet; in the Antilles, lizards are
enticed from their retreats by the whistle; spiders have an affection
for fiddlers; in Switzerland, the herdsmen attach to the necks of their
handsomest cows a large bell, of which they are so proud, that, while
they are allowed to wear it, they march at the head of the herd; in
Andalusia, the mules lose their spirit and their power of endurance, if
deprived of the numerous bells with which it is customary to deck these
intelligent animals; in the mountains of Scotland and Switzerland, the
herds pasture best to the sound of the bagpipe; and in the Oberland,
cattle strayed from the herd are recalled by the notes of the trumpet.

Donizetti, a year before his death, had lost all his faculties, in
consequence of a softening of the spinal marrow. Every means was
resorted to for reviving a spark of that intellect once so vigorous; but
all failed. In a single instance only he exhibited a gleam of
intelligence; and that was on hearing one of his friends play the
septette of his opera of "Lucia." "Poor Donizetti!" said he; "what a
pity he should have died so soon!" And this was all.

In 1848, after the terrible insurrection which made of Paris a vast
slaughter-house, to conceal my sadness and my disgust I went to the
house of one of my friends, who was superintendent of the immense insane
asylum in Clermont-sur-Oise. He had a small organ, and was a tolerably
good singer. I composed a mass, to the first performance of which we
invited a few artists from Paris and several of the most docile inmates
of the asylum. I was struck with the bearing of the latter, and asked my
friend to repeat the experiment, and extend the number of invitations.
The result was so favorable, that we were soon able to form a choir from
among the patients, of both sexes, who rehearsed on Saturdays the hymns
and chants they were to sing on Sunday at mass. A raving lunatic, a
priest, who was getting more and more intractable every day, and who
often had to be put in a strait-jacket, noticed the periodical absence
of some of the inmates, and exhibited curiosity to know what they were
doing. The following Saturday, seeing some of his companions preparing
to go to rehearsal, he expressed a desire to go with them. The doctor
told him he might go on condition that he would allow himself to be
shaved and decently dressed. This was a thorny point, for he would never
attend to his person, and became furious when required to dress; but, to
our great astonishment, he consented at once. This day he not only
listened to the music quietly, but was detected several times joining
his voice with that of the choir. When I left Clermont, my poor old
priest was one of the most constant attendants at the rehearsals. He
still had his violent periods, but they were less frequent; and when
Saturday arrived, he always dressed himself with care, and waited
impatiently for the hour to go to chapel.

To resume: Music being a _physical agent_,--that is to say, acting on
the individual without the aid of his intelligence; a _moral
agent_,--that is to say, reviving his memory, exciting his imagination,
developing his sentiment; and a _complex agent_,--that is to say, having
a physiological action on the instinct, the organism, the forces, of
man,--I deduce from this that it is one of the most powerful means for
ennobling the mind, elevating the morals, and, above all, refining the
manners. This truth is now so well recognized in Europe that we see
choral societies--Orpheons and others--multiplying as by enchantment,
under the powerful impulse given them by the state. I speak not simply
of Germany, which is a singing nation, whose laborious, peaceful,
intelligent people have in all time associated choral music as well with
their labors as with their pleasures; but I may cite particularly
France, which counts to-day more than eight hundred Orpheon societies,
composed of workingmen. How many of these, who formerly dissipated their
leisure time at drinking-houses, now find an ennobling recreation in
these associations, where the spirit of union and fraternity is
engendered and developed! And if we could get at the statistics of
crime, who can doubt that they would show it had diminished in
proportion to the increase of these societies? In fact, men are better,
the heart is in some sort purified, when impregnated with the noble
harmonies of a fine chorus; and it is difficult not to treat as a
brother one whose voice has mingled with your own, and whose heart has
been united to yours in a community of pure and joyful emotions. If
Orpheon societies ever become established in America, be assured that
bar-rooms, the plague of the country, will cease, with revolvers and
bowie-knives, to be popular institutions.

Music, when employed in the service of religion, has always been its
most powerful auxiliary. The organ did more for Catholicism in the
Middle Ages than all its preaching; and Palestrina and Marcello have
reclaimed and still reclaim more infidels than all the doctors of the

We enter a house of worship. Still under the empire of the external
world, we carry there our worldly thoughts and occupations; a thousand
distractions deter us from religious reflection and meditation. The word
of the preacher reaches the ear indeed, but only as a vague sound. The
sense of what is said is arrested at the surface, without penetrating
the heart. But let the grand voice of the organ be heard, and our whole
being is moved; the physical world disappears, the eyes of the soul
open; we bow the head, we bend the knee, and our thoughts, disengaged
from matter, soar to the eternal regions of the Good, the Beautiful, and
the True.


      Here or hereafter? In the body here,
    Or in the soul hereafter do we writhe,
    Atoning for the malice of our lives?
    Of the uncounted millions that have died,
    Not one has slipped the napkin from his chin
    And loosed the jaw to tell us: even he,
    The intrepid Captain, who gave life to find
    A doubtful way through clanging worlds of ice,--
    A fine inquisitive spirit, you would think,
    One to cross-question Fate complacently,
    Less for his own sake than Science's,--
    Not even he, with his rich gathered lore,
    Returns from that dark journey down to death.
    Here or hereafter? Only this I know,
    That, whatsoever happen afterwards,
    Some men do penance on this side the grave.
    Thus Regnald Garnaut for his cruel heart.

      Owner and lord was he of Garnaut Hall,
    A relic of the Norman conquerors,--
    A quaint, rook-haunted pile of masonry,
    From whose top battlement, a windy height,
    Regnald could view his twenty prosperous farms;
    His creaking mill, that, perched upon a cliff,
    With outspread wings seemed ever taking flight;
    The red-roofed cottages, the high-walled park,
    The noisy aviary, and, nearer by,
    The snow-white Doric parsonage,--all his own.
    And all his own were chests of antique plate,
    Horses and hounds and falcons, curious books,
    Chain-armor, helmets, Gobelin tapestry,
    And half a mile of painted ancestors.
    Lord of these things, he wanted one thing more,
    Not having which, all else to him was dross.

      For Agnes Vail, the curate's only child,--
    A little Saxon wild-flower that had grown
    Unheeded into beauty day by day,
    And much too delicate for this rude world,--
    With that intuitive wisdom of the pure,
    Saw that he loved her beauty, not herself,
    And shrank from him, and when he came to speech
    Parried his meaning with a woman's wit,
    Then sobbed an hour when she was all alone.
    And Regnald's mighty vanity was hurt.
    "Why, then," snarled he, "if I had asked the Queen
    To pick me some fair woman from the Court,
    'T were but the asking. A blind curate's girl,
    It seems, is somewhat difficult,--must have,
    To warm her feet, our coronet withal!"
    And Agnes evermore avoided him,
    Clinging more closely to the old man's side;
    And in the chapel never raised an eye,
    But knelt there like a medieval saint,
    Her holiness her buckler and her shield,--
    That, and the golden floss of her long hair.

      And Regnald felt that somehow he was foiled,--
    Foiled, but not beaten. He would have his way.
    Had not the Garnauts always had their will
    These six or seven centuries, more or less?
    Meanwhile he chafed; but shortly after this
    Regnald received the sorest hurt of all.
    For, one eve, lounging idly in the close,
    Watching the windows of the parsonage,
    He heard low voices in the alder-trees,
    Voices he knew, and one that sweetly said,
    "Thine!" and he paused with choking heart, and saw
    Eustace, his brother, and fair Agnes Vail
    In the soft moonrise lingering with clasped hands.
    The two passed on, and Regnald hid himself
    Among the brushwood, where his vulpine eyes
    Dilated in the darkness as they passed.
    There, in the dark, he lay a bitter hour
    Gnawing his nails, and then arose unseen
    And crept away with murder in his soul.

      Eustace! curse on him, with his handsome eyes!
    Regnald had envied Eustace many a day,--
    Envied his fame, and that exceeding grace
    And courtliness which he had learned at Court
    Of Sidney, Raleigh, Essex, and the rest:
    For when their father, lean Sir Egbert, died,
    Eustace, whose fortune dangled at his thigh,--
    A Damask blade,--had hastened to the Court
    To line his purse, perchance to build a name;
    And catching there the passion of the time,
    He, with a score of doughty Devon lads,
    Sailed with bold Drake into the Spanish seas;
    Returning whence, with several ugly scars,--
    Which made him lovelier in women's eyes,--
    And many a chest of ingots,--not the less
    These latter made him lovely,--sunned himself,
    Sometimes at Court, sometimes at Garnaut Hall,--
    At Court, by favor of the Virgin Queen,
    For great Elizabeth had smiled on him.

      So Regnald, who was neither good nor brave
    Nor graceful, liked not Eustace from the start,
    And this night hated him. With angry brows,
    He sat in a bleak chamber of the Hall,
    His fingers toying with his poniard's point
    Abstractedly. Three times the ancient clock,
    Bolt-upright like a mummy in its case,
    Doled out the hour: at length the round red moon,
    Rising above the ghostly poplar-tops,
    Looked in on Regnald nursing his dark thought,
    Looked in on the stiff portraits on the wall,
    And dead Sir Egbert's empty coat-of-mail.

      A quick step sounded on the gravel-walk,
    And then came Eustace, humming a sea-song,
    Of how the Grace of Devon, with ten guns,
    And Master Raleigh on the quarter-deck,
    Bore down and tackled the great galleon,
    Madre de Dios, raked her fore and aft,
    And took her bullion,--singing, light at heart,
    His first love's first kiss warm upon his lip.
    Straight onward came young Eustace to his death!
    For hidden behind the arras near the stair
    Stood Regnald, like the Demon in the play,
    Grasping his rapier part-way down the blade
    To strike the foul blow with its heavy hilt.
    Straight on came Eustace,--blithely ran the song,
    "_Old England's darlings are her hearts of oak._"
    The lights were out, and not a soul astir,
    Or else the dead man's scabbard, as it clashed
    Against the marble pavement when he fell,
    Had brought a witness. Not a breath or sound,
    Only the sad wind wailing in the tower,
    Only the mastiff growling in his sleep,
    Outside the gate, and pawing at his dream.

      Now in a wing of that old gallery,
    Hung with the relics of forgotten feuds,
    A certain door, which none but Regnald knew,
    Was fashioned like the panels of the wall,
    And so concealed by carven grapes and flowers
    A man could search for it a dozen years
    And swear it was not, though his touch had been
    Upon the very panel where it was.
    The secret spring that opened it unclosed
    An inner door of iron-studded oak,
    Guarding a narrow chamber, where, perchance,
    Some bygone lord of Garnaut Hall had hid
    His threatened treasure, or, most like, bestowed
    Some too adventurous antagonist.
    Sealed in the compass of that stifling room,
    A man might live, at best, but half an hour.

      Hither did Regnald bear his brother's corse
    And set it down. Perhaps he paused to gaze
    A moment on the quiet moon-lit face,
    The face yet beautiful with new-told love!
    Perhaps his heart misgave him,--or, perhaps----
    Now, whether 't was some dark avenging Hand,
    Or whether 't was some fatal freak of wind,
    We may not know, but suddenly the door
    Without slammed to, and there was Regnald shut
    Beyond escape, for on the inner side
    Was neither spring nor bolt to set him free!

      Mother of Mercy! what were a whole life
    Of pain and penury and conscience-smart
    To that half-hour of Regnald's with his Dead?

      --The joyous sun rose over the white cliffs
    Of Devon, sparkled through the poplar-tops,
    And broke the death-like slumber of the Hall.
    The keeper fetched their breakfast to the hounds;
    The smart, young ostler whistled in the stalls;
    The pretty housemaid tripped from room to room;
    And grave and grand behind his master's chair,
    But wroth within to have the partridge spoil,
    The senile butler waited for his lord.
    But neither Regnald nor young Eustace came.
    And when 't was found that neither slept at Hall
    That night, their couches being still unpressed,
    The servants stared. And as the day wore on,
    And evening came, and then another day,
    And yet another, till a week had gone,
    The wonder spread, and riders sent in haste
    Scoured the country, dragged the neighboring streams,
    Tracked wayward footprints to the great chalk bluffs,
    But found not Regnald, lord of Garnaut Hall.
    The place that knew him knew him never more.

      The red leaf withered and the green leaf grew.
    And Agnes Vail, the little Saxon rose,
    Waxed pale and paler, till the country-folk
    Half guessed her fate was somehow intertwined
    With that dark house. When her pure soul had passed,--
    Just as a perfume floats from out the world,--
    Wild tales were told of how the brothers loved
    The self-same maid, whom neither one would wed
    Because the other loved her as his life;
    And that the two, at midnight, in despair,
    From one sheer cliff plunged headlong in the sea.
    And when, at night, the hoarse east-wind rose high,
    Rattled the lintels, clamoring at the door,
    The children huddled closer round the hearth
    And whispered very softly with themselves,
    "That's Master Regnald looking for his Bride!"

      The red leaf withered and the green leaf grew.
    Decay and dolor settled on the Hall.
    The wind went howling in the dismal rooms,
    Rustling the arras; and the wainscot-mouse
    Gnawed through the mighty Garnauts on the wall,
    And made a lodging for her glossy young
    In dead Sir Egbert's empty coat-of-mail;
    The griffon dropped from off the blazoned shield;
    The stables rotted; and a poisonous vine
    Stretched its rank nets across the lonely lawn.
    For no one went there,--'t was a haunted spot.
    A legend killed it for a kindly home,--
    A grim estate, which every heir in turn
    Left to the orgies of the wind and rain,
    The newt, the toad, the spider, and the mouse.

      The red leaf withered and the green leaf grew.
    And once, 't is said, the Queen reached out her hand
    And let it rest on Cecil's velvet sleeve,
    And said, "I prithee, Cecil, tell us now,
    Was 't ever known what happened to those men,--
    Those Garnauts?--were they never, never found?"
    The weasel face had fain looked wise for her,
    But no one of that century ever knew.

      The red leaf withered and the green leaf grew.
    And in that year the good Prince Albert died
    The land changed owners, and the new-made lord
    Sent down his workmen to revamp the Hall
    And make the waste place blossom as the rose.
    By chance, a workman in the eastern wing,
    Fitting the cornice, stumbled on a door,
    Which creaked, and seemed to open of itself;
    And there within the chamber, on the flags,
    He saw two figures in outlandish guise
    Of hose and doublet,--one stretched out full-length,
    And one half fallen forward on his breast,
    Holding the other's hand with vice-like grip:
    One face was calm, the other sad as death,
    With something in it of a pleading look,
    As might befall a man that dies at prayer.
    Amazed, the workman hallooed to his mates
    To see the wonder; but ere they could come,
    The figures crumbled and were shapeless dust.


In that remote period of history which is especially visited upon us in
our school-days, in expiation of the sins of our forefathers, there
nourished seven poets at the court of Ptolemy Philadelphus. Royal favor
and amiable dispositions united them in a club: public applause and
self-appreciation led them to call it The Pleiades. In the middle of the
sixteenth century, Pierre Ronsard, emulous of Greek fame, took to him
six other poets more wretched than himself, and made up a second
Pleiades for France. The third rising of this rhythmical constellation
was seen in Connecticut a long time ago.

Connecticut is pleasant, with wooded hills and a beautiful river;
plenteous with tobacco and cheese; fruitful of merchants, missionaries,
sailors, peddlers, and singlewomen;--but there are no poets known to
exist there, unless it be that well-paid band who write the rhymed puffs
of cheap garments and cosmetics. The brisk little democratic State has
turned its brains upon its machinery. Not a snug valley, with a few
drops of water at the bottom of it, but rattles with the manufacture of
notions, great and small,--axes and pistols, carriages and clocks, tin
pans and toys, hats, garters, combs, buttons, and pins. You see that the
enterprising natives can turn out any article on which a profit may be
made,--except poetry. That product, you would say, was out of the
question. Nevertheless, the species poet, although extinct, did once
exist on that soil. The evidence is conclusive that palaeozoic
verse-makers wandered over those hills in bygone ages. Their moss-grown
remains, still visible here and there, are as unmistakable as the
footprints of the huge wading birds in the red sandstone of Middletown
and Chatham. _Où la poésie va-t'elle se nicher?_ How came the Muses to
settle in Connecticut?

Dr. Samuel Peters, in his trustworthy history of the Colony, gives no
answer to this question; but among the oldest inhabitants of remote
Barkhamstead, for whom it is said General Washington and the worthies of
his date still have a being in the flesh, there lingers a mythological
tradition which may explain this aberration of Connecticut character.
The legend runs thus.

In the first half of the eighteenth century, English readers were
entertained with elaborate allegories, in which the passions, the vices,
and even the habits of mankind were personified. Lighter ethical topics
were served up in letters from Philotryphus, Septimius, or others ending
in _us_, and in communications from Flirtilla, Jack Modish, and Co.
Eastern tales and apologues, meditations on human life, essays on
morality, inquiries as to whether the arts and sciences were serviceable
or prejudicial to the human race, dissertations on the wisdom and virtue
of the Chinese, were all the fashion in literature. The Genius of
authorship, or the Demon, if you prefer it, was so precise, refined,
exquisite in manner, and so transcendentally moral in ethics, that he
had become almost insufferable to his master, Apollo. The God was a
little tired, if the truth were known, with the monotonous chant of
Pope, in spite of his wit. He began to think that something more was
required, to satisfy the soul than polished periods and abstract
didactic morality,--and was not much surprised when he observed that
Prior, after dining with Addison and Co., liked to finish the evening
with a common soldier and his wife, and refresh his mind over a pipe and
a pot of beer. But Pope was dead, and so was Thomson, and Goldsmith not
yet heard from. There was a famine of literary invention in England. Out
of work and wages for himself and his _troupe_, "disgusted at the age
and clime, barren of every glorious theme," Phoebus Apollo determined to
emigrate. Berkeley had reported favorably of the new Western Continent:
it was a land of poetical promise to the Bishop.

    "There shall be sung another golden age,
      The rise of empire and of arts;
    The good and great inspiring epic rage,
      The wisest heads and noblest hearts."

Trusting in the judgment of a man who had every virtue under heaven, the
God of Song shipped with the tuneful Nine for America. Owing, perhaps,
to insufficiency of transportation, the Graces were left behind. The
vessel sailed past Rhode Island in a fog, and disembarked its precious
freight at New Haven, in the Colony of Connecticut. In the pleasant
summer weather, the distinguished foreigners travelled northward as far
as Litchfield Hill, and thence to Hartford, on the banks of the
beautiful river. They found the land well wooded and well watered; the
natives good-natured, industrious, and intelligent: but the scenery was
monotonous to the Pierian colonists, and the people distasteful. The
clipped hair and penitential scowl of the men made heavy the hearts of
the Muses; their daughters and wives had a sharp, harsh, pert "tang" in
their speech, that grated upon the ears of Apollo, who held with King
Lear as to the excellence of a low, soft voice in woman. Each native
seemed to the strangers sadly alike in looks, dress, manners, and
pursuits, to every other native. Of Art they were absolutely ignorant.
They built their temples on the same model as their barns. Poetry meant
Psalms sung through their noses to the accompaniment of a bass-viol. Of
other musical instruments, they knew only the Jews-harp for home
delectation, and the drum and fife for training-days. Doctrinal religion
furnished them with a mental relaxation which supplied the place of
amusement. Sandemanians, Adamites, Peterites, Bowlists, Davisonians, and
Rogereens, though agreeing mainly in essentials, found vast
gratification in playing against each other at theological dialectics.
On one cardinal point of discipline only--the necessity of administering
creature comfort to the sinful body--did all sects zealously unite. They
offered copious, though coarse, libations to Bacchus, in the
spirit-stirring rum of their native land.[B]

After careful observation, the nine ladies conferred together, and
decided that in this part of the world their sphere of usefulness was
limited and their mission a failure. Polymnia, Urania, and Clio might
get into good society, but Thalia and Terpsichore were sure to be set in
the stocks; and what was poor Erato to expect, but a whipping, in a
commonwealth that forbade its women to uncover their necks or to expose
their arms above the wrists? They made up their minds not to "locate";
packed up barbiton and phorminx, mask and cothurn, took the first ship
bound to Europe, and quietly sailed away. Their stay was short, but they
left their mark. To this day Phoebes are numerous in Connecticut, and
nine women to one man has become the customary proportion of the sexes.
As Greece had Parnassus, Helicon, and Pindus, Connecticut had New Haven,
Hartford, and Litchfield Hill,--halting-places of the illustrious
travellers. There they scattered the seeds of poetry,--seeds which fell
upon stony places, but, warmed by the genial influence of the Sun-God,
sprang up and brought forth such fruit as we shall see.

John Trumbull was born in Watertown, A.D. 1750; two years later, in
Northampton, came Timothy Dwight: both of the best New England breed:
Dwight, a grandson of Jonathan Edwards; Trumbull, cousin to kind old
Governor Trumbull, (whose pompous manner in transacting the most
trifling public business amused Chastellux and the Hussar officers at
Windham,) and consequently second cousin to the son of the Governor,
Colonel John Trumbull, whose paintings might possibly have added to the
amusement of the gay Frenchmen, had they stayed in America long enough
to see them. Cowley, Milton, and Pope lisped in numbers; but the
precocity of Trumbull was even more surprising. He passed his college
examination at the age of eight, in the lap of a Dr. Emmons; but was
remanded to the nursery to give his stature time to catch up with his
acquirements. Dwight, too, was ready for college at eight, and was
actually entered at thirteen.

About this time there were symptoms of an æsthetical thaw in
Connecticut. There had been no such word as play in the dictionary of
the New-Englanders. They worked hard on their stony soil, and read hard
in their stony books of doctrine. That stimulant to the mind, outside of
daily routine, which the human race must have under all circumstances,
(we call it excitement nowadays,) was found by the better sort in
theological quarrels, by the baser in New England rum,--the two things
most cheering to the spirit of man, if Byron is to be believed.
Education meant solid learning,--that is to say, studies bearing upon
divinity, law, medicine, or merchandise; and to peruse works of the
imagination was considered an idle waste of time,--indeed, as partaking
somewhat of the nature of sin. But the growing taste of Connecticut was
no longer satisfied with Dr. Watts's moral lyrics, whose jingle is still
so instructive and pleasant to extreme youth. Milton and Dryden, Thomson
and Pope, were read and admired; "The Spectator" was quoted as the
standard of style and of good manners; and daring spirits even ventured
upon Richardson's novels and "Tristram Shandy."

While in this literary revival all Yale was anxious, young Dwight and
Trumbull were indulging in hope. Smitten with the love of verse, Dwight
announced his rising genius (these are the words of the "Connecticut
Magazine and New Haven Gazette") by versions of two odes of Horace, and
by "America," a poem after the manner of Pope's "Windsor Forest." At the
age of nineteen he invoked the venerable Muse who has been called in as
the "Poet's Lucina," since Homer established her professional
reputation, and dashed boldly at the epic,--"the greatest work human
nature is capable of." His great work was "The Conquest of Canaan."
Trumbull, more modest, wrote "The Progress of Dulness," in three cantos.
To these young men of genius came later two other nurslings of the
Muses,--David Humphreys from Derby, and Joel Barlow from Reading. They
caught the poetical distemper. Barlow, fired by Dwight's example, began
"The Vision of Columbus." The four friends, young and hopeful,
encouraging and praising each other, gained some local reputation by
fugitive pieces in imitation of English models, published "Spectator"
essays in the New Haven papers, and forestalled all cavillers by damning
the critics after the method used by Dryden and Pope against Settle and

Trumbull chose the law as a profession, and went to Boston to finish his
studies in 1773. A clerk in the office of John Adams, who lodged with
Gushing, Speaker of the Massachusetts House, could have read but little
law in the midst of that political whirlwind which was driving men of
every trade and profession into revolution. Boston stubbornly persevered
in the resolution not to consume British goods, notwithstanding the
efforts of the Addressers and Protesters and Tories generally, who
preached their antiquated doctrines of passive obedience and divine
right, and painted in their darkest colors the privation and suffering
caused by the blockade. Trumbull joined the Whigs, pen in hand, and laid
stoutly about him both in prose and verse. Then came the skirmish at
Lexington, and all New England sprang to arms. Dwight joined the army as
chaplain. Humphreys volunteered on Putnam's staff. Barlow served in the
ranks at the Battle of White Plains; and then, after devoting his mind
to theology for six weeks, accepted the position of chaplain in a
Massachusetts regiment. The little knot of poets was broken up. One of
them asked in mournful numbers,--

    "Amid the roar of drums and guns,
    When meet again the Muses' sons?"

They met again after the thunder and lightning were over, but in another
place. New Haven saw the rising of the constellation; its meridian
brilliancy shone upon Hartford. At the close of the war, the four
poetical luminaries, as they were called by the "Connecticut Magazine
and New Haven Gazette," hung up the sword in Hartford and grasped the
lyre. The epidemic of verse broke out again. The four added to their
number Dr. Lemuel Hopkins, a physician, Richard Alsop, a gentleman of
much cultivation, and Theodore Dwight, a younger brother of Timothy.
There were now seven stars of the first magnitude. Many other aspirants
to a place in the heavens were necessarily excluded; among them, two are
worthy of notice,--Noah Webster, who was already then and there
meditating his method for teaching the American people to _mispel_, and
Oliver Wolcott, afterward Secretary of the Treasury. Bound by the sweet
influences of the Pleiades, Wolcott wrote a poem,--"The Judgment of
Paris." His biographer, who has read it, has given his critical opinion
that "it would be much worse than Barlow's epic, were it not much

The year 1783 brought peace with England, but it found matters in a
dangerous and unsettled state at home. After seven years of revolution
it takes some time to bring a people down to the safe and sober jog-trot
of every-day life. The lower classes were demoralized by the license and
tumult of war, and by poverty; they were surly and turbulent, and showed
a disposition to shake off yokes domestic as well as foreign,--the yoke
of taxation in particular: for every man of them believed that he had
already done more, suffered more, and paid more, than his fair share.
The calamity of a worthless paper legal-tender currency added to the
general discontent. Hence any public measure involving further
disbursements met with angry opposition. Large arrears of pay were due
to soldiers, and bounties had been promised to induce them to disband
peacefully, and to compensate them for the depreciation of the currency.
Congress had also granted five years' extra pay to officers, in lieu of
the half-pay for life which was first voted. The army, in consequence,
became very unpopular. A great clamor was raised against the Cincinnati
Society, and factious patriots pretended to see in it the foundation of
an hereditary aristocracy. The public irritability, excited by pretexts
like these, broke out into violence. In Connecticut, mobs collected to
prevent the army officers from receiving the certificates for the five
years' pay, and a convention was assembled to elect men pledged to
non-payment. Shay and Shattuck headed an insurrection in Massachusetts.
There were riots at Exeter, in New Hampshire. When Shay's band was
defeated and driven out of the State, Rhode Island--then sometimes
called Rogue's Island, from her paper-money operations--refused to give
up the refugee rebels. The times looked gloomy. The nation, relieved
from the foreign pressure which had bound the Colonies together, seemed
tumbling to pieces; each State was an independent sovereignty, free to
go to ruin in its own way. The necessity for a strong central government
to replace English rule became evident to all judicious men; for, as one
Pelatiah Webster remarked, "Thirteen staves, and ne'er a hoop, cannot
make a barrel." The Hartford Wits had fought out the war against King
George; they now took up the pen against King Mob, and placed themselves
in rank with the friends of order, good government, and union. Hence the
"Anarchiad." An ancient epic on "the Restoration of Chaos and
Substantial Blight" was dug up in the ruins of an old Indian fort, where
Madoc, the mythical Welsh Columbus, or some of his descendants, had
buried it. Colonel Humphreys, who had read the "Rolliad" in England,
suggested the plan; Barlow, Hopkins, and Trumbull joined with him in
carrying it out. Extracts from the "Anarchiad" were prepared when
wanted, and the verses applied fresh to the enfeebled body politic. They
chanted the dangers and difficulties of the old Federation and the
advantages of the new Constitution. Union was the burden of their song;
and they took a prophetic view of the stormy future, if thirteen
independent States should divide this territory between them.

    "Shall lordly Hudson part contending powers,
    And broad Potomac lave two hostile shores?
    Must Alleghany's sacred summits bear
    The impious bulwarks of perpetual war?
    His hundred streams receive your heroes slain,
    And bear your sons inglorious to the main?"

We, _miserrimi_, have lived to see it, and to see modern Shayites vote
to establish such a state of things forever.

When the new government was firmly settled and found to work well, the
same class of men who had opposed the Union formed the Anti-Federal,
Democratic, or French party. The Hartford school were Federalists, of
course. Theodore Dwight and Alsop, assisted by Dr. Hopkins, published in
the local papers "The Political Greenhouse" and "The Echo,"--an
imitation of "The Anti-Jacobin,"--"to check the progress of false taste
in writing, and to stem the torrent of Jacobinism in America and the
hideous morality of revolutionary madness." It was a place and time
when, in the Hartford vocabulary,

    "Patriot stood synonymous with rogue";

and their versified squibs were let off at men rather than at measures.
As a specimen of their mode of treatment, let us take Matthew Lyon,
first an Irish redemptioner bought by a farmer in Derby, then an
Anti-Federal champion and member of Congress from Vermont; once famous
for publishing Barlow's letter to Senator Baldwin,--for his trial under
the Alien and Sedition Act,--for the personal difficulty when

      "He seized the tongs
      To avenge his wrongs,
    And Griswold thus engaged."

The Hartford poets notice him thus:--

    "This beast within a few short years
    Was purchased for a yoke of steers;
    But now the wise Vermonters say
    He's worth six hundred cents a day."

Other leaders of the Anti-Federal party fare no better. Mr. Jefferson's
literary and scientific whims came in for a share of ridicule.

    "Great sire of stories past belief;
    Historian of the Mingo chief;
    Philosopher of Indians' hair;
    Inventor of a rocking-chair;
    The correspondent of Mazzei,
    And Banneker, less black than he," _et seq._

The paper containing this paragraph had the felicity of being quoted in
Congress by the Honorable John Nicholas, of Virginia, to prove that
Connecticut wished to lead the United States into a war with France. The
honorable gentleman read on until he came to the passage,--

    "Each Jacobin began to stir,
    And sat as though on chestnut-burr,"

when he stopped short. Mr. Dana of Connecticut took up the quotation and
finished it, to the great amusement of the House.

The last number was published in 1805. As we look over the "Echo," and
find nothing in it but doggerel,--generally very dull doggerel,--we
might wonder at the applause it obtained, if we did not recollect how
fiercely the two great parties engaged each other. In a riot, any stick,
stone, or ignoble fragment of household pottery is valuable as a missile

While the constellation was shining resplendent over Connecticut, each
bright star had its own particular twinkle. Trumbull had his "Progress
of Dulness," in three cantos,--an imitation, in manner, of Goldsmith's
"Double Transformation." The title is happy. The decline of Miss Harriet
Simper from bellehood to an autumnal marriage, in Canto III., is more
tiresome than the progress of Tom Brainless from the plough-tail to the
pulpit, in Canto I. The Reverend Mr. Brainless, when called and

    "On Sunday in his best array
    Deals forth the dulness of the day."

These two lines, descriptive, unfortunately, of too many ministrations,
are all that have survived of the three cantos. Trumbull's _chef
d'oeuvre_ is "McFingal," begun before the war and finished soon after
the peace. The poem covers the whole Revolutionary period, from the
Boston tea-party to the final humiliation of Great Britain: Lord North
and General Gage, Hutchinson, Judge Oliver, and Treasurer Gray; Doctors
Sam. Peters and Seabury; passive obedience and divine right; no taxation
without representation; Rivington the printer, Massachusettensis, and
Samuel Adams; Yankee Doodle; who began the war? town-meetings,
liberty-poles, mobs, tarring, feathering, and smoking Tories; Tryon,
Galloway, Burgoyne, Prescott, Guy Carleton; paper-money, regulation, and
tender; in short, all the men and topics which preserve our
polyphilosophohistorical societies from lethargic extinction. "McFingal"
hit the taste of the times; it was very successful. But although thirty
editions were sold in shops or hawked about by peddlers, there was no
copyright law in the land, and Trumbull took more praise than solid
pudding by his poetry. It was reprinted in England, and found its way to
France. The Marquis de Chastellux, an author himself, took an especial
interest in American literature. He wrote to congratulate Trumbull upon
his excellent poem, and took the opportunity to lay down "the conditions
prescribed for burlesque poetry." "These, Sir, you have happily seized
and perfectly complied with.... I believe that you have rifled every
flower which that kind of poetry could offer.... Nor do I hesitate to
assure you that I prefer it to every work of the kind,--even to
Hudibras." Notwithstanding the opinion of the pompous Marquis, nobody
reads "McFingal." Time has blotted out most of the four cantos. There
are left a few lines, often quoted by gentlemen of the press, and
invariably ascribed to "Hudibras":--

    "For any man with half an eye
    What stands before him can espy;
    But optics sharp it needs, I ween,
    To see what is not to be seen."

    "But as some muskets so contrive it
    As oft to miss the mark they drive at,
    And though well aimed at duck or plover,
    Bear wide and kick their owners over."

    "No man e'er felt the halter draw
    With good opinion of the law."

The last two verses have passed into immortality as a proverb. Perhaps a
few other grains of corn might be picked out of these hundred and
seventy pages of chaff.

Dr. Dwight staked his fame on "The Conquest of Canaan," an attempt to
make an Iliad out of the Old Testament. Eleven books; nine thousand six
hundred and seventy-two dreary verses, full of battles and
thunderstorms; peopled with Irad, Jabin, Hanniel, Hezron, Zimri, and
others like them, more colorless and shadowy than the brave Gyas and the
brave Cloanthus. Not a line of this epic has survived. Shorter and much
better is "Greenfield Hill," a didactic poem, composed, the author said,
to amuse and to instruct in economical, political, and moral sentiments.
Greenfield was, for a time, the scene of the Doctor's professional
labors. His descriptions of New England character, of the prosperity and
comfort of New England life, are accurate, but not vivid. The book is
full of good sense, but there is little poetry in it. True to the
literary instincts of the Pleiads, he shines with reflected light, and
works after Thomson and Goldsmith so closely that in many passages
imitation passes into parody.

Like Timotheus of Greece, Timothy of Connecticut

            "to his breathing flute and sounding lyre
    Could swell the soul to rage, or kindle soft desire."

He wrote a war chant; he wrote psalms; and there is a song in the
"Litchfield Collection" in which he attempts to kindle soft desire. Here
is an extract:--

    No longer, then, fair maid, delay
      The promised scenes of bliss,
    Nor idly give another day
      The joys assigned to this.
    "Quit, then, oh, quit, thou lovely maid!
       Thy bashful virgin pride,"--

and so on sings the Doctor. Who would have thought that

      "profound Solomon would tune a jig,
    Or Nestor play at pushpin with the boys,"

as Shakspeare has it? who would have expected erotic tints and Epicurean
morality from the author of "The Conquest of Canaan," and of four
volumes of orthodox and weighty theology?

The "Ode to Columbia,"

    "Columbia! Columbia! to glory arise,
    The queen of the world and the child of the skies!"

written when Dwight was a chaplain in the Revolutionary Army, is
probably more known to the moderns than any of his poetical efforts. It
is a vision of the future greatness of the new-born nation,--short,
spirited, and finished with more care than he was in the habit of giving
to his verses.

In like manner the brave and burly Colonel

       "Humphreys charmed the listening throng;
    Sweetly he sang amid the clang of arms."

At Washington's head-quarters in Peekskill he composed "An Address to
the Armies of the United States." It was recited publicly in London, and
translated by Chastellux into French prose. Three years later he
published a poem on the "Happiness of America," which ran through ten
editions. In it the gallant man-at-rhymes tells the story of his own

         "From whom I learnt the martial art;
    With what high chiefs I played my early part:
    With Parsons first, whose eye with piercing ken
    Reads through their hearts the characters of men.
    Then how I aided in the following scene
    Death-daring Putnam, then immortal Greene.
    Then how great Washington my youth approved,
    In rank preferred and as a parent loved;
    (For each fine feeling in his bosom blends,--
    The first of heroes, sages, patriots, friends!)
    With him what hours on warlike plans I spent
    Beneath the shadow of th' imperial tent;
    With him how oft I went the nightly round
    Through moving hosts, or slept on tented ground;
    From him how oft (nor far below the first
    In high behests and confidential trust,)--
    From him how oft I bore the dread commands
    Which destined for the fight the eager bands;
    With him how oft I passed th' eventful day,
    Rode by his side as down the long array
    His awful voice the columns taught to form,
    To point the thunders and to pour the storm."

This extract will give a fair idea of the Colonel's manner. A poem on
"The Future Glory of the United States of America," another on "The
Industry of the United States of America," and "The Death of General
Washington," make up his credentials to a seat on the American

Joel Barlow, "Virgilian Barlow," is the most remarkable of the cluster.
He started in the race of life with ten competitors of his own blood,
and came in a successful adventurer in both hemispheres. After serving
in the army with musket and prayer-book, he practised law, edited a
newspaper, kept a book-shop,--and having exhausted the variety of
callings offered by Connecticut, went to France as agent for the Scioto
Land Company, and opened an office in Paris with a grand flourish of
advertisements. "Farms for sale on the banks of the Ohio, _la belle
rivière_; the finest district of the United States! Healthful and
delightful climate; scarcely any frost in winter; fertile soil; a
boundless inland navigation; magnificent forests of a tree from which
sugar flows; excellent fishing and fowling; venison in abundance; no
wolves, lions, or tigers; no taxes; no military duty. All these
unexampled advantages offered to colonists at five shillings the acre!"
The speculation took well. Nothing was talked of but the free and rural
life to be led on the banks of the Scioto. Brissot's foolish book on
America confirmed the promises of Barlow, and stimulated the ardor of

The Scioto Company turned out to be a swindling land-company, the
precursor of many that have resembled it. The lands they offered had
been bought of the Ohio Company, but were never paid for. When the poor
French barbers, fiddlers, and bakers, as they are called in a
contemporary narrative, reached the banks of _la belle rivière_, they
found that their title-deeds were good for nothing, and that the woods
produced savages instead of sugar. Some died of privation, some were
scalped, and some found their way to New Orleans. The few who remained
eventually obtained a grant of a few acres from the Ohio Company, by
paying for them over again.

In the mean time the French Revolution had broken out, and Barlow saw
the visions and dreamed the dreams of the enthusiasts of that day. He
dropped the land business, and he dropped his New England prejudices,
religious as well as political, and his New England common sense.
Connecticut men who wander into other lands and other opinions seem
peculiarly subject to such violent transformations. Some of the most
ignivorous of our Southern countrymen are the offspring of Connecticut;
and, strange as it may appear, the sober land of the pumpkin and onion
exports more arbiters of elegance and punctilio, more judges without
appeal of horses, wine, and beauty, more gentlemen of the most sensitive
and demonstrative honor, than any other Northern State.

Inspired by the instincts of his race, Barlow fancied he saw the
approach of a new era of perfection. To hasten its advent in England, he
translated Volney's "Ruins," and went to London to publish his
translation. There he wrote his "Advice to the Privileged Classes," a
political pamphlet, and became an active member of the Constitution
Society. The Society commissioned him as delegate to the French
Convention, with an address of congratulation and a gift of a thousand
pairs of shoes. The Convention rewarded him with the dignity of _Citoyen
Francais_. Barlow adopted the character, and carried it out. He sang at
a supper a parody of "God save the King," composed by himself.

    "Fame, let thy trumpet sound!
    Tell all the world around
        How Capet fell!
    And when great George's poll
    Shall in the basket roll,
    Let mercy then control
        The Guillotine!

    "God save the Guillotine,
    Till England's King and Queen
        Her power shall prove;
    When all the sceptred crew
    Have paid their homage to
        The Guillotine!"

A few years before, Barlow had dedicated the "Vision of Columbus" to
poor Capet, whose destruction he celebrates so pleasantly,--with many
assurances of the gratitude of America, and of his own veneration.
"_Coelum, non animum_," would never have been written, if Horace had
properly understood Connecticut character.

Barlow's zeal was pleasing to the rulers of France. They sent him and
the Abbé Grégoire to revolutionize Savoy, and to divide it into
departments. After his return, he became rich by speculation, and lived
handsomely in the Hotel de Clermont-Tonnerre. His reputation extended to
his own country. The United States employed him to negotiate with the
Barbary pirates,--that is to say, to buy off the wretched cutthroats who
infested the Mediterranean. He went to Africa, and made arrangements
which were considered advantageous then, and would be hooted at as
disgraceful now. In the treaty with Algiers occurred a passage that gave
great offence to his friends at home, and to Federalists in general. It
was to this effect, if not in these words: "That the government of the
United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion."

In 1805, after seventeen years of absence, Barlow returned to America,
built himself a house near Washington, and called it Kalorama. Jefferson
and the Democrats received him with open arms; he embraced them with
equal warmth, and was a very great man for some time. A new edition of
the "Columbiad" completed his fame,--an edition gotten up at his own
expense, with engravings by his friend Robert Fulton; the paper, type,
illustrations, and binding, far superior to anything as yet produced by
American publishers. At the request of the President, Barlow went back
to France as Minister, in the place of General Armstrong. It was the
winter of the Russian campaign. A personal interview with the Emperor on
the subject of the Berlin and Milan Decrees seemed necessary, and Barlow
hurried to Wilna to meet him. The weather was unusually severe, the
roads rough, and the accommodations wretched. Cold and exposure brought
on a violent illness; and Barlow expired in a miserable hut near Cracow.
The "Columbiad" is an enlargement, or rather a dilution, of the "Vision
of Columbus," by the addition of some two thousand verses. The epic
opens with Columbus in prison; to him enters Hesper, an angel. The angel
leads Columbus to the Mount of Vision, whence he beholds the panorama of
the Western Continent he had discovered. Hesper acts as showman, and
explains the tableaux as they roll on. He points out the geographical
features of America, not forgetting Connecticut River; relates the
history of Mexico and of Peru, and explains the origin of races,
cautioning Columbus against the theory of several Adams. Turning north,
he describes the settlement of the English colonies, and narrates the
old French War of General Wolfe and the American Revolution, with the
customary episodes,--Saratoga, Yorktown, Major André, Miss McCrea, and
the prison-ships. Finally, the angel predicts the glory of the world's
future,--perpetual peace, unrestricted commerce, public works, health
and longevity, one universal language. The globe, "one confederate,
independent sway," shall

    "Spread with the sun, and bound the walks of day;
    One central system, one all-ruling soul,
    Live through the parts, and regulate the whole."

There is evidently no room for the serpent Secession in Barlow's
paradise. This grand federation of the terrestrial ball is governed by a
general council of elderly married men, "long rows of reverend sires
sublime," presided over by a "sire elect shining in peerless grandeur."
The delegates hold their sessions in Mesopotamia, within a "sacred
mansion" of high architectural pretensions.

    "On rocks of adamant the walls ascend,
    Tall columns heave, and sky-like arches bend;
    Bright o'er the golden roof the glittering spires
    Far in the concave meet the solar fires;
    Four blazing fronts, with gates unfolding high,
    Look with immortal splendor round the sky."

In the spacious court of the capitol of the world stands the statue of
the Genius of Earth, holding Truth's mighty mirror in his hand. On the
pedestal are carved the noblest arts of man. Beneath the footstool of
the Genius,

                      "all destructive things,
    The mask of priesthood and the mace of kings,
    Lie trampled in the dust; for here, at last,
    Fraud, folly, error, all their emblems cast.
    Each envoy here unloads his weary hand
    Of some old idol from his native land.
    One flings a pagod on the mingled heap;
    One lays a crescent, one a cross to sleep;
    Swords, sceptres, mitres, crowns and globes and stars,
    Codes of false fame and stimulants to wars,
    Sink in the settling mass. Since guile began,
    These are the agents of the woes of man."

It will be observed that Barlow improved slightly upon the old loyalist
cry, "_Une loi, un roi, une foi._" One government, one reverend sire
elect, and no religion, was his theory of the future of mankind.

Few men in these degenerate days have the endurance to read the
"Columbiad" through; but "Hasty Pudding," which Barlow celebrated in
verse as good sound republican diet, may be read with some pleasure. It
belongs to the same class of poems as Philips's "Cider," Dyer's
"Fleece," and Grainger's "Sugar-Cane," and is quite as good as most of

There is little to be said about Alsop. He was a scholarly gentleman,
who published a few mild versions from the Italian and the Scandinavian,
and a poem on the "Memory of Washington," and was considerate enough not
to publish a poem on the "Charms of Fancy," which still exists, we
believe, in manuscript. In some verses extracted from it by the editors
of the "Cyclopædia of American Literature" we recognize with interest
that traveller of the future who is to moralize over the ruins of the
present,--known to all readers as Macaulay's New-Zealander, although
Goldsmith, Kirke White, and others had already introduced him to the
public. Alsop brings this Wandering Jew of literature from Nootka Sound
to gaze on "many a shattered pile and broken stone," where "fair
Bostonia," "York's proud emporium," or Philadelphia, "caught the
admiring gaze."

The wild-eyed, excitable Dr. Hopkins had more vigor and originality than
his brother stars. There is much rough humor in his burlesque of the
essay of Brackenridge of Pittsburg on the Indian War:--

                      "As if our God
    One single thought on Indians e'er bestowed;
    To them his care extends, or even knew,
    Before Columbus told him, where they grew";

and in his epitaph on the "Victim of a Cancer Quack":--

    "The case was this:--a pimple rose
    Southeast a little of his nose,
    Which daily reddened and grew bigger,
    As too much drinking gave it vigor";

and in the "Hypocrite's Hope":--

    "Blest is the man who from the womb
      To saintship him betakes;
    And when too soon his child shall come,
      A long confession makes";

and in the squib on Ethan Allen's infidel book:--

    "Lo! Allen 'scaped from British jails,
    His tushes broke by biting nails,
    Appears in hyperborean skies,
    To tell the world the Bible lies."

Dr. Hopkins published very little; he might be excused, if he had
written more.

Addison said, he never yet knew an author who had not his admirers. The
Connecticut authors were no exception to this rule. To begin with, they
admired themselves, and they admired one another; each played squire to
his gifted friend, and sounded the trumpet of his fame. It was, "See!
Trumbull leads the train," or "the ardent throng"; "Trumbull! earliest
boast of Fame"; "Lo! Trumbull wakes the lyre."

    "Superior poet, in whose classic strain
    In bright accordance wit and fancy reign;
    Whose powers of genius in their ample range
    Comprise each subject and each tuneful change,
    Each charm of melody to Phoebus dear,
    The grave, the gay, the tender, the severe."

Barlow is "a Child of Genius"; Columbus owes much of his glory to him.

        "In Virgilian Barlow's tuneful lines
    With added splendor great Columbus shines."

Then we have "Majestic Dwight, sublime in epic strain"; "Blest Dwight";
Dwight of "Homeric fire." Colonel Humphreys is fully up to the
regulation standard:--

    "In lore of nations skilled and brave in arms,
    See Humphreys glorious from the field retire,
    Sheathe the glad sword and string the sounding lyre."

Dwight thought "McFingal" much superior to "Hudibras"; and Hopkinson,
the author of "Hail Columbia," mentions, as a melancholy instance of
æsthetic hallucination, that Secretary Wolcott, whose taste in
literature was otherwise good, had an excessive admiration for "The
Conquest of Canaan." A general chorus of neighbors and friends rose in
the columns of the "Connecticut Magazine and New Haven Gazette":--"It is
with a noble and patriotic pride that America boasts of her Barlow,
Dwight, Trumbull, and Humphreys, the poetical luminaries of
Connecticut"; and all true New-Englanders preferred their home-made
verses to the best imported article. The fame of the Seven extended into
the neighboring States; Boston, not yet the Athens of America, confessed
"that Pegasus was not backed by better horsemen from any part of the
Union." But the glory grew fainter as the distance increased from the
centre of illumination. In New York, praise was qualified. The Rev.
Samuel Miller of that city, who published in 1800 "A Brief Retrospect of
the Literature of the Eighteenth Century," calls Mr. Trumbull a
respectable poet, thinks that Dr. Dwight's "Greenfield Hill" is entitled
to considerable praise, and finds much poetic merit in Mr. Barlow's
"Vision"; but he closes the chapter sadly, with a touch of Johnson's
vigor:--"The annals of American literature are short and simple. The
history of poverty is usually neither very various nor very
interesting." Farther South the voice of the scoffer was heard. Mr.
Robert Morris ventured to say in the Assembly of Pennsylvania, that
America had not as yet produced a good poet. Great surprise and
indignation, when this speech reached the eyes of the Connecticut men!
Morris might understand banking, but in taste he was absurdly deficient.
No poets! What did he call John Trumbull of Hartford, and Joel Barlow,
author of "The Vision of Columbus"? "We appeal to the bar of taste,
whether the writings of the poets now living in Connecticut are not
equal to anything which the present age can produce in the English

Cowper showed excellent sense when he wrote,--"Wherever else I am
accounted dull, let me at least pass for a genius at Olney." The
Hartford Wits passed for geniuses in Connecticut, which is better, as
far as the genius is concerned, than any extent or duration of
posthumous fame. Let their shades, then, be satisfied with the good
things in the way of praise they received in their lives; for between us
and them there is fixed a great gulf of oblivion, into which Time, the
merciless critic from whose judgment there is no appeal, has tumbled
their works.

In 1793, a volume of "American Poems, Selected and Original," was
published in Litchfield by subscription. A second volume was promised,
if the first met with "that success which the value of the poems it
contained seemed to warrant"; but no second volume appeared. When
Hopkins died, in 1801, the constellation was sinking fast to the
horizon; a few years later it had set, and only elderly inhabitants
remembered when the Down-Eastern sky was made bright by it. Barlow's
magnificent edition revived the recollection for a time, and the old
defiant cry was raised again, that the "Columbiad" was comparable, not
to say superior, to any poem that had appeared in Europe since the
independence of the United States. But English reviewers refused to
chime in. Their critical remarks were not flattering, although merciful
as compared with the jeers of the "Edinburgh" at Byron's "Hours of
Idleness," or the angry abuse with which the earlier productions of the
Lake School were received. Nevertheless, Paulding, Ingersoll, and Walsh,
indignant, sprang to their quills, and attacked the prejudiced British
with the _argumentum ad hominem_, England's "sores and blotches," etc.;
the _argumentum Tu quoque_, "We're as good a poet as you are, and a
better, too"; and, lastly, pleaded minority in bar of adverse criticism,
"We are a young nation," and so on. This was to yield the point. If a
young nation necessarily writes verses similar in quality to those of
very young persons, it would always be proper to take Uncle Toby's
advice, "and say no more about it." Deaf to Walsh's "Appeal," and to
Inchiquin's "Letters," Sydney Smith, as late as January, 1820, asked, in
the "Edinburgh," that well-known and stinging question, "In the four
quarters of the globe, who reads an American book?" Even at home,
"Hesper" and "The Mount of Vision" soon faded out of sight. At that
time, 1808-1810, readers of verse had, not to mention Cowper, "The Lay
of the Last Minstrel" and "Marmion," "Gertrude of Wyoming," "Thalaba,"
Moore's "Anacreon," and two volumes by William Wordsworth,--poems with
which the American producer was unable to compete. In 1820 Samuel G.
Goodrich of Hartford published a complete edition of Trumbull's works in
two volumes, the type large and the paper excellent,--with a portrait of
the author, and good engravings of McFingal in the Cellar, and of Abijah
Mann bearing the Town Resolves of Marshfield to Boston. The sale did not
repay the outlay. When Trumbull died, in 1831, he was as completely
forgotten as any Revolutionary colonel or captain.

Humphreys once feeling, that, in spite of all his struggles, he was not
doing much, exclaimed,--

    "Why, niggard language, dost thou balk my soul?"

He did not see the reason why: his soul had not much to say. This was
the trouble with them all. There was not a spark of genuine poetic fire
in the Seven. They sang without an ear for music; they strewed their
pages with faded artificial flowers which they mistook for Nature, and
endeavored to overcome sterility of imagination and want of passion by
veneering with magniloquent epithets. They padded their ill-favored
Muse, belaced and beruffled her, and covered her with garments
stiffened with tawdry embroidery to hide her leanness; they overpowdered
and overrouged to give her the beauty Providence had refused. I say
their Muse, but they had no Muse of their own; they imported an inferior
one from England, and tried her in every style,--Pope's and Dryden's,
Goldsmith's and Gray's, and never rose above a poor imitation; producing
something which looked like a model, but lacked its flavor: wooden
poetry, in short,--a genuine product of the soil.

Judging from their allusions to themselves, no one of the Seven
mistrusted his own poetical powers or the gifts of his colleagues. They
seem to have died in their error, unrepentant, in the comfortable hope
of an hereafter of fame. Their works have faded out of sight like an
unfinished photograph. It was a sad waste of human endeavor, a
profitless employment of labor, unusual in Connecticut.[C]

But, although thus "wrecked upon the rock of rhyme," these bards of
Connecticut were not mere waste-paper of mankind, as Franklin sneeringly
called our poets, but sensible, well-educated gentlemen of good English
stock, of the best social position, and industrious in their business;
for Alsop was the only one who "left no calling for the idle trade."
Hopkins stood at the head of his profession. Dwight was beloved and
respected as minister, legislator, theologian, and President of Yale
College. Trumbull was a member of the State Legislature, State's
Attorney, and Judge of the Supreme Court. Humphreys served on
Washington's staff, received a sword from Congress for his gallantry at
Yorktown, was Secretary of Legation at Paris, Minister to Portugal and
Spain, and introduced merino sheep into New England. Barlow, as we have
already seen, was Ambassador to France at the time of his death. All of
these, except Trumbull, had borne arms, and did not throw away their
shields like Archilochus and Horace. They were sincere patriots, who
honestly predicted a future of boundless progress in wealth, science,
religion, and virtue for the United States,--the exemplar of liberty and
justice to the world, "surpassing all nations that have ever existed, in
magnitude, felicity, and duration." And on the other hand, every one of
them believed in the decline and impending fall of their old enemy,
Great Britain. Barlow's "Hesper" even hints that a Columbus from New
England may one day rediscover the Old World.

After the peace, when the closer union of the States under one general
government was proposed, the Hartford Wits worked hard to argue down and
to laugh down the bitter and absurd opposition which sprang up. That
great question was settled definitively by the adoption of the new
Constitution, and another took its place: How is this document to be
interpreted? The Hartford men, excepting, of course, Joel Barlow, the
Lost Pleiad of the group, whose head had been turned by the bewildering
theories of his French fellow-citizens, were warmly in favor of
administering the new government on Federal principles. Were not the
Federalists right? More than thirty years ago, De Tocqueville pronounced
in their favor; De Witt, in his recent essay on Jefferson, comes to the
same decision: both observers who have no party-feelings nor
class-prejudices to mislead them. And have not the last few years given
us all light enough to see that abstractly, as statesmen, the Federal
leaders were right? As politicians, in the degraded American sense of
the word, they were unskilful; they accelerated the downfall of their
party by injudicious measures and by petty rivalries. But although their
ruin might have been adjourned, it could not have been avoided; we now
know that their fate was inevitable. The democracy must have run over
them and trodden them out by the sheer brute force of numbers; no
superiority in wisdom or in virtue could have saved them long.

In those hot and angry days a _mania politica_ raged among the
inhabitants of the United States. One could no longer recognize the
sensible people who had fought the British stoutly for seven years,
without the slightest idea that they were struggling for anything more
than independence of foreign rule. Thomas Paine and Joel Barlow,
graduates of the great French Revolution University, had come to teach
them the new jargon: the virtue and wisdom of the people; the natural
rights of man; the natural propensity of rulers and priests to ignore
them; and other similar high-sounding words, the shibboleth and the
mainstay of the Democratic party to this day. The Anti-Federalists were
as much pleased to learn that they had been contending for these
beautiful phrases as was Monsieur Jourdain when told he had been
speaking _de la prose_ all his life. They assumed the title of Citizen,
invented that of Citess to please strong-minded sisters, and became as
crazy as Monsieur Jourdain when invested with the dignity of Mamamouchi.
They proclaimed that the government of the United States, like all other
governments, was naturally hostile to the rights of the people; France
was their only hope; if the leagued despotisms succeeded against her,
they would soon send their engines of destruction among them. They
planted trees of liberty, and danced about them, and sang the Carmagnole
with variations from Yankee Doodle; they offered their lives for
liberty, which was in no danger, not even from their follies; and swore
destruction to tyrants, as if that unpopular class of persons existed in
the United States. They were the people,--the wise, the pure,--who could
do no wrong. The Federalists were aristocrats, monocrats,--lovers of
court ceremonies and levees, chariots and servants and plate. The
distinguished chief of the French party, whose "heart was a perpetual
bleeding fountain of philanthropy," was not above pretending to believe
that his opponents were striving to "establish the hell of monarchy" in
this republican paradise, and were "ready to surrender the commerce of
the country, and almost every privilege as a free, sovereign, and
independent nation, to the British." Even such a man as Samuel Adams, at
a dinner on board of a French frigate, could put the _bonnet rouge_ on
his venerable head, and pray that "France alone might rule the seas."

The New-Englanders laughed at the charge of monarchical predilections,
so absurdly inconsistent with their history, their laws, habits, and
feelings. Before the war, leading men in other Colonies had affected to
dread their levelling propensities; and General Charles Lee had said of
them, with some truth, that they were the only Americans who had a
single republican qualification or idea. Freedom was an old fireside
acquaintance; they knew that the dishevelled, hysterical creature the
Gallo-Democrats worshipped was a delusion, and feared she might prove a
snare. Their common sense taught them to pay little attention to _a
priori_ disquisitions on natural rights, social compacts,
etc.,--metaphysics of politics, nugatory for all practical American
purposes,--and to reject as ridiculous the promised millennium of
supreme reason and perfected man. From a long experience in the
management of public affairs, they learned that our new government was
in danger from its weakness rather than from its strength; hence they
rejected the fatal doctrine of State rights, the root of the greatest
political evil, Secession. In the theories and in the measures of the
Democrats, in the very absurdity of the accusations made against
themselves, they thought they perceived a reckless purpose to relax
authority for the sake of popularity, which would lead to mob-rule, more
distasteful to the orderly Yankee than any other form of tyranny.
Moreover, in the Eastern States most of the Anti-Federalists belonged
to the lowest class of society; and, not content with urging their
pernicious public policy, the more turbulent of the party showed a
strong inclination to adopt French principles in religion and morals, as
well as in government. Robespierre had announced pompously, "_L'Atheisme
est aristocratique._" New England Federalists thought it democratic on
this side of the ocean. If they must choose between the Tri-Color and
the Cross of St. George, they preferred the Cross. There was no
guillotine in Great Britain,--no capering about plaster statues of the
Goddess of Reason; people read their Bibles, went to church, and
respected the holy sacrament of matrimony. But they wished for neither a
France nor an England; they desired to make an America after their own
hearts,--religious, just, orderly, and industrious; they believed that
on the Federalist plan such a nation could be built up, and on no
other; they opposed Jeffersonian politics then as they oppose
Jeffersonian-Davis politics now, and they were as heartily abused then
as they have been since, and as foolishly.

It must be confessed that the Hartford Wits did ample injustice to their
antagonists. Mr. Jefferson was certainly not an Avatar of the enemy of
mankind, nor were his followers atheists, anarchists, and rogues. But in
1799 there were no shabbier Democrats than those of Connecticut. If we
may judge of the old race by a few surviving specimens, we may pardon
our poets, if they added contempt to theoretical disapprobation, and, in
their eagerness to

    "Confound their politics"


    "Expose their knavish tricks,"

allowed their feelings to exaggerate the unpleasant traits of the master
and of his disciples.

The Hartford men were on the losing side. Federalism expired with the
election of Monroe. Its degenerate successor, Whiggism, had no
principles of value, and only lagged in the rear of the Democratic
advance. Statesmanship and good sense went hopelessly down before the
discipline of party and the hunger for office; and with each year it
became easier to catch a well-meaning, but short-sighted public in any
trap baited with the usual _ad captandum_ commonplaces. We are very
frequently told that "History is philosophy teaching by example,"--one
of those copy-book apophthegms which people love to repeat as if they
contained important truth. But the teachings of history or of philosophy
never reach the ears of the multitude; they are drowned by the din of
selfish rogues or of blind enthusiasts. Poor stupid humanity goes round
and round like a mill-horse in a dreary ring of political follies. The
cast-off sophisms and rhetorical rubbish of a past generation are
patched up, scoured, and offered to the credulous present as something
novel and excellent. People do not know how often the rotten stuff has
been used and thrown away, and accept it readily. After a while, they
discover to their cost, as their ancestors did before them, that it is
good for nothing. But even if it were possible to have a grand
international patent-office for political devices, where the venerable
machines, so often reinvented to break down again, could be labelled
worthless, and exhibited to all the world, I fear that the newest pet
demagogue would persuade the voters of his district, in spite of their
eyes, that he had contrived an improvement to make some one of the
rickety old things work. No wonder that Dr. Franklin lost patience, when
he saw how sadly reason was perverted by ignorance, selfishness, and
wickedness, and wished "that mankind had never been endowed with a
reasoning faculty, since they know so little how to make use of it, and
so often mislead themselves by it, and that they had been furnished with
a good sensible instinct instead of it."

Connecticut should be proud of her poets: not as literary luminaries of
the first magnitude, but as manly citizens, who sincerely loved justice,
order, self-control;--in two words, genuine freedom; as cultivated
gentlemen, who belonged to a class no longer numerous.

    "This small, this blest secluded State
    Still meets unmoved the blasts of Fate."

Unmoved, indeed, as in Federal times, but suffering sadly from
depletion. The great West and the city of New York have sucked her best
blood. There still remain inventive machinists, acute money-changers,
acutest peddlers; but the seed of the Muses has run out. No more
Pleiades at Hartford; no three "mighties," like Hosmer, Ellsworth, and
Johnson; no lawyers of infinite wit, like Tracy and Daggett; no Wolcotts
or Shermans: but the small State can boast that she has still within her
borders many sons full of the spirit shown by Comfort Sage and by Return
Jonathan Meigs, when they marched for Boston at the head of their
companies as soon as the news of Lexington reached Connecticut.


[B] It may interest temperance men to learn that somewhat later than the
period alluded to above, Connecticut paid excise on 400,000 gallons of
rum yearly,--about two gallons to each inhabitant, young and old, male
and female.

[C] Philip Freneau, whose Jacobin newspaper was despised by all good
Federalists, wrote better verses than the All Connecticut Seven. His
"Indian Burying-Ground" is worthy of a place in an anthology. This
stanza has often been ascribed to Campbell; it is as good as any one in
Schiller's "Nadowessie Death-Lament,"--

    "By midnight moons, o'er glistening dews,
      In vestments for the chase arrayed,
    The hunter still the deer pursues;
      The hunter and the deer a shade."




Our schooner sailed once up and down the coast of Labrador, skirting it
for a distance of five hundred miles; but in these papers I sail back
and forth as many times as I please. Having, therefore, followed up the
ice, I am again at Sleupe Harbor, our first port, and invite thee to go
with us in a day's pursuit of Eider-Duck; for among these innumerable
islands the eider breeds, and not elsewhere in considerable numbers, so
far as we could learn, short of--somewhere in the remote North.
Bradford, this morning, June 15th, has hired the two Canadians to take
him to the bird-haunts in their own boat, and to shoot for him,--kindly
offering a place to the Judge and myself.

The word _Eider_ had long been to me a name to conjure with. At some
far-away period in childhood it got imbedded in my fancy, and in process
of time had acquired that subtilest, indefinable fascination which
belongs only to imaginative reminiscence. In the future, I suppose, all
this existence will have become such a childhood, its earth changed to
sky, its dulness sharpened to a tender, delicious poignancy of
allurement and suggestion. And were it not bliss enough for an
immortality, this boundless deepening and refining of experience through
memory and imagination? Only to feel thrilling in one's being chords of
connection with times immeasurably bygone! only to be fed with ethereal
remembrance out of a youth scarcely less ancient than the stars! Pity
Tithonus no more; or pity him only because in him age had become the
enemy of itself, and spilled the wine from its own cup.

The wind was ahead, and blew freshly down through the wilderness of
islands, sweeping between granite shores along many and many a winding
channel; the boat careened almost to her gunwale, yielding easily at
first, but holding hard when well down, as good boats will; the waves
beat saucily against her, now and then also catching up a handful of
spray, and flinging it full in our faces, not forbearing once or twice
to dash it between the open lips of a talker, salting his speech
somewhat too much for his comfort, though not too much for the
entertainment of his interlocutors; while overhead the rifted gray was
traversed by whited seams, making another wilderness of islands in the
clouds. We had gone a mile, and were now sailing smoothly in the lee of
an island, when Bradford exclaimed, "See there! What's that? Why, that's
a 'sea-goose.' Can you get him for me?" (to the elder Canadian). I had
snuggled down in the bottom of the boat, and sprang up, expecting, from
the word "goose," to see a large and not handsome bird, when instead
appeared the tiniest tid-bit of swimming elegance that eye ever beheld.
Reddish about neck and breast, graceful as a swan in form and motion,
while not larger than a swallow, light as the lightest feather on the
water, turning its curving neck and dainty head to look,--it seemed more
like an embodied fancy than a creature inured to the chill of Arctic
seas and the savagery of Arctic storms. What goose first gave it the
name "sea-goose" passes conjecture. "Sea-fairy" were more appropriate.

This was the Hyperborean Phalarope,--a big name for so tiny a creature.
Nuttall says that in 1833 great numbers of them appeared about Chelsea
Beach. Ruddy, airy, fairy, feathered Graces, they must seem in our
practical Yankee land like a mythology on wings, a flock of exquisite
old Grecian fancies, flitting, light, and sweetly strange, and almost
impossible, through the atmosphere of modern industries.

Soon a new attraction. It was a bird in the water quite near, about the
size of a pigeon, though slenderer, glossy black, save a patch of pure
white on the wing, and with an eye that glittered like a black jewel.

"Sea-pigeon," said the artist, and desired his skilful Canadian to
secure the prize. The other arose and took deliberate aim. The bird, now
not more than ten yards distant, did not offer to fly, and made no
attempt to swim away, but kept its paddles well under it, with its head
turned from us, while it swung lightly from side to side, glancing
backward with its keen, audacious eye, now over this shoulder, now over
that. The gun flashed; the shot spattered over the spot where a bird had
been; but _quicker_ than a flash that creature was under water and well
out of harm's way! The shot could have been scarcely out of the muzzle
before he had disappeared. To see such inconceivable celerity reminded
one that the wings of gnats, which vibrate fifteen thousand times in a
second, and light, that makes (_vide_ Tyndale) twenty and odd millions
of undulations in going an inch, are not without their fellow-wonders in
Nature. Meanwhile the whole performance was so cool and neat that I
could not afterwards help thinking of this creature as a humorist, and
picturing it as quietly chuckling to itself under water. With reason,
too; for above water was such a prolonged and ludicrous stare of
amazement from at least three pairs of eyes as might satisfy the most
immoderate appetite for the laughable.

This artful dodger was the Black Guillemot. It cannot be shot, if its
eye is on the fowler. Eager for "specimens," I tried my long, powerful
ducking-gun upon it an hour or two later, sufficiently to prove this.
The birds would wait and watch, all the while glancing from side to
side, and dip, dip, dipping their bills in the water with infinite wary
quickness of movement, and yet with an air of audacious unconcern; but
the pull at the trigger seemed to touch some nerve in them, and by the
same act you fired your shot at them and fired them under water.

The curious dipping of the bill just alluded to is mentioned as
characteristic of the Phalaropes, though I did not observe it, and is
thought to be a snapping-up of minute Crustacea. But in the case of the
Black Guillemot, I question if this be its true explanation. The bird
makes this movement only when on the alert. Several of them are
frolicking together; you show yourself, and instantly their bills begin
to dip,--each movement being quick as lightning, but with a second of
space between. I thought it partly an escape-valve for their nervous
excitement, and partly a keeping in practice of their readiness to dive.
To suppose them taking food under such circumstances,--one would fain
think himself more formidable in their eyes than that coolness would

In the afternoon, however, of this day--to anticipate a little--my
specimen was obtained. While the boat waited at the shore of a low
island, the Judge and I sauntered up the smooth, bare granite slope to
the ridge, and, looking over a breast-high wall of solid rock, saw a
flock of these birds in a cove on the opposite side.

"Shall I fire?" I said.

"You couldn't hit them; they are more than two gun-shots off. However,"
added the Judge, presently, "your Long Tom will _reach_ one gunshot, and
fire one and a half more; it will do no harm to try."

I fired at the farthest; they went under, but when they returned to the
surface one had come to grief. I walked leisurely towards them, and
stood on the shore, reloading; but they gave me no heed; they were
intent on their stricken comrade. Gathering around him, they began
pulling at him with their bills, trying to replace him in an upright
position. The poor fellow strove to comply, for he was not yet quite
dead; but quickly fell over again on the side. They renewed their
efforts, assiduously playing Good Samaritan to this brother who had
fallen among human thieves. At last they got impatient, and pecked at
him sharply, evidently looking on him as wanting in pluck. They had
seemed very human before; but when they began to be vexed at him because
he would not gratify their benevolence with the sense of success, I
really could see no reason why they should be masquerading there in
feathers, being as human as anybody!

It was an elegant bird, with its fine shape, its plumage of glossy jet
and snow, and its legs of bright scarlet, bright as name. Use it has,
too, for its flame-legs in the frigid seas it frequents; for it is found
in the uttermost North, and dares all the severities of Polar cold.

But we have got into the afternoon too quickly, and now return to our
morning pursuit of eider-duck. It was not long after the above spectacle
of magic disappearance that the elder Canadian rose, went forward, and
fired his piece. Two large birds, one black and white, the other brown,
sprang up from the water and flew briskly away,--flew, as I thought, out
of sight; the man meanwhile returning to his seat and the helm, with the
same composed silence, and the same attractive, inscrutable face as
before. But three hundred yards farther on we came to the male bird,
quite dead. I was near firing upon it, being led by its motion on the
waves to think it alive, and not in the least connecting it with the
bird. I had but just now seen flying off in all apparent health,--when
the Canadian, touching Bradford, and pointing, said quietly, "Dead," and
the latter shouted to me accordingly. Presently, as the boat swept past,
I stooped and drew it in,--a beautiful creature, with velvety violet
black accompanied by dark olive-green about the head, while the neck,
breast, and back were white as snow, and all the rest a glistening

"An eider! King eider!" cried the Artist, joyfully. Then, "Isn't it a
king eider?" he said to the Canadian, holding it up.

The other nodded.

"Really a king eider!" murmured the Artist, as he now bent over it with
bright eyes.

It was not, but the male of the other species, though I knew no better
at the time. The king duck is one of the most Arctic of all Arctic
birds, and condescends to Lower Labrador only in winter, nor then
frequently. A temperature at the freezing-point is to him a mere oven,
which one should be a salamander to live in; with the thermometer thirty
or forty degrees lower, he is still sweltered; while his custom of
growing his own coat, though it saves him from shoddy, expense, and
Paris fashions, has the disadvantage that he cannot strip it off at
pleasure, not even when away from the ladies and the dinner-table. He is
fain, therefore, to keep well away toward the Polar North, where the
climate is more temperate and pleasing, leaving Newfoundlanders and
Labradorians to roast themselves, if they _will_ do so.

While the boat sailed on, still seeking the eider-island,--which at
first, so the Artist said, was "half a mile off," then "a piece
farther," then "right up here," then "just ahead," and now threatened to
keep ahead,--I nested myself again in the bottom, and renewed an old
boy-custom by studying the elder Canadian's physiognomy. It was
strangely attractive, and yet strangely impenetrable, a rare out-door
face, clean and firm as naked granite after a rain, healthful as
balsam-firs, and so honestly weather-beaten that one could not help
regarding it as a feature of natural scenery. All out-of-doors was
implied in it, and it belonged as much to the horizon as to the nearest
objects. The eye, with its unceasing, imperturbable search, never an
instant relaxing its intentness, and never seeming to make an effort any
more than the sky in looking blue, asserted this relationship, for by
the same glance it seemed to take in equally the farthest and the
nearest; only over us in the boat it passed always as over vacant space.
Yet any question was answered at once with quiet, willing brevity, not
as if he had been interrupted in his thoughts, or was recalled to a
recognition of our existence, but just as he would turn the tiller in
steering his boat,--while the eye still continued its conversation with
that impersonal, elemental company which he seemed to keep. I found it
out of my power to relate myself to him as an individual. In most faces
you study special character; but in him it was somewhat older and more
primitive,--somewhat which seemed to be rather existence itself than any
special form of it. One felt in him that same world-old secret which
haunts ancient woods, and would have asked him to utter it, were not its
presence the only utterance it can have. Alas, he that speaks must use
English, French, or some language which is partly conventional; and that
pre-Adamite or Saturnian vernacular in which we are all _trying_ to
speak has no verbal sign. Poets, indeed, contrive to catch it, one knows
not how, in the meshes of ordinary language, and only therefore are
poets; but to frame in it any question or answer suited to the wants of
the understanding is a feat beyond man's power. It is true that Mr.
Herbert Spencer, having, by diligent, heroic self-desiccation, got his
mind into the purely adult, dried-beef condition, well freed from all
boy-juices of imagination, has discovered that all Fact in this
universe, which cannot be verbally formulated and made a scientific
dogma, is without significance to man's spirit, however it may be
negatively implied as a vacant somewhat by his logic. For which
discovery the incomparable man will please accept my profoundest

After "positive philosophy," the croak of ravens, the hoot of owls,
anything that has the touch, the charm, and infinite suggestion of
Nature and life, will be more than welcome; and in good time we have
reached the desired island.

Not to find eiders, though, but only Saddle-Back Gulls, a crowd of which
arose on our approach, and hovered about at safe, yet tantalizing
distance, keeping up their monotonous, piping scream. The saddle-back, a
large, powerful white bird, with a patch of black crossing it like a
saddle, is the great enemy of the eider, pillaging its nest and
devouring its young at every opportunity, and had probably driven the
ducks from this place. It is a pirate of pirates, a Semmes in the air,
cowardly toward equals, relentless toward the weak and unweaponed; and
the chief care of the mother duck is to protect her little brood from
these greedy confederates. One of the coolest, yet wariest rascals in
the world, it can scarcely be surprised, but lingers about, just beyond
gun-shot range, screaming, as if it said, "Why don't you fire?
Fire!--who cares?" I came at length to cherish toward them no little
animosity, and would willingly have played Kearsarge upon them, could
any challenge have drawn them from port. But during the whole cruise not
one of them consoled us with so much as a feather.

The flight of this bird meanwhile is magnificent,--so full of powerful
grace, of achieving leisure and ease. Nothing can be more striking than
its contrast with the labored propulsion of the duck. A few slow waves
of the wing, and there it is high in the air; then a droop, a decline,
but so light and soft, so exquisitely graduated, that the downward drift
of a feather seems lumpish and leaden in the comparison; then again up
it goes with such an ease as if it rose by specific levity, like smoke
from a chimney in a day of calm; and aloft it wheels, circles, floats,
and at length sails on its broad vans away, passing in a few minutes
over wide spaces, and yet, with its leisurely stroke, seeming engaged
only in airing its pinions. One might fancy it the very spirit of motion
imaged in a picturesque symbol.

In that delightful book, "Out-Door Papers," the author celebrates
charmingly the charm of birds; but I, who am more humanist than
naturalist, would say rather, What exhaustless fascination in their
flight!--for this appears to touch by some subtile suggestion upon the
hope or dream of man. I am, indeed, now--though always, please God, a
boy--not so young a boy as once, when I could be unhappy for the want of
wings, and deem, for a moment, that life is little worth without them;
yet never does a bird fly in my view, especially if its flight be lofty
and sustained, but it seems to carry some deep, immemorial secret of my
existence, as if my immortal life flew with it. Sweet fugitive, when
will it fly with me? Whenever it does,--and something assures me that
one day it will,--then the new heavens and new earth! Meanwhile the
intimation of it puts to the lip some unseen cup, out of which, in a
soft ecstasy of pain that is better than pleasure, I quaff peace, peace.
It is not always nor often that one is open to this supreme charm; but
it comes at times, and then to hope all and believe all is easy as to

This mood also carries me farther than almost anything else into
childhood; for, in the height of it, I can go back by link after link of
remembrance, and see myself ... there ... and there ... and there again
... and at last deep into the rosy suffusion of dawn,--still looking up,
and intent on that airy motion. To this day I know birds better by their
flight than by their forms, unless it be the form of the wing.

I tried to see what it is which gives to the flight of some birds that
look of majestic ease. Partly it is due to the slow stroke, but more, I
thought, to the flexibility of the wing, and to the fact that this is
less directly up-and-down in its action than that of the duck, for
example. The chief effort of the duck is to sustain its weight.
Consequently the wing must lie flat (comparatively) upon the air, and be
kept straight out, economizing its vertical pressure; and hence the
noticeable stiffness and toilsomeness of its progression. The gull, less
concerned to sustain itself, uses the wing more flexibly, bending it
slightly at the elbow, and pressing back the outer portion with each
stroke. So a heavy swimmer must keep his hands flat, pressing down upon
the water to hold up his head; while one who swims very lightly handles
them more freely and flexibly, using them at pleasure to assist his
progress. Yet the matter refuses to be wholly explained, and remains
partly a mystery. Darwin, when in Patagonia, observed condors circling
in the air, and saw them sail half an hour by the watch without any
smallest vibration of the wings and without the smallest perceptible
descent. I used in boyhood to see bald eagles do the same for a
considerable period, though I never timed them exactly, and wonder at it
now as I did then.

Away now to another island, still seeking ducks. Arrived, the Canadians
land, in order, in Bradford's behalf, to have the first chance; while
the Judge and I, who pretend to no skill with the gun, remain awhile
behind. The island had the shape described in our first paper: a gentle
slope and rock-beach on one side,--a steep, broken, half-precipitous
descent on the other. Landing presently, I went slowly along the
slope,--slowly, for one's feet sank deep at every step in the elastic
moss, so that it was like walking on a feather-bed. Some patches of
shrubbery, two and a half or three feet high,--the first approach to
woody growth I had seen,--drew my attention; and it is curious now to
think what importance they had in my eyes, as if here were the promise
of a new world. I hastened towards them, forgetting the coveted ducks;
and the Canadian's gun, which sounded in the distance, did not reawaken
my ambition. Forgetting or remembering were probably much the same; for
I had scarcely fired a gun in twenty and odd years, never had taken a
bird on the wing, and, besides, must now fire from the left
shoulder,--the right eye being like Goldsmith's tea-cups, "wisely kept
for show." But as I touched the shrubbery there was a stir, a rustle, a
whirr, and away went a large brown bird, scurrying off toward the sea.
Upon the impulse of the moment, I up gun, and blazed after. To my
amazement, the bird fell. I stumped off for my prize, actually achieving
a sort of run, the first for years,--pretty sure, however, that the
creature was making game of me rather than I of it, and would rise and
flirt its tail in my face when I should be near enough to make the
mockery poignant. No, the poor thing's game was up. It was a large bird,
of an orange-brown hue, mottled with faint white and shadings of black.
A powerful relenting came over me, and I could have sat down and cried
like a baby, had that been suitable for a "boy" of my years.

"Do you know that was pretty well done?" cried a voice.

It was Bradford, who was hurrying up. I had no heart to answer; I was
not jolly.

"Why, it's a female eider," he said, when near; "you've shot an eider on
the wing!"

_O tempora! O mores!_ then the Elder was glad!--all his compunction
drowned in the pleasure of connecting himself, even through the gates of
death, with a youthful fascination.

It now occurred to me--and the conjecture proved correct--that these
plats of shrubbery must serve as hiding-places for the duck. The
Canadians, whose behavior was all along mysterious, had forborne to give
us any hint. I was vexed at them then, but had no reason perhaps. This
was their larder, which they could not wish to impoverish. Besides,
fishermen and visitors on this coast are so sweeping and ruthless in
their destructions, that one might reasonably desire to protect the
birds against them. It is not so much by shooting the birds as by
destroying their eggs that the mischief is done. A party will take
possession of an island at night, carry off every egg that can be found,
and throw it into the sea,--then, returning next forenoon, take the
fresh eggs laid in the mean time for food. On the whole, I feel less
like blaming our guides than like returning to make apologies. Yet to us
also the ducks are necessary, for we have no fresh meat but such as our
guns obtain; and to one seeking health, this was a matter of some
serious moment.

The elder Canadian has also shot a duck, and, besides, a red-breasted
diver, a noble bird; and with these prizes we set sail for another
island, frequented by "Tinkers." The day meanwhile had cleared, the sun
shone richly, and we began to see somewhat of the glory, as well as
grimness, of Labrador. Away to the southwest, eminent over the lesser
islands, rose Mecatina, all tossed into wild billows of blue, with
purple in the hollows; while to the north the hills of the mainland
lifted themselves up to hold fellowship with it in height and hue.

"Tinker," we found, meant Murre and Razor-Billed Auk. These are finely
shaped birds, black above and white below, twice the size of a pigeon,
and closely resembling each other, save in the bill. That of the murre
is not noticeable; but the other's is singularly shaped, and marked with
delicate, finely cut grooves, the central one being nicely touched with
a line of white, while a similar thread of white runs from the bill to
the eye.

I notice it thus, because it suggested to me a reflection. Looking at
this bill, I asked myself how Darwin's theory comported with it. "The
struggle for life,"--are all the forms of organic existence due to that?
But how did the struggle for life cut these grooves, paint these
ornamental lines? "Beauty is its own excuse for being"; and that Nature
respects beauty is, to my mind, nothing less than fatal to the Darwinian
hypothesis. That his law exists as a _modifying_ influence I freely
admit, and accredit him with an important addition to our thought upon
such matters; that it is the sole formative influence I shall be better
prepared to believe when I see that beauty is not regarded in Nature,
but is a mere casual attendant upon use. The artist Greenough did,
indeed, strenuously maintain this last. But the sloth and the
bird-of-paradise are equally useful to themselves; if beauty were but an
aspect of use, these should be equally comely in our eyes. No; "the
struggle for life" has not grooved the bill of the auk, and painted the
tail of the peacock, any more, so far as I can see, than it has given to
evening and morning their scarlet and gold. And so my auk said to me,
"Any attempt to string existence upon a single thread has failed and
will fail, unless it be that thread which man can never formulate, never
stretch out into a straight line,--the Eternal Unity, God."

These birds have a catlike instinct of fidelity to old haunts, and,
having once chosen a habitat, adhere to it, despite many a year of
persecution. They prefer inaccessible cliffs, on every projecting shelf
and jut of which the eggs are laid, but also inhabit islands where are
many clefts, fissures, and holes made by tumbled masses of rock. This at
which we had arrived was not much more than a hundred feet high; and the
cliffs in which it terminated on one side were scarcely to be named
inaccessible. The number of birds upon it seemed to our novice-eyes
immense, but at a later period would have seemed trivial. They are
always flying about the shores, and have also a laudable curiosity,
which leads them to investigate when any strange form appears or any
strange noise is made in the neighborhood of their homes.

On landing, the Judge made off to the left, and was soon heard from,--as
it afterwards appeared, with immediate success. The Canadian and myself
took our station upon a broad platform some forty feet above the sea,
with steep rocks behind, and were soon busily engaged in--missing! It
was nothing but _bang! pish! bang! pshaw!_ for half an hour. It could
not be said that the birds were indifferent to the prospect of being
immortalized as specimens. On the contrary, they showed an appreciation
of the honor, and an open zeal to obtain it, which were worthy of the
highest commendation. But they very properly declined to be _bungled_
even into a taxidermist paradise. Nothing could be more admirably
orthodox than their resolution to be immortalized _secundum artem_; and
considering how many are ready to sneak, without the smallest regard to
desert or self-respect, into any attainable _post mortem_ felicity, this
honorable cut direct to all mere _auk_ward and heterodox inductions into
happiness begot in me toward these creatures sentiments of the highest
consideration. All the while they kept flying past, often near, but
always going through the air like a dart, as if they would say, "Take,
but earn!"

At first the effect of this superior behavior on their part was to
produce humiliation, and, along with this, a weak, nervous excitement,
and an attempt to reach my ends by mere determination. I accordingly got
to pulling upon them with a vehemence which probably disturbed my aim,
as if I had been drawing at a halibut rather than at a trigger. But the
gates which are appointed to fly open before a high behavior are but as
the barred gates of Destiny toward mere low strength. The gods and birds
were immitigable. I must do better, not merely do more.

Meditating on these matters, and moved by the lofty demeanor of my
challengers, I at length proceeded seriously to self-amendment.
Exchanging my large duck-shot for some of smaller size, I no longer
blurted at my auk when he was just abreast; but, deferentially allowing
him to pass, and then, aiming after him, as if I accepted his lead, I
gently suggested to him my desires; whereupon, in the most becoming
manner, he descended and plumped into the sea, without so much as
flapping a wing, or being guilty of the faintest impropriety. It was
beautiful. Continuing this behavior, I found my attentions uniformly
reciprocated. Once, indeed, when I fell into a shade of _brusquerie_,
the individual whom I had complimented stood upon his self-respect, and,
as I thought, flew away; but Bradford, who had courteously come up just
as I began to succeed, was so kind as to see him fall punctiliously into
the water, when he had gone far enough to suggest a reprimand of my
slight unseemliness. And now, when the Artist was Christian enough to
exclaim, "Why, Blank, I did not know you were such a shot!" I thought it
high time to rest on my (back and) laurels. Reposing, therefore, upon
the round leathern pillow which was my inseparable and invaluable
companion, I enjoyed my spine-ache _cum dignitate_ till the others were
ready to return.

On the way to the ship an eider sprang up from a steep ridge we were
passing, and fell in a second, Bradford exclaiming, "That's the best
shot to-day!" The yawl soon followed us. Ph---- had taken two eiders on
the wing; we had six in all. Others brought auks and murres; but the
Judge still led the van. Next morning the Colonel and Judge brought in
four eiders,--the last for the entire voyage. Others were afterward
seen, but only seen. The Parson, some weeks later, closed our intrusive
intimacy with them by an attempt to capture some of their young in the
water. It couldn't be done. They were only a few days old, but, rich in
pre-natal instruction, they always waited until the hand was just upon
them,--not to waste any part of their stay beneath water,--and
then--under in a moment. One saw that pirate saddle-back must needs
bestir himself in order to catch them, and one could appreciate the
sagacity of the mother duck in hurrying her brood, almost as soon as
they are born, into the water.

And so farewell, eiders! If all goes to my wish, you shall yet have a
place on other-world islands and seas, where saddle-backs shall not
pillage your nests, nor coat-backs point at you any Long Tom!

       *       *       *       *       *

We give account only of what was characteristic, and therefore will now
jump five weeks of time and a hundred leagues of space. But since this
is a long leap, a few stepping-stones will be convenient. The Parson,
then, has brought in on the way a nice batch of velvet duck, noticeable
for their extremely large, oval, elevated, scarlet nostrils; we have
shot at seals, and _almost_ hit them in the most admirable manner; we
have hunted for an indubitable polar bear,--and found a dog and a
midnight mystification; we have played at chess, euchre, backgammon,
whist, debating-club, story-telling, nightmare,--one of our number
developing an incomparable genius for the last; we have played at
getting tolerable cooking out of two slovens, one of whom knows nothing,
and the other everything but his business,--and have lost the game; we
have played at catching trout, and found this the best joke of all.
There are beautiful brook-trout on the coast of Labrador. They say so;
it is so. Beautiful trout,--mostly visible to the naked eye! Not many of
them, but enough to gratify an elegant curiosity.

But here we are, July 21, lat. 54° 30'. Bradford has hooked an iceberg,
and will "play him" for the afternoon. Half a mile off is an island of
the character common to most of the innumerable islands strown all along
from Cape Charles to Cape Chudleigh,--an alp submerged to within three
hundred feet of the summit. Such islands, and such a coast! But this is
a notable "bird-island." So three of us are set ashore there with our
guns, the indefatigable Professor coming along also with his perpetual

The island--which is rather two islands than one, for straight through
it, toward the eastern extremity, goes the narrowest possible
chasm--proved precipitous and inaccessible, save in a bit of inlet at
the hither opening of this chasm and on three rods of sloping rock to
the right. Like almost all its fellows, however, it raises one side
higher than the other; and conjecturing that the farther and higher face
would be the favorite haunt of these cliff-loving birds,--murres and
auks again,--I left my companions busily shooting near the landing, and
made my way up and across. It was no easy task, for the wild rock was
tossed and tilted, broken and heaped and saw-toothed, as if it
represented some savage spasm or fit of madness in Nature. But
clambering, sliding, creeping, zigzagging, turning back to find new
openings, and in every manner persisting, I slowly got on; while deep
down in the chasm on my left,--a hundred feet deep, and in the middle
not more than a foot wide, though champered away a little at the
top,--the water surged in and out with a thunderous, muffled sough and
moan, like a Titan under the earth, pinned down eternally in pain. It
was awfully impressive,--so impressive that I reflected neither upon it
nor on myself. With this immitigable, adamantine wildness about me, and
that abysmal, booming stifle of plaint, to which all the air trembled,
sounding from below, I became another being, and the very universe was
no longer itself; past and future were not, and I was a dumb atomy
creeping over the bare peaks of existence, while out of the blind heart
of the world issued an everlasting prayer,--a prayer without hope! And
this, too, if not boy's play, was a true piece of boy-experience. I can
recall--and better now by the aid of this half-hour--moments in
childhood when existence became thus awful, when it overpowered,
overwhelmed me, and when time, instead of melting in golden ripeness
into the fruitful eternity that lies before, seemed to fall back, doomed
forever, into the naked eternity behind. Goethe's "Erl-King," almost
alone in modern literature, touches truly, and on its shadowed side, the
immeasurable secret which haunts and dominates the heart of a child;
while Wordsworth's "Ode on the Intimations of Immortality in Childhood"
is our noblest suggestion of its illuminated obverse side.

At length I issued upon the opposite face of the island, and found
myself on a shelf of rock about three feet wide, with one hundred and
fifty feet, more or less, of vertical cliff beneath, and about the same
height of half-cliff behind and above. It was a pretty perch, and gave
one a feeling of consequence; for what pigmy perched on Alps ever failed
to consider his elevation one of stature strictly, and not at all of
position? The outer edge of the shelf rose, inclosing me as in a box, so
that I was safe as the owner of an annuity based upon United States
securities. Away to my right the perpendicular cliff rose higher still,
and, being there covered with clefts, cavelets, and narrow shelves, was
the peculiar home of the birds, who had taken possession of this island
on a long lease.

Their numbers were inconceivable. Two hundred yards off in the water was
an _island_ of them, an acre of feathery black. To the right I could see
them now and then ascending in literal clouds; and the sober Ph----, who
rowed along here beyond my view, saw the cliffs, as he looked up, white
for a half-mile with their snowy breasts, and could find no words to
express his sense of their multitude.

But so far as I was concerned,--for my comrades did better,--it was the
birds themselves that did the sporting that afternoon. They came
streaming by, never crowding together so that more than one could be
included in the chances of shot, but incessantly trailing along, and
scurrying past with the speed of an arrow. I peppered away, with little
result but that of spicing their afternoon's enjoyment for them; for the
wicked creatures took it all in the jolliest way, flinging themselves
past with a flirt and a wink, just as if I had been no lord of creation
at all. I had disdained to shoot them when at rest; for there seemed to
be some ancient compact between us, by which they were to have their
chance and I mine. But when one came and planted himself on a little jut
thirty yards to my right, and mocked me with a look of patronage,
seeming to regard me as the weaker party and to incline to my side, I
broke the pact, and, masking my hurt conceit under some virtuous
indignation against him as a deserter and traitor, turned and smote him
under the fifth rib.

And now it came upon me that I _must_ secure that bird. To shoot without
obtaining were mere wantonness. Yes, I would have him, and justify
myself to myself. To do it was difficult, even in Labradorian boy-eyes.
Between me and the auk the upper half of the cliff made a deep recess,
terminating in a right angle, with a platform of granite some
seventy-five feet below. Along both faces of this recess, nearly on a
level with myself, ran a shelf not more than six inches wide, with
vertical wall above and beneath; and on this I must go. I began,
therefore, working along this, proceeding with care, observing my
footing, and clutching with my hands whatever knob or crevice I could
find. But when near the angle, I found that the shelf terminated some
two feet short of its apex, and began again at about the same distance
beyond. Seeking about cautiously for finger-hold, I reached out my left
foot, and planted it on the opposite side, but could not stretch far
enough to make a place for the right foot when I should withdraw it. I
began debating with myself, whether, in case I should swing across and
rest on the left foot alone, I could work this along and make room for
the right. I knew that the process would have to be repeated on my
return; so I must estimate two chances at once.

And now for the first time, as I stood thus, some faint misgiving arose
in me, some faint question whether I was not doing one unjustifiable
thing to avoid doing another. It occurred to me that there was another
personage,--not a bird-seeking boy, like this one here, but a grave
man,--with whom I had an important connection, and who cherished serious
purposes and had many hopes of worthy labor yet to fulfil. Was I doing
the fair thing by _him_? He was not here, to be sure; I had left him
somewhere between Worcester and Labrador, with due pledge of reunion;
but even in his absence he was to be considered. Besides, he was my
master, and though he had permitted me to go gambolling off by myself,
on my promise to bring him back a more serviceable spine, yet his claim
remained, and I should be dishonorable to ignore it.

At first, indeed, these considerations seemed vague, far-fetched, little
better than affectations. The clear thing to be done was to get that
bird. This done, I could consider the rest. To admit any other thought
militated in some way against the singleness and compactness of my
being. Wise or unwise, what had I to do with far-off matters of that
sort? My business was to succeed in a certain task, not to be sage and
so forth. I actually felt a kind of shame to be debating any other than
the all-important question, Can I get my right foot over here beside the
left? Nor was it till certain faces pictured themselves to my mind, that
the heart took part with reason, and the tangential left foot returned,
rounding itself once more into the proper orbit of my life. I had been
standing there perhaps a minute.

It was an invaluable experience. It carried me farther into the heart of
the boy-world than I had gone for twenty-five years and more. And as the
boy-world is the big world, the life of too many being but another and
less attractive phase of boyhood, it supplied a gloss to the book of
daily observation, which I could on no account part with. The
inconceivable indifference of most men to considerations of speculative
truth became conceivable. The way in which the axioms of sages slip off
from multitudes, as mere vague "glittering generalities," good enough
for cherishers of the "intuitions" to lisp of by moonlight, but sheer
fiddle-dee-dee to firmly built men,--the commentary of the able lawyer
upon Emerson's lecture, "I don't understand it, but my girls do!"--all
this appears in a new light. Are not most men working along some cliff,
financial or other, after a bird? And do they not honestly regard it as
mere nonsense to be thinking about being sage and so forth, when the
real question is how to get the right foot across here beside the left?

I had gone back to my perch, where a rueful, puerile remorse tugged now
and then at my elbow, and said, "But that bird! You haven't given up
that bird?" when the Professor appeared on the apex of the island above,
shouting, "Here's a"--hawk, I thought he said, and caught up my gun. But
what? Fox? Yes,--"blue fox."

Now, then, up the cliff! Creep, crawl, wriggle, slide, clamber,
scramble, clutch, climb, here jumping--actually jumping, I!--over a
crevice, then drawing myself round an insuperable jut by two honest
sturdy weeds--many thanks to them!--which had the consideration to be
there and to plant themselves firmly in the rock; at last I reached the
height, puffing like a high-pressure steam-engine.

"H-h-h-where--ff! ff!--h-is-ee?"

"Right over here. I've been chasing him this last half-hour. Finally,
the audacious little rascal would stick up his head over a rock, and
bark at me."

I soon had him; and was again struck with the vivacity which may be
exhibited by a creature whose life is really ended. As I fired, the
animal gave a loud "whish!" and sped away like the wind, disappearing
behind a jut of rock five or six rods farther away; but five feet from
that point I found it dead. This _post mortem_ activity, they told me,
was made possible by the small size of the shot. Perhaps, then, a
creature slain with a missile sufficiently subtile might go an
indefinite time without finding it out, supposing itself alive and well.
Institutions and politicians, we have all known, possess this power of
ignoring their own decease. Judaism has been dead these eighteen hundred
years; yet here are Jew synagogues in New York and Boston. Were the like
true of individuals, it might explain to us some lives which seem
inexplicable on any other hypothesis. I think, for example, of some
editors, who are evidently post-dating their decease; and when these go
on writing leading articles, and being sweet upon "our brethren of the
South," one does not say, "Disloyal," but only, "So long in learning
what has happened!"

My prize was the white fox, a year old, and not quite in adult costume.
How it got upon this island were matter for conjecture. Probably on the

Another skip,--and here we are upon another of these summits surrounded
by sea. The home of Puffins this is. The puffin is an odd little fellow,
smaller than the auk, but of the same general hue, with a short neck and
a queer bill. This is very thin from side to side, twice as wide up and
down as it is long, strongly marked with concentric scarlet ridges, and
altogether agrees so little with this plain-looking bird, that one can
scarcely regard it as belonging naturally to him, and fancies that he
must lay it aside at night, as people do false teeth. It is an easy bird
to take flying; for, on seeing you, it peaks its wings downward in a
manner indescribably prim and prudish, and scales past, turning its
stubby neck, and inspecting you with an air of comical, muddy gravity
and curiosity. My comrade, Ph----, got two dozen to my eight; but I was
consoled with a large Arctic falcon, which had been dining at
fashionable hours on a full-grown puffin, having set its table in a deep
gorge between vertical walls. It was of the kind called by Audubon
_Falco Labradora_, concerning which Professor Baird, of the Smithsonian
Institute, who has had the kindness to write to me, doubts whether it
may not be an immature stage of _Falco Candicans_, one of the two
undoubted species of Arctic falcons. Captain Handy, however, a very
observant and intelligent man, was sure, from the feeling of the bones,
that it must be an old bird.

Once more only I will ask the reader to accompany me. We had gone ashore
in a place called Stag Bay, not to hunt stags, but to seek a bear, to
whose acquaintance we seemed to have obtained a preliminary introduction
by trustworthy informations. Bruin, however, positively declined the
smallest approach to intimacy, refusing even to look at our cards, and
sending out the most hopeless "Not at home." Separating, therefore, we
strolled on the beach,--for a beach there actually was at this
place,--and observing some Piping Plovers, tiny waders, I made for them.
One of them stood as sentinel on a rock, and, thinking the ornithologist
might like him for a specimen, I fired. The large shot scattered around
him, the distance being considerable, without injury; but I insisted on
his being dead, and searched as if enough of searching would in some way
cause him to be so. It wouldn't, however; and I was about turning away,
when, a rod or two off, I saw him evidently desperately wounded. "Ah!
there is my bird, after all," I muttered, and started with a leisurely
step to pick it up. Terrified at my approach, the little wretch began to
hobble and flutter away, keeping about his original distance. I
quickened my pace; he exerted his broken strength still more, and made
out to mend his. I walked as rapidly as I could; but new terror lent the
poor thing new wings, and it contrived--I could not for my life
conjecture how--to keep a little beyond my reach. It would not do to
leave him suffering thus; and I coaxed myself into a quick run, when up
the little hypocrite sprang, and scudded away like a bee! Not the
faintest suspicion of its being otherwise than at death's door had
entered my mind until that moment, though I had seen this trick less
skilfully performed before.

Returning, I went to the top of the beach and began examining the coarse
grass which grew there, thinking that the nests must be hereabout, and
desirous of a peep at the eggs. I had hardly pushed my foot in this
grass a few times, when another wounded bird appeared but a few feet
off. The emergency being uncommon, it put forth all its histrionic
power, and never Booth or Siddons did so well. With breast ploughing in
the sand, head falling helplessly from side to side, feet kicking out
spasmodically and yet feebly behind, and wings fluttering and beating
brokenly on the beach, it seemed the very symbol of fear, pain, and
weakness, I made a sudden spring forward,--off it went, but immediately
returned when I pushed my foot again toward the grass, renewing its
speaking pantomime. I could not represent suffering so well, if I really
felt it. With a convulsive kick, its poor little helpless head went
under, and it tumbled over on the side; then it swooned, was dying; the
wings flattened out on the sand, quivering, but quivering less and less;
it gasped with open mouth and closing eye, but the gasps grew fainter
and fainter; at last it lay still, dead; but when I poked once more in
the grass, it revived to endure another spasm of agony, and die again.
"Dear, witty little Garrick," I said, "had you a thousand lives and ten
thousand eggs, I would not for a kingdom touch one of them!" and I
wished he could show me some enemy to his peace, that I might make war
upon the felon forthwith.

And in this becoming frame of mind I ended my chapter of "Boy's Play in


    My little birds, with backs as brown
      As sand, and throats as white as frost,
    I've searched the summer up and down,
      And think the other birds have lost
    The tunes you sang, so sweet, so low,
    About the old house, long ago.

    My little flowers, that with your bloom
      So hid the grass you grew upon,
    A child's foot scarce had any room
      Between you,--are you dead and gone?
    I've searched through fields and gardens rare,
    Nor found your likeness anywhere.

    My little hearts, that beat so high
      With love to God, and trust in men,
    Oh, come to me, and say if I
      But dream, or was I dreaming then,
    What time we sat within the glow
    Of the old-house hearth, long ago?

    My little hearts, so fond, so true,
      I searched the world all far and wide,
    And never found the like of you:
      God grant we meet the other side
    The darkness 'twixt us now that stands,
    In that new house not made with hands!




In 1816 the wandering and unsettled ways of the poet were calmed and
harmonized in the home of the Gillmans at Highgate, where the remainder
of his days, nearly twenty years, were passed in entire quiet and
comparative happiness. Mr. Gillman was a surgeon; and it is understood
that Coleridge went to reside with him chiefly to be under his
surveillance, to break himself of the fearful habit he had contracted of
opium-eating,--a habit that grievously impaired his mind, engendered
self-reproach, and embittered the best years of his life.[D] He was the
guest and the beloved friend as well as the patient of Mr. Gillman; and
the devoted attachment of that excellent man and his estimable wife
supplied the calm contentment and seraphic peace, such as might have
been the dream of the poet and the hope of the man. Honored be the name
and reverenced the memory of this true friend! He died on the 1st of
June, 1837, having arranged to publish a life of Coleridge, of which he
produced but the first volume.[E]

Coleridge's habit of taking opium was no secret. In 1816 it must have
reached a fearful pitch. It had produced "during many years an
accumulation of bodily suffering that wasted the frame, poisoned the
sources of enjoyment, and entailed an intolerable mental load that
scarcely knew cessation"; the poet himself called it "the accursed
drug." In 1814 Cottle wrote him a strong protest against this terrible
and ruinous habit, entreating him to renounce it. Coleridge said in
reply, "You have poured oil into the raw and festering wound of an old
friend, Cottle, but it is oil of vitriol!" He accounts for the "accursed
habit" by stating that he had taken to it first to obtain relief from
intense bodily suffering; and he seriously contemplated entering a
private insane asylum as the surest means of its removal. His remorse
was terrible and perpetual; he was "rolling rudderless," "the wreck of
what he once was," "wretched, helpless, and hopeless."

He revealed this "dominion" to De Quincey "with a deep expression of
horror at the hideous bondage." It was this "conspiracy of himself
against himself" that was the poison of his life. He describes it with
frantic pathos as "the scourge, the curse, the one almighty blight,
which had desolated his life," the thief

                             "to steal
    From my own nature all the natural man."

The habit was, it would seem, commenced in 1802; and if Mr. Cottle is to
be credited, in 1814 he had been long accustomed to take "from two
quarts of laudanum in a week to a pint a day." He did, however,
ultimately conquer it.

It was during his residence with Mr. Gillman that I knew Coleridge. He
had arranged to write for "The Amulet"; and circumstances warranted my
often seeing him,--a privilege of which I gladly availed myself. In this
home at Highgate, where all even of his whims were studied with
affectionate and attentive care, he preferred the quiet of home
influences to the excitements of society; and although I more than once
met there his friend Charles Lamb, and other noteworthy men, I usually
found him, to my delight, alone. There he cultivated flowers, fed his
pensioners, the birds, and wooed the little children who gambolled on
the heath, where he took his daily walks.

It is a beautiful view,--such as can be rarely seen out of
England,--that which the poet had from the window of his bed-chamber.
Underneath, a valley, rich in "Patrician trees," divides the hill of
Highgate from that of Hampstead; the tower of the old church at
Hampstead rises above a thick wood,--a dense forest it seems, although
here and there a graceful villa stands out from among the dark green
drapery that infolds it. It was easy to imagine the poet often
contrasting this scene with that of "Brockan's sov'ran height," where no
"finer influence of friend or child" had greeted him, and exclaiming,--

                "O thou Queen!
    Thou delegated Deity of Earth,
    O dear, dear England!"

And what a wonderful change there is in the scene, when the pilgrim to
this shrine at Highgate leaves the garden and walks a few steps beyond
the elm avenue that still fronts the house!

Forty years have brought houses all about the heath, and shut in the
prospect; but from any ascent you may see regal Windsor on one side and
Gravesend on the other,--twenty miles of view, look which way you will.
But when the poet dwelt there, all London was within ken, a few yards
from his door.

The house has undergone some changes, but the garden is much as it was
when I used to find the poet feeding his birds there: it has the same
wall--moss-covered now--that overhangs the dell; a shady tree-walk
shelters it from sun and rain,--it was the poet's walk at midday; a
venerable climber, the Glycenas, was no doubt planted by the poet's
hand: it was new to England when the poet was old, and what more likely
than that his friends would have bidden him plant it where it has since
flourished forty years or more?

I was fortunate in sharing some of the regard of Mr. and Mrs. Gillman;
after the poet's death, they gave me his inkstand, (a plain inkstand of
wood,) which is before me as I write, and a myrtle on which his eyes
were fixed as he died. It is now an aged and gnarled tree in our

One of the very few letters of Coleridge I have preserved I transcribe,
as it illustrates his goodness of heart and willingness to put himself
to inconvenience for others.

     "DEAR SIR,"--it runs,--"I received some five days ago a letter
     depicting the distress and urgent want of a widow and a sister,
     with whom, during the husband's lifetime, I was for two or
     three years a housemate; and yesterday the poor lady came up
     herself, almost clamorously soliciting me, not, indeed, to
     assist her from my own purse,--for she was previously assured
     that there was nothing therein,--but to exert myself to collect
     the sum of twenty pounds, which would save her from God knows
     what. On this hopeless task,--for perhaps never man whose name
     had been so often in print for praise or reprobation had so few
     intimates as myself,--when I recollected that before I left
     Highgate for the seaside you had been so kind as to intimate
     that you considered some trifle due to me,--whatever it be, it
     will go some way to eke out the sum which I have with a sick
     heart been all this day trotting about to make up, guinea by
     guinea. You will do me a real service, (for my health
     perceptibly sinks under this unaccustomed flurry of my
     spirits,) if you could make it convenient to inclose to me,
     however small the sum may be, if it amount to a bank-note of
     any denomination, directed 'Grove, Highgate,' where I am, and
     expect to be any time for the next eight months. In the mean
     time, believe me

              "Yours obliged,

                "S. T. COLERIDGE.

    "4th December, 1828."

I find also, at the back of one of his manuscripts, the following poem,
which I believe to be unpublished; for I cannot trace it in any edition
of his collected works.


    _Lady._ If _Love_ be dead.

    _Poet._           And I aver it.

    _Lady._ Tell me, Bard, where Love lies buried.

    _Poet._ Love lies buried where 'twas born:
    O gentle Dame, think it no scorn,
    If in my fancy I presume
    To call thy bosom poor Love's tomb,--
    And on that tomb to read the line,
    "Here lies a Love that once seemed mine,
    But caught a cold, as I divine,
    And died at length of a decline!"

I here copy his autograph lines, as he wrote them in Mrs. Hall's album.
They will be found, too, as a note, in the "Biographia Literaria."


    "The butterfly the ancient Grecians made
    The soul's fair emblem, and its only name:
    But of the soul escaped the slavish trade
    Of earthly life! For in this mortal frame
    Ours is the reptile's lot, much toil, much blame,
    Manifold motions, making little speed,
    And to deform and kill the things whereon we feed!

            "S. T. COLERIDGE.

    "30th April, 1830."

All who had the honor of the poet's friendship or acquaintance speak of
the marvellous gift which gave to this illustrious man almost a
character of inspiration. The wonderful eloquence of his conversation
can be comprehended only by those who have heard him speak. It was
sparkling at times, and at times profound; but the melody of his voice,
the impressive solemnity of his manner, the radiant glories of his
intellectual countenance, bore off, as it were, the thoughts of the
listener from his discourse; and it was rarely that he carried away from
the poet any of the gems that fell from his lips.

Montgomery describes the poetry of Coleridge as like electricity,
"flashing at rapid intervals with the utmost intensity of effect,"--and
contrasts it with that of Wordsworth, like galvanism, "not less
powerful, but rather continuous than sudden in its wonderful influence."
But of his poems it is needless for me to speak; some of them are
familiar to all readers of the English tongue throughout the world.
Wilson, in the "Noctes," says, "Wind him up, and away he
goes,--discoursing most excellent music, without a discord, full, ample,
inexhaustible, serious, and divine"; and in another place, "He becomes
inspired by his own silver voice, and pours out wisdom like a sea."
Wordsworth speaks of him "as quite an epicure in sound." The painter
Haydon speaks of his eloquence and "lazy luxury of poetical outpouring";
and Rogers ("Table-Talk") is reported to have said, "One morning,
breakfasting with me, he talked for three hours without intermission, so
admirably that I wish every word he uttered had been written down": but
he does not quote a single sentence of all the poet said;[G] and a
writer in the "Quarterly Review" expresses his belief that "nothing is
too high for the grasp of his conversation, nothing too low: it glanced
from earth to heaven, from heaven to earth, with a speed and a splendor,
an ease and a power, that almost seemed inspired." (Nor did I ever find
him incoherent, as some have pretended; but I agree with De Quincey,
that he had the largest and most spacious intellect, the subtilest and
the most comprehensive that has yet existed among men.) Of Coleridge,
Shelley writes,--

    "All things he seemed to understand,
    Of old or new, at sea or land,
    Save his own soul, which was a mist."

I have listened to him more than once for above an hour, of course
without putting in a single word: I would as soon have bellowed a loose
song while a nightingale was singing. There was rarely much change of
countenance; his face was at that time (it is said from his habit of
opium-eating) overladen with flesh, and its expression impaired; yet to
me it was so tender and gentle and gracious and loving, that I could
have knelt at the old man's feet almost in adoration. My own hair is
white now; yet I have much the same feeling as I had then, whenever the
form of the venerable man rises in memory before me. I cannot recall
now, and I believe could not recall at the time, so as to preserve, as a
cherished thing in my remembrance, a single sentence of the many
sentences I heard him utter; yet in his "Table-Talk" there is a world of
wisdom,--and that is only a collection of scraps, chance-gathered. If
any left his presence unsatisfied, it resulted rather from the
superabundance than the paucity of the feast.[H]

I can recall many evening rambles with him over the high lands that look
down on London; but the memory I cherish most is linked with a crowded
street, where the clumsy and the coarse jostled the old man eloquent, as
if he had been earthly, of the earth. It was in the Strand: he pointed
out to me the window of a room in the office of the "Morning Post,"
where he had consumed much midnight oil; and then for half an hour he
talked of the sorrowful joy he had often felt, when, leaving the office
as day was dawning, he heard the song of a caged lark that sang his
orisons from the lattice of an artisan, who was rising to begin his
labor as the poet was pacing homewards to rest after his work all night.
Thirty years had passed; but that unforgotten melody, that dear bird's
song, gave him then as much true pleasure as when, to his wearied head
and heart, it was the matin hymn of Nature.

I remember once meeting him in Paternoster Row. He was inquiring his way
to Bread Street, Cheapside; and of course I endeavored to explain to
him, that, if he walked straight on for about two hundred yards and took
the fourth turning to the right, it would be the street he wanted. I
perceived him gazing so vague and unenlightened, that I could not help
expressing my surprise, as I looked earnestly at his forehead and saw
the organ of locality unusually prominent above the eyebrows. He took my
meaning, laughed, and said, "I see what you are looking at. Why, at
school my head was beaten into a mass of bumps, because I could not
point out Paris in a map of France." It is said that Spurzheim
pronounced him to be a mathematician, and affirmed that he could not be
a poet. Such opinion the great phrenologist could not have expressed;
for undoubtedly he had a large organ of ideality, although at first it
was not perceptible, in consequence of the great breadth and height of
his profound forehead.

More than once I met there that most remarkable man,--"martyr and
saint," as Mrs. Oliphant styles him, and as perhaps he was,--the Rev.
Edward Irving. The two, he and Coleridge, were singular contrasts,--in
appearance, that is to say, for their minds and souls were in
harmony.[I] The Scotch minister was tall, powerful in frame, and of
great physical vigor, "a gaunt and gigantic figure," his long, black,
curly hair hanging partially over his shoulders. His features were large
and strongly marked; but the expression was grievously marred, like that
of Whitefield, by a squint that deduced much from his "apostolic"
character, and must have operated prejudicially as regarded his mission.
His mouth was exquisitely cut. It might have been a model for a sculptor
who desired to portray strong will combined with generous sympathy. Yet
he looked what he was,--a brave man, a man whom no abuse could humble,
no injuries subdue, no oppression crush. To me he realized the idea of
the Baptist St. John; and I imagine the comparison must have been made

In the pulpit, where, I lament to say, I heard Irving but once, and then
not under the peculiar influences that so often swayed and guided him,
he was undoubtedly an orator, thoroughly earnest in his work, and,
beyond all question, deeply and solemnly impressed with the truths of
the mission to which he was devoted. At times, no doubt, his manner,
action, and appearance bordered on the grotesque; but it was impossible
to listen without being carried away by the intense fervor and fiery
zeal with which he dwelt on the promises or annunciated the threats of
the Prophets, "his predecessors." His vehemence was often startling,
sometimes appalling. Leigh Hunt called him, with much truth, "the
Boanerges of the Temple." He was a soldier, as well as a servant, of the
cross. Few men of his age aroused more bitter or more unjust and
unchristian hostility. He was in advance of his time; perhaps, if he
were living now, he would still be so; for the spirituality of his
nature cannot yet be understood. There were not wanting those who
decried him as a pretender, a hypocrite, and a cheat. Those who knew him
best depose to the honesty of his heart, the depth of his convictions,
the fervor of his faith; and many yet live who will indorse this
eloquent tribute of his biographer:--"To him, mean thoughts and
unbelieving hearts were the only things miraculous and out of Nature";
he "desired to know nothing in heaven or earth, neither comfort nor
peace nor any consolation, but the will and work of the Master he
loved." Irving died comparatively young: there were but forty-two years
between his birth and death. More than thirty years have passed since he
was called from earth; and to this generation the name of Edward Irving
is little more than a sound, "signifying nothing." Yet it was a power in
his day; and the seed he scattered cannot all have fallen among thorns.
His love for Coleridge was devoted, a mingling of admiration, affection,
and respect.

They were made acquainted by a mutual friend, Basil Montagu, who himself
occupied no humble station in intellectual society. His "evenings" were
often rare mental treats. He presented the most refined picture of a
gentleman, tall, slight, courteous, seemingly ever smiling, yet without
an approach to insincerity. He had the esteem of his contemporaries, and
the homage of the finer spirits of his time. They were earned and
merited. Those who knew him knew also his wife. Mrs. Montagu was one of
the most admirable women I have ever known: she was likened to Mrs.
Siddons, and forcibly recalled the portraits of that admirably gifted
woman. Tall and stately, and with evidence, which Time had by no means
obliterated, of great beauty in youth, her expression somewhat severe,
yet gracious in manner and generous in words. She had been the honored
associate of many of the most intellectual men and women of the age; and
not a few of them were her familiar friends.[J]

Whenever it was my privilege to be admitted to the evening meetings at
Highgate, I met some of the men who were then famous, and have since
become parts of the literature of England.

I attended one of the lectures delivered by Coleridge at the Royal
Institution, and I strive to recall him as he stood before his audience.
There was but little animation; his theme did not seem to stir him into
life; even the usual repose of his countenance was rarely broken up; he
used little or no action; and his voice, though mellifluous, was
monotonous: he lacked, indeed, that earnestness without which no man is
truly eloquent.

At the time I speak of, he was growing corpulent and heavy: being seldom
free from pain, he moved apparently with difficulty, yet liked to walk
up and down and about the room as he talked, pausing now and then as if
oppressed by suffering.

I need not say that I was a silent listener during the evenings at
Highgate to which I have referred, when there were present some of those
who now "rule us from their urns"; but I was free to gaze on the
venerable man,--one of the humblest, but one of the most fervid,
perhaps, of the worshippers by whom he was surrounded,--and to treasure
in memory the poet's gracious and loving looks, the "thick, waving,
silver hair," the still, clear, blue eye; and on such occasions I used
to leave him as if I were in a waking dream, trying to recall, here and
there, a sentence of the many weighty and mellifluous sentences I had
heard,--seldom with success,--and feeling at the moment as if I had been
surfeited with honey.

The portrait of Coleridge is best drawn by his friend Wordsworth, and it
sufficiently pictures him:--

    "A noticeable man, with large, gray eyes,
    And a _pale_ face, that seemed undoubtedly
    As if a _blooming_ face it ought to be;
    Heavy his low-hung lip did oft appear,
    Depressed by weight of moving phantasy;
    Profound his forehead was, though not severe."

Wordsworth elsewhere speaks of him as "the brooding poet with the
heavenly eyes," and as, "often too much in love with his own dejection."
The earliest word-portrait we have of him was drawn by Wordsworth's
sister in 1797:--"At first I thought him very plain,--that is, for about
three minutes. He is pale, thin, has a wide mouth, thick lips, longish,
loose-growing, half-curling, rough, black hair. His eye is large and
full, and not dark, but gray;--such an eye as would receive from a heavy
soul the dullest expression, but it speaks every emotion of his animated
mind. He has fine, dark eyebrows, and an overhanging forehead."

This is De Quincey's sketch of him in 1807:--"In height he seemed about
five feet eight inches, in reality he was an inch and a half taller.[K]
His person was broad and full, and tended even to corpulence; his
complexion was fair, though not what painters technically call fair,
because it was associated with black hair; his eyes were soft and large
in their expression, and it was by a peculiar appearance of haze or
dimness which mixed with their light." "A lady of Bristol," writes De
Quincey, "assured me she had not seen a young man so engaging in his
exterior as Coleridge when young, in 1796. He had then a blooming and
healthy complexion, beautiful and luxuriant hair, falling in natural
curls over his shoulders."

Lockhart says,--"Coleridge has a grand head, but very ill-balanced, and
the features of the face are coarse; although, to be sure, nothing can
surpass the depth of meaning in his eyes, and the unutterable dreamy
luxury of his lips."

Hazlitt describes him in early manhood as "with a complexion clear and
even light, a forehead broad and high, as if built of ivory, with large
projecting eyebrows, and his eyes rolling beneath them like a sea with
darkened lustre. His mouth was rather open, his chin good-humored and
round, and his nose small. His hair, black and glossy as the raven's
wing, fell in smooth masses over his forehead,--long, liberal hair,
peculiar to enthusiasts."

Sir Humphry Davy, writing of Coleridge in 1808, says,--"His mind is a
wilderness, in which the cedar and the oak, which might aspire to the
skies, are stunted in their growth by underwood, thorns, briers, and
parasitical plants; with the most exalted genius, enlarged views,
sensitive heart, and enlightened mind, he will be the victim of want of
order, precision, and regularity."

Leigh Hunt speaks of his open, indolent, good-natured mouth, and of his
forehead as "prodigious,--a great piece of placid marble."

Wordsworth again:--

    "Noisy he was, and gamesome as a boy,
    Tossing his limbs about him in delight."

In the autumn of 1833, Emerson, on his second visit to England, called
on Coleridge. He found him "to appearance a short, thick, old man, with
bright blue eyes, and fine clear complexion."

A minute and certainly a true picture is that which Carlyle formed of
him, in words, some years later, and probably not long before his
removal from earth:--"Brow and head were round, and of massive weight,
but the face was flabby and irresolute. The deep eyes, of a light hazel,
were as full of sorrow as of inspiration; confused pain looked mildly
from them, as in a kind of mild astonishment. The whole figure and
air, good and amiable otherwise, might be called flabby and
irresolute,--expressive of weakness under possibility of strength. He
hung loosely on his limbs, with knees bent and stooping attitude; in
walking he rather shuffled than decisively stepped; and a lady once
remarked, he never could fix which side of the garden-walk would suit
him best, but continually shifted in corkscrew fashion, and kept trying
both. A heavy-laden, high-aspiring, and surely much-suffering man. His
voice, naturally soft and good, had contracted itself into a plaintive
snuffle and sing-song; he spoke as if preaching,--you would have said
preaching earnestly, and also hopelessly, the weightiest things."

Such, according to these high authorities, was the outer man
Coleridge,--he who

        "in bewitching words, with happy heart,
    Did chant the vision of that ancient man,
    That bright-eyed mariner."

There are several portraits painted of him. The best would appear to be
that which was made by Allston, at Rome, in 1806. Wordsworth speaks of
it as "the only likeness of the great original that ever gave me the
least pleasure." That by Northcote strongly recalls him to my
remembrance: the dreamy eyes; the full, round, yet pale face,--

              "that seemed undoubtedly
    As if a blooming face it ought to be";

the pleasant mouth; the "low-hung" lip; the broad and lofty forehead,--

    "Profound, though not severe."

In his later days he took snuff largely, "Whatever he may have been in
youth," writes Mr. Gillman, "in manhood he was scrupulously clean in his
person, and especially took great care of his hands by frequent

Although in his youth and earlier manhood Coleridge had been

                    "through life
    Chasing chance-started friendships,"

not long before his death he is described as "thankful for the deep,
calm peace of mind he then enjoyed,--a peace such as he had never before
experienced, nor scarcely hoped for." All things were then looked at by
him through an atmosphere by which all were reconciled and harmonized.

It is true, he did but little of the promised and purposed much. His
friend, Justice Talfourd, while testifying to the benignity of his
nature, describes his life as "one splendid and sad prospectus,"--and,
according to Wordsworth, "his mental power was frozen at its marvellous
source";[L] yet what a world of wealth he has bequeathed to us, although
the whole produce of his pen, in poetry, is compressed within one single
small volume!

Thus writes Talfourd, in his "Memorials of Charles Lamb":--"After a long
and painful illness, borne with heroic patience, which concealed the
intensity of his sufferings from the by-standers, Coleridge died,"--if
that can be called death which removes the soul from its impediment of
clay, extends immeasurably its sphere of usefulness, and perpetuates the
power to benefit mankind so long as earth endures.

Within a few months past I again drove to Highgate, and visited the
house in which the poet passed so many happy years of calm contentment
and seraphic peace,--again repeated those lines which, next to his
higher faith, were the faith by which his life was ruled and guided:--

    "He prayeth best who loveth best
      All things both great and small;
    For the dear God who loveth us,
      He made and loveth all!"

His remains lie in a vault in the graveyard of the old church at
Highgate. He was a stranger in the parish where he died, notwithstanding
his long residence there, and was therefore interred alone; not long
afterwards, however, the vault was built to receive the body of his
wife: there they rest together. It is inclosed by a thick iron grating,
and the interior is lined with white marble. When I visited the tomb in
1864, one of the marble slabs had accidentally given way, and the coffin
was partially exposed. I laid my hand upon it in solemn reverence, and
gratefully recalled to memory him who, in his own emphatic words, had

    "Here found life in death."


[D] De Quincey more than insinuates that, instead of Gillman persuading
Coleridge to relinquish opium, Coleridge seduced Gillman into taking it.

[E] Gillman published but one volume of a Life of Coleridge. The volume
he gave me contains his corrections for another edition. De Quincey says
of it that "it is a thing deader than a door-nail,--which is waiting
vainly, and for thousands of years is doomed to wait, for its sister
volume, namely, Volume Second." It must be ever regretted, that of the
poet's later life, of which he knew so much, he wrote nothing; but the
world was justified in expecting in the details of his earlier
pilgrimage something which it did not get.

[F] Mrs. Gillman gave me also the following sonnet. I believe it never
to have been published; but although she requested I "would not have
copies of it made to give away," I presume the prohibition cannot now be
binding, after a lapse of thirty years since I received it. The poet, he
who wrote the sonnet, and the admirable woman to whom it was addressed,
have long since met.


    "And thou art gone, most loved, most honored friend!
    No, never more thy gentle voice shall blend
    With air of Earth its pure, ideal tones,--
    Binding in one, as with harmonious zones,
    The heart and intellect. And I no more
    Shall with thee gaze on that unfathomed deep,
    The Human Soul: as when, pushed off the shore,
    Thy mystic bark would through the darkness sweep,
    Itself the while so bright! For oft we seemed
    As on some starless sea,--all dark above,
    All dark below,--yet, onward as we drove,
    To plough up light that ever round us streamed
    But he who mourns is not as one bereft
    Of all he loved: thy living Truths are left.


    "_Cambridge Port, Massachusetts, America._

"For my _still_ dear friend, Mrs. Gillman, of the Grove, Highgate."

[G] Madame de Staël is reported to have said that Coleridge was "rich in
a monologue, but poor in a dialogue."

[H] It may not be forgotten that the Rev. Edward Irving, in dedicating
to Coleridge one of his books, acknowledges obligations to the venerable
sage for many valuable teachings, "as a spiritual man and as a Christian
pastor": lessons derived from his "_conversations_" concerning the
revelations of the Christian faith,--"helps in the way of truth,"--"from
listening to his discourses." Coleridge has said, "he never found the
smallest hitch or impediment in the fullest utterance of his most
subtile fancies by word of mouth."

[I] Their friendship lasted for years, and was full of kindness on the
part of the philosopher, and of reverential respect on that of Irving,
who, following the natural instinct of his own ingenuous nature, changed
in an instant in such a presence from the orator, who, speaking in God's
name, assumed a certain austere pomp of position,--more like an
authoritative priest than a simple presbyter,--into the simple and
candid listener, more ready to learn than he was to teach.

[J] "Barry Cornwall" is the husband of her daughter by a prior marriage;
and Adelaide Procter, during her brief life, made a name that will live
with the best poets of our day.

[K] De Quincey elsewhere states his height to be five feet ten,--exactly
the height of Wordsworth: both having been measured in the studio of

[L] Very early in his life, Lord Egmont said of him, "he talks very much
like an angel, and does nothing at all." De Quincey speaks of his
indolence as "inconceivable;" and Joseph Cottle relates some amusing
instances of his forgetfulness, even of the hour at which he had
arranged to deliver a lecture to an assembled audience.




"Papa, what are you going to give us this winter for our evening
readings?" said Jennie.

"I am thinking, for one thing," I replied, "of preaching a course of
household sermons from a very odd text prefixed to a discourse which I
found at the bottom of the pamphlet-barrel in the garret."

"Don't say sermon, papa,--it has such a dreadful sound; and on winter
evenings one wants something entertaining."

"Well, treatise, then," said I, "or discourse, or essay, or prelection;
I'm not particular as to words."

"But what is the queer text that you found at the bottom of the

"It was one preached upon by your mother's great-great-grandfather, the
very savory and much-respected Simeon Shuttleworth, 'on the occasion of
the melancholy defections and divisions among the godly in the town of
West Dofield'; and it runs thus,--'_Take us the foxes, the little foxes,
that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes._'"

"It's a curious text enough; but I can't imagine what you are going to
make of it."

"Simply an essay on Little Foxes," said I; "by which I mean those
unsuspected, unwatched, insignificant _little_ causes that nibble away
domestic happiness, and make home less than so noble an institution
should be. You may build beautiful, convenient, attractive houses,--you
may hang the walls with lovely pictures and stud them with gems of Art;
and there may be living there together persons bound by blood and
affection in one common interest, leading a life common to themselves
and apart from others; and these persons may each one of them be
possessed of good and noble traits; there may be a common basis of
affection, of generosity, of good principle, of religion; and yet,
through the influence of some of these perverse, nibbling, insignificant
little foxes, half the clusters of happiness on these so promising vines
may fail to come to maturity. A little community of people, all of whom
would be willing to die for each other, may not be able to live happily
together; that is, they may have far less happiness than their
circumstances, their fine and excellent traits, entitle them to expect.

"The reason for this in general is that home is a place not only of
strong affections, but of entire unreserves; it is life's undress
rehearsal, its back-room, its dressing-room, from which we go forth to
more careful and guarded intercourse, leaving behind us much _débris_ of
cast-off and every-day clothing. Hence has arisen the common proverb,
'No man is a hero to his _valet-de-chambre_'; and the common warning,
'If you wish to keep your friend, don't go and live with him.'"

"Which is only another way of saying," said my wife, "that we are all
human and imperfect; and the nearer you get to any human being, the more
defects you see. The characters that can stand the test of daily
intimacy are about as numerous as four-leaved clovers in a meadow; in
general, those who do not annoy you with positive faults bore you with
their insipidity.' The evenness and beauty of a strong, well-defined
nature, perfectly governed and balanced, is about the last thing one is
likely to meet with in one's researches into life."

"But what I have to say," replied I, "is this,--that, family-life being
a state of unreserve, a state in which there are few of those barriers
and veils that keep people in the world from seeing each other's defects
and mutually jarring and grating upon each other, it is remarkable that
it is entered upon and maintained generally with less reflection, less
care and forethought, than pertain to most kinds of business which men
and women set their hands to. A man does not undertake to run an engine
or manage a piece of machinery without some careful examination of its
parts and capabilities, and some inquiry whether he have the necessary
knowledge, skill, and strength to make it do itself and him justice. A
man does not try to play on the violin without seeing if his fingers are
long and flexible enough to bring out the harmonies and raise his
performance above the grade of dismal scraping to that of divine music.
What should we think of a man who should set a whole orchestra of
instruments upon playing together without the least provision or
forethought as to their chording, and then howl and tear his hair at the
result? It is not the fault of the instruments that they grate harsh
thunders together; they may each be noble and of celestial temper; but
united without regard to their nature, dire confusion is the result.
Still worse were it, if a man were supposed so stupid as to expect of
each instrument a _rôle_ opposed to its nature,--if he asked of the
octave-flute a bass solo, and condemned the trombone because it could
not do the work of the many-voiced violin.

"Yet just so carelessly is the work of forming a family often performed.
A man and woman come together from some affinity, some partial accord of
their nature which has inspired mutual affection. There is generally
very little careful consideration of who and what they are,--no thought
of the reciprocal influence of mutual traits,--no previous chording and
testing of the instruments which are to make lifelong harmony or
discord,--and after a short period of engagement, in which all their
mutual relations are made as opposite as possible to those which must
follow marriage, these two furnish their house and begin life together.
Ten to one, the domestic roof is supposed at once the proper refuge for
relations and friends on both sides, who also are introduced into the
interior concert without any special consideration of what is likely to
be the operation of character on character, the play of instrument with
instrument; then follow children, each of whom is a separate entity, a
separate will, a separate force in the family; and thus, with the lesser
forces of servants and dependants, a family is made up. And there is no
wonder if all these chance-assorted instruments, playing together,
sometimes make quite as much discord, as harmony. For if the husband and
wife chord, the wife's sister or husband's mother may introduce a
discord; and then again, each child of marked character introduces
another possibility of confusion. The conservative forces of human
nature are so strong and so various, that with all these drawbacks the
family state is after all the best and purest happiness that earth
affords. But then, with cultivation and care, it might be a great deal
happier. Very fair pears have been raised by dropping a seed into a
good soil and letting it alone for years; but finer and choicer are
raised by the watchings, tendings, prunings of the gardener. Wild
grape-vines bore very fine grapes, and an abundance of them, before our
friend Dr. Grant took up his abode at Iona, and, studying the laws of
Nature, conjured up new species of rarer fruit and flavor out of the
old. And so, if all the little foxes that infest our domestic vine and
fig-tree were once hunted out and killed, we might have fairer clusters
and fruit all winter."

"But, papa," said Jennie, "to come to the foxes; let's know what they

"Well, as the text says, _little_ foxes, the pet foxes of good people,
unsuspected little animals,--on the whole, often thought to be really
creditable little beasts, that may do good, and at all events cannot do
much harm. And as I have taken to the Puritanic order in my discourse, I
shall set them in sevens, as Noah did his clean beasts in the ark. Now
my seven little foxes are these:--Fault-finding, Intolerance, Reticence,
Irritability; Exactingness, Discourtesy, Self-Will. And here," turning
to my sermon, "is what I have to say about the first of them."

       *       *       *       *       *

Fault-finding,--a most respectable little animal, that many people let
run freely among their domestic vines, under the notion that he helps
the growth of the grapes, and is the principal means of keeping them in

Now it may safely be set down as a maxim, that nobody likes to be found
fault with, but everybody likes to find fault when things do not suit

Let my courteous reader ask him- or herself if he or she does not
experience a relief and pleasure in finding fault with or about whatever
troubles them.

This appears at first sight an anomaly in the provisions of Nature.
Generally we are so constituted that what it is a pleasure to us to do
it is a pleasure to our neighbor to have us do. It is a pleasure to
give, and a pleasure to receive. It is a pleasure to love, and a
pleasure to be loved; a pleasure to admire, a pleasure to be admired. It
is a pleasure also to find fault, but _not_ a pleasure to be found fault
with. Furthermore, those people whose sensitiveness of temperament leads
them to find the most fault are precisely those who can least bear to be
found fault with; they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and
lay them on other men's shoulders, but they themselves cannot bear the
weight of a finger.

Now the difficulty in the case is this: There are things in life that
need to be altered; and that things may be altered, they must be spoken
of to the people whose business it is to make the change. This opens
wide the door of fault-finding to well-disposed people, and gives them
latitude of conscience to impose on their fellows all the annoyances
which they themselves feel. The father and mother of a family are
fault-finders, _ex officio_; and to them flows back the tide of every
separate individual's complaints in the domestic circle, till often the
whole air of the house is chilled and darkened by a drizzling Scotch
mist of querulousness. Very bad are these mists for grape-vines, and
produce mildew in many a fair cluster.

Enthusius falls in love with Hermione, because she looks like a
moonbeam,--because she is ethereal as a summer cloud, _spirituelle_. He
commences forthwith the perpetual adoration system that precedes
marriage. He assures her that she is too good for this world, too
delicate and fair for any of the uses of poor mortality,--that she ought
to tread on roses, sleep on the clouds,--that she ought never to shed a
tear, know a fatigue, or make an exertion, but live apart in some
bright, ethereal sphere worthy of her charms. All which is duly chanted
in her ear in moonlight walks or sails, and so often repeated that a
sensible girl may be excused for believing that a little of it may be

Now comes marriage,--and it turns out that Enthusius is very particular
as to his coffee, that he is excessively disturbed, if his meals are at
all irregular, and that he cannot be comfortable with any table
arrangements which do not resemble those of his notable mother, lately
deceased in the odor of sanctity; he also wants his house in perfect
order at all hours. Still he does not propose to provide a trained
housekeeper; it is all to be effected by means of certain raw Irish
girls, under the superintendence of this angel who was to tread on
roses, sleep on clouds, and never know an earthly care. Neither has
Enthusius ever considered it a part of a husband's duty to bear personal
inconveniences in silence. He would freely shed his blood for
Hermione,--nay, has often frantically proposed the same in the hours of
courtship, when of course nobody wanted it done, and it could answer no
manner of use; and thus to the idyllic dialogues of that period succeed
such as these:--

"My dear, this tea is smoked: can't you get Jane into the way of making
it better?"

"My dear, I have tried; but she will not do as I tell her."

"Well, all I know is, other people can have good tea, and I should think
we might."

And again at dinner:--

"My dear, this mutton is overdone again; it is _always_ overdone."

"Not always, dear, because you recollect on Monday you said it was just

"Well, _almost_ always."

"Well, my dear, the reason to-day was, I had company in the parlor, and
could not go out to caution Bridget, as I generally do. It's very
difficult to get things done with such a girl."

"My mother's things were always well done, no matter what her girl was."

Again: "My dear, you must speak to the servants about wasting the coal.
I never saw such a consumption of fuel in a family of our size"; or, "My
dear, how can you let Maggie tear the morning paper?" or, "My dear, I
shall actually have to give up coming to dinner, if my dinners cannot be
regular"; or, "My dear, I wish you would look at the way my shirts are
ironed,--it is perfectly scandalous"; or, "My dear, you must not let
Johnnie finger the mirror in the parlor"; or, "My dear, you must stop
the children from playing in the garret"; or, "My dear, you must see
that Maggie doesn't leave the mat out on the railing when she sweeps the
front hall"; and so on, up-stairs and down-stairs, in the lady's
chamber, in attic, garret, and cellar, "my dear" is to see that nothing
goes wrong, and she is found fault with when anything does.

Yet Enthusius, when occasionally he finds his sometime angel in tears,
and she tells him he does not love her as he once did, repudiates the
charge with all his heart, and declares he loves her more than
ever,--and perhaps he does. The only thing is that she has passed out of
the plane of moonshine and poetry into that of actualities. While she
was considered an angel, a star, a bird, an evening cloud, of course
there was nothing to be found fault with in her; but now that the angel
has become chief business-partner in an earthly working firm, relations
are different. Enthusius could say the same things over again under the
same circumstances, but unfortunately now they never are in the same
circumstances. Enthusius is simply a man who is in the habit of speaking
from impulse, and saying a thing merely and only because he feels it.
Before marriage he worshipped and adored his wife as an ideal being
dwelling in the land of dreams and poetries, and did his very best to
make her unpractical and unfitted to enjoy the life to which he was to
introduce her after marriage. After marriage he still yields
unreflectingly to present impulses, which are no longer to praise, but
to criticize and condemn. The very sensibility to beauty and love of
elegance, which made him admire her before marriage, now transferred to
the arrangement of the domestic _ménage_, lead him daily to perceive a
hundred defects and find a hundred annoyances.

Thus far we suppose an amiable, submissive wife, who is only grieved,
not provoked,--who has no sense of injustice, and meekly strives to make
good the hard conditions of her lot. Such poor, little, faded women have
we seen, looking for all the world like plants that have been nursed and
forced into bloom in the steam-heat of the conservatory, and are now
sickly and yellow, dropping leaf by leaf, in the dry, dusty parlor.

But there is another side of the picture,--where the wife, provoked and
indignant, takes up the fault-finding trade in return, and with the keen
arrows of her woman's wit searches and penetrates every joint of the
husband's armor, showing herself full as unjust and far more culpable in
this sort of conflict.

Saddest of all sad things is it to see two once very dear friends
employing all that peculiar knowledge of each other which love had given
them only to harass and provoke,--thrusting and piercing with a
certainty of aim that only past habits of confidence and affection could
have put in their power, wounding their own hearts with every deadly
thrust they make at one another, and all for such inexpressibly
miserable trifles as usually form the openings of fault-finding dramas.

For the contentions that loosen the very foundations of love, that
crumble away all its fine traceries and carved work, about what
miserable, worthless things do they commonly begin!--a dinner underdone,
too much oil consumed, a newspaper torn, a waste of coal or soap, a dish
broken!--and for this miserable sort of trash, very good, very generous,
very religious people will sometimes waste and throw away by
double-handfuls the very thing for which houses are built, and coal
burned, and all the paraphernalia of a home established,--_their
happiness_. Better cold coffee, smoky tea, burnt meat, better any
inconvenience, any loss, than a loss of _love_; and nothing so surely
burns away love as constant fault-finding.

For fault-finding once allowed as a habit between two near and dear
friends comes in time to establish a chronic soreness, so that the
mildest, the most reasonable suggestion, the gentlest implied reproof,
occasions burning irritation; and when this morbid stage has once set
in, the restoration of love seems wellnigh impossible.

For example: Enthusius, having got up this morning in the best of
humors, in the most playful tones begs Hermione not to make the tails of
her _g_s quite so long; and Hermione fires up with--

"And, pray, what else wouldn't you wish me to do? Perhaps you would be
so good, when you have leisure, as to make out an alphabetical list of
the things in me that need correcting."

"My dear, you are unreasonable."

"I don't think so. I should like to get to the end of the requirements
of my lord and master sometimes."

"Now, my dear, you really are very silly."

"Please say something original, my dear. I have heard that till it has
lost the charm of novelty."

"Come now, Hermione, don't let's quarrel."

"My dear Sir, who thinks of quarrelling? Not I; I'm sure I was only
asking to be directed. I trust some time, if I live to be ninety, to
suit your fastidious taste. I trust the coffee is right this morning,
_and_ the tea, _and_ the toast, _and_ the steak, _and_ the servants,
_and_ the front-hall mat, _and_ the upper-story hall-door, _and_ the
basement premises; and now I suppose I am to be trained in respect to my
general education. I shall set about the tails of my _g_s at once, but
trust you will prepare a list of any other little things that need

Enthusius pushes away his coffee, and drums on the table.

"If I might be allowed one small criticism, my dear, I should observe
that it is not good manners to drum on the table," said his fair

"Hermione, you are enough to drive a man frantic!" exclaims Enthusius,
rushing out with bitterness in his soul, and a determination to take his
dinner at Delmonico's.

Enthusius feels himself an abused man, and thinks there never was such a
sprite of a woman,--the most utterly unreasonable, provoking human being
he ever met with. What he does not think of is, that it is his own
inconsiderate, constant fault-finding that has made every nerve so
sensitive and sore, that the mildest suggestion of advice or reproof on
the most indifferent subject is impossible. He has not, to be sure, been
the guilty partner in this morning's encounter; he has said only what is
fair and proper, and she has been unreasonable and cross; but, after
all, the fault is remotely his.

When Enthusius awoke, after marriage, to find in his Hermione in very
deed only a bird, a star, a flower, but no housekeeper, why did he not
face the matter like an honest man? Why did he not remember all the fine
things about dependence and uselessness with which he had been filling
her head for a year or two, and in common honesty exact no more from her
than he had bargained for? Can a bird make a good business-manager? Can
a flower oversee Biddy and Mike, and impart to their uncircumcised ears
the high crafts and mysteries of elegant housekeeping?

If his little wife has to learn her domestic _rôle_ of household duty,
as most girls do, by a thousand mortifications, a thousand perplexities,
a thousand failures, let him, in ordinary fairness, make it as easy to
her as possible. Let him remember with what admiring smiles, before
marriage, he received her pretty professions of utter helplessness and
incapacity in domestic matters, finding only poetry and grace in what,
after marriage, proved an annoyance.

And if a man finds that he has a wife ill adapted to wifely duties, does
it follow that the best thing he can do is to blurt out, without form or
ceremony, all the criticisms and corrections which may occur to him in
the many details of household life? He would not dare to speak with as
little preface, apology, or circumlocution, to his business-manager, to
his butcher, or his baker. When Enthusius was a bachelor, he never
criticized the table at his boarding-house without some reflection, and
studying to take unto himself acceptable words whereby to soften the
asperity of the criticism. The laws of society require that a man should
qualify, soften, and wisely time his admonitions to those he meets in
the outer world, or they will turn again and rend him. But to his own
wife, in his own house and home, he can find fault without ceremony or
softening. So he can; and he can awake, in the course of a year or two,
to find his wife a changed woman, and his home unendurable. He may find,
too, that unceremonious fault-finding is a game that two can play at,
and that a woman can shoot her arrows with far more precision and skill
than a man.

But the fault lies not always on the side of the husband. Quite as often
is a devoted, patient, good-tempered man harassed and hunted and baited
by the inconsiderate fault-finding of a wife whose principal talent
seems to lie in the ability at first glance to discover and make
manifest the weak point in everything.

We have seen the most generous, the most warm-hearted and obliging of
mortals, under this sort of training, made the most morose and
disobliging of husbands. Sure to be found fault with, whatever they do,
they have at last ceased doing. The disappointment of not pleasing they
have abated by not trying to please.

We once knew a man who married a spoiled beauty, whose murmurs,
exactions, and caprices were infinite. He had at last, as a refuge to
his wearied nerves, settled down into a habit of utter disregard and
neglect; he treated her wishes and her complaints with equal
indifference, and went on with his life as nearly as possible as if she
did not exist. He silently provided for her what he thought proper,
without troubling himself to notice her requests or listen to her
grievances. Sickness came, but the heart of her husband was cold and
gone; there was no sympathy left to warm her. Death came, and he
breathed freely as a man released. He married again,--a woman with no
beauty, but much love and goodness,--a woman who asked little, blamed
seldom, and then with all the tact and address which the utmost
thoughtfulness could devise; and the passive, negligent husband became
the attentive, devoted slave of her will. He was in her hands as clay in
the hands of the potter; the least breath or suggestion of criticism
from her lips, who criticized so little and so thoughtfully, weighed
more with him than many outspoken words. So different is the same human
being, according to the touch of the hand which plays upon him!

I have spoken hitherto of fault-finding as between husband and wife: its
consequences are even worse as respects children. The habit once
suffered to grow up between the two that constitute the head of the
family descends and runs through all the branches. Children are more
hurt by indiscriminate, thoughtless fault-finding than by any other one
thing. Often a child has all the sensitiveness and all the
susceptibility of a grown person, added to the faults of childhood.
Nothing about him is right as yet; he is immature and faulty at all
points, and everybody feels at perfect liberty to criticize him to right
and left, above, below, and around, till he takes refuge either in
callous hardness or irritable moroseness.

A bright, noisy boy rushes in from school, eager to tell his mother
something he has on his heart, and Number One cries out,--

"Oh, you've left the door open! I do wish you wouldn't always leave the
door open! And do look at the mud on your shoes! How many times must I
tell you to wipe your feet?"

"Now there you've thrown your cap on the sofa again. When will you learn
to hang it up?"

"Don't put your slate there; that isn't the place for it."

"How dirty your hands are! what have you been doing?"

"Don't sit in that chair; you break the springs, jouncing."

"Mercy! how your hair looks! Do go up-stairs and comb it."

"There, if you haven't torn the braid all off your coat! Dear me, what a

"Don't speak so loud; your voice goes through my head."

"I want to know, Jim, if it was you that broke up that barrel that I
have been saving for brown flour."

"I believe it was you, Jim, that hacked the edge of my razor."

"Jim's been writing at my desk, and blotted three sheets of the best

Now the question is, if any of the grown people of the family had to run
the gantlet of a string of criticisms on themselves equally true as
those that salute unlucky Jim, would they be any better-natured about it
than he is?

No; but they are grown-up people; they have rights that others are bound
to respect. Everybody cannot tell them exactly what he thinks about
everything they do. If every one could and did, would there not be
terrible reactions?

Servants in general are only grown-up children, and the same
considerations apply to them. A raw, untrained Irish girl introduced
into an elegant house has her head bewildered in every direction. There
are the gas-pipes, the water-pipes, the whole paraphernalia of elegant
and delicate conveniences, about which a thousand little details are to
be learned, the neglect of any one of which may flood the house, or
poison it with foul air, or bring innumerable inconveniences. The
setting of a genteel table and the waiting upon it involve fifty
possibilities of mistake, each one of which will grate on the nerves of
a whole family. There is no wonder, then, that the occasions of
fault-finding in families are so constant and harassing; and there is no
wonder that mistress and maid often meet each other on the terms of the
bear and the man who fell together fifty feet down from the limb of a
high tree, and lay at the bottom of it, looking each other in the face
in helpless, growling despair. The mistress is rasped, irritated,
despairing, and with good reason: the maid is the same, and with equally
good reason. Yet let the mistress be suddenly introduced into a
printing-office, and required, with what little teaching could be given
her in a few rapid directions, to set up the editorial of a morning
paper, and it is probable she would be as stupid and bewildered as Biddy
in her beautifully arranged house.

There are elegant houses which, from causes like these, are ever vexed
like the troubled sea that cannot rest. Literally, their table has
become a snare before them, and that which should have been for their
welfare a trap. Their gas and their water and their fire and their
elegancies and ornaments, all in unskilled, blundering hands, seem only
so many guns in the hands of Satan, through which he fires at their
Christian graces day and night,--so that, if their house is kept in
order, their temper and religion are not.

I am speaking now to the consciousness of thousands of women who are in
will and purpose real saints. Their souls go up to heaven--its love, its
purity, its rest--with every hymn and prayer and sacrament in church;
and they come home to be mortified, disgraced, and made to despise
themselves, for the unlovely tempers, the hasty words, the cross looks,
the universal nervous irritability, that result from this constant
jarring of finely toned chords under unskilled hands.

Talk of hair-cloth shirts, and scourgings, and sleeping on ashes, as
means of saintship! there is no need of them in our country. Let a woman
once look at her domestic trials as her hair-cloth, her ashes, her
scourges,--accept them,--rejoice in them,--smile and be quiet, silent,
patient, and loving under them,--and the convent can teach her no more;
she is a victorious saint.

When the damper of the furnace is turned the wrong way by Paddy, after
the five hundredth time of explanation, and the whole family awakes
coughing, sneezing, strangling,--when the gas is blown out in the
nursery by Biddy, who has been instructed every day for weeks in the
danger of such a proceeding,--when the tumblers on the dinner-table are
found dim and streaked, after weeks of training in the simple business
of washing and wiping,--when the ivory-handled knives and forks are left
soaking in hot dish-water, after incessant explanations of the
consequences,--when four or five half-civilized beings, above, below,
and all over the house, are constantly forgetting the most important
things at the very moment it is most necessary they should remember
them,--there is no hope for the mistress morally, unless she can in very
deed and truth accept her trials religiously, and conquer by accepting.
It is not apostles alone who can take pleasure in necessities and
distresses, but mothers and housewives also, if they would learn of the
Apostle, might say, "When I am weak, then am I strong."

The burden ceases to gall when we have learned how to carry it. We can
suffer patiently, if we see any good come of it, and say, as an old
black woman of our acquaintance did of an event that crossed her
purpose, "Well, Lord, if it's _you_, send it along."

But that this may be done, that home-life, in our unsettled, changing
state of society, may become peaceful and restful, there is one
Christian grace, much treated of by mystic writers, that must return to
its honor in the Christian Church. I mean--THE GRACE OF SILENCE.

No words can express, no tongue can tell, the value of NOT SPEAKING.
"Speech is silvern, but silence is golden," is an old and very precious

"But," say many voices, "what is to become of us, if we may not speak?
Must we not correct our children and our servants and each other? Must
we let people go on doing wrong to the end of the chapter?"

No; fault must be found; faults must be told, errors corrected. Reproof
and admonition are duties of householders to their families, and of all
true friends to one another.

But, gentle reader, let us look over life, our own lives and the lives
of others, and ask, How much of the fault-finding which prevails has the
least tendency to do any good? How much of it is well-timed,
well-pointed, deliberate, and just, so spoken as to be effective?

"A wise reprover upon an obedient ear" is one of the _rare_ things
spoken of by Solomon,--the rarest, perhaps, to be met with. How many
really religious people put any of their religion into their manner of
performing this most difficult office? We find fault with a stove or
furnace which creates heat only to go up chimney and not warm the house.
We say it is wasteful. Just so wasteful often seem prayer-meetings,
church-services, and sacraments; they create and excite lovely, gentle,
holy feelings,--but, if these do not pass out into the atmosphere of
daily life, and warm and clear the air of our homes, there is a great
waste in our religion.

We have been on our knees, confessing humbly that we are as awkward in
heavenly things, as unfit for the Heavenly Jerusalem, as Biddy and Mike,
and the little beggar-girl on our door-steps, are for our parlors. We
have deplored our errors daily, hourly, and confessed that "the
remembrance of them is grievous unto us, the burden of them is
intolerable," and then we draw near in the sacrament to that Incarnate
Divinity whose infinite love covers all our imperfections with the
mantle of His perfections. But when we return, do we take our servants
and children by the throat because they are as untrained and awkward and
careless in earthly things as we have been in heavenly? Does no
remembrance of Christ's infinite patience temper our impatience, when we
have spoken seventy times seven, and our words have been disregarded?
There is no mistake as to the sincerity of the religion which the church
excites. What we want is to have it _used_ in common life, instead of
going up like hot air in a fireplace to lose itself in the infinite
abysses above.

In reproving and fault-finding, we have beautiful examples in Holy Writ.
When Saint Paul has a reproof to administer to delinquent Christians,
how does he temper it with gentleness and praise! how does he first make
honorable note of all the good there is to be spoken of! how does he
give assurance of his prayers and love!--and when at last the arrow
flies, it goes all the straighter to the mark for this carefulness.

But there was a greater, a purer, a lovelier than Paul, who made His
home on earth with twelve plain men, ignorant, prejudiced, slow to
learn,--and who to the very day of His death were still contending on a
point which He had repeatedly explained, and troubling His last earthly
hours with the old contest, "Who should be greatest." When all else
failed, on His knees before them as their servant, tenderly performing
for love the office of a slave, he said, "If I, your Lord and Master,
have washed your feet, ye also ought to wash one another's feet."

When parents, employers, and masters learn to reprove in this spirit,
reproofs will be more effective than they now are. It was by the
exercise of this spirit that Fénelon transformed the proud, petulant,
irritable, selfish Duke of Burgundy, making him humble, gentle, tolerant
of others, and severe only to himself: it was he who had for his motto,
that "Perfection alone can bear with imperfection."

But apart from the fault-finding which has a definite aim, how much is
there that does not profess or intend or try to do anything more than
give vent to an irritated state of feeling! The nettle stings us, and we
toss it with both hands at our neighbor; the fire burns us, and we throw
coals and hot ashes at all and sundry of those about us.

There is _fretfulness_, a mizzling, drizzling rain of discomforting
remark; there is _grumbling_, a northeast storm that never clears; there
is _scolding_, the thunderstorm with lightning and hail. All these are
worse than useless; they are positive _sins_, by whomsoever
indulged,--sins as great and real as many that are shuddered at in
polite society.

All these are for the most part but the venting on our fellow-beings of
morbid feelings resulting from dyspepsia, overtaxed nerves, or general
ill health.

A minister eats too much mince-pie, goes to his weekly lecture, and,
seeing only half a dozen people there, proceeds to grumble at those
half-dozen for the sins of such as stay away. "The Church is cold, there
is no interest in religion," and so on: a simple outpouring of the

You and I do in one week the work we ought to do in six; we overtax
nerve and brain, and then have weeks of darkness in which everything at
home seems running to destruction. The servants never were so careless,
the children never so noisy, the house never so disorderly, the State
never so ill-governed, the Church evidently going over to Antichrist.
The only thing, after all, in which the existing condition of affairs
differs from that of a week ago is, that we have used up our nervous
energy, and are looking at the world through blue spectacles. We ought
to resist the devil of fault-finding at this point, and cultivate
silence as a grace till our nerves are rested. There are times when no
one should trust himself to judge his neighbors, or reprove his children
and servants, or find fault with his friends,--for he is so sharp-set
that he cannot strike a note without striking too hard. Then is the time
to try the grace of silence, and, what is better than silence, the power
of prayer.

But it being premised that we are _never_ to fret, never to grumble,
never to scold, and yet it being our duty in some way to make known and
get rectified the faults of others, it remains to ask how; and on this
head we will improvise a parable of two women.

Mrs. Standfast is a woman of high tone, and possessed of a power of
moral principle that impresses one even as sublime. All her perceptions
of right and wrong are clear, exact, and minute; she is charitable to
the poor, kind to the sick and suffering, and devoutly and earnestly
religious. In all the minutiæ of woman's life she manifests an
inconceivable precision and perfection. Everything she does is perfectly
done. She is true to all her promises to the very letter, and so
punctual that railroad time might be kept by her instead of a

Yet, with all these excellent traits, Mrs. Standfast has not the faculty
of making a happy home. She is that most hopeless of fault-finders,--a
fault-finder from principle. She has a high, correct standard for
everything in the world, from the regulation of the thoughts down to the
spreading of a sheet or the hemming of a towel; and to this exact
standard she feels it her duty to bring every one in her household. She
does not often scold, she is not actually fretful, but she exercises
over her household a calm, inflexible severity, rebuking every fault;
she overlooks nothing, she excuses nothing, she will accept of nothing
in any part of her domain but absolute perfection; and her reproofs are
aimed with a true and steady point, and sent with a force that makes
them felt by the most obdurate.

Hence, though she is rarely seen out of temper, and seldom or never
scolds, yet she drives every one around her to despair by the use of the
calmest and most elegant English. Her servants fear, but do not love
her. Her husband, an impulsive, generous man, somewhat inconsiderate and
careless in his habits, is at times perfectly desperate under the
accumulated load of her disapprobation. Her children regard her as
inhabiting some high, distant, unapproachable mountain-top of goodness,
whence she is always looking down with reproving eyes on naughty boys
and girls. They wonder how it is that so excellent a mamma should have
children who, let them try to be good as hard as they can, are always
sure to do something dreadful every day.

The trouble with Mrs. Standfast is, not that she has a high standard,
and not that she purposes and means to bring every one up to it, but
that she does not take the right way. She has set it down that to blame
a wrong-doer is the only way to cure wrong. She has never learned that
it is as much her duty to praise as to blame, and that people are drawn
to do right by being praised when they do it, rather than driven by
being blamed when they do not.

Right across the way from Mrs. Standfast is Mrs. Easy, a pretty little
creature, with not a tithe of her moral worth,--a merry, pleasure-loving
woman, of no particular force of principle, whose great object in life
is to avoid its disagreeables and to secure its pleasures.

Little Mrs. Easy is adored by her husband, her children, her servants,
merely because it is her nature to say pleasant things to every one. It
is a mere tact of pleasing, which she uses without knowing it. While
Mrs. Standfast, surveying her well-set dining-table, runs her keen eye
over everything, and at last brings up with, "Jane, look at that black
spot on the salt-spoon! I am astonished at your carelessness!"--Mrs.
Easy would say, "Why, Jane, where _did_ you learn to set a table so
nicely? All looking beautifully, except--ah! let's see--just give a rub
to this salt-spoon;--now all is quite perfect." Mrs. Standfast's
servants and children hear only of their failures; these are always
before them and her. Mrs. Easy's servants hear of their successes. She
praises their good points; tells them they are doing well in this, that,
and the other particular; and finally exhorts them, on the strength of
having done so many things well, to improve in what is yet lacking. Mrs.
Easy's husband feels that he is always a hero in her eyes, and her
children feel that they are dear good children, notwithstanding Mrs.
Easy sometimes has her little tiffs of displeasure, and scolds roundly
when something falls out as it should not.

The two families show how much more may be done by a very ordinary
woman, through the mere instinct of praising and pleasing, than by the
greatest worth, piety, and principle, seeking to lift human nature by a
lever that never was meant to lift it by.

The faults and mistakes of us poor human beings are as often perpetuated
by despair as by any other one thing. Have we not all been burdened by a
consciousness of faults that we were slow to correct because we felt
discouraged? Have we not been sensible of a real help sometimes from the
presence of a friend who thought well of us, believed in us, set our
virtues in the best light, and put our faults in the background?

Let us depend upon it, that the flesh and blood that are in us--the
needs, the wants, the despondencies--are in each of our fellows, in
every awkward servant and careless child.

Finally, let us all resolve,--

First, to attain to the grace of SILENCE.

Second, to deem all FAULT-FINDING that does no good a SIN; and to
resolve, when we are happy ourselves, not to poison the atmosphere for
our neighbors by calling on them to remark every painful and
disagreeable feature of their daily life.

Third, to practise the grace and virtue of PRAISE. We have all been
taught that it is our duty to praise God, but few of us have reflected
on our duty to praise men; and yet for the same reason that we should
praise the divine goodness it is our duty to praise human excellence.

We should praise our friends,--our near and dear ones; we should look on
and think of their virtues till their faults fade away; and when we love
most, and see most to love, then only is the wise time wisely to speak
of what should still be altered.

Parents should look out for occasions to commend their children, as
carefully as they seek to reprove their faults; and employers should
praise the good their servants do as strictly as they blame the evil.

Whoever undertakes to use this weapon will find that praise goes farther
in many cases than blame. Watch till a blundering servant does something
well, and then praise him for it, and you will see a new fire lighted
in the eye, and often you will find that in that one respect at least
you have secured excellence thenceforward.

When you blame, which should be seldom, let it be alone with the person,
quietly, considerately, and with all the tact you are possessed of. The
fashion of reproving children and servants in the presence of others
cannot be too much deprecated. Pride, stubbornness, and self-will are
aroused by this, while a more private reproof might be received with

As a general rule, I would say, treat children in these respects just as
you would grown people; they are grown people in miniature, and need as
careful consideration of their feelings as any of us.

Lastly, let us all make a bead-roll, a holy rosary, of all that is good
and agreeable in our position, our surroundings, our daily lot, of all
that is good and agreeable in our friends, our children, our servants,
and charge ourselves to repeat it daily, till the habit of our minds be
to praise and to commend; and so doing, we shall catch and kill one
_Little Fox_ who hath destroyed many tender grapes.


L. M. S., JUN.,

SEPULT. DEC. 21, 1864.

    Drift, snows of winter, o'er the turf
      That hides in death his cherished form!
    And roar, ye pine-trees, like the surf
      That breaks before this eastern storm!

    O turbulent December blast!
      O night tempestuous and grim!
    Ye cannot chill or overcast
      The tender thought that dwells on him!

    Wilder the tumult he defied,
      Darker the leaden storm he braved,
    Where swept the battle's smoking tide,
      And banners, torn and blackened, waved.

    Not scathless he amid the fray:
      "Shot through the lungs,"--the message went:
    Now surely Love shall find a way
      To hold him here at home content.

    "Oh, thou hast done enough," Love cried,
      "For duty, fame,--enough, indeed!"
    He touched his sabre, and replied,--
      "It is our country's hour of need."

    Back to the field, from respite brief,
      Back to the battle's fiery breath,
    Hurried our young high-hearted chief
      To lead the charge where waited Death.

    Oh, fallen in manhood's fairest noon,--
      We will remember, 'mid our sighs,
    He never yields his life too soon,
      For country and for right who dies.


For three years I had been a thorough believer in the United States
Sanitary Commission. Reading carefully its publications, listening with
tearful interest to the narrations of those who had been its immediate
workers at the front, following in imagination its campaigns of love and
mercy, from Antietam to Gettysburg, from Belle Plain to City Point, and
thence to the very smoke and carnage of the actual battle-field, I had
come to cherish an unfeigned admiration for it and its work. For three
years, too, I had been an earnest laborer at one of its
outposts,--striving with others ever to deepen the interest and increase
the fidelity of the loyal men and women of a loyal New England town. I
was prepared then, both from my hearty respect for the charity and from
my general conception of the nature and vastness of its operations, to
welcome every opportunity to improve my knowledge of its plans and
practical workings. I therefore gladly accepted the invitation which
came to me to visit the head-quarters of the Commission at Washington,
and to examine for myself the character and amount of the benefits which
it confers.

The evening of August 23d found me, after a speedy and pleasant trip
southward, safely ensconced in the sanctum of my good friend Mr. Knapp,
the head of the Special Relief Department. Starting from that base of
operations, I spent two crowded weeks in ceaseless inquiries. Every
avenue of information was thrown wide open. Two days I wandered, but not
aimlessly, from office to office, from storehouse to storehouse, from
soldiers' home to soldiers' home, conversing with the men who have given
themselves up unstintedly to this charity, examining the books of the
Commission, gathering statistics, seeing, as it were, the hungry soldier
fed and the naked soldier clothed, and the sick and wounded soldier
cared for with a more than fraternal kindness. I visited the hospitals,
and with my own hands distributed the Sanitary delicacies to the
suffering men. Steaming down the Chesapeake, and up the James, and along
its homeless shores, I came to City Point; was a day and a night on
board the Sanitary barges, whence full streams of comfort are flowing
with an unbroken current to all our diverging camps; passed a tranquil,
beautiful Sabbath in that city of the sick and wounded, whose white
tents look down from the bluffs upon the turbid river; rode thirteen
miles out almost to the Weldon Road, then in sharp contest between our
Fifth Army Corps and the Rebels; from the hills which Baldy Smith
stormed in June saw the spires of Petersburg; went from tent to tent and
from bedside to bedside in the field hospitals of the Fifth and Ninth
Corps, where the luxuries prepared by willing hands at home were
bringing life and strength to fevered lips and broken bodies. I came
back with my courage re-animated, and with a more perfect faith in the
ultimate triumph of the good cause. I came back with a heartier respect
for our soldiers, whose patience in hardship and courage in danger are
rivalled only by the heroism with which they bear the pains of sickness
and wounds. I came back especially with the conviction, that, no matter
how much we had contributed to the Sanitary work, we had done only that
which it was our duty to do, and that, so long as we could furnish
shelter for our families and food for our children, it was our plain
obligation to give and to continue giving out of our riches or out of
our poverty.

       *       *       *       *       *

I have felt that in no way could I do better service than by seeking to
answer for others the very questions which my fortnight with the
Sanitary has answered for me. Most, no doubt, have a general conviction
that the charity inaugurated by the Sanitary Commission is at once
marvellous in its extent and unique in the history of war. All, perhaps,
are prepared to allow that the heart which conceived such an enterprise,
and the mind which organized it, and the persistent will which carried
it to a successful issue, are entitled to all the praise which we can
give them. Few will deny now that this and kindred associations, by
decreasing the waste of war, will affect in an important degree our
national fortunes. And most, indeed, know something even about the
details of Sanitary work. They comprehend, at least, that through its
agency many a homely comfort and many a home luxury find their way to
the wards of great hospitals. They have seen, too, the Commission step
forward in great emergencies, after some terrible battle, when every
energy of Government was burdened and overburdened by the gigantic
demands of the hour, and from its storehouses send thousands of
packages, and from its offices hundreds of relief agents, to help to
meet almost unprecedented exigencies.

But what people wish to know, and what, despite all that has been
written, they do not know fully and definitely, is how and when and
where, and through what channels and by what methods, the Commission
works: precisely how the millions which have been poured into its
treasury from public contributions and private benefactions have been
coined into comfort for the soldier,--how the thousands and hundreds of
thousands of garments which have gone forth to unknown destinations have
been made warmth for his body and cheer to his soul. The whole height
and depth and length and breadth of Sanitary work, what varied
activities and what multiform charities are included in the great
circumference of its organization,--of that not one in twenty has any
adequate conception. And all about that is what everybody wishes to
know. The curiosity, moreover, which dictates such queries, is a natural
and laudable curiosity. Those who have given at every call, and often
from scanty means, and those who have plied the needle summer and
winter, early and late, have a right to put such questions. The
Commission wishes to answer all proper inquiries fully and unreservedly.
It would throw open its operations to the broadest sunlight. It believes
that the more entirely it is known, in its successes and its failures
alike, the more sure it is to be liberally sustained. To bring the
humblest contributor from the most distant branch, as it were, into
immediate communication with the front is a work most desirable to be
done. I do not wish to glorify the Commission, nor to theorize about it,
nor to discuss its relative merit as compared with that of kindred
organizations,--but rather to tell just what it is doing, precisely
where the money goes, and exactly what kinds of good are attempted.

       *       *       *       *       *

The work of the Sanitary Commission may be naturally and conveniently
classed under five heads.

First, the work undertaken for the prevention of sickness and suffering.

Second, the Special Relief Department.

Third, the Hospital Directory.

Fourth, the assistance given to stationary hospitals.

Fifth, the grand operations in the front, on or near the actual

       *       *       *       *       *

The efforts for the prevention of suffering and sickness are first in
order of time, and possibly first in importance. When this war
commenced, we had no wounded and we had no sick. What we did have was a
crowd of men full of untrained courage, but who knew little or nothing
about military discipline, and as little in regard to what was necessary
for the preservation of their health. What we did have was hundreds and
thousands of officers, taken from every walk of life, who were, for the
most part, men of great natural intelligence, but who did not at all
comprehend that it was their duty not only to lead their men in battle,
but to care for their health and their habits, and who had never dreamed
that such homely considerations as what are the best modes of cooking
food, what are the most healthy localities in which to pitch tents, what
is the right position for drains, had anything to do with the art of
war. What we did have was surgeons, many of whom had achieved an
honorable reputation in the walks of civil life, but who, on this new
field, were alike inexperienced and untried. The manifest danger was,
that this mass of living valor and embodied patriotism would simply be
squandered,--that, as in the terrible Walcheren Expedition, or in the
Crimea, the men whose strength and courage might decide a campaign would
only furnish food for the hospital and the grave.

Who should avert this danger? The Government could not. It had no time
to sit down and study sanitary science. It was bringing together
everything, where it found--nothing. Out of farmers and merchants and
students it was organizing the most efficient of armies. It was sending
its agents all over the world to buy guns and munitions of war. It was
tasking our factories to produce blankets and overcoats, knapsacks and
haversacks, wagons and tents, and all that goes to make up the
multifarious equipment of an army. It was peering into our dock-yards to
find steamers and sailing-vessels out of which to gather makeshift
navies, until it could find leisure to build stancher ships. Manifestly
the Government had no time for such a work. The existing Medical Bureau
was hardly equal to the task. Organized to take charge of an army of ten
thousand men, in the twinkling of an eye that army became five hundred
thousand. At the beginning of the war the medical staff must have been
very busy and very heavily burdened. With great hospitals to build, with
troops of willing, but young and inexperienced surgeons to train to a
knowledge of their duties and to send east and west and north and south,
with every department of medical science to be enlarged at once to the
proportions of the war, it had little leisure for excursions into fresh
fields of inquiry. That it brought order so quickly out of chaos, that
it was able to extemporize a good working system, is a sufficient
testimony to its general fidelity and efficiency. It was the Sanitary
Commission which undertook this special duty. It undertook to find out
some of the laws of health which apply to army life, and then to scatter
the knowledge of those laws broadcast.

Prevention, therefore, effort not so much to comfort and cure the sick
soldier as to keep him from being sick at all, was, in order of time,
properly the first work. And it is doubtful whether at the outset
anything more was contemplated. The memorial to the War Department in
May, 1861, says explicitly that the object of the Commission "is to
bring to bear upon the health, comfort, and _morale_ of our troops the
fullest and ripest teachings of sanitary science." How many of the
contributors to the funds of the Society are aware what an immense work
in this direction has been undertaken, and how much has been
accomplished to prevent sickness and the consequent depletion and
perhaps defeat of our armies? As I have already indicated, at the
commencement of the war we knew little or nothing about what was
necessary to keep men in military service well,--what food, what
clothing, what tents, what camps, what recreations, what everything, I
may say. Now the Sanitary Commission has made searching inquiries
touching every point of camp and soldier life,--gathering in facts from
all quarters, and seeking to attain to some fixed sanitary principles.
It has sent the most eminent medical men on tours of inspection to all
our camps, who have put questions and given hints to the very men to
whom they were of the most direct importance. As a result, we have a
mass of facts, which, in the breadth of the field which they cover, in
the number of vital questions which they settle, and in the fulness and
accuracy of the testimony by which they are sustained, are worth more
than all the sanitary statistics of all other nations put together.

And we are to consider that these inquiries were from the beginning
turned to practical use. If you look over your pile of dusty pamphlets,
very likely you will find a little Sanitary tract entitled, "Rules for
Preserving the Health of the Soldier." This was issued almost before the
war had seriously begun. Or you will come across paper containing the
last results of the last foreign investigations. So early was the good
seed of sanitary knowledge sown. We must remember, too, how many
mooted, yet vital questions have now been put to rest. Take an
example,--Quinine. Everybody had a general notion that quinine was as
valuable as a preventive of disease as a cure. But how definite was our
knowledge? How many knew when and in what positions and to what extent
it was valuable? As early as 1861 the Commission prepared and published
what has been justly termed an exhaustive monograph on the whole
subject, collecting into a brief space all the best testimony bearing
upon the question. This was the beginning of an investigation which,
pursued through a vast number of cases, has demonstrated, that, in
peculiar localities and under certain circumstances, quinine in full
doses is an almost absolute necessity. And in such localities, and under
such circumstances, Government issues now a daily ration to every
man, saving who can tell how many valuable lives? One more
illustration,--Camps. Suppose you were to lead a thousand men into the
Southern country. Would you know where to encamp them? whether with a
southern or a northern exposure? on a breezy hill, or in a sheltered
valley? beneath the shade of groves, or out in the broad sunshine? Could
you tell what kind of soil was healthiest, or how near to each other you
could safely pitch your tents, or whether it would be best for your men
to sleep on the bare ground or on straw or on pine boughs? Yet, if you
inquire, you will find that all these questions and countless others are
definitely settled,--thanks in a great measure to the Sanitary
Commission, which has gladly given its ounce of prevention, that it may
spare its pound of cure.

If you imagine that the need of this work of prevention has ceased, you
are greatly mistaken. Only last summer, in the single month of June, the
Commission distributed, in the Army of the Potomac alone, over a hundred
tons of canned fruits and tomatoes, and not less than five thousand
barrels of pickles and fresh vegetables. It is hardly too much to say
that what the Commission did in this respect has gone far towards
enabling our gallant army to disappoint the hopes of the enemy, and to
hold, amid the deadly assaults of malaria, the vantage-ground which it
has won before Petersburg and Richmond. All through the spring and
summer, too, at Chattanooga, on the very soil which war had ploughed and
desolated, invalid soldiers have been cultivating hundreds of acres of
vegetables. And on the rugged sides of Missionary Ridge, and along the
sunny slopes of Central Tennessee, the same forethought has brought to
perfection, in many a deserted vineyard, the purple glory of the grape.
And this not merely to cure, but to prevent, to keep up the strength and
vigor of the brave men who have marched victoriously from the banks of
the Ohio to Atlanta.

Nor is it likely that the value of this office will cease so long as the
war lasts. In the future, as in the past, new conditions, new
exigencies, and new dangers will arise. And to the end the foresight
which guards will be as true a friend to the soldier as the kindness
which assuages his pains. Looking back, therefore, upon the whole field,
and speaking with a full understanding of the meaning of the language, I
am ready to affirm, that, if the Sanitary Commission had undertaken
nothing but the work of preventing sickness, and had accomplished
nothing in any other direction, the army and the country would have
received in that alone an ample return for all the money which has been

       *       *       *       *       *

I come now to the Special Relief Department. I should call this a sort
of philanthropic drag-net, differing from that mentioned in the Gospel
in that it seems to gather up nothing bad which needs to be thrown away.
In other words, it appeared to me as though any and every kind of
Sanitary good which ought to be done, and yet was not large enough or
distinct enough to constitute a separate branch, was set down as Special
Relief. The whole system of homes and lodges to feed the hungry and
shelter the homeless comes directly under the head of Special Relief.
The immense collection of back pay, bounties, pensions, and prize-money,
which is made gratuitously by the Commission, is Special Relief. Visits
to the hospitals are under the direction of this same department. And
even the Directory and the vast work done at the front perhaps
legitimately belong to it. We can readily conceive, therefore, that the
Commission has no department which is larger or more important, or which
covers so wide and diversified a field of activity. Let us survey that
field a little closer.

Sanitary homes and lodges,--what are they? A soldier is discharged, or
he has a furlough. He is not well and strong,--and he has no money,
certainly none to spare. He ought not to sleep on the ground, and he
ought not to go hungry. But what is everybody's business is apt to be
nobody's business. Fortunately the Commission has seen and met this
want. In Washington, on H Street, there is a block of rough, but
comfortable one-story wooden buildings, erected for various purposes of
Special Relief, and, amongst others, for the very one which I have
mentioned. In the first place, there is a large room containing
ninety-six berths, where any soldier, having proper claims, can obtain
decent lodging free of expense. In the second place, there is a kitchen,
and a neat, cheerful dining-room, with seats for a hundred and fifty.
Here plain and substantial meals are furnished to all comers. This table
of one hundred and fifty has often, and indeed usually, to be spread
three times; so that the Commission feeds daily at this place alone some
four hundred soldiers, and lodges ninety to a hundred more. The home
which I have now described is simply for transient calls.

Near the depot there is a home of a more permanent character. When a
soldier is discharged from the service, the Government has, in the
nature of the case, no further charge of him. Suppose now that he is
taken sick, with, no money in his purse and no friends, near. Can you
imagine a position more forlorn? And forlorn indeed it would, be, were
it not for the Commission. The sick home is a large three-story
building, with three or four one-story buildings added on each side.
Here there is furnished food for all; then one hundred and fifty beds
for those who are not really sick, but only ailing and worn-out; then
bathing-rooms; and, finally, a reading-room. There is here, too, a
hospital ward, with the requisite nurses and medical attendance. In this
ward I saw a little boy, apparently not over twelve years of age, who
had strayed from his home,--if, alas, he had one!--and followed to the
field an Ohio regiment of hundred-days' men, and who had been taken sick
and left behind. Who he was or where from nobody knew. Tenderly cared
for, but likely to die! A sad sight to look upon! One feature more.
Every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday a physician goes from the home in
Washington to New York, taking charge of those who are too sick or too
crippled to care for themselves; while the relief agents procure for the
sick soldier the half-price ticket to which he is entitled, or else give
him one, and such articles of clothing as are needful to send him in
comfort to his own home.

I must not fail to speak in this connection of another beautiful
ministry,--the home for soldiers' wives and mothers. A soldier is like
other human beings. In his sickness he yearns for a sight of the
familiar faces, and sends for wife or mother; or wife or mother, unable
to bear longer the uncertainty, when she can get no tidings from the
absent, starts for Washington. There, searching vainly for husband or
son, she spends all or nearly all her money. Or if she finds him, it may
well be that he has no funds with which to help her. In the little
buildings on one side of the refuge for the sick are rooms where some
sixty-five can receive decent lodging and nourishing food; and if
actually penniless, the Commission will procure them tickets and send
them back to their friends.

We often hear people wondering, almost in a skeptical tone, where all
the Commission's money goes. When I was at Washington and City Point, I
only asked where it all came from. Consider what it must cost simply to
feed and lodge these soldiers and their wives at Washington. And then
remember that this is but one of many similar homes scattered
everywhere: at Baltimore, Washington, and Alexandria, in the Eastern
Department; at Louisville, Nashville, Chattanooga, in the Western; at
New Orleans and Baton Rouge, in the Southwestern; and at many another
place beside. And, finally, reflect that this whole system of homes is
really but one portion of one branch of Sanitary work.

The collection of back pay, bounties, and pensions,--how many have a
definite idea of this work? Not many, I suspect. Yet it takes all the
time of many persons to accomplish it, and it was the branch of Sanitary
work which awakened in my own mind the deepest regard; for it has its
foundation in a higher virtue than any mere sentimental charity,--yea,
in the highest virtue known in heaven or on earth,--justice. However
impossible it may be to prevent such occurrences, certainly it is a
cruel and undeserved hardship to a soldier who has served faithfully and
fought for his country, and has perhaps been wounded and almost died at
the post of honor and duty, that he should be unable to obtain his
hard-earned pittance, when, too, he needs it for his own comfort, or
when it may be that his family need it to keep them from absolute

Look at a single class of these collections,--the back pay of sick men.
Government, we all allow, must have some system in its disbursements. It
should not pay money without a voucher, and the proper voucher of a
soldier is the pay-roll of the regiment or company of which he is a
member. Now a sick or wounded man drops out of the ranks. He gets into a
field hospital to which he does not belong. He is transferred from one
hospital to another, from hospital to convalescent camp, and finally, it
may be, is put on the list of men to be discharged for physical
disability. Meanwhile his commanding officer does not know where he is,
cannot trace him thinks it very likely that he is a deserter. On pay-day
the man's name is not on the roll, and, having no voucher, he gets no
money. You say that there ought to be a remedy. There is none. It would
be difficult to devise one. What shall the soldier do? He cannot go from
point to point to collect evidence, for he is sick. Besides, he is
utterly ignorant of the necessary forms. If he applies to a lawyer, it
costs him often from one half to three quarters of all he gets. Very
likely the lawyer cannot afford to take care of one or two petty cases
for a less price. In this emergency the Commission steps in, and, with
its knowledge of routine and its credit in all quarters, obtains for the
poor fellow for nothing what he has in vain sought for in other ways.
Take one single case, and what they would call at the Relief Office an
easy case. Study it attentively, and you will get an idea of all
cases,--and you will understand, moreover, how much work has to be done,
and how impossible it would be for a sick man to do it.

Charles W. J---- is a member of Company K, One Hundred and Twenty-First
New York Regiment, and he has been transferred to this company and
regiment from Company F of the Sixteenth New York. He has been thus
transferred for the reason that the Sixteenth New York is a two years'
regiment, whose time has expired, while he is a three years' recruit,
who has a year or two more to serve. Now he claims that pay is due him
from November 1, 1863, to August 1, 1864, and that he needs his pay very
much to send home to his wife. He represents that he was at Schuyler
Hospital from the time he left the ranks until December 17, 1863; that
then he was sent to Convalescent Camp, New York Harbor; and on December
29 to Camp of Distribution at Alexandria; whence, February 8, 1864, he
was brought to Staunton Hospital, Washington, where he now is. He has
never joined his new regiment, has only been transferred with others to
its rolls. His new officers have never seen him, and do not know where
he is. The relief agent hears the story and then sets about proving all
its details: first, that the man was a member of the Sixteenth New York
Regiment; second, that he has been transferred to the One Hundred and
Twenty-First Regiment; third, that he has never been paid beyond
November 1, 1863; fourth, that he has really been in the various
hospitals and camps which he mentions. This evidence is procured by
writing to agents and surgeons at convalescent and distributing camps,
and at Hospital Schuyler, and by examining the rolls of the Sixteenth
and One Hundred and Twenty-First Regiments. In a few days or weeks the
man's story is proved to be correct, and he is put into a position to
receive his pay,--a satisfaction not simply in a pecuniary sense, but
also to his soldierly pride, by removing an undeserved charge of

Now I beg my readers not to imagine that this is a difficult case. At
the Relief Rooms they treasure up and mysteriously display, much as I
suspect a soldier would flaunt a captured battle-flag, a certain roll of
paper, I dare not say how many yards long, covered with certificates
from one end to the other, obtained from all parts of the country and
from all sorts of persons, and all necessary in order to secure perhaps
a three or six months' pay of one sick soldier. The correspondence of
the back-pay department is itself a burden. From thirty to forty letters
on an average are received daily at one of its offices. They are written
in all languages,--English, German, French,--and must be read,
translated, and the ideas, conveyed often in the blindest style,
ascertained and answered.

A new branch has been recently added,--the collection of pay for the
families of those who are prisoners in Rebeldom. But as this involves no
new principles or fresh details, I pass it by. Another class of cases
should receive a moment's notice. This includes the collection of
bounties for discharged soldiers, of pensions for wounded soldiers, of
bounty, back pay, and pensions for the families of deceased soldiers,
and of prize-money for sailors. These cases are not, as a general rule,
as intricate as those which I have already considered, inasmuch as the
proper departments have a regular system of investigation, and take up
and examine for themselves each case in its turn. All that the
Commission does is to put the soldier on the right track, and to make
out and present for him the fitting application. It undertook this
because Washington was infested with a horde of sharpers, who, by false
representations, defrauded the soldiers out of large sums.

I cannot more appropriately close this branch of my subject than by
stating the simple fact, that during the months of July and August the
relief agents examined and brought to a successful issue 809 cases of
back pay and bounty-money, averaging $125,--203 cases of invalid
pensions, 378 cases of widows' pensions, and 10 cases of naval pensions,
averaging $8 a month,--and 121 cases of prize-money, averaging $80.

I have only to add that the amount of good which can be done in this
direction seems to be limited only by the capacity of those who
undertake to do it. A relief agent said to me, in conversation, that in
one hospital in Philadelphia there were several hundreds who claimed,
but were unable to collect their just dues,--and that what was true of
this hospital was true to a less extent of all of them.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Hospital Directory is a most interesting branch of Sanitary work.
Not because it will compare with many other branches in extent of
usefulness, but because it shows what a wide-reaching philanthropy is at
work, seeking to furnish every possible alleviation to the inevitable
hardships of war. Whoever has at any time had a sick or wounded friend
in the army knows how difficult it often is to obtain any intelligence
about him. I have in mind a poor woman, who exhausted every resource in
seeking to ascertain the whereabouts of a sick son, and who never
received any tidings of him, until one day, months after, he came home,
worn-out and broken, to die. The regiment is in active service and
passes on, while the sick man goes back. He has several transfers,
too,--first to the corps hospital on the field, then to the army
hospital at City Point, then to Washington, and very possibly again to
some hospital in Baltimore, Philadelphia, or other city or town farther
north, and on that account believed to be more healthy. Meanwhile, amid
all these changes, the man may be delirious, or from some other cause
unable to communicate with his friends. How shall they get information?
The Commission undertakes to keep a correct list of all the sick and
wounded men who are in regular hospitals. They obtain their information
from the official returns of the surgeons. I do not mean to say that
these lists are absolutely correct. They approximate as nearly to
correctness as they ever can, until surgeons are perfectly prompt and
careful in their reports.

The amount of work done is very great. Seven hundred thousand names have
been recorded in this Directory, between October, 1862, and July, 1864.
From ten to twenty-five applications for information are made each day
by letter, and from one hundred to two hundred and fifty personally or
through the various State agencies. Branch offices, working upon a
similar plan, have been established at Louisville and elsewhere.

       *       *       *       *       *

The subject of assistance to regular hospitals may be despatched in a
few words,--not because the gifts are insignificant, but because the
method of giving is so regular and easy to explain. Whenever the surgeon
of any hospital needs articles which are extras, and so not supplied by
the Government, or which, if allowed, the Government is deficient in at
the time, he makes a requisition upon the Commission; and if his
requisition is deemed to be a reasonable one, it is approved, and the
goods delivered on his receipt for the same. As to the amount given, I
can only say that something is sent almost every day even to the
hospitals near Washington and the great cities, and that the amount
bestowed increases just in proportion to the distance of the hospital
from the great Government centres of supply. This is a noiseless and
unostentatious charity,--sometimes, I am tempted to think, too
noiseless and unostentatious. A few weeks ago, a lady friend visited one
of the hospitals near Washington, carrying with her for distribution
some Sanitary goods. She gave a handkerchief to one of the sick men. He
took it, looked at it, read the mark in the corner, paused as if he had
received a new idea, and then spoke out his mind thus:--"I have been in
this hospital six months, and this is the first thing I ever received
from the Sanitary Commission."--"But," she replied, "have you not had
this and that?" mentioning several luxuries supplied to this very
hospital for extra diet.--"Oh, yes, often!"--"Well, every one of these
articles came from the Sanitary Commission."

Just now the Sanitary is seeking to enter into closer relations with the
hospitals through the agency of regular visitors. The advantages of such
a policy are manifest. The reports of the visitors will enable the
directors to see more clearly the real wants of the sick; and the
frequent presence and inquiries of such visitors will tend to repress
the undue appropriation of hospital stores by attendants. But the
highest benefit will be the change and cheer it will introduce into the
monotony of hospital life. If you are sick at home, you are glad to have
your neighbor step in and bring the healthy bracing air of out-door life
into the dimness and languor of your invalid existence. Much more does
the sick soldier like it,--for ennui, far more than pain, is his great
burden. When I was at Washington, I accepted with great satisfaction an
invitation to go with a Sanitary visitor on her round of duty. When we
came to the hospital, I asked the ward-master if he would like to have
me distribute among his patients the articles I had brought. He said
that he should, for he thought it would do the poor fellows good to see
me and receive the gifts from my own hands. The moment I entered there
was a stir. Those who could hobble about stumped up to me to see what
was going on; some others sat up in bed, full of alertness; while the
sickest greeted me with a languid smile. As I went from cot to cot, the
politeness of _la belle France_, with which a little Frenchman in the
corner touched the tassel of his variegated nightcap at me, and the
untranslatable gutturals, full of honest satisfaction, with which his
German neighbors saluted me, and the "God bless your honor," which a
cheery son of Old Erin showered down upon me, and the simple "Thank you,
Sir," which came up on all sides from our true-hearted New England boys,
were alike refreshing to my soul. No doubt the single peach or two which
with hearty good-will were given to them were as good as a feast; and it
may be that the little comforts which I left behind me, and which had
been borne thither on the wings of this divine charity, perhaps from
some village nestling among the rocky hills of New England, or from some
hamlet basking in the sunlight on the broad prairies of the West, had
magic power to bring to that place of suffering some breath of the
atmosphere of home to cheer the sinking heart, or some fragrant memory
of far-off home-affection to make it better. I came away with the
feeling that visits from sunny-hearted people, and gifts from friendly
hands, must be a positive blessing to these sick and wounded people.

       *       *       *       *       *

Of course the deepest throb of interest is given to the work at the
front of battle. That is natural. It is work done on the very spots
where the fortunes of our nation are being decided,--on the spots
whither all eyes are turned, and towards which all our hopes and prayers
go forth. It is work surrounded by every element of pathos and tragic
interest. The wavering fortunes of the fight, the heroic courage which
sustains a doubtful conflict, the masterly skill that turns disaster
into triumph, the awful carnage, the terrible suffering, the manly
patience of the wounded, all combine to fix the attention there and upon
everything, which is transacted there. The question is constantly
asked,--What is the Sanitary doing at the front? what at City Point?
what at Winchester? are natural questions. Let me state first the
general plan and method of what I may call a Sanitary campaign, and
afterwards add what I saw with my own eyes at City Point and before
Petersburg, and what I heard from those who had themselves been actors
in the scenes which they described.

When the army moves out from its encampment to the field of active
warfare, two or three Sanitary wagons, loaded with hospital stores of
all sorts, and accompanied by a sufficient number of relief agents, move
with each army corps. These are for the supply of present need, and for
use during the march, or after such skirmishes and fights as may occur
before the Commission can establish a new base. In this way some of the
Commission agents have followed General Grant's army all the way from
the Rapidan, through the Wilderness, across the Mattapony, over the
James, on to the very last advance towards the Southside
Railroad,--refilling their wagons with stores as opportunity has
occurred. As soon now as the march commences and the campaign opens,
preparations upon an extensive scale are made at Washington for the
great probable demand. Steamers are chartered, loaded, and sent with a
large force of relief agents to the vicinity of the probable
battle-fields; or if the campaign is away from water communication,
loaded wagons are held in readiness. The moment the locality of the
struggle is determined, then, under the orders of the Provost Marshal,
an empty house is seized and made the Sanitary head-quarters or general
storehouse; or else some canal-barge is moored at the crazy Virginia
wharf, and used for the same purpose. This storehouse is kept constantly
full from Washington, or else from Baltimore and New York; and the
branch depots which are now established in each army corps are fed from
it, while the hospitals in their turn make requisitions for all needful
supplies on these branch depots. That is to say, the arrangements,
though rougher and less permanent in their character, approximate very
nearly to the arrangements at Washington.

A few details need to be added. Where the distance from the battle-field
to the base of supplies is great, what are called feeding-stations are
established every few miles, and here the wounded on foot or in
ambulances can stop and take the refreshments or stimulants necessary to
sustain them on their painful journey. At the steamboat-landing the
Commission has a lodge and agents, with crackers and beef-tea, coffee
and tea, ice-water and stimulants, ready to be administered to such as
need. Relief agents go up on the boats to help care for the wounded; and
at Washington the same scene of active kindness is often enacted on
their arrival as at their departure. This is the general plan of action
everywhere, modified to suit circumstances, but always essentially the
same. It will apply just as well West as East,--only for the names
Baltimore, Washington, and City Point, you must put Louisville,
Nashville, and Chattanooga.

When I was at City Point, the base of operations had been established
there more than two months; and though there was much sickness, and the
wounded were being brought in daily by hundreds from the prolonged
struggle for the Weldon Road, everything moved on with the regularity of
clock-work. As you neared the landing, coming up the James, you saw, a
little farther up the river, the red flag of the Sanitary Commission
floating over the three barges which were its office, its storehouse,
and its distributing store for the whole Army of the Potomac. Climbing
up the steep road to the top of the bluff, and advancing over the
undulating plain a mile, you come to a city,--the city of hospitals. The
white tents are arranged in lines of almost mathematical accuracy. The
camp is intersected by roads broad and clean. Every corps, and every
division of every corps, has its allotted square. Somewhere in these
larger squares your eye will be sure to catch sight of the Sanitary
flag, and beneath it a tent, where is the corps station. You enter, and
you find within, if not as great an amount, at least as varied a supply,
of hospital stores as you would find anywhere, waiting for surgeons'
orders. To a very great extent, the extra diet for all the sick and
wounded is furnished from these stores; and very largely the cooking of
it is overseen by ladies connected with the Commission. In every corps
there are from five to fifteen relief agents, whose duty it is to go
through the wards once, twice, three times in each day, to see what the
sick need for their comfort, to ascertain that they really get what is
ordered, and in every way to alleviate suffering and to promote
cheerfulness and health.

I shall never forget a tour which I made with a relief agent through the
wards for the blacks, both because it showed me what a watchful
supervision a really faithful person can exercise, and because it gave
such an opportunity to observe closely the conduct of these people. The
demeanor of the colored patients is really beautiful,--so gentle, so
polite, so grateful for the least kindness. And then the evidences of a
desire for mental improvement and religious life which meet you
everywhere are very touching. Go from bed to bed, and you see in their
hands primers, spelling-books, and Bibles, and the poor, worn, sick
creatures, the moment they feel one throb of returning health, striving
to master their alphabet or spell out their Bible. In the evening, or
rather in the fading twilight, some two hundred of them crept from the
wards, and seated themselves in a circle around a black exhorter.
Religion to them was a real thing; and so their worship had the beauty
of sincerity, while I ought to add that it was not marked by that
grotesque extravagance sometimes attributed to it. One cannot but think
better of the whole race after the experience of such a Sabbath. The
only drawback to your satisfaction is, that they die quicker and from
less cause than the whites. They have not the same stubborn hopefulness
and hilarity. Why, indeed, should they have?

Speaking of the white soldiers, everybody who goes into their hospitals
is happily disappointed,--you see so much order and cheerfulness, and so
little evidence of pain and misery. The soldier is quite as much a hero
in the hospital as on the battle-field. Give him anything to be cheerful
about, and he will improve the opportunity. You see men who have lost an
arm or a leg, or whose heads have been bruised almost out of likeness to
humanity, as jolly as they can be over little comforts and pleasures
which ordinary eyes can hardly see with a magnifying-glass. So it
happens that a camp of six thousand sick and wounded, which seems at a
distance a concentration of human misery that you cannot bear to behold,
when near does not look half so lugubrious as you expected; and you are
tempted to accuse the sick men of having entered into a conspiracy to
look unnaturally happy.

If you go back now six or thirteen miles to the field hospitals, you
find nothing essentially different. The system and its practical
workings are the same. But it is a perpetual astonishment to find that
here, near to the banks of a river that has not a respectable village on
its shores from Fortress Monroe to Richmond,--here, in a houseless and
desolate land which can be reached only by roads which are intersected
by gullies, which plunge into sloughs of despond, which lose themselves
in the ridges of what were once cornfields, or meander amid stumps of
what so lately stood a forest,--that here you have every comfort for the
sick: all needed articles of clothing, the shirts and drawers, the socks
and slippers; and all the delicacies, too, the farinas, the jellies, the
canned meats and fruits, the concentrated milk, the palatable drinks and
stimulants, and even fresh fruits and vegetables. And in such profusion,
too! I asked the chief agent of the Commission in the Ninth Corps how
many orders he filled in a day. "Look for yourself." I took down the
orders; and there they were, one hundred and twenty strong, some for
little and some for much, some for a single article and some for a dozen

But it is not in camps of long standing that the wounded and sick suffer
for want of care or lack of comforts. It is when the base is suddenly
changed, when all order is broken up, when there are no tents at hand,
when the stores are scattered, nobody knows where, after a great battle
perhaps, and the wounded are pouring in upon you like a flood, and when
it seems as if no human energy and no mortal capacity of transportation
could supply the wants both of the well and the sick, the almost
insatiable demands of the battle-field and the equally unfathomable
needs of the hospital, it is then that the misery comes, and it is then
that the Commission does its grandest work. After the Battles of the
Wilderness and Spottsylvania, twenty-five thousand wounded were crowded
into Fredericksburg, where but ten thousand were expected. For a time
supplies of all kinds seemed to be literally exhausted. There were no
beds. There was not even straw. There were not surgeons enough nor
attendants enough. There was hardly a supply of food. Some found it
difficult to get a drop of cold water. Poor, wounded men, who had
wearily trudged from the battle-field and taken refuge in a deserted
house, remained hours and a day without care, and without seeing the
face of any but their wounded comrades. Then the Sanitary Commission
sent its hundred and fifty agents to help the overburdened surgeons.
Then every morning it despatched its steamer down the Potomac crowded
with necessaries and comforts. Then with ceaseless industry its twenty
wagons, groaning under their burden, went to and fro over the wretched
road from Belle Plain to Fredericksburg. A credible witness says that
for several days nearly all the bandages and a large proportion of the
hospital supplies came from its treasury. No mind can discern and no
tongue can declare what valuable lives it saved and what sufferings it
alleviated. Who shall say that Christian charity has not its triumphs
proud as were ever won on battle-field? If the Commission could boast
only of its first twenty-four hours at Antietam and Gettysburg and its
forty-eight hours at Fredericksburg, it would have earned the
everlasting gratitude and praise of all true men.

       *       *       *       *       *

But is there not a reverse to this picture? Are there no drawbacks to
this success? Is there no chapter of abortive plans, of unfaithful
agents, of surgeons and attendants appropriating or squandering
charitable gifts? These are questions which are often honestly asked,
and the doubts which they express or awaken have cooled the zeal and
slackened the industry of many an earnest worker. There is no end to the
stories which have been put in circulation. I remember a certain
mythical blanket which figured in the early part of the war, and which,
though despatched to the soldier, was found a few weeks after by its
owner adorning the best bed of a hotel in Washington. To be sure, it
seemed to have pursued a wandering life,--for now it was sent from the
full stores of a lady in Lexington, and now it was stripped perhaps by a
poor widow from the bed of her children, and then it was heard from far
off in the West, ever seeking, but never reaching, its true destination.
Without heeding any such stories, although they have done infinite
mischief, I answer to honest queries, that I have no doubt that
sometimes the stores of the Commission are both squandered and
misappropriated. I do not positively know it; but I am sure that it
would be a miracle, if they were not. It would be the first time in
human history that so large and varied a business, and extending over
such a breadth of country and such a period of time, was transacted
without waste. Look at the facts. Here are thousands of United States
surgeons and attendants of all ages and characters through whose hands
many of these gifts must necessarily go. What wonder, if here and there
one should be found whose principles were weaker than his appetites?
Consider also the temptations. These men are hard-worked, often scantily
fed. Every nerve is tried by the constant presence of suffering, and
every sense by fetid odors. Would it be surprising, if they sometimes
craved the luxuries which were so close at hand? Moreover, the
Commission mission employs hundreds of men, the very best it can get,
but it would be too much to ask that all should be models of prudence,
watchfulness, and integrity.

I allow, then, that some misappropriation is not improbable. At the same
time I do say, that every department is vigilantly watched, and that the
losses are trivial, compared with the immense benefits. I do say,
emphatically, that to bring a wholesale charge against whole classes,
whose members are generally as high-minded and honorable as any other,
to accuse them as a body of wretched peculations, is simply false and
slanderous. I maintain that fidelity is the rule, and that its reverse
is the petty exception; and that it would be in opposition to all rules
by which men conduct their lives to suffer such exceptions to influence
our conduct, or diminish our contributions to a good cause. In business
how often we are harassed by petty dishonesty or great frauds!
Nevertheless, the tide of business sweeps on. Why? Because the good so
outweighs the evil. The railroad employee is negligent, and some
terrible accident occurs. But the railroad keeps on running all the
same; for the public convenience and welfare are the law of its life,
and private peril and loss but an occasional episode. By the same rule,
we support, without misgiving, the Commission, because the good which it
certainly does, and the suffering it relieves, in their immensity cover
up and put out of sight mistakes, which are incident to all human
enterprise, and which are guarded against with all possible vigilance.

       *       *       *       *       *

But allow all the good which is claimed, and that the good far
transcends any possible evil, and then we are met by these further
questions: Is such an organization necessary? Cannot Government do the
work? And if so, ought not Government to do it?

I might with propriety answer: Suppose that Government ought to do the
work and does not, shall we fold our hands and let our soldiers suffer?
But the truth is, Government does do its duty. Some persons foolishly
exaggerate the work of the Commission. They talk as though it were the
only salvation of the wounded, as though the Government let everything
go, and that, if the Commission and kindred societies did not step in,
there would not be so much as a wreck of our army left. Such talk is
simply preposterous. The Commission, considered as a free, spontaneous
offering of a loyal people to the cause of our common country, is a
wonderful enterprise. The Commission, standing ready to supply any
deficiency, to remedy any defect, and to meet any unforeseen emergency,
has done a good work that cannot be forgotten. But, compared with what
Government expends upon the sick, its resources are nothing. I have not
the figures at hand, though I have seen them; and it is hardly too much
to say, that, where the society has doled out a penny, the Government
has lavished a pound.

No sane defender, therefore, of this charity supports it on any such
ground as that it is the principal benefactor of the soldier. The
Commission alone could no more support our hospitals than it could the
universe. But the homely adage, "It is best to have two strings to your
bow," applies wonderfully to the case. In practical life men act upon
this maxim. They like to have an adjunct to the best-working machinery,
a sort of reserved power. Every sensible person sees that our mail
arrangements furnish to the whole people admirable facilities.
Nevertheless, we like to have an express, and occasionally to send
letters and packages by it. When the children are sick, there is nothing
so good as the advice of the trusted family physician and the unwearied
care of the mother. Yet when the physician has done his work and gone
his way, and when the mother is worn out by days of anxiety and nights
of watching, we deem it a great blessing, if there is a kind neighbor
who will come in, not to assume the work, but to help it on a little.
The Commission, looking at the hospitals and the armies from a different
point of view, sees much that another overlooks, and in an emergency,
when all help is too little, brings fresh aid that is a priceless
blessing. To the plain, substantial volume of public appropriations it
adds the beautiful supplement of private benefactions. That is all that
it pretends to do.

There are some special reflections that bear upon the point which we are
considering. This war was sprung upon an unwarlike people. The officers
of Government, when they entered upon their work, had no thought of the
gigantic burdens which have fallen upon their shoulders. Since the war
began, Government, like everybody else, has had to learn new duties, and
to learn them amid the stress and perplexity of a great conflict. And
among other things, it has been obliged, in some respects, to recast its
medical regulations to meet the prodigious enlargement of its medical
work. Beyond a doubt, much help, which, on account of this imperfection
of the medical code itself, or of the inexperience of many who
administered it, was needed by our hospitals at the commencement of the
war, is not needed now, and much help that is needed now may not, if the
war lasts, be needed in the future. But it takes time to move the
machinery of a great state. And when any change is to become the
permanent law of public action, it ought to take both time and thought
to effect it. You do not wish to alter and re-alter the framework of a
state or of a state's activity as you would patch up a ruinous old
house. If you work at all in any department, you should wish to work on
a massive, well-considered plan, so that what you do may last. It is not
likely, therefore, that, in the great field of suffering which the war
has laid open to us, the public ministries will either be so quickly or
so perfectly adjusted as to make private ministries a superfluity.

Neither do we reflect enough upon the limitations of human power. We
think sometimes of Government as a great living organism of boundless
resources. But, after all, in any department of state, what plans, what
overlooks, what vitalizes, is one single human mind. And it is not easy
to get minds anywhere clear enough and capacious enough for the large
duties. It is easy to obtain men who can command a company well. It is
not difficult to find those who can control efficiently a regiment.
There are many to whom the care of five thousand men is no burden; a few
who are adequate to an army corps. But the generals who can handle with
skill a hundred thousand men, and make these giant masses do their
bidding, are the rare jewels in war's diadem. Even so is it in every
department of life. It is perhaps impossible to find a mind which can
sweep over the whole field of our medical operations, and prepare for
every emergency and avoid every mistake; not because all men are
unfaithful or incapable, but because there must be a limit to the most
capacious intellect. Looking simply at the structure of the human mind,
we might have foreseen, what facts have amply demonstrated, that in a
war of such magnitude as that which we are now waging there always must
be room for an organization like the Sanitary Commission to do its
largest and noblest work.

But, above and beyond all such reflections, there are great national and
patriotic considerations which more than justify, yea, demand, the
existence of our war charities. Allowing that the outward comfort of the
soldier (and who would grant it?) might be accomplished just as well in
some other way,--allowing that in a merely sanitary aspect the
Government could have done all that voluntary organizations have
undertaken, and have done it as well as they or better than they,--even
then we do not allow for a moment that what has been spent has been
wasted. What is the Sanitary Commission, and what are kindred
associations, but so many bonds of love and kindness to bind the soldier
to his home, and to keep him always a loyal citizen in every hope and in
every heart-throb? This is the influence which we can least of all
afford to lose. He must have been blind who did not see at the outset of
the war, that, beyond the immediate danger of the hour, there were other
perils. We were trying the most tremendous experiment that was ever
tried by any people. Out of the most peaceful of races we were creating
a nation of soldiers. In a few months, where there seemed to be scarcely
the elements of martial strength, we were organizing an army which was
to be at once gigantic and efficient. Who could calculate the effect of
such a swift change? The questions many a patriotic heart might have
asked were these: When this wicked Rebellion is ended,--when these
myriads of our brethren whose lives have been bound up in that wondrous
collective life, the life of a great army, shall return to their quiet
homes by the hills and streams of New England or on the rolling prairies
of the West, will they be able to merge their life again in the simple
life of the community out of which they came? Will they find content at
the plough, by the loom, in the workshop, in the tranquil labors of
civil life? Can they, in short, put off the harness of the soldier, and
resume the robe of the citizen? Many a one could have wished to say to
every soldier, as he went forth to the war, "Remember, that, if God
spares your life, in a few months or a few years you will come back, not
officers, not privates, but sons and husbands and brothers, for whom
some home is waiting and some human heart throbbing. Never forget that
your true home is not in that fort beside those frowning cannon, not on
that tented field amid the glory and power of military array, but that
it nestles beneath yonder hill, or stands out in sunshine on some
fertile plain. Remember that you are a citizen yet, with every instinct,
with every sympathy, with every interest, and with every duty of a

Can we overestimate the influence of these associations, of these
Soldiers'-Aid Societies, rising up in every city and village, in
producing just such a state of mind, in keeping the soldier one of us,
one of the people? Five hundred thousand hearts following with deep
interest his fortunes,--twice five hundred thousand hands laboring for
his comfort,--millions of dollars freely lavished to relieve his
sufferings,--millions more of tokens of kindness and good-will going
forth, every one of them a message from the home to the camp: what is
all this but weaving a strong network of alliance between civil and
military life, between the citizen at home and the citizen soldier? If
our army is a remarkable body, more pure, more clement, more patriotic
than other armies,--if our soldier is everywhere and always a
true-hearted citizen,--it is because the army and soldier have not been
cast off from public sympathy, but cherished and bound to every free
institution and every peaceful association by golden cords of love. The
good our Commissions have done in this respect cannot be exaggerated; it
is incalculable.

Nor should we forget the influence they have had on ourselves,--the
reflex influence which they have been pouring back into the hearts of
our people at home, to quicken their patriotism, We often say that the
sons and brothers are what the mothers and sisters make them. Can you
estimate the electric force which runs like an irresistible moral
contagion from heart to heart in a community all of whose mothers and
daughters are sparing that they may spend, and learning the value of
liberty and country by laboring for them? It does not seem possible,
that, amid the divers interests and selfish schemes of men, we ever
could have sustained this war, and carried it to a successful issue, had
it not been for the moral cement which these wide-spread philanthropic
enterprises have supplied. Every man who has given liberally to support
the Commission has become a missionary of patriotism; every woman who
has cut and made the garments and rolled the bandages and knit the socks
has become a missionary. And so the country has been full of
missionaries, true-hearted and loyal, pleading, "Be patient, put up with
inconveniences, suffer exactions, bear anything, rather than sacrifice
the nationality our fathers bequeathed to us!" And if our country is
saved, it will be in no small degree because so many have been prompted
by their benevolent activity to take a deep personal interest in the
struggle and in the men who are carrying on the struggle.

These national and patriotic influences are the crowning blessings which
come in the train of the charities of the war; and they constitute one
of their highest claims to our affection and respect. The unpatriotic
utterances which in these latter days so often pain our ears, the
weariness of burdens which tempt so many to be ready to accept anything
and to sacrifice anything to be rid of them, admonish us that we need
another uprising of the people and another re-birth of patriotism; and
they show us that we should cherish more and more everything which
fosters noble and national sentiments. And when this war is over, and
the land is redeemed, and we come to ask what things have strengthened
us to meet and overcome our common peril, may we not prophesy that high
among the instrumentalities which have husbanded our strength, and fed
our patriotism, and knit more closely the distant parts of our land and
its divided interests, will be placed the United States Sanitary



It took a long while for artists to understand that the Greek face was
the ideal face merely to Greek sculptors. During the baser ages of the
sculpturesque art, (how far towards our own day the epicycle inclusive
of those ages extended it would be invidious for us to say,) sculpture
consisted of the nearest imitation of Greek models which was possible of
attainment by _talents_, with an occasional intercalated _genius_,
hampered by prevailing modes. That the Greek face was _beautiful_, none
could doubt. That in the sovereign points of _intellect_ it was the
absolute beau-ideal is open to great doubt. Apart from all such
questions, the fact of subservience exists. Even Benjamin Robert Haydon,
the man who thought himself called to be the æsthetic saviour of the
age, knew no other, no better way of making himself master of solid form
than by lying down in the cold with a candle before the Elgin marbles.
Let not this be mistaken as a slur upon one of the most devoted men in
history,--a man who surely lived, and who, aside from the pangs of
poverty, probably died, for the regeneration of Art. We only mean to
select an instance preëminent over all that can be mentioned, to show
that until a very late date even the most learned men in the Art-world
had not cut loose from the fascination of old models, considered not as
suggestive, but as dominant. There is nothing in the sculptors of
Haydon's period to prove that their view differed essentially from that
of the most self-devoted theorist among painters.

We hold that it has been left for America to complete the æsthetic, as
well as the social and political emancipation of the world. The fact
that pre-Raphaelism began in England (we refer to the _new_ saints
standing on their toe-nails, not the _old_ ones) proves nothing
respecting the origination of Art's highest liberty. In the first place,
the man who was selected by the Elisha to be the Elijah of the school
would under no circumstances have chosen a fiery chariot to go up in,
but would have taken the Lord Mayor's coach, (if he could have got it
without paying,) and, like a true Englishman, been preceded by heralds,
and after-run by lackeys. The idea of Turner _en martyre_ is to a calm
spectator simply amusing. If "a neglected disciple of Truth" had met him
out a-sketching, and asked him for help, or a peep, he would have shut
up his book with a slap, and said, like the celebrated laird, "_Puir
bodie! fin' a penny for yer ain sel'_." In the second place, this Elijah
never dropped his mantle on the _soi-disant_ Elisha. Search over the
whole range of walls where (with their color somewhat the worse for
time) Turner's pictures are preserved, and if any critic but Ruskin's
self can find the qualities which unite Turner with modern
pre-Raphaelism, we will buy the view of Köln and make it a present to
him. In the third place, apart from all ancestry or indorsement, we
regard modern pre-Raphaelism, as a school full of vital mistakes. It
refuses to acknowledge this preëminent, eternal fact of Art, _that the
entire truth of Nature cannot be copied_: in other words and larger,
that the artist must select between the major and the minor facts of the
outer world; that, before he executes, he must pronounce whether he will
embody the essential effect, that which steals on the soul and possesses
it without painful analysis, or the separate details which belong to the
geometrician and destroy the effect,--still further, whether he will
make us feel what Nature says, or examine below her voice into the
vibration of the _chordæ vocales_.

We have not touched on pre-Raphaelism with the idea of attacking it,
still less of defending it, and not at all of discussing it. Our view
has been simply to excuse the assertion that with America has begun,
must necessarily begin and belong, the enfranchisement of Art from
subservience to a type,--the opening of its doors into the open air of
æsthetic catholicity.

Years ago, the writer in several places presented to the consideration
of American Art-lovers the plaster bust of "The Old Trapper," as one of
the foremost things which up to that period had been done by any man for
such enfranchisement as that referred to above. Palmer, the noble master
and teacher of the sculptor who created this bust, had done many things
entirely outside of the old ring-fence, had made himself famous by them;
but this, on some accounts, seemed to us the chief, because the most
audacious of all. What did it represent? Simply an old, worn,
peril-tried, battle-scarred man, who had fought grislies and
Indians,--walked leagues with his canoe on his back,--camped under
snow-peaks,--dined on his rifle's market,--had nothing but his heroic
pluck, patience, and American individuality, to fascinate people,--and
now, under a rough fur cap of his own making, showed a face without a
line that was Greek in it, and said to Launt Thompson, "Make me, if you

What we then admired in "The Old Trapper" we now admire in Miss Hosmer's

       *       *       *       *       *

There now stands on exhibition in this country one of the finest
examples of the spirit which animates our best American artists in their
selection of ideals, and their execution of them on the catholic

Miss Hosmer has not thought it necessary to color her statue, because
she knew that the utmost capability of sculpture is the expression of
form,--that, had she colored it, she would have brought it into
competition with a Nature entirely beyond her in mere details, and made
it a doll instead of a statue. Neither has she made it a travel-stained
woman with a carpet-bag, because in history all mean details melt away,
and we see its actors at great distances like the Athené, and because
our whole idea of Zenobia is this:--

    _A Queen led in Chains._

Neither has she made her Zenobia a Greek woman, because she was a
Palmyrene. What she has made her is this:--

    _Our idea of Zenobia won from Romance and History._

This Zenobia is a queen. She is proud as she was when she sat in
pillared state, under gorgeous canopies, with a hundred slaves at her
beck, and a devoted people within reach of her couriers. She does not
tremble or swerve, though she has her head down. That head is bowed only
because she is a woman, and she will not give the look of love to the
man who has forced her after him. Her lip has no weakness in it. She is
a _lady_, and knows that there is something higher than joy or pain.
Miss Hosmer has evidently believed nothing of the legends to the effect
that she did swerve afterward, else she could not have put that noble
soul in her heroine's mouth. Or did she believe the swerving, she must
have felt that Aurelian had the right, after all pain and wrong, to come
and claim the queen,--to say,--

"I did all this wrong _for_ you, and you were worth it."

The face (perhaps, with the present necessities of a catholicized Art,
its most important excellence) is not a Greek face, but a much farther

The bas-reliefs of Layard's Nineveh are not more characteristic,
national, faithful to the probable facts in that best aspect of facts
with which Art has to do.

As for the figure, none of those who from Roman studios have hitherto
sent us their work have ever given a juster idea of their advancement in
the understanding of the human anatomy. The bones of the right
metatarsus show as they would under the flesh of a queenly foot. The
right foot is the one flexed in Zenobia's walking, and that foot has
never been used to support the weight of burdens; it has gone bare
without being soiled. The shoulders perfectly carry the head, and no
anatomist could suggest a place where they might be bent or erected in
truer relative proportion to either of the feet. The dejection of the
right arm is a wonderful compromise between the valor of a queen who has
fought her last and best, and the grief of a woman who has no further
resource left to her womanliness.

Both arms, in their anatomy, in their truthfulness to the queenly
circumstances, may equally delight and challenge criticism. The chains
which the queen carries are smaller than we suspect a _Roman_ conqueror
put even upon a woman and a queen; but let that pass,--for they do not
hurt the harmony of the idea, and are simply a matter of detail, which
womanly sympathy might well have erred in since chivalric days, though
their adherence to actual truth would not have blemished the idea. At
all events, Zenobia holds them like a queen, so as not to hurt her. She
_will_ remember her glory.

The drapery of the statue is a subordinate matter; but that has been
attended to as true artists attend to even the least things which wait
on a great idea. The tassels of the robe have been chiselled by Miss
Hosmer's marble-cutter with a care which shows that the last as well as
the first part of the work went on under her womanly supervision. Every
fold of the robe, which must have been copied from the cast, falls and
swings before our eyes as the position demands. Grace and truth lie in
the least wrinkle of a garment which needs no after-cast of the
anatomist's cloak of charity to hide a sin.

In many respects, we regard Miss Hosmer's "Zenobia" as one of the very
highest honors paid by American Art to our earliest assertions of its
dominant destiny.


     _Patriotism in Poetry and Prose._ Being Selected Passages from
     Lectures and Patriotic Readings. By JAMES E. MURDOCH.
     Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott & Co. 12mo.

This volume, published in aid of the funds of the Sanitary Commission,
is one of the indications of the patriotism of the time. Mr. Murdoch, an
eminent and estimable actor and elocutionist, has been engaged, ever
since the war began, in doing his part towards rousing and sustaining
the enthusiasm of the people, by scattering the burning words of
patriotic poets in our Western camps and towns. The volume contains
specimens of lyric poetry which have stood the test of actual delivery
before soldiers who were facing the grim realities of war. Sometimes the
elocutionist has been so near the enemy as to have a shell come into
whizzing or screaming competition with the clear and ringing tones of
his voice; at other times, he has cheered with "The American Flag," "Old
Ironsides," or "The Union," audiences shivering with cold and famishing
on a short allowance of hard-tack. He has seen the American soldier
under all circumstances, and practically understands all the avenues to
his heart and brain. Many of the poems in the volume which have obtained
a national popularity were originally written at his suggestion. This is
especially true of the sounding lyrics of Boker, Read, and Janvier. His
own hearty and well-considered words, so full of manly feeling and
genuine patriotism, are none the worse for catching a little of that
inflation which the sights of the hospital and the battle-field, and a
sympathy with the average sentiment of sensitive crowds, are so sure to
provoke in an earnest and ardent mind. The poets who are represented in
this volume have cause for gratification in the assurance that they have
been more generally read than any of their American contemporaries. It
is estimated that Mr. Murdoch has recited their pieces to a quarter of
million of people during the last four years. In the hospital, in the
camp, before the lyceum audience, they have been made to do their good
work of comforting, rousing, or inflaming their auditors. They have sent
many a volunteer to the front, and nerved him afterwards at the moment
of danger. And certainly the friends of the soldiers will desire to read
what soldiers have so heartily applauded, especially as the money they
give for the book goes to sustain the most popular and beneficent of all

     _Philosophy as Absolute Science, founded in the Universal Laws
     of Being, and including Ontology, Theology, and Psychology made
     one, as Spirit, Soul, and Body._ By E. L. and A. L.
     FROTHINGHAM. Volume I. Boston: Walker, Wise, & Co.

We must go back to the time when a certain father and son of Crete
stretched their waxen wings and soared boldly into space, to discover
any "external representation" of the sublime attempt of the authors of
this volume. Yet it may reasonably be objected that in the Dædalian
legend we can detect but a partial and deceptive correspondence; for,
whereas we read that one of the ancient voyagers, having ventured too
near the sun, met his end by a distressing casualty, it is certain,
that, when the reader loses sight of this modern family-excursion in the
metaphysical ether, both parties are pushing vigorously on, wings in
capital condition, wind never better, and the grand tour of the universe
in process of most happy accomplishment. And let it here be mentioned
that the senior of the gentlemen whose names are given upon the
title-page is understood to resemble the classical artificer in being
inventor and manufacturer of pinions for the two. Mr. E. L. Frothingham
is to be regarded as substantially the author of the volume before us.

And so Philosophy is not dead, after all! Mr. Lewes's rather handsome
resolutions, of which copies have been forwarded to the friends of the
supposed deceased, turn out to be premature; Dr. Mansel's pious obituary
is an impertinence; Comte and Buckle, Mill and Spencer, are not the
spendthrift heirs of her homestead estate in Dreamland. The Positive
Mrs. Gamp may continue to assure us that the bantling "never breathed to
speak on in this wale," but the perennial showman persists in depicting
it "quite contrairy in a livin' state, and performing beautiful upon the
'arp." We play with metaphors, hesitating to characterize this latest
Minerva-birth. For it is either that "new sensation" demanded by the Sir
Charles Coldstream who has used up all religions and all philosophies,
or, being a _reductio ad absurdum_ of speculative pretension, it fulfils
the promise of a recent quack advertisement, and is in very truth "The
Metaphysical Cure."

Perhaps it were better to cancel the preceding paragraphs. Is not any
savor of banter out of place in the reception we are bound to accord to
an alleged solution of the unthinkable problem which underlies creation
and man's position therein? If the impulse which first controlled us is
not denied expression, it is because it implies at once the worst that
can be said of a very extraordinary performance. Let this worst be
written roughly, and in a single sentence. To the vast majority of
upright and thoughtful men who are at present living and laboring in the
world, Mr. Frothingham's "Philosophy as Absolute Science" can be saved
from being infinitely repulsive only by being infinitely ridiculous. But
to stop with this assertion would give no adequate impression of an
earnest and most conscientious work. A remarkable mind, even if a
misdirected one, has mounted upon the battlements of its system, and
proclaimed victory over all things. Of all tellers of marvels,
Swedenborg alone is so absolutely free from a vulgar fanaticism, and so
innocent of any appeal to passion, prejudice, or taste. With an
equipoise of disposition which is almost provoking, Mr. Frothingham
announces as dogmas speculations from whose sweep and immensity the
human mind recoils. Having posited his principles, he confidently
proceeds to deduce a system which shall include every spiritual and
material fact of which man can take cognizance. And he is too genuine a
philosopher to be troubled at the practical application of his
discoveries. He repudiates with contempt whatever expression has been
found for the energy of the purest and noblest leaders of modern
society. Esculapius is not accommodated with the sacrifice of so much as
a February chicken. The manly works of Wilberforce and Garrison, the
gracious influence of Channing, the stalwart conviction of Parker, the
deep perception of Emerson,--all these must be beaten down under our
feet as the incarnate Satan of the Litany. But if this is rather rough
treatment for the advance-guard of civilization, the brethren in the
rear rank are prevented from taking the comfort to which they seem to be
justly entitled. For we are utterly unable to understand what a recent
reviewer means in commending this work to conservatives as a noble
text-book and grand summary of arguments in favor of their positions.
The truth is, that no conservative can possibly accept the system. For
it is constantly shown that what may be called a progressive
_bouleversement_ is to every individual a necessary advance, securing to
him experiences which are essential to the realization of that spiritual
consciousness which is alone capable of receiving the Absolute
Philosophy. The editor of the "Richmond Examiner" must become as he of
the "Liberator," and the Bishop of Vermont must meditate a John Brown
raid, before either of them can receive the ultimate redemption now
published to the world.

From what Mr. Frothingham calls "an internal-natural point of
observation," which we understand to be that of a great majority of the
most intelligent and gifted people at present on the earth, the results
of this scheme appear so false and contradictory as to furnish its very
adequate refutation. Nevertheless, there doubtless exists a class of
spiritually minded, cultivated, unsatisfied men and women who will feel
that the sober sincerity of this voice crying in the commercial
wilderness must challenge a respectful hearing. Such persons will find
no difficulty in accepting the statement, that a system of Absolute
Truth must be "contrary to the natural conceptions of the mind, to the
facts of the natural consciousness, and to the inclinations of the
natural heart." Their past experiences have told them that no precision
of human speech can reveal a spiritual condition, or even render
intelligible the highest mental operations. Instead of the
"this-will-never-do" dictum of superficial and carnal criticism, they
will offer patient study, and be content that much shall appear foolish
and meaningless until a change in the interior being can interpret it
aright. It is just to mention that a very few persons of the character
described have already received Mr. Frothingham's philosophy, and
profess to find it full of instruction and delight. And let it not be
concealed that no one who did not possess the very abundant leisure
necessary for investigation and meditation, and had not passed through
mental states represented by Romanism, Protestantism, Unitarianism, and
Transcendentalism, could be accepted by the veriest neophyte as a
competent reviewer. We attempt nothing more than a very humble notice
which may bring the existence of this latest salvation before some of
the scattered fellowship who are ready for it. We despair of making any
statement concerning it which believers would not consider ludicrously
inadequate or absolutely false. All and singular are accordingly warned
that what is here printed comes from a mental point of view totally
opposed to the alleged Truth, as well as from that limited amount of
application which a regular calling in the week and customary
church-going on Sunday has left at our disposal.

Mr. Frothingham claims to have obtained cognizance of certain laws which
govern the relations of the Universe. He maintains that the natural
understanding of man is led through various educative processes to that
vague and variously interpreted condition known as Transcendentalism.
This final manifestation, although no other than Antichrist and the Man
of Sin in person, is a necessary forerunner of our possible redemption
through acceptance of the ultimate Gospel. For external philosophy has
here reached its lowest form, which is necessarily self-destructive; and
so ends what may be called the natural development of the human
consciousness. The personal principle has achieved its utmost might of
self-assertion against that which is universal. Selfishness now appears
in its most destructive form, demanding the liberty instead of the
subjection of men. Sympathy usurps the seat of Justice, the individual
is cruel under pretence of being kind, and fanaticism and mischief are
baptized as Duty. The divinely ordained institutions of society are
sacrificed, and ruin and chaos inevitably result. Having shown that
Philosophy, developed in its natural form, can produce nothing better
than Pantheism, Atheism, Anthropomorphism, and Skepticism, there arises
an inquiry for the causes which have produced these seemingly unhappy
results. And now it appears "that the Consciousness must be developed in
its natural form from a natural point of view before its spiritual form
can be developed; and therefore that Philosophy must be developed as a
natural production in three spheres before it can be realized as a
Universal Spiritual Science." Again, the Cause of All has hitherto been
conceived from a pagan, Unitarian, and naturalistic point of view. For,
if we understand Mr. Frothingham, the Pope is not a whit sounder than M.
Renan,--the Head of the Church being unable to "consciously appropriate"
his own theological formularies, until, governed by a Unitarian and
naturalistic law, they are contradicted in being incarnated. Philosophy,
then, hitherto demanding that everything should be realized from one
Universal Cause or Substance, "has failed to explain the nature of God
and the nature of man from any rational point of view." It has been
obliged to "recognize necessity as the universal law of life, and to
conceive the production of the phenomenal from the absolute,--therefore
of man from God; and also the production of the finite from the
infinite,--therefore of diversity from unity, of evil from good, and of
death from life; which is the greatest violation of rationality that can
possibly be supposed." But it is now time to state, or rather faintly to
adumbrate, the grand assumption of this singular work. There are held to
be two Spiritual Causes, whose union is the condition of all existence.
Each of these Causes, represented under the terms of Infinite and Finite
Law, are conceived to be threefold principles which act and operate
together as Death and Life. Neither the Infinite nor the Finite
Principle can obtain definite manifestation without the aid of the
other; but there is a capacity in the latter for becoming receptive and
productive from the former. And from this august union come all the
works of creation, where death is still made productive from life, evil
from good, the natural from the spiritual,--this last happy
productiveness never taking place by any development of the natural, but
only by means of a spiritual conception and birth. Every individual must
commence his existence as a dualistic substance necessarily discordant
and unreal. Through various appearances, representing an experience of
opposing spiritual laws, he reaches a position where true spiritual life
becomes possible through presentation to the consciousness of the
opposing Spiritual Laws already noticed. The solemn moment of choice,
when for the first and only time man can be said to be a free agent, has
now arrived. Affinities for the Laws of Death and Life are felt within
him. He may become productive from the Infinite for universal ends, or
from the Finite for those which are personal. He is saved or lost at his
own election.

Within the limits to which we are restricted, it is impossible to give
any account of the multiplex and abstruse details into which the system
is carried. The present volume contains an ontology constructed upon the
new basis. It shows varied study, and abounds in ponderous quotations
and laborious analyses. It will be profoundly interesting to the few who
are able to accept as axioms the teacher's assumptions, and to trace a
vigorous deduction in the changes which are rung upon a small set of
words. By a legitimate course of reasoning from his primal conception,
Mr. Frothingham claims to have demonstrated the fact of Tripersonality
in the Deity. He finds the universal law of spiritual life through
Marriage or the union of opposites through voluntary sacrifice. It is
likewise maintained that all the important statements of Absolute
Science are represented in Philosophy, the Scriptures, and the
Church,--each abounding in poetic symbols of absolute facts now for the
first time revealed. The Bible is held to be of supernatural origin and
universal application,--though of course its real significance has
hitherto been hidden from men. An exgesis of the Book of Job is given in
the appendix as a specimen of what may be disclosed in the sacred
records from this ultimate position of belief.

Mr. Frothingham's claims are in some measure those of a seer. His
immense show of philosophical apparatus, his prodigality of logical
balance-wheels and escapements, resemble the superfluous clock-work of
the "automaton" which plays its game as the gentleman concealed inside
shall judge expedient. It is of course impossible to probe the Two
Absolutes, or the wonderful marriage which takes place between them. Mr.
Frothingham _sees_ that so it is. Men of aspirations as high, and of
intellect as cultivated, will think that they have no difficulty in
seeing quite as distinctly that so it is not. Others, lovers of Truth,
zealous for human welfare, may look up a moment from their patient study
of phenomena in their coexistences and successions, and humbly confess
their inability to see into the matter at all. But it is to be observed
that the most distinguished representatives of the two classes of the
world's instructors have at present come to nearly identical conclusions
as to what should be the aims of human society. Mr. Henry James and Mr.
Herbert Spencer, Mr. Emerson and Dr. Draper, would find little
difficulty in working together in a state cabinet or on a legislative
committee. Without discussing the breadth or character of their several
knowledges or intuitions, they would probably approve the same measures,
and agree in the routine which, under existing circumstances, it was
best to pursue. But unless Mr. Frothingham should be wrecked upon a
desolate island, and there be visited by picnics of Transcendentalists
from whom he might occasionally reclaim a Caucasian Man Friday, we
cannot see what practical parturition can come of his mighty labor. He
offers nothing which is capable of becoming incorporated with the
existing intelligence of the age. He furnishes no acceptable basis for
the caution of maturity or the generous vision of youth. Charles Lamb's
recipe for witnessing with any quietude of conscience the artificial
comedy of the last century was, to regard the whole as a passing
pageant, and to accept with cheerful unconcern its issues for life and
death. Some such state of mind must be commended to the student of this
Philosophy. Let him be indifferent to that great act of political
justice which Abraham Lincoln was constrained to do. Let him have no
glow of satisfaction in the improved condition of woman, allowed to own
herself and to hold the property which her labor accumulates. Let him
not remember how she has repaid every effort made in her behalf by
marking the gauge upon the thermometer of civilization, and by raising
man as he raises her. In short, let him provisionally stand upon such a
platform as might be constructed by a committee of which Legree was
chairman and Bluebeard the rest of it, and if he does not accept
"Absolute Science," he will at least be patient in reading what may be
said in its behalf. But if, in justice to ourselves, we present the
obvious objections of the general reader, in justice to Mr. Frothingham,
we are bound to confess that they shrivel in the blaze of special
illumination with which he has been favored. He grants the value of
effort as it appears in the accepted channels of the day, but contends
that its value is confined to the development and growth of the
individual who exercises it. It furnishes a groundwork which at the
right time shall provide the material suggestive of supernatural
thought. It prepares the sacrifice that will be necessary in view of the
new order of spiritual experiences now presented for the first time to
the consciousness of man.

It scarcely need be said that Mr. Frothingham does not expect to make
many proselytes. He is well aware that his stupendous gift of a supreme
and ultimate Philosophy will produce no perceptible effect upon the
public. A complaint of taxes and a gossip of stocks continue audible;
but no neighbor drops in to tell us that the Mystery of Mysteries has
received elucidation, and that a man may know even as he is known. It is
fortunate that the lofty aim of a sincere and earnest thinker is its own
sufficient recompense. The quality of mind which struggles out of the
easy-going electicism which at present contents the majority of
cultivated men, and achieves a position where our poor half-truths
combine in a grand organic whole, is beyond the reach of human
congratulation. And the results of such conscientious and arduous
striving we are bound to receive with respect. To the disciples of Mr.
Frothingham we shall doubtless seem to have uttered some superficial
commonplaces about his creed, and have displayed our total inability to
penetrate to its true profundities. They will probably say that his
theory can tolerate no partial statement, and that the attempts of the
uninitiated can compass nothing but caricature and burlesque. We
cordially give them the advantage of this supposed stricture, and as
cordially refer all earnest inquirers to this first instalment of the
heroic work. We say _heroic_, and would abate the adjective of no jot of
meaning. It requires the stuff of which heroes are made to promulgate a
religious idea so unadapted to the conscious demands of any order or
condition of men. A few persons of redundant leisure, touched with the
restlessness in belief which is characteristic of the time, may thread
the mazes of "Absolute Science" until they awaken the desirable
perception of it coherency and strength. We know that there is
somewhere a flock awaiting the leadership of any vigorous mind which
does not doubt its mission, and mocks at all question and compromise.
Especially is it the duty of those who feel that they have attained the
necessary condition of "transcendental imbecility" to test the enormous
pretension of a doctrine of whose reception they alone are capable.
Whether Mr. Frothingham's book is wise and satisfying, they only can
tell us. It is our humbler duty to declare that we have found it
decidedly interesting, and perfectly harmless. The old charge of
corrupting youth cannot be preferred against this newest of
philosophers. For as error is dangerous only in proportion to its
plausibility, the risk encountered by the reader is infinitesimal.

     _Looking toward Sunset._ By L. MARIA CHILD. Boston: Ticknor &

For forty years it has been the good fortune of Mrs. Child to achieve a
series of separate literary successes, whose accumulated value justly
gives her a high claim to gratitude. Every one of her chief works has
been a separate venture in some new field, always daring, always
successful, always valuable. Her "Juvenile Miscellany" was the delight
of all American childhood, when childish books were few. Her "Hobomok"
was one of the very first attempts to make this country the scene of
historical fiction. In the freshness of literary success, she did not
hesitate to sacrifice all her newly won popularity, for years, by the
publication of her remarkable "Appeal for the Class of Americans called
Africans," a book unsurpassed in ability and comprehensiveness by any of
the innumerable later works on the same subject,--works which would not
even now supersede it, except that its facts and statistics have become
obsolete. Time and the progress of the community at length did her
justice once more, and her charming "Letters from New York" brought all
her popularity back. Turning away, however, from fame won by such light
labors, she devoted years of her life to the compilation of her great
work on the "Progress of Religious Ideas," a book unequalled in the
English language as a magazine of the religious aspirations of the race.
And now, still longing to look in some new direction, she finds that
direction in "Sunset,"--the only region towards which her name and her
nature have alike excused her from turning her gaze before.

This volume is a collection of essays and poems, old and new, original
and selected, but all bearing on the theme of old age. Her authors range
from Cicero to Dickens, from Mrs. Barbauld to Theodore Parker. The book
includes that unequalled essay by Jean Paul, "Recollections of the Best
Hours of Life for the Hour of Death"; and then makes easily the
transition to that delicious scene of humor and pathos from "Cranford,"
where dear Miss Matty meets again the lover of her youth. Some trifling
errors might be noticed here and there, such as occur even in books
looking this side of "Sunset": as when Burns's line, "But now your brow
is beld, John," is needlessly translated into "But now your head's
turned bald, John,"--where the version is balder than the head. It is
singular, too, how long it takes to convince the community that Milton
did not write the verses, "I am old and blind," and that Mrs. Howell of
Philadelphia did. Mrs. Child discreetly cites for them no author at all,
and thus escapes better than the editor of the new series of "Hymns for
the Ages," who boldly appends to the poem, "Milton, 1608-1674." Yet Mrs.
Child's early ventures in the way of writing speeches for James Otis and
sermons for Whitefield should have made her a sharper detective of the
ingenuity of others. Those successful imitations, published originally
in her novel of "The Rebels," have hardly yet ceased to pass current in
the school elocution-books.

Nothing occurs to us as being omitted from this collection, which justly
belongs there, unless she could have rescued from the manuscript that
charming essay, read by President Quincy at a certain Cambridge dinner,
wherein that beloved veteran--_Roscius sua arte_--taught his academic
children to grow old.

     _The Autobiography of a New England Farm-House._ A Book. By N.
     H. CHAMBERLAIN. New York: Carleton.

We have read this little book with some tenderness, and have been
interested in its calm, homelike pictures. The author appears to have
been drawn by a sincere affinity towards the poet to whom he does
himself the honor to dedicate his story in words of simple and sincere

There is a pellucid stillness, like that of a summer lake, over the
pages wherein the story lies reflected. And this perhaps we may consider
to be the charm and value of the book. But the author does not remember
that only those things are read which _must be said_; therefore the
simple incidents of his narrative are forced into a growth of many
instead of few chapters, and the long-drawn cord becomes weak, and will
not easily lead us to the end. He also betrays his lack of art by
printing verses which stick like deep sea-shells far below the
high-water mark of poetry. Nevertheless, there is a fine New England
color and flavor in the book which attract us, and a gentle, high-minded
peace reigns throughout the volume.

Is the author young? we are tempted to ask. Then let him turn priest
straightway, and enter the temple of Art, and let him weave his pictures
sacredly of the pure gold fibres of inspiration and thought.

     _Lowell Lectures. The Problem of Human Destiny; or, The End of
     Providence in the World and Man._ By ORVILLE DEWEY, D.D. New
     York: James Miller.

The publication of a second edition of this thoughtful, genial, and
eloquent volume enables us to correct the omission of not noticing it on
its first appearance a few months ago. Originally prepared as a course
of lectures for the Lowell Institute, and repeated with marked success
in various cities of the Union, the mode of treatment is of course
popular rather than scientific. The subject is necessarily complicated
with the problem of evil; but the design is not so much to attempt a new
solution of the problem as to present, in a vivid and impressive form,
certain invigorating and consoling truths which relieve the weight of
its burden. The most comprehensive definition of evil, to all minds
which are forced, by the contradiction involved in the affirmation of
two Infinites, to deny its essential existence, is that which declares
it to be imperfect good. But as this definition implies that evil
characterizes all grades of created being, and includes the saint
singing in heaven as well as the savage prowling in the woods, it
carries with it little help or satisfaction to the practical will and
conscience. Dr. Dewey takes up the problem at one or two removes from
its purely abstract essence, and fastens on its concrete manifestations,
and the compensations for its existence in the system of the world. The
leading ideas he aims to inculcate are these: that the system of the
moral world is a system of spontaneous development, having for its
object human culture; that man, being free, must do, within the sphere
of his permitted activity, what he will, and therefore is free to do
what is wrong; that, in order that his growth may be free and rational,
the system of treatment under which he lives must be one of general
laws, and not of capricious expedients; and that there are two
restraints on his wild or pernicious activity,--one inward, from his
moral nature, the other outward, from material Nature. After
illustrating these at considerable, though by no means tedious length,
Dr. Dewey proceeds to exhibit the adaptation of the material world to
human culture,--the physical and moral constitution of man, and the
complexity of his being,--the mental and moral activity elicited by his
connection with Nature and life,--the problems of pain, hereditary evil,
and death, which affect his individual existence,--the problems of bad
or defective institutions and usages, religious, political, and warlike,
which affect his social existence,--and the testimony of history to
human progress, and to the principles of human spontaneity and divine
control which underlie it.

But this bare enumeration conveys no impression of the richness of the
author's matter or the fineness of his spirit. The volume is full of
interesting facts, gathered from a wide range of thoughtful reading,
literary, historical, theological, and scientific, and of facts, too,
which are associated with thoughts and related to a plan. The judgments
expressed on all the vital questions which come up in the discussion of
the theme bear the impress of genuine convictions. They are not merely
the assent of the understanding to propositions, but of the soul to
truths; and many must have been subjected to the test of personal
experience as well as mental scrutiny. The first requisite of a work on
the problem of human destiny is, that it should kindle the reader into
sympathy with human nature, and lodge in his mind an abiding conviction
of the reality of human progress; and this requisite Dr. Dewey's volume
satisfies better than many treatises of more scientific exactness and
more ambitious pretensions.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 15, No. 88, February, 1865" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

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

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