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Title: The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 15, No. 91, May, 1865
Author: Various
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 15, No. 91, May, 1865" ***

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_A Magazine of Literature, Art, and Politics._

VOL. XV.--MAY, 1865.--NO. XCI.

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


Not in the spirit of exact science, but rather with the freedom of love
and old acquaintance, would I celebrate some of the minstrels of the
field and forest,--these accredited and authenticated poets of Nature.

All day, while the rain has pattered and murmured, have I heard the
notes of the Robin and the Wood-Thrush; the Red-Eyed Flycatcher has
pursued his game within a few feet of my window, darting with a low,
complacent warble amid the dripping leaves, looking as dry and unruffled
as if a drop of rain had never touched him; the Cat-Bird has flirted and
attitudinized on my garden-fence; the House-Wren stopped a moment
between the showers, and indulged in a short, but spirited, rehearsal
under a large leaf in the grape-arbor; the King-Bird advised me of his
proximity, as he went by on his mincing flight; and the Chimney-Swallows
have been crying the child's riddle of "_Chippy, chippy, cherryo_,"
about the house-top.

With these angels and ministers of grace thus to attend me, even in the
seclusion of my closet, I am led more than ever to expressions of love
and admiration. I understand the enthusiasm of Wilson and Audubon, and
see how one might forsake house and home and go and live with them the
free life of the woods.

To the dissecting, classifying scientist a bird may be no more perfect
or lovable than a squirrel or a fish; yet to me it seems that all the
excellences of the animal creation converge and centre in this nymph of
the air; a warbler seems to be the finishing stroke.

First, there is its light, delicate, aërial organization,--consequently,
its vivacity, its high temperature, the depth and rapidity of its
inspirations, and likewise the intense, gushing, lyrical character of
its life. How hot he is! how fast he lives!--as if his air had more
oxygen than ours, or his body less clay. How slight a wound kills him!
how exquisite his sensations! how perfect his nervous system! and hence
how large his brain! Why, look at the cerebral development of this tiny
songster,--almost a third larger, in proportion to the size of its body,
than that of Shakspeare even! Does it mean nothing? You may observe that
a warbler has a much larger brain and a much finer cerebral
organization throughout than a bird of prey, or any of the Picus family
even. Does it signify nothing? I gaze into the eyes of the
Gazelle,--eyes that will admit of no epithet or comparison,--and the old
question of preëxistence and transmigration rises afresh in my mind, and
something like a dim recognition of kinship passes. I turn this Thrush
in my hand,--I remember its strange ways, the curious look it gave me,
its ineffable music, its freedom, and its ecstasy,--and I tremble lest I
have slain a being diviner than myself.

And then there is its freedom, its superior powers of locomotion, its
triumph over time and space. The reptile measures its length upon the
ground; the quadruped enjoys a more complete liberation, and is related
to the earth less closely; man more still; and the bird most of all.
Over our heads, where our eyes travel, but our bodies follow not,--in
the free native air,--is his home. The trees are his temples and his
dwellings, and the breezes sing his lullaby. He needs no sheltering; for
the rain does not wet him. He need fear no cold; for the tropics wait
upon his wings. He is the nearest visible representation of a spirit I
know of. He _flies_,--the superlative of locomotion; the poet in his
most audacious dreams dare confer no superior power on flesh and blood.
Sound and odor are no more native to the air than is the Swallow. Look
at this marvellous creature! He can reverse the order of the seasons,
and almost keep the morning or the sunset constantly in his eye, or
outstrip the west-wind cloud. Does he subsist upon air or odor, that he
is forever upon the wing, and never deigns to pick a seed or crumb from
the earth? Is he an embodied thought projected from the brain of some
mad poet in the dim past, and sent to teach us a higher geometry of
curves and spirals? See him with that feather high in air, dropping it
and snapping it up again in the very glee of superabundant vitality, and
in his sudden evolutions and spiral gambollings seeming more a creature
of the imagination than of actual sight!

And, again, their coming and going, how curious and suggestive! We go
out in the morning, and no Thrush or Vireo is to be heard; we go out
again, and every tree and grove is musical; yet again, and all is
silent. Who saw them come? who saw them depart? This pert little
Winter-Wren, for instance, darting in and out the fence, diving under
the rubbish here and coming up yards away,--how does he manage with
those little circular wings to compass degrees and zones, and arrive
always in the nick of time? Last August I saw him in the remotest wilds
of the Adirondack, impatient and inquisitive as usual; a few weeks
later, on the Potomac, I was greeted by the same hardy little busybody.
Does he travel by easy stages from bush to bush and from wood to wood?
or has that compact little body force and courage to brave the night and
the upper air, and so achieve leagues at one pull? And yonder Bluebird,
with the hue of the Bermuda sky upon his back, as Thoreau would say, and
the flush of its dawn upon his breast,--did he come down out of heaven
on that bright March morning when he told us so softly and plaintively,
that, if we pleased, spring had come?

About the middle of September I go out in the woods, and am attracted by
a faint piping and lisping in the tops of the Oaks and Chestnuts. Tiny
figures dart to and fro so rapidly that it pains the eye to follow them,
and I discover that the Black-Poll Warbler is paying me a return visit.
Presently I likewise perceive a troop of Redstarts, or Green-Backed
Warblers, or Golden and Ruby-Crowned Wrens, flashing through the
Chestnut-branches, or hanging like jewels on the Cedar-sprays. A week of
two later, and my darlings are gone, another love is in my heart, and
other voices fill my ears. But so unapparent and mysterious are the
coming and going, that I look upon each as a special Providence, and
value them as visitants from another sphere.

The migration of the Pigeons, Ducks, and Geese is obvious enough; we see
them stream across the heavens, or hear their _clang_ in the night; but
these minstrels of the field and forest add to their other charms a
shade of mystery, and pique the imagination by their invisible and
unknown journeyings. To be sure, we know they follow the opening season
north and the retreating summer south; but who will point to the
parallels that mark the limits of their wandering, or take us to their
most secret haunts?

What greater marvel than this simple gift of music? What beside birds
and the human species sing? It is the crowning gift; through it the
field and forest are justified. Nature said, "These rude forms and
forces must have a spokesman of their own nursing; here are flowers and
odor, let there be music also." I suspect the subtile spirit of the
meadow took form in the Bobolink, that the high pasture-lands begot the
Vesper-Sparrow, and that from the imprisoned sense and harmony of the
forests sprang the Wood-Thrush.

From the life of birds being on a more intense and vehement scale than
that of other animals result their musical gifts and their holiday
expression of joy. How restless and curious they are! Their poise and
attitudes, how various, rapid, and graceful! They are a study for an
artist, especially as exhibited in the Warblers and Flycatchers: their
looks of alarm, of curiosity, of repose, of watchfulness, of joy, so
obvious and expressive, yet as impossible of reproduction as their
music. Even if the naturalist were to succeed in imparting all their
wild extravagances of poise and motion to their inanimate forms, his
birds, to say the least, would have a very theatrical or melodramatic
aspect, and seem unreal in proportion to their fidelity to Nature. I
have seen a Blue Jay alone, saluting and admiring himself in the mirror
of a little pool of water from a low overhanging branch, assume so many
graceful, novel, as well as ridiculous and fantastic attitudes, as would
make a taxidermist run mad to attempt to reproduce; and the rich medley
of notes he poured forth at the same time--chirping, warbling, cooing,
whistling, chattering, revealing rare musical and imitative
powers--would have been an equally severe test to the composer who
should have aspired to report them; and the indignant air of outraged
privacy he assumed, on finding himself discovered, together with his
loud, angry protest, as, with crown depressed and plumage furled, he
rapidly ascended to the topmost branch of a tall Birch, the better to
proclaim my perfidy to the whole world, would have excited the interest
and applause of the coolest observer.

So much in a general sense; but let me discriminate; "for my purpose
holds" to call my favorites by name, and point them out to you, as the
tuneful procession passes.

Every stage of the advancing season gives prominence to certain birds as
to certain flowers. The Dandelion tells me when to look for the Swallow,
and I know the Thrushes will not linger when the Orchis is in bloom. In
my latitude, April is emphatically the month of the Robin. In large
numbers they scour the fields and groves. You hear their piping in the
meadow, in the pasture, on the hillside. Walk in the woods, and the dry
leaves rustle with the whir of their wings, the air is vocal with their
cheery call. In excess of joy and vivacity, they run, leap, scream,
chase each other through the air, diving and sweeping among the trees
with perilous rapidity.

In that free, fascinating, half-work and half-play
pursuit,--sugar-making,--a pursuit which still lingers in many parts of
New York, as in New England, the Robin is one's boon companion. When the
day is sunny and the ground bare, you meet him at all points and hear
him at all hours. At sunset, on the tops of the tall Maples, with look
heavenward, and in a spirit of utter abandonment, he carols his simple
strain. And sitting thus amid the stark, silent trees, above the wet,
cold earth, with the chill of winter still in the air, there is no
fitter or sweeter songster in the whole round year. It is in keeping
with the scene and the occasion. How round and genuine the notes are,
and how eagerly our ears drink them in! The first utterance, and the
spell of winter is thoroughly broken and the remembrance of it afar off.

Robin is one of the most native and democratic of our birds; he is one
of the family, and seems much nearer to us than those rare, exotic
visitants, as the Orchard-Starling or Rose-Breasted Grosbeak, with their
distant, high-bred ways. Hardy, noisy, frolicsome, neighborly and
domestic in his ways, strong of wing and bold in spirit, he is the
pioneer of the Thrush family, and well worthy of the finer artists whose
coming he heralds and in a measure prepares us for.

I could wish Robin less native and plebeian in one respect,--the
building of his nest. Its coarse material and rough masonry are
creditable neither to his skill as a workman nor to his taste as an
artist. I am the more forcibly reminded of his deficiency in this
respect from observing yonder Humming-Bird's nest, which is a marvel of
fitness and adaptation, a proper setting for this winged gem,--the body
of it composed of a white, felt-like substance, probably the down of
some plant or the wool of some worm, and toned down in keeping with the
branch on which it sits by minute tree-lichens, woven together by
threads as fine and frail as gossamer. From Robin's good looks and
musical turn we might reasonably predict a domicil of equal fitness and
elegance. At least I demand of him as clean and handsome a nest as the
King-Bird's, whose harsh jingle, compared with Robin's evening melody,
is as the clatter of pots and kettles beside the tone of a flute. I love
his note and ways better even than those of the Orchard-Starling or the
Baltimore Oriole; yet his nest, compared with theirs, is a
half-subterranean hut contrasted with a Roman villa. There is something
courtly and poetical in a pensile nest. Next to a castle in the air is a
dwelling suspended to the slender branch of a tall tree, swayed and
rocked forever by the wind. Why need wings be afraid of falling? Why
build only where boys can climb? After all, we must set it down to the
account of Robin's democratic turn; he is no aristocrat, but one of the
people; and therefore we should expect stability in his workmanship,
rather than elegance.

Another April bird, which makes her appearance sometimes earlier and
sometimes later than Robin, and whose memory I fondly cherish, is the
Phoebe-Bird, (_Muscicapa nunciola_,) the pioneer of the Flycatchers.
In the inland farming districts, I used to notice her, on some bright
morning about Easter-day, proclaiming her arrival with much variety of
motion and attitude, from the peak of the barn or hay-shed. As yet, you
may have heard only the plaintive, homesick note of the Bluebird, or the
faint trill of the Song-Sparrow; and Phoebe's clear, vivacious
assurance of her veritable bodily presence among us again is welcomed by
all ears. At agreeable intervals in her lay she describes a circle or an
ellipse in the air, ostensibly prospecting for insects, but really, I
suspect, as an artistic flourish, thrown in to make up in some way for
the deficiency of her musical performance. If plainness of dress
indicates powers of song, as it usually does, then Phoebe ought to be
unrivalled in musical ability, for surely that ashen-gray suit is the
superlative of plainness; and that form, likewise, though it might pass
for the "perfect figure" of a bird, measured by Joe Gargery's standard,
to a fastidious taste would present exceptionable points. The
seasonableness of her coming, however, and her civil, neighborly ways,
shall make up for all deficiencies in song and plumage, and remove any
suspicions we may have had, that, perhaps, from some cause or other, she
was in some slight disfavor with Nature. After a few weeks Phoebe is
seldom seen, except as she darts from her moss-covered nest beneath some
bridge or shelving cliff.

Another April comer, who arrives shortly after Robin-Redbreast, with
whom he associates both at this season and in the autumn, is the
Golden-Winged Woodpecker, _alias_, "High-Hole," _alias_, "Flicker,"
_alias_, "Yarup." He is an old favorite of my boyhood, and his note to
me means very much. He announces his arrival by a long, loud call,
repeated from the dry branch of some tree, or a stake in the fence,--a
thoroughly melodious April sound. I think how Solomon finished that
beautiful climax on Spring, "And the voice of the turtle is heard in our
land," and see that a description of Spring in this farming country, to
be equally characteristic, should culminate in like manner,--"And the
call of the High-Hole comes up from the wood."

It is a loud, strong, sonorous call, and does not seem to imply an
answer, but rather to subserve some purpose of love or music. It is
"Yarup's" proclamation of peace and good-will to all. On looking at the
matter closely, I perceive that most birds, not denominated songsters,
have, in the spring, some note or sound or call that hints of a song,
and answers imperfectly the end of beauty and art. As a "brighter iris
comes upon the burnished dove," and the fancy of the young man turns
lightly to thoughts of his pretty cousin, so the same renewing spirit
touches the "silent singers," and they are no longer dumb; faintly they
lisp the first syllables of the marvellous tale. Witness the clear,
sweet whistle of the Gray-Crested Titmouse,--the soft, nasal piping of
the Nuthatch,--the amorous, vivacious warble of the Bluebird,--the long,
rich note of the Meadow-Lark,--the whistle of the Quail,--the drumming
of the Partridge,--the animation and loquacity of the Swallows, and the
like. Even the Hen has a homely, contented carol; and I credit the Owls
with a desire to fill the night with music. All birds are incipient or
would-be songsters in the spring. I find corroborative evidence of this
even in the crowing of the Cock. The flowering of the Maple is not so
obvious as that of the Magnolia; nevertheless, there is actual
inflorescence. Neither Wilson nor Audubon, I believe, awards any song to
that familiar little Sparrow, the _Socialis_; yet who that has observed
him sitting by the wayside, and repeating, with devout attitude, that
fine sliding chant, does not recognize the neglect? Who has heard the
Snow-Bird sing? Not the ornithologist, it seems; yet he has a lisping
warble very savory to the ear, I have heard him indulge in it even in

Even the Cow-Bunting feels the musical tendency, and aspires to its
expression, with the rest. Perched upon the topmost branch beside his
mate or mates,--for he is quite a polygamist, and usually has two or
three demure little ladies in faded black beside him,--generally in the
early part of the day, he seems literally to vomit up his notes.
Apparently with much labor and effort, they gurgle and blubber up out of
him, falling on the ear with a peculiar subtile ring, as of turning
water from a glass jug, and not without a certain pleasing cadence.

Neither is the common Woodpecker entirely insensible to the wooing of
the spring, and, like the Partridge, testifies his appreciation of
melody after quite a primitive fashion. Passing through the woods, on
some clear, still morning in March, while the metallic ring and tension
of winter are still in the earth and air, the silence is suddenly broken
by long, resonant hammering upon a dry limb or stub. It is Downy beating
a reveille to Spring. In the utter stillness and amid the rigid forms we
listen with pleasure, and as it comes to my ear oftener at this season
than at any other, I freely exonerate the author of it from the
imputation of any gastronomic motives, and credit him with a genuine
musical performance.

It is to be expected, therefore, that "Yellow-Hammer" will respond to
the general tendency, and contribute his part to the spring chorus. His
April call is his finest touch, his most musical expression.

I recall an ancient Maple standing sentry to a large Sugar-Bush, that,
year after year, afforded protection, to a brood of Yellow-Hammers in
its decayed heart. A week or two before the nesting seemed actually to
have begun, three or four of these birds might be seen, on almost any
bright morning, gambolling and courting amid its decayed branches.
Sometimes you would hear only a gentle, persuasive cooing, or a quiet,
confidential chattering,--then that long, loud call, taken up by first
one, then another, as they sat about upon the naked limbs,--anon, a sort
of wild, rollicking laughter, intermingled with various cries, yelps,
and squeals, as if some incident had excited their mirth and ridicule.
Whether this social hilarity and boisterousness is in celebration of the
pairing or mating ceremony, or whether it is only a sort of annual
"house-warming" common among High-Holes on resuming their summer
quarters, is a question upon which I reserve my judgment.

Unlike most of his kinsmen, the Golden-Wing prefers the fields and the
borders of the forest to the deeper seclusion of the woods,--and hence,
contrary to the habit of his tribe, obtains most of his subsistence from
the ground, boring for ants and crickets. He is not quite satisfied with
being a Woodpecker. He courts the society of the Robin and the Finches,
abandons the trees for the meadow, and feeds eagerly upon berries and
grain. What may be the final upshot of this course of living is a
question worthy the attention of Darwin. Will his taking to the ground
and his pedestrian feats result in lengthening his legs, his feeding
upon berries and grains subdue his tints and soften his voice, and his
associating with Robin put a song into his heart?

Indeed, what would be more interesting than the history of our birds for
the last two or three centuries? There can be no doubt that the presence
of man has exerted a very marked and friendly influence upon them, since
they so multiply in his society. The birds of California, it is said,
were mostly silent till after its settlement, and I doubt if the Indians
heard the Wood-Thrush as we hear him. Where did the Bobolink disport
himself before there were meadows in the North and rice-fields in the
South? Was he the same blithe, merry-hearted beau then as now? And the
Sparrow, the Lark, and the Goldfinch, birds that seem so indigenous to
the open fields and so averse to the woods,--we cannot conceive of their
existence in a vast wilderness and without man. Did they grow, like the
flowers, when the conditions favorable to their existence were

But to return. The Bluebird and Song-Sparrow, these universal favorites
and firstlings of the spring, come before April, and their names are
household words.

May is the month of the Swallows and the Orioles. There are many other
distinguished arrivals, indeed nine tenths of the birds are here by the
last week in May, yet the Swallows and Orioles are the most conspicuous.
The bright plumage of the latter seems really like an arrival from the
tropics. I see them flash through the blossoming trees, and all the
forenoon hear their incessant warbling and wooing. The Swallows dive and
chatter about the barn, or squeak and build beneath the eaves; the
Partridge drums in the fresh unfolding woods; the long, tender note of
the Meadow-Lark comes up from the meadow; and at sunset, from every
marsh and pond come the ten thousand voices of the Hylas. May is the
transition month, and exists to connect April and June, the root with
the flower.

With June the cup is full, our hearts are satisfied, there is no more to
be desired. The perfection of the season, among other things, has
brought the perfection of the song and plumage of the birds. The master
artists are all here; and the expectations excited by the Robin and the
Song-Sparrow are fully justified. The Thrushes have all come; and I sit
down upon the first rock, with hands full of the pink Azalea, to listen.
With me, the Cuckoo does not arrive till June; and often the Goldfinch,
the King-Bird, the Scarlet Tanager delay their coming till then. In the
meadows the Bobolink is in all his glory; in the high pastures the
Field-Sparrow sings his breezy vesper-hymn; and the woods are unfolding
to the music of the Thrushes.

The Cuckoo is one of the most solitary birds of our forests, and is
strangely tame and quiet, appearing equally untouched by joy or grief,
fear or anger. Is he an exile from some other sphere, and are his
loneliness and indifference the result of a hopeless, yet resigned soul?
Or has he passed through some terrible calamity or bereavement, that has
overpowered his sensibilities, rendering him dreamy and semi-conscious?
Something remote seems ever weighing upon his mind. He deposits his eggs
in the nests of other birds, having no heart for work or domestic care.
His note or call is as of one lost or wandering, and the farmer says is
prophetic of rain. Amid the general joy and the sweet assurance of
things, I love to listen to this strange clairvoyant call. Heard a
quarter of a mile away, coming up from the dark bosom of the forest or
out from the sombre recesses of the mountain, like the voice of a
muezzin calling to prayer in the Oriental twilight, it has a peculiar
fascination. He wanders from place to place,

          "An invisible thing,
    A voice, a mystery."

You will probably hear him a score of times to seeing him once. I rarely
discover him in the woods, except when on a protracted stay; but when in
June he makes his gastronomic tour of the garden and orchard, regaling
himself upon canker-worms, he is quite noticeable. Since food of some
kind is a necessity, he seems resolved to burden himself as little as
possible with the care of obtaining it, and so devours these creeping
horrors with the utmost matter-of-course air. At this time he is one of
the tamest birds in the orchard, and will allow you to approach within a
few yards of him. I have even come within a few feet of one without
seeming to excite his fear or suspicion. He is quite unsophisticated, or
else royally indifferent.

Without any exception, his plumage is the richest brown I am acquainted
with in Nature, and is unsurpassed in the qualities both of firmness and
fineness. Notwithstanding the disparity in size and color, he has
certain peculiarities that remind one of the Passenger-pigeon. His eye,
with its red circle, the shape of his head, and his motions on alighting
and taking flight, quickly suggest the resemblance; though in grace and
speed, when on the wing, he is far inferior. His tail seems
disproportionately long, like that of the Red Thrush, and his flight
among the trees is very still, contrasting strongly with the honest
clatter of the Robin or Pigeon.

Have you heard the song of the Field-Sparrow? If you have lived in a
pastoral country with broad upland pastures, you could hardly have
missed him. Wilson, I believe, calls him the Grass-Finch, and was
evidently unacquainted with his powers of song. The two white lateral
quills in his tail, and his habit of running and skulking a few yards in
advance of you as you walk through the fields, are sufficient to
identify him. Not in meadows or orchards, but in high, breezy
pasture-grounds, will you look for him. His song is most noticeable
after sundown, when other birds are silent; for which reason he has been
aptly called the Vesper-Sparrow. The farmer following his team from the
field at dusk catches his sweetest strain. His song is not so brisk and
varied as that of the Song-Sparrow, being softer and wilder, sweeter and
more plaintive. Add the best parts of the lay of the latter to the
sweet, vibrating chant of the Wood-Sparrow, and you have the evening
hymn of the Vesper-Bird,--the poet of the plain, unadorned pastures. Go
to those broad, smooth, up-lying fields where the cattle and sheep are
grazing, and sit down in the twilight on one of those warm, clean
stones, and listen to this song. On every side, near and remote, from
out the short grass which the herds are cropping, the strain rises. Two
or three long, silver notes of peace and rest, ending in some subdued
trills and quavers, constitute each separate song. Often you will catch
only one or two of the bars, the breeze having blown the minor part
away. Such unambitious, quiet, unconscious melody! It is one of the most
characteristic sounds in Nature. The grass, the stones, the stubble, the
furrow, the quiet herds, and the warm twilight among the hills are all
subtilely expressed in this song; this is what they are at last capable

The female builds a plain nest in the open field, without so much as a
bush or thistle or tuft of grass to protect it or mark its site; you may
step upon it, or the cattle may tread it into the ground. But the danger
from this source, I presume, the bird considers less than that from
another. Skunks and foxes have a very impertinent curiosity, as Finchie
well knows,--and a bank or hedge, or a rank growth of grass or thistles,
that might promise protection and cover to mouse or bird, these cunning
rogues would be apt to explore most thoroughly. The Partridge is
undoubtedly acquainted with the same process of reasoning; for, like the
Vesper-Bird, she, too, nests in open, unprotected places, avoiding all
show of concealment,--coming from the tangled and almost impenetrable
parts of the forest, to the clean, open woods, where she can command all
the approaches and fly with equal ease in any direction.

One of the most marvellous little songsters whose acquaintance I claim
is the White-Eyed Flycatcher. He seems to have been listened to by
unappreciative ears, for I know no one who has made especial mention of
him. His song is not particularly sweet and soft; on the contrary, it is
a little hard and shrill, like that of the Indigo-Bird or Oriole; but
for fluency, volubility, execution, and power of imitation, he is
unsurpassed (and in the last-named particular unequalled) by any of our
Northern birds. His ordinary note is forcible and emphatic, but, as
stated, not especially musical: _Chick-a-re'r-chick_, he seems to say,
hiding himself in the low, dense undergrowth, and eluding your most
vigilant search, as if playing some part in a game. But in July or
August, if you are on good terms with the sylvan deities, you may listen
to a far more rare and artistic performance. Your first impression will
be that that cluster of Azalea or that clump of Swamp-Huckleberry
conceals three or four different songsters, each vying with the others
to lead the chorus. Such a medley of notes, snatched from half the
songsters of the field and forest, and uttered with the utmost clearness
and rapidity, I am sure you cannot hear short of the haunts of the
genuine Mocking-Bird. If not fully and accurately repeated, there are at
least suggested the notes of the Robin, Wren, Cat-Bird, High-Hole,
Goldfinch, and Song-Sparrow. The _pip, pip_, of the last is produced so
accurately that I verily believe it would deceive the bird herself,--and
the whole uttered in such rapid succession that it seems as if the
movement that gives the concluding note of one strain must form the
first note of the next. The effect is very rich, and, to my ear,
entirely unique. The performer is very careful not to reveal himself in
the mean time; yet there is a conscious air about the strain that
impresses one with the idea that his presence is understood and his
attention courted. A tone of pride and glee, and, occasionally, of
bantering jocoseness, is discernible. I believe it is only rarely, and
when he is sure of his audience, that he displays his parts in this
manner. You are to look for him, not in tall trees or deep forests, but
in low, dense shrubbery about wet places, where there are plenty of
gnats and mosquitoes.

The Winter-Wren is another marvellous songster, in speaking of whom it
is difficult to avoid superlatives. He is not so conscious of his powers
and so ambitious of effect as the White-Eyed Flycatcher, yet you will
not be less astonished and delighted on hearing him. He possesses the
fluency, volubility, and copiousness for which the Wrens are noted, and
besides these qualities, and what is rarely found conjoined with them, a
wild, sweet, rhythmical cadence that holds you entranced. I shall not
soon forget that perfect June day, when, loitering in a low, ancient
Hemlock, in whose cathedral aisles the coolness and freshness seemed
perennial, the silence was suddenly broken by a strain so rapid and
gushing, and touched with such a wild, sylvan plaintiveness, that I
listened in amazement. And so shy and coy was the little minstrel, that
I came twice to the woods before I was sure to whom I was listening. In
summer, he is one of those birds of the deep Northern forests, that,
like the Speckled Canada Warbler and the Hermit-Thrush, only the
privileged ones hear.

The distribution of plants in a given locality is not more marked and
defined than that of the birds. Show a botanist a landscape, and he will
tell you where to look for the Lady's-Slipper, the Columbine, or the
Harebell. On the same principles the ornithologist will direct you where
to look for the Hooded Warbler, the Wood-Sparrow, or the Chewink. In
adjoining counties, in the same latitude, and equally inland, but
possessing a different geological formation and different forest-timber,
you will observe quite a different class of birds. In a country of the
Beech and Maple I do not find the same songsters that I know where
thrive the Oak, Chestnut, and Laurel. In going from a district of the
Old Red Sandstone to where I walk upon the old Plutonic Rock, not fifty
miles distant, I miss in the woods the Veery, the Hermit-Thrush, the
Chestnut-Sided Warbler, the Blue-Backed Warbler, the Green-Backed
Warbler, the Black and Yellow Warbler, and many others,--and find in
their stead the Wood-Thrush, the Chewink, the Redstart, the
Yellow-Throat, the Yellow-Breasted Flycatcher, the White-Eyed
Flycatcher, the Quail, and the Turtle-Dove.

In my neighborhood here in the Highlands the distribution is very
marked. South of the village I invariably find one species of
birds,--north of it, another. In only one locality, full of Azalea and
Swamp-Huckleberry, I am always sure of finding the Hooded Warbler. In a
dense undergrowth of Spice-Bush, Witch-Hazel, and Alder, I meet the
Worm-Eating Warbler. In a remote clearing, covered with Heath and Fern,
with here and there a Chestnut and an Oak, I go to hear in July the
Wood-Sparrow, and returning by a stumpy, shallow pond, I am sure to find
the Water-Thrush.

Only one locality within my range seems to possess attractions for all
comers. Here one may study almost the entire ornithology of the State.
It is a rocky piece of ground, long ago cleared, but now fast relapsing
into the wildness and freedom of Nature, and marked by those
half-cultivated, half-wild features which birds and boys love. It is
bounded on two sides by the village and highway, crossed at various
points by carriage-roads, and threaded in all directions by paths and
by-ways, along which soldiers, laborers, and truant schoolboys are
passing at all hours of the day. It is so far escaping from the axe and
the bushwhack as to have opened communication with the forest and
mountain beyond by straggling lines of Cedar, Laurel, and Blackberry.
The ground is mainly occupied with Cedar and Chestnut, with an
undergrowth, in many places, of Heath and Bramble. The chief feature,
however, is a dense growth in the centre, consisting of Dog-wood,
Water-Beech, Swamp-Ash, Alder, Spice-Bush, Hazel, etc., with a network
of Smilax and Frost-Grape. A little zig-zag stream, the draining of a
swamp beyond, which passes through this tangle-wood, accounts for many
of its features and productions, if not for its entire existence. Birds
that are not attracted by the Heath or the Cedar and Chestnut are sure
to find some excuse for visiting this miscellaneous growth in the
centre. Most of the common birds literally throng this inclosure; and I
have met here many of the rarer species, such as the Great-Crested
Flycatcher, the Solitary Warbler, the Blue-Winged Swamp-Warbler, the
Worm-Eating Warbler, the Fox-Sparrow, etc. The absence of all birds of
prey, and the great number of flies and insects, both the result of
proximity to the village, are considerations which no Hawk-fearing,
peace-loving minstrel passes over lightly: hence the popularity of the

But the crowning glory of all these Robins, Flycatchers, and Warblers is
the Wood-Thrush. More abundant than all other birds, except the Robin
and Cat-Bird, he greets you from every rock and shrub. Shy and reserved
when he first makes his appearance in May, before the end of June he is
tame and familiar, and sings on the tree over your head, or on the rock
a few paces in advance. A pair even built their nest and reared their
brood within ten or twelve feet of the piazza of a large summer-house in
the vicinity. But when the guests commenced to arrive and the piazza to
be thronged with gay crowds, I noticed something like dread and
foreboding in the manner of the mother-bird; and from her still, quiet
ways, and habit of sitting long and silently within a few feet of the
precious charge, it seemed as if the clear creature had resolved, if
possible, to avoid all observation.

The Hermit-Thrush, the Wood-Thrush, and the Veery (_Turdus Wilsonii_)
are our peers of song. The Mocking-Bird undoubtedly possesses the
greatest range of mere talent, the most varied executive ability, and
never fails to surprise and delight one anew at each hearing; but being
mostly an imitator, he never approaches the serene beauty and sublimity
of the Hermit-Thrush. The word that best expresses my feelings, on
hearing the Mocking-Bird, is admiration, though the first emotion is one
of surprise and incredulity. That so many and such various notes should
proceed from one throat is a marvel, and we regard the performance with
feelings akin to those we experience on witnessing the astounding feats
of the athlete or gymnast,--and this, notwithstanding many of the notes
imitated have all the freshness and sweetness of the original. The
emotions excited by the songs of these Thrushes belong to a higher
order, springing as they do from our deepest sense of the beauty and
harmony of the world.

The Wood-Thrush is worthy of all, and more than all, the praises he has
received; and considering the number of his appreciative listeners, it
is not a little surprising that his relative and superior, the
Hermit-Thrush, should have received so little notice. Both the great
ornithologists, Wilson and Audubon, are lavish in their praises of the
former, but have little or nothing to say of the song of the latter.
Audubon says it is sometimes agreeable, but evidently has never heard
it. Nuttall, I am glad to find, is more discriminating, and does the
bird fuller justice. Professor Baird, of the Smithsonian Institution, a
more recent authority, and an excellent observer, tells me he regards it
as preëminently our finest songster.

It is quite a rare bird, of very shy and secluded habits, being found in
the Middle and Eastern States, during the period of song, only in the
deepest and most remote forests, usually in damp and swampy localities.
On this account the people in the Adirondack region call it the "Swamp
Angel." Its being so much of a recluse accounts for the comparative
ignorance that prevails in regard to it.

The cast of its song is so much like that of the Wood-Thrush, that an
enthusiastic admirer of the latter bird, as all admirers are, would be
quite apt to mistake it for the strain of his favorite, observing only
how unusually well he sings. I myself erred in this manner, and not till
I had shot the bird in the midst of his solemn hymn--a hard thing to do,
I assure you--was I aware that my Wood-Thrush had a superior. I believe
so good an observer as Thoreau has confounded the songs of the two
birds, as he speaks of having heard the Wood-Thrush in the forests of
Northern Maine, where the law of geographical distribution would lead
one to look for only the Hermit.

The song of this Thrush is of unparalleled sweetness and sublimity.
There is a calmness and solemnity about it that suggests in Nature
perpetual Sabbath and perennial joy. How vain seem our hurry and
ambition! Clear and serene, strong and melodious, falling softly, yet
flowing far, these notes inspire me with a calm, sacred enthusiasm. I
hear him most in the afternoon, but occasionally at nightfall he "pours
his pure soprano,"

    "Deepening the silence with diviner calm."

I have known one to sit for hours in the upper branches of a tall Maple
in an opening in a remote wood, and sing till all other birds seemed as
if pausing to listen. Attempting to approach him at such times, I have
called to my aid numerous devices,--such as keeping the range of a tree,
skulking close to the ground, carrying a large bush in front of me,--but
all to no purpose. Suddenly the strain would cease, and while waiting
for him to commence again, I would see him dart off to a lower tree, or
into a thick undergrowth of Witch-Hazel. When I had withdrawn, he would
resume his perch and again take up his song. At other times I have come
abruptly upon him while singing on a low stump, without his seeming to
notice me at all.

I think his song, in form and manner, is precisely that of the
Wood-Thrush,--differing from it in being more wild and ethereal, as well
as stronger and clearer. It is not the execution of the piece so much as
the tone of the instrument that is superior. In the subdued trills and
quavers that occur between the main bars, you think his tongue must be
more resonant and of finer metal. In uttering the tinkling, bead-like
_de, de, de_, he is more facile and exquisite; in the longer notes he
possesses greater compass and power, and is more prodigal of his finer
tones. How delicately he syllables the minor parts, weaving, as it were,
the finest of silver embroideries to the main texture of his song!

Those who have heard only the Wood-Thrush commit a very pardonable error
in placing him first on the list of our songsters. He is truly a royal
minstrel, and, considering his liberal distribution throughout our
Atlantic seaboard, perhaps contributes more than any other bird to our
sylvan melody. One may object, that he spends a little too much time in
tuning his instrument, yet his careless and uncertain touches reveal its
rare compass and power.

He is the only songster of my acquaintance, excepting the Canary, that
displays different degrees of proficiency in the exercise of his musical
gifts. Not long since, while walking one Sunday in the edge of an
orchard adjoining a wood, I heard one that so obviously and unmistakably
surpassed all his rivals, that my companion, though slow to notice such
things, remarked it wonderingly; and with one accord we threw ourselves
upon the grass and drank in the bounteous melody. It was not different
in quality so much as in quantity. Such a flood of it! Such magnificent
copiousness! Such long, trilling, deferring, accelerating preludes! Such
sudden, ecstatic overtures would have intoxicated the dullest ear. He
was really without a compeer, a master artist. Twice afterward I was
conscious of having heard the same bird.

The Wood-Thrush is the handsomest species of this family. In grace and
elegance of manner he has no equal. Such a gentle, high-bred air, and
such inimitable ease and composure in his flight and movement! He is a
poet in very word and deed. His carriage is music to the eye. His
performance of the commonest act, as catching a beetle or picking a worm
from the mud, pleases like a stroke of wit or eloquence. Was he a prince
in the olden time, and do the regal grace and mien still adhere to him
in his transformation? What a finely proportioned form! How plain, yet
rich his color,--the bright russet of his back, the clear white of his
breast, with the distinct heart-shaped spots! It may be objected to
Robin that he is noisy and demonstrative; he hurries away or rises to a
branch with an angry note, and flirts his wings in ill-bred suspicion.
The Mavis, or Red Thrush, sneaks and skulks like a culprit, hiding in
the densest Alders; the Cat-Bird is a coquette and a flirt, as well as a
sort of female Paul Pry; and the Chewink shows his inhospitality by
espying your movements like a Japanese. The Wood-Thrush has none of
these under-bred traits. He regards me unsuspiciously, or avoids me with
a noble reserve,--or, if I am quiet and incurious, graciously hops
toward me, as if to pay his respects, or to make my acquaintance. Pass
near his nest, under the very branch, within a few feet of his mate and
brood, and he opens not his beak; he concedes you the right to pass
there, if it lies in your course; but pause an instant, raise your hand
toward the defenceless household, and his anger and indignation are
beautiful to behold.

What a noble pride he has! Late one October, after his mates and
companions had long since gone South, I noticed one for several
successive days in the dense part of this next-door wood, flitting
noiselessly about, very grave and silent, as if doing penance for some
violation of the code of honor. By many gentle, indirect approaches, I
perceived that part of his tail-feathers were undeveloped. The sylvan
prince could not think of returning to court in this plight,--and so,
amid the falling leaves and cold rains of autumn, was patiently biding
his time.

The soft, mellow flute of the Veery fills a place in the chorus of the
woods that the song of the Vesper-Sparrow fills in the chorus of the
fields. It has the Nightingale's habit of singing in the twilight, and
possesses, I believe, all of the Nightingale's mellowness and serenity.
Walk out toward the forest in the warm twilight of a June day, and when
fifty rods distant you will hear their soft, reverberating notes,
repeated and prolonged with exquisite melodiousness, rising from a dozen
different throats.

It is one of the simplest strains to be heard,--as simple as the curve
in form, and mellower than the tenderest tones of the flute,--delighting
from the pure element of harmony and beauty it contains, and not from
any novel or fantastic modulation of it,--thus contrasting strongly with
such rollicking, hilarious songsters as the Bobolink, in whom we are
chiefly pleased with the tintinnabulation, the verbal and labial
excellence, and the evident conceit and delight of the performer.

I hardly know whether I am more pleased or annoyed with the Cat-Bird.
Perhaps she is a little too common, and her part in the general chorus a
little too conspicuous. If you are listening for the note of another
bird, she is sure to be prompted to the most loud and protracted
singing, drowning all other sounds; if you sit quietly down to observe a
favorite or study a new comer, her curiosity knows no bounds, and you
are scanned and ridiculed from every point of observation. Yet I would
not miss her; I would only subordinate her a little, make her less

She is the parodist of the woods, and there is ever a mischievous,
bantering, half-ironical undertone in her lay, as if she were conscious
of mimicking and disconcerting some envied songster. Ambitious of song,
practising and rehearsing in private, she yet seems the least sincere
and genuine of the sylvan minstrels, as if she had taken up music only
to be in the fashion, or not to be outdone by the Robins and Thrushes.
In other words, she seems to sing from some outward motive, and not from
inward joyousness. She is a good versifier, but not a great poet.
Vigorous, rapid, copious, not without fine touches, but destitute of any
high, serene melody, her performance, like that of Thoreau's squirrel,
always implies a spectator.

There is a certain air and polish about her strain, however, like that
in the vivacious conversation of a well-bred lady of the world, that
commands respect. Her maternal instinct, also, is very strong, and that
simple structure of dead twigs and dry grass is the centre of much
anxious solicitude. Not long since, while strolling through the woods,
my attention was attracted to a small, densely grown swamp, hedged in
with Eglantine, Brambles, and the everlasting Smilax, from which
proceeded loud cries of distress and alarm, indicating that some
terrible calamity was threatening my sombre-colored minstrel. On
effecting an entrance, which, however, was not accomplished till I had
doffed coat and hat, so as to diminish the surface exposed to the thorns
and brambles, and looking around me from a square yard of terra firma, I
found myself the spectator of a loathsome, yet fascinating scene. Three
or four yards from me was the nest, beneath which, in long festoons,
rested a huge black snake; a bird, two thirds grown, was slowly
disappearing between his expanded jaws. As they seemed unconscious of my
presence, I quietly observed the proceedings. By slow degrees he
compassed the bird about with his elastic mouth; his head flattened, his
neck writhed and swelled, and two or three undulatory movements of his
glistening body finished the work. Then, with marvellous ease, he
cautiously raised himself up, his tongue flaming from his mouth the
while, curved over the nest, and, with wavy, subtle motions, explored
the interior. I can conceive of nothing more overpoweringly terrible to
an unsuspecting family of birds than the sudden appearance above their
domicile of the head and neck of this arch-enemy. It is enough to
petrify the blood in their veins. Not finding the object of his search,
he came streaming down from the nest to a lower limb, and commenced
extending his researches in other directions, sliding stealthily through
the branches, bent on capturing one of the parent birds. That a legless,
wingless creature should move with such ease and rapidity where only
birds and squirrels are considered at home, lifting himself up, letting
himself down, running out on the yielding boughs, and traversing with
marvellous celerity the whole length and breadth of the thicket, was
truly surprising. One thinks of the great myth, of the Tempter and the
"cause of all our woe," and wonders if the Arch One is not now playing
off some of his pranks before him. Whether we call it snake or devil
matters little. I could but admire his terrible beauty, however, his
black, shining folds, his easy, gliding movement, head erect, eyes
glistening, tongue playing like subtile flame, and the invisible means
of his almost winged locomotion.

The parent birds, in the mean while, kept up the most agonizing cry,--at
times fluttering furiously about their pursuer, and actually laying hold
of his tail with their beaks and claws. On being thus attacked, the
snake would suddenly double upon himself and follow his own body back,
thus executing a strategic movement that at first seemed almost to
paralyze his victim and place her within his grasp. Not quite, however.
Before his jaws could close upon the coveted prize the bird would tear
herself away, and, apparently faint and sobbing, retire to a higher
branch. His reputed powers of fascination availed him little, though it
is possible that a more timid and less combative bird might have been
held by the fatal spell. Presently, as he came gliding down the slender
body of a leaning Alder, his attention was attracted by a slight
movement of my arm; eying me an instant, with that crouching, utter,
motionless gaze which I believe only snakes and devils can assume, he
turned quickly,--a feat which necessitated something like crawling over
his own body,--and glided off through the branches, evidently
recognizing in me a representative of the ancient parties he once so
cunningly ruined. A few moments after, as he lay, carelessly disposed in
the top of a rank Alder, trying to look as much like a crooked branch as
his supple, shining form would admit, the old vengeance overtook him. I
exercised my prerogative, and a well-directed missile in the shape of a
stone, brought him looping and writhing to the ground. After I had
completed his downfall, and quiet had been partially restored, a
half-fledged member of the bereaved household came out from his
hiding-place, and, jumping upon a decayed branch, chirped vigorously,
no doubt in celebration of the victory. What the emotions of the parent
birds were, on seeing their destroyer's head so thoroughly bruised, and
a part of their little ones at least spared to them, I can only
conjecture; but I imagined the news spread immediately, and that my
praises as the deliverer were sung in that neighborhood ever after.

Till the middle of July there is a general equilibrium; the tide stands
poised; the holiday-spirit is unabated. But as the harvest ripens
beneath the long, hot days, the melody gradually ceases. The young are
out of the nest and must be cared for, and the moulting season is at
hand. After the Cricket has commenced to drone his monotonous refrain
beneath your window, you will not, till another season, hear the
Wood-Thrush in all his matchless eloquence. The Bobolink has become
careworn and fretful, and blurts out snatches of his song between his
scolding and upbraiding, as you approach the vicinity of his nest,
oscillating between anxiety for his brood and solicitude for his musical
reputation. Some of the Sparrows still sing, and occasionally across the
hot fields, from a tall tree in the edge of the forest, comes the rich
note of the Scarlet Tanager. This tropical-colored bird loves the
hottest weather, and I hear him more in dog-days than at any other time.

The remainder of the summer is the carnival of the Swallows and
Flycatchers. Flies and insects, to any amount, are to be had for the
catching; and the opportunity is well improved. See that sombre,
ashen-colored Pewee on yonder branch. A true sportsman he, who never
takes his game at rest, but always on the wing. You vagrant Fly, you
purblind Moth, beware how you come within his range! Observe his
attitude. You might think him studying the atmosphere or the light, for
he has an air of contemplation and not of watchfulness. But step closer;
observe the curious movement of his head, his "eye in a fine frenzy
rolling, glancing from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven." His sight
is microscopic and his aim sure. Quick as thought he has seized his
victim and is back to his perch. There is no strife, no pursuit,--one
fell swoop and the matter is ended. That little Sparrow, as you will
observe, is less skilled. It is the _Socialis_, and he finds his
subsistence properly in various seeds and the larvae of insects, though
he occasionally has higher aspirations, and seeks to emulate the Pewee,
commencing and ending his career as a Flycatcher by an awkward chase
after a Beetle or "Miller." He is hunting around in the grass now, I
suspect, with the desire to indulge this favorite whim. There!--the
opportunity is afforded him. Away goes a little cream-colored
Meadow-Moth in the most tortuous course he is capable of, and away goes
_Socialis_ in pursuit. The contest is quite comical, though I dare say
it is serious enough to the Moth. The chase continues for a few yards,
when there is a sudden rushing to cover in the grass,--then a taking to
wing again, when the search has become too close, and the Moth has
recovered his wind. _Socialis_ chirps angrily, and is determined not to
be beaten. Keeping, with the slightest effort, upon the heels of the
fugitive, he is ever on the point of halting to snap him up, but never
quite does it,--and so, between disappointment and expectation, is soon
disgusted, and returns to pursue his more legitimate means of

In striking contrast to this serio-comic strife of the Sparrow and the
Moth, is the Pigeon-Hawk's pursuit of the Sparrow or the Goldfinch. It
is a race of surprising speed and agility. It is a test of wing and
wind. Every muscle is taxed, and every nerve strained. Such cries of
terror and consternation on the part of the bird, tacking to the right
and left, and making the most desperate efforts to escape, and such
silent determination on the part of the Hawk, pressing the bird so
closely, flashing and turning and timing his movements with those of the
pursued as accurately and as inexorably as if the two constituted one
body, excite feeling of a deep interest. You mount the fence or rush
out of your way to see the issue. The only salvation for the bird is to
adopt the tactics of the Moth, seeking instantly the cover of some tree,
bush, or hedge, where its smaller size enables it to move about more
rapidly. These pirates are aware of this, and therefore prefer to take
their prey by one fell swoop. You may see one of them prowling through
an orchard, with the Yellowbirds hovering about him, crying, _Pi-ty,
pi-ty_, in the most desponding tone; yet he seems not to regard them,
knowing, as do they, that in the close branches they are as safe as if
in a wall of adamant.

August is the month of the high-sailing Hawks. The Hen-Hawk is the most
noticeable. He likes the haze and the calm of these long, warm days. He
is a bird of leisure, and seems always at his ease. How beautiful and
majestic are his movements! So self-poised and easy, such an entire
absence of haste, such a magnificent amplitude of circles and spirals,
such a haughty, imperial grace, and, occasionally, such daring aërial

With slow, leisurely movement, rarely vibrating his pinions, he mounts
and mounts in an ascending spiral till he appears a mere speck against
the summer sky; then, if the mood seizes him, with wings half-closed,
like a bent bow, he will cleave the air almost perpendicularly, as if
intent on dashing himself to pieces against the earth; but on nearing
the ground, he suddenly mounts again on broad, expanded wing, as if
rebounding upon the air, and sails leisurely away. It is the sublimest
feat of the season. One holds his breath till he sees him rise again.
Sometimes a squirrel or bird or an unsuspecting barn-fowl is scathed and
withered beneath this terrible visitation.

If inclined to a more gradual and less precipitous descent, he fixes his
eye on some distant point in the earth beneath him, and thither bends
his course. He is still almost meteoric in his speed and boldness. You
see his path down the heavens, straight as a line; if near, you hear the
rush of his wings; his shadow hurtles across the fields, and in an
instant you see him quietly perched upon some low tree or decayed stub
in a swamp or meadow, with reminiscences of frogs and mice stirring in
his maw.

When the south-wind blows, it is a study to see three or four of these
air-kings at the head of the valley far up toward the mountain,
balancing and oscillating upon the strong current: now quite stationary,
except a slight tremulous motion like the poise of a rope-dancer, then
rising and falling in long undulations, and seeming to resign themselves
passively to the wind; or, again, sailing high and level far above the
mountain's peak,--no bluster and haste, but, as stated, occasionally a
terrible earnestness and speed. Fire at him as he sails overhead, and,
unless wounded badly, he will not change his course or gait.

His flight is a perfect picture of repose in motion. He might sleep
dream in that level, effortless, aimless sail. It strikes the eye as
more surprising than the flight of the Pigeon and Swallow even, in that
the effort put forth is so uniform and delicate as to escape
observation, giving to the movement an air of buoyancy and perpetuity,
the effluence of power rather than the conscious application of it.

The calmness and dignity of this Hawk, when attacked by Crows or the
King-Bird, are well worthy of him. He seldom deigns to notice his noisy
and furious antagonists, but deliberately wheels about in that aërial
spiral, and mounts and mounts till his pursuers grow dizzy and return to
earth again. It is quite original, this mode of getting rid of an
unworthy opponent, rising to heights where the braggart is dazed and
bewildered and loses his reckoning! I am not sure but it is worthy of

But summer wanes, and autumn approaches. The songsters of the seed-time
are silent at the reaping of the harvest. Other minstrels take up the
strain. It is the heyday of insect life. The day is canopied with
musical sound. All the songs of the spring and summer appear to be
floating, softened and refined, in the upper air. The birds, in a new,
but less holiday suit, turn their faces southward. The Swallows flock
and go; the Bobolinks flock and go; silently and unobserved, the
Thrushes go. Autumn arrives, bringing Finches, Warblers, Sparrows, and
Kinglets from the North. Silently the procession passes. Yonder Hawk,
sailing peacefully away till he is lost in the horizon, is a symbol of
the closing season and the departing birds.




    I swam with undulation soft,
      Adrift on Vischer's ocean,
    And, from my cockboat up aloft,
    Sent down my mental plummet oft,
      In hope to reach a notion.


    But from the metaphysic sea
      No bottom was forthcoming,
    And all the while (so drowsily!)
    In one eternal note of B
      My German stove kept humming.


    What's Beauty? mused I. Is it told
      By synthesis? analysis?
    Have you not made us lead of gold?
    To feed your crucible, not sold
      Our temple's sacred chalices?


    Then o'er my senses came a change:
      My book seemed all traditions,
    Old legends of profoundest range,
    Diablerie, and stories strange
      Of goblins, elves, magicians.


    Truth was, my outward eyes were closed,
      Although I did not know it;
    Deep into Dreamland I had dozed,
    And found me suddenly transposed
      From proser into poet.


    So what I read took flesh and blood
      And turned to living creatures;
    The words were but the dingy bud
    That bloomed, like Adam from the mud,
      To human forms and features.

    I saw how Zeus was lodged once more
      By Baucis and Philemon;
    The text said, "Not alone of yore,
    But every day at every door
      Knocks still the masking Demon."


    DAIMON 't was printed in the book;
      And as I read it slowly,
    The letters moved and changed and took
    Jove's stature, the Olympian look
      Of painless melancholy.


    He paused upon the threshold worn:--
      "With coin I cannot pay you;
    Yet would I fain make some return,--
    You will not the gift's cheapness spurn,--
      Accept this fowl, I pray you.


    "Plain feathers wears my Hemera,
      And has from ages olden;
    She makes her nest in common hay;
    And yet, of all the birds that lay,
      Her eggs alone are golden."


    He turned and could no more be seen.
      Old Baucis stared a moment,
    Then tossed poor partlet on the green,
    And with a tone half jest, half spleen,
      Thus made her housewife's comment:


    "The stranger had a queerish face,
      His smile was most unpleasant;
    And though he meant it for a grace,
    Yet this old hen of barnyard race
      Was but a stingy present.


    "She's quite too old for laying eggs,
      Nay, even to make a soup of;
    It only needs to see her legs,--
    You might as well boil down the pegs
      I made the brood-hen's coop of!


    "More than three hundred such do I
      Raise every year, her sisters;
    Go, in the woods your fortune try,
    All day for one poor earth-worm pry,
      And scratch your toes to blisters!"


    Philemon found the rede was good;
      And turning on the poor hen,
    He clapped his hands, he stamped, hallooed,
    Hunting the exile toward the wood,
      To house with snipe and moor-hen.


    A poet saw and cried,--"Hold! hold!
      What are you doing, madman?
    Spurn you more wealth than can be told,
    The fowl that lays the eggs of gold,
      Because she's plainly clad, man?"


    To him Philemon,--"I'll not balk
      Thy will with any shackle;
    Wilt add a burden to thy walk?
    Then take her without further talk;
      You're both but fit to cackle!"


    But scarce the poet touched the bird,
      It rose to stature regal;
    And when her cloud-wide wings she stirred,
    A whisper as of doom was heard,--
      'T was Jove's bolt-bearing eagle.


    As when from far-off cloudbergs springs
      A crag, and, hurtling under,
    From cliff to cliff the rumor flings,
    So she from flight-foreboding wings
      Shook out a murmurous thunder.


    She gripped the poet to her breast,
      And ever upward soaring,
    Earth seemed a new-moon in the West,
    And then one light among the rest
      Where squadrons lie at mooring.


    How know I to what o'er-world seat
      The eagle bent her courses?
    The waves that seem its base to beat,
    The gales that round it weave and fleet,
      Are life's creative forces.


    Here was the bird's primeval nest,
      High on a promontory
    Star-pharosed, where she takes her rest,
    And broods new æons 'neath her breast,
      The future's unfledged glory.


    I knew not how, but I was there,
      All feeling, hearing, seeing;
    It was not wind that stirred my hair,
    But living breath, the essence rare
      Of unembodied being.


    And in the nest an egg of gold
      Lay wrapt in its own lustre,
    Gazing whereon, what depths untold
    Within, what wonders manifold
      Seemed silently to muster!


    Do visions of such inward grace
      Still haunt our life benighted?
    It glowed as when St. Peter's face,
    Illumed, forgets its stony race,
      And seems to throb self-lighted.


    One saw therein the life of man,--
      Or so the poet found it;
    The yolk and white, conceive who can,
    Were the glad earth, that, floating, span
      In the soft heaven around it.


    I knew this as one knows in dream,
      Where no effects to causes
    Are chained as in our work-day scheme,
    And then was wakened by a scream
      Sent up by frightened Baucis.


    "Bless Zeus!" she cried, "I'm safe below!"
      First pale, then red as coral;
    And I, still drowsy, pondered slow,
    And seemed to find, but hardly know,
      Something like this for moral.


    Each day the world is born anew
      For him who takes it rightly;
    Not fresher that which Adam knew,
    Not sweeter that whose moonlit dew
      Dropped on Arcadia nightly.


    Rightly?--that's simply: 't is to see
      _Some_ substance casts these shadows
    Which we call Life and History,
    That aimless seem to chase and flee
      Like wind-gleams over meadows.


    Simply?--that's nobly: 't is to know
      That God may still be met with,
    Nor groweth old, nor doth bestow
    This sense, this heart, this brain aglow,
      To grovel and forget with.


    Beauty, Herr Doctor, trust in me,
      No chemistry will win you;
    Charis still rises from the sea:
    If you can't find her, _might_ it be
      The trouble was within you?


A raw, gusty afternoon: one of the last dragging breaths of a
nor'easter, which swept, in the beginning of November, from the Atlantic
coast to the base of the Alleghanies. It lasted a week, and brought the
winter,--for autumn had lingered unusually late that year; the fat
bottom-lands of Pennsylvania, yet green, deadened into swamps, as it
passed over them: summery, gay bits of lakes among the hills glazed over
with muddy ice; the forests had been kept warm between the western
mountains, and held thus late even their summer's strength and darker
autumn tints, but the fierce ploughing winds of this storm and its
cutting sleet left them a mass of broken boughs and rotted leaves. In
fact, the sun had loitered so long, with a friendly look back-turned
into these inland States, that people forgot that the summer had gone,
and skies and air and fields were merry-making together, when they lent
their color and vitality to these few bleak days, and then suddenly
found that they had entertained winter unawares.

Down on the lee coast of New Jersey, however, where the sea and wind
spend the year making ready for their winter's work of shipwreck, this
storm, though grayer and colder there than elsewhere, toned into the
days and nights as a something entirely matter-of-course and consonant.
In summer it would have been at home there. Its aspect was different,
also, as I said. But little rain fell here; the wind lashed the ocean
into fury along the coast, and then rolled in long, melancholy howls
into the stretches of barren sand and interminable pine forest; the
horizon contracted, though at all times it is narrower than anywhere
else, the dome of the sky wider,--clouds and atmosphere forming the
scenery, and the land but a round, flat standing-place: but now the sun
went out; the air grew livid, as though death were coming through it;
solid masses of gray, wet mist moved, slower than the wind, from point
to point, like gigantic ghosts gathering to the call of the murderous

"Yonder go the shades of Ossian's heroes," said Mary Defourchet to her
companion, pointing through the darkening air.

They were driving carefully in an old-fashioned gig, in one of the lulls
of the storm, along the edge of a pine wood, early in the afternoon. The
old Doctor,--for it was MacAulay, (Dennis,) from over in Monmouth
County, she was with,--the old man did not answer, having enough to do
to guide his mare, the sleet drove so in his eyes. Besides, he was
gruffer than usual this afternoon, looking with the trained eyes of an
old water-dog out to the yellow line of the sea to the north. Miss
Defourchet pulled the oil-skin cloth closer about her knees, and held
her tongue; she relished the excitement of this fierce fighting the
wind, though; it suited the nervous tension which her mind had undergone

It was a queer, lonesome country, the lee coast,--never so solitary as
now, perhaps; older than the rest of the world, she fancied,--so many of
Nature's voices, both of bird and vegetable, had been entirely lost out
of it: no wonder it had grown unfruitful, and older and dumber and sad,
listening for ages to the unremorseful, cruel cries of the sea; these
dead bodies, too, washed up every year on its beaches, must haunt it,
though it was not guilty. She began to say something of this to Doctor
Dennis, tired of being silent.

"Your country seems to me always to shut itself out from the world," she
said; "from the time I enter that desolate region on its border of dwarf
oaks and gloomy fires of the charcoal-burners, I think of the old leper
and his cry of 'Unclean! unclean!'"

MacAulay glances anxiously at her, trying to keep pace with her meaning.

"It's a lonesome place enough," he said, slowly. "There be but the two
or three farm-keepers; and the places go from father to son, father to
son. The linen and carpet-mats in that house you're in now come down
from the times before Washington. Stay-at-home, quiet people,--only the
men that follow the water, in each generation. There be but little to be
made from these flats of white sand. Yes, quiet enough: the beasts of
prey aren't scaret out of these pine forests yet, I heard the cry of a
panther the other night only, coming from Tom's River: close by the road
it was: sharp and sorrowful, like a lost child.--As for ghosts," he
continued, after a thoughtful pause, "I don't know any that would have
reason for walking, without it was Captain Kidd. His treasure's buried
along-shore here."

"Ay?" said Mary, looking up shrewdly into his face.

"Yes," he answered, shaking his head slowly, and measuring his whip with
one eye. "Along here, many's the Spanish half-dollar I've picked up
myself among the kelp. They do say they're from a galleon that went
ashore come next August thirty years ago, but I don't know that."

"And the people in the hamlet?" questioned Mary, nodding to a group of
scattered, low-roofed houses.

"Clam-fishers, the maist o' them. There be quite a many wrackers, but
they live farther on, towards Barnegat. But a wrack draws them, like
buzzards to a carcass."

Miss Defourchet's black eye kindled, as if at the prospect of a good

"Did you ever see a wreck going down?" she asked, eagerly.

"Yes,"--shutting his grim lips tighter.

"That emigrant ship last fall? Seven hundred and thirty souls lost, they
told me."

"I was not here to know, thank God," shortly.

"It would be a sensation for a lifetime,"--cuddling back into her seat,
with no hopes of a story from the old Doctor.

MacAulay sat up stiffer, his stern gray eye scanning the ocean-line
again, as the mare turned into the more open plains of sand sloping down
to the sea. It was up-hill work with him, talking to this young lady. He
was afraid of a woman who had lectured in public, nursed in the
hospitals, whose blood seemed always at fever heat, and whose æsthetic
taste could seek the point of view from which to observe a calamity so
horrible as the emigrant ship going down with her load of lives. "She's
been fed on books too much," he thought. "It's the trouble with young
women nowadays." On the other hand, for himself, he had lost sight of
the current of present knowledges,--he was aware of that, finding how
few topics in common there were between them; but it troubled the
self-reliant old fellow but little. Since he left Yale, where he and
this girl's uncle, Doctor Bowdler, had been chums together, he had lived
in this out-of-the-way corner of the world, and many of the rough ways
of speaking and acting of the people had clung to him, as their red mud
to his shoes. As he grew older, he did not care to brush either off.

Miss Defourchet had been a weight on his mind for a week or more. Her
guardian, Doctor Bowdler, had sent her down to board in one of the
farm-houses. "The sea-air will do her good, physically," he said in a
note to his old chum, with whom he always had kept up a lingering
intercourse; "she's been over-worked lately,--sick soldiers, you know.
Mary went into the war _con amore_, like all women, or other happy
people who are blind of one eye. Besides, she is to be married about
Christmas, and before she begins life in earnest it would do her good to
face something real. Nothing like living by the sea, and with those
homely, thorough-blood Quakers, for bringing people to their simple,
natural selves. By the way, you have heard of Dr. Birkenshead, whom she
marries? though he is a surgeon,--not exactly in your profession. A
surprisingly young man to have gained his reputation. I'm glad Mary
marries a man of so much mark; she has pulled alone so long, she needs a
master." So MacAulay had taken pains to drive the young lady out, as
to-day, and took a general fatherly sort of charge of her, for his old
friend's sake.

Doctor Bowdler had frankly told his niece his reasons for wishing her to
go down to the sea-shore. They nettled her more than she chose to show.
She was over thirty, an eager humanitarian, had taught the freedmen at
Port Royal, gone to Gettysburg and Antietam with sanitary
stores,--surely, she did not need to be told that she had yet to begin
life in earnest! But she was not sorry for the chance to rest and think.
After she married she would be taken from the quiet Quaker society in
Philadelphia, in which she always had moved, to one that would put her
personal and mental powers to a sharp proof; for Birkenshead, by right
of his professional fame, and a curiously attractive personal
eccentricity, had gradually become the nucleus of one of the best and
most brilliant circles in the country, men and women alike distinguished
for their wit and skill in extracting the finest tones from life while
they lived. The quiet Quaker girl was secretly on her mettle,--secretly,
too, a little afraid. The truth was, she knew Doctor Birkenshead only in
the glare of public life; her love for him was, as yet, only a delicate
intellectual appreciation that gave her a keen delight. She was anxious
that in his own world he should not be ashamed of her. She was glad he
was to share this breathing-space with her; they could see each other
unmasked. Doctor Bowdler and he were coming down from New York on Ben
Van Note's lumber-schooner. It was due yesterday, but had not yet

"You are sure," MacAulay said to her, as they rode along, "that they
will come with Ben?"

"Quite sure. They preferred it to the cars for the novelty of the thing,
and the storm lulled the day they were to sail. Could the schooner make
this inlet in a sea like that?"

Doctor Dennis, stooping to arrange the harness, pretended not to hear

"Ben, at least," he thought, "knows that to near the bar to-day means

"One would think," he added aloud, "that Dick Bowdler's gray hairs and
thirty years of preaching would have sobered his love of adventure. He
was a foolhardy chap at college."

Miss Defourchet's glance grew troubled, as she looked out at the
gathering gloom and the crisp bits of yellow foam blown up to the
carriage-wheels. Doctor Dennis turned the mare's head, thus hiding the
sea from them; but its cry sounded for miles inland to-day,--an awful,
inarticulate roar. All else was solemn silence. The great salt marshes
rolled away on one side of the road, lush and rank,--one solitary dead
tree rising from them, with a fish-hawk's uncouth nest lumbering its
black trunk; they were still as the grave; even the ill-boding bird was
gone long ago, and kept no more its lonely vigil on the dead limb over
wind and wave. She glanced uneasily from side to side: high up on the
beach lay fragments of old wrecks; burnt spars of vessels drifted ashore
to tell, in their dumb way, of captain and crew washed, in one quick
moment, by this muddy water of the Atlantic, into that sea far off
whence no voyager has come back to bring the tidings. Land and sea
seemed to her to hint at this thing,--this awful sea, cold and dark
beyond. What did the dark mystery in the cry of the surf mean but that?
That was the only sound. The heavy silence without grew intolerable to
her: it foreboded evil. The cold, yellow light of day lingered long.
Overhead, cloud after cloud rose from the far watery horizon, and drove
swiftly and silently inland, bellying dark as it went, carrying the
storm. As the horse's hoofs struck hard on the beach, a bird rose out of
the marsh and trailed through the air, its long legs dragging behind it,
and a blaze of light feathers on its breast catching a dull glow in the
fading evening.

"The blue heron flies low," said the Doctor. "That means a heavier
storm. It scents a wreck as keenly as a Barnegat pirate."

"It is fishing, maybe?" said Mary, trying to rouse herself.

"It's no a canny fisher that," shaking his head. "The fish you'd find in
its nest come from the deep waters, where heron never flew. Well, they
do say," in answer to her look of inquiry, "that on stormy nights it
sits on the beach with a phosphoric light under its wing, and so draws
them to shore."

"How soon will the storm be on us?" after a pause.

"In not less than two hours. Keep your heart up, child. Ben Van Note is
no fool. He'd keep clear of Squan Beach as he would of hell's mouth,
such a night as this is going to be. Your friends are all safe. We'll
drive home as soon as we've been at the store to see if the mail's
brought you a letter."

He tucked in his hairy overcoat about his long legs, and tried to talk
cheerfully as they drove along, seeing how pale she was.

"The store" for these two counties was a large, one-roomed frame
building on the edge of the great pine woods, painted bright pink, with
a wooden blue lady, the old figure-head of some sloop, over the door.
The stoop outside was filled with hogsheads and boxes; inside was the
usual stock of calicoes, chinaware, molasses-barrels, and books; the
post-office, a high desk, on which lay half a dozen letters. By the
dingy little windows, on which the rain was now beating sharply, four or
five dirty sailors and clam-diggers were gathered, lounging on the
counter and kegs, while one read a newspaper aloud slowly. They stopped
to look at Miss Defourchet, when she came in, and waited by the door for
the Doctor. The gloomy air and forlorn-looking shop contrasted and threw
into bright relief her pretty, delicate little figure, and the dainty
carriage-dress she wore. All the daylight that was in the store seemed
at once to cling to and caress the rare beauty of the small face, with
its eager blue eyes and dark brown curls. There was one woman in the
store, sitting on a beer-cask, a small, sharp-set old wife, who drew her
muddy shoes up under her petticoats out of Mary's way, but did not look
at her. Miss Defourchet belonged to a family to whom the ease that money
gives and a certain epicureanism of taste were natural. She stood there
wondering, not unkindly, what these poor creatures did with their lives,
and their dull, cloddish days; what could they know of the keen pains,
the pleasures, the ambitions, or loves, that ennobled wealthier souls?

"This be yer papper, Doctor," said one; "but we've not just yet finished

"All right, boys; Jem Dexter can leave it to-night, as he goes by. Any
mail for me, Joe? But you're waiting, Mother Phebe?"--turning with a
sudden gentleness to the old woman near Mary.

"Yes, I be. But it don't matter. Joseph, serve the Doctor,"--beating a
tattoo on the counter with her restless hands.

The Doctor did not turn to take his letters, however, nor seem to heed
the wind which was rising fitfully each moment without, but leaned
leisurely on the counter.

"Did you expect a letter to-day?"--in the same subdued voice.

She gave a scared look at the men by the window, and then in a

"From my son, Derrick,--yes. The folks here take Derrick for a
joke,--an' me. But I'm expectin'. He said he'd come, thee sees?"

"So he did."

"Well, there's none from Derrick to-day, Mother Phebe," said the burly
storekeeper, taking his stubby pipe out of his mouth.

She caught her breath.

"Thee looked carefully, Joseph?"

He nodded. She began to unbutton a patched cotton umbrella,--her lips
moving as people's do sometimes in the beginning of second childhood.

"I'll go home, then. I'll be back mail-day, Wednesday, Joseph. Four days
that is,--Wednesday."

"Lookee here now, Gran!" positively, laying down the pipe to give effect
to his words; "you're killin' yerself, you are. Keep a-trottin' here all
winter, an' what sort of a report of yerself'll yer make to Derrick by
spring? When that 'ere letter comes, if come it do, I've said I'd put on
my cut an' run up with it. See there!"--pulling out her thin calico
skirt before the Doctor,--"soaked, she is."

"Thee's kind, Joseph, but thee don't know,"--drawing her frock back with
a certain dignity. "When my boy's handwrite comes, I must be here. I
learned writin' on purpose that I might read it first,"--turning to

"How long has your boy been gone?" asked Miss Defourchet, heedless of
Joseph's warning "Hush-h!"

"Twenty years, come Febuary," eagerly volunteered one or two voices by
the window. "She's never heerd a word in that time, an' she never misses
a mail-day, but she's expectin'," added one, with a coarse laugh.

"None o' that, Sam Venners," said Joe, sharply. "If so be as Dirk said
he'd come, be it half-a-hunder' years, he'll stan' to 't. I knowed Dirk.
Many's the clam we toed out o' th' inlet yonner. He's not the sort to
hang round, gnawin' out the old folk's meat-pot, as some I cud name.

"I'll go, if thee'll let me apast," said the old woman, humbly curtsying
to the men, who now jammed up the doorway.

"It's a cussed shame, Venners," said Joe, when she was out. "Why can't
yer humor the old gran a bit? She's the chicken-heartedest woman ever I
knowed," explanatory to Miss Defourchet, "an' these ten years she's been
mad-like, waitin' for that hang-dog son of hers to come back."

Mary followed her out on the stoop, where she stood, her ragged green
umbrella up, her sharp little face turned anxiously to the far sea-line.

"Bad! bad!" she muttered, looking at Mary.

"The storm? Yes. But you ought not to be out in such weather," kindly,
putting her furred hand on the skinny arm.

The woman smiled,--a sweet, good-humored smile it was, in spite of her
meagre, hungry old face.

"Why, look there, young woman,"--pulling up her sleeve, and showing the
knotted tendons and thick muscles of her arm. "I'm pretty tough, thee
sees. There's not a boatman in Ocean County could pull an oar with me
when I was a gell, an' I'm tough yet,"--hooking her sleeve again.

The smile haunted Miss Defourchet; where had she seen it before?

"Was Derrick strongly built?"--idly wishing to recall it.

"Thee's a stranger; maybe thee has met my boy?"--turning on her sharply.
"No, that's silly,"--the sad vagueness coming back into the faded eyes.
After a pause,--"Derrick, thee said? He was short, the lad was,--but
with legs and arms as tender and supple as a wild-cat's. I loss much of
my strength when he was born; it was wonderful, for a woman, before; I
giv it to him. I'm glad of that! I thank God that I giv it to him!"--her
voice sinking, and growing wilder and faster. "Why! why!"

Mary took her hand, half-scared, looking in at the store-door, wishing
Doctor Dennis would come.

The old woman tottered and sat down on the lower rung of a ladder
standing there. Mary could see now how the long sickness of the hope
deferred had touched the poor creature's brain, gentle and loving at
first. She pushed the wet yellow sun-bonnet back from the gray hair; she
thought she had never seen such unutterable pathos or tragedy as in this
little cramped figure, and this old face, turned forever watching to the

"Thee doesn't know; how should thee?"--gently, but not looking at her.
"Thee never had a son; an' when thee has, it will be born in wedlock.
Thee's rich, an' well taught. I was jess a clam-fisher, an' knowed
nothin' but my baby. His father was a gentleman: come in spring, an'
gone in th' fall, an' that was the last of him. That hurt a bit, but I
had Derrick. _Oh, Derrick! Derrick!_"--whispering, rocking herself to
and fro as if she held a baby, cooing over the uncouth name with an
awful longing and tenderness in the sound.

Miss Defourchet was silent. Something in all this awed her; she did not
understand it.

"I mind," she wandered on, "when the day's work was done, I'd hold him
in my arms,--so,--and his sleepy little face would turn up to mine. I
seemed to begin to loss him after he was a baby,"--with an old, worn
sigh. "He went with other boys. The Weirs and Hallets took him up; they
were town-bred people, an' he soon got other notions from mine, an'
talked of things I'd heerd nothin' of. I was very proud of my Derrick;
but I knowed I'd loss him all the same. I did washin' an' ironin' by
nights to keep him dressed like the others,--an' kep' myself out o'
their way, not to shame him with his mother."

"And was he ashamed of you?" said Mary, her face growing hot.

"Thee did not know my little boy,"--the old woman stood up, drawing
herself to her full height. "His wee body was too full of pluck an' good
love to be shamed by his mother. I mind the day I come on them suddint,
by the bridge, where they were standin', him an' two o' the Hallets. I
was carryin' a basket of herrings. The Hallets they flushed up, an'
looked at him to see what he'd do; for they never named his mother to
him, I heerd. The road was deep with mud; an' as I stood a bit to
balance myself, keepin' my head turned from him, before I knew aught, my
boy had me in his arms, an' carried me t' other side. I'm not a heavy
weight, thee sees, but his face was all aglow with the laugh.

"'There you are, dear,' he says, puttin' me down, the wind blowin' his
brown hair.

"One of the Hallets brought my basket over then, an' touched his hat as
if I'd been a lady. That was the last time my boy had his arms about me:
next week he went away. That night I heerd him in his room in the loft,
here an' there, here an' there, as if he couldn't sleep, an' so for many
nights, comin' down in the mornin' with his eye red an' swollen, but
full of the laugh an' joke as always. The Hallets were with him
constant, those days, Judge Hallet, their father, were goin' across
seas, Derrick said. So one night, I'd got his tea ready, an' were
waitin' for him by the fire, knittin',--when he come in an' stood by the
mantel-shelf, lookin' down at me, steady. He had on his Sunday suit of
blue, Jim Devines giv him.

"'Where be yer other clothes, my son?' I said.

"'They're not clean,' says he. 'I've been haulin' marl for Springer this
week. He paid me to-night; the money's in the kitchen-cupboard.'

"I looked up at that, for it was work I'd never put him to.

"'It'll buy thee new shoes,' said I.

"'I did it for you, mother,' he says, suddint, puttin' his hand over his
eyes. 'I wish things were different with you.'

"'Yes, Derrick.'

"I went on with my knittin'; for I never talked much to him, for the
shame of my bad words, since he'd learned better. But I wondered what he
meant; for wages was high that winter, an' I was doin' well.

"'If ever,' he says, speakin' low an' faster, 'if ever I do anything
that gives you pain, you'll know it was for love of you I did it. Not
for myself, God knows! To make things different for you.'

"'Yes, Derrick,' I says, knittin' on, for I didn't understan' thin.
Afterwards I did. The room was dark, an' it were dead quiet for a bit;
then the lad moved to the door.

"'Where be thee goin', Derrick?' I said.

"He come back an' leaned on my chair.

"'Let me tell you when I come back,' he said. 'You'll wait for me?'
stoopin' down an' kissin' me.

"I noticed that, for he did not like to kiss,--Derrick. An' his lips
were hot an' dry.

"'Yes, I'll wait, my son,' I said. 'Thee'll not be gone long?'

"He did not answer that, but kissed me again, an' went out quickly.

"I sat an' waited long that night, an' searched till mornin'. There's
been a many nights an' days since, but I've never found him. The Hallets
all went that night, an' I heerd Derrick went as waiter-boy, so's to get
across seas. It's twenty years now. But I think he'll come,"--looking up
with a laugh.

Miss Defourchet started; where had she known this woman? The sudden
flicker of a smile, followed by a quick contraction of the eyelids and
mouth, was peculiar and curiously sensitive and sad; somewhere, in a
picture maybe, she had seen the same.

Doctor Dennis, who had waited purposely, came out now on the stoop. Miss
Defourchet looked up. The darkness had gathered while they stood there;
the pine woods, close at the right, began to lower distant and
shapeless; now and then the wind flapped a raw dash of rain in their
faces, and then was suddenly still. Behind them, two or three tallow
candles, just lighted in the store, sputtered dismal circles of dingy
glare in the damp fog; in front, a vague slope of wet night, in which
she knew lay the road and the salt marshes; and far beyond, distinct,
the sea-line next the sky, a great yellow phosphorescent belt,
apparently higher than their heads. Nearer, unseen, the night-tide was
sent in: it came with a regular muffled throb that shook the ground.
Doctor Dennis went down, and groped about his horse, adjusting the

"The poor beast is soaked to the marrow: it's a dull night: d'ye hear
how full the air is of noises?"

"It be the sea makin' ready," said Joe, in a whisper, as if it were a
sentient thing and could hear. He touched the old woman on the arm and
beckoned her inside to one of the candles.

"There be a scrap of a letter come for you; but keep quiet. Ben Van
Note's scrawl of a handwrite, think."

The letters were large enough,--printed, in fact: she read it but once.

"Your Dirk come Aboord the Chief at New York. I knowed him by a mark on
his wrist--the time jim hallet cut him' you mind. he is aged and
Differentt name. I kep close. we sail to-day and Ill Breng him Ashor
tomorrer nite plese God. be on Handd."

She folded the letter, crease by crease, and put it quietly in her
pocket. Joe watched her curiously.

"D' Ben say when the Chief ud run in?"


"Bah-h! there be n't a vessel within miles of this coast,--without a
gale drives 'm in."

She did not seem to hear him: was feeling her wet petticoats and
sleeves. She would shame Derrick, after all, with this patched, muddy
frock! She had worked so long to buy the black silk, gown and white
neckercher that was folded in the bureau-drawer to wear the day he'd
come back!

"When he come back!"

Then, for the first time, she realized what she was thinking about.
_Coming to-night!_

Presently Miss Defourchet went to her where she was sitting on a box in
the dark and rain.

"Are you sick?" said she, putting her hand out.

"Oh, no, dear!" softly, putting the fingers in her own, close to her
breast, crying and sobbing quietly. "Thee hand be a'most as soft as a
baby's foot," after a while, fancying the little chap was creeping into
her bosom again, thumping with his fat feet and fists as he used to do.
Her very blood used to grow wild and hot when he did that, she loved him
so. And her heart to-night was just as warm and light as then. He was
coming back, her boy: maybe he was poor and sick, a worn-out man; but in
a few hours he would be here, and lay his tired head on her breast, and
be a baby again.

Joe went down to the Doctor with a lantern.

"Van Note meant to run in the Chief to-night,"--in an anxious, inquiring

"He's not an idiot!"

"No,--but, bein' near, the wind may drive 'em on the bar. Look yonder."

"See that, too, Joe?" said bow-legged Phil, from Tom's River, who was
up that night.

"That yellow line has never been in the sky since the night the James
Frazier--_Ach-h! it's come!_"

He had stooped to help Doctor Dennis with his harness, but now fell
forward, clapping his hands to his ears. A terrible darkness swept over
them; the whole air was filled with a fierce, risping crackle; then came
a sharp concussion, that seemed to tear the earth asunder. Miss
Defourchet cried aloud: no one answered her. In a few moments the
darkness slowly lifted, leaving the old yellow lights and fogs on sea
and land. The men stood motionless as when the tornado passed, Doctor
Dennis leaning on his old mare, having thrown one arm about her as if to
protect her, his stern face awed.

"There's where it went," said Joe, coolly, drawing his hands from his
pockets, and pointing to a black gap in the pine woods. "The best farms
in this Jersey country lie back o' that. I told you there was death in
the pot, but I didn't think it ud 'a' come this fashion."

"When will the storm be on us?" asked Mary, trembling.

Joe laughed sardonically.

"Haven't ye hed enough of it?"

"There will be no rain after a gust like that," said MacAulay. "I'll try
and get you home now. It has done its worst. It will take years to wipe
out the woe this night has worked."

The wind had fallen into a dead silence, frightened at itself. And now
the sudden, awful thunder of the sea broke on them, shaking the sandy
soil on which they stood.

"Thank God that Van Note is so trusty a sailor as you say!" said Mary,
buttoning her furs closer to her throat. "They're back in a safe harbor,
I doubt not."

Joe and Doctor Dennis exchanged significant glances as they stood by the
mare, and then looked again out to sea.

"Best get her home," said Joe, in a whisper.

Doctor Dennis nodded, and they made haste to bring the gig up to the

Old Phebe Trull had been standing stirless since the gust passed. She
drew a long breath when Mary touched her, telling her to come home with

"That was a sharp blow. I'm an old Barnegat woman, an' I've known no
such cutters as that. But he'll come. I'm expectin' my boy to-night,
young woman. I'm goin' to the beach now to wait for him,--for Derrick."

In spite of the queer old face peering out from the yellow sun-bonnet,
with its flabby wrinkles and nut-cracker jaws, there was a fine,
delicate meaning in the smile with which she waved her hand down to the
stormy beach.

"What's that?" said Doctor Dennis, starting up, and holding his hand
behind his ear. His sandy face grew pale.

"I heard nothing," said Mary.

The next moment she caught a dull thud in the watery distance, as if
some pulse of the night had throbbed feverishly.

Bow-legged Phil started to his feet.

"It's the gun of the Chief! Van Note's goin' down!" he cried, with a
horrible oath, and hobbled off, followed by the other men.

"His little brother Benny be on her," said Joe. "May God have mercy on
their souls!"

He had climbed like a cat to the rafters, and thrown down two or three
cables and anchors, and, putting them over his shoulders, started
soberly for the beach, stopping to look at Miss Defourchet, crouched on
the floor of the store.

"You'd best see after her, Doctor. Ropes is all we can do for 'em. No
boat ud live in that sea, goin' out."

Going down through the clammy fog, his feet sinking in the marsh with
the weight he carried, he could see red lights in the mist, gathering
towards shore.

"It's the wrackers goin' down to be ready for mornin'."

And in a few moments stood beside them a half-dozen brawny men, with
their legs and chests bare. The beach on which they stood glared white
in the yellow light, giving the effect of a landscape in Polar seas. One
or two solitary headlands loomed gloomily up, covered with snow. In
front, the waters at the edge of the sea broke at their feet in long,
solemn, monotonous swells, that reverberated like thunder,--a death-song
for the work going on in the chaos beyond.

"Thar's no use doin' anything out thar," said one of the men, nodding
gloomily to a black speck in the foaming hell. "She be on the bar this
ten minutes, an' she 's a mean-built craft, that Chief."

"Couldn't a boat run out from the inlet?" timidly ventured an eager,
blue-eyed little fellow.

"No, Snap," said Joe, letting his anchor fall, and clearing his throat.
"Well, there be the end of old Ben, hey? Be yer never tired, yer cruel
devil?" turning with a sudden fierceness to the sly foam creeping lazily
about his feet.

There was a long silence.

"Bowlegs tried it, but his scow stud still, an' the breakers came atop
as if it war a clam-shell. He warn't five yards from shore. His Ben's
aboard." Another peal of a gun from the schooner broke through the dark
and storm.

"God! I be sick o' sittin' on shor', an' watchin' men drownin' like rats
on a raft," said Joe, wiping the foam from his thick lips, and trotting
up and down the sand, keeping his back to the vessel.

Some of the men sat down, their hands clasped about their knees, looking
gravely out.

"What cud we do, Joey?" said one. "Thar be Hannah an' the children; we
kin give Hannah a lift. But as for Ben, it 's no use thinkin' about Ben
no more."

The little clam-digger Snap was kindling a fire out of the old
half-burnt wrecks of vessels.

"It's too late to give 'em warnin'," he said; "but it'll let 'em see
we're watchin' 'em at the last. One ud like friends at the last."

The fire lighted up the shore, throwing long bars of hot, greenish flame
up the fog.

"Who be them, Joe?" whispered a wrecker, as two dim figures came down
through the marsh.

"She hev a sweetheart aboord. Don't watch her."

The men got up, and moved away, leaving Miss Defourchet alone with
Doctor Dennis. She stood so quiet, her eyes glued on the dull, shaking
shadow yonder on the bar, that he thought she did not care. Two figures
came round from the inlet to where the water shoaled, pulling a narrow

"Hillo!" shouted Doctor Dennis. "Be you mad?"

The stouter of the figures hobbled up. It was Bowlegs. His voice was
deadened in the cold of the fog, but he wiped the hot sweat from his

"In God's name, be thar none of ye ull bear a hand with me? Ud ye sit
here an' see 'em drown? Benny's thar,--my Ben."

Joe shook his head.

"My best friend be there," said the old Doctor. "But what can ye do?
Your boat will be paper in that sea, Phil."

"That's so," droned out one or two of the wreckers, dully nodding.

"Curses on ye for cowards, then!" cried Bowlegs, as he plunged into the
surf, and righted his boat. "Look who's my mate, shame on ye!"

His mate shoved the skiff out with an oar into the seething breakers,
turning to do it, and showed them, by the far-reaching fire-light, old
Phebe Trull, stripped to her red woollen chemise and flannel petticoat,
her yellow, muscular arms and chest bare. Her peaked old face was set,
and her faded blue eye aflame. She did not hear the cry of horror from
the wreckers.

"Ye've a better pull than any white-liver of 'em, from Tom's to
Barnegat," gasped Bowlegs, struggling against the surf.

She was wrestling for life with Death itself; but the quiet, tender
smile did not leave her face.

"My God! ef I cud pull as when I was a gell!" she muttered. "Derrick,
I'm comin'! I'm comin', boy!"

The salt spray wet their little fire of logs, beside which Snap sat
crying,--put it out at last, leaving a heap of black cinders. The night
fell heavier and cold; boat and schooner alike were long lost and gone
in outer darkness. As they wandered up and down, chilled and hopeless,
they could not see each other's faces,--only the patch of white sand at
their feet. When they shouted, no gun or cry answered them again. All
was silence, save the awful beat of the surf upon the shore, going on
forever with its count, count of the hours until the time when the sea
shall at last give up its dead.

       *       *       *       *       *

Ben Van Note did not run the Chief in near shore purposely; but the fog
was dense, and Ben was a better sailor than pilot. He took the wheel
himself about an hour before they struck,--the two or three other men at
their work on deck, with haggard, anxious faces, and silent: it is not
the manner of these Jersey coast-men to chatter in heavy weather.

Philbrick, Doctor Bowdler's boy, lounged beside Ben, twisting a greasy
lantern: "a town-bred fellow," Ben said; "put him in mind of young, rank

"You'd best keep a sharp eye, Van Note," he said; "this is a dirty bit
of water, and you've two great men aboard: one patcher of the body, t'
other of the soul."

"I vally my own neck more than either," growled Ben, and after a while
forced himself to add, "_He_'s no backbone,--the little fellow with your
master, I mean."

"Umph!" superciliously, "I'd like to see the 'little fellow' making neat
bits out of that carcass of yours! His dainty white fingers carve off a
fellow's legs and arms, caring no more than if they were painting
flowers. He is a neat flower-painter, Dr. Birkenshead; moulds in clay,

He stared as Van Note burst into a coarse guffaw.

"Flower-painter, eh? Well, well, young man. You'd best go below. It's
dirtier water than you think."

Doctors Bowdler and Birkenshead were down in the little cabin, reading
by the dull light of a coal-oil lamp. When the vessel began to toss so
furiously, the elder man rose and paced fussily to and fro, rubbing his
fingers through his iron-gray hair. His companion was too much engrossed
by his paper to heed him. He had a small, elegantly shaped figure,--the
famous surgeon,--a dark face, drawn by a few heavy lines; looking at it,
you felt, that, in spite of his womanish delicacies of habit, which lay
open to all, never apologized for, he was a man whom you could not
approach familiarly, though he were your brother born. He stopped
reading presently, slowly folding the newspaper straight, and laying it

"That is a delicious blunder of the Administration," with a little
gurgling laugh of thorough relish. "You remember La Rochefoucauld's
aphorism, 'One is never so easily deceived as when one seeks to deceive

Doctor Bowdler looked uncomfortable.

"A selfish French Philister, La Rochefoucauld!" he blurted out. "I feel
as if I had been steeped in meanness and vulgarity all my life, when I
read him."

"He knew men," said the other, coolly, resetting a pocket set of
chessmen on the board where they had been playing,--"Frenchmen,"

"Doctor Birkenshead," after a pause, "you appear to have no sympathies
with either side, in this struggle for the nation's life. You neither
attack nor defend our government."

"In plain English, I have no patriotism? Well, to be honest, I don't
comprehend how any earnest seeker for truth can have. If my country has
truth, so far she nourishes me, and I am grateful; if not,--why, the air
is no purer nor the government more worthy of reverence because I
chanced to be born here."

"Why, Sir," said the Doctor, stopping short and growing red, "you could
apply such an argument as that to a man's feeling for his wife or child
or mother!"

"So you could," looking closely at the queen to see the carving.

Doctor Bowdler looked at him searchingly, and then began his angry walk
again in silence. What was the use of answering? No wonder a man who
talked in that way was famed in this country and in Europe for his
coolness and skill in cutting up living bodies. And yet--remorsefully,
looking furtively at him--Birkenshead was not a hard fellow, after all.
There was that pauper-hospital of his; and he had known him turn sick
when operating on children, and damn the people who brought them to him.

Doctor Bowdler was a little in dread of this future husband of his
niece, feeling there was a great gulf between them intellectually, the
surgeon having a rare power in a line of life of which he knew nothing.
Besides, he could not understand him,--not his homely, keen little face
even. The eyes held their own thought, and never answered yours; but on
the mouth there was a forlorn depression sometimes, like that of a man
who, in spite of his fame, felt himself alone and neglected. It rested
there now, as he idly fingered the chessmen.

"Mary will kiss it away in time, maybe,"--doubting, as he said it,
whether Mary did not come nearer the man's head than his heart. He
stopped, looking out of the hole by the ladder that served the purpose
of a window.

"It grows blacker every minute. I shall begin to repent tempting you on
such a harebrained expedition, Doctor."

"No. This Van Note seems a cautious sailor enough," carelessly.

"Yes. He's on his own ground, too. We ought to run into Squan Inlet by
morning. Did you speak?"

Birkenshead shook his head; the Doctor noticed, however, that his hand
had suddenly stopped moving the chessmen; he rested his chin in the

"Some case he has left worries him," he thought. "He's not the man to
relish this wild-goose chase of mine. It's bad enough for Mary to jar
against his quiet tastes with her reforming whims, without my"----

"I would regret bringing you here," he said aloud, "if I did not think
you would find a novelty in this shore and people. This coast is hardly
'canny,' as MacAulay would say. It came, literally, out of the sea.
Sometime, ages ago, it belonged to the bed of the ocean, and it never
has reconciled itself to the life of the land; its Flora is different
from that of the boundaries; if you dig a few feet into its marl, you
find layers of shells belonging to deep soundings, sharks' teeth and
bones, and the like. The people, too, have a 'marvellously fishy and
ancient smell.'"

The little man at the table suddenly rose, pushing the chessmen from

"What is there to wonder at?"--with a hoarse, unnatural laugh. "That's
Nature. You cannot make fat pastures out of sea-sand, any more than a
thorough-blood _gentilhomme_ out of a clam-digger. The shark's teeth
will show, do what you will." He pulled at his whiskers nervously, went
to the window, motioning Doctor Bowdler roughly aside. "Let me see what
the night is doing."

The old gentleman stared in a grave surprise. What had he said to
startle Birkenshead so utterly out of himself? The color had left his
face at the first mention of this beach; his very voice was changed,
coarse and thick, as if some other man had broken out through him. At
that moment, while Doctor Bowdler stood feebly adjusting his
watch-chain, and eying his companion's back, like one who has found a
panther in a domestic cat, and knows not when he will spring, the
tornado struck the ocean a few feet from their side, cleaving a path for
itself into deep watery walls. There was an instant's reeling and
intense darkness, then the old Doctor tried to gather himself up,
bruised and sick, from the companion-way, where he had been thrown.

"Better lie still," said Birkenshead, in the gentle voice with which he
was used to calm a patient.

The old gentleman managed to sit up on the floor. By the dull glare of
the cabin-lantern he could see the surgeon sitting on the lower rung of
the ladder, leaning forward, holding his head in his hands.

"Strike a light, can't you, Birkenshead? What has happened? Bah! this is
horrible! I have swallowed the sea-water! Hear it swash against the
sides of the boat! Is the boat going to pieces?"

"And there met us 'a tempestuous wind called Euroclydon,'" said
Birkenshead, looking up with a curious smile.

"Did there?"--rubbing his shoulder. "I've kept clear of the sea so far,
and I think in future--Hark! what's that?" as through the darkness and
the thunderous surge of the water, and the short, fierce calls of the
men on board, came a low shivering crack, distinct as a human whisper.
"What is it, Birkenshead?" impatiently, when the other made no answer.

"The schooner has struck the bar. She is going to pieces."

The words recalled the old servant of Christ from his insane fright to

"That means death! does it not?"


The two men stood silent,--Doctor Bowdler with his head bent and eyes
closed. He looked up presently.

"Let us go on deck now and see what we can do,"--turning cheerfully.
"No, there are too many there already."

There was an old tin life-preserver hanging on a hook by the door; the
surgeon climbed up to get it, and began buckling it about the old man in
spite of his remonstrances. The timbers groaned and strained, the boat
trembled like some great beast in its death-agony, settled heavily, and
then the beams on one side of them parted. They stood on a shelving
plank floor, snapped off two feet from them, the yellow sky overhead,
and the breakers crunching their footing away.

"O God!" cried Bowdler, when he looked out at the sea. He was not a
brave man; and he could not see it, when he looked; there was but a
horror of great darkness, a thunder of sound, and a chilly creeping of
salt-water up his legs, as if the great monster licked his victim with
his lifeless tongue. Straight in front of them, at the very edge of the
horizon, he thought the little clam-digger's fire opened a tunnel of
greenish light into the night, "dull and melancholy as a scene in
Hades." They saw the men sitting around the blaze with their hands
clasped about their knees, the woman's figure alone, and watching.

"Mary!" cried the old man, in the shrill extremity of his agony.

His companion shivered.

"Take this from me, boy!" cried Doctor Bowdler, trying to tear off the
life-preserver. "It's a chance. I've neither wife nor child to care if I
live or die. You're young; life's beginning for you. I've done with it.
Ugh! this water is deadly cold. Take it, I say."

"No," said the other, quietly restraining him.

"Can you swim?"

"In this sea?"--with a half-smile, and a glance at the tossing breakers.

"You'll swim? Promise me you'll swim! And if I come to shore and see

Birkenshead had regained the reticent tone habitual to him.

"Tell her, I wish I had loved her better. She will understand. I see the
use of love in this last hour."

"Is there any one else?"

"There used to be some one. Twenty years ago I said I would come, and
I'm coming now."

"I don't hear you."

Birkenshead laughed at his own thought, whatever it was. The devil who
had tempted him might have found in the laugh an outcry more bitter than
any agony of common men.

The planks beneath their feet sank inch by inch. They were shut off
from the larboard side of the vessel. For a time they had heard oaths
and cries from the other men, but now all was silent.

"There is no help coming from shore,"--(the old man's voice was
weakening,)--"and this footing is giving way."

"Yes, it's going. Lash your arms to me by your braces, Doctor. I can
help you for a few moments."

So saying, Birkenshead tore off his own coat and waistcoat; but as he
turned, the coming breaker dashed over their heads, he heard a faint
gasp, and when his eyes were clear of the salt, he saw the old man's
gray hair in the midst of a sinking wave.

"I wish I could have saved him," he said,--then made his way as best he
could by feet and hands to a bulk of timber standing out of the water,
and sitting down there, clutched his hands about his knees, very much as
he used to do when he was a clam-digger and watched the other boys
bringing in their hauls.

"Twenty years ago I said I'd come, and I'm coming," he went on

Derrick Trull was no coward, as boy or man, but he made no effort to
save himself; the slimy water washed him about like a wet rag. He was
alone now, if never before in those twenty years; his world of
beautiful, cultured, graceful words and sights and deeds was not here,
it was utterly gone out; there was no God here, that he thought of; he
was quite alone: so, in sight of this lee coast, the old love in that
life dead years ago roused, and the mean crime dragged on through every
day since gnawed all the manliness and courage out of him.

She would be asleep now, old Phebe Trull,--in the room off the brick
kitchen, her wan limbs curled up under her check nightgown, her pipe and
noggin of tea on the oven-shelf; he could smell the damp, musty odor of
the slop-sink near by. What if he could reach shore? What if he were to
steal up to her bed and waken her?

"It's Derrick, back, mother," he would say. How the old creature would
skirl and cry over her son Derrick!--Derrick! he hated the name. It
belonged to that time of degradation and stinting and foulness.

Doctor Birkenshead lifted himself up. Pish! the old fish-wife had long
since forgotten her scapegrace son,--thought him dead. _He was dead._ He
wondered--and this while every swash of the salt-water brought death
closer up to his lips--if Miss Defourchet had seen "Mother Phebe."
Doubtless she had, and had made a sketch of her to show him;--but no,
she was not a picturesque pauper,--vulgar, simply. The water came up
closer; the cold of it, and the extremity of peril, or, maybe, this old
gnawing at the heart, more virulent than either, soon drew the strength
out of his body: close study and high living had made the joints less
supple than Derrick Trull's: he lay there limp and unable,--his brain
alert, but fickle. It put the watery death out of sight, and brought his
familiar every-day life about him: the dissecting-room; curious cases
that had puzzled him; drawing-rooms, beautiful women; he sang airs from
the operas, sad, broken little snatches, in a deep, mellow voice, finely
trained,--fragments of a litany to the Virgin. Birkenshead's love of
beauty was a hungry monomania; his brain was filled with memories of the
pictures of the Ideal Mother and her Son. One by one they came to him
now, the holy woman-type which for ages supplied to the world that
tenderness and pity which the Church had stripped from God. Even in his
delirium the man of fastidious instincts knew this was what he craved;
even now he remembered other living mothers he had known, delicate,
nobly born women, looking on their babes with eyes full of all gracious
and pure thoughts. With the sharp contrast of a dream came the old
clam-digger, barefoot in the mud, her basket of soiled clothes on her
shoulder,--her son Derrick, a vulgar lad, aping gentility, behind her.
Closer and closer came the waters; a shark's gray hide glittered a few
feet from him. Death, sure of his prey, nibbled and played with it; in
a little while he lay supine and unconscious.

Reason came back to him like an electric shock; for all the parts of Dr.
Birkenshead's organization were instinctive, nervous, like a woman's.
When it came, the transient delirium had passed; he was his cool,
observant self. He lay on the wet floor of a yawl skiff, his head
resting on a man's leg; the man was rowing with even, powerful strokes,
and he could feel rather than see in the darkness a figure steering. He
was saved. His heart burned with a sudden glorious glow of joy, and
genial, boyish zest of life,--one of the excesses of his nature. He
tried to speak, but his tongue was stiff, his throat dry; he could have
caressed the man's slimy sleeve that touched his cheek, he was so glad
to live. The boatman was in no humor for caresses; he drew his labored
breath sharply, fighting the waves, rasping out a sullen oath when they
baffled him. The little surgeon had tact enough to keep silent; he did
not care to talk, either. Life rose before him a splendid possibility,
as never before. From the silent figure at the helm came neither word
nor motion. Presently a bleak morning wind mingled with the fierce,
incessant nor'easter; the three in the yawl, all sea-bred, knew the

"Night ull break soon," said Bowlegs.

It did break in an hour or two into a ghastly gray dawn, bitter
cold,--the slanting bars of sharp light from beyond the sea-line falling
on the bare coast, on a headland of which moved some black, uneasy

"Th' wrackers be thar."

There was no answer.

"Starboard! Hoy, Mother Phebe!"

She swayed her arms round, her head still fallen on her breast. Doctor
Birkenshead, from his half-shut eyes, could see beside him the
half-naked, withered old body, in its dripping flannel clothes, God! it
had come, then, the time to choose! It was she who had saved, him! she
was here,--alive!

"Mother!" he cried, trying to rise.

But the word died in his dry throat; his body, stiff and icy cold,
refused to move.

"What ails ye?" growled the man, looking at her. "Be ye giv' out so near
land? We've had a jolly seinin' together," laughing savagely, "ef we did
miss the fish we went for, an' brought in this herrin'."

"Thee little brother's safe, Bowlegs," said the old woman, in a feeble,
far-off voice. "My boy ull bring him to shore."

The boatman gulped back his breath; it sounded like a cry, but he
laughed it down.

"You think yer Derrick ull make shore, eh? Well, I don't think that ar
way o' Ben. Ben's gone under. It's not often the water gets a
ten-year-older like that. I raised him. It was I sent him with Van Note
this run. That makes it pleasanter now!" The words were grating out
stern and sharp.

"Thee knows Derrick said he'd come," the woman said simply.

She stooped with an effort, after a while, and, thrusting her hand under
Doctor Birkenshead's shirt, felt his chest.

"It's a mere patchin' of a body. He's warm yet. Maybe," looking closely
into the face, "he'd have seen my boy aboord, an' could say which way he
tuk. A drop of raw liquor ull bring him round."

Phil glanced contemptuously at the surgeon's fine linen, and the diamond
_solitaire_ on the small, white hand.

"It's not likely that chap ud know the deck-hands. It's the man Doctor
Dennis was expectin'."

"Ay?" vaguely.

She kept her hand on the feebly beating heart, chafing it. He lay there,
looking her straight in the eyes; in hers--dull with the love and
waiting of a life--there was no instinct of recognition. The kind,
simple, blue eyes, that had watched his baby limbs grow and strengthen
in her arms! How gray the hair was! but its bit of curl was in it yet.
The same dear old face that he used to hurry home at night to see!
Nobody had loved him but this woman,--never; if he could but struggle up
and get his head on her breast! How he used to lie there when he was a
big boy, listening to the same old stories night after night,--the same
old stories! Something homely and warm and true was waking in him
to-night that had been dead for years and years; this was no matter of
æsthetics or taste, it was real, _real_. He wondered if people felt in
this way who had homes, or those simple folk who loved the Lord.

Inch by inch, with hard, slow pulls, they were gaining shore. Mary
Defourchet was there. If he came to her as the clam-digger's bastard
son, owning the lie he had practised half his life,--what then? He had
fought hard for his place in the world, for the ease and culture of his
life,--most of all, for the society of thorough-bred and refined men,
his own kindred. What would they say to Derrick Trull, and the mother he
had kept smothered up so long? All this with his eyes fixed on hers. The
cost was counted. It was to give up wife and place and fame,--all he had
earned. It had not been cheaply earned. All Doctor Birkenshead's habits
and intellect, the million nervous whims of a sensitive man, rebelled
against the sacrifice. Nothing to battle them down but--what?

"Be ye hurt, Mother Phebe? What d'yer hold yer breath for?"

She evaded him with a sickly smile.

"We're gamin', Bowlegs. It's but a few minutes till we make shore. He'll
be there, if--if he be ever to come."

"Yes, Gran," with a look of pity.

The wind stood still; it held its breath, as though with her it waited.
The man strained against the tide till the veins in his brawny neck
stood out purple. On the bald shore, the dim figures gathered in a
cluster, eagerly watching. Old Phebe leaned forward, shading her eyes
with her hand, peering from misty headland to headland with bated
breath. A faint cheer reached them from land.

"Does thee know the voices, Bowlegs?"--in a dry whisper.

"It be the wreckers."

"Oh!--Derrick," after a pause, "would be too weak to cheer; he'd be worn
with the swimmin'. Thee must listen sharp. Did they cry my name out? as
if there was some 'ut for me?"

"No, Mother," gruffly. "But don't ye lose heart after twenty years'

"I'll not."

As he pulled, the boatman looked over at her steadily.

"I never knowed what this was for ye, till now I've loss Ben," he said,
gently. "It's as if you'd been lossin' him every day these twenty

She did not hear him; her eyes, straining, scanned the shore; she seemed
to grow blind as they came nearer; passed her wet sleeve over them again
and again.

"Thee look for me, Bowlegs," she said, weakly.

The yawl grated on the shallow waters of the bar; the crowd rushed down
to the edge of the shore, the black figures coming out distinct now,
half a dozen of the wreckers going into the surf and dragging the boat
up on the beach. She turned her head out to sea, catching his arm with
both hands.

"Be there any strange face to shore? Thee didn't know him. A little
face, full o' th' laugh an' joke, an' brown curls blown by the wind."

"The salt's in my eyes. I can't rightly see, Mother Phebe."

The surgeon saw Doctor Bowdler waiting, pale and haggard, his fat little
arms outstretched: the sea had spared him by some whim, then. When the
men lifted him out, another familiar face looked down on him: it was
Mary. She had run into the surf with them, and held his head in her

"I love you! I love you!" she sobbed, kissing his hand.

"There be a fire up by the bathing-houses, an' hot coffee," said old
Doctor Dennis, with a kindly, shrewd glance at the famous surgeon. "Miss
Defourchet and Snap made it for you. _She_ knew you, lying in the

Birkenshead, keeping her hand, turned to the forlorn figure standing
shivering alone, holding both palms pressed to her temples, her gray
hair and clothes dripping.

"Thee don't tell me that he's here, Bowlegs," she said. "There might be
some things the wrackers hes found up in the bathin'-houses. There
might,--in the bathin'-houses. It's the last day,--it's twenty year"----

Doctor Birkenshead looked down at the beautiful flushed face pressed
close to his side, then pushed it slowly from him. He went over to where
the old woman stood, and kneeled beside her in the sand, drawing her
down to him.

"Mother," he said, "it's Derrick, mother. Don't you know your boy?"

With the words the boy's true spirit seemed to come back to
him,--Derrick Trull again, who went with such a hot, indignant heart to
win money and place for the old mother at home. He buried his head in
her knees, as she crouched over him, silent, passing her hands quickly
and lightly over his face.

"God forgive me!" he cried. "Take my head in your arms, mother, as you
used to do. Nobody has loved me as you did. Mother! mother!"

Phebe Trull did not speak one word. She drew her son's head close into
her trembling old arms, and held it there motionless. It was an old way
she had of caressing him.

Doctor Dennis drew the eager, wondering crowd away from them.

"I don't understand," said Doctor Bowdler, excitedly.

"I do," said his niece, and, sitting down in the sand, looked out
steadfastly to sea.----

Bow-legged Phil drove the anchor into the beach, and pulled it idly out

"I've some 'ut here for you, Phil," said Joe, gravely. "The water washed
it up."

The fellow's teeth chattered as he took it.

"Well, ye know what it is?" fiercely. "Only a bit of a Scotch
cap,"--holding it up on his fist. "I bought it down at Port Monmouth,
Saturday, for him. I was a-goin' to take him home this week up to the
old folks in Connecticut. I kin take _that_ instead, an' tell 'em whar
our Benny is."

"That's so," said Joe, his eye twinkling as he looked over Phil's

A fat little hand slapped the said shoulder, and "Hillo, Bowlegs!" came
in a small shout in his ear. Phil turned, looked at the boy from head to
foot, gulped down one or two heavy breaths.

"Hi! you young vagabond, you!" he said, and went suddenly back to his
anchor, keeping his head down on his breast for a long while.----

He had piled up the sand at her back to make her a seat while they
waited for the wagons. Now he sat on her skirts, holding her hands to
warm them. He had almost forgotten Mary and the Doctor. Nature or
instinct, call it what you will, some subtile whim of blood called love,
brought the old clam-digger nearer to him than all the rest of the
world. He held the bony fingers tight, looked for an old ring she used
to wear, tried to joke to bring out the flicker of a smile on her mouth,
leaned near to catch her breath. He remembered how curiously sweet it
used to be, like new milk.

The dawn opened clear and dark blue; the sun yet waited below the stormy
sea. Though they sat there a long while, she was strangely quiet,--did
not seem so much afraid of him as she used to be when he began to rise
above her,--held his hand, with a bright, contented face, and said
little else than "My boy! my boy!" under her breath. Her eyes followed
every movement of his face with an insatiate hunger; yet the hesitation
and quiet in her motions and voice were unnatural. He asked her once or
twice if she were ill.

"Wait a bit, an' I'll tell thee, Derrick," she said. "Thee must remember
I'm not as young as I was then," with a smile. "Thee must speak fast, my
son. I'd like to hear of thee gran' home, if thee's willin'."

He told her, as he would to please a child, of the place and fame and
wealth he had won; but it had not the effect he expected. Before he had
finished, the look in her eyes grew vague and distant. Some thought in
the poor clam-digger's soul made these things but of little moment. She
interrupted him.

"There be one yonner that loves my boy. I'd like to speak a word to her
before--Call her, Derrick."

He rose and beckoned to Miss Defourchet. When she came near, and saw the
old woman's face, she hurried, and, stooping down quickly, took her head
in her arms.

"Derrick has come back to you," she said. "Will you let him bring me
with him to call you mother?"


She did not look at him. Old Phebe pushed her back with a searching

"Is it true love you'll give my boy?"

"I'll try." In a lower voice,--"I never loved him so well as when he
came back to you."

The old woman was silent a long time.

"Thee's right. It was good for Derrick to come back to me. I don't know
what that big world be like where thee an' Derrick's been. The sea keeps
talkin' of it, I used to think; it's kep' moanin' with the cries of it.
But the true love at home be worth it all. I knowed that always. I kep'
it for my boy. He went from it, but it brought him back. Out of the sea
it brought him back."

He knew this was not his mother's usual habit of speech. Some great
truth seemed coming closer to the old fish-wife, lifting her forever out
of her baser self. She leaned on the girl beside her, knowing her, in
spite of blood and education, to be no truer woman than herself. The
inscrutable meaning of the eyes deepened. The fine, sad smile came on
the face, and grew fixed there. She was glad he had come,--that was all.
Mary was a woman; her insight was quicker.

"Where are you hurt?" she said, softly.

"Hush! don't fret the boy. It was the pullin' last night, think. I'm not
as strong as when I was a gell."

They sat there, watching the dawn break into morning. Over the sea the
sky opened into deeps of silence and light. The surf rolled in, in long,
low, grand breakers, like riders to a battle-field, tossing back their
gleaming white plumes of spray when they touched the shore. But the wind
lulled as though something more solemn waited on the land than the sea's
rage or the quiet of the clouds.

"Does thee mind, Derrick," said his mother, with a low laugh, "how thee
used to play with this curl ahint my ear? When thee was a bit baby, thee
begun it. I've kep' it ever since. It be right gray now."

"Yes, mother."

He had crept closer to her now. In the last half-hour his eyes had grown
clearer. He dared not look away from her. Joe and Bowlegs had drawn
near, and Doctor Bowdler. They stood silent, with their hats off. Doctor
Bowdler felt her pulse, but her son did not touch it. His own hand was
cold and clammy; his heart sick with a nameless dread. Was he, then,
just too late?

"Yes, I did. I kep' it for thee, Derrick. I always knowed thee'd
come,"--in a lower voice. "There's that dress, too. I'd like thee to've
seen me in that; but"----

"Take her hands in yours," whispered Mary.

"Is it thee, my son?"--with a smile. After a long pause,--"I kep' it,
an' I kep' true love for thee, Derrick. God brought thee back for 't, I
think. It be the best, after all. He'll bring thee to me for 't at th'
last, my boy,--my boy!"

As the faint voice lingered and died upon the words, the morning sun
shone out in clear, calm glory over the still figures on the beach. The
others had crept away, and left the three alone with God and His great
angel, in whose vast presence there is no life save Love, no future save
Love's wide eternity.


There flourished, in the heart of the Swiss Republic, during some twenty
or twenty-five years, commencing about the year 1810, an educational
institution, in the nature of a private college, which, though it
attracted much public attention at the time, being noticed with
commendation, as I remember, in a report made by the Count Capo d'Istria
to the Emperor Alexander of Russia, yet has never, I think, been
appreciated at its full deserts, nor generally recognized for the
admirable institution it was,--unparalleled, in the character of the
spirit which pervaded it, and in many of the practical results obtained,
by any establishment for learning that has ever come under my

I was educated there, from the age of sixteen or seventeen to twenty.
Passing into its tranquil scenes from the quiet of home and the hands of
a private tutor, with the sunny hopes and high ideal and scanty
experience of youth, much that I found there appeared to me at the time
but natural and in the ordinary course of things, which now, by the
light of a life's teachings, and by comparison with the realities as I
have found them, seems to me, as I look back, rather in the nature of a
dream of fancy, tinged with the glamour of optimism, than like the
things one really meets with in the work-a-day world. I say this, after
making what I think due allowance for the Claude-Lorraine tints in which
youth is wont to invest its early recollections.

It was one of several public institutions for education founded by the
benevolent enterprise of a very remarkable man. EMANUEL VON FELLENBERG
was born of a patrician family of Bern. His father had been a member of
the Swiss Government, and a friend of the celebrated Pestalozzi,--a
friendship which descended to the son. His mother was a descendant of
the stout Van Tromp, the Dutch admiral, who was victor in more than
thirty engagements, and whose spirit and courage she is said to have
inherited. To this noble woman young Fellenberg owed ideas of liberty
and philanthropy beyond the age in which he lived and the aristocratic
class to which he belonged.

Educated at Colmar and Tübingen, the years immediately succeeding his
college life were spent in travels, which brought him, at the age of
twenty-three, and just after the death of Robespierre, to Paris, where
he had an opportunity of studying men in the subsiding tumult of a
terrible revolution.

The result appears to have been a conviction that the true element of
human progress was to be found less in correction of the adult than in
training of the youth. His mind imbued with the two great ideas of
freedom and education, he returned to his native Bern; but taking part
there against the French, he was banished, remaining in Germany an exile
for several years, and during that period planning emigration, with
several friends, to the United States. This intention he abandoned, on
being recalled to his native country, and there offered important
diplomatic and military service. In the latter capacity he quelled an
insurrection of the peasantry in the Oberland; but, prompted by that
sympathy for the laboring classes which was a strong element in his
character, he granted these people terms so liberal that his Government
refused to ratify them, whereupon he threw up his commission, recurring
to his favorite educational projects, and serving for a time on the
Board of Education in Bern.

But it soon became apparent that the ideas of his colleagues and himself
differed too widely to permit united action. They were thinking of the
commonplace routine of school instruction,--reading, writing,
arithmetic, and the like. He looked to education as the regenerating
agent of the world,--that agent without the aid of which liberty runs
into license, and the rule of the many, as he had witnessed it in
terror-stricken France, may become one of the worst forms of despotism.
He looked beyond mere pedagogical routine or formal learning, to the
living spirit,--to the harmonious development of every human faculty and
affection, intellectual, moral, spiritual.

Resigning his situation on the Bernese Board of Education, Fellenberg
expended a large fortune in the purchase of the estate of HOFWYL, about
two leagues from Bern, and the erection there of the building necessary
to carry into effect his own peculiar views.

It was a favorite idea of his, that society can be most effectually
influenced for good by training its extremes in social position: those,
on the one hand, who are born to wealth and station, whence are usually
chosen lawgivers, statesmen, leaders of public opinion; and those, on
the other hand, born to a heritage of ignorance and neglect, and too
often trained even from tender age to vice and violence. He sought to
bring these extremes of European society into harmonious relation with
each other,--to raise the one from hereditary dependence and
degradation, to imbue the other with healthy ideas of true nobility in
place of the morbid prejudices of artificial rank. In both these efforts
he was eminently successful,--in the latter, more so, in my judgment,
than any educator of his age.

The establishments of Hofwyl proper[A] were, accordingly, two in number,
quite distinct from each other: the _Vehrli-Knaben_, (Vehrli's boys,) as
they were called, from the name of their admirable young teacher,
Vehrli, essentially an agricultural school, on the manual-labor
principle; and the college, of which it is my chief object to sketch the
plan and its results. To this latter institution, in consequence of the
numerous and expensive branches taught and the great number of
professors employed, (about one to each four students,) those only, with
few exceptions, could obtain admission whose parents possessed ample
means,--the exceptions being the sons of a few of Fellenberg's Swiss
friends, in moderate circumstances, whom, when they showed great
promise, he admitted with little or no charge. It was by associating
these with his own children in their studies that the nucleus of this
college was originally formed.

From their very inception, these projects met with discouragement and
opposition, especially from the patrician class, to which Fellenberg
belonged. Even in republican Switzerland, these men held that their rank
exonerated them from any occupation that savored much of utility; and it
was with a feeling almost of dishonor to their order that they saw one
of their number stoop (it was thus they phrased it) to the ignoble task
of preceptor. It need hardly be said that Fellenberg held on his way,
undisturbed by the idle noise of prejudice like this.

Into the Vehrli school were received destitute orphans, foundlings, and
those whose parents were too indigent to provide for their education.
Their time was divided nearly equally between the labors of the field
and the lessons of the school. They were trained as farmers and
teachers. Besides the ordinary branches, they were well grounded in
botany and drawing, and made great proficiency in vocal music. Vehrli
devoted himself, heart and soul, to the instruction of these children.
He worked with them, studied with them, wore the same homely dress,
partook of the same plain fare, slept in the same dormitory,--in short,
spent his life wholly among them. After a time his pupils were in great
request throughout Europe, both as teachers and as agricultural
superintendents. I found one of them, when many years since I visited
Holland, intrusted with the care of a public seminary supported by the
Dutch Government, and his employers highly appreciated his character and
abilities. The children remained till they were of age, repaying by
their labor in the latter years a portion of the expenses of their early
education. Ultimately this school became nearly self-supporting.

Between Vehrli's children, as we used to call them, and ourselves there
was not much communication. We met occasionally only; but when we did
meet, there existed the most friendly relations between us. I saw but
little of the internal arrangements of that establishment, and am
unable, at this distance of time, to furnish detailed information
regarding it. I proceed to give some account of the college, of which,
for three years, I was a student.

Of that little republic it can truly be said, that its tranquillity was
never disturbed by one dividing prejudice of rank, of country, or of
religion. We had among our number (usually amounting to one hundred
students) dukes and princes, some of them related to crowned heads; and
we had the recipients, already alluded to, of Fellenberg's bounty; but
not in word or bearing was there aught to mark difference of artificial
rank. We had Swiss, Germans, Russians, Prussians, Dutch, French,
Italians, English, and I know not what other nationalities; but not one
unkindly sentiment or illiberal prejudice arose among us on account of
birthplace. We had Protestants, Catholics, members of the Greek Church,
and members of no church at all; but never, in language or feeling, did
I perceive any shade of coldness or aversion that had its rise in
theological differences. Fellenberg had succeeded in instilling into our
little community his own noble principles of republican dignity,
cosmopolitan amity, and religious toleration.

No one was addressed by his title; and to the tuft-hunters of English
universities it will appear scarcely credible that I lived several weeks
as a student at Hofwyl before I accidentally learned who were the
princes and other nobles, and who the objects of M. de Fellenberg's
charity. It was, I think, some six weeks or two months after my arrival
that I was conversing with a good-natured fellow-student, with whom I
had become well acquainted under his familiar nickname of _Stösser_. I
remarked to him that before I reached Hofwyl I had heard that there were
several noblemen there, and I asked what had become of them.

"Why," said he, smiling, "they are here still."

"Indeed!" said I; "which are they?"

He requested me to guess. I named several of the students who had
appeared to me to have the greatest consideration among their fellows.
He shook his head, and laughed. "These are all merchants and commoners.
Try again." I did so, but with no better success; and at last he named,
to my surprise, several young men who had seemed to me to have but an
indifferent share of influence or respect,--among the rest, one who was
slightingly treated, and avoided rather than sought, by his companions.
He was the nephew of the King of Würtemberg.

A day or two afterwards I chanced to learn that the young man whom I had
thus questioned was himself a Russian prince, grandson of the noted
Suwaroff,--Catharine's Suwaroff. He had charge of our flock of goats, of
which I shall by-and-by have occasion to speak; and he took to the
office very kindly.

In like manner, it might have puzzled me, after a three-years'
residence, to call to mind whether those with whom I was as intimate as
with my own brother were Protestants or Catholics or neither; and at
this distance of time I have forgotten. The reason is simple: we never
debated on theological subjects at all. M. de Fellenberg read to us
occasional lectures on religion; but they were practical, not
doctrinal,--embracing those essentials which belong to all Christian
sects, thus suiting Protestant and Catholic alike. The Catholics, it is
true, had from time to time a priest to confess them, who doubtless
enjoined the regular weekly fast; yet we of the Protestant persuasion
used, I believe, to eat as much fish and as many frogs on Fridays as

A striking feature in our system of instruction was the absence of all
punishment, except such as was self-inflicted, under a code of laws of
our own, hereafter to be noticed. Twice, or perhaps three times, during
the term of my residence, one of the pupils, on account of repeated
inattention, or for similar venial cause, was requested by the
professor, during the course of the recitation, to leave the room. But
this was quite an event, to be talked of for a week, so contrary was it
to the regular, quiet, uncoercing routine of the institution. No
expulsion ever occurred. I do not myself remember to have received,
either from M. de Fellenberg or from any of his professors, one harsh
word during the three happy years I spent at Hofwyl.

The mildness with which the students were treated by their instructors
reacted upon them in their intercourse with each other. Duels, so common
among the students of German universities, were an unheard-of absurdity,
though we had a fencing-master, and took regular lessons in the use of
the small sword, skill in the management of which was considered an
indispensable item in the education of a gentleman. Quarrels such as
elsewhere terminate in blows were scarcely known among us. I recall but
two, both of which were immediately arrested by the spectators, who felt
their college dishonored by such an exhibition of evil passion and
violence. One of these was commenced by a youth coming only two weeks
before from an English school. The other occurred, one evening when a
small party of us had assembled in a private room, between a fiery young
Prussian count and a sturdy, unbending Swiss. The dispute grew warm, and
was about to proceed to extremities, when we who were by-standers made
no scruple to terminate it in our own way. We pounced upon the
disputants without warning, carried them off, each to his own room, on
our shoulders, and there, with a hearty laugh at their folly, set them
down to cool. All this was done so suddenly and so good-naturedly that
they themselves could not refrain from joining in the merriment which so
whimsical a conclusion to their quarrel had elicited.

I have heard and read much of the pluck and manliness that are supposed
to grow out of the English habit of settling school quarrels by boxing,
after the fashion of prize-fighters in the ring. But I do not think it
would have been a very safe experiment for one of these pugilistic young
gentlemen to offer an insult to a Hofwyl student, even though the
manhood of this latter had never been tested by pounding another's face
with his fist. Brutality and cowardice are often close allies; and his
anger, when roused, is most to be dreaded, who so bears himself as to
give no one just cause of offence. Boxing-matches and duels are
becoming, as they ought to be, like the ordeal by combat, antiquated
modes of testing the courage or settling the disputes whether of boys or
men, among the civilized portion of mankind.

But though little prone to quarrel, our indignation, I must confess, was
sometimes readily enough roused, when occasion called it forth. I
remember an instance in which, perhaps, the conservative portion of my
readers may think we carried matters somewhat to an extreme.

It happened that three officers of distinction from the Court of
Würtemberg arrived, one day, on a visit to M. de Fellenberg. They
desired to see their sovereign's nephew, the same Prince Alexander of
Würtemberg to whom I have already alluded as being no favorite among us.
He was accordingly sent for; and the interview took place in an open
space in front of M. de Fellenberg's _Schloss_, where four or five
students, of whom I was one, happened to be at the time, not more than
eight or ten steps distant. The officers, as they approached the Prince,
uncovered, and stood, during the conversation which ensued, with their
plumed hats in their hands. The young man, on the contrary, whose silly
airs had been a chief cause of his unpopularity among us, did not remove
the little student-cap he wore, but remained covered, without any
intimation to his visitors to resume their hats.

This was too much for us. "Do look!" said one of our group,--"if there
isn't that fellow Alexander standing with his cap on, and letting these
officers talk to him bareheaded!" And then, raising his voice so as to
be heard by the parties concerned, he said,--"Alexander, take off your

But the cap did not stir. We took a step or two nearer, and another of
our party said,--

"Alexander, if you don't take that cap off, yourself, I'll come and take
it off for you."

This time the admonition had effect. The cap was slowly removed, and we
remained to make sure that it was not resumed, until the officers,
bowing low, took their leave,--carrying, I fear, to their royal master
no very favorable report touching the courtly manners of Hofwyl.

It was small marvel that an institution of practice so democratically
heterodox should awaken the jealousy of European legitimacy. And it was
probably with feelings more of sorrow than surprise, that Fellenberg,
about the year 1822, received from the Austrian authorities a formal
intimation that no Austrian subject would thereafter be allowed to enter
the college, and an order that those who were then studying there should
instantly return home. Than this tyrannical edict of the Austrian
autocrat,[B] the same who did not blush to declare "that he desired to
have loyal subjects, not learned men, in his dominions," no greater
compliment could have been paid to Fellenberg or his institutions.

The course of instruction pursued at Hofwyl included the study of the
Greek, Latin, French, and German languages, the last of which was the
language of our college,--history, geography, chemistry,
mechanics,--mathematics, in a thorough course, embracing the highest
branches,--drawing, and music, vocal and instrumental,--and, finally,
riding, fencing, and gymnastics. The recitations (_Stunden_, that is,
_hours_, we called them, for each lasted a single hour only) were
essentially conversational. The lessons in drawing, however, extended to
two consecutive hours, and included copying from the antique. There was
a riding-school and a considerable stud attached to the college; and the
highest class were in the habit of riding out once a week with M. de
Fellenberg, many of whose practical life-lessons, given as I rode by his
side during these pleasant excursions, I well remember yet.

The number of professors was large, compared to that of the taught,
being from twenty-five to thirty, though the college seldom contained
more than one hundred students. The number in each class was small,
usually from ten to fifteen.

Latin and Greek, though thoroughly taught, did not engross the same
proportion of time which in many other colleges is devoted to them. Not
more time was given to each than to ancient and modern history, and less
than to mathematics. This last was a special object of study. It was
taught, as was history, by extempore lectures, while the students took
notes in short-hand; and we seldom employed any printed work to aid us,
in the evening, in making out from recollection, aided by these notes, a
written statement of the propositions and their solution, to be handed,
next day, to the professor. This plan impressed on our minds, not indeed
the exact form of words or the particular set of phrases of the books,
but the essential principles of the science,--so that, when, in after
years, amid the business of life, details and demonstrations had faded
from my memory, I have never found difficulty in working these out
afresh, and recalling and rearranging them, without aid from books.

One little incident connected with my mathematical studies still comes
back to me with a pleasant impression. My chief college friend was young
De Saussure, grandson of the naturalist of that name, who, the first
with a single exception, reached the summit of Mont Blanc. The subject
of our lecture was some puzzling proposition in the differential
calculus, and De Saussure propounded to the professor a knotty
difficulty in connection with it. The professor replied
unsatisfactorily. My friend still pressed his point, and the professor
rejoined very learnedly and ingeniously, but without really meeting the
case; whereupon De Saussure silently assented, as if quite satisfied.

"You were _not_ satisfied with that explanation," said I to De Saussure,
as we walked to our rooms.

"Of course not," was his reply; "but would you have had me before the
class shame the good man who takes so much pains with us and is usually
so clear-headed? We must work it out ourselves to-night."

This trifle may afford a glimpse of the relation between professor and
student at Hofwyl. There was no antagonism between them. The former was
regarded, not as a pedagogue, from whom to stand aloof,--not, because of
his position of authority, as a natural enemy, to be resisted, so far as
resistance was safe,--but as an elder friend, whom it was a privilege
(and it was one often enjoyed) to converse with, out of college hours,
in a familiar way. During the hours of recreation, the professors
frequently joined in our games. Nor did I observe that this at all
diminished the respect we entertained for them or the progress we made
under their care.

Emulation was limited among us to that which naturally arises among
young men prosecuting the same studies. It was not artificially excited.
There were no prizes; there was no taking rank in classes; there was not
even the excitement of public examinations. Many may think this a
hazardous experiment. I am not sure whether classical proficiency did
not, to a certain extent, suffer from it. I am not sure whether some
sluggards did not, because of it, lag behind. Yet the general
proficiency in learning was satisfactory; and the student, when he
entered the world, missed no college excitants, but bore with him a love
and a habit of study needing no spur, and which insured the continuance
of education far beyond the term of his college years. For he had
learned to seek knowledge for itself, for the pleasing occupation it
brings, for the power it gives, for the satisfaction it leaves behind;
and he required no more highly seasoned inducements to continue the
search through life.

Yet it was not the peculiar mode of imparting instruction, nor yet the
variety, the extent, and the utility of the knowledge acquired, that
chiefly characterized the institution of the Swiss patriot. It was the
noble spirit of freedom, the purity of motive, the independence of
purpose, the honesty of conduct, the kindness of intercourse, the union
and forbearance and high-spirited republicanism, pervading alike our
hours of study, of amusement, and of social converse. These it was that
distinguished Hofwyl; and these it is that still cause its former pupils
to look back on the years spent within its peaceful precincts as the
best and the happiest of their lives.

To such results there mainly contributed a remarkable feature in the
economy of the institution I have been describing,--a feature, so far as
I know, not adopted in any similar institution, at least to the extent
to which it was carried by us.

I have said that reward and punishment by the college authorities, or by
M. de Fellenberg, their head, were virtually excluded from this system.
Considering the heterogeneous materials that were collected together
from half the nations of the world, some having been nursed and petted
in the lap of aristocracy, and others, probably, sent thither because
their parents could not manage them at home,--considering, too, the
comparatively late age at which students enter such a college, many of
them just from schools where severity was the rule and artificial reward
the stimulant,--considering all this, I doubt whether the mild,
uncoercing, paternal government of Hofwyl would have been a success, but
for the peculiarity here referred to coming in aid of our teachers, and
supplying motives and restraints to ourselves. It was in this wise.

Hofwyl was not only an institution for education, it was also an
independent, self-governing community. It had its code of laws, its
council of legislation, its court of judges, its civil and military
officers, its public treasury. It had its annual elections, by ballot,
at which each student had a vote,--its privileges, equally accessible to
all,--its labors and duties, in which all took a share. It proposed and
debated and enacted its own laws, from time to time modifying them, but
not often nor radically. It acted independently of the professors, and
of Fellenberg himself, except that our foster-father (_Pflegevater_, as
we used to call him) retained a veto, which, however, like Queen
Victoria, he never exercised. Never, I think, were laws framed with a
more single eye to the public good, or more strictly obeyed by those who
framed them.

Nor was this an unwilling obedience, an eye-service constrained by fear
or force. It was given cheerfully, honestly. We had ourselves assisted
in framing, and given our votes in enacting, our code of laws. We felt
them to be our own, and as such it became a point of honor with us to
conform to them in spirit as in letter.

I know not whether the idea of this juvenile self-regulating republic
(_Verein_, we called it) originated with Fellenberg or with some of the
students; but, whatever its origin, I believe it to have been the chief
lever that raised the moral and social character of our college to the
height it ultimately attained. It gave birth to public spirit, and to
social and civic virtues. It nurtured a conscious independence, that
submitted with pleasure to what it knew to be the will of the whole, and
felt itself bound to submit to nothing else. It created young
republicans, and awakened in them that devotion to the public welfare
and that zeal for the public good, which we seek too often, alas, in
vain, in older, but not wiser, communities.

When I said that we had no rewards at Hofwyl, I ought to have admitted
that the annual election to the offices of our _Verein_ acted indirectly
as a powerful stimulus to industry and good conduct. At these elections
was to be read, as on a moral thermometer, the graduated scale of public
opinion. The result of each election informed us with certainty who had
risen and who had fallen in the estimate of his fellows.

For it was felt that public opinion among us, enlightened and incorrupt,
operated with strict justice. In that young commonwealth, to deserve
well of the republic was to win its confidence and obtain testimonial of
its approbation. There not one sinister motive swayed our
votes,--neither favoritism, nor envy, nor any selfish inducement. There
was not even canvassing for favorite candidates. There was quiet,
dispassionate discussion of respective merits; but the one question
which the elector asked himself or his neighbor was, "Who can fill most
efficiently such or such an office?"--the answer to that question
furnishing the motive for decision. I cannot call to mind a single
instance, during the three years I passed at Hofwyl, in which even a
suspicion of an electioneering cabal or other factious proceeding
attached to an election among us. It can scarcely be said that there
were candidates for any office. Preferment was, indeed, highly valued,
as a testimonial of public confidence; but it was not sought, directly
or indirectly, and was accepted rather as imposing duty than conferring
privilege. The Lacedemonian, who, when he lost his election as one of
the Three Hundred, went away rejoicing that there were found in Sparta
three hundred better men than he, is extolled as a model, of ideal
virtue. Yet such virtue was matter of common occurrence and of little
remark at Hofwyl. There were not only one or two, but many among us, who
would have sincerely rejoiced to find others, more capable than
themselves, preferred to office in their stead.

All this sounds, I dare say, Utopian and extravagant. As I write, it
seems to myself so widely at variance with a five-and-twenty years'
experience of public life, that I should scruple at this distance of
time to record it, had I not, thirty years ago, when my recollections
were fresh, noted them down minutely and conscientiously. It avails
nothing to tell me that such things cannot be,--for at Hofwyl they were.
I describe a state of society which I witnessed, of which I was myself a

As partial explanation, I may state, that to office, among us, was
attached no patronage and no salary.

The proceeds of our public treasury, (_Armenkasse_, we called it,) to
which each contributed according to his means and inclination, went
exclusively for the relief of the poor. We had a superintendent of the
poor, and a committee whose duty it was to visit the indigent families
in our neighborhood, ascertain their wants and their character, and
afford them relief, especially in winter. This relief was given in the
form sometimes of money, sometimes of food, clothing, or furniture; to
some we furnished goats, selected when in milk from a flock we had, and
which were left with them for a longer or shorter period. Our fund was
ample, and I think judiciously dispensed.

The laws and regulations of our _Verein_ extended to the police and the
moral government of our little community. The students were divided into
six circles, (_Kreise_,) and for the government of each of these we
elected a guardian or councillor (_Kreisrath_). These were our most
important officers,--their province embracing the social life and moral
deportment of each member of the _Kreis_. This, one might imagine, would
degenerate into an inquisitorial or intermeddling surveillance; but in
practice it never did. Each _Kreis_ was a band of friends, and its chief
was the friend most valued and esteemed among them. It had its weekly
meetings; and I remember, in all my life, no pleasanter gatherings than
these. Myself a _Kreisrath_ towards the close of my student life, I bore
home with me no more valued memorial than a brief letter of farewell,
expressive of affection and gratitude, signed by each member of the

Our judiciary consisted of a bench of three judges, whose sessions were
held in our principal hall with all due formality,--two sentinels, with
swords drawn, guarding the doors. The punishments within its power to
inflict were a vote of censure, fines, deprivation of the right of
suffrage, declaration of ineligibility to office, and degradation from
office. This last punishment was not inflicted on any student during my
residence at Hofwyl. Trials were very rare; and I do not remember one,
except for some venial offence. The offender usually pleaded his own
cause; but, if he preferred it, he might procure a friend to act as his

The dread of public censure, thus declared by sentence after formal
trial, was great and influential among us. Its power may be judged from
the following example.

Two German princes, sons of a wealthy nobleman, the Prince of Tour and
Taxis, having been furnished by their father with a larger allowance of
pocket-money than they could legitimately spend at Hofwyl, conceived a
somewhat irregular mode of disposing of part of it. They were in the
habit of occasionally getting up late at night, after all their comrades
had retired to rest, and proceeding to the neighboring village of
Buchsee, there to spend an hour or two in a tavern, smoking and drinking

Now we had no strict college bounds, and no prohibition against entering
a tavern, though we knew that M. de Fellenberg objected to our
contracting the latter habit. Our practice on Sundays may illustrate
this. That day was strictly kept and devoted to religious exercises
until midday, when we dined. After dinner it was given up to recreation,
and our favorite Sunday recreation was, to form into parties of two or
three and sally forth, _Ziegenhainer_ in hand, on excursions many miles
into the beautiful and richly cultivated rolling country that surrounded
us, usually ascending some eminence whence we could command a full view
of the magnificent Bernese Alps, their summits covered with eternal
snow. It sometimes happened that on these excursions we were overtaken
by a storm, or perhaps, having wandered farther than we intended, were
tired and hungry. In either case, we did not scruple to enter some
country tavern and procure refreshments there. But whenever we did so,
it was a custom--not a written law, but a custom sanctioned by all our
college traditions--to visit, on our return, the professor who had
charge of the domestic department of our institution,--a short, stout,
middle-aged man, the picture of good-humor, but not deficient in
decision and energy when occasion demanded,--it was our uniform custom
to call upon this gentleman, Herr Lippe, and inform him that we _had_
visited such or such a tavern, and the occasion of our doing so. A
benignant smile, and his usual "It is very well, my sons," closed such

But the use of tobacco--passing strange, that, in a German college!--was
forbidden by our rules; so also was a departure, after the usual hour of
rest, from the college buildings, except for good reason shown. Thus Max
and Fritz Taxis (so the youths were called) had become offenders,
amenable to justice.

The irregularity of which they had been guilty, the only one of the kind
I recollect, became known accidentally to one of our number. There
existed among us not even the name of informer; it was considered a duty
to give notice to the proper authorities of any breach of our laws. This
was accordingly done in the present instance; and the brothers were
officially notified that on the following day their case would be
brought up, and they would be heard in their own defence. The elder of
the two, Max, held some minor office; and the sentence would probably
have been a vote of censure or a fine for both, and a forfeiture of the
office in the case of the elder brother. But this was more than they
could make up their minds to bear. Accordingly, the night previous to
their trial, they decamped secretly, hired a carriage at a neighboring
village, and, being well provided with money, returned to their parents.

We afterwards ascertained that M. de Fellenberg did not send after them,
in pursuit or otherwise,--did not even write to their parents, but
suffered the fugitives to tell their own story in their own way.

The result was, that in a few weeks the father came, bringing with him
the runaways, and asking, as a favor, that M. de Fellenberg would once
more make trial of them,--which he very willingly did. They were
received by us with kindness, and no allusion was ever made to the cause
of their absence. They remained several years, quiet and law-abiding
members of our _Verein_, but neither attained to any office of trust

Our recreations consisted of public games, athletic exercises,
gymnastics, and--what was prized above all--an annual excursion on foot,
of about six weeks' duration.

One of our most favorite amusements in the way of athletic exercise was
throwing the lance (_Lanzenwerfen_.) The weapons used were stout ashen
spears, from six to seven feet long, heavily shod with iron, and
sharp-pointed; the target, a squared log of hard wood firmly set in the
ground, about six feet high,--the upper portion, or head, which it was
the chief object to hit, a separate block, attached to the trunk by
stout hinges. This exercise required great strength as well as skill. A
dozen or more engaged in it at a time, divided into two sides of
supposed equal force; and the points gained by each stroke were
reckoned according to its power and accuracy,--double, if the head was
struck, and one point added whenever the spear remained fixed in the
wood without touching the ground. We attained great skill in this

We had fencing-lessons twice a week; and there were many swordsmen in
the elder classes who need not have feared any ordinary antagonist. Of
this a fencing-master from a neighboring Canton, on occasion of a visit
to our teacher, had one day tangible and somewhat mortifying proof.

Much has been said, sometimes in ridicule, sometimes in condemnation, of
gymnastic exercises. We spent an hour a day, just before dinner, in the
gymnasium. And my three-years' experience induces me to regard these
exercises, judiciously conducted, not only as beneficial, but
indispensable to a complete system of education. They are to the body
what intellectual labors are to the mind. They produce a vigor, an
agility, an address, a hardihood, a presence of mind in danger, which I
have never seen attained to the same extent under any other
circumstances. They fortify the health and strengthen the nerves. Their
mental and moral influence, also, is great. My observation convinces me
that they equalize the spirits, invigorate the intellect, and calm the
temper. I am witness to the fact that no one among the Hofwyl students
was injured by them in any way, and that very many acquired a strength
and an address that astonished themselves. I myself had been in feeble
health for several years before my arrival; yet I left Hofwyl, not only
perfectly well, but athletic; and I have not had a serious illness
since. I cannot believe, that, under a well-regulated system, gymnastics
cause injury or expose to danger.

Our annual excursions, which were undertaken in the charming autumn of
that bright and beautiful climate, by those among our students who, like
myself, were too far from home to return thither during the holidays,
were looked forward to, for weeks, with brilliant anticipations of
pleasure, which, strange to say, were realized. Our favorite professor,
Herr Lippe, accompanied us on these expeditions. Our number was commonly
from thirty to thirty-five.

It was usually about the first of August, that, equipped in the plain
student-costume of the college, with knapsack on shoulder, and long,
iron-shod mountain-staff in hand, we went forth, an exultant party, on
"the journey," as we called it. Previously to our departure, Herr Lippe,
at a public meeting of the intended excursionists, had chalked out for
us the proposed route; and when we found, as on two occasions land to
the lakes of Northern Italy, our enthusiasm broke forth in bursts of

Our usual day's journey was eighteen or twenty miles, sometimes
twenty-five or even more. We breakfasted very early, walked till about
midday, when we sought some shady nook where we could enjoy a lunch of
bread and wine, with grapes, or goat's-milk cheese, when these luxuries
could be procured. Then we despatched, in advance, some of our best
pedestrians, as commissariat of the party, to order supper preparatory
to our arrival. How joyfully we sat down to that evening meal! How we
talked over the events of the day, the magnificent scenes we had passed
through, the little adventures we had met with! The small country
taverns seldom furnished more than six or eight beds; so that more than
three fourths of our number usually slept in some barn well furnished
with hay or straw. How soundly we slept, and how merry the awaking!
There were among us, as among German students there always are,
excellent musicians, well-trained to sing their stirring national airs,
or gems from the best operas, or the like,--duets, trios, quartets.
After our frugal noonday meal in the shade, or perhaps when we had
surmounted some mountain-pass, and came suddenly, as we reached the
verge of the descent, upon some magnificent expanse of valley or
champaign scenery stretching out far beneath us, it was our habit to
call a halt for music. The fresh grass, dotted, perhaps, with Alpine
roses, furnished seats; and our vocalists drawing from their knapsacks
the slender _cahier_ containing melodies expressly selected for the
occasion and arranged in parts, we had, under the most charming
circumstances, an impromptu concert. I have heard much better music
since, but never any that I enjoyed more.

On one of these excursions we passed by Napoleon's wonderful road, the
Simplon, into one of the most beautiful regions of Italy. The first
night at Baveno was delicious. The soft Italian air,--the moonlight on
the placid lake, on the softly rounded olive-clad hills, on the
trellised vines, so picturesque, compared to the formal vineyards of
France,--all in such contrast to the giant mountain-peaks of granite,
snow-covered, cutting through the clouds, the vast glacier, bristling
with ice-blocks, sliding-down, an encroacher on the valley's
verdure,--in such marvellous contrast to all that region of rock and ice
and mountain-torrent and rugged path, and grand, rude, wild majesty of
aspect, it seemed like passing in a single day into another and a
gentler world.

Then came the quiet excursions on the lakes,--Lugano, Maggiore, Como:
such a rest to our blistered feet! Those blisters _were_ a drawback; but
what episode in human life has none? We strayed through the lime-groves
of the Isola Bella, where I exchanged the few words of Italian of which
I was master with a fair and courteous madonna who crossed our
path,--ascended, by clambering up within one of the folds of the Saint's
short mantle, the gigantic bronze statue of the holy Borromeo, sat down
inside the head, and looked out through the eyebrows on the lake under
whose waters lies buried the wide-brimmed shovel-hat which once covered
the shaven crown, but was swept off by the storm-wind one winter night.

Throughout the term of these charming excursions the strictest order was
observed. And herein was evinced the power of that honorable
party-spirit prevalent among us, which imposed on every one of us a
certain charge as to the good conduct of the whole,--making each, as it
were, alive to the faults and responsible for the misconduct of our
little community. Rude noise, unseemly confusion, the least approach to
dissipation at a tavern, or any other violation of propriety on the
road, would have been considered as an insult to the college. And thus
it happened that we established throughout Switzerland a character for
decorum such as no other institution ever obtained.

Nor did influences thus salutary cease with the term of our college
life. So far as I know anything of the after fortunes of my college
mates, they did honor to their alma mater,--if older and more learned
foundations will not grudge our institution that name. As a body, they
were distinguished for probity and excellent conduct; some attained
eminence. Even that Alexander of Würtemberg, whom we so lightly
esteemed, I afterwards heard spoken of as one of the most estimable
young princes of the court he graced. Seven years ago I met at Naples
(the first time since I left Hofwyl) our quondam Master of the Goats,
now an officer of the Emperor of Russia's household, and governor of one
of the Germano-Russian provinces. We embraced after the hearty German
fashion,--still addressed each other, as of old, with the familiar _du_
and _dich_,--sat down, forgetting the present, and were soon deep in
college reminiscences, none the less interesting that they were more
than thirty years old.

Over these old reminiscences I find myself lingering. Yet they have
stretched already, perhaps, as far as may interest others. With me they
have left a blessing,--a belief which existing abuses cannot shake nor
worldly skepticisms destroy: an abiding faith in human virtue and in
social progress.


[A] There was, besides, a primary school for boys up to the age of
twelve of thirteen at Diemerswyl, some miles from Hofwyl; and there had
been originally a normal school, which, though popular among the
teachers of Switzerland, gave umbrage to the Government, and was merged
in the Vehrli institution.

[B] Francis II., Metternich-led. His words were: "Je ne veux pas des
savants dans mes États; je veux des bons sujets."


    Where the Great Lake's sunny smiles
    Dimple round its hundred isles,
    And the mountain's granite ledge
    Cleaves the water like a wedge,
    Ringed about with smooth, gray stones,
    Rest the giant's mighty bones.

    Close beside, in shade and gleam,
    Laughs and ripples Melvin stream;
    Melvin water, mountain-born,
    All fair flowers its banks adorn;
    All the woodland's voices meet,
    Mingling with its murmurs sweet.

    Over lowlands forest-grown,
    Over waters island-strown,
    Over silver-sanded beach,
    Leaf-locked bay and misty reach,
    Melvin stream and burial-heap,
    Watch and ward the mountains keep.

    Who that Titan cromlech fills?
    Forest-kaiser, lord o' the hills?
    Knight who on the birchen tree
    Carved his savage heraldry?
    Priest o' the pine-wood temples dim,
    Prophet, sage, or wizard grim?

    Rugged type of primal man,
    Grim utilitarian,
    Loving woods for hunt and prowl,
    Lake and hill for fish and fowl,
    As the brown bear blind and dull
    To the grand and beautiful:

    Not for him the lesson drawn
    From the mountains smit with dawn.
    Star-rise, moon-rise, flowers of May,
    Sunset's purple bloom of day,--
    Took his life no hue from thence,
    Poor amid such affluence?

    Haply unto hill and tree
    All too near akin was he:
    Unto him who stands afar
    Nature's marvels greatest are;
    Who the mountain purple seeks
    Must not climb the higher peaks.

    Yet who knows in winter tramp,
    Or the midnight of the camp,
    What revealings faint and far,
    Stealing down from moon and star,
    Kindled in that human clod
    Thought of destiny and God?

    Stateliest forest patriarch,
    Grand in robes of skin and bark,
    What sepulchral mysteries,
    What weird funeral-rites, were his?
    What sharp wail, what drear lament,
    Back scared wolf and eagle sent?

    Now, whate'er he may have been,
    Low he lies as other men;
    On his mound the partridge drums,
    There the noisy blue-jay comes;
    Rank nor name nor pomp has he
    In the grave's democracy.

    Part thy blue lips, Northern lake!
    Moss-grown rocks, your silence break!
    Tell the tale, thou ancient tree!
    Thou, too, slide-worn Ossipee!
    Speak, and tell us how and when
    Lived and died this king of men!

    Wordless moans the ancient pine;
    Lake and mountain give no sign;
    Vain to trace this ring of stones;
    Vain the search of crumbling bones:
    Deepest of all mysteries,
    And the saddest, silence is.

    Nameless, noteless, clay with clay
    Mingles slowly day by day;
    But somewhere, for good or ill,
    That dark soul is living still;
    Somewhere yet that atom's force
    Moves the light-poised universe.

    Strange that on his burial-sod
    Harebells bloom, and golden-rod,
    While the soul's dark horoscope
    Holds no starry sign of hope!
    Is the Unseen with sight at odds?
    Nature's pity more than God's?

    Thus I mused by Melvin side,
    While the summer eventide
    Made the woods and inland sea
    And the mountains mystery;
    And the hush of earth and air
    Seemed the pause before a prayer,--

    Prayer for him, for all who rest,
    Mother Earth, upon thy breast,--
    Lapped on Christian turf, or hid
    In rock-cave or pyramid:
    All who sleep, as all who live,
    Well may need the prayer, "Forgive!"

    Desert-smothered caravan,
    Knee-deep dust that once was man,
    Battle-trenches ghastly piled,
    Ocean-floors with white bones tiled,
    Crowded tomb and mounded sod,
    Dumbly crave that prayer to God.

    Oh, the generations old
    Over whom no church-bells tolled,
    Christless, lifting up blind eyes
    To the silence of the skies!
    For the innumerable dead
    Is my soul disquieted.

    Where be now these silent hosts?
    Where the camping-ground of ghosts?
    Where the spectral conscripts led
    To the white tents of the dead?
    What strange shore or chartless sea
    Holds the awful mystery?

    Then the warm sky stooped to make
    Double sunset in the lake;
    While above I saw with it,
    Range on range, the mountains lit;
    And the calm and splendor stole
    Like an answer to my soul.

    Hear'st thou, O of little faith,
    What to thee the mountain saith,
    What is whispered by the trees?--
    "Cast on God thy care for these;
    Trust Him, if thy sight be dim:
    Doubt for them is doubt of Him.

    "Blind must be their close-shut eyes
    Where like night the sunshine lies,
    Fiery-linked the self-forged chain
    Binding ever sin to pain,
    Strong their prison-house of will,
    But without He waiteth still.

    "Not with hatred's undertow
    Doth the Love Eternal flow;
    Every chain that spirits wear
    Crumbles in the breath of prayer;
    And the penitent's desire
    Opens every gate of fire.

    "Still Thy love, O Christ arisen,
    Yearns to reach these souls in prison!
    Through all depths of sin and loss
    Drops the plummet of Thy cross!
    Never yet abyss was found
    Deeper than that cross could sound!"

    Therefore well may Nature keep
    Equal faith with all who sleep,
    Set her watch of hills around
    Christian grave and heathen mound,
    And to cairn and kirkyard send
    Summer's flowery dividend.

    Keep, O pleasant Melvin stream,
    Thy sweet laugh in shade and gleam!
    On the Indian's grassy tomb
    Swing, O flowers, your bells of bloom!
    Deep below, as high above,
    Sweeps the circle of God's love.




Labrador, geologists tell us, is the oldest portion of the American
Continent. It was also, and aside from the visits of the Scandinavians,
the first to be discovered by Europeans,--the Cabots having come to land
here more than a year before Columbus found the tropic mainland on his
third voyage. And to-day it is that part of the continent which has been
least explored. No one, to my knowledge, has ever crossed it: perhaps no
one could do so. I am not aware that any European has penetrated it
deeply. Hinds pushed up some hundred and fifty miles from the Gulf
coast, and thought this feat one which deserved two octavos of
commemoration. The coast, for some four hundred miles in extent, is
visited annually by hosts of fishermen; but twenty miles from tide-water
it is as little known to them as to the Bedouins.

We are now, however, able to affirm that the interior is all one immense
elevated plateau. Information which I obtained from an elderly
missionary at Hopedale, together with numerous indications that an
intelligent naturalist would know how to construe, enabled P---- to
determine this fact with confidence. It is a table-land "varying from
five to twenty-five hundred feet in height." Here not a tree grows, not
a blade of grass, only lichens and moss, What a vast and terrible waste
it must be! Where else upon the earth are all the elements of desolation
so combined? The missionary in question had penetrated to the borders of
this _cold_ desert and looked out over it. "No up _und_ down," he said.
"No dree. Notting grow. All level."

Within some one hundred and fifty miles of the coast this terrible
table-land breaks up into wild hills, separated by valleys that plunge
down suddenly, in rocky steeps, from the heights, more gorges than
valleys. These hills are all fearfully scarred. One sees in them
abundant record of the Titanic old-time warfare between rock and ice. A
prodigious contest it was. Sometimes the top of a hill--clean, live
rock--was sliced off, as with a knife. "Like the tops of our conical
cheeses, when they came to the table," said P----

The valleys are wooded with fir, spruce, larch, and, more to the south,
with birch. At a distance from the sea and in favorable situations these
trees grow to good forest size, even beyond the middle latitudes of
Labrador. In latitude 53° a resident told me that trees were found
eighteen inches in diameter. This statement was derided when I told it
on board, and the witty Judge kept the table in a roar for half an hour
with pleasantries about it. But at Hopedale, two and a half degrees
farther north, we learned that sticks of timber fifty feet in length
were often brought to the station; while one had found its way there
which was fifty-six feet long and ten inches in diameter at the smaller

Toward the sea these forests dwindle, till on the immediate coast they
wholly disappear. At Caribou Island, which, the reader will remember, is
_south_ of the Strait of Belle Isle, I found in a ravine some sadly
stunted spruces, firs, and larches, not more than three feet
high,--melancholy, wind-draggled, frightened-looking shrubs, which had
wondrously the air of lifelong ill-usage. The tangled tops were mostly
flattened and pressed over to one side, and altogether they seemed so
piteous, that one wished to say, "Nobody shall do so to you any more,
poor things!" Excepting these, the immediate coast, for five or six
hundred miles that we skirted it, was absolutely treeless.

Up in the bays, however, trees were found, and, curiously enough, they
were larger and more plentiful in high latitudes than farther south.
This puzzled me much at first. Evidently, however, it was due in part to
the nature of the rock. At Sleupe Harbor, latitude 51°, this was
granite;[C] farther on it was sienite; then the sienite showed a strong
predominance of feldspar; then it became an impure Labradorite; then
passed into gneiss; the gneiss became soft, stratified, and frequently
intersected by trap;--and with every softer quality of rock there was an
improvement in vegetation. This was particularly observable at L'Anse du
Loup, where there is a red sandstone formation extending some miles
along the sea and a mile or two inland. Here we seemed suddenly
transported to a Southern climate, so soft was the scenery, so green the
surface. The effect was enhanced by the aspect of the sandstone cliff,
which, in alternating horizontal shades of red, fronts the sea, with a
vertical height of three hundred feet for the whole extent of this
formation,--so ruddy and glowing under the sunshine, as we sailed past,
that one felt warmed by the sight, But a little farther back rose the
same old hard-hearted hills, cold, broken, and bare as ever.

But the difference in soil does not wholly explain the difference in
vegetation. In the mission-garden at Caribou Island next to nothing will
grow; in the garden at Hopedale, four degrees farther north, though the
rock here is very hard, I found half an acre of potatoes in blossom, the
tops about six inches high, together with beets, carrots, cabbages,
onions, nice currant-bushes, and rhubarb growing luxuriantly. These are
all started under cover, and are not set out in the garden until toward
the end of June, and a great deal of Esquimaux labor must go to their
production; yet it is doubtful whether the same pains would bring about
the same result at the Caribou station.

It is the sea that dooms Labrador, and the relation of the coast to this
does much to determine its fertility, or rather its barrenness. Half way
across the ocean, in latitude 54°, Captain Linklater found the
temperature of the water 54°, Fahrenheit; near the Labrador coast, in
the same latitude, the temperature was but 34°, two degrees only above
the freezing point! It is in facts like this that one gets a key to the
climate not only of Labrador, but of Eastern North America. Out of the
eternal ice of the North the current presses down along the coast,
chilling land and air wherever it touches. Where the coast retreats
somewhat, and is well barricaded with islands, the rigor of the climate
is mitigated; where it lies fully exposed to the Arctic current, even
though much farther south, the life is utterly chilled out of it. Now
Hopedale lies behind a rampart of islands twenty miles deep; while the
portion of the Arctic current which splits off at the head of
Newfoundland, and pushes down through the strait, presses close past
Caribou Island. This explains the sterility of the latter.

The Arctic current varies much in different years, not only in the
amount of ice it brings, but also in its direction. Unexpected effects
depend upon this variation. It will be remembered that in 1863 several
ships were wrecked on Cape Race, owing to some "unaccountable"
disturbance of the currents. The Gulf Stream, it was found at length,
ran thirty miles farther north than usual. _Was_ this unaccountable?
When Captain Handy, our whaling Mentor, was penetrating Hudson's Strait
in June, 1863, he found vast headlands of floe ice resting against the
land, and pushing far out to sea.

"Mr. Bailey," said he to his mate, "there will be many wrecks on Cape
Race this year."

The prediction was fulfilled. Do you see why it should be?

The floe ice rose ten feet above the water; it therefore extended near
one hundred feet beneath. At this depth it acted upon the current
precisely as if it were land, pushing the former far to the east. The
current, therefore, did not meet and repel the Gulf Stream at the usual
point; and the latter was thus at liberty to press on beyond its custom
to the north. Captain Handy not only saw the facts before him, but
reasoned upon them. Even when these immense bodies of ice do not rest
upon the land, they produce the same effect. At the depth of a hundred
feet they go below the current into the still water or counter current
beneath, and thus still resist the surface flow.

The coast of Labrador has no fellow for sternness and abruptness on the
earth. Huge headlands, stubborn cliffs, precipitous hills rise suddenly
from the sea, bold, harsh, immitigable, yet softened by their aspect of
gray endurance. Hacked and scored, tossed, fissured, and torn,
weather-beaten and bleached, their bluntness becomes grave, their
hardness pathetic. About their caverned bases the billow thunders in
perpetual assault, proclaiming the purpose of the sea to reclaim what it
has lost. Above, the frost inserts its potent lever, and flings down
from time to time some bellowing fragment to its ally below. The shores,
as if to escape from this warfare, hurry down, and plunge to quiet
depths of ocean, where the surge never heaves, nor frost, even by the
deep ploughshare of its icebergs, can reach. It is, indeed, a terrible
coast, and remains to represent that period in Nature when her powers
were all Titanic, untamed,--playing their wild game, with hills for
toss-coppers and seas for soap-bubbles, or warring with the elements
themselves for weapons.

The harbors are very deep. In some twenty that we visited there was but
a single exception. In fact, it is commonly only in little coves boxed
up by high walls of rock, where one side threatens the ship's bowsprit
and the other her stern, that an ordinary cable will reach bottom. You
anchor in a granite tub, where one hardly dares lean over the rail for
fear of bumping his head against the cliffs, and see half your chain
spin out before ground is touched. Jack sometimes wonders, as the cable
continues to rush through the hawse-hole, whether he has not dropped
anchor into a hole through the earth, and speculates upon the
probability of fishing up a South-Sea island when he shall again heave
at the windlass.

A Labrador summer has commonly a brief season during which the heat
seems to Englishmen "intense," and even to an American noticeable.
Captain French, the old pilot, told me that he had been at Indian Harbor
(far to the north) when for three weeks an awning over the deck was
absolutely necessary, and when a fish left in the sun an hour would be
spoiled. Last summer, however, was the coldest and rainiest known for
many years. Once the thermometer rose to 73°, Fahrenheit, once again to
70°, but five days in six it did not at nine in the morning vary more
than two or three degrees from 42°, and half the time the mercury would
be found precisely at this mark. The lowest temperature observed was
34°. This was on the 28th and 29th of July, when we had a furious
snow-storm, which lasted twenty-four hours, with twelve hours of wild
rain, sleet, and hail interposed. In consequence of this rain and of the
constant melting, there remained on the steep hillsides only three
inches' depth of snow when the storm ceased, though in the hollows it
was found a foot deep. In the deeper ravines the snow of winter lasts
through the year, and was found by us in the middle of August.

We were, however, treated to a few days which left no room for a wish:
for the best day of a Labrador summer is the best day of all summers
whatsoever. Herodotus says that Ionia was allowed to possess the finest
climate of all the world; and in Smyrna I believed him, for there were
May days when each breath seemed worth one's being born to enjoy. But
all days yield to those of Labrador when the better genius of its
climate prevails. Then one feels the serenity of power, then all his
blood is exalted and pure, and the globules sail through his veins like
rich argosies before trade-winds. Then an irritable haste and a weak
lassitude are alike impossible; one's nerves are made of a metal finer
than steel, and he becomes truly a lord in Nature.

It was on such a day that we ran some fifty miles through a passage,
resembling a river, between islands and the main. The wind blew warm and
vigorous from the land,--sometimes, when it came to us without passing
over considerable spaces of water, seeming positively hot, as if it came
from an oven; yet in such an atmosphere one felt that he could live
forever, either in an oven or in the case of an iceberg, and wish only
to live there forever! A great fleet of schooners was pushing swiftly
along this passage, on its way to fishing-grounds in the North; and as
we flew past one and another, while the astonished crews gathered at the
side to stare at our speed, our schooner seemed the very genius of
Victory, and our wishes to be supreme powers. I have never elsewhere
experienced so _cool_ and perfect an exhilaration,--physical
exhilaration, that is.

In the early afternoon a dense haze filled the sky. The sun, seen
through this, became a globe of glowing ruby, and its glade on the sea
looked as if the water had been strown, almost enough to conceal it,
with a crystalline ruby dust, or with fine mineral _spiculæ_ of
vermilion bordering upon crimson. The peculiarity of this ruddy dust was
that it seemed to possess _body_, and, while it glowed, did not in the
smallest degree dazzle,--as if the brilliancy of each ruby particle came
from the heart of it rather than from the surface. The effect was in
truth indescribable, and I try to suggest it with more sense of
helplessness than I have felt hitherto in preparing these papers. It was
beautiful _beyond_ expression,--any expression, at least, which is at
my command.

Such a spectacle, I suppose, one might chance to see anywhere, though
the chance certainly never occurred to me before. It could scarcely have
escaped me through want of attention, for I could well believe myself a
child of the sun, so deep an appeal to my feeling is made by effects of
light and color: light before all.

But the atmosphere of Labrador has its own secret of beauty, and charms
the eye with aspects which one may be pardoned for believing
incomparable in their way. The blue of distant hills and mountains, when
observed in clear sunshine, is subtile and luminous to a degree that
surpasses admiration. I have seen the Camden Heights across the waters
of Penobscot Bay when their blue was equally profound; for these hills,
beheld over twenty miles or more of sea, do a wonderful thing in the way
of color, lifting themselves up there through all the long summer days,
a very marvel of solemn and glorious beauty. The Ægean Sea has a charm
of atmosphere which is wanting to Penobscot Bay, but the hue of its
heights cannot compare with that of the Camden Hills. Those of Labrador,
however, maintain their supremacy above even these,--above all. They
look like frozen sky. Or one might fancy that a vast heart or core of
amethyst was deeply overlaid with colorless crystal, and shone through
with a softened, lucent ray. Such transparency, such _intense_ delicacy,
such refinement of hue! Sometimes, too, there is seen in the deep
hollows, between the lofty billows of blue, a purple that were fit to
clothe the royalty of immortal kings, while the blue itself is flecked
as it were with a spray of white light, which one might guess to be a
precipitate of sunshine.

This was wonderful; but more wonderful and most wonderful was to come.
It was given me once and once again to look on a vision, an enchantment,
a miracle of all but impossible beauty, incredible until seen, and even
when seen scarcely to be credited, save by an act of faith. We had
sailed up a deep bay, and cast anchor in a fine large harbor of the
exactest horseshoe shape. It was bordered immediately by a gentle ridge
some three hundred feet high, which was densely wooded with spruce, fir,
and larch. Beyond this ridge, to the west, rose mountainous hills, while
to the south, where was the head of the harbor, it was overlooked
immediately by a broad, noble mountain. It had been one of those
white-skied days, when the heavens are covered by a uniform filmy
fleece, and the light comes as if it had been filtered through milk. But
just before sunset this fleece was rent, and a river of sunshine
streamed across the ridge at the head of the harbor, leaving the
mountain beyond, and the harbor itself, with its wooded sides, still in
shadow. And where that shine fell, the foliage changed from green to a
glowing, luminous red-brown, expressed with astonishing force,--not a
trace, not a hint of green remaining! Beyond it, the mountain preserved
its whited gray; nearer, on either side, the woods stood out in clear
green; and separated from these by the sharpest line, rose this ridge of
enchanted forest. You will incline to think that one might have seen
through this illusion by trying hard enough. But never were the colors
in a paint-pot more definite and determined.

This was but the beginning. I had turned away, and was debating with
myself whether some such color, seen on the Scotch and English hills,
had not given the hint for those uniform browns which Turner in his
youth copied from his earlier masters. When I looked back, the sunshine
had flooded the mountain, and was bathing it all in the purest rose-red.
Bathing it? No, the mountain was solidly converted, transformed to that
hue! The power, the simplicity, the translucent, shining depth of the
color were all that you can imagine, if you make no abatements, and task
your imagination to the utmost. This roseate hue no rose in the garden
of Orient or Occident ever surpassed. Small spaces were seen where the
color became a pure ruby, which could not have been more lustrous and
intense, had it proceeded from a polished ruby gem ten rods in
dimension. Color could go no farther. Yet if the eye lost these for a
moment, it was compelled somewhat to search for them,--so powerful, so
brilliant was the rose setting in which they were embosomed.

One must remember how near at hand all this was,--not more than a mile
or two away. Rock, cavern, cliff, all the details of rounded swell,
rising peak, and long descending slope, could be seen with entire
distinctness. The mountain rose close upon us, broad, massive,
real,--but all in this glorious, this truly ineffable transformation. It
was not distance that lent enchantment here. It was not _lent_; it was
real as rock, as Nature; it confronted, outfaced, overwhelmed you; for,
enchantment so immediate and on such a scale of grandeur and
gorgeousness,--who could stand up before it?

In sailing out of the bay, next day, we saw this and the neighbor
mountain under noon sunshine. (Lat. 55° 20'.) They were the handsomest
we saw, apparently composed in part of some fine mineral, perhaps pure
Labradorite. In the full light of day these spaces shone like polished
silver. My first impression was that they must be patches of snow, but a
glance at real spots of snow corrected me. These last, though more
distinctly white, had not the high, soft, silver shine of the mineral.
Doubtless it was these mountain-gems which, under the magic touch of
sunset light, had the evening before appeared like vast rubies, blazing
amidst the rose which surrounded them.

And this evening the spectacle of the preceding one was repeated, though
more distantly and on a larger scale. Ph---- thought it the finer of the
two. Far away the mountain height towered, a marvel of aërial blue,
while broad spurs reaching out on either side were clothed, the one in
shiny rose-red, the other in ethereal roseate tints super-imposed upon
azure; and farther away, to the southeast, a mountain range lay all in
solid carmine along the horizon, as if the earth blushed at the touch of

"I invite and announce the mountains which possess pure brightness,
which have much brightness, created by Mazda, pure, lords of purity." So
sang the Zarathustrian priest, chanting the Vispereds of the
Avesta,--deep-hearted child of the world, himself now shining on the
far-away horizon of human history.

All the wildness and waste, all the sternest desolations of the whole
earth, brought together to wed and enhance each other, and then relieved
by splendor without equal, perhaps, in the world,--that is Labrador.

I have dreamed that it was created on this wise. Ahriman, having long
been defeated in his evil purposes by Ormuzd, fled away secretly to a
distant part of the world, and there in silence made a land which should
be utterly his own. He brought together every element of dread and
terror,--barrenness, brokenness, dreariness, fearful cold, blinding fog,
crushing ice, sudden savage change. And when it was completed, he
rejoiced in his heart and said, "This is perfect in badness, it cannot
be redeemed, it is wholly and forever mine, it is mine!" Then Ormuzd,
lord of light, heard the voice of that accursed joy, and, looking,
beheld the evil work. And he saw that it could not be redeemed, that it
was fixed forever in its evil state. Then he came to it, and, seeking to
change nothing, uplifted over it a token of immortal, unutterable
beauty, that even this land might bear witness to his celestial

But these waste lands have use as well as beauty. At Sleupe Harbor dwelt
one Michael Cantè, the patriarch of the neighborhood, if neighborhood it
were to be called, where were only three houses within a space of as
many miles. His years were now threescore and ten, but he was hale as a
pine forest and sweet as maple sap. A French Canadian, he spoke English,
not only like a native, but like a well-bred native,--was not ignorant
of thoughts and books,--and altogether seemed a man superior to most in
nature, intelligence, and manners. His birthplace was Quebec, and he had
formerly possessed a very considerable fortune; but losing this through
fraud, and finding himself deserted by "summer friends," he had
conceived a disgust at polite society, and escaped to these solitudes.
Here his wounds had healed, and his nature recovered its tone. His
labors prospered; a healthy and handsome family grew up to enrich his
household; and no regrets drew him back to the big world he had left
behind. Nature preserves to herself the right of asylum, no matter how
the Louis Napoleon of civilization may demand its surrender,--preserves
a place of rest and refuge for the weary hearts which are self-sent into
spiritual exile.

It is also to be considered whether this terrible region does not play a
most serviceable part in the physical geography of the continent. I have
not science enough to speak here with entire confidence; and yet I am
rationally convinced. Without the ice-fields in the North, and the
frigid current which these send down to meet the tepid waters of the
Gulf Stream, would not this low and level America, with its dry
atmosphere, suffer fearfully for want of rain? would it not, indeed, be
one great desert? Could we dispense with the collisions and sudden
interchanges of cold and hot currents of air which are due to these
causes? Do we not obtain thus the same effects which in South America
are produced by the snowy summits of the Andes? The cold current meets
the warm, chills its vapor, precipitates this in fruitful rain. Our
northeast winds are the chief bringers of rain. Take these away, and
what about wheat and corn? Take away Labrador and the Arctic current,
and what about northeast winds? They would still blow; would they still
force the warm air to yield its vapor for the benefit of our fields? The
extreme changeableness of our climate is, I am fully persuaded,
connected very closely and indispensably with the fertility of the
continent. Thank God, therefore, for Labrador!



I have recounted above the manner in which the good divinity spoiled the
Labrador triumph of the malign god. To that veracious history belongs
the following _addendum_. The evil power was deeply chagrined to be so
robbed of his victory. Rubbing his brow with vexation, he chanced to
break the skin with his nails. The venom of the viper is poisonous to
its own blood; and in like manner, the malignity of the demon afflicted
his own flesh with a festering pain. The slight anguish gave him a
thought. "Ha! now I have it!" he cried; "now I will be quits with him!"
He caused, accordingly, a boggy moss to grow in the hollows of this
dreary land, and made this to generate in countless multitudes a small,
winged, venomous fiend, named _mosquito_. "Ahriman is victor, after
all!" he shouted, as the humming imps trooped forth upon the air.

I think he was!

Delighted with this success, the demon tried to repeat it in other
lands; but it fared with him as with every genius, good or bad, who
begins to repeat himself: the imitation was but a feeble copy of the
original. The mosquito of Labrador would spoil Eden itself. The imitated
fiend I am indifferent to, but from the original spare me!

We were spared in a degree. Ormuzd turned the weapons of his enemy
against himself: rain, hail, and snow fought for us against the
mosquito; but when fair weather came, this pest came with it. It is
clear that Dante was not a man of genius! Otherwise he would have put
the mosquito (the original, of course) in his "Inferno."

_Ennui_ is always to be suffered on a long voyage. We had it, enough of
it, and to spare, yet always broken by days of high delight.

During the early part of the voyage, while we were still sailing, or
even during considerable detentions in harbor, there was, novelty and
incident enough to give the mind employment. The weather was fine; the
sun shone; we lived on deck, in company with sun, sea, sky, horizon; and
the mere relief from the narrowness of in-door life, the wide fellowship
with the elements in which we were established, sufficed of themselves
to invest our days with an unfailing charm. I was peculiarly happy, for
I love the sea. All its ordinary aspects delight me in a very deep and
heartfelt way. These were varied in the present instance with much that
to me was far from being ordinary. Ever there was some ascending shore,
some towering island or prodigious cliff, some enticing bird, some
magnificence of morning or evening; and besides all these and a hundred
attractions more, there were the beauty and terror of berg and
floe-field, the marvel of the ice. For a time, therefore, all was
enchantment. If we made a harbor, if we left one, expectation sailed
with us; we fancied new scenes, new adventures,--the delight of
exploration yet fierce in our souls.

But now comes a change. The novelty wears away; we get in some degree
the gauge of the scenery and the variety of circumstance; the dawdling,
snail-foot, insufferable creep of the ship from one fisherman's
dog's-hole to another becomes inexcusable; the weather conspires against
us; the sportsman wonders why he had brought gun and fishing-rod; even
Science grows weary at times in its limited and hampered inspection. For
more than five weeks our average progress along the coast was eight
miles a day! The ice and the weather were partly responsible for this
lagging; but there were other causes, at which I forbear to hint more
definitely. Suffice it to say that they were of a kind that one finds it
hard to be charmed with; and the Elder will here confide to the reader
that he was in the end a much vexed individual.

_Ennui_ overtook us first in Square Island Harbor. During our long
duress there, outward objects of interest began to fail, and each man
was thrown back in some degree upon his own resources.

Now follows a special development of idiosyncrasy, and with it of
friction. Kept below much of the time by inclement weather, we are
crowded and jumbled incessantly together; you jostle against the
shoulders of one, you rub elbows with another, you clamber over the
knees of a third; the members of the company are thrust together more
closely than husband and wife in the narrowest household, and there is
no exhaustless spousal love, no nameless mutual charm of man and woman,
to relieve the sharpness of contact. Every man's peculiarities come out;
and as there is no space between one and another, every man's
peculiarities jar upon those of his neighbor. One is rampant just when
another is moodily silent; one wishes to sleep when another must shout
or split.

For a while, however, these idiosyncrasies amuse. We are rather pleased
with them as a resource than vexed by them as an annoyance. We are as
yet full of the sense of power; we are equal to occasion, and like to
feel our independence of outward support. So our young people run out
into all sorts of riotous fun, and, sooth to say, the older do not
always refuse a helping hand. The "Nightingale Club" becomes a
"Night-Owl Club"; there are whistling choruses, laughing choruses,
weeping, howling, stamping choruses, choruses of huzzas, of
mock-complaint; there are burglaries, spectres, lampoons, and what not?
At last these follies became tiresome, and every man was brought to the
marrow-bones of his endurance.

Now, then, impatience, impatience! The abominable cooking, the dawdling
progress,--how was one to endure them? Especially when we had turned
homeward, and were sluggishly repeating the ground already traversed,
did the delay become almost insupportable. At length, on the 24th of
August, we fairly said good-bye to Labrador, and came sweeping southward
with the matchless speed of which our schooner was capable when she got
a chance. It wellnigh tore Bradford's heart-strings to leave his
icebergs once and for all behind; for a more fascinated human being I
believe there never was than this true enthusiast while on that coast.
He _must_ paint the bergs with rare power, must get the very spirit and
suggestion of them on canvas, or his soul will quit him, and make off

P----, the indefatigable, would also have gladly stayed longer, I
believe. Our voyage had not extended so far as he desired to go, but had
been fruitful of results, nevertheless. Besides making important
observations upon the action of glacial and coast ice, counting upwards
of seventy-five raised beaches, obtaining convincing indications of a
great central table-land, and establishing by abundant detail a
resemblance amounting almost to identity between the insect Fauna of
Labrador and that of the summit of Mount Washington, he had been able to
collect indubitable evidence that there exists a sub-Arctic group of
marine animals inhabiting the shores of Labrador and Newfoundland. This
last is a result of especial importance, as this group, owing to the
want of material, had been overlooked by preceding naturalists. This
gentleman, whose industry and zeal in scientific research are literally
boundless, and are matched with much penetration, designs visiting the
North of Europe to make comparisons between the land of the Lapps and
Finns and the sub-Arctic regions of America; and I make no doubt that
American science will obtain honor in his person.

The rest of us, however, breathed freer now that we were


    Wide swells aloft the snowy sail,
    New life comes flowing on the gale.
    Joy! joy! our exile all is past!
    We're homeward bound, homeward at last!
      Ill fates are strong, but God is stronger;
      The loved that wait shall wait no longer;
      Our wake is white with happy foam,
      And blithe the skies to fan us home.

    O bliss of friendship, bliss of heaven!
    O heart of love, earth's angel leaven!
    The speed of winds is in your feet,
    Soon hands will join and lips will meet.

    Now through our land roll far and wide
    War's lurid flame and crimson tide;
    But glory blushes through her woe,
    And both to share with joy we go.

    Farewell, grim North! Possess thy throne,
    And reign amid thy bergs alone;
    Now turn our hearts to truer poles,
    To native shores and kindred souls.
      Ill fates are strong, but God is stronger;
      The loved that wait shall wait no longer;
      Our wake is white with happy foam,
      And blithe the skies to fan us home.

_September 1._--The Gulf had waylaid us, with a fierce storm in
readiness. Our reckoning was wrong; we just escaped going ashore in the
pitchy darkness; and, to mend all, the ship took fire! The flames were
soon quenched, but St. Lawrence Neptune kept trying to put them out for
twelve hours afterward; and such a drenching! But here we are between
the shores of Nova Scotia and Cape Breton Isle. Fort Mulgrave, two miles
away over the calm water and beneath the floods of sunshine, looks like
a little paradise, (painted white,) after all my reviling it. And
fields, too!--green fields and forests! Could one ever again wish more
pleasure than to look on swarded fields and wooded hills? Yes,--besides
this, the pleasure of _remembering_ Labrador!


[C] Possibly sienite. I omitted to make a note, and speak from
recollection. If sienite, very hard, the quartz element predominating,
as the feldspar does farther north.



New York, _February, 1862._--One thing surprises me. It is to find New
York, to say the least of it, as brilliant as when I took my departure
for the Antilles in 1857. In general, the press abroad relates the
events of our war with such a predetermined pessimist spirit, that at a
distance it is impossible to form a correct estimate of the state of the
country. For the last year I have read in the papers statements to this
effect:--"The theatres are closed; the terrorism of Robespierre sinks
into insignificance, compared to the excesses of the Americans; the
streets of New York are deluged with blood" (I very nearly had a duel in
Puerto Rico for venturing to question the authenticity of this last
assertion, propounded by a Spanish officer); "in short, the North is in
a starving condition."

"How can you think of giving concerts to people who are in want of
bread?" was the remark of my friends, on being apprised of my resolution
to return to the United States; and, in all humility, I must acknowledge
that the same question suggested itself not unfrequently to my mind,
when I discussed within me the expediency of my voyage. I have still in
my possession a newspaper in which a correspondent states the
depreciation of our currency to be such that he actually saw a baker
refuse to take a dollar from a famished laborer in exchange for a loaf
of bread.

The number of these trustworhy correspondents has increased in the
direct ratio of our prosperity, the development of our resources, and
the umbrage these blessings give to the enemies of democratic
principles. There are very few governments that would not deem it a
matter of duty to exult over the ruin of our republican edifice. Fear
actuates the less enlightened; jealousy is the motive of the more
liberal. A celebrated statesman once said to me, "A republic is
theoretically a very fine thing, but it is a Utopia." Like the man in
antiquity, who, on hearing motion denied, refuted the assertion simply
by rising and walking, we had hitherto put the "Utopia" into practice;
and the _thing did_ march on, and proved a reality. The argument was
peremptory. A principle can be discussed; a fact is undeniable. Although
refracted by the organs of the foreign press, the light of truth still
flashed at times upon the people in Europe, and taught it to reflect.
When our troubles broke out, I was in Martinique. In all the
Antilles,--Spanish, French, Danish, English, Swedish, Dutch,--it was but
one unanimous cry, "Did not we say so?" and the truthful and independent
correspondents immediately embraced this opportunity to redouble their
zeal, and forthwith began to multiply like mosquitoes in a tropical
swamp after a summer shower.

But it is not my province to pronounce upon lofty political and moral
questions. I would merely say that New York, for a deserted city, is
singularly animated; that Broadway yesterday was thronged with pretty
women, who, famished as they are, present, nevertheless, the delusive
appearance of health, and brave with heroic indifference the bloody
tumults of which our streets are daily the theatre; that Art is not so
utterly dead among us but that Maretzek gives "Un Ballo in Maschera" to
crowded houses, and Church sees his studio filled with amateurs desirous
of admiring his magnificent and strange "Icebergs," which he has just

It is difficult to account for the extreme ignorance of many foreigners
with regard to the political and intellectual standing of the United
States, when one considers the extent of our commerce, which covers the
entire world like a vast net, or when one views the incessant tide of
immigration which thins the population of Europe to our profit. A French
admiral, Viscount Duquesne, inquired of me at Havana, in 1853, if it
were possible to venture in the vicinity of St. Louis without
apprehending being massacred by the Indians. The father of a talented
French pianist who resides in this country wrote a few years since to
his son to know if the furrier business in the city of New York was
exclusively carried on by Indians. Her Imperial Highness the
Grand-Duchess of Russia, on seeing Barnum's name in an American paper,
requested me to tell her if he were not one of our prominent statesmen.
For very many individuals in Europe, the United States have remained
just what they were when Châteaubriand wrote "Les Natchez," and saw
parrots(?) on the boughs of the trees which the majestic "_Méchasébé_"
rolled down the current of its mighty waters. All this may seem
improbable, but I advance nothing that I am not fully prepared to prove.
There is, assuredly, an intelligent class of people who read and know
the truth; but, unfortunately, it is not the most numerous, nor the most
inclined to render us justice. Proudhon himself--that bold, vast mind,
ever struggling for the triumph of light and progress--regards the
pioneer of the West merely as an heroic outlaw, and the Americans in
general as half-civilized savages. From Talleyrand, who said,
"_L'Amérique est un pays de cochons sales et de sales cochons,_" down to
Zimmermann, the director of the piano-classes at the Conservatory of
Paris, who, without hearing me, gave as a reason for refusing to receive
me in 1841, that "America was a country that could produce nothing but
steam-engines," there is scarcely an eminent man abroad who has not made
a thrust at the Americans.--It may not be irrelevant to say here that
the little Louisianian who was refused as a pupil in 1841 was called
upon in 1851 to sit as a judge on the same bench with Zimmermann, at the
"_Concours_" of the Conservatory.

Unquestionably there are many blanks in certain branches of our
civilization. Our appreciation of the fine arts is not always as
enlightened, as discriminating, as elevated, as it might be. We look
upon them somewhat as interlopers, parasites, occupying a place to which
they have no legitimate right. Our manners, like the machinery of our
government, are too new to be smooth and polished; they occasionally
grate. We are more prone to worship the golden calf, in bowing down
before the favorites of Fortune, than disposed to kill the fatted calf
in honor of the elect of thought and mind. Each and every one of us
thinks himself as good and better than any other man: an invaluable
creed, when it engenders self-respect; but, alas! when we put it in
practice, it is generally with a view of pulling down to our level those
whose level we could never hope to reach. Fortunately, these little
weaknesses are not national traits. They are inherent in all new
societies, and will completely disappear when we shall attain the full
development of our civilization with the maturity of age.

       *       *       *       *       *

My _impresarios_, Strakosch and Gran, have made the important discovery,
that my first concert in New York, on my return from Europe in 1853,
took place the 11th of February, and consequently have decided to defer
my reappearance for a few days in order that it may fall upon the 11th
of February, 1862. The public (which takes not the remotest interest in
the thing) has been duly informed of this memorable coincidence by all
the papers.

Query by some of my friends: "Why do you say such and such things in the
advertisements? Why do you not eliminate such and such epithets from the

Answer: Alas! are you ignorant of the fact that the artist is a piece of
merchandise, which the _impresario_ has purchased, and which he sets off
to the best advantage according to his own taste and views? You might as
well upbraid certain pseudo-gold-mines for declaring dividends which
they will never pay, as to render the artist responsible for the puffs
of his managers. A poor old negress becomes, in the hands of the Jupiter
of the Museum, the nurse of Washington; after that, can you marvel at
the magniloquent titles coupled with my name?

The artist is like the stock which is to be quoted at the board and
thrown upon the market. The _impresario_ and his agents, the broker and
his clique, cry out that it is "excellent, superb, unparalleled,--the
shares are being carried off as by magic,--there remain but very few
reserved seats." (The house will perhaps be full of dead-heads, and the
broker may be meditating a timely failure.) Nevertheless, the public
rushes in, and the money follows a similar course. If the stock be
really good, the founders of the enterprise become millionnaires. If the
artist has talent, the _impresario_ occasionally makes his (the
_impresario's_) fortune. In case both stock and artist prove bad, they
fall below par and vanish after having made (quite innocently) a certain
number of victims. Now, in all sincerity, of the two humbugs, do you not
prefer that of the _impresario_? At all events, it is less expensive.

       *       *       *       *       *

I heard Brignoli yesterday evening in "Martha." The favorite tenor has
still his charming voice, and has retained, despite the progress of an
_embonpoint_ that gives him some uneasiness, the aristocratic elegance
which, added to his fine hair and "beautiful throat," has made him so
successful with the fair sex. Brignoli, notwithstanding the defects his
detractors love to heap upon him, is an artist I sincerely admire. The
reverse of vocalists, who, I am sorry to say, are for the most part
vulgar ignoramuses, he is a thorough musician, and perfectly qualified
to judge a musical work. His enemies would be surprised to learn that he
knows by heart Hummel's Concerto in A minor. He learned it as a child
when he contemplated becoming a pianist, and still plays it charmingly.
Brignoli knows how to sing, and, were it not for the excessive fear that
paralyzes all his faculties before an audience, he would rank among the
best singers of the day.

I met Brignoli for the first time at Paris in 1849. He was then very
young, and had just made his _début_ at the Théâtre Italien, in "L'
Elisire d' Amore," under the sentimental patronage of Mme. R., wife of
the celebrated barytone. In those days Brignoli was very thin, very
awkward, and his timidity was rendered more apparent by the proximity of
his protectress. Mme. R. was an Italian of commanding stature,
impassioned and jealous. She sang badly, although possessed of a fine
voice, which she was less skilful in showing to advantage than in
displaying the luxuriant splendor of her raven hair. The public,
initiated into the secret of the green-room, used to be intensely amused
at the piteous attitudes of Nemorino Brignoli, contrasting, as they did,
with the ardent pantomime of Adina R., who looked by his side like a
wounded lioness. Poor woman! What has been your fate? The glossy tresses
of which you were so proud in your scenes of insanity, those tresses
that brought down the house when your talent might have failed to do so,
are now frosted with the snow of years. Your husband has forsaken you.
After a long career of success, he has buried his fame under the
orange-groves of the Alhambra. There he directs, according to his own
statement, (but I can scarce credit it,) the phantom of a Conservatory
for singing. I am convinced he has too much taste to break in upon the
poetical silence of the old Moorish palace with _portamenti_, trills,
and scales, and I flatter myself that the plaintive song of the
nightingales of the Generalife and the soft murmur of the Fountain of
the Lions are the only concerts that echo gives to the breeze that
gently sighs at night from the mountains of the Sierra Nevada. Alas!
poor woman, your locks are silvered, and Brignoli--has grown fat! "_Sic
transit gloria mundi!_"


When a European speaks about the American Revolution, he speaks of it as
the work of Washington and Franklin. These two names embody for his mind
all the phases of the contest, and explain its result. The military
genius of Washington, going hand in hand with the civil genius of
Franklin, fills the foreground of his picture. He has heard of other
names, and may remember some of them; but these are the only ones which
have taken their place in his memory at the side of the great names of
European history.

In part this is owing to the importance which all Europeans attach to
the French alliance as one of the chief causes of our success. For then,
as now, France held a place among the great powers of the world which
gave importance to all her movements. With direct access to two of the
principal theatres of European strife and easy access to the third, she
never raised her arm without drawing immediate attention. If less
powerful than England on the ocean, she was more powerful there than any
other nation; and even England's superiority was often, and sometimes
successfully, contested. The adoption by such a power of the cause of a
people so obscure as the people of the "Thirteen Colonies" then were
was, in the opinion of European statesmen, decisive of its success. The
fact of our actual poverty was known to all; few, if any, knew that we
possessed exhaustless sources of wealth. Our weakness was on the
surface, palpable, manifest, forcing itself upon attention; our strength
lay out of sight, in rich veins which none but eyes familiar with their
secret windings could trace. Thus the French alliance, as the European
interpreted it, was the alliance of wealth with poverty, of strength
with weakness,--a magnanimous recognition of efforts which without that
recognition would have been vain. What, then, must have been the
persuasive powers, the commanding genius, of the man who procured that

Partly, also, this opinion is owing to the personal character and
personal position of Franklin. Franklin was preëminently a wise man,
wise in the speculative science and wise in the practical art of life.
Something of the maturity of age seems to have tempered the liveliest
sallies of his youth, and much of the vivacity of youth mingles with the
sober wisdom of his age. Thoughtful and self-controlling at twenty, at
seventy his ripe experience was warmed by a genial glow. He entered upon
life with the feeling that he had a part to perform, and the conviction
that his happiness would depend upon his performing it well. What that
part was to be was his earliest study; and a social temperament,
combining with a sound judgment, quickly taught him that the happiness
of the individual is inseparably connected with the happiness of the
species. Thus life became his study as a condition of happiness; man and
Nature, as the means of obtaining it. He sought to control his passions
as he sought to control the lightning, that he might strip them of their
power to harm. Sagacious in the study of causes, he was still more
sagacious in tracing their connection with effects; and his speculations
often lose somewhat of their grandeur by the simple and unpretending
directness with which he adapts them to the common understanding and
makes them minister to the common wants of life. The ambition which
quickened his early exertions met an early reward. He was ambitious to
write well, and he became one of the best writers in our language. He
was ambitious of knowledge, and he laid it up in such stores that men
sought his conversation in order to learn from him. He was ambitious of
pecuniary independence, and he accumulated a fortune that made him
master of his time and actions. He was ambitious of influence, and he
obtained a rare control over the thoughts and the passions of men. He
was ambitious of fame, and he connected his name with the boldest and
grandest discovery of his age.

Living thus in harmony with himself, he enjoyed the rare privilege of
living in equal harmony with the common mind and the advanced mind of
his contemporaries. He entered into every-day wants and feelings as if
he had never looked beyond them, and thus made himself the counsellor of
the people. He appreciated the higher wants and nobler aspirations of
our nature, and thus became the companion and friend of the philosopher.
His interest in the present--and it was a deep and active interest--did
not prevent him from looking forward with kindling sympathies to the
future. Like the diligent husbandman of whom Cicero tells us, he could
plant trees without expecting to see their fruit. If he detected folly
with a keen eye, he did not revile it with a bitter heart. Human
weakness, in his estimate of life, formed an inseparable part of human
nature, the extremes of virtue often becoming the starting-points of
vice,--better treated, all of them, by playful ridicule than by stern
reproof. He might never have gone with Howard in search of abuses, but
he would have drawn such pictures of those near home as would have made
some laugh and some blush and all unite heartily in doing away with
them. With nothing of the ascetic, he could impose self-denial and bear
it. Like Erasmus, he may not have aspired to become a martyr,--but in
those long voyages and journeys, which, in his infirm old age, he
undertook in his country's service, there was much of the sublimest
spirit of martyrdom. His philosophy, a philosophy of observation and
induction, had taught him caution in the formation of opinions, and
candor in his judgments. With distinct ideas upon most subjects, he was
never so wedded to his own views as to think that all who did not see
things as he did must be wilfully blind. His justly tempered faculties
lost none of their serene activity or gentle philanthropy by age.
Hamilton himself, at thirty, did not labor with more earnestness in the
formation of the Constitution than Franklin at eighty-one; and as if in
solemn record of his own interpretation of it, his last public act, with
eternity full in view, was to head a memorial to Congress for the
abolition of the slave-trade.

That such a man should produce a strong impression upon the excitable
mind of France must be evident to every one who knows how excitable that
mind is. But to understand his public as well as his personal position,
not so much at the French Court as at the court of French opinion, we
must go back a dozen years and see what that opinion had been since the
Peace of 1763.

The Treaty of Paris, like all treaties between equals founded upon the
temporary superiority of one over the other, had deeply wounded, not the
vanity only, but the pride of France. Humbled in the eyes of her rival,
humbled in the eyes of Europe, she was still more profoundly humbled in
her own eyes. It was a barbed and venomous arrow, haughtily left to
rankle in the wound. For highminded Frenchmen, it was henceforth the
wisdom as well as the duty of France to prepare the means and hasten the
hour of revenge. It was then that the eyes of French statesmen were
first opened to the true position of the American Colonies. It was then
that they first saw how much the prosperity of the parent state depended
upon the sure and constant flow of wealth and strength from this
exhaustless source. Then, too, they first, saw, these Colonies, in due
time, must grow into independence; and in this, independence, in this
severing of ties which they foresaw English pride would cling to long
after English avidity had stripped them of their natural strength, there
was the prospect of full and sweet revenge.

Scarce a twelvemonth had passed from the signing of the Treaty of
Paris, when the first French emissary, an officer of the French navy,
was already at his work in the Colonies. Passing to and fro, travelling
here and there, moving from place to place as any common traveller might
have done, his eyes and his ears were ever open, his note-book was ever
in his hand, and, without awakening the suspicions of England, the first
steps in a work to which the Duke of Choiseul looked forward as the
crowning glory of his administration were wisely and surely taken. They
were promptly followed up. The French Ambassador in England established
relations with Colonial agents in London which enabled him to follow the
progress of the growing discontent and anticipate the questions which
must soon be brought forward for decision. Franklin's examination before
the House of Commons became the text of an elaborate despatch,
harmonizing with the report of his secret agent, and opening a prospect
which even the weary eyes of Louis XV. could not look upon without some
return of the spirit that had won for his youth the long forfeited title
of the Well-Beloved. It was not the first time that the name of the
great philosopher had been heard in the council-chamber of Versailles.
But among the secret agents of France we now meet for the first time the
name of De Kalb, a name consecrated in American history by the life that
he laid down for us on the fatal field of Camden. Scarce a step was
taken by the English Ministry that was not instantly communicated by the
Ambassador in London to the French Minister at Versailles, with
speculations, always ingenious, often profound, upon its probable
results. Scarce a step was taken in the Colonies without attracting the
instant attention of the French agent. Never were events more closely
studied or their character better understood. When troops were sent to
Boston, the English Ministry was not without serious apprehensions of
resistance. But when the tidings of their peaceful landing came, while
the English were exulting in their success, the French Ambassador
rejoiced that the wisdom of the Colonial leaders had withheld them from
a form of opposition for which they were not yet ready. The English
Ministry was preparing to enter upon a system of coercion at the point
of the bayonet. "If the Colonists submit under the pressure," said
Choiseul, "it will only be in appearance and for a short time."

Meanwhile his active brain was teeming with projects; the letters of his
agents were teeming with suggestions. Frances counsels caution, dreads
the effects of hasty measures; for the Colonists have not yet learned to
look upon France as a friend, and premature action might serve only to
bind them more firmly to England. Du Châtelet proposes that France and
Spain, sacrificing their old colonial system, should open their colonial
ports to the products of the English Colonies,--thus inflicting a fatal
blow upon England's commerce, while they supplant her in the affections
of the Colonists. A clerk in the Department of Commerce goes still
farther, advocating a full emancipation of the French Colonies, both to
throw off a useless burden and to increase the irritation of the English
Colonies by the spectacle of an independence which they were not
permitted to share.

There is nothing in history more humiliating than to see on what small
hinges great events sometimes turn. Of all the disgraceful intrigues of
a palace filled with intrigues from the day of its foundation, there is
none half so disgraceful as the overthrow of the Duke of Choiseul in
1770. And yet, vile as it was both by its motive and by its agents, it
marks an important point in the progress of American independence. A bow
more, a sarcasm less, might have confirmed the power of a man whose
deep-rooted hatred of England was fast hastening to its natural
termination, an open rupture; and a premature rupture would have brought
the Colonists into the field, either as the subjects of England or as
the allies of France. To secure the dependence of the Colonies, England
would have been compelled to make large concessions; and timely
concessions might have put off the day of separation for another
century. To secure the alliance of the Colonies, France would have been
compelled to take upon herself the burden of the war; a French general
might have led our armies; French gold might have paid our troops; we
might have been spared the sufferings of Valley Forge, the humiliation
of bankruptcy; but where would have been the wise discipline of
adversity? and if great examples be as essential to the formation of
national as of individual character, what would the name of independence
have been to us, without the example of our Washington?

French diplomacy had little to do with the American events of the next
five years. England, unconscious how near she had been to a new war with
her old enemy, held blindly on in her course of irritation and
oppression; the Colonies continued to advance by sure steps from
resistance by votes and resolves to resistance by the sword. When Louis
XVI. ascended the throne in 1774, and Vergennes received the portfolio
of Foreign Affairs, domestic interests pressed too hard upon them to
allow of their resuming at once the vast plans of the fallen minister.
Unlike that Minister, Vergennes, a diplomatist by profession, preferred
watching and waiting events to hastening or anticipating hem. But to
watch and wait events like those which were then passing in the Colonies
without being drawn into the vortex was beyond the power of even his
well-trained and sagacious mind. In 1775, a French emissary was again
taking the measure of American perseverance, French ambassadors were
again bringing forward American questions as the most important
questions of their correspondence. That expression which has been put
into so many mouths as a summing up of the value of a victory was
applied in substance by Vergennes to the Battle of Bunker Hill,--"Two
more victories of this kind, and the English will have no army left in

And while thus tempted by this proof of American strength, his wavering
mind was irritated by the apprehension of some sudden outbreak of
English arrogance; for the Ambassador wrote that Whigs and Tories might
yet unite in a war against France in order to put an end to the troubles
in the Colonies,--and no Frenchman had forgotten that England began the
War of 1755 by an open violation of international law, by seizing three
hundred French merchant ships and casting into prison ten thousand
French sailors before the declaration of hostilities. Thus events
prepared the way for American diplomacy, and, more powerful than the
prudence of Vergennes or the pacific longings of Louis XVI., compelled
them to decide and act, when they would still gladly have discussed and

And, moreover, a new element had been introduced into the councils of
statesmen,--or rather, an element hitherto circumscribed and resisted
had begun to act with irresistible force. Public opinion, speaking
through the press by eloquent pens, through coffee-houses and saloons by
eloquent voices, called loudly for action in the name of humanity and in
the still more exciting name of French honor. Little as most Frenchmen
knew about America, they knew enough about England to believe that in
her disputes with other nations she was apt to be in the wrong,--and if
with other nations, why not with her own colonies? The longing for
revenge, which ever since the Treaty of Paris filled some corner of
every French heart, grew stronger at the near approach of so abundant a
harvest; nor did it lose any of its sweetness from the reflection that
their enemy himself was doing what they never could have done alone to
prepare it for them.

But humanity, too, was a powerful word. Men could not read Rousseau
without being led to think more earnestly, if not always more
profoundly, upon the laws of social organization. They could not read
Voltaire without a clearer perception of abuses and a more vigorous
contempt for the systems which had put the many into the hands of the
few to be butchered or butchers at their will. They could not read
Montesquieu without feeling that there was a future in store for them
for which the long past had been patiently laboring, and longing, as
they read, to hasten its coming. In that future, mankind were to rise
higher than they had ever risen before; rulers and ruled were to act in
fruitful harmony for their common good; the brightest virtues of Greece,
the purest virtues of Rome, were to revive in some new form of society,
not very definitely conceived by the understanding, but which floated in
magnificent visions before the glowing imagination.

I hasten reluctantly over this part of my subject; for the formation of
public opinion in France and its action upon Government, even while all
the forms of an almost absolute monarchy were preserved, is an important
chapter in the history of European civilization. But hasten I must,
merely calling attention to the existence of this element, and reminding
my reader, that, chronologically, of the two parts which composed this
opinion, hatred for England had been at work ever since 1763, while
sympathy with the Colonists was rather an individual than a public
feeling till late in 1776.

It was at Versailles, and not at Paris, that action began. Vergennes's
first step was to send another agent, no longer merely to observe and
report, but to ascertain, though without compromising the French
Government, how far the Americans were prepared for French intervention.
English suspicions were already awakened. Already the English Minister
had informed the French Ambassador, upon the authority of a private
letter of General Lee to General Burgoyne, that the Americans were sure
of French aid. It was not without great difficulty that the new agent,
De Bonvouloir, could find a safe conveyance. But by December he was
already in Philadelphia, and, though still pretending to be a mere
traveller, soon in full communication with the Committee of Secret

The appointment of this committee, on the 29th of November, 1775, is the
beginning of the history of our foreign relations. Then began our
attempts to gain admission into the great family of nations as an
independent power,--attempts not always judiciously directed, attended
in some instances with disappointment and mortification, but crowned at
last with as full a measure of success as those who understood monarchy
and Europe could have anticipated. Two of its members, Franklin and
Dickinson, were already known abroad, where, at a later day, Jay also
was to make himself an enduring name. The other two, Johnson and
Harrison, enjoyed and merited a high Colonial reputation.

There can be but little doubt that Franklin's keen eye quickly
penetrated the veil under which De Bonvouloir attempted to conceal his
real character. It was not the first time that he had been brought into
contact with French diplomacy, nor the first proof he had seen that
France was watching the contest in the hope of abasing the power of her
rival. While agent in London for four Colonies,--a true ambassador, if
to watch events, study character, give timely warning and wise counsel
be the office of an ambassador,--he had lived on a friendly footing with
the French legation, and profited by it to give them correct views of
the character and feelings of the Colonies. And now, reducing the
question to these simple heads, he asked,--

"How is France disposed towards us? If favorably, what assurance will
she give us of it?

"Can we have from France two good engineers, and how shall we apply for

"Can we have, by direct communication, arms and munitions of war, and
free entrance and exit for our vessels in French ports?"

But whatever reliance they may have placed on the French emissary, the
Committee were unwilling to confine themselves to this as the only means
of opening communication with European powers. During a visit to
Holland, Franklin had formed the acquaintance of a Swiss gentleman of
the name of Dumas,--a man of great learning and liberal sentiments, and
whose social position gave him access to sure sources of information. To
him he now addressed himself with the great question of the moment:--"If
we throw off our dependence upon Great Britain, will any court enter
into alliance with us and aid us for the sake of our commerce?"

Such, then, was the starting-point of our diplomatic history, the end
and aim of all our negotiations: alliance and aid for the sake of our

But we should greatly mistake the character of the times, if we supposed
that this point was reached without many and warm debates. When the
question was first started in Congress, that body was found to be as
much divided upon this as upon any of the other subjects which it was
called upon to discuss. With Franklin, one party held, that, instead of
asking for treaties with European powers, we should first conquer our
independence, when those powers, allured by our commerce, would come and
ask us; the other, with John Adams, that, as our true policy and a mark
of respect from a new nation to old ones, we ought to send ministers to
all the great courts of Europe, in order to obtain the recognition of
our independence and form treaties of amity and commerce. Franklin, who
had already outlived six treaties of "firm and lasting peace," and now
saw the seventh swiftly approaching its end, might well doubt the
efficacy of those acts to which his young and impetuous colleague
attached so much importance. But in Congress the majority was with
Adams, and for a while there was what Gouverneur Morris called a rage
for treaties.

The Committee of Secret Correspondence, as I have already said, was
formed in November, 1775. One of its first measures was to appoint
agents,--Arthur Lee for London, Dumas for the Hague, and, early in the
following year, Silas Deane for France. Lee immediately opened relations
with the French Court by means of the French Ambassador in London; and
Deane, on his arrival in France in June, followed them up with great
intelligence and zeal. A million of livres was placed by Vergennes in
the hands of Beaumarchais, who assumed the name of Hortalez & Co., and
arranged with Deane the measures for transmitting the amount to America
in the shape of arms and supplies.

And now the Declaration of Independence came to add the question of
recognition to the question of aid. But recognition was a declaration of
war, and to bring the French Government to this decisive pass required
the highest diplomatic skill supported by dignity and weight of
character. The Colonies had but one man possessed of these
qualifications, and that man was Franklin.

The history of diplomacy, with its long record of solemn entrances and
brilliant processions, its dazzling pictures of thrones and courts,
which make the head dizzy and the heart sick, has no scene half so grand
as the entrance of this unattended, unushered old man into France, in
December, 1776. No one knew of his coming until he stood among them; and
then, as they looked upon his serene, yet grave and thoughtful
face,--upon his gray hairs, which carried memory back to the fatal year
of Ramillies and the waning glories of the great Louis,--on the right
hand which had written words of persuasive wisdom for prince and
peasant, which had drawn the lightning from its home in the heavens, and
was now stretched forth with such an imperial grasp to strip a sceptre
they all hated of its richest jewel,--a feeling of reverential awe came
over them, and they bowed themselves before him as in the secret depths
of their hearts they had never bowed to emperor or king. "He is at
Nantes, he is on the road," was whispered from mouth to mouth in the
saloons of the capital, as his landing became known. Some asserted
confidently that he had already reached Paris, others that he might be
hourly expected. Then came the certainty: he had slept at Versailles the
night of the 21st, had come to Paris at two the next afternoon, and now
was at his lodgings in the Rue de l'Université.

No one, perhaps, was more surprised than Franklin to find himself the
object of such universal attention. But no one knew better than he how
to turn it to account for the accomplishment of his purpose. In a few
days he withdrew to the quiet little village of Passy, at easy distance
both from the city and the court,--and, without endeavoring to increase
the public curiosity by an air of mystery or seclusion, kept himself
sufficiently in the background to prevent that curiosity from losing its
stimulant by too great a familiarity with its object. Where men of
science met for the discussion of a new theory or the trial of a new
experiment, he was to be seen amongst them with an unpretending air of
intelligent interest, and wise suggestions, never indiscreetly
proffered, never indiscreetly withheld. Where humane men met to discuss
some question of practical benevolence, or philosophers to debate some
principle of social organization, he was always prepared to take his
part with apt and far-reaching illustrations from the stores of his
meditation and experience. Sometimes he was to be seen in places of
amusement, and always with a genial smile, as if in his sympathy with
the enjoyment of others he had forgotten his own perplexities and cares.
In a short time he had drawn around him the best minds of the capital,
and laid his skilful hand on the public pulse with an unerring accuracy
of touch, which told him when to speak and when to be silent, when to
urge and when to leave events to their natural progress. Ever active,
ever vigilant, no opportunity was suffered to escape him, and yet no one
whose good-will it was desirable to propitiate was disgusted by
injudicious importunity. Even Vergennes, who knew that his coming was
the signal of a new favor to be asked, found in his way of asking it
such a cheerful recognition of its true character, so considerate an
exposition of the necessities which made it urgent, that he never saw
him come without pleasure. If he had been a vain man, he would have
enjoyed his position too much to make good use of it for the cause he
came to serve. If he had been a weak man, he would have fallen under the
control of the opinion which it was his office to guide. If he had not
possessed a pure and genuine sympathy with human nature, he would not
have been able, at the age of seventy, to enter into the feelings of a
people so different from those among whom he had always lived. And if he
had not been stimulated by earnest convictions, and governed by high
principles, he would not have been able to withstand the frequent and
insidious attempts that were made to shake his fortitude and undermine
his fidelity. But in him, as in Washington, there was a rare
predominance of that sound common-sense which is man's surest guide in
his relations with events, and that firm belief in the progress of
humanity which is his best reliance in his relations with men.

Congress had given him two associates in his commission to
France,--Silas Deane of Connecticut, and Arthur Lee of Virginia. Deane
had been a member of Congress, was active, enterprising, and
industrious; but his judgment was not sound, his knowledge of men not
extensive, his acquaintance with great interests and his experience of
great affairs insufficient for the important position in which he was
placed. Lee had lived long in England, was an accomplished scholar, a
good writer, familiar with the character of European statesmen and the
politics of European courts,--but vain, jealous, irritable, suspicious,
ambitious of the first honors, and disposed to look upon every one who
attracted more attention than himself as his natural enemy. Deane,
deeply impressed with the importance of Franklin's social position for
the fulfilment of their common duties, although energetic and active,
cheerfully yielded the precedence to his more experienced colleague.
Lee, conscious of his own accomplishments, regarded the deference paid
to Franklin as an insult to himself, and promptly resumed in Paris the
war of petty intrigue and secret accusation which a few years before he
had waged against him in England. In this vile course Congress soon
unwittingly gave him a worthy coadjutor, by appointing, as Commissioner
to Tuscany, Ralph Izard of South Carolina, who, without rendering a
single service, without even going near the court to which he was
accredited, continued for two years to draw his salary and abuse Dr.

When Franklin reached Paris, he found that Deane had already made
himself a respectable position, and that, through Caron de Beaumarchais,
the brilliant author of "Figaro," the French Government had begun that
system of pecuniary aid which it continued to render through the whole
course of the war. Vergennes granted the Commissioners an early
interview, listened respectfully to their statements, asked them for a
memorial to lay before the King, assured them of the personal protection
of the French Court, promised them every commercial facility not
incompatible with treaty obligations with Great Britain, and advised
them to seek an interview with the Spanish Ambassador. The memorial was
promptly drawn up and presented. A copy of it was given to the Spanish
Ambassador to lay before the Court of Madrid. Negotiations were fairly

But Franklin soon became convinced that the French Government had marked
out for itself a line of policy, from which, as it was founded upon a
just appreciation of its own interests, it would not swerve,--that it
wished the Americans success, was prepared to give them secret aid in
arms and money and by a partial opening of its ports,--but that it was
compelled by the obligations of the Family Compact to time its own
movements in a certain measure by those of Spain, and was not prepared
to involve itself in a war with England by an open acknowledgment of the
independence of the Colonies, until they had given fuller proof of the
earnestness of their intentions and of their ability to bear their part
in the contest. Nor was he long in perceiving that the French Government
was giving the Colonies money which it sorely needed for paying its own
debts and defraying its own expenses,--and thus, that, however
well-disposed it might be, there were certain limits beyond which it was
not in its power to go. It was evident, therefore, to his just and
sagacious mind, that to accept the actual policy of France as the gauge
of a more open avowal under more favorable circumstances, and to
recognize the limits which her financial embarrassments set to her
pecuniary grants, was the only course that he could pursue without
incurring the danger of defeating his own negotiations by excess of
zeal. Meanwhile there was enough to do in strengthening the ground
already gained, in counteracting the insidious efforts of English
emissaries, in correcting erroneous impressions, in awakening just
expectations, in keeping up that public interest which had so large a
part in the formation of public opinion, and in so regulating the action
of that opinion as to make it bear with a firm and consistent and not
unwelcome pressure upon the action of Government. And in doing this he
had to contend not only with the local difficulties of his position, but
with the difficulty of uncertain communications: months often
intervening between the sending of a despatch and the receiving of an
answer, and affording newsmongers abundant opportunities for idle
reports and unfounded conjectures, and enemies ample scope for malicious

It was a happy circumstance for the new state, that her chief
representative was a man who knew how to wait with dignity and when to
act with energy; for it was this just appreciation of circumstances that
gave him such a strong hold upon the mind of Vergennes, and imparted
such weight to all his applications for aid. No sooner had Congress
begun to receive money from Europe than it began to draw bills upon its
agents there, and often without any certainty that those agents would be
in a condition to meet them. Bills were drawn on Mr. Jay when he was
sent to Spain, and his already difficult position made doubly difficult
and humiliating. Bills were drawn on Mr. Adams in Holland, and he was
unable to meet them. But such was the confidence of the French Court in
the representations of Dr. Franklin, that he was enabled not only to
meet all the drafts which were made upon him directly, but to relieve
his less fortunate colleagues from the embarrassments in which the
precipitation of their own Government had involved them.

And thus passed the first twelve months of his residence in
France,--cloudy and anxious months, more especially during the summer of
1777, when it was known that Burgoyne was coming down by Lake Champlain,
and Howe preparing for a great expedition to the northward. Then came
the tidings that Howe had taken Philadelphia. "Say rather," said
Franklin, with that air of conviction which carries conviction with it,
"that Philadelphia has taken Howe." Men paused as they repeated his
words, and suspended their judgment; and when the news of the Battle of
Germantown and the surrender of Burgoyne followed, they felt deeper
reverence for the calm old man who had reasoned so wisely when all
others desponded. It was on the 4th of December that these welcome
tidings reached Paris; and the Commissioners lost no time in
communicating them to the Court. The second day after, the secretary of
the King's Council came to them with official congratulations.
Negotiations were resumed and carried on rapidly, nothing but a desire
to consult the Court of Madrid being allowed to retard them; and on the
6th of February, 1778, the first treaty between the United States and a
foreign power was signed with all the formalities which custom has
attached to these acts. On the 20th of March the Commissioners were
presented to the King.

Nor was it mere curiosity which filled the halls of the royal palace
with an eager throng on that eventful day. These were the halls which
had witnessed the gathering of powerful men and of great men to the
footstool of the haughtiest of French kings,--which had seen a Condé and
a Turenne lay down their laurels at the royal feet, a Bossuet and a
Boileau check the flow of independent thought to bask them in the beams
of the royal smile, a Fénelon retiring with saddened brow to record for
posterity the truths which he was not permitted to utter to the royal
ear, a Racine shrinking from the cold glance of the royal eye and going
home to die of a broken heart. Here Louis had signed the decree which
sent his dragoons to force his Protestant subjects to the mass and the
confessional; here he had received with a smile of triumph the tidings
that the Pope himself had been compelled to yield to his arrogant
pretensions; and here he had listened in haughty state, when one of the
last of the glorious republics of the Middle Ages, the city of Columbus
and Andrew Doria, which had once covered the Mediterranean with her
ships, and sent forth her hardy mariners, as from a nursery of brave
men, to impart their skill and communicate their enterprising genius to
the rest of Europe, humbled herself before him through her Doge, as,
bowing his venerable head, the old man asked pardon in her name, not for
the wrongs that she had committed, but for the wrongs that she had

And now, up those marble stairs, through those tapestried halls, came
three men of humble birth, two of whom had wrought for their daily bread
and eaten it in the sweat of their brows, to receive their recognition
as the representatives of a power which had taken its place among the
nations, not by virtue of the divine right of kings, but in the name of
the inalienable rights of the people. Happy would it have been for the
young King who sat in Louis's seat, if he could have understood the full
meaning of his act, and recognized at the same moment the claims of his
own people to participate in that government which derived its strength
from their labor and its security from their love!

Nothing could have demonstrated more clearly the wisdom of Franklin's
confidence in the sincerity of the French Government than the generous
and liberal terms of the treaty. No present advantage was taken of the
dependent condition of their new ally; no prospective advantage was
reserved for future contingencies. Only one condition was
stipulated,--and that as much in the interest of the Colonies as of
France,--that they should never return to their allegiance. Only one
reciprocal obligation was assumed,--that neither party should make peace
with England without the knowledge and consent of the other. All the
rest was full and free reciprocation in the future, and the assurance of
efficient aid in the present; no ambiguities, no doubtful expressions,
no debatable ground for interpretation to build upon and weave the mazes
of her subtile web,--but clear, distinct, and definite, a mutual
specification of mutual duties and mutual rights. Equal could not have
treated more firmly with equal than this new power, as yet unrecognized
in the congress of nations, with the oldest monarchy of Europe.

I have already alluded to the rage for treaties which prevailed for a
while in Congress. It was this that sent William and Arthur Lee upon
their bootless errands to Vienna and Berlin, Francis Dana to St.
Petersburg, John Jay to encounter embarrassment and mortification at
Madrid, and gave Ralph Izard an opportunity to draw an unearned salary,
through two successive years, from the scanty funds of the Congressional
banker at Paris.

Jay's situation was peculiarly trying. He had been Chief Justice of New
York, President of Congress, had written some of the most eloquent state
papers that were issued in the name of that body whose state papers were
ranked by Chatham among the best that ever were written, and, at a
personal sacrifice, had exchanged a position of honor and dignity at
home for a doubtful position abroad. A clear-headed, industrious,
decided man, he had to contend for more than two years with the two
qualities most alien to his nature,--habitual dilatoriness and
diplomatic reticence.

Spain, like France, had marked out a path for herself, and it was
impossible to move her from it. Jay obtained some money to help him pay
some of the drafts of Congress, but neither treaty nor recognition.
"They have taken four years," wrote Franklin, "to consider whether they
would treat with us. I would give them forty, and let us mind our own
business." And still viewing the question as he had viewed it in the
beginning, he wrote in his diary in May, 1782,--"It seems to me that we
have in most instances hurt our credit and importance by sending all
over Europe, begging alliances and soliciting declarations of our
independence. The nations, perhaps from thence, seemed to think that our
independence is something they have to sell, and that we do not offer
enough for it."[D]

The most important European event in its American bearings, after the
recognition by France, was the armed neutrality of the Northern
powers,--a court intrigue in Russia, though a sober act in Spain,--and
which was followed, in December, 1780, by the addition of Holland to the
open enemies of England.

Attempts had already been made to form a treaty with Holland,--first
through William Lee, with such prospect of success as to induce Congress
to send Henry Laurens to the Hague to continue the negotiations. Laurens
was captured by an English cruiser, and soon after John Adams was
directed to take his place. At Paris, Adams had failed singularly as a
negotiator,--lending a ready ear to Lee, hardly attempting to disguise
his jealousy of Franklin, and enforcing his own opinions in a manner
equally offensive to the personal feelings of the Minister and the
traditional usages of the Court. But at the Hague he found a field
better suited to his ardent temperament, and, backed by the brilliant
success of the campaign of 1781, and the votes of the House of Commons
in favor of reconciliation, succeeded in obtaining a public recognition
in the spring of 1782, and concluding a treaty in the autumn.

All these things were more or less upon the surface,--done and doing
more or less openly. But under the surface the while, and known only to
those directly concerned therein, were covert attempts on the part of
England to open communications with Franklin by means of personal
friends. There had been nothing but the recognition of our independence
that England would not have given to prevent the alliance with France;
and now there was nothing that she was not ready to do to prevent it
from accomplishing its purpose. And it adds wonderfully to our
conception of Franklin to think of him as going about with this
knowledge, in addition to the knowledge of so much else, in his
mind,--this care, in addition to so many other cares, ever weighing upon
his heart. Little did jealous, intriguing Lee know of these things;
petulant, waspish Izard still less. A mind less sagacious than
Franklin's might have grown suspicious under the influences that were
employed to awaken his distrust of Vergennes. And a character less
firmly established would have lost its hold upon Vergennes amid the
constant efforts that were made to shake his confidence in the gratitude
and good faith of America. But Franklin, who believed that timely faith
was a part of wisdom, went directly to the French Minister with the
propositions of the English emissaries, and frankly telling him all
about them, and taking counsel of him as to the manner of meeting them,
not only stripped them of their power to harm him, but converted the
very measures which his enemies had so insidiously, and, as they deemed,
so skilfully prepared for his ruin, into new sources of strength.

Of the proffers of mediation in which first Spain and then Russia and
the German Emperor were to take so important a part, as they bore no
fruit, it is sufficient to observe, in passing, how little European
statesmen understood the business in which they were so ready to
intermeddle, and what a curious spectacle Catharine and Kaunitz present,
seeking to usher into the congress of kings the first true
representative of that great principle of popular sovereignty which was
to make all their thrones totter and tremble under them. It may be
added, that they furnished that self-dependence of John Adams which too
often degenerated into arrogance an occasion to manifest itself in a
nobler light; for he refused to take part in the discussions in any
other character than as the representative of an independent power.

Meanwhile events were hastening the inevitable termination. In Europe,
England stood alone, without either open or secret sympathy. In June,
1779, a war with Spain had followed the French war of 1778. In July,
1780, the "armed neutrality" had defined the position of the Northern
powers adversely to her maritime pretensions. War was declared with
Holland in December of the same year. In America, the campaign of 1781
had stripped her of her Southern conquests, and effaced the impression
of her early victories. At home her people were daily growing more and
more restless under the pressure of taxation; and even the country
gentlemen, who had stood by the Ministry so long in the hope of
transferring their own burden to the shoulders of their American
brethren, began to give evident tokens of discontent. It was clear that
England must consent to peace. And yet she still stood bravely up,
presenting a bold front to each new enemy: a grand spectacle in one
light, for there is always something grand in indomitable courage; but a
sad one in the true light, and one from which a hundred years hence the
philosophic historian will turn with a shudder, when, summing up all
these events, and asking what all this blood was shed for, he shows that
the only principle at stake on her part was that pernicious claim to
control the industry of the world, which, had she succeeded, would have
dried up the sources of prosperity in America, as it is fast drying them
up in Ireland and in India.[E]

Nor was peace less necessary to her rival. The social revolution which
the two last reigns had rendered inevitable was moving with gigantic
strides towards its bloody consummation. The last well-founded hope of
reforms that should probe deep enough to anticipate revolution had
disappeared with Turgot. The statesmanship of Vergennes had no remedy
for social disease. It was a statesmanship of alliances and treaties and
wars, traditional and sometimes brilliant, but all on the surface,
leaving the wounded heart untouched, the sore spirit unconsoled. The
financial skill of Necker could not reach the evil. It was mere banking
skill, and nothing more,--very respectable in its time and place,
filling a few mouths more with bread, but failing to see, although told
of it long ago by one who never erred, that "man does not live by bread
alone." The finances were in hopeless disorder. The resources of the
country were almost exhausted. Public faith had been strained to the
utmost. National forbearance had been put to humiliating tests under the
last reign by the partition of Poland and the Peace of Kaïnardji; and
the sense of self-respect had not been fully restored by the American
War. And although no one yet dreamed of what seven swift years were to
bring forth, all minds were agitated by a mysterious consciousness of
the approaching tempest.

In 1782 the overtures of England began to assume a more definite form.
Franklin saw that the time for decisive action was at hand, and prepared
himself for it with his wonted calm and deliberate appreciation of
circumstances. That France was sincere he could not doubt, after all the
proofs she had given of her sincerity; nor could he doubt that she would
concur heartily in preparing the way for a lasting peace. He had the
instructions of Congress to guide him in what America would claim; and
his own mind was quickly made up as to what England must yield. Four
points were indispensable: a full recognition of independence; an
immediate withdrawal of her troops; a just settlement of
boundaries,--those of Canada being confined, at least, to the limits of
the Act of 1774; and the freedom of the fisheries. Without these there
could be no treaty. But to make the work of peace sure, he suggested, as
equally useful to both parties, four other concessions, the most
important of which were the giving up of Canada, and securing equal
privileges in English and Irish ports to the ships of both nations. The
four necessary articles became the real basis of the treaty.

John Adams, John Jay, and Henry Laurens were joined with him in the
commission. Jay was first on the ground, reaching Paris in June; Adams
came in October; Laurens not till November, when the preliminary
articles were ready for signature. They all accepted Franklin's four
articles as the starting-point. But, unfortunately, they did not all
share Franklin's well-founded confidence in the sincerity of the French
Government. Jay's mind was embittered by the tergiversations of Spain.
Adams had not forgotten his former disagreements with Vergennes, and
hated Franklin so bitterly that he could hardly be prevailed upon to
treat him with the civility which his age and position demanded, much
less with the consideration which the interest of his country required.
Both Jay and Adams were under the influence of that hostility to France
which prevailed as extensively in the Colonies as in the mother
country,--an hostility which neither of them was at sufficient pains to
conceal, although neither of them, perhaps, was fully conscious of it.
It was this feeling that kept them both aloof from the French Minister,
and made them so accessible to English influences. And it was a
knowledge of this feeling which three years later suggested to George
III. that well-known insinuation about Adams's dislike to French
manners, which would have been a scathing sarcasm, if it had not been an
inexcusable impertinence.

The English agents availed themselves skilfully of those
sentiments,--sowing suspicions, fostering doubts, and not shrinking,
there is strong reason to suppose, from gross exaggeration and
deliberate falsehood. The discussion of articles, like all such
discussions, was protracted by the efforts of each party to make the
best terms, and the concealing of real intentions in the hope of
extorting greater concessions. But England was really prepared to yield
all that America was really prepared to claim; France, in spite of the
suspicions of Adams and Jay, was really sincere; and on the 30th of
November, 1782, the preliminary articles were signed.

Franklin's position was difficult and delicate. He knew the importance
of peace. He knew that the instructions of Congress required perfect
openness towards the French Minister. He believed that the Minister
deserved, both by his past kindness and present good intentions, to be
treated with perfect openness. But both his colleagues were against him.
What should he do? Refer the difference to Congress, and meanwhile hold
the country in painful and expensive suspense? What could he do but
submit, as he had done through life, to the circumstances which he could
not control, and give the appearance of unanimity to an act which the
good of his country required to be unanimous?

He signed the preliminaries, and submitted to the reproach of personal
and public ingratitude as he had submitted to the taunts of Wedderburn.
History has justified his confidence,--the most careful research having
failed to bring to light any confirmation of the suspicions of his
colleagues. And Vergennes, though nettled for the moment, understood
Franklin's position too well to lay the act at his door as an expression
of a real opinion.

Much time and long discussions were still required to convert the
preliminaries into a final treaty; for the complicated interests of
England, France, and Spain were to be taken into the account. But each
party longed for peace; each party needed it; and on the 3d of
September, 1783, another Treaty of Paris gave once more the short-lived,
though precious boon to Europe and America.

During Franklin's residence at the Court of France, and mainly through
his influence, that court had advanced to Congress three millions of
livres a year as a loan, had increased it to four millions in 1781, had
the same year added six millions as a free gift to the three millions
with which she began, and become security for the regular payment of the
interest upon a loan of ten millions to be raised in Holland.[F]

Nor will it be inappropriate to add, that, before he sailed upon his
mission to France, he called in all the money he could command in specie
(between three and four thousand pounds) and put it into the public
treasury as a loan,--and that while the young men, Adams and Jay, were
provided with competent secretaries of legation, he, though bowed down
by age and disease, and with ten times their work to do, was left to his
own resources, and, but for the assistance of his grandson, would have
been compelled to do it all with his own hand.


[D] Franklin's Works, Vol. IX. p. 284, Sparks's edition.

[E] I cannot deny myself the pleasure of referring in this connection to
Mr. Carey's admirable exposition of this fact in his "Principles of
Political Science."

[F] In all, eighteen millions as a loan, and nine millions as a free


"How came the Muses to settle in Connecticut?" This was the question of
a writer in the "Atlantic Monthly" last February, whose history of the
"Pleiades" of that State we read with a pleasure which we doubt not was
shared by all who saw it, except perhaps a few who did not relish the
familiar way in which the feather duster was whisked about the
statuettes of the seven _dii minorum gentium_ who once reigned in
Hartford and New Haven.

"There still remain inventive machinists, acute money-changers, acutest
peddlers; but the seed of the Muses has run out. No more Pleiades at

In the July number of our elder brother, the "North American," one of
the ablest of American critic's said of an author who had just published
a small volume, "In him the nation has found a new poet, vigorous,
original, and thoroughly native." "We have had no such war-poetry, nor
anything like it. His 'River-Fight' is the finest lyric of the kind
since Drayton's 'Battle of Agincourt.'"

The author of this volume, which is entitled "Lyrics of a Day, or
Newspaper Poetry, by a Volunteer in the U. S. Service," and of which a
second edition has just been issued by Carleton in New York, is Mr.
HENRY HOWARD BROWNELL of East Hartford, taught in a school at that
place, a graduate of Trinity College, a nephew of the late Bishop
Brownell of Connecticut. The good which came out of Nazareth, as all
remember, claimed another birthplace. If the author of the "Pleiades"
asks Nathanael's question, putting Hartford for Nazareth, and we tell
him to come and see, we shall have to say that Providence was our new
poet's birthplace, and that his lineage divides itself between Rhode
Island and Massachusetts. But the good has come to us from the
Connecticut Nazareth.

If Drayton had fought at Agincourt, if Campbell had held a sabre at
Hohenlinden, if Scott had been in the saddle with Marmion, if Tennyson
had charged with the Six Hundred at Balaklava, each of these poets might
possibly have pictured what he said as faithfully and as fearfully as
Mr. Brownell has painted the sea-fights in which he took part as a
combatant. But no man can tell a story at second hand with the truth of
incident which belongs to an eye-witness who was part of what he saw. As
a mere relator, therefore, of the sights and sounds of great naval
battles, Mr. Brownell has a fresh story to tell. Not only so, but these
naval battles are not like any the Old World ever saw. One or two
"Monitors" would have settled in half an hour the fight which Aeschylus
shared at Salamis. The galleys "rammed" each other at Actium; but there
was no Dahlgren or Sawyer to thunder from their decks or turrets. The
artillery roared at Trafalgar; but there were no iron-clads to tilt at
each other, meeting with a shock as of ten thousand knights in armor
moulded into one mailed Centaur and crashing against such another

But, again, a man may see a fight and be able to describe it truthfully,
yet he may be unable to describe it dramatically. He must have the
impressibility of the poetical nature to take in all its scenes, and the
vocabulary of an artist to reproduce them. But, for some reason or
other, poets are not very often found under fire, unless it be that of
the critics. The temperament which makes men insensible to danger is
rarely the gift of those who are so organized as to be sensitive to the
more ethereal skyey influences. The violet end of the spectrum and the
invisible rays beyond it belong to the poet, farthest from the red,
which is the light that shines round the soldier.

It happens rarely that poets put their delicate-fibred brains in the
paths of bullets, but it does happen. Körner fell with his last song on
his lips. Fitz-James O'Brien gave his life as well as his chants to our
cause. Mr. Brownell has weathered the great battle-storms on the same
deck with Farragut, and has told their story as nobly as his leader made
the story for him to tell. We cannot find any such descriptions as his,
if for no other reason than that already mentioned, that there have been
no such scenes to describe.

But Mr. Brownell's genius is exceptional, as well as his experience. He
can compose his verses while the battle is going on around him. During
the engagement with Fort Powell, he was actually pencilling down some
portions of the "Bay Fight," when he received a polite invitation to
step down to the gun-deck and "try a shot at 'em with the Sawyer." He
took minutes of everything as it happened during the contest, so that
the simple record and the poetical delineation run into each other. We
take the liberty to quote a few words from a note he kindly sent in
answer to some queries of our own.

"Some of the descriptions [in the 'Bay Fight'] might seem exaggerated,
but better authorities than I am say they are not. To be sure, blood and
powder are pretty freely mixed for the painting of it; but these were
the predominant elements of the scene,--the noise being almost
indescribable, and the ship, for all the forward half of her, being an
absolute 'slaughter-house.' Though we had only twenty-five killed and
twenty-eight wounded (some of whom afterwards died) on that day, yet
numbers were torn into fragments, (men with their muscles tense,
subjected to violent concussion, seem as _brittle as glass_,) causing
the deck and its surroundings to present a most strange spectacle."

We can understand better after this the lines--

    "And now, as we looked ahead,
      All for'ard, the long white deck
    Was growing a strange dull red,...
    Red from mainmast to bitts!
      Red on bulwark and wale,--
    Red by combing and hatch,--
      Red o'er netting and rail!"

The two great battle-poems begin, each of them, with beautiful
descriptive lines, move on with gradually kindling fire, reach the
highest intensity of action, till the words themselves have the weight
and the rush of shot and shell, and the verses seem aflame with the
passion of the conflict,--then, as the strife calms itself after the
victory is won, the wild dithyrambic stanzas rock themselves into sweet,
even cadences. No one can fail to be struck with the freedom and
robustness of the language, the irregular strength of the rhythm, the
audacious felicities of the rhyme. There are hints which remind us of
many famous poets,--hints, not imitations. There can be no doubt that
these were either coincidences or unconscious tricks of memory. To us
they seem beauties, not defects, in poems of such originality, as in a
new musical composition a few notes in some well-remembered sequence
often seem to harmonize the crudeness of the newer strain,--as in many
flowers and fruits Nature herself repeats a streak of color or a dash of
flavor belonging to some alien growth.

Thus, Drayton says,--

    "With Spanish yew so strong.
    Arrows a cloth-yard long,
    That like to serpents _stung_."

And Brownell,--

          "Trust me, our berth was hot;
          Ah, wickedly well they shot;
    How their death-bolts howled and _stung_!"

A mere coincidence, in all probability, but the word one which none but
a poet could have used. There are reminiscences of Cowper's grand and
simple lines on the "Loss of the Royal George," of Campbell's "Battle of
the Baltic," of Tennyson's "Charge of the Six Hundred," not one of which
but has a pleasing effect in the midst of such vigorous pictures as the
new poet has given us fresh from the terrible original. The most obvious
criticism is one which applies to the "River Fight," and which is
directed against what might be thought an overstraining of the singular
power in the use of words which is one of Mr. Brownell's most
remarkable characteristics. "General Orders," not essential to the
poem, may be admired as a _tour de force_, but cannot be properly called
poetry. It is a condensed, versified edict,--true, no doubt, to the
prose original, but on the whole better printed by itself, if printed at
all, than suffered to distract the reader from the main narration by its
elaborate ingenuity.

These two poems--the "River Fight" and the "Bay Fight"--are better
adapted for public reading and declamation than almost any in our
literature. They hush any circle of listeners, and many cannot hear
those exquisitely tender passages which are found toward the close of
each without yielding them the tribute of their tears. They are to all
the drawing-room battle-poems as the torn flags of our victorious
armadas to the stately ensigns that dressed their ships in the harbor.

Such pictures, if they do not kill everything hung on the walls with
them, make even a brilliant canvas look comparatively lustreless. Yet
the first poem of Mr. Brownell's which ever attracted our attention,
"The Fall of Al Accoub," is of great force, and shows much of the same
red light and black shadow, much of the same Vulcanic power over words,
as with blast and forge and hammer, which startle us in the two
battle-pieces. The lines "Annus Memorabilis," dated Jan. 6th, 1861, read
like prophecy in 1865. "Wood and Coal" (November, 1863) gives a presage
of the fire which the flame of the conflict would kindle. "The Burial of
the Dane" shows the true human sympathy of the writer, in its simple,
pathetic narrative; and the story of the "Old Cove" had a wider
circulation and a heartier reception than almost any prose effort which
has been called forth by the "All we ask is to be let alone" of the arch

The "Lyrics of a Day" are too modestly named. Our literature cannot
forget the masterpieces in this little volume in a day, a year, or an
age. The War of Freedom against Slavery has created a devilish enginery
of its own: iron for wood, steam for wind and muscle, "Swamp-Angels" and
thousand-pounders in place of the armaments that gained the Battle of
the Nile and toppled over the chimneys of Copenhagen. New modes of
warfare thundered their demand for a new poet to describe them; and
Nature has answered in the voice of our Battle-Laureate, Henry Howard



Miss Eliza being fairly seated in the Doctor's study, with great
eagerness to hear what might be the subject of his communication, the
parson, with the letter in his hand, asked if she remembered an old
college friend, Maverick, who had once paid them a vacation visit at

"Perfectly," said Miss Eliza, whose memory was both keen and retentive;
"and I remember that you have said he once passed a night with you,
during the lifetime of poor Rachel, here at Ashfield. You have a letter
from him?"

"I have," said the parson; "and it brings a proposal about which I wish
your opinion." And the Doctor cast his eye over the letter.

"He expresses deep sympathy at my loss, and alludes very pleasantly to
the visit you speak of, all which I will not read; after this he says,
'I little thought, when bantering you in your little study upon your
family prospects, that I too was destined to become the father of a
child, within a couple of years. Yet it is even so; and the
responsibility weighs upon me greatly. I love my Adèle with my whole
heart; I am sure you cannot love your boy more, though perhaps more

"And he had never told you of his marriage?" said the spinster.

"Never; it is the only line I have had from him since his visit ten
years ago."

The Doctor goes on with the reading:--

"It may be from a recollection of your warnings and of your distrust of
the French character, or possibly it may be from the prejudices of my
New England education, but I cannot entertain pleasantly the thought of
her growing up to womanhood under the influences which are about her
here. What those influences are you will not expect me to explain in
detail. I am sure it will be enough to win upon your sympathy to say
that they are Popish and thoroughly French. I feel a strong wish,
therefore,--much as I am attached to the dear child,--to give her the
advantages of a New England education and training. And with this wish,
my thought reverts naturally to the calm quietude of your little town
and of your household; for I cannot doubt that it is the same under the
care of your sister as in the old time."

"I am glad he thinks so well of me," said Miss Eliza, but with an irony
in her tone that she was sure the good parson would never detect.

The Doctor looks at her thoughtfully a moment, over the edge of the
letter,--as if he, too, had his quiet comparisons to make,--then goes on
with the letter:--

"This wish may surprise you, since you remember my old battlings with
what I counted the rigors of a New England 'bringing-up'; but in this
case I should not fear them, provided I could assure myself of your
kindly supervision. For my little Adèle, besides inheriting a great flow
of spirits (from her father, you will say) and French blood, has been
used thus far to a catholic latitude of talk and manner in all about
her, which will so far counterbalance the gravities of your region as to
leave her, I think, upon a safe middle ground. At any rate, I see enough
to persuade me to choose rather the errors that may grow upon her
girlhood there than those that would grow upon it here.

"Frankly, now, may I ask you to undertake, with your good sister, for a
few years, the responsibility which I have suggested?"

The Doctor looked over the edge of the sheet toward Miss Eliza.

"Read on, Benjamin," said she.

"The matter of expenses, I am happy to say, is one which need not enter
into your consideration of the question. My business successes have been
such that any estimate which you may make of the moneys required will be
at your call at the office of our house in Newburyport.

"I have the utmost faith in you, my dear Johns; and I want you to have
faith in the earnestness with which I press this proposal on your
notice. You will wonder, perhaps, how the mother of my little Adèle can
be a party to such a plan; but I may assure you, that, if your consent
be gained, it will meet with no opposition in that quarter. This fact
may possibly confirm some of your worst theories in regard to French
character; and in this letter, at least, you will not expect me to
combat them.

"I have said that she has lived thus far under Popish influences; but
her religious character is of course unformed; indeed, she has as yet
developed in no _serious_ direction whatever; I think you will find a
_tabula rasa_ to write your tenets upon. But, if she comes to you, do
not, I beg of you, grave them too harshly; she is too bird-like to be
treated with severity; and I know that under all your gravity, my dear
Johns, there is a kindliness of heart, which, if you only allowed it
utterance, would win greatly upon this little fondling of mine. And I
think that her open, laughing face may win upon you.

"Adèle has been taught English, and I have purposely held all my
prattle with her in the same tongue, and her familiarity with it is such
that you would hardly detect a French accent. I am not particularly
anxious that she should maintain her knowledge of French; still, should
a good opportunity occur, and a competent teacher be available, it might
be well for her to do so. In all such matters I should rely greatly on
your judgment.

"Now, my dear Johns,"--

Miss Eliza interrupts by saying, "I think your friend is very familiar,

"Why not? why not, Eliza? We were boys together."

And he continues with the letter:--

"My dear Johns, I want you to consider this matter fairly; I need not
tell you that it is one that lies very near my heart. Should you
determine to accept the trust, there is a ship which will be due at this
port some four or five months from now, whose master I know well, and
with whom I should feel safe to trust my little Adèle for the voyage,
providing at the same time a female attendant upon whom I can rely, and
who will not leave the little voyager until she is fairly under your
wing. In two or three years thereafter, at most, I hope to come to
receive her from you; and then, when she shall have made a return visit
to Europe, it is quite possible that I may establish myself in my own
country again. Should you wish it, I could arrange for the attendant
remain with her; but I confess that I should prefer the contrary. I want
to separate her for the time, so far as I can, from _all_ the influences
to which she has been subject here; and further than this, I have a
strong faith in that self-dependence which seems to me to grow out of
your old-fashioned New England training."

"That is all," said the Doctor, quietly folding the letter. "What do you
think of the proposal, Eliza?"

"I like it, Benjamin."

The spinster was a woman of quick decision. Had it been proposed to
receive an ordinary pupil in the house for any pecuniary consideration,
her pride would have revolted on the instant. But here was a child of an
old friend of the Doctor, a little Christian waif, as it were, floating
toward them from that unbelieving world of France.

"Surely it will be a worthy and an honorable task for Benjamin" (so
thought Miss Eliza) "to redeem this little creature from its graceless
fortune; possibly, too, the companionship may soften that wild boy,
Reuben. This French girl, Adèle, is rich, well-born; what if, from being
inmates of the same house, the two should come by-and-by to be joined by
some tenderer tie?"

The possibility, even, of such a dawn of sentiment under the spinster's
watchful tutelage was a delightful subject of reflection to her. It is
remarkable how even the cunningest and the coolest of practical-minded
women delight in watching the growth of sentiment in others,--and all
the more strongly, if they can foster it by their artifices and provoke
it into demonstration.

Miss Johns, too, without being imaginative, prefigured in her mind the
image of the little French stranger, with foreign air and dress,
tripping beside her up the meeting-house aisle, looking into her face
confidingly for guidance, attracting the attention of the simple
townspeople in such sort that a distinction would belong to her
_protégée_ which would be pleasantly reflected upon herself. A love of
distinction was the spinster's prevailing sin,--a distinction growing
out of the working of good deeds, if it might be, but at any rate some
worthy and notable distinction. The Doctorate of her good brother, his
occasional discourses which had been subject of a public mention that
she never forgot, were objects of a more than sisterly fondness. If her
sins were ever to meet with a punishment in the flesh, they would know
no sharper one than in a humiliation of her pride.

"I think," said she, "that you can hardly decline the proposal of Mr.
Maverick, Benjamin."

"And you will take the home care of her?" asked the Doctor.

"Certainly. She would at first, I suppose, attend school with Reuben and
the young Elderkins?"

"Probably," returned the Doctor; "but the more special religious
training which I fear the poor girl needs must be given at home, Eliza."

"Of course, Benjamin."

It was further agreed between the two that a French attendant would make
a very undesirable addition to the household, as well as sadly
compromise their efforts to build up the little stranger in full
knowledge of the faith.

The Doctor was earnest in his convictions of the duty that lay before
him, and his sister's consent to share the charge left him free to act.
He felt all the best impulses of his nature challenged by the proposal.
Here, at least, was one chance to snatch a brand from the burning,--to
lead this poor little misguided wayfarer into those paths which are
"paths of pleasantness." No image of French grace or of French modes was
prefigured to the mind of the parson; his imagination had different
range. He saw a young innocent (so far as any child in his view could be
innocent) who prattled in the terrible language of Rousseau and
Voltaire, who by the providence of God had been born in a realm where
all iniquities flourished, and to whom, by the further and richer
providence of God, a means of escape was now offered. He would no more
have thought of declining the proposed service, even though the poor
girl were dressed in homespun and clattered in sabots, than he would
have closed his ear to the cry of a drowning child.

Within that very week the Doctor wrote his reply to Maverick. He assured
him that he would most gladly undertake the trust he had
proposed,--"hoping, by God's grace, to lead the little one away from the
delusions of sense and the abominations of Antichrist, to the fold of
the faithful."

"I could wish," he continued, "that you had given me more definite
information in regard to the character of her early religious
instruction, and told me how far the child may still remain under the
mother's influence in this respect; for, next to special interposition
of Divine Grace, I know no influence so strong in determining religious
tendencies as the early instruction or example of a mother.

"My sister has promised to give home care to the little stranger, and
will, I am sure, welcome her with zeal It will be our purpose to place
your daughter at the day-school of a worthy person, Miss Betsey Onthank,
who has had large experience, and under whose tuition my boy Reuben has
been for some time established. My sister and myself are both of opinion
that the presence of any French attendant upon the child would be

"I hope that God may have mercy upon the French people,--and that those
who dwell temporarily among them may be watched over and be graciously
snatched from the great destruction that awaits the ungodly."


Meantime Reuben grew into a knowledge of all the town mischief, and into
the practice of such as came within the scope of his years. The proposed
introduction of the young stranger from abroad to the advantages of the
parsonage home did not weigh upon his thought greatly. The prospect of
such a change did not soften him, whatever might come of the event. In
his private talk with Esther, he had said, "I hope that French girl'll
be a _clever_ un; if she a'n't, I'll"----and he doubled up a little
fist, and shook it, so that Esther laughed outright.

Not that the boy had any cruelty in him, but he was just now learning
from his older companions of the village, who were more steeped in
iniquity, that defiant manner by which the Devil in all of us makes his
first pose preparatory to the onslaught that is to come.

"Nay, Ruby, boy," said Esther, when she had recovered from her laughter,
"you wouldn't hurt the little un, would ye? Don't ye want a little
playfellow, Ruby?"

"I don't play with girls, I don't," said Reuben. "But, I say, Esther,
what'll papa do, if she dances?"

"What makes the boy think she'll dance?" said Esther.

"Because the Geography says the French people dance; and Phil Elderkin
showed me a picture with girls dancing under a tree, and, says he, 'That
's the sort that's comin' to y'r house.'"

"Well, I don't know," said Esther, "but I guess your Aunt Eliza 'd cure
the dancin'."

"She wouldn't cure me, if I wanted to," said Reuben, who thought it
needful to speak in terms of bravado about the spinster, with whom he
kept up a series of skirmishing fights from week to week. The truth is,
the keen eye of the good lady ferreted out a great many of his pet plans
of mischief, and nipped them before they had time to ripen. Over and
over, too, she warned him against the evil associates whom he would find
about the village tavern, where he strayed from time to time to be
witness to some dog-fight, or to receive a commendatory glance of
recognition from one Nat Boody, the tavern-keeper's son, who had run
away two years before and made a voyage down the river in a sloop laden
with apples and onions to "York." He was a head taller than Reuben, and
the latter admired him intensely: we never cease admiring those "a head
taller" than ourselves. Reuben absolutely pined in longing wonderment at
the way in which Nat Boody could crack a coach-whip, and with a couple
of hickory sticks could "call the roll" upon a pine table equal to a
drum-major. Wonderful were the stories this boy could tell, to special
cronies, of his adventures in the city: they beat the Geography "all
hollow." Such an air, too, as this Boody had, leaning against the
pump-handle by his father's door, and making cuts at an imaginary span
of horses!--such a pair of twilled trousers, cut like a man's!--such a
jacket, with lapels to the pockets, which he said "the sailors wore on
the sloops, and called 'em monkey-jackets"!--such a way as he had of
putting a quid in his mouth! for Nat Boody chewed. It is not strange
that Reuben, feeling a little of ugly constraint under the keen eye of
the spinster Eliza, should admire greatly the free-and-easy manner of
the tavern-boy, who had such familiarity with the world and such large
range of action. The most of us never get over a wonderment at the
composure and complacency which spring from a wide knowledge of the
world; and the man who can crack his whip well, though only at an
imaginary pair of horses, is sure to have a throng of admirers.

By this politic lad, Nat Boody, the innocent Reuben was decoyed into
many a little bargain which told more for the shrewdness of the tavern
than for that of the parsonage. Thus, he bartered one day a new
pocket-knife, the gift of his Aunt Mabel of Greenwich Street, for a knit
Scotch cap, half-worn, which the tavern traveller assured him could not
be matched for any money. And the parson's boy, going back with this
trophy on his head, looking very consciously at those who give an
admiring stare, is pounced upon at the very door-step by the
indefatigable spinster.

"What now, Reuben? Where in the world did you get that cap?"

"Bought it,"--in a grand way.

"But it's worn," says the aunt. "Ouf! whose was it?"

"Bought it of Nat Boody," says Reuben; "and he says there isn't another
can be had."

"Bah!" says the spinster, making a dash at the cap, which she seizes,
and, straightway rushing in-doors, souses in a kettle of boiling water.

After which comes off a new skirmish, followed by the partial defeat of
Reuben, who receives such a combing down (with sundry killed and
wounded) as he remembers for a month thereafter.

The truth is, that it was not altogether from admiration of the
accomplished Nat Boody that Reuben was prone to linger about the tavern
neighborhood. The spinster had so strongly and constantly impressed it
upon him that it was a low and vulgar and wicked place, that the boy,
growing vastly inquisitive in these years, was curious to find out what
shape the wickedness took; and as he walked by, sometimes at dusk, when
thoroughly infused with the last teachings of Miss Eliza, it seemed to
him that he might possibly catch a glimpse of the hoofs of some devil
(as he had seen devils pictured in an illustrated Milton) capering about
the doorway,--and if he had seen them, truth compels us to say that he
would have felt a strong inclination to follow them up, at a safe
distance, in order to see what kind of creatures might be wearing them.
But he was far more apt to see the lounging figure of the shoemaker from
down the street, or of Mr. Postmaster Troop, coming thither to have an
evening's chat about Vice-President Calhoun, or William Wirt and the
Anti-Masons. Or possibly, it might be, he would see the light heels of
Suke Boody, the pretty daughter of the tavern-keeper, who had been
pronounced by Phil Elderkin, who knew, (being a year his senior,) the
handsomest girl in the town. This might well be; for Suke was just
turned of fifteen, with pink arms and pink cheeks and blue eyes and a
great flock of brown hair: not very startling in her beauty on ordinary
days, when she appeared in a pinned-up quilted petticoat, and her curls
in papers, sweeping the tavern-steps; but of a Saturday afternoon, in
red and white calico, with the curls all streaming,--no wonder Phil
Elderkin, who was tall of his age, thought her handsome. So it happened
that the inquisitive Reuben, not finding any cloven feet in his furtive
observations, but encountering always either the rosy Suke, or "Scamp,"
(which was Nat's pet fighting-dog,) or the shoemaker, or the round-faced
Mr. Boody himself, could justify and explain his aunt's charge of the
tavern wickedness only by distributing it over them all. And when, one
Sunday, Miss Suke appeared at meeting (where she rarely went) in hat all
aflame with ribbons, Reuben, sorely puzzled at the sight, says to his
Aunt Eliza,--

"Why didn't the sexton put her out?"

"Put her out!" says the spinster, horrified,--"what do you mean,

"Isn't she wicked?" says he; "she came from the tavern, and she lives at
the tavern."

"But don't you know that preaching is for the wicked, and that the good
had much better stay away than the bad?"

"Had they?" said Reuben, thoughtfully, pondering if there did not lie
somewhere in this averment the basis for some new moral adjustment of
his own conduct.

There are a vast many prim preachers, both male and female, in all
times, who imagine that certain styles of wickedness or vulgarity are to
be approached with propriety only across a church;--as if better
preaching did not lie, nine times out of ten, in the touch of a hand or
a whisper in the ear!

Pondering, as Reuben did, upon the repeated warnings of the spinster
against any familiarity with the tavern or tavern people, he came in
time to reckon the old creaking sign-board of Mr. Boody, and the pump in
the inn-yard, as the pivotal points of all the town wickedness, just as
the meeting-house was the centre of all the town goodness; and since the
great world was very wicked, as he knew from overmuch iteration at home,
and since communication with that wicked world was kept up mostly by the
stage-coach that stopped every noon at the tavern-door, it seemed to him
that relays of wickedness must flow into the tavern and town daily upon
that old swaying stage-coach, just as relays of goodness might come to
the meeting-house on some old lumbering chaise of a neighboring parson,
who once a month, perhaps, would "exchange" with the Doctor. And it
confirmed in Reuben's mind a good deal that was taught him about
natural depravity, when he found himself looking out with very much more
eagerness for the rumbling coach, that kept up a daily wicked activity
about the tavern, than he did for Parson Hobson, who snuffled in his
reading, and who drove an old, thin-tailed sorrel mare, with lopped ears
and lank jaws, that made passes at himself and Phil, if they teased her,
as they always did.

So, too, he came to regard, in virtue of misplaced home instruction, the
monkey-jacket of Nat Boody, and his fighting-dog "Scamp," and the pink
arms and pink cheeks and brown ringlets of Suke Boody, as so many types
of human wickedness; and, by parity of reasoning, he came to look upon
the two flat curls on either temple of his Aunt Eliza, and her pragmatic
way, and upon the yellow ribbons within the scoop-hat of Almira
Tourtelot, who sang treble and never went to the tavern, as the types of
goodness. What wonder, if he swayed more and more toward the broad and
easy path that lay around the tavern-pump, ("Scamp" lying there biting
at the flies,) and toward the barroom, with its flaming pictures of some
past menagerie-show, and big tumblers with lemons atop, rather than to
the strait and narrow path in which his Aunt Eliza and Miss Almira would
guide him with sharp voices, thin faces, and decoy of dyspeptic

Phil and he sauntering by one day, Phil says,--

"Darst you go in, Reub?"

Phil was under no law of prohibition. And Reuben, glancing around the
Common, says,--

"Yes, _I_'ll go."

"Then," says Phil, "we'll call for a glass of lemonade. Fellows 'most
always order somethin', when they go in."

So Phil, swelling with his ten years, and tall of his age, walks to the
bar and calls for two tumblers of lemonade, which Old Boody stirs with
an appetizing rattle of the toddy-stick,--dropping, meantime, a query or
two about the Squire, and a look askance at the parson's boy, who is
trying very hard to wear an air as if _he_, too, were ten, and knew the

"It's good, a'n't it?" says Phil, putting down his money, of which he
always had a good stock.

"Prime!" says Reuben, with a smack of the lips.

And then Suke comes in, hunting over the room for last week's "Courant";
and the boys, with furtive glances at those pink cheeks and brown
ringlets, go down, the steps.

"A'n't she handsome?" says Phil.

Reuben is on the growth. And when he eats dinner that day, with the
grave Doctor carving the rib-roast and the prim aunt ladling out the
sauces, he is elated with the vague, but not unpleasant consciousness,
that he is beginning to be familiar with the world.


It was some four or five months after the despatch of the Doctor's
letter to Maverick before the reply came. His friend expressed the
utmost gratitude for the Doctor's prompt and hearty acceptance of his
proposal. With his little Adèle frolicking by him, and fastening more
tenderly upon his heart every year, he was sometimes half-disposed to
regret the scheme; but, believing it to be for her good, and confident
of the integrity of those to whom he intrusted her, he reconciled
himself to the long separation.

It does not come within the limits of this simple New England narrative
to enter upon any extended review of the family relations or the life of
Maverick abroad. Whatever details may appear incidentally, as the story
progresses, the reader will please to regard as the shreds and ravelled
edges of another and distinct life, which cannot be fairly interwoven
with the homespun one of the parsonage, nor yet be wholly brushed clear
of our story.

"I want," said Maverick in his letter, "that Adèle, while having a
thorough womanly education, should grow up with simple tastes. I think I
see a little tendency In her to a good many idle coquetries of dress,
(which you will set down, I know, to her French blood,) which I trust
your good sister will see the prudence of correcting. My fortune is now
such that I may reasonably hope to put luxuries within her reach, if
they be desirable; but of this I should prefer that she remain ignorant.
I want to see established in her what you would call those moral and
religious bases of character that will sustain her under any possible
reverses or disappointments. You will smile, perhaps, at _my_ talking in
this strain; but if I have been afloat in these matters, at least you
will do me the credit that may belong to hoping better things for my
little Adèle. It's not much, I know; but I do sincerely desire that she
may find some rallying-point of courage and of faith within herself
against any possible misfortune. Is it too much to hope, that, under
your guidance, and under the quiet religious atmosphere of your little
town, she may find such, and that she may possess herself of the
consolations of the faith you teach, without sacrificing altogether her
natural French vivacity?

"And now, my dear Johns, I come to refer to a certain allusion in your
letter with some embarrassment. You speak of the weight of a mother's
religious influence, and ask what it may have been. Since extreme
childhood, Adèle has been almost entirely under the care of her
godmother, a quiet old lady, who, though a devotee of the Popish Church,
you must allow me to say, is a downright good Christian woman. I am
quite sure that she has not pressed upon the conscience of little Adèle
any bigotries of the Church. My wish in this matter I am confident that
she has religiously regarded, and while giving the example of her own
faith by constant and daily devotions, I think, as I said in my previous
letter, that you will find the heart of my little girl as open as the
sky. Why it is that the mother's relations with the child have been so
broken you will spare me the pain of explaining.

"Would to God, I think at times, that I had married years ago one
nurtured in our old-fashioned faith of New England,--some gentle, pure,
loving soul! Shall I confess it, Johns?--the little glimpse of your lost
Rachel gave me an idea of the tenderness and depth of devotion and
charming womanliness of many of those whom I had counted stiff and
utterly repulsive, which I never had before.

"Pardon me, my friend, for an allusion which may provoke your grief, and
which may seem utterly out of place in the talk of one who is just now
confiding to you his daughter.

"Johns, I have this faith in you, from our college-days: I know that on
the score of the things touched upon in the last paragraphs of my letter
you will not press me with inquiries. It is enough for you to know that
my life has not been all 'plain-sailing.' For the present, let us say
nothing of the griefs.

"As little Adèle comes to me, and sits upon my knee, as I write, I
almost lose courage.

"'Adèle,' I say, 'will you leave your father, and go far away over seas,
to stay perhaps for years?'

"'You talk nonsense, papa,' she says, and leaps into my arms.

"My heart cleaves strangely to her: I do not know wholly why. And yet
she must go: it is best.

"The vessel of which I spoke will sail in three weeks from the date of
my letter for the port of New York. I have made ample provision for her
comfort on the passage; and as the date of the ship's arrival in New
York is uncertain, I must beg you to arrange with some friend there, if
possible, to protect the little stranger, until you are ready to receive
her. I inclose my draft for three hundred dollars, which I trust may be
sufficient for a year's maintenance, seeing that she goes well provided
with clothing: if otherwise, you will please inform me."

Dr. Johns was not a man to puzzle himself with idle conjectures in
regard to the private affairs of his friend. With all kind feeling for
him,--and Maverick's confidence in the Doctor had insensibly given
large growth to it,--the parson dismissed the whole affair with this
logical reflection:--

"My poor friend has been decoyed into marrying a Frenchwoman.
Frenchwomen (like Frenchmen) are all children of Satan. He is now
reaping the bitter results.

"As for the poor child," thought the Doctor, and his heart glowed at the
thought, "I will plant her little feet upon safe places. With God's
help, she shall come into the fold of the elect."

He arranges with Mrs. Brindlock to receive the child temporarily upon
her arrival. Miss Eliza puts even more than her usual vigor and system
into her arrangements for the reception of the new comer. Nothing could
be neater than the little chamber, provided with its white curtains, its
spotless linen, its dark old mahogany furniture, its Testament and
Catechism upon the toilet-table; one or two vases of old china had been
brought up and placed upon brackets out of reach of the little hands
that might have been tempted by their beauty, and a coquettish porcelain
image of a flower-girl had been added to the other simple adornments
which the ambitious spinster had lavished upon the chamber. Her pride as
housekeeper was piqued. The young stranger must be duly impressed with
the advantages of her position at the start.

"There," said she to Esther, as she gave a finishing touch to the
disposal of the blue and white hangings about the high-post bedstead, "I
wonder if that will be to the taste of the little French lady!"

"I should think it might, Marm; it's the beautifullest room I ever see,

Reuben, boy-like, passes in and out with an air of affected
indifference, as if the arrangements for the new arrival had no interest
for him; and he whistles more defiantly than ever.


In early September of 1829, when the orchard behind the parsonage was
glowing with its burden of fruit, when the white and crimson hollyhocks
were lifting their slanted pagodas of bloom all down the garden, and the
buckwheat was whitening with its blossoms broad patches of the hillsides
east and west of Ashfield, news came to the Doctor that his expected
guest had arrived safely in New York, and was waiting his presence there
at the elegant home of Mrs. Brindlock. And Sister Mabel writes to the
Doctor in the letter which conveys intelligence of the arrival,--"She's
a charming little witch; and if you don't like to take her with you, she
may stay here." Mrs. Brindlock had no children.

A visit to New York was an event for the parson. The spinster, eager for
his good appearance at the home of her stylish sister, insisted upon a
toilet that made the poor man more awkward than ever. Yet he did not
think of rebelling. He rejoiced, indeed, that he did not dwell where
such hardships would be daily demanded; but remembering that he was
bound to a city of strangers, he recalled the Scriptural
injunction,--"Render unto Cæsar the things which be Cæsar's."

The Brindlocks, well-meaning and showy people, received the parson with
an effervescence of kindness that disturbed him almost as much as the
stiff garniture in which he had been invested by the solicitude of Miss
Eliza; and when, in addition to his double embarrassment, a little
saucy-eyed, brown-faced girl, full of mirthful exuberance, with her dark
hair banded in a way that was utterly strange to him, and with
coquettish bows of ribbon at her throat, at either armlet of her jaunty
frock, and all down either side of her silk pinafore, came toward him
with a smiling air, as if she were confident of his caresses, the
awkwardness of the poor Doctor was complete.

But, catching sight of a certain frank outlook in the little face which
reminded him of his friend Maverick, he felt his heart stirred within
him, and in his grave way dropped a kiss upon her forehead, while he
took both her hands in his.

"This, then, is little Adaly?"

"Ha! ha!" laughed Adèle, merrily, and, turning round to her new-found
friends, says,--"My new papa calls me Adaly!"

The straightforward parson was, indeed, as inaccessible to French words
as to French principles. Adèle had somehow a smack in it of the Gallic
Pandemonium: Adaly, to his ear, was a far honester sound.

And the child seemed to fancy it,--whether for its novelty, or the
kindliness that beamed on her from the gravest face she had ever seen,
it would be hard to say.

"Call me Adaly, and I will call you New Papa," said she.

And though the parson was not a bargaining man, every impulse of his
heart went to confirm this arrangement. It was flattering to his
self-love, if not to his principles, to have apparent sanction to his
prejudices against French forms of speech; and the "New Papa" on the
lips of this young girl touched him to the quick. Wifeless men are more
easily accessible to demonstrations of even apparent affection on the
part of young girls than those whose sympathies are hedged about by
matrimonial relations.

From all this it chanced that the best possible understanding was
speedily established between the Doctor and his little ward from beyond
the seas. For an hour after his arrival, the little creature hung upon
his chair, asking questions about her new home, about the schools, about
her playmates, patting the great hand of the Doctor with her little
fingers, and reminding him sadly of days utterly gone.

Mrs. Brindlock, with her woman's curiosity, seizes an occasion, before
they leave, to say privately to the Doctor,--

"Benjamin, the child must have a strange mother to allow this long
separation, and the little creature so loving as she is."

"It would be strange enough for any but a Frenchwoman," said he.

"But Adèle is full of talk about her father and her godmother; yet she
can tell me scarce anything of her mother. There's a mystery about it,

"There's a mystery in all our lives, Mabel, and will be until the last
day shall come."

The parson said this with extreme gravity, and then added,--

"He has written me regarding it,--a very unfortunate marriage, I fear.
Only this much he has been disposed to communicate; and for myself, I am
only concerned to redeem his little girl from gross worldly attachments
to the truths which take hold upon heaven."

The next day the Doctor set off homeward upon the magnificent new
steamboat Victory, which, with two wonderful smoke-pipes, was then
plying through the Sound and up the Connecticut River. It was an object
of almost as much interest to the parson as to his little companion. A
sober costume had now replaced the coquettish one with its furbelows,
which Adèle had worn in the city; but there was a bright lining to her
little hat that made her brown face more piquant than ever. And as she
inclined her head jauntily to this side or that, in order to a better
listening to the old gentleman's somewhat tedious explanations, or with
a saucy smile cut him short in the midst of them, the parson felt his
heart warming more and more toward this poor child of heathen France.
Nay, he felt almost tempted to lay his lips to the little white ears
that peeped forth from the masses of dark hair and seemed fairly to
quiver with the eagerness of their listening.

With daylight of next morning came sight of the rambling old towns that
lay at the river's mouth,--being little more than patches of gray and
white, strewed over an almost treeless country, with some central spire
rising above them. Then came great stretches of open pasture, scattered
over with huge gray rocks, amid which little flocks of sheep were
rambling; or some herd of young cattle, startled by the splashing of the
paddles, and the great plumes of smoke, tossed their tails in the air,
and galloped away in a fright,--at which Adèle clapped her hands, and
broke into a laugh that was as cheery as the new dawn. Next
came low, flat meadows of sedge, over which the tide oozed slowly, and
where flocks of wild ducks, scared from their feeding-ground, rose by
scores, and went flapping off seaward in long, black lines. And from
between the hills on either side came glimpses of swamp woodland, in the
midst of which some maple, earlier than its green fellows, had taken a
tinge of orange, and flamed in the eyes of the little traveller with a
gorgeousness she had never seen in the woods of Provence. Then came
towns nestling under bluffs of red quarry-stones, towns upon wooded
plains,--all with a white newness about them; and a brig, with horses on
its deck, piled over with bales of hay, comes drifting lazily down with
the tide, to catch an offing for the West Indies; and queer-shaped
flat-boats, propelled by broad-bladed oars, surge slowly athwart the
stream, ferrying over some traveller, or some fish-peddler bound to the
"P'int" for "sea-food".

Toward noon the travellers land at a shambling dock that juts into the
river, from which point they are to make their way, in such country
vehicle as the little village will supply, across to Ashfield. And when
they are fairly seated within, the parson, judging that acquaintance has
ripened sufficiently to be put to serious uses, says, with more than
usual gravity,--

"I trust, Adaly, that you are grateful to God for having protected you
from all the dangers of the deep."

"Do you think there was much danger, New Papa?"

"There's always danger, said the parson, gravely. "The Victory might
have been blown in pieces last night, and we all been killed, Adaly."

"Oh, terrible!" says Addle. "And did such a thing ever really happen?"

"Yes, my child."

"Tell me all about it, New Papa, please"; and she put her little hand in

"Not now, Adaly,--not now. I want to know if you have been taught about
God, in your old home."

"Oh, the good God! To be sure I have, over and over and over"; and she
made a little piquant gesture, as if the teaching had been sometimes

This gayety of speech on such a theme was painful to the Doctor.

"And you have been taught to pray, Adaly?"

"Oh, yes! Listen now. Shall I tell you one of my prayers, New Papa?
Voyons, how is it"--

"Never mind,--never mind, Adaly; not here, not here. We are taught to
enter into our closets when we pray."


"Yes, my child,--to be by ourselves, and to be solemn."

"I don't like solemn people much," said Adèle, in a quiet tone.

"But do you love God, my child?"

"Love Him? To be sure I do"; and after a little pause--"All good
children love Him; and I m good, you know, New Papa, don't you?"--and
she turned her eyes up toward him with a half-coaxing, half-mischievous
look that came near to drive away all his solemnity.

"Ah, Adaly! Adaly! we are all wicked!" said he.

Adèle stared at him in amazement.

"You, too! Yet papa told me you were so good! Ah, you are telling me now
a little--what you call--lie! a'n't you, New Papa?"

And she looked at him with such a frank, arch smile,--so like the memory
he cherished of the college-boy, Maverick,--that he could argue the
matter no further, but only patted her little hand, as it lay upon the
cushion of the carriage, as much as to say,--"Poor thing! poor thing!

Upon this, he fell away into a train of grave reflection on the method
which it would be best to pursue in bringing this little benighted
wanderer into the fold of the faithful.

And he was still musing thus, when suddenly the spire of Ashfield broke
upon the view.

"There it is, Adaly! There is to be your new home!"

"Where? where?" says Adèle, eagerly.

And straightway she is all aglow with excitement. Her swift questions
patter on the ears of the old gentleman thick as rain-drops. She
looks at the houses, the hills, the trees, the face of every
passer-by,--wondering how she shall like them all; fashioning to herself
some image of the boy Reuben and of the Aunt Eliza who are to meet her;
yet, through all the torrent of her vexed fancies, carrying a great glow
of hope, and entering, with all her fresh, girlish enthusiasms
unchecked, upon that new phase of life, so widely different from
anything she has yet experienced, under the grave atmosphere of a New
England parsonage.





My little foxes are interesting little beasts; and I only hope my reader
will not get tired of my charming menagerie before I have done showing
him their nice points. He must recollect there are seven of them, and as
yet we have shown up only three; so let him have patience.

As before stated, little foxes are the little pet sins of us educated
good Christians, who hope that we have got above and far out of sight of
stealing, lying, and those other gross evils against which we pray every
Sunday, when the Ten Commandments are read. They are not generally
considered of dignity enough to be fired at from the pulpit; they seem
to us too trifling to be remembered in church; they are like the red
spiders on plants,--too small for the perception of the naked eye, and
only to be known by the shrivelling and dropping of leaf after leaf that
ought to be green and flourishing.

I have another little fox in my eye, who is most active and most
mischievous in despoiling the vines of domestic happiness,--in fact, who
has been guilty of destroying more grapes than anybody knows of. His
name I find it difficult to give with exactness. In my enumeration I
called him _Self-Will_; another name for him--perhaps a better
one--might be _Persistence_.

Like many another, this fault is the overaction of a most necessary and
praiseworthy quality. The power of firmness is given to man as the very
granite foundation of life. Without it, there would be nothing
accomplished; all human plans would be unstable as water on an inclined
plane. In every well-constituted nature there must be a power of
tenacity, a gift of perseverance of will; and that man might not be
without a foundation for so needful a property, the Creator has laid it
in an animal faculty, which he possesses in common with the brutes.

The animal power of firmness is a brute force, a matter of brain and
spinal cord, differing in different animals. The force by which a
bulldog holds on to an antagonist, the persistence with which a mule
will plant his four feet and set himself against blows and menaces, are
good examples of the pure animal phase of a property which exists in
human beings, and forms the foundation for that heroic endurance, for
that perseverance, which carries on all the great and noble enterprises
of life.

The domestic fault we speak of is the wild, uncultured growth of this
faculty, the instinctive action of firmness uncontrolled by reason or
conscience,--in common parlance, the being "_set in one's way_." It is
the _animal_ instinct of being "set in one's way" which we mean by
self-will or persistence; and in domestic life it does the more mischief
from its working as an instinct unwatched by reason and unchallenged by

In that pretty new cottage which you see on yonder knoll are a pair of
young people just in the midst of that happy bustle which attends the
formation of a first home in prosperous circumstances, and with all the
means of making it charming and agreeable. Carpenters, upholsterers, and
artificers await their will; and there remains for them only the
pleasant task of arranging and determining where all their pretty and
agreeable things shall be placed. Our Hero and Leander are decidedly
nice people, who have been through all the proper stages of being in
love with each other for the requisite and suitable time. They have
written each other a letter every day for two years, beginning with "My
dearest," and ending with "Your own," etc.; they have sent each other
flowers and rings and locks of hair; they have worn each other's
pictures on their hearts; they have spent hours and hours talking over
all subjects under the sun, and are convinced that never was there such
sympathy of souls, such unanimity of opinion, such a just, reasonable,
perfect foundation for mutual esteem.

Now it is quite true that people may have a perfect agreement and
sympathy in their higher intellectual nature,--may like the same books,
quote the same poetry, agree in the same principles, be united in the
same religion,--and nevertheless, when they come together in the
simplest affair of every-day business, may find themselves jarring and
impinging upon each other at every step, simply because there are to
each person, in respect of daily personal habits and personal likes and
dislikes, a thousand little individualities with which reason has
nothing to do, which are not subjects for the use of logic, and to which
they never think of applying the power of religion,--which can only be
set down as the positive ultimate facts of existence with two people.

Suppose a blue-jay courts and wins and weds a Baltimore oriole. During
courtship there may have been delightfully sympathetic conversation on
the charm of being free birds, the felicity of soaring in the blue
summer air. Mr. Jay may have been all humility and all ecstasy in
comparing the discordant screech of his own note with the warbling
tenderness of Miss Oriole. But, once united, the two commence business
relations. He is firmly convinced that a hole in a hollow tree is the
only reasonable nest for a bird; she is positive that she should die
there in a month of damp and rheumatism. She never heard of going to
housekeeping in anything but a nice little pendulous bag swinging down
from under the branches of a breezy elm; he is sure he should have water
on the brain before summer was over, from constant vertigo, in such
swaying, unsteady quarters,--he would be a sea-sick blue-jay on land,
and he cannot think of it. She knows now he don't love her, or he never
would think of shutting her up in an old mouldy hole picked out of
rotten wood; and _he_ knows she doesn't love him, or she never would
want to make him uncomfortable all his days by tilting and swinging him
about as no decent bird ought to be swung. Both are dead-set in their
own way and opinion; and how is either to be convinced that the way
which seemeth right unto the other is not best? Nature knows this, and
therefore, in her feathered tribes, blue-jays do not mate with orioles;
and so bird-housekeeping goes on in peace.

But men and women as diverse in their physical tastes and habits as
blue-jays and orioles are wooing and wedding every day, and coming to
the business of nest-building, _alias_ housekeeping, with predilections
as violent, and as incapable of any logical defence, as the oriole's
partiality for a swing-nest and the jay's preference of rotten wood.

Our Hero and Leander, then, who are arranging their cottage to-day, are
examples just in point. They have both of them been only children,--both
the idols of circles where they have been universally deferred to. Each
in his or her own circle has been looked up to as a model of good taste,
and of course each has the habit of exercising and indulging very
distinct personal tastes. They truly, deeply esteem, respect, and love
each other, and for the very best of reasons,--because there are
sympathies of the very highest kind between them. Both are generous and
affectionate,--both are highly cultured in intellect and taste,--both
are earnestly religious; and yet, with all this, let me tell you that
the first year of their married life will be worthy to be recorded as _a
year of battles_. Yes, these friends so true, these lovers so ardent,
these individuals in themselves so admirable, cannot come into the
intimate relations of life without an effervescence as great as that of
an acid and alkali; and it will be impossible to decide which is most in
fault, the acid or the alkali, both being in their way of the very best

The reason of it all is, that both are intensely "_set in their way_,"
and the ways of no two human beings are altogether coincident. Both of
them have the most sharply defined, exact tastes and preferences. In the
simplest matter both have _a way_,--an exact way,--which seems to be
dear to them as life's blood. In the simplest appetite or taste they
know exactly what they want, and cannot, by any argument, persuasion, or
coaxing, be made to want anything else.

For example, this morning dawns bright upon them, as she, in her tidy
morning wrapper and trimly laced boots, comes stepping over the bales
and boxes which are discharged on the verandah; while he, for joy of his
new acquisition, can hardly let her walk on her own pretty feet, and is
making every fond excuse to lift her over obstacles and carry her into
her new dwelling in triumph.

Carpets are put down, the floors glow under the hands of obedient
workmen, and now the furniture is being wheeled in.

"Put the piano in the bow-window," says the lady.

"No, not in the bow-window," says the gentleman.

"Why, my dear, of course it must go in the bow-window. How awkward it
would look anywhere else! I have always seen pianos in bow-windows."

"My love, certainly you would not think of dashing that beautiful
prospect from the bow-window by blocking it up with the piano. The
proper place is just here, in the corner of the room. Now try it."

"My dear, I think it looks dreadfully there; it spoils the appearance of
the room."

"Well, for my part, my love, I think the appearance of the room would be
spoiled, if you filled up the bow-window. Think what a lovely place that
would be to sit in!"

"Just as if we couldn't sit there behind the piano, if we wanted to!"
says the lady.

"But then, how much more ample and airy the room looks as you open the
door, and see through the bow-window down that little glen, and that
distant peep of the village-spire!"

"But I never could be reconciled to the piano standing in the corner in
that way," says the lady. "_I insist_ upon it, it ought to stand in the
bow-window: it's the way mamma's stands, and Aunt Jane's, and Mrs.
Wilcox's; everybody has their piano so."

"If it comes to _insisting_," says the gentleman, "it strikes me that is
a game two can play at."

"Why, my dear, you know a lady's parlor is her own ground."

"Not a married lady's parlor, I imagine. I believe it is at least
equally her husband's, as he expects to pass a good portion of his time

"But I don't think you ought to insist on an arrangement that really is
disagreeable to me," says the lady.

And now Hero's cheeks flush, and the spirit burns within, as she says,--

"Well, if you insist upon it, I suppose it must be as you say; but I
shall never take any pleasure in playing on it"; and Hero sweeps from
the apartment, leaving the victor very unhappy in his conquest.

He rushes after her, and finds her up-stairs, sitting disconsolate and
weeping on a packing-box.

"Now, Hero, how silly! Do have it your own way. I'll give it up."

"No,--let it be as you say. I forgot that it was a wife's duty to

"Nonsense, Hero! Do talk like a rational woman. Don't let us quarrel
like children."

"But it's so evident that I was in the right."

"My dear, I cannot concede that you were in the right; but I am willing
it should be as you say."

"Now I perfectly wonder, Leander, that you don't see how awkward your
way is. It would make me nervous every time I came into the room, and it
would be so dark in that corner that I never could see the notes."

"And I wonder, Hero, that a woman of your taste don't see how shutting
up that bow-window spoils the parlor. It's the very prettiest feature of
the room."

And so round and round they go, stating and restating their arguments,
both getting more and more nervous and combative, both declaring
themselves perfectly ready to yield the point as an oppressive exaction,
but to do battle for their own opinion as right and reason,--the animal
instinct of self-will meanwhile rising and rising and growing stronger
and stronger on both sides. But meanwhile in the heat of argument some
side-issues and personal reflections fly out like splinters in the
shivering of lances. He tells her, in his heat, that her notions are
formed from deference to models in fashionable life, and that she has no
idea of adaptation,--and she tells him that he is domineering, and
dictatorial, and wanting to have everything his own way; and in fine,
this battle is fought off and on through the day, with occasional
armistices of kisses and makings-up,--treacherous truces, which are all
broken up by the fatal words, "My dear, after all, you must admit _I_
was in the right," which of course is the signal to fight the whole
battle over again.

One such prolonged struggle is the parent of many lesser ones,--the
aforenamed splinters of injurious remark and accusation, which flew out
in the heat of argument, remaining and festering and giving rise to
nervous soreness; yet, where there is at the foundation real, genuine
love, and a good deal of it, the pleasure of making up so balances the
pain of the controversy that the two do not perceive exactly what they
are doing, nor suspect that so deep and wide a love as theirs can be
seriously affected by causes so insignificant.

But the cause of difficulty in both, the silent, unwatched, intense
power of self-will in trifles, is all the while precipitating them into
new encounters. For example, in a bright hour between the showers, Hero
arranges for her Leander a repast of peace and good-will, and compounds
for him a salad which is a _chef d'oeuvre_ among salads. Leander is
also bright and propitious; but after tasting the salad, he pushes it
silently away.

"My dear, you don't like your salad."

"No, my dear; I never eat anything with salad oil in it."

"Not eat salad oil? How absurd! I never heard of a salad without oil."
And the lady looks disturbed.

"But, my dear, as I tell you, I never take it. I prefer simple sugar and

"Sugar and vinegar! Why, Leander, I'm astonished! How very _bourgeois!_
You must really try to like my salad"--(spoken in a coaxing tone).

"My dear, I _never_ try to like anything new. I am satisfied with my old

"Well, Leander, I must say that is very ungracious and disobliging of

"Why any more than for you to annoy me by forcing on me what I don't

"But you would like it, if you would only try. People never like olives
till they have eaten three or four, and then they become passionately
fond of them."

"Then I think they are very silly to go through all that trouble, when
there are enough things that they do like."

"Now, Leander, I don't think that seems amiable or pleasant at all. I
think we ought to try to accommodate ourselves to the tastes of our

"Then, my dear, suppose you try to like your salad with sugar and

"But it's so _gauche_ and unfashionable! Did you ever hear of a salad
made with sugar and vinegar on a table in good society?"

"My mother's table, I believe, was good society, and I learned to like
it there. The truth is, Hero, for a sensible woman, you are too fond of
mere fashionable and society notions."

"Yes, you told me that last week, and I think it was very unjust,--_very
unjust, indeed_"--(uttered with emphasis).

"No more unjust than your telling me that I was dictatorial and

"Well, now, Leander, dear, you must confess that you are rather

"I don't see the proof."

"You insist on your own ways and opinions so, heaven and earth won't
turn you."

"Do I insist on mine more than you on yours?"

"Certainly, you do."

"I don't think so."

Hero casts up her eyes and repeats with expression,--

    "Oh, wad some power the giftie gie us
    To see oursels as others see us!"

"Precisely," says Leander. "I would that prayer were answered in your
case, my dear."

"I think you take pleasure in provoking me," says the lady.

"My dear, how silly and childish all this is!" says the gentleman. "Why
can't we let each other alone?"

"You began it."

"No, my dear, begging your pardon, I did not."

"Certainly, Leander, you did."

Now a conversation of this kind may go on hour after hour, as long as
the respective parties have breath and strength, both becoming secretly
more and more "set in their way". On both sides is the consciousness
that they might end it at once by a very simple concession.

She might say,--"Well, dear, you shall always have your salad as you
like"; and he might say,--"My dear, I will try to like your salad, if
you care much about it"; and if either of them would utter one of these
sentences, the other would soon follow. Either would give up, if the
other would set the example; but as it is, they remind us of nothing so
much as two cows that we have seen standing with locked horns in a
meadow, who can neither advance nor recede an inch. It is a mere
deadlock of the animal instinct of firmness; reason, conscience,
religion have nothing to do with it.

The questions debated in this style by our young couple were
surprisingly numerous: as, for example, whether their favorite copy of
Turner should hang in the parlor or in the library,--whether their pet
little landscape should hang against the wall, or be placed on an
easel,--whether the bust of Psyche should stand on the marble table in
the hall, or on a bracket in the library; all of which points were
debated with a breadth of survey, a richness of imagery, a vigor of
discussion, that would be perfectly astonishing to any one who did not
know how much two very self-willed argumentative people might
find to say on any point under heaven. Everything in classical
antiquity,--everything in Kugler's "Hand-Book of Painting,"--every
opinion of living artists,--besides questions social, moral, and
religious,--all mingled in the grand _mélée_: because there is nothing
in creation that is not somehow connected with everything else.

Dr. Johnson has said,--"There are a thousand familiar disputes which
reason never can decide; questions that elude investigation, and make
logic ridiculous; cases where something must be done, and where little
can be said."

With all deference to the great moralist, we must say that this
statement argues a very limited knowledge of the resources of talk
possessed by two very cultivated and very self-willed persons fairly
pitted against each other in practical questions; the logic may indeed
be ridiculous, but such people as our Hero and Leander find no cases
under the sun where something is to be done, yet where little can be
said. And these wretched wranglings, this interminable labyrinth of
petty disputes, waste and crumble away that high ideal of truth and
tenderness, which the real, deep sympathies and actual worth of their
characters entitled them to form. Their married life is not what they
expected; at times they are startled by the reflection that they nave
somehow grown unlovely to each other; and yet, if Leander goes away to
pass a week, and thinks of his Hero in the distance, he can compare no
other woman to her; and the days seem long and the house empty to Hero
while he is gone; both wonder at themselves when they look over their
petty bickerings, but neither knows exactly how to catch the little fox
that spoils their vines.

It is astonishing how much we think about ourselves, yet to how little
purpose,--how very clever people will talk and wonder about themselves
and each other, and yet go on year after year, not knowing how to use
either themselves or each other,--not having as much practical
philosophy in the matter of their own characters and that of their
friends as they have in respect of the screws of their gas-fixtures or
the management of their water-pipes.

"But _I_ won't have any such scenes with _my_ wife," says Don Positive.
"I won't marry one of your clever women; they are always positive and
disagreeable. _I_ look for a wife of a gentle and yielding nature, that
shall take her opinions from me, and accommodate her tastes to mine."
And so Don Positive goes and marries a pretty little pink-and-white
concern, so lisping and soft and delicate that he is quite sure she
cannot have a will of her own. She is the moon of his heavens, to shine
only by his reflected light.

We would advise our gentlemen friends who wish to enjoy the felicity of
having their own way not to try the experiment with a pretty fool; for
the obstinacy of cleverness and reason is nothing to the obstinacy of
folly and inanity.

Let our friend once get in the seat opposite to him at table a pretty
creature who cries for the moon, and insists that he don't love her
because he doesn't get it for her; and in vain may he display his
superior knowledge of astronomy, and prove to her that the moon is not
to be got. She listens with her head on one side, and after he has
talked himself quite out of breath, repeats the very same sentence she
began the discussion with, without variation or addition.

If she wants darling Johnny taken away from school, because cruel
teachers will not give up the rules of the institution for his pleasure,
in vain does Don Positive, in the most select and superior English,
enlighten her on the necessity of habits of self-control and order for a
boy,--the impossibility that a teacher should make exceptions for their
particular darling,--the absolute, perishing need that the boy should
begin to do something. She hears him all through, and then says, "I
don't know anything about that. I know what I want: I want Johnny taken
away." And so she weeps, sulks, storms, entreats, lies awake nights, has
long fits of sick-headache,--in short, shows that a pretty animal,
without reason or cultivation, can be, in her way, quite as formidable
an antagonist as the most clever of her sex.

Leander can sometimes vanquish his Hero in fair fight by the weapons of
good logic, because she is a woman capable of appreciating reason, and
able to feel the force of the considerations he adduces; and when he
does vanquish and carry her captive by his bow and spear, he feels that
he has gained a victory over no ignoble antagonist, and he becomes a
hero in his own eyes. Though a woman of much will, still she is a woman
of much reason; and if he has many vexations with her pertinacity, he is
never without hope in her good sense; but alas for him whose wife has
only the animal instinct of firmness, without any development of the
judgment or reasoning faculties! The conflicts with a woman whom a man
respects and admires are often extremely trying; but the conflicts with
one whom he cannot help despising become in the end simply disgusting.

But the inquiry now arises, What shall be done with all the questions
Dr. Johnson speaks of, which reason cannot decide, which elude
investigation, and make logic ridiculous,--cases where something must be
done, and where little can be said?

Read Mrs. Ellis's "Wives of England," and you have one solution of the
problem. The good women of England are there informed that there is to
be no discussion, that everything in the _ménage_ is to follow the rule
of the lord, and that the wife has but one hope, namely, that grace may
be given him to know exactly what his own will is. "_L'état, c'est
moi_," is the lesson which every English husband learns of Mrs. Ellis,
and we should judge from the pictures of English novels that this "awful
right divine" is insisted on in detail in domestic life.

Miss Edgeworth makes her magnificent General Clarendon talk about his
"commands" to his accomplished and elegant wife; and he rings the
parlor-bell with such an air, calls up and interrogates trembling
servants with such awful majesty, and lays about him generally in so
very military and tremendous a style, that we are not surprised that
poor little Cecilia is frightened into lying, being half out of her wits
in terror of so very martial a husband.

During his hours of courtship he majestically informs her mother that he
never could consent to receive as _his_ wife any woman who has had
another attachment; and so the poor puss, like a naughty girl, conceals
a little school-girl flirtation of bygone days, and thus gives rise to
most agonizing and tragic scenes with her terrible lord, who petrifies
her one morning by suddenly drawing the bed-curtains and flapping an old
love-letter in her eyes, asking, in tones of suppressed thunder,
"Cecilia, is this your writing?"

The more modern female novelists of England give us representations of
their view of the right divine no less stringent. In a very popular
story, called "Agatha's Husband," the plot is as follows. A man marries
a beautiful girl with a large fortune. Before the marriage, he discovers
that his brother, who has been guardian of the estate, has fraudulently
squandered the property, so that it can only be retrieved by the
strictest economy. For the sake of getting her heroine into a situation
to illustrate her moral, the authoress now makes her hero give a solemn
promise not to divulge to his wife or to any human being the fraud by
which she suffers.

The plot of the story then proceeds to show how very badly the young
wife behaves when her husband takes her to mean lodgings, deprives her
of wonted luxuries and comforts, and obstinately refuses to give any
kind of sensible reason for his conduct. Instead of looking up to him
with blind faith and unquestioning obedience, following his directions
without inquiry, and believing not only without evidence, but against
apparent evidence, that he is the soul of honor and wisdom, this
perverse Agatha murmurs, complains, thinks herself very ill-used, and
occasionally is even wicked enough, in a very mild way, to say
so,--whereat her husband looks like a martyr and suffers in silence; and
thus we are treated to a volume of mutual distresses, which are at last
ended by the truth coming out, the abused husband mounting the throne in
glory, and the penitent wife falling in the dust at his feet, and
confessing what a wretch she has been all along to doubt him.

The authoress of Jane Eyre describes the process of courtship in much
the same terms as one would describe the breaking of a horse. Shirley is
contumacious and self-willed, and Moore, her lover and tutor, gives her
"_Le Cheval dompté_" for a French lesson, as a gentle intimation of the
work he has in hand in paying her his addresses; and after long
struggling against his power, when at last she consents to his love, he
addresses her thus, under the figure of a very fierce leopardess:--

"Tame or wild, fierce or subdued, you are _mine_."

And she responds:--

"I am glad I know my keeper and am used to him. Only his voice will I
follow, only his hand shall manage me, only at his feet will I repose."

The accomplished authoress of "Nathalie" represents the struggles of a
young girl engaged to a man far older than herself, extremely dark and
heroic, fond of behaving in a very unaccountable manner, and declaring,
nevertheless, in very awful and mysterious tones, that he has such a
passion for being believed in, that, if any one of his friends, under
the most suspicious circumstances, admits _one doubt_ of his honor, all
will be over between them forever.

After establishing his power over Nathalie fully, and amusing himself
quietly for a time with the contemplation of her perplexities and
anxieties, he at last unfolds to her the mysterious counsels of his will
by declaring to another of her lovers, in her presence, that he "has the
intention of asking this young lady to become his wife." During the
engagement, however, he contrives to disturb her tranquillity by
insisting prematurely on the right divine of husbands, and, as she
proves fractious, announces to her, that, much as he loves her, he sees
no prospect of future happiness in their union, and that they had better

The rest of the story describe the struggles and anguish of the two, who
pass through a volume of distresses, he growing more cold, proud,
severe, and misanthropic than ever, all of which is supposed to be the
fault of naughty Miss Nathalie, who might have made a saint of him,
could she only have found her highest pleasure in letting him have his
own way. Her conscience distresses her; it is all her fault; at last,
worn out in the strife, she resolves to be a good girl, goes to his
library, finds him alone, and, in spite of an insulting reception,
humbles herself at his feet, gives up all her naughty pride, begs to be
allowed to wait on him as a handmaid, and is rewarded by his graciously
announcing, that, since she will stay with him at all events, she _may_
stay as his wife; and the story leaves her in the last sentence sitting
in what we are informed is the only true place of happiness for a woman,
at her husband's feet.

This is the solution which the most cultivated women of England give of
the domestic problem, according to these fair interpreters of English

The British lion on his own domestic hearth, standing in awful majesty
with his back to the fire and his hands under his coat-tails, can be
supposed to have no such disreputable discussions as we have described;
since his partner, as Miss Bronté says, has learned to know her keeper,
and her place at his feet, and can conceive no happiness so great as
hanging the picture and setting the piano exactly as he likes.

Of course this will be met with a general shriek of horror on the part
of our fair republican friends, and an equally general disclaimer on the
part of our American gentlemen, who, so far as we know, would be quite
embarrassed by the idea of assuming any such pronounced position at the

The genius of American institutions is not towards a display of
authority. All needed authority exists among us, but exists silently,
with as little external manifestation as possible.

Our President is but a fellow-citizen, personally the equal of other
citizens. We obey him because we have chosen him, and because we find it
convenient, in regulating our affairs, to have one final appeal and one
deciding voice.

The position in which the Bible and the marriage service place the
husband in the family amounts to no more. He is the head of the family
in all that relates to its material interests, its legal relations, its
honor and standing in society; and no true woman who respects herself
would any more hesitate to promise to yield to him this position and the
deference it implies than an officer of State to yield to the President.
But because Mr. Lincoln is officially above Mr. Seward, it does not
follow that there can be nothing between them but absolute command on
the one part and prostrate submission on the other; neither does it
follow that the superior claims in all respects to regulate the affairs
and conduct of the inferior. There are still wide spheres of individual
freedom, as there are in the case of husband and wife; and no sensible
man but would feel himself ridiculous in entering another's proper
sphere with the voice of authority.

The inspired declaration, that "the husband is the head of the wife,
even as Christ is the head of the Church," is certainly to be qualified
by the evident points of difference in the subjects spoken of. It
certainly does not mean that any man shall be invested with the rights
of omnipotence and omniscience, but simply that in the family state he
is the head and protector, even as in the Church is the Saviour. It is
merely the announcement of a great natural law of society which obtains
through all the tribes and races of men,--a great and obvious fact of
human existence.

The silly and senseless reaction against this idea in some otherwise
sensible women is, I think, owing to the kind of extravagances and
overstatements to which we have alluded. It is as absurd to cavil at the
word _obey_ in the marriage ceremony as for a military officer to set
himself against the etiquette of the army, or a man to refuse the
freeman's oath.

Two young men every way on a footing of equality and friendship may be
one of them a battalion-commander and the other a staff-officer. It
would be alike absurd for the one to take airs about not obeying a man
every way his equal, and for the other to assume airs of lordly
dictation out of the sphere of his military duties. The mooting of the
question of marital authority between two well-bred, well-educated
Christian people of the nineteenth century is no less absurd.

While the husband has a certain power confided to him for the support
and maintenance of the family, and for the preservation of those
relations which involve its good name and well-being before the world,
he has no claim to an authoritative exertion of will in reference to the
little personal tastes and habits of the interior. He has no divine
right to require that everything shall be arranged to please him, at the
expense of his wife's preferences and feelings, any more than if he were
not the head of the household. In a thousand indifferent matters which
do not touch the credit and respectability of the family, he is just as
much bound sometimes to give up his own will and way for the comfort of
his wife as she is in certain other matters to submit to his decisions.
In a large number of cases the husband and wife stand as equal human
beings before God, and the indulgence of unchecked and inconsiderate
self-will on either side is a sin.

It is my serious belief that writings such as we have been considering
do harm both to men and women, by insensibly inspiring in the one an
idea of a licensed prerogative of selfishness and self-will, and in the
other an irrational and indiscreet servility.

Is it any benefit to a man to find in the wife of his bosom the
flatterer of his egotism, the acquiescent victim of his little selfish
exactions, to be nursed and petted and cajoled in all his faults and
fault-findings, and to see everybody falling prostrate before his will
in the domestic circle? Is this the true way to make him a manly and
Christ-like man? It is my belief that many so-called good wives have
been accessory to making their husbands very bad Christians.

However, then, the little questions of difference in every-day life are
to be disposed of between two individuals, it is in the worst possible
taste and policy to undertake to settle them by mere authority. All
romance, all poetry, all beauty are over forever with a couple between
whom the struggle of mere authority has begun. No, there is no way out
of difficulties of this description but by the application, on both
sides, of good sense and religion to the little differences of life.

A little reflection will enable any person to detect in himself that
setness in trifles which is the result of the unwatched instinct of
self-will, and to establish over himself a jealous guardianship.

Everyman and every woman, in their self-training and self-culture,
should study the art of giving up with a good grace. The charm of polite
society is formed by that sort of freedom and facility in all the
members of a circle which makes each one pliable to the influences of
the others, and sympathetic to slide into the moods and tastes of others
without a jar.

In courteous and polished circles, there are no stiff railroad-tracks,
cutting straight through everything, and grating harsh thunders all
along their course, but smooth, meandering streams, tranquilly bending
hither and thither to every undulation of the flowery banks. What makes
the charm of polite society would make no less the charm of domestic
life; but it can come only by watchfulness and self-discipline in each

Some people have much more to struggle with in this way than others.
Nature has made them precise and exact. They are punctilious in their
hours, rigid in their habits, pained by any deviation from regular rule.

Now Nature is always perversely ordering that men and women of just this
disposition should become desperately enamored of their exact opposites.
The man of rules and formulas and hours has his heart carried off by a
gay, careless little chit, who never knows the day of the month, tears
up the newspaper, loses the door-key, and makes curlpapers out of the
last bill; or, _per contra_, our exact and precise little woman, whose
belongings are like the waxen cells of a bee, gives her heart to some
careless fellow, who enters her sanctum in muddy boots, upsets all her
little nice household divinities whenever he is going on a hunting or
fishing bout, and can see no manner of sense in the discomposure she
feels in the case.

What can such couples do, if they do not adopt the compromises of reason
and sense,--if each arms his or her own peculiarities with the back
force of persistent self-will, and runs them over the territories of the

A sensible man and woman, finding themselves thus placed, can govern
themselves by a just philosophy, and, instead of carrying on a
life-battle, can modify their own tastes and requirements, turn their
eyes from traits which do not suit them to those which do, resolving, at
all events, however reasonable be the taste or propensity which they
sacrifice, to give up all rather than have domestic strife.

There is one form which persistency takes that is peculiarly trying: I
mean that persistency of opinion which deems it necessary to stop and
raise an argument in self-defence on the slightest personal criticism.

John tells his wife that she is half an hour late with her breakfast
this morning, and she indignantly denies it.

"But look at my watch!"

"Your watch isn't right."

"I set it by railroad time."

"Well, that was a week ago; that watch of yours always gains."

"No, my dear, you're mistaken."

"Indeed I'm not. Did I not hear you telling Mr. B---- about it?"

"My dear, that was a year ago,--before I had it cleaned."

"How can you say so, John? It was only a month ago."

"My dear, you are mistaken."

And so the contest goes on, each striving for the last word.

This love of the last word has made more bitterness in families and
spoiled more Christians than it is worth. A thousand little differences
of this kind would drop to the ground, if either party would let them
drop. Suppose John is mistaken in saying breakfast is late,--suppose
that fifty of the little criticisms which we make on one another are
well- or ill-founded, are they worth a discussion? Are they worth
ill-tempered words, such as are almost sure to grow out of a discussion?
Are they worth throwing away peace and love for? Are they worth the
destruction of the only fair ideal left on earth,--a quiet, happy home?
Better let the most unjust statements pass in silence than risk one's
temper in a discussion upon them.

Discussions, assuming the form of warm arguments, are never pleasant
ingredients of domestic life, never safe recreations between near
friends. They are, generally speaking, mere unsuspected vents for
self-will, and the cases are few where they do anything more than to
make both parties more positive in their own way than they were before.

A calm comparison of opposing views, a fair statement of reasons on
either side, may be valuable; but when warmth and heat and love of
victory and pride of opinion come in, good temper and good manners are
too apt to step out.

And now Christopher, having come to the end of his subject, pauses for a
sentence to close with. There are a few lines of a poet that sum up so
beautifully all he has been saying that he may be pardoned for closing
with them.

    "Alas! how light a cause may move
    Dissension between hearts that love;
    Hearts that the world has vainly tried,
    And sorrow but more closely tied;
    That stood the storm when waves were rough,
    Yet in a sunny hour fall off,
    Like ships that have gone down at sea
    When heaven was all tranquillity!
    A something light as air, a look,
    A word unkind, or wrongly taken,--
    Oh, love that tempests never shook,
    A breath, a touch like this hath shaken!
    For ruder words will soon rush in
    To spread the breach that words begin,
    And eyes forget the gentle ray
    They wore in courtship's smiling day,
    And voices lose the tone which shed
    A tenderness round all they said,--
    Till, fast declining, one by one,
    The sweetnesses of love are gone,
    And hearts so lately mingled seem
    Like broken clouds, or like the stream,
    That, smiling, left the mountain-brow
    As though its waters ne'er could sever,
    Yet, ere it reach the plain below,
    Breaks into floods that part forever."





I imagine, that, if one went into any of the numerous places, in this or
any other city, where numbers of women are assembled as workers, or to
any of the charitable institutions where orphan children are taken in
and cared for, and were to institute a general examination of the
inmates as to their personal history, he would find few of them but had
experiences to relate of a kind to make the heart ache. From my own
incidental inquiry and observation of these classes, it would appear
that they afford representatives of every phase of domestic and
pecuniary suffering. I read of kindred sufferings which occasionally
happen to the high-born and wealthy, but here I have come in personal
contact with those in humble life to whom such trials seem to be a
perpetual inheritance.

In our factory there was one operator on a machine with whom I never
could gain an acquaintance beyond the usual morning salutation which
passed between most of us as we came in to our daily employment. To me
she was reserved and taciturn, and it was evident that there was no
disposition on her part to be sociable. But somehow she fell in with my
sister's gay, open, and prepossessing manner, and there grew up a sort
of passionate intimacy between them that I could not account for, as she
was much older than Jane. When we stopped work at noon, they always
dined together by themselves, in a corner of the room, and a close and
incessant conversation was carried on between them, for an hour at a
time, as if they had been lovers. There must have been great mutual
outpourings of confidence, for my sister soon became acquainted with the
minutest particulars of her new friend's singular life.

This woman's name was Vane. Who her father was no one knew but her
mother. When a child, she had lived with the latter in what was at that
time the remains of a wooden hut, that must have been among the very
first buildings erected in the forest which covered the northwestern
portion of what is now the suburbs of the great city around us. In this
little obscure home the two lived entirely alone. They had neighbors, of
course, but none of them could tell how they contrived to subsist. The
mother did no work, except for herself and her child; she had but a
small garden in front of the house, the embellishment of which was her
particular care; and she was surrounded with books, in the reading of
which she spent all her leisure time, having little intercourse with her
neighbors. The gossips that exist everywhere in society, if curious
about her affairs, could discover nothing as to how she lived so
comfortably without any visible means.

When the daughter, Sabrina, grew up to sixteen, her beauty, the
character she developed, and her general conduct were the topic of quite
as much rural conversation and remark as had been the mystery that hung
around the mother. Gradually drawn out into the neighboring society, her
great personal attractions, added to her shrewdness and good sense, made
her so much admired as to collect around her a train of suitors, who
seemed to consider her being fatherless as of no more consequence to
them than it was to herself.

But there was in her temperament an undercurrent of ambition so strong
as to cause her to receive their advances toward tender acquaintance
with a freezing coldness, while at the same time it rendered her
positively unhappy. She felt superior to her condition, and she longed
to rise above it. Her mind had attained to a premature development while
feeding almost exclusively on its own thoughts,--for she had never been
fond of books, though there were many around her. Her sole occupations
had been the school, the needle, and assisting her mother in the
management of their flower-garden. For this last she had a decided
taste, and they had concealed the time-worn character of the old house
they occupied by covering it with a luxuriance of floral wealth, so
tastefully arranged, and so profuse and gorgeous, that travellers on the
dusty highway on which it stood would stop to admire the remarkable
blending of the climbing rose, the honeysuckle, and the grape.

Thus filled with indefinite longings, she grew up to womanhood without
any proper direction from her mother. She had no sympathy with her
uncultivated suitors. She sighed for something higher, an ideal that was
far off, indistinct, and dim. Good offers of marriage from neighboring
workmen of fair character and prospects she stubbornly declined,
sometimes with a tartness that quite confounded the swain whom her
well-known character had half-intimidated before he ventured on the
dangerous proposal. Love had not yet unsealed the deep fountain of her
singularly constituted heart. But I suppose that there must somewhere be
a key to every woman's affections, and that it is generally found in but
few hands,--sometimes in safe ones, sometimes in very dangerous ones. It
was so with Sabrina.

One evening, at a party, she became acquainted with a young sprig of the
medical profession, who was captivated by her beauty. The fellow was
loquacious, prepossessing, and bold, with an air of high life and
fashion about him to which Sabrina had not been accustomed. But though
unsteady, insincere, and wholly unworthy of her, yet the glitter of his
style and manner won her heart, and an engagement of marriage took place
between them, which he, for some unexplained reason, required of her to
keep secret. She was young and inexperienced, and so happy in her
prospects as to give but little thought to the obligation to
concealment. A future was opening to her such as she had longed for; her
ambitious aspirations for a higher destiny were about to be realized.

Somehow the neighborhood became possessed of her secret,--not, however,
from her, but by that intuition which reveals to lookers-on the sure
finale of an intimacy such as every one saw had grown up between her and
the young physician. Her future was said to be a brilliant one; she was
to be rich, and a great lady. There were absurd and wide-spread
exaggerations of an almost every-day occurrence. Some sneered while they
repeated them, as if envious of her elevation, while others went so far
as to suggest surmises unworthy of her virtue. But Sabrina heard nothing
of what the little world around her said or thought. Happy in her own
heart, she was unconcerned as to all beyond.

Months passed away, when all at once her lover ceased his visits. This,
too, was immediately observed by all the gossips of the neighborhood. It
was said that she had been cruelly deceived, even ruined. But she no
more than others was able to account for this unexpected abandonment.
The truth eventually came out, however. The father of her lover had
heard the common rumor, that his son was about marrying an obscure and
fatherless girl, questioned him, and warned him of the consequences. It
was the first serious intimation the young man had received that his
secret was known, and he resolved to cast off the poor girl, seeking to
pacify the reproaches of his conscience by accusing her of having
divulged it. There was not a manly impulse in his bosom; he gave her no
opportunity for explanation, but forsook her on the instant.

For a time the victim of this faithlessness sunk under the weight of her
disappointment. To her proud spirit the mortification was almost beyond
endurance. And if Divine Providence had not mercifully given to us, to
woman especially, strength according to our day, tempering the wind to
the shorn lamb, the world would be peopled with perpetual mourners. But
there is

    "No grief so great but runneth to an end;
    No hap so hard but will in time amend."

She bore up bravely, and in time her strong mind recovered in a good
degree its equilibrium. But she was now a subdued and thoughtful woman.
Four years passed away, during which her former admirers gradually
gathered around her again, solicitous, as before, to win her favor. To
one of them she gave her hand,--her heart was yet another's. Years of an
unhappy married life went over her, brightening no cloud above her head,
admitting no sunshine into her heart. All her ambitious aspirations had
been blasted, all her early hopes wrecked. Marriage had proved no
blessing to a mind so ill-regulated. Her mother died, and then her
husband. The secret source from which the mother had been supplied with
means was unknown to the daughter, and she had still pride enough to
refrain from all endeavor to solve the mystery. No one was able to do so
during the lifetime of the former,--who was there to do it after her

Thus thrown upon herself when only twenty-six years of age, she went to
work; and when we came to the factory, we found her there, the most
industrious and skilful of all the operators. Employment gave a new turn
to her thoughts. New associations opened other and more hopeful views to
her mind. She became cheerful, sometimes animated, and, with my sister,
intimate and confiding.

But if interested in what my sister thus learned of her history, I was
to be still more surprised by the subsequent portion of it to which I
was myself a witness.

One day a gentleman came into the room where we were at work, and
obtained from the proprietor permission to examine the mode in which it
was carried on. His age was probably fifty, and his dress and manner
evinced polish and acquaintance with society: if dress was ever an index
of wealth, his also indicated that. He went slowly round among the
machines, stopping before each, and courteously addressing and entering
into a brief conversation with the several operators in turn. Sabrina
was working a machine between my sister and myself. When he came to her,
he had more to say than to any of the others; and while conversing with
her, the proprietor came up, and, speaking to her on some business
matter, addressed her by name, "Sabrina."

The stranger heard it. He gazed on her long and silently. Sabrina was
his own child, for whose discovery he had come among us! There could be
no mutual recognition by face and feature, because neither had ever seen
the other before,--the heartless parent had never kissed or fondled his
own child!--they had lived total strangers. There was no excitement at
the moment, nothing that could be called a scene,--no symptom of remorse
on the part of the one, nor of affectionate recognition by the other. I
could know nothing, therefore, of their relations to each other, even
though I saw them at the very moment the parent was identifying his
daughter. All these curious facts were communicated to us afterwards.

That very evening Sabrina quitted her employment at the factory, and was
taken to her father's house, acknowledged as his child, her future to be
made by him as cloudless as in the past his own shameless neglect had
caused it to be gloomy.

If in such a refuge as this factory there were gathered many examples of
the ups and downs of life, it was a blessing that such an establishment
existed. Here was a certainty of employment at wages on which a woman
could live. But, generally, such factories accommodated only what might
be called the better order of workers,--that is, the least necessitous.

The press had been for years exalting the character and attainments of
the working-women of New England, celebrating their thrift, their
intelligence, their neatness, even their personal loveliness, until the
fame of their numerous virtues has overshadowed, at least on paper, that
of all others, extending even to European circles, and becoming a theme
for foreign applause. But from what I have seen of the working-women of
my native city, I am satisfied that their merits have been undervalued
as much as their numbers have been underestimated. Both in the
sewing-school and in the factory, there were girls who were patterns of
all that is modest, beautiful, and womanly, many of them graduates of
the public schools, and worthy to be wedded to the best among the other
sex. No Lowell factory could turn out a larger or more interesting army
of young and virtuous girls than some of the establishments here in
which the sewing-machine is driven by steam.

Then, as regards numbers, this city has a female manufacturing
population to which that of the largest manufacturing towns in New
England can bear no comparison. To particularize.

The book-binderies reckon three thousand in their various
establishments, who fold and sew the sheets, and work the
ruling-machines. I have seen in one of these establishments a collection
of young women whose manners and deportment could not be excelled in any
assembly of their fashionable and wealthy sisters: the proprietor never
came in among them without removing his hat. As the work they do is
light and cleanly, so the dress of the workers is neat and tidy. These
earn two dollars and upward per week. Some hundreds of others are
employed in printing-offices, feeding the paper to book-presses: these
are able to earn more. Another class are employed in coloring maps and
prints, and among these are some who exhibit taste and skill fitted to a
much higher department of the arts. Thus the business of publishing, in
nearly all its branches, is largely aided by the labor of intelligent
women,--and it might be still more so, if they were taught the truly
feminine, as well as intellectual art, of type-setting.

Thousands among us are engaged in binding shoes, some by machinery, and
some by hand; but the wages they receive are miserably small. The
clothing-stores employ some six thousand, but also paying so little that
every tailor's working-woman seeks the earliest opportunity of changing
her employment for something better. The hat-trimmers probably number
two thousand, while the cap-makers constitute a numerous body, whose
wages average three dollars per week. Several hundred educated girls,
possessed of a fine taste, are employed in making artificial flowers.
The establishments in which umbrellas and parasols are made depend
almost exclusively on the labor of women, while the millinery and
straw-goods branches owe most of their prosperity and merit to the
handiwork of female taste and skill. There are many who work for the
dentists, manufacturing artificial teeth. Even at the repulsive business
of cigar-making, in a close, unwholesome atmosphere continually loaded
with tobacco-fumes, there are many hundred women who earn bread for
themselves and their families.

There is a lower class of workers who find employment in the
spinning-mills and power-loom factories that abound among us, and these
number not less than two thousand. They are the children of weavers who
came from England, Ireland, Scotland, and Germany. They have been
brought up from childhood to fill the bobbin or attend the spindle or
the loom, and are therefore skilled hands, young as many of them are. I
have known more than one affecting instance of aged parents having been
comfortably maintained by daughters belonging to this class.

It has been one of the plumes in the cap of New England factory-girls,
that they kept themselves genteel on factory-wages, educated their
brothers, supported their parents, and yet had something over when they
came to be married. I never could understand how such financial marvels
could be accomplished on the wages of a mill-girl. But I have seen great
things in the same line done among the untidy girls of foreign parentage
who work in the cotton and woollen factories of our city. These,
however, have toiled on silently and in obscurity, with no poet to
celebrate their doings, no newspaper to sound their praises, no magazine
to trumpet forth their devotion, their virtue, or even their beauty.

I cannot give, with either fulness or accuracy, the industrial
statistics of a city like this; nor would I volunteer thus to increase
the dulness of my narrative, if it were in my power to do so. But it
will be seen, that, wherever a door stands open into which woman may
enter and obtain the privilege to toil, she is sure to ask for
admission. Wages are always a consideration, but employment of some
kind, whether remunerative or not, is a greater one. Of the thousands
thus toiling at all kinds of labor, some descriptions of which are
necessarily unhealthy, there are many whose once robust frames have
become attenuated and weary unto wearing out, whose midnight couch,
instead of being one of repose, is racked with cough and restlessness
and pain. The once brilliant eyes have lost their lustre, the once rosy
cheeks their fresh and glowing bloom. The young girl fades under
unnatural labor protracted far into the night. If she should fail to
toil thus, some infirm parent would go without food. The sick widow,
older in years, and farther travelled round the long circuit of human
sorrow, dares not indulge in the rest that is necessary even to life,
lest hungry children, as well as herself, should be even more severely
pinched by famine. No wonder that they knock at every door where a
little money may be had for a great amount of labor.

But it must be granted, that, if the employments to which American women
are compelled to resort are often severe, and less remunerative than
they ought to be, they are by no means so unsuited to the sex as some
which women are forced into in other countries. Only a few years ago
many thousands of females were working under-ground in the English
coal-mines. When laws were enacted to abolish this unsuitable
employment, they still continued to work at the mouth of the mine, and
are thus employed at this moment. They labor in the coke-works and
coal-pits; they receive the ores at the pit's mouth, and dress and sort
them. The hard nature of the employment may not be actually injurious to
health, yet it quite unsexes them. Their whole demeanor becomes as
coarse and rude as their degrading occupation. As they labor at men's
work, so they wear men's clothing. A stranger would feel sure that they
were men, and it would be by their conversation alone that he could
identify them as women. He would think it strange to hear persons
dressed like men conversing together about their husbands, unless he had
been informed who they were.

A celebrated English author speaks thus particularly of these unhappy
women:--"Some few months since, happening to be in Wigan, my attention
was directed to the, to me, unwonted spectacle of one of those female
colliers returning homewards from her daily labor. It was difficult to
believe that the unwomanly-looking being who passed before me was
actually a female; yet such was the case. Clad in coarse, greasy, and
patched fustian unmentionables and jacket, thick canvas shirt, great
heavy hob-nailed boots, her features completely begrimed with coal-dust,
her hard and horny hands carrying the spade, pick, drinking-tin, sieve,
and other paraphernalia of her occupation, her not irregular features
wearing a bold, defiant expression, and nothing womanly about her except
two or three latent evidences of feminine weakness, in the shape of a
coral necklace, a pair of glittering ear-rings, and a bonnet, which, as
regards shape, size, and color, strongly resembled the fan-tail hat of a
London coal-heaver,--she proceeded unabashed through the crowded
streets, no one appearing to regard the degrading spectacle as being
anything unusual."

Some work in the potteries at the laborious task of preparing the clay,
and others in the brick-yards, in open weather, and on the wet clay with
naked feet. At other times the same women are forced, by the nature of
their employment, to walk over hot pipes, obliging them to wear heavy
wooden shoes to protect their feet from being burned. Every stranger who
sees these women at their work is shocked at the impropriety and
dangerous nature of their occupation.

So far exceeding masculine strength and endurance are the tasks imposed
on thousands of English dairy-women, that they constitute a special
class of patients with the medical faculty,--pining and perishing under
maladies arising entirely from over-fatigue and insufficient rest.

There are multitudes of women in Liverpool who work daily on the farms
around that city. They walk four or five miles to the scene of their
toil, where they are required to be by six in the summer months and
seven in the winter. They work all day at the severest agricultural
labor, wielding a heavy, clumsy hoe, digging potatoes, grubbing up
stones from the soil, stooping on the ground in weeding, and compelled
even to the unfeminine and offensive employment of spreading manure. For
a day's work at what men alone should be required to do, they receive
but a shilling! Then, worn out with fatigue, having eaten little more
than the crust they brought with them,--for what more can be afforded by
one who earns only a shilling a day?--they drag themselves back at
nightfall over the increasingly weary miles which they traversed in the
morning. What comforts can fall to the lot of such? What a domestic life
must such unhappy creatures lead!

There are yet others, in that land which boasts of its high
civilization, who live by carrying to the city immense loads of sand for
sixpence a day,--harder work than carrying a hod. Other women may be
daily seen collecting fresh manure along the streets and docks of

In certain rooms of the great English cotton-mills, the high temperature
maintained there compels the women to work in a half-naked condition.
This constant exposure of one half the body speedily destroys all
feminine modesty. Added to this is an extreme, but unavoidable,
filthiness of person. These poor creatures part with their health almost
as quickly as with their modesty. They become hollow-cheeked and pale,
while their coarse laugh and gestures indicate a deep demoralization.

There are many English women engaged in the occupation of nail-making.
They work in glass-houses, glue-works, nursery-gardens, at ordinary
farm-work. On some of the canals they manage the boats, open the locks,
drive the horses, and sometimes even draw the boats with the line across
their shoulders. In short, wherever the lowest and dirtiest drudgery is
to be done, there they are almost invariably to be found. For wages,
they sometimes get tenpence a day, sometimes only sixpence. If they
perform overwork, they get a penny an hour,--a penny for the hauling of
a canal-boat for an hour! Here is poverty in its most abject condition,
and hard work in its most killing form. Their victims are necessarily
toilworn, degraded, and hopelessly immoral.

It is such extreme destitution that drives women to crime. In an English
paper-mill, where the girls worked at counting the sheets in a room by
themselves, and made good wages, they were all well-behaved and
respectable. In another department of the same mill, where the work was
dirty and the wages only a shilling a day, they were almost uniformly of
bad character. The base employment degraded them,--the starvation wages
demoralized them. Philanthropy has not been deaf to the cries of these
unhappy classes, and has made repeated and herculean efforts to improve
their condition and reform their morals. But the stumbling-block of
excessively low wages was always in the way. It was found, that, until
the physical condition was improved, the ordinary wants of life
supplied, the moral status was incapable of elevation.

I grant that no one item of this long catalogue of calamities has yet
overtaken the women of our own country. It would seem that the fact must
be, that in other lands the sex is not more degraded than it was
centuries ago, but that it has never been permitted to rise to its true
level. Once put down, it has always been kept down.

The contrast between the condition of women in foreign countries and
their condition here is too striking to be overlooked. We have our
hardships, our trials, our privations; but what are they to those of our
European sisters? If we get low wages, they are in most cases sufficient
to enable us to maintain a respectable position and a decent appearance.
If the influence of caste is felt among us, if by some it is considered
ungenteel to work, this prejudice is not of American growth, but was
transferred to our shores from the very people with whom woman is
degraded to the level of the brutes. The first settlers brought it with
them, and it has descended to us as an inheritance. While it is our
province to confront it, we should do so bravely.

But as yet, no woman here is compelled to engage in labor that involves
the necessity of dressing like a man. The law itself forbids such change
of dress; and when it was proposed, some years ago, to so alter our
costume as to make it half male and half female, not for working
purposes, but for mere personal convenience, the public sentiment of the
nation ridiculed and frowned it down. The other sex has been educated to
regard us with a respect and deference too sincere to permit these
foreign degradations to overtake us; while the spirit of independence
infused by the nature of our government, the unrestricted intercourse of
all classes with each other, and that robust training of thought which
it is impossible that any American woman should fail to receive, will
forever place us above the shocking contingencies to which the poor
laborious Englishwoman is exposed. If, in common with her, we are
compelled to work, our labor will keep us respectable, though it fail to
make us rich.

These are some of the compensations which fall to the lot of the
American working-woman. There are many others,--too many, indeed, to be
recited here. Chief among them is the respect and courtesy accorded to
us by all classes. A public insult to a well-behaved woman is never
heard of. We may travel unattended over the vast network of railroads
that traverse our country, and passenger and conductor will vie with
each other in paying us not only respect, but attention. The former
instinctively rises from his seat that we may be accommodated. It is the
same in all public places,--in the streets, in churches, and in places
of public entertainment. At table we are served first. In short, as we
respect ourselves, so will others respect us. The laws have been
modified in our favor. The property of a woman is her own, whether
married or single. It is subject to no invasion by her husband's
creditors, yet her dower in his estate remains good.

These are substantial concessions to our sex, and they are prime
essentials to personal comfort. For my part, I am content with them,
asking no other I have never slept uneasily because the law did not
permit me to vote or to become a candidate for office. The time was, as
I have heard, when women voted, all who were eighteen years old being
entitled to deposit their ballots. They mingled in the crowds about the
polls, and became as violently agitated by partisan excitements as the
men. Those who would have been quiet home bodies, had no such foolish
liberty been allowed them, became zealous politicians; while others, to
whom excitement of some kind was a necessity of life, turned to this,
and became so wild with political furor as to unsex themselves,--if
throwing aside all modesty be doing so. They carried placards in their
hands among the crowd to influence voters, distributed handbills and
tickets, entered into familiar conversation with total strangers, many
of them persons of infamous character, and pleaded and wrangled with
them to secure their votes. They obeyed literally the injunction of
modern political managers to "vote early,"--so many mere girls swearing
that they were of legal age, when they were in reality much younger,
that the singular statistical dislocation became apparent, that there
were no women in the country under eighteen years old. With so loose a
morality on this point, it cannot be doubted that the other injunction,
to "vote often," was as generally obeyed. I have no positive information
as to how the married women who thus devoted themselves to
electioneering managed their domestic concerns,--who prepared the
dinner, who rocked the cradle, who tended the baby,--or whether these
cards were thrust upon the husbands. History is silent on this subject;
but the more practical minds of the men of this generation can readily
conceive how inconvenient it would be for them to be transformed into
cooks and dry-nurses.

I have had no ambition to parade in Bloomer costume, or to be otherwise
eccentric, even where it happened to be more comfortable. Neither have I
figured as the chairman or secretary of a woman's convention, nor had my
name ringing through the newspapers as an impatient struggler after more
rights than I now possess. I do not think that I should be happier by
being permitted to vote, and am sure there is no office I can think of
that I would have for the asking. But I was never one of the
strong-minded of my sex. I know that there are such, and that even in
this noisy world they have made themselves heard. How attentively they
have been listened to I will not stop to inquire. I have always believed
that the truest self-respect lies, not in the exaction of questionable
prerogatives, but in seeking to attain that shining eminence to which
the common sentiment of our fellow-beings will concede honor and
admiration as its rightful due.

Yet the picture which represents the true condition of our working-women
has undeniably its harsh and melancholy features. It shows a daily,
constant struggle for adequate compensation. There is everywhere a
discrimination against them in the matter of wages, as compared with
those of men. It looks, in some cases, indeed, as if women were employed
only because they can be had at cheaper rates.

Probably the gay ladies covered with brilliants that flash out
accumulated lustre from the footlights of the theatres they nightly
visit have no suspicion that the delicate and graceful girls they see
upon the stage are victims of this same unjust discrimination as regards
compensation. I have never been inside a theatre, and know nothing of
the stage, or of the dancing-girls, except what I hear and read. But I
can readily imagine how beautiful these young creatures must appear,
dressed in light and graceful attire, bringing out by all the well-known
artifices of theatrical costume the most captivating charms of face and
figure. As they crowd upon the stage in tableaux, which without long and
toilsome rehearsal would become more confused and aimless groupings of
gayly dressed dancers, they take their appointed places, and with a
symmetrical unity repeat the graceful combinations of attitude and
movement they have so laboriously acquired in private. The crowded house
is electrified by the complicated, yet truly beautiful display. All is
fair and happy on the outside. No step in painful, no grief shows
itself, no consciousness of wrong appears, no face but is wreathed in
smiles. The show of perfect happiness is complete.

But do the crowd of rich men who occupy box and pit bestow a thought on
the domestic life of these young girls? Do their wives and daughters,
lolling on cushioned seats, clothed in purple and fine linen, and waited
on by a host of obsequious fops, ever think whether the dancing-girls
have a domestic life of any kind or not? They came to the theatre to be
amused,--not to meditate; why should they permit their amusement to be
clouded by a single thought as to whether any others but themselves are

Sometimes, in the evolutions of the dance, the gossamer dresses of these
ballet-girls are caught in the blaze of the footlights, instantly
enveloping them in fire, and burning them to a crisp,--and they are
borne from the theatre to the grave. Yet these girls, thus nightly
exposed to so frightful a death, are paid a third to a half less than
men employed in the same vocation, and who by dress are exempt from such
hazards. Moreover, the wardrobe of the men is furnished by the
theatrical manager,--while the girls, those even who receive but five
dollars a week, are compelled out of this slender sum to supply their
own. They must change it also at every caprice of fashion or of the
manager, sometimes at very short notice, and are expected, no matter how
heavy the heart or how light the purse, to come before the public the
impersonation of taste and elegance and happiness. A single dress will
at times consume the whole salary of a month; and to obtain it even at
that cost, the ballet-girl must work on it with her own hands day and
night. She must submit to these impositions, or give up her occupation,
when perhaps she can find nothing better to do.

The star-actor, the strutting luminary of the theatre, whether native or
imported,--he who receives the highest salary for the least work,--when
the performance is closed, unrobes himself and departs, with no care or
oversight of the drapery in which he charmed his audience. He leaves it
in the dressing-room,--it is the manager's tinsel, not his,--and the
owner may see to it or not. Not so the poor ballet-girl, whose elaborate
performances have been an indispensable feature of the evening's
entertainment. Her gossamer dress, her costly wreaths of flowers, her
nicely fitting slippers, are carefully packed up,--for they are her own,
her capital in trade, and must be taken care of. The well-paid actor
goes to the most fashionable restaurant, gorges himself with rich dishes
and costly wines, then seeks his bed to dream blissfully over his fat
salary and his luxurious supper. The ballet-girl takes up her solitary
walk for the humble home in which perhaps an infirm mother is anxiously
waiting her return, exposed to such libertine insults as the midnight
appearance of a young girl on the street is sure to invite. It is many
hours since she dined; she is fatigued and hungry, but she sups upon a
crust, or the cold remains of what was at best a meagre dinner, with
possibly a cup of tea, boiled by herself at midnight,--then goes wearily
to bed, and sleeps as well as one so hard-worked and so poorly paid may
be able to.

The gay crowds who spend their evenings at the theatres are permitted to
see but one side of this tableau. The curtain lifts upon the group of
smiling ballet-girls, but it never unveils their private life. The
theatre is intended to amuse, not to excite commiseration for the
realities of every-day life around us. Why should anything disagreeable
be allowed? If it sought to make people unhappy, it would soon become an
obsolete institution.

With all these impositions, actresses and ballet-girls are proverbially
more tractable than actors, less exacting, more uncomplaining, more
unfailingly prompt in their attendance and in the discharge of their
arduous duties. Why, then, are they subjected to such grinding
injustice, except because of their weakness? And who will wonder, that,
thus kept constantly poor, they should sometimes fall away from virtue?
Their profession surrounds them with temptations sufficiently numerous
and insidious; and when to these is added the crowning one of promised
relief from hopeless penury, shall Pity refuse a tear to the unhappy


    There is a picture in my brain
    That only fades to come again:
    The sunlight, through a veil of rain
          To leeward, gilding
    A narrow stretch of brown sea-sand;
    A light-house half a league from land;
    And two young lovers hand in hand

    Upon the budded apple-trees
    The robins sing by twos and threes,
    And even at the faintest breeze
          Down drops a blossom;
    And ever would that lover be
    The wind that robs the bourgeoned tree,
    And lifts the soft tress daintily
          On Beauty's bosom.

    Ah, graybeard, what a happy thing
    It was, when life was in its spring,
    To peep through Love's betrothal ring
          At Fields Elysian,
    To move and breathe in magic air,
    To think that all that seems is fair!--
    Ah, ripe young mouth and golden hair,
          Thou pretty vision!

    Well, well,--I think not on these two,
    But the old wound breaks out anew,
    And the old dream, as if 't were true,
          In my heart nestles;
    Then tears come welling to my eyes,
    For yonder, all in saintly guise,
    As 't were, a sweet dead woman lies
          Upon the trestles!


It is said that Lord Eldon, the typical conservative of his day, shed
tears of sincere regret on the abolition of the death-penalty for
five-shilling thefts. The unfortunate Lord Eldons of our own day must be
weeping in rivers. Slavery is dead, and the freedmen are its bequest.
Through a Red Sea which no one would have dared to contemplate, we have
attained to the Promised Land. By the sublimest revenge which history
has placed on record, we have returned good for evil, and have punished
those who wronged us by requiring them to cease from doing wrong. The
grand poetic justice by which Maryland, the first State to shed her
brothers' blood, has been the first to be transformed into a condition
of happy liberty, only symbolizes a like severity of kindness in store
for all. Five years of devastating war will have only rounded the
sublime cycle of retribution predicted so tersely by Whittier long

    "Have they chained our free-born men?
      Let us unchain theirs."

The time has come to put in practice that fine suggestion of the wise
foreign traveller, Von Raumer, which some of us may remember to have
read with almost hopeless incredulity twenty years ago. "The European
abolition of the dependent relations between men of one and the same
race was an easy matter, compared with the task which Americans have to
perform. But if, on the one part, this task carries with it many cares,
pains, and sufferings, on the other hand, the necessary instruction and
guardianship of the blacks, and their final reconciliation with the
whites, offer an employment so noble, influential, and sublime, that the
Americans should testify with awe and humility their gratitude to
Providence for intrusting them with this duty also, in addition to many
others of the greatest importance to the progress of the race. Were its
performance really impossible, it would not have been imposed."

In important periods, words are events; and history may be read in the
successive editions of a dictionary. The transition from the word "serf"
to the word "citizen" marked no European epoch more momentous than that
revealed by the changes in our American vocabulary since the war began.
In the newspapers, the speeches, the general orders, one finds, up to a
certain time, a certain class recognized only as "slaves." Suddenly the
slaves vanish from the page, and a race of "contrabands" takes their
place. After another interval, these, too, gradually disappear, and the
liberated beings are called "freedmen." The revolution is then virtually
accomplished; and nothing remains but to rectify the details, and drop
the _d_. When the freedmen are lost in the mass of freemen, then the
work will be absolutely complete; and the retrospect of its successive
stages will be matter for the antiquary alone.

Corresponding with these verbal milestones, one may notice successive
stages of public sentiment as to the class thus variously designated. It
was usually considered that the "slaves" were a vast and almost hopeless
mass of imbruted humanity. It was generally feared that the
"contrabands" would prove a race of helpless paupers, whose support
would bankrupt the nation. It is almost universally admitted that the
"freedmen" are industrious, intelligent, self-supporting, soldierly,
eager for knowledge, and far more easily managed than an equal number of
white refugees.

There is no doubt that these last developments were in some degree a
surprise to Abolitionists, as well as to pro-slavery prophets. They
compelled the admission, either that slavery was less demoralizing than
had been supposed, or else that this particular type of human nature was
less easy to demoralize. It is but a few years since anti-slavery
advocates indignantly rejected the assertion that the English peasantry
were more degraded than the slaves of South Carolina. Yet no dweller on
the Sea Islands can now read a book like Kay's "Social Condition of the
English People," without perceiving that the families around him,
however fresh from slavery, have the best of the comparison. In the one
class the finer instincts of humanity seem dead; in the lowest specimens
of the other those instincts are but sleeping. I have seen men and women
collected from the rice-fields by the hundred, at the very instant of
transition from slavery to freedom. They were starved, squalid, ragged,
and ignorant to the last degree; but I could not call them degraded, for
they had the instincts of courtesy and the profoundest religious
emotions. There was none of that hard, stolid, besotted dulness which
seems to reduce the English peasant below the level of the brutes he

And what is surprising, above all, in the freedman's condition, is, not
that it shows a recuperative power, but that it has such a wonderful
suddenness in the recoil. It is not a growth, but a spring. It reverses
the _nihil per saltum_ of the philosophers. In watching them, one is
constantly reminded of those trances produced by some violent blow upon
the head, from which the patient suddenly recovers with powers intact.
One looks for a gradual process, and beholds a sudden illumination. This
abates a little of one's wrath at slavery, perhaps, though the residuum
is quite sufficient; but it infinitely enhances one's hopes for the race
set free. It shows that they have simply risen to the stature of men,
and must be treated accordingly.

And, indeed, when one thinks how unexampled in our tame experience is
the event which has thus suddenly raised them from their low estate, one
must expect to find something unexampled in the result. This is true
even where liberty has come merely as a thing to be passively received;
but in many cases the personal share of the freedman has been anything
but passive. What can most of us know of the awful thrill which goes
through the soul of a man, when, having come over a hundred miles of
hourly danger out of slavery to our lines, with rifle-bullets whizzing
round him and bloodhounds on the trail behind, he counts that for a
preliminary trip only, and, having thus found the way, goes back through
that hundred miles of peril yet again, and brings away his wife and
child? As Hawthorne's artist flung his hopeless pencil into Niagara, so
all one's puny literary art seems utterly merged and swept away in the
magnificent flood of untaught eloquence with which some such nameless
man will pour out his tale. Two things seem worth recording, and no
third: the passionate emotions of the humblest negro, as they burst into
language at such a time,--and the very highest triumph of the very
greatest dramatic genius, if perchance some Shakespeare or Goethe could
imagine a kindred utterance. Anything intermediate must be worthless and

Now there is no doubt, that, under this great stimulus, the freedmen
will do their part; the anxious question is, whether we of the North are
ready to do ours. Our part consists not chiefly in money and old
clothes, nor even in school-books and teachers. The essential thing
which we need to give them is justice; for that must be the first demand
of every rational being. Give them justice, and they can dispense even
with our love. Give them the most exuberant and zealous love, and it may
only hurt them, if it leads us to subject them to fatal experiments, and
to fancy them exceptions to the universal laws.

Cochin well says,--"To have set men at liberty is not enough: it is
necessary to place them in society." That American emancipation should
be a success is more important to every one of us than the whole
sugar-crop of Louisiana or the whole rice-crop of Georgia. Secure this
result, and the future opens for this nation a larger horizon than the
most impassioned Fourth-of-July orator in the old times dared to draw.
Fail in this result, and the future holds endless disorders, with civil
war reappearing at the end. If, therefore, there be any general
principle to assert, any essential method to inculcate, its adoption is
the most essential statesmanship. Twenty millions of white men, with
ballots and school-houses, will be tolerably sure to thrive, whatever be
the legislation: legislation for them is secondary, because they are
assured in their own strength. But four millions of black men, just
freed, and as yet unprovided with any of these tools,--the fate of the
nation may hinge on a single error in legislating for them.

Now there are but two systems possible in dealing with an emancipated
people. All minor projects are modifications of these two. There is the
theory of preparation, under some form, and there is the theory of fair
play. Preparation is apprenticeship, prescription,--the bargains of the
freedman made for him, not by him. Fair play is to remove all
obstructions, including the previous monopoly of the soil,--to recognize
the freedman's right to all social and political guaranties, and then to
let him alone.

There is undoubtedly room for an honest division of opinion on this
fundamental matter, among persons equally sincere. Even among equally
well-informed persons there may be room for difference, although it will
hardly be denied that those who favor the theory of "preparation" are in
general those who take a rather low view of the capacities of the
emancipated race. The policy pursued in Louisiana, for instance, was
undoubtedly based at the outset, whatever other reasons have since been
adduced, on the theory that the freedmen would labor only under
compulsion. I have seen an elaborate argument, from a leading officer in
that Department, resting the whole theory on precisely this assumption.
"The negro, born and reared in ignorance, could not for years be taught
to properly understand and respect the obligations of a contract. His
ideas of freedom were merged in the fact that he was to be fed and
clothed and supported in idleness." Whatever excuses may since have been
devised for the system, this was its original postulate. To suppose it
true would be to reject the vast bulk of evidence already accumulated,
all demonstrating the freedmen's willingness to work. Yet if the
assumption be false, any system founded on it must be regarded by the
freedmen as an insult, and must fail, unless greatly modified.

In organizing emancipation, one great principle must be kept steadily in
mind. All men will better endure the total withholding of all their
rights than a system which concedes half and keeps back the other half.
This has been admirably elucidated by De Tocqueville in his "Ancien
Régime," in showing that the very prosperity of the reign of Louis XVI.
prepared the way for its overthrow. "The French found their position the
more insupportable, the better it became.... It often happens that a
people which has endured the most oppressive laws without complaint, and
as if it did not feel them, throws them off violently the instant the
burden is lightened,... and experience shows that the most dangerous
moment to a bad government is usually that in which it begins to mend.
The evil which one suffers patiently as inevitable seems insupportable
as soon as he conceives the idea of escaping it. All that is then taken
from abuses seems to uncover what remains, and render the feeling of it
more poignant. The evil has become less, it is true, but the sensibility
is keener."

Every one who is familiar with the freedmen knows that this could not be
a truer description of their case, if every word had been written
expressly for them. The most timid laborer on the remotest plantation
will not bear from his superintendent or his teacher the injustice he
bore from his master. The best-disciplined black soldier will not take
from his captain one half the tyranny which his overseer might safely
have inflicted. Freedom they understand; slavery they understand. When
they become soldiers, they know that part of their civil rights are to
be temporarily waived; and as soon as they can read, they study the
"Army Regulations," to make sure that they concede no more. Neither as
citizens nor as soldiers do they retain the faculty of dumb, dead
submission which sustains them through every conceivable wrong while
enslaved. Before a blow from his master the slave helplessly cowers, and
takes refuge in silent and inert despair. He draws his head into his
shell, like a turtle, and simply endures. Liberate him, he quits the
shell forever, and the naked palpitating tissue is left bare.
Afterwards, every touch reaches a nerve, and every nerve excites a whole
muscular system in reflex action.

I remember an amusing incident which took place while I was on picket at
Port Royal. Complaints began to come in against a certain neighboring
superintendent, an ex-clergyman, whose demeanor was certainly not
creditable to his cloth, but whose offences would have seemed slight
enough in the old plantation times. Still they were enough to exasperate
the people under his charge, and the ill feeling extended rapidly among
the black soldiers, many of whom had been slaves on that very island. At
last their captain felt it necessary to interfere. "Has it ever occurred
to you, my dear Sir," he one day asked the superintendent, "that you are
in some danger from these soldiers whom you meet every day with their
guns in the picket paths?"--The official colored and grew indignant. "Do
you mean to say, Sir, that your men are forming a conspiracy to murder
me?"--"By no means," returned the courteous captain. "I trust you will
find my soldiers too well disciplined for any such impropriety. But you
may not have noticed that the regiment has at present exceedingly poor
guns which often go off at half-cock, so that no one can be held
responsible. It was but the other day that one of our own officers was
shot dead by such an accident,"--which was unhappily true,--"and
consider, my dear Sir, how very painful"----"I understand you, I
understand you," interrupted the excited divine, putting spurs to his
horse. It was a remarkable coincidence that we never heard another
complaint from that plantation.

It was this new-born sensitiveness that brought to so sudden a close the
attempted apprenticeship of the British West Indies. Cochin, the wisest
recent critic, fully recognizes this connection of events. "Either the
regulations were incomplete, or the masters failed in their observance,
or such failures were not repressed, so that the slaves were in many
places maltreated and mutinous. In proportion as the moment of freedom
approached, some broke loose prematurely from their duties, others
aspired prematurely to their rights. Patience long delayed is easier
than patience whose end is approaching; it is at the last moment that
one grows weary of waiting."

The best preparation for freedom is freedom. It is of infinite
importance that we should avail ourselves of the new-born self-reliance
of the freedmen while its first vigor lasts, and guard against
sacrificing those generous aspirations which are the basis of all our
hope. It is not now doubted (except, perhaps, in Louisiana) that the
first eager desire of the emancipated slave is to own land and support
his own household. I remember that one of the ablest sergeants in the
First South Carolina Volunteers, when some of us tried to convince him
that the colored people attached too much importance to the mere
ownership of land, utterly refused all acquiescence in the criticism.
"We shall still be slaves," he said, in an impassioned way, "until eb'ry
man can raise him own bale ob cotton, and put him brand upon it, and
say, _Dis is mine_." And it was generally admitted in the Department of
the South, that the freedmen on Port Royal Island, who had mostly worked
for themselves, had made more decided progress, and were more fitted
for entire self-reliance, than those who had remained as laborers on the
plantations owned by Mr. Philbrick and his associates upon St. Helena
Island. Yet it would be impossible to try the system of tenant-industry
more judiciously than it was tried under those circumstances; and if
even that was found, on the whole, to retard the development of
self-reliance in the freedmen, what must it be where this is a part of a
great system of coercion, and where the mass of the employers are still
slaveholders at heart?

It is a fact of the greatest importance, that King Cotton turns out to
be a thorough citizen-king, and adapts himself very readily to changed
events. The great Southern staple can be raised by small cultivators as
easily as corn or potatoes; and difficulty begins only when sugar and
rice are to be produced. Yet it will not be long before these also will
come within reach of the freedmen, if they continue their present
tendency towards joint-stock operations. In the colored regiments of
South Carolina there are organizations owning plantations, saw-mills,
town-lots, and a grocery or two: they even meditate a steamboat. A few
of these associations no doubt will go to pieces, through fraud or
inexperience. Indeed, I knew of one which was nearly broken asunder by
the president's taking a fancy to send in his resignation: no other
member knew the meaning of that hard word, and they were disposed to
think it a declaration of hostilities from the presiding officer. But
even if such associations all fail, for the present, the training which
they give will be no failure; and when we consider that there are
already individuals among the freedmen who have by profitable ventures
laid up twenty or thirty thousand dollars within three years, it seems
no extravagant ambition for a joint-stock company to aim at a rice-mill.

The Sea Islands of South Carolina and Georgia, where, from the very
beginning, under the limited authority of General Saxton, the most
favorable results of emancipation have been attained, are now to be the
scene of a larger experiment, still under the same wise care. The
objections urged by General Butler, with his usual acuteness, against
some details of the project of General Sherman, must not blind us to its
real importance. Its implied exclusions can easily be modified; but the
rights which it vests in the freedmen are a substantial fact, which,
when once established, it will require a revolution to overthrow. The
locality fixed for the experiment is singularly favorable. There is no
region of the country where a staple crop can be grown so profitably by
small landholders. There is no agricultural region so defensible, in a
military aspect. So difficult is the navigation of the muddy
tide-streams which endlessly intersect these islands,--so narrow are the
connecting causeways,--so completely is every plantation surrounded and
subdivided by hedges, ditches, and earthworks, long since made for
agricultural purposes, and now most available for defence,--that nothing
this side of the famous military region of La Vendée (which this
district much resembles) can be more easily held by peasant proprietors.

The mere accidents of the war have often led to the experiment of
leaving small bodies of colored settlers, in such favorable localities,
to support and defend themselves. This was successfully done, for
instance, on Barnwell Island, a tract two or three miles square, which
lies between Port Royal Island and the main, in the direction of
Pocotaligo, and is the site of the Rhett Plantation, described in Mr. W.
H. Russell's letters. This region was entirely beyond our picket lines,
and was separated from them by a navigable stream, while from the Rebel
lines it was divided only by a narrow creek that would have been
fordable at low water, but for the depth of mud beneath and around it.
On this island a colony of a hundred or thereabouts dwelt, in peace,
with no resident white man, and only an occasional visit from their
superintendent. There were some twenty able-bodied settlers who did
picket duty every night, by a system of their own, and for many months
there was no alarm whatever,--the people raising their cotton and
supporting themselves. This went on, until, by a fatal error of
judgment, the men were all conscripted into the army. This was soon
discovered by the Rebels, who presently began to make raids upon the
island, so that ultimately the whole population had to be withdrawn.

Extend such settlements indefinitely, and we have the system adopted by
General Sherman. It is a system which, like every other practicable
method, must depend on military authority at last, and for which the
army should therefore be directly responsible. The main argument for
intrusting the care of the freedmen to a bureau of the War Department
is, that it must come to be controlled by that Department, at any rate,
and that it is best to have the responsibility rest where the power
lies. On conquered territory there can be but one authority, and no
conceivable ingenuity can construct any other system. If authority is
apparently divided, then either the military commander does not
understand his business, or he is hampered by impracticable orders and
should ask to be relieved. This is what has paralyzed the action of
every military governor, a title which implies a perfectly anomalous
function, certain to lead to trouble. Almost all the great good effected
by General Saxton has been achieved in spite of that function, not by
means of it; and it was not until he was placed in military command of
the post of Beaufort that he was able, even in that limited region, to
establish any satisfactory authority. All else that he did was by
sufferance, and often he could not even obtain sufferance.

While the war lasts, martial law must last. After martial law ceases,
civil institutions, whatever they may then be, must resume control. It
is therefore essential that all the rights of the freedmen should be put
upon a sure basis during the contest; but, whatever method be adopted,
the real control must inevitably rest with the War Department. It cannot
be transferred to civilians; nor is there reason to suppose it desirable
for the freedmen that it should. Whatever be the disorder resulting from
military command, it has the advantage of being more definite and
intelligible than civil mismanagement; there is always some one who can
be held responsible, and the offender is far more easily brought to
account. On this point I speak from personal experience. In South
Carolina I have seen outrages persistently practised among the freedmen
by civilians, for which a military officer could have been cashiered in
a month. I have oftener been appealed to for redress against civilians
than against officers or soldiers. I have been compelled to post
sentinels to keep superintendents away from their own plantations, to
prevent disturbance. I have been a member of a military commission which
sentenced to the pillory an eminent Sunday-school teacher who had been
convicted of the unlawful sale of whiskey,--and this in a community into
which the majority of the civilians had come with professedly benevolent

The truth is, that abuses, acts of oppression towards the freedmen, do
not proceed from mere antecedent prejudice in the army or anywhere else.
They proceed from the temptations of power, and from that impatience
which one is apt to restrain among his equals and to indulge among his
inferiors. The irritability of an Abolitionist may lead him to outrages
as great as those which spring from the selfishness of a mere soldier.
It is becoming almost proverbial, in colored regiments, that radical
anti-slavery men make the best and the worst officers: the best, because
of their higher motives and more elevated standard; the worst, because
they are often ungoverned, insubordinate, impatient, and will sometimes
venture on high-handed acts, under the fervor of their zeal, such as a
mere soldier would not venture to commit. Yet in an army such
aberrations, like all others, yield to discipline. But on a solitary
plantation the temptations and immunities of the slave-driver recur; and
I have seen men yield to these, who had safely passed the ordeal of
persecution and mobs at home.

It was thus, perhaps, that General Sherman and his advisers felt
justified in adopting the theory of absolute separation, on the Sea
Islands,--seeing that the companionship of Southern white men would be
an evil, and that of Northern men by no means an unmixed good. Yet it
seems altogether likely that the system is so far wrong, and will be
modified. Separation is better than "preparation," and is a good
antidote to it. It is better to assume the freedmen too self-reliant
than too feeble,--better to exclude white men than to give them the
monopoly of power. Nevertheless, the principle of exclusion is wrong,
though it is happily a wrong not fundamental to the system, and hence
easily corrected. If the people of any village desire to introduce a
white teacher, the prohibition would become an obvious outrage, which
hardly any administration would risk the odium of maintaining. The
injury, in a business point of view, done by separation would perhaps
strike deeper, and be harder to correct. Here, for instance, is the
flourishing negro village of Mitchellville, just outside of the
fortifications of Hilton Head. All that is produced in the numerous
garden-patches of the suburb is to be sold in the town; all the clothing
that is to be worn in the suburb must be obtained in exchange for the
garden-products. Yet, if newspaper correspondents tell truth, the
temporary commander of that post has taken it on himself to forbid white
men from trading in Mitchellville, or black men at Hilton Head. How,
then, is business to be transacted? Are the inhabitants of the town to
be allowed to come to the sally-port of the fortifications, hand out a
yard of ribbon and receive two eggs in return? If the entire exchanges
are to be intrusted to a few privileged favorites, black or white, then
another source of fraud is added to those which lately, in connection
with the recruiting bounties, have been brought to bear upon the
freedmen of that Department, and, if the truth be told, under the same
auspices from which this order proceeds. Be this as it may, it seems a
pity that these poor people, who are just learning what competition
means, and will walk five miles farther to a shop where dry goods are
retailed a little cheaper, should be checked and hampered in their
little commerce by an attempt to abolish all the laws of political
economy in their favor.

If the freedmen were a race like the Indians, wasting away by unseen
laws through the mere contact of the white man, the case would be very
different. Or if they were a timid and dependent race, needing to be
thrust roughly from the nest, like young birds, and made self-dependent,
the difference would be greater still. But it is not so. The negro race
fits into the white race, and thrives by its side; and the farther
South, the greater the thriving. The emancipated slave is also
self-relying, and, if fair play be once given, can hold his own against
his former master, whether in trade or in war. He is improvident while
in slavery, as is the Irishman in Ireland, because he has no opportunity
to be anything else. Shift the position, and the man changes with
it,--becoming, whether Irishman or negro, a shrewd economist, and rather
formidable at a bargain. Almost every freedman is cheated by a white man
once after his emancipation, and many twice; but when it comes to the
third bargain, it is observed that mere Anglo-Saxon blood is not
sufficient to secure a victory.

It is claimed that this principle of separation was adopted after
consultation with the leading colored men of Savannah, and that the only
dissenter was the Rev. James Lynch, a Northern colored man. But it also
turns out that Mr. Lynch was the only man among them who had ever seen
the experiment tried of the mingling of the races in a condition of
liberty. He is a man of marked energy and ability, and has been for two
years one of the most useful missionaries in the neighborhood of Port
Royal. Some weight is, no doubt, to be attached to the opinions of those
who had known white men only as masters; but we should not wholly ignore
the judgment of the only delegate who had met them on equal terms. In
restoring men from the trance of slavery, the instincts of the patient,
though doubtless an important fact, are not the only point to be
considered. It may be true, as Hippocrates said, that the second-best
remedy will succeed better than the best, if the patient likes it best.
But it is not safe to forget that those who have never known their
brother-men except in the light of oppressors may have some crude
notions on political economy which a milder experience might change. At
any rate, the more exclusive features of General Sherman's project may
be changed by a stroke of the pen; and so far as it tends to secure the
freedmen in permanent possession of the Sea Islands, it is almost an
unmingled good.

The truth is, that, in these changing days, none of these specific
"systems" are very important. "Separation" is interesting chiefly
because it is the last project reported; "preparation," because it was
the last but one. What is needed is not so much a "system" as the
settled resolution to do daily justice. Let any military commander
merely determine to treat the emancipated black population precisely as
he would treat a white population under the same circumstances,--to
encourage industry, schools, savings-banks, and all the rest, but not
interfere with any of them too much,--and he will have General Saxton's
method and his success. The question what to do with the soil is far
more embarrassing than what to do with the freedmen; and happily the
soil also can be let alone, and the freedmen will take care of that and
of themselves too. We must say to the cotton lords, as Horne Tooke said
to Lord Somebody in England,--"If, as you claim, power should follow
property, then we will take from you the property, and the power shall
follow." And fortunately for us, the same logic of events points to the
political enfranchisement of the black loyalists, as the only way to
prevent Congress from being replenished with plotting and disloyal men.
Fair play to them is thus fair play to all of us; and, like Tony
Lumpkin, in Goldsmith's comedy, if we are indifferent as to
disappointing those who depend upon us, we may at least be trusted not
to disappoint ourselves.

The lingering caste-institutions in the Free States,--as the exclusive
street-cars of Philadelphia, the separate schools of New York, the
special gallery reserved for colored people in Boston theatres,--must
inevitably pass away with the institution which they merely reflect. The
perfect acquiescence with which abolition of these things is regarded,
so soon as it takes effect, shows how little they are really sustained
by public opinion. These are local matters, mere corollaries, and will
settle themselves. They are not upheld by any conviction, and scarcely
even by prejudice, but by an impression in each citizen's mind that
there is some other citizen who is not prepared for the change. When it
comes to the point, it is found that everybody is perfectly prepared,
and that the objections were merely traditional. Who has ever heard of
so much as a petition to restore any of the unjust distinctions which
have thus been successively outgrown?

But in our vast national dealings with the freedmen, we still drift from
experiment to experiment, and adopt no settled purpose. Did this proceed
from the difficulty of wise solution, in so vast a problem, one could
blame it the less. But thus far the greatest want has been, not of
wisdom, but of fidelity,--not of constructive statesmanship, but rather
of pains to discern and of honesty to observe the humbler path of daily
justice. When we consider that the order which laid the basis for the
whole colored army--the "Instructions" of the Secretary of War to
Brigadier-General Saxton, dated August 25, 1862--was so carelessly
regarded by the War Department that it was not even placed on file, but
a copy had to be supplied, the year following, by the officer to whom it
was issued, it is obvious in what a hap-hazard way we have stumbled,
into the most momentous acts. A government that still repudiates a duty
so simple as the payment of arrears due under its own written pledges to
the South Carolina soldiers can hardly shelter itself behind the plea of
any complicated difficulties in its problem. Let us hope that the
freedmen, on their part, will be led by some guidance better than our
example: that they will not neglect their duties as their rights have
been neglected, and not wrong others as they have been wronged.


     _Autobiography, Correspondence, etc., of Lyman Beecher, D. D._
     Edited by CHARLES BEECHER. With Illustrations. In Two Volumes.
     New York. Harper & Brothers.

Reading this life of Dr. Beecher is like walking over an ancient
battle-field, silent and grass-grown, but ridged with graves, and
showing still by its conformation the disposition of the troops which
once struggled there in deadly contest,--and while we linger, lo! the
graves are graves no more. The dry bones come together,--sinew and flesh
form upon them,--the skin covers them about,--the breath enters into
them,--they live and stand upon their feet, an exceeding great and
mighty army. Drums beat, swords flash, and the war of the Titans rages
again around us.

The life of Dr. Beecher is closely inwoven with the ecclesiastical
history of New England. Ecclesiastical, like civil history, is chiefly a
military record; and through both these volumes a sound of battle is in
the land, and of great destruction. We who have fallen on comparatively
quiet days can hardly conceive the intensity and violence of the
excitement that glowed at our theological centres, and flamed out even
to their circumferences, when the great Unitarian controversy was at its
height,--when Park-Street Church alone of the Boston churches stood firm
in the ancient faith, and her site was popularly christened "Hell-Fire
Corner,"--when, later, the Hanover-Street Church was known as "Beecher's
Stone Jug" and the firemen refused to play upon the flames that were
destroying it. There were giants on the earth in those days, and they
wrestled in giant fashion.

All this conflict Dr. Beecher saw, and a large part of it he was. In
Connecticut he had drawn his sword against intemperance, "Toleration,"
and other forms of what he considered evil, and had been recognized as a
mighty man of valor in his generation; but it was in this Unitarian
controversy that he leaped to the battlements of Zion, sounded the alarm
through the land, and took his place henceforth as leader of the hosts
of the elect. "I had watched the whole progress," he says, "and read
with eagerness everything that came out on the subject. My mind had been
heating, heating, heating. Now I had a chance to strike." And strike he
did, blows rapid and vigorous, whose echoes ring even through these
silent pages. It was to him a real warfare. His speech ran naturally to
military phrase. He saw the foe coming in like a flood. "The enemy,
driven from the field by the immortal Edwards, have returned to the
charge, and now the battle is to be fought over again." "The time has at
length fully come to take hold of the Unitarian controversy by the
horns." "The enemies ... are collecting their energies and meditating a
comprehensive system of attack, which demands on our part a
corresponding concert of action." "Let the stand taken be had in
universal and everlasting remembrance, and we shall soon get the enemy
out of the camp." "Wake up, ministers, form conspiracies against error,
and scatter firebrands in the enemy's camp." "A schism in our ranks,
with the enemy before and behind us, would indeed be confusion in the
camp." "It is the moment to charge as Wellington did at Waterloo." "Will
Walker and his friends feel as if my gun was loaded deep enough for the
first shot, and will the Orthodox think I have done so far sufficient
execution?... As the game is out of sight, I must depend on those who
are near to tell me what are the effects of the first fire." "My sermons
on Depravity ... are point-blank shot."

Nor was the fight between Unitarian and Orthodox alone. Even within the
ranks of the faithful dissensions arose, and many a time and oft had Dr.
Beecher to defend himself against the charges, the insinuations, and the
suspicions of his brethren. To the eyes of the more cautious or the more
inert his adventurous feet seemed ever approaching the verge of heresy.
Just where original sin ceases to be original and becomes
acquired,--just where innate ill-desert meets voluntary
transgression,--just where moral government raises the standard of
rebellion against Absolutism,--just where New Haven theology branches
off from ultra Orthodoxy on the debatable ground, the border-land of
metaphysics and religion, Dr. Beecher and his brethren were engaged in
perpetual skirmishing.

It is not our province to decide or even to discuss the points at issue.
Uninitiated laymen may perhaps be pardoned for hearing in all this din
of battle but the echo of the Schoolmen's guns. Whether the two-year-old
baby who dashes his bread-and-butter on the floor, in wrath at the lack
of marmalade, does it because of a prevailing effectual tendency in his
nature, or in consequence of his federal alliance with Adam, or from a
previous surfeit of plum-cake, is a question which seems to bear a
general family likeness to the inquiry, whether there is such a thing as
generic bread-and-butter, or only such specific slices as arouse infant
ire and nourish infant tissue. But around both classes of questions
strife has waxed hot. Both have called out the utmost strength of the
ablest minds, and both, however finespun they may seem to the
uninstructed eye, have contributed in no small measure to the mental and
moral health of the world. But while we would not make so great a
mistake as to look with a supercilious smile either upon the conflict
between Nominalism and Realism or on that between the Old and the New
School theology, (notwithstanding we might find countenance in Dr. Pond
of Bangor, who writes to Dr. Beecher, "In Maine we do not sympathize
very deeply in your Presbyterian squabbles, except to look on and laugh
at you all!") it may be permitted us as laymen to confess a greater
interest in the phenomena than in the event of the struggle. We leave
it, therefore, to our ecclesiastical contemporaries to descend into the
arena and fight their battles o'er again, content ourselves to stand
without and give thanks for the Divine voice that rises above the clash
of contending creeds, saying alike to wise and foolish, "God so loved
the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth
in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."

Spite of all the truculence of his language, and through all his
strenuous thrust and parry, Dr. Beecher's sincerity, integrity, and
piety shine forth unclouded. Looking at this memorial in one aspect, he
seems to have assumed a charge which Mr. Lincoln has professed himself
unable to undertake, namely, to "run the churches." He evidently
believed that the Lord had committed to the clergy, of whom he was
chief, the building up of a great ecclesiastical edifice, whose
foundation should be laid in New England, but whose wings should
presently cover the whole land. Individual churches were the pillars of
this edifice. Now in Boston, now in New Haven, now at Cincinnati, he
watched its progress, noting a fault, praising an excellence, repairing
mistakes, strengthening weaknesses. It was the business and the delight
of his life. He had his agents throughout the country. The churches
might be many, but the cause was one. Ever watchful, ever active, he
spoke of his measures and his plans in just such terse, homely phrase as
any house-carpenter would use. Doubtless the fragile reverence of many a
clerical cumberer of the ground was shocked by his familiar use of their
sacred edge-tools. One can imagine the thrill of horror with which the
Reverend Cream Cheese, of the Church of the Holy (Self-) Assumption,
would hear the assertion, that "it was as finely organized a church as
ever trod shoe-leather." Our elegant Unitarian friends have probably
quite forgotten, and will hardly thank us for reminding them, that there
ever was a time when they "put mouth to ear, and hand to pocket, and
said, _St-boy!_" Our decorous Calvinistic D.D.s would scarcely recognize
their own dogmas at the inquiry-meeting, where "language of simplicity
came along, and they'd see me talking 'way down in language fit for
children.... And then the language of free agency and ability came along
... and they'd stick up their ears.... But next minute came along the
plea of morality and self-dependence, and I took them by the nape of the
neck and twisted their head off." There must have been great inertness
in New England at the time of his first visit to Boston, when "nobody
seemed to have an idea that there was anything but what God had locked
up and frozen from all eternity. The bottom of accountability had fallen
out. My first business was to put it in again." The coldness and
indifference of the Church, which ministers usually employ the vivid
language of the Bible regarding the ways of Zion to portray, he
described in the equally vivid, but less dignified New England
vernacular. "What did I do at Litchfield but to 'boost'? They all lay on
me, and moved very little, except as myself and God moved them. I spent
sixteen of the best years of my life at a dead lift in boosting." And we
greatly fear that the reverend seigniors in Synod and Presbytery,
notwithstanding their firm faith in Total Depravity, will be sadly
scandalized at hearing it announced, "That was a scampy concern, that
Old School General Assembly, and is still."

But he would make a great mistake who should infer, that, in thus busily
and energetically building up the temple, Dr. Beecher forgot the glory
of the Lord which was to dwell in it. He treated it, indeed, as a
business matter, but it was the business of immortal souls and of the
Most High God. No merely professional attachment bound him to it; there
was no contemplating it from a public and a private point of view; but
his whole inner and outer life was enlisted. Not only the religious
public, but, what is even more rare, his own family, were vitalized with
his spirit and drawn into his train. The doctrines that he preached from
the pulpit had been discussed over the woodpile in the cellar. His
public teachings had first been household words. The Epistles, death, a
preëxistent state, were talked over by the fireside. Theology took
precedence even of the baby in the family letters. One breath announces
that he could not find any trout at Guilford, and the next that he has
preached his sermon on Depravity. Catharine writes, that the house needs
paper and paint very much, father's afternoon sermon perfectly
electrified her, and his last article will make all smoke again. Harriet
records, with great inward exultation, that, on their Western journey,
father preached, and gave them the Taylorite heresy on Sin and Decrees
to the highest notch, and what was amusing, he established it from the
"Confession of Faith," and so it went high and dry above all objections,
and delighted his audience, who had never heard it christened heresy. He
sets forth to attend the Synod, accompanied by his son Henry, with one
rein in the right hand, and one in the left, and an apple in each,
biting them alternately, and alternately telling Tom how to get the
harness mended, and showing Henry the true doctrine of Original Sin. His
fatherly heart yearned over his children; with voice and pen and a
constant watchful tenderness, he knew no rest till the whole eleven had
adopted the faith for which he so earnestly contended. The genius of
Napoleon elicited almost a personal affection, and he read every memoir
from St. Helena with the earnest desire of shaping out of those last
conversations some hope for his future. He mourned for Byron as for a
friend, lamenting sorely that wasted life, and was sure, that, if Byron
"could only have talked with Taylor and me, it might have got him out of
his troubles." Indeed, he evidently considered "Taylor and me," not to
say me and Taylor, the two pillars of Orthodoxy,--in no wise from
vanity, but in the simplicity of truth. He spoke of his own feats with
an openness that could proceed only from a guileless heart. The work of
the Lord was the one thing that absorbed him, to the oblivion of all
lesser interests. He was as absolutely free from vanity on the one side
as from envy on the other. Lyman Beecher as Lyman Beecher had no
existence. Lyman Beecher as God's servant was the verity. He rejoiced in
the prosperity of the sacred cause: if it was Beecher's hand that
furthered it, he exulted; if another than Beecher's, it was all the
same. There was no room in his mind for any petty personal jealousy. He
stood in nobody's way. He enjoyed every man's success. So the building
rose, it was of small moment who wielded the hammer. Ever on the watch
for indications of the mind and will of God, it was from zeal, not
ambition, that he waited for no precedence, but pushed through the
opened door, opened it never so narrowly. In doubt as to what is the
true meaning of some "providence," he advises "to take hold of the end
of the rope that is put into your hand, and pull it till we see what is
on the other end."

Yet, with all his electric enthusiasm, he was wise in his generation
and beyond his generation, and in some respects beyond our own. He
watched for souls as one that must give account. He adapted means to
ends. He was careful not by fierce opposition to push doubt into error.
When a drunkard died, he remembered that "his mother was an habitual
drinker, and he was nursed on milk-punch, and the thirst was in his
constitution"; so he hoped "that God saw it was a constitutional
infirmity, like any other disease." He reduced the dogma of Total
Depravity to the simple proposition, "that men by nature do not love God
supremely, and their neighbor as themselves." He stoutly resisted the
attempt to overawe belief, either his own or another's. He refused to
expend his strength in contending with the friends of Christ, when there
was so much to be done against his foes. Yet he was as far as possible
from that narrow sectarianism, which sees no evil in its own ranks and
no good in those of its adversaries. He denounced the faults of the
Orthodox as heartily as those of the Unitarians. Standing in the
forefront of Calvinism, he did not hesitate to say, "It is my deliberate
opinion that the false philosophy which has been employed for the
exposition of the Calvinistic system has done more to obstruct the march
of Christianity, and to paralyze the saving power of the Gospel, and to
raise up and organize around the Church the unnumbered multitude to
behold and wonder and despise and perish, than all other causes
beside.... Who of us are to suffer the loss of the most wood and hay by
the process [of purging out this false philosophy] I cannot tell; but
all mine is at the Lord's service at any time; and if all which is in
New England should be brought out and laid in one pile, I think it would
make a great bonfire."

Unfortunately, there was something worse in the Church than false
philosophy, unless this book very grievously falsifies facts. Her
bitterest foe would hardly dare charge upon Zion such iniquity as the
friendly unbosoming in these pages reveals. Wily intrigue, reckless
perversion of language, rule or ruin, such things as we regret to see
even in a political caucus, are to be found in abundance in the counsels
of men who profess to be working only for the glory of God and the good
of souls. Insinuations of craft and cowardice are set on foot, where
direct charges fail for want of evidence. Rumor is made to do the work
which reason cannot accomplish. Private letters are surreptitiously
published, the publication defended as done with the permission of the
writer, and testimony to the contrary refused a hearing. Extracts are
taken out of their connection and made to carry a different meaning from
that which they originally bore. What cannot be put down by evidence is
to be put down by odium. There is a "cool and deliberate determination
on the part of one half the Presbyterian Church to inflict upon the
other half all the injury possible." Dr. Beecher's son, himself a
prominent clergyman, is forced to confess, that, "for a combination of
meanness and guilt and demoralising power in equal degrees of intensity,
I have never known anything to exceed the conspiracy in New England and
in the Presbyterian Church to crush by open falsehood and secret
whisperings my father and others, whom they have in vain tried to
silence by argument or to condemn in the courts of the Church." And yet,
as Dr. Beecher stands forth in this biography, in native honor clad, so,
undoubtedly, does Brother Nettleton stand forth in his biography, and
Brother Woods in his, and Brother Wilson in his, and all the brethren in
theirs,--all honorable men. We venture to say that not one of these
reverend traducers and mischief-makers was "dealt with" by his church
for his evil-doing. We make no doubt he went through life without loss
of prestige or diminution of sanctity, and was bewailed at his death by
the sons of the prophets in tenderest phrase, "My father! my father! the
chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof."

We do not attribute these shameful proceedings to Orthodoxy, still less
to Christianity. "Perhaps it is a fact of our fallen nature, as Dr.
Beecher asserted, that "Adam and grace will do twice as much as grace
alone." But surely all these things happened unto them for ensamples,
and they are written for our admonition. Seeing how unlovely is the
spectacle of bickering and bitterness, let Christians of every name look
well to their steps, saying often one to another, and especially
repeating in concert, at the opening of every council, conference,
synod, and assembly,--

    "Let dogs delight to bark and bite,
      For God hath made them so;
    Let bears and lions growl and fight,
      For 't is their nature, too.

    "But bretheren, we will never let
      Our angry passions rise:
    Our little hands were never made
      To tear each other's eyes."

This biography, as the title-page asserts, is edited rather than
written. By familiar talk and private letters, the subject is made, as
far as possible, to tell his own story. What remains is supplied by the
pens of different members of the family and of old friends. The result
is a composite, the connections of whose parts we do not always readily
discern. But what the book lacks in coherence is more than made up in
accuracy and vividness. We obtain, by glimpses of the man, a far more
exact knowledge of his character and work than we should by ever so
steady a contemplation of some other man's symmetrical rendering of his
life. We feel the beating of his great, fiery heart. We delight in his
large, loving nature. We partake in his honest indignation. We smile,
sometimes not without tears, at his childlike simplicity. We sit around
the household hearth, join in the theological disputation, and share the
naïve satisfaction of the whole Beecher family with themselves and each
other. We see how it was that the father set them all a-spinning each in
his own groove, but all bearing the unmistakable Beecher stamp. We feel
his irresistible energy, his burning zeal, his magnetic force yet
thrilling through the land and arousing every sluggish power to come to
the help of the Lord-against the mighty. For such a life there is indeed
no death.

     _Engineer and Artillery Operations against the Defences of
     Charleston Harbor in 1863._ Comprising the Descent upon Morris
     Island, the Demolition of Fort Sumter, the Reduction of Forts
     Wagner and Gregg. With Observations on Heavy Ordnance,
     Fortifications, etc. By L. A. GILLMORE, Major of Engineers,
     Major-General of Volunteers, and Commanding General of the Land
     Forces engaged. Published by Authority. New York: D. Van

Just after Major-General Hunter was removed--or, as the delicate
military phrase went, "temporarily relieved"--from the command of the
Department of the South, there was a report current in those parts of a
conversation, perhaps imaginary, between President Lincoln and the
relieved General, on his arrival at Washington. The gossip ran, that on
General Hunter's inquiring the cause of his removal, the good-natured
President could only say that "Horace Greeley said he had found a man
who could _do the job_." The job was the taking of Charleston, and the
"coming man" was Brigadier-General (now Major-General) Gillmore. The
so-called "siege of Charleston," after being the nine-days'-wonder of
two continents, dwindled to a mere daily item in the dingy newspapers of
that defiant city,--an item contemptuously sandwiched between the
meteorological record and the deaths and marriages. The "coming man"
came and went, being in his turn "temporarily relieved," and consigned
to that obscurity which is the Nemesis of major-generals. He is more
fortunate, however, than some of his compeers, in experiencing almost at
once the double resurrection of autobiography and reappointment. Whether
his new career be more or less successful than the old one, the
autobiography is at least worth printing, so far as it goes. Had an
instalment of it appeared when the siege of Charleston was at its
height, it would have been translated into a dozen European languages,
and would have been read more eagerly in London and Paris than even in
Washington. Even now it will be read with interest, and with respect to
rifled ordnance will be a permanent authority.

The total impression left behind by General Gillmore, in his former
career in the Department of the South, was that of an unwearied worker
and an admirable engineer officer. Military gifts are apt to be
specific, and a specialist seldom gains reputation in the end by being
raised to those elevated posts which require a combination of faculties.
If the object of General Gillmore's original appointment was to silence
Fort Sumter and to throw shell into Charleston, he was undoubtedly the
man who could "do the job." If the aim was to take Charleston with a
small military force, or even a large one, the wisdom of the choice was
less clear. If the intent was to govern an important Department, without
reference to further conquests,--to regulate trade, organize industry,
free the slaves, educate the freedmen,--then the selection was still
more doubtful. For this sphere of action, which had seemed so important
to Mitchell and to Hunter, was foreign to Gillmore's whole habits and
temperament, and he never could galvanize himself into caring for it.
His strong point, after all, was in dealing with metal rather than with
men, white or black. And as (since the disaster at Olustee) he can
hardly be charged with any squeamish unwillingness to throw upon others
the chief responsibility of any seeming failures of his own, it is
perhaps fortunate that in this book he is able to keep chiefly upon the
ground where he is strongest.

Yet, after all, the work is historical as well as scientific. And there
is in it such a mingling of great questions of philanthropy with mere
questions of grooving, and black soldiers jostle so inextricably with
black guns, that the common reader and the mere student of human nature
will find an interest in the book, as well as that intelligent lady of
our acquaintance, who, having heard of the brilliant ornithology of the
tropics, was eager to read about the hundred-pound "Parrotts" of South

As to the guns, the contributions of this superbly illustrated volume
are of the very greatest value. Nothing in print equals it, except Mr.
Holley's recent great treatise, some of whose tables are here also
employed by permission. Here we find the most authentic statements, both
as to the work done by the large rifled guns, and as to that trick of
bursting which is their gravest weakness. But for this, the heavy
ordnance of Parrott would be a magnificent success. And when we consider
that six two-hundred pounders and seventeen one-hundred pounders were
burst during the siege of Charleston, as recorded in this volume,--that
five one-hundred pounders are said to have been burst in a single week
on Morris Island at a later period, and that Admiral Porter reports six
similar instances during the first attack on Fort Fisher,--it was
certainly worth while in the publisher of this work, with his usual
liberality, to devote a long series of admirable plates, prepared under
the direction of Captain Mordecai, to the details of these dangerous

It is generally admitted that the smaller "Parrott" guns, including the
thirty pounders, approach very near perfection. The large calibres have
precisely the same merits, as respects range, accuracy, and simplicity
of construction and manipulation. This their work against Fort Sumter
shows. But the deficiency of endurance belongs to the large guns alone;
since the smaller, after an immense amount of service, have shown no
sort of weakness. Yet, if the principle be correct, on which the latter
are strengthened, there seems no reason why the same degree of endurance
may not yet be secured for the larger. It is simply a mechanical
problem, whose solution cannot be far off.

The guns have burst both longitudinally and laterally, and in quite a
variety of position and service. General Turner's suggestion, that an
important secondary cause of bursting is the presence of sand within the
bore, among the ever-blowing sand-hills of the Sea Islands, seems
justified by the fact that in the naval service the accidents have been
far less frequent,--a thing in all respects fortunate, by the way, as
such explosions on board ship involve far greater sacrifice of life than
on land. Another secondary cause is the premature explosion of shell
within the bore, a defect which should be also remediable. Indeed, the
"Parrott" shell were at first notoriously defective, often bursting too
soon or not at all, and thus losing much of their usefulness; though
this defect has now been, in a great degree, remedied. The discussion of
the whole subject in this book seems reasonable and unprejudiced, and a
letter from the maker of the guns, at the end, gives with equal candor
his side of the question.

General Gillmore's narrative of his military operations is exceedingly
interesting, and generally clear and simple. The descent upon Morris
Island from Folly Island was undoubtedly one of the most skilful
achievements of the war. Under the superintendence of Brigadier-General
Vogdes, forty-seven pieces of artillery, with two hundred rounds of
ammunition for each gun, and provided with suitable parapets,
splinter-proof shelters, and magazines, were placed in position, by
night, within speaking distance of the enemy's pickets, and within view
of their observatories. And yet all this immense piece of work was done
with such profound secrecy, that, when the first shot from these
batteries fell among the enemy, it astounded them as if it had come from
the planet Jupiter. At the time, this brilliant success was merged in
the greater prospective brilliancy of the expected results. Now that the
results have failed to follow, we can perhaps do more justice to the
remarkable skill displayed in the preliminary movements.

So far as this report is concerned, General Gillmore shows no
disposition to do injustice to other officers. In reprinting the daily
correspondence with Admiral Dahlgren it might have been better to omit
or explain some hasty expressions of censure,--as where a young naval
lieutenant is charged (on page 333) with defeating an important measure
by acting without orders, though the fact was, that the officer was not
under General Gillmore's orders at all, and simply followed the
instructions of his immediate commander. But in dealing with officers of
higher rank he is more discreet, and his implied criticisms on Admiral
Dahlgren are not so severe as might have been expected. They are not
nearly so sharp as those which were constantly heard, during the siege,
from the officers of the navy; and the Admiral's telegraphic note on
page 327, "My chief pilot informs me a gale is coming on, and I am
coming into the creek," was the source of very unpardonable levity on
board some of the gun-boats.

In the few passages relating to the colored troops, in the main report,
the author shows evident pains in the statement, with rather
unsatisfactory results. The style suggests rather the adroitness of the
politician than the frankness of the soldier. This is the case, for
instance, in his narrative of the unsuccessful assault upon Fort Wagner,
where he uses language which would convey the impression, to nine
readers out of ten, that it was somehow a reproach to the Fifty-Fourth
Massachusetts that it was thrown into disorder, and that this disorder
checked the progress of the rest. Of course this was so,--because it led
the charge. It is not usual to say, in preparing a very brief narrative
of some railway collision, that the leading car "was thrown into a state
of great disorder, which reacted unfavorably upon, and delayed the
progress of, those which followed." Yet it is hardly less absurd to say
it of the leading battalion in a night attack on a fortress almost
impregnable. The leading car takes the brunt of the shock precisely
because it is in that position, and so does the leading regiment. How
well the Fifty-Fourth Massachusetts bore the test is recognized by its
being apparently included in the final admission, that "the behavior of
the troops, under the circumstances, was unexceptionable." But a
fractional share in a line and a half of rather chilly praise is hardly
an equivalent for three lines of implied individual censure. Had
Brigadier-General Strong lived to tell the story of that night, it would
have been stated less diplomatically than by Major-General Gillmore.

The report of Major Brooks on the working qualities of the colored
troops is far more discriminating and more valuable, as are the appended
statements of Captain Walker and Lieutenant Farrand. Major Brooks, as
chief of engineering, sent circulars to six different officers who had
superintended fatigue parties in the trenches, covering inquiries on
five points relating to efficiency and courage. The report may be found
at page 259 of the book, constituting Appendix XIX. (misprinted XIV.) to
the Journal of Major Brooks.

The statement is probably as fair as the facts in the compiler's
possession could make it; yet it is seriously vitiated by the scantiness
of those facts. In answer to one question, for example, we are told that
"all agree that the colored troops recruited from Free States are
superior to those recruited from Slave States." But only two regiments
of the latter class appear to have come under Major Brooks's observation
at all. One of these was a perfectly raw regiment, which had never had a
day's drill when it was placed in the trenches, but which was kept
constantly at work there, although an order had been issued forbidding
white recruits from being so employed. The other was a regiment composed
chiefly of South Carolina _conscripts_, enlisted in utter disregard of
pledges previously given, and of course unwilling soldiers. It was
absurd to institute a comparison between these troops and a regiment so
well trained and officered as the Fifty-Fourth Massachusetts. Longer
experience has shown that there is no great choice between the Northern
and Southern negro, as military material; and the preferences of an
officer will usually depend upon which he has been accustomed to
command. Many, certainly, are firm in the conviction that the freed
slave makes the best soldier.

In other points the report carries with it some of the needful
corrections, at least for a careful reader. For instance, Major Brooks's
general summary is, that "the black is more timorous than the white, but
is in a corresponding degree more docile and obedient, hence more
completely under the control of his commander, and much more influenced
by his example." But when we read on the previous page that the white
soldiers were allowed to take their arms into the trenches, and that the
black soldiers were not, it makes the whole comparison nearly worthless.
It is notorious that the presence or absence of manhood in the bravest
soldier often seems to be determined by the mere fact that he has a gun
in his hand; and had the object been to annihilate all vestige of
military pride in the colored troops, it could not have been better
planned than by this and other distinctions maintained during a large
part of the siege of Charleston. That, while smarting under the double
deprivation both of a soldier's duty and of a soldier's pay, they should
have so behaved as to merit a report so favorable as that of Major
Brooks, is one of the greatest triumphs they have yet achieved. This
volume contains the record of what they did. The story of what they
underwent is yet to be told; for even of his two famous "orders" General
Gillmore judiciously makes no mention here.

Thus mingled, in this superb work, are the points of strength and
weakness. It remains only to add that the typographical and artistic
execution is an honor to our literature, and adds to the laurels
previously won in the same department by the publisher. Where all else
is so admirable, it seems a pity to have to lament the absence of an
index. The division of the work among several different authors makes
this defect peculiarly inconvenient.

     _General Todleben's History of the Defence of Sebastopol,
     1854-5._ A Review. By WILLIAM HOWARD RUSSELL. New York: D. Van

It does not yet appear whether our great civil war will leave behind it
materials for debate as acrimonious as that which has gathered round the
affair in the Crimea. If General Butler and Admiral Porter live and
thrive, there seems a fair chance that it may. In that case it will be
interesting to read how General Todleben, in a parallel case,
substitutes the Russian bear for the monkey in the fable, pats each
combatant on the shoulder, and presents each with a shell, while
extracting for himself the oyster.

Mr. Russell's "Review" is rather a paraphrase and a condensation,--the
original work of the Russian General being too costly even for the
English market. The task of the English editor is done with his usual
spirit, and with all the more zest from an evident enjoyment of finding
Mr. Kinglake in the wrong. Between his sympathies as a Briton and his
sympathies as a literary man there is sometimes a struggle. But we
Americans can do more justice to Mr. Russell than in those days of
national innocence when we knew not Mackay and Gallenga and Sala; and it
must be admitted that the tone of the present book is manly and

Kinglake's description of the Battle of the Alma will always remain as
one of the masterpieces of literature in its way; but it is noticeable
that Todleben entirely ignores some of the historian's most dramatic
effects, and also knocks away much of his underpinning by demolishing
the reputation of General Kiriakoff, his favorite Russian witness.
Kinglake says that Eupatoria was occupied by a small body of English
troops, and tells a good story about it: Todleben declares that the
Allies occupied it with more than three thousand men and eight
field-guns. Kinglake represents Lord Raglan as forcing the French
officers, with great difficulty, to disembark the troops at a spot of
his own selection: Todleben gives to Canrobert and Martinprey the whole
credit of the final choice and of all the arrangements. And so on.

On the side of the Russians, the most interesting points brought out by
Todleben are their fearful disadvantage as regarded the armament of the
infantry, (these being decimated by the rifles of the Allies long before
the Russians were near enough to use their smooth-bores,) and the
popular enthusiasm inspired by the war in Russia. "The Czar was aided by
the spontaneous contributions of his people. Great supplies were
forwarded by private individuals of all that an army could need." "From
all parts of the empire persons sent lint, bandages, etc., by post to
the army." These are phrases which bring us back to the daily experience
of our own vaster struggle.

As respects the Allies, Todleben uniformly credits the French army with
more of every military quality than the English, save personal courage
alone. From the commanding general to the lowest private, every
technical detail of duty seems to have been better done by the French.
At the height of the siege, it became "a war of sorties" on the part of
the Russians, and Todleben says,--"_Apropos_ of those sorties, it is
indispensable to make the remark here, that the French guarded their
trenches with much more vigilance, and defended them with incomparably
more tenacity, than the English. It frequently happened that our
volunteers approached the English trenches without being perceived, and
without even firing a single shot, and found the soldiers of the guard
sitting in the trench in the most perfect security, far from their
firelocks, which were stacked in piles. With the French, matters were
quite different. They were always on the _qui vive_, so that it rarely
happened we were able to get near them without having been remarked, and
without having to receive beforehand a sharp fire of musketry."

This, however, as Russell remarks, was when the English army was at its
lowest condition of neglect; but that simply transfers the indictment to
another count. And it is interesting to observe, that Russell's claim
for the English army and Todleben's claim for the Russian army come at
last to about the same point, namely, that the individual soldier is in
each case tough and resolute to the last degree. But this is only the
beginning of the merits of the French array, which to individual courage
superadds all that organization can attain.

As to the poor Turks, they are dismissed with much the same epitaph
which might long since have been written for our colored troops, if some
of our Department commanders had been suffered to have their way:--"As
to the Turks, the Allies despised them, and the English used them as
beasts of burden; in short, they lost three hundred men a day, till they
almost perished out, and the remains of their army were sent away."

In view of the grander issues of our own pending contest, with its
vaster scale of munitions and of men, one cannot always feel the due
interest in successive pages about battles like "Little Inkermann,"
where the total of Russian killed and wounded comprised twenty-five
officers and two hundred and forty-five men. But it is not numbers which
make a contest memorable. Even the mere contemplation of the Crimean War
had an appreciable influence on the military training of the American
people; and the clear narratives of Todleben, written "in his usual
elaborate engineering way, in which every word is used like a gabion,"
form a good sequel to that unconscious instruction.

     _Vanity Fair._ A Novel without a Hero. By WILLIAM MAKEPEACE
     THACKERAY. With Illustrations by the Author. New York: Harper &
     Brothers. 3 vols. 12mo.

In the novels of Thackeray, essay is so much mixed up with narrative,
and comment with characterization, that they can hardly be thoroughly
appreciated in poor editions. The temptation to skip is almost
irresistible, when wisdom can be purchased only at the expense of
eyesight. We are therefore glad to welcome the commencement of a new
edition of his writings, over whose pages the reader can linger at his
pleasure, and quietly enjoy subtilties of humor and observation which in
previous perusals he overlooked. The present volumes, published by the
Harpers, are among the most tasteful and comely products of the
Cambridge University Press. Printed in large type on tinted paper,
elegantly bound in green cloth, and with a fac-simile of the author's
autograph on the cover, every copy has the appearance of being a
presentation copy. No English edition of "Vanity Fair" is equal to this
American one in respect either to convenience of form or beauty of
mechanical execution. The illustrations are numerous, well engraved, and
embody the writer's own conceptions of his scenes and characters, and
are often deliciously humorous.

"Vanity Fair," though it does not include the whole extent of
Thackeray's genius, is the most vigorous exhibition of its leading
characteristics. In freshness of feeling, elasticity of movement, and
unity of aim, it is favorably distinguished from its successors, which
too often give the impression of being composed of successive
accumulations of incidents and persons, that drift into the story on no
principle of artistic selection and combination. The style, while it has
the raciness of individual peculiarity and the careless ease of familiar
gossip, is as clear, pure, and flexible as if its sentences had been
subjected to repeated revision, and every pebble which obstructed its
lucid and limpid flow had been laboriously removed. The characterization
is almost perfect of its kind. Becky Sharp, the Marquis of Steyne, Sir
Pitt Crawley and the whole Crawley family, Amelia, the Osbornes, Major
Dobbin, not to mention others, are as well known to most cultivated
people as their most intimate acquaintances in the Vanity Fair of the
actual world. It has always seemed to us that Mr. Osborne, the father of
George, a representation of the most hateful phase of English character,
is one of the most vividly true and life-like of all the delineations in
the book, and more of a typical personage than even Becky or the Marquis
of Steyne. Thackeray's theory of characterization proceeds generally on
the assumption that the acts of men and women are directed not by
principle, but by instincts, selfish or amiable,--that toleration for
human weakness is possible only by lowering the standard of human
capacity and obligation,--and that the preliminary condition of an
accurate knowledge of human character is distrust of ideals and
repudiation of patterns. This view is narrow, and by no means covers
all the facts of history and human life, but what relative truth it has
is splendidly illustrated in "Vanity Fair." There is not a person in the
book who excites the reader's respect, and not one who fails to excite
his interest. The morbid quickness of the author's perceptions of the
selfish element, even in his few amiable characters, is a constant
source of surprise. The novel not only has no hero, but implies the
non-existence of heroism. Yet the fascination of the book is
indisputable, and it is due to a variety of causes besides its mere
exhibition of the worldly side of life. Among these, the perfect
intellectual honesty of the writer, the sad or satirical sincerity with
which he gives in his evidence against human nature, is the most
prominent. With all his lightness of manner, he is essentially a witness
under oath, and testifies only to what he is confident he knows. Perhaps
this quality, rare not only in novel-writing, but in all writing, would
not compensate for the limitation of his perceptions and the
repulsiveness of much that he perceives, were it not for the peculiar
charm of his representation. It is here that the individuality of the
man appears, and it presents a combination of sentiments and powers more
original perhaps than the matter of his works. Take from "Vanity Fair"
that special element of interest which comes from Thackeray's own
nature, and it would lose the greater portion of its fascination. It is
not so much what is done, as the way in which it is done, that surprises
and delights; and the manner is always inimitable, even when the matter
is common.

     _Seaside and Fireside Fairies._ Translated from the German of
     George Blum and Louis Wahl. By A. L. WISTAR. Philadelphia:
     Ashmead & Evans.

These pretty fairy stories peep at us out of German-land through a
pleasant, clear translation, and they remind us how easily the
supernatural and loves to dwell in airborn castles. The beautiful
instinct of reverence common to child-life is readily taken advantage of
by writers for the young; but where in England we find in stories some
angel-mother who discovers the treachery of her governess and teaches
her own children, or a rotund uncle who tips the boys, providentially,
as it seems, in Germany the protectors of children possess no nearer
abode than the land of Fairy, and their presence is as rare as that of
the Indian "Vanishers." Perhaps, even among American children, the tales
which approximate more nearly to their experience hold the strongest
attractive power; yet, in the wide range of the commingled races of the
United States, there must be many children who long for stories of that
dear Dream-land familiar to their thoughts, and to whom these stories
would be a happy era in childhood's experience.


Lectures on the Science of Language, delivered at the Royal Institution
of Great Britain, in February, March, April, and May, 1863. By Max
Müller, Fellow of All-Souls College, Oxford; Correspondent de l'Institut
de France. Second Series. With Thirty-One Illustrations. New York. C.
Scribner. 12mo. pp. 622. $3.00.

Meditations on the Essence of Christianity, and on the Religious
Questions of the Day. By M. Guizot. Translated from the French, under
the Superintendence of the Author. New York. C. Scribner. 12mo. pp. 356.

The Beautiful Widow. By Mrs. Percy B. Shelley. Philadelphia. T. B.
Peterson & Brothers. 12mo. pp. 244. $2.00.

The Differential Calculus: with Unusual and Particular Analysis of its
Elementary Principles, and Copious Illustrations of its Practical
Application. By John Spare, A. M., M. D. Boston. Bradley, Dayton, & Co.
12mo. pp. xx., 244. $2.00.

Vest-Pocket Lexicon. An English Dictionary of all except Familiar Words;
including the Principal Scientific and Technical Terms, and Foreign
Moneys, Weights, and Measures. By Jabez Jenkins. Philadelphia. J. B.
Lippincott & Co. 18mo. pp. 563. 62 cts.

The American Conflict. A History of the Great Rebellion. By Horace
Greeley. Volume One. Hartford. O. D. Case & Co, 8vo. pp. 648. $5.00.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 15, No. 91, May, 1865" ***

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