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´╗┐Title: Sketches and Studies
Author: Hawthorne, Nathaniel, 1804-1864
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.

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SKETCHES AND STUDIES

by

Nathaniel Hawthorne



CONTENTS

 Life of Franklin Pierce
 Chiefly about War Matters
 Alice Doane's Appeal
 The Ancestral Footstep



LIFE OF FRANKLIN PIERCE.


PREFACE.

The author of this memoir--being so little of a politician that he
scarcely feels entitled to call himself a member of any party--would not
voluntarily have undertaken the work here offered to the public.  Neither
can he flatter himself that he has been remarkably successful in the
performance of his task, viewing it in the light of a political
biography, and as a representation of the principles and acts of a public
man, intended to operate upon the minds of multitudes during a
presidential canvass.  This species of writing is too remote from his
customary occupations--and, he may add, from his tastes--to be very
satisfactorily done, without more time and practice than he would be
willing to expend for such a purpose.  If this little biography have any
value, it is probably of another kind--as the narrative of one who knew
the individual of whom he treats, at a period of life when character
could be read with undoubting accuracy, and who, consequently, in judging
of the motives of his subsequent conduct, has an advantage over much more
competent observers, whose knowledge of the man may have commenced at a
later date.  Nor can it be considered improper (at least, the author will
never feel it so, although some foolish delicacy be sacrificed in the
undertaking) that when a friend, dear to him almost from boyish days,
stands up before his country, misrepresented by indiscriminate abuse on
the one hand, and by aimless praise on the other, he should be sketched
by one who has had opportunities of knowing him well, and who is
certainly inclined to tell the truth.

It is perhaps right to say, that while this biography is so far
sanctioned by General Pierce, as it comprises a generally correct
narrative of the principal events of his life, the author does not
understand him as thereby necessarily indorsing all the sentiments put
forth by himself in the progress of the work.  These are the author's own
speculations upon the facts before him, and may, or may not, be in
accordance with the ideas of the individual whose life he writes.  That
individual's opinions, however,--so far as it is necessary to know them,
--may be read, in his straightforward and consistent deeds, with more
certainty than those of almost any other man now before the public.

The author, while collecting his materials, has received liberal aid from
all manner of people--Whigs and Democrats, congressmen, astute lawyers,
grim old generals of militia, and gallant young officers of the Mexican
war--most of whom, however, he must needs say, have rather abounded in
eulogy of General Pierce than in such anecdotical matter as is calculated
for a biography.  Among the gentlemen to whom he is substantially
indebted, he would mention Hon. C. G. Atherton, Hon. S. H. Ayer, Hon.
Joseph Hall, Chief Justice Gilchrist, Isaac O. Barnes, Esq., Col. T. J.
Whipple, and Mr. C. J. Smith.  He has likewise derived much assistance
from an able and accurate sketch, that originally appeared in the "Boston
Post," and was drawn up, as he believes, by the junior editor of that
journal.

CONCORD, MASS., August 27, 1852.



CHAPTER I.

HIS PARENTAGE AND EARLY LIFE.


Franklin Pierce was born at Hillsborough, in the State of New Hampshire,
on the 23d of November, 1804.  His native county, at the period of his
birth, covered a much more extensive territory than at present, and might
reckon among its children many memorable men, and some illustrious ones.
General Stark, the hero of Bennington, Daniel Webster, Levi Woodbury,
Jeremiah Smith, the eminent jurist, and governor of the state, General
James Miller, General McNeil, Senator Atherton, were natives of old
Hillsborough County.

General Benjamin Pierce, the father of Franklin, was one of the earliest
settlers in the town of Hillsborough, and contributed as much as any
other man to the growth and prosperity of the county.  He was born in
1757, at Chelmsford, now Lowell, in Massachusetts.  Losing his parents
early, he grew up under the care of an uncle, amid such circumstances of
simple fare, hard labor, and scanty education, as usually fell to the lot
of a New England yeoman's family some eighty or a hundred years ago.  On
the 19th of April, 1775, being then less than eighteen years of age, the
stripling was at the plough, when tidings reached him of the bloodshed at
Lexington and Concord.  He immediately loosened the ox chain, left the
plough in the furrow, took his uncle's gun and equipments, and set forth
towards the scene of action.  From that day, for more than seven years,
he never saw his native place.  He enlisted in the army, was present at
the battle of Bunker Hill, and after serving through the whole
Revolutionary War, and fighting his way upward from the lowest grade,
returned, at last, a thorough soldier, and commander of a company.  He
was retained in the army as long as that body of veterans had a united
existence; and, being finally disbanded, at West Point, in 1784, was left
with no other reward, for nine years of toil and danger, than the nominal
amount of his pay in the Continental currency--then so depreciated as to
be almost worthless.

In 1780, being employed as agent to explore a tract of wild land, he
purchased a lot of fifty acres in what is now the town of Hillsborough.
In the spring of the succeeding year, he built himself a log hut, and
began the clearing and cultivation of his tract.  Another year beheld him
married to his first wife, Elizabeth Andrews, who died within a
twelvemonth after their union, leaving a daughter, the present widow of
General John McNeil.  In 1789, he married Anna Kendrick, with whom he
lived about half a century, and who bore him eight children, of whom
Franklin was the sixth.

Although the Revolutionary soldier had thus betaken himself to the
wilderness for a subsistence, his professional merits were not forgotten
by those who had witnessed his military career.  As early as 1786, he was
appointed brigade major of the militia of Hillsborough County, then first
organized and formed into a brigade.  And it was a still stronger
testimonial to his character as a soldier, that, nearly fifteen years
afterwards, during the presidency of John Adams, he was offered a high
command in the northern division of the army which was proposed to be
levied in anticipation of a war with the French republic.  Inflexibly
democratic in his political faith, however, Major Pierce refused to be
implicated in a policy which he could not approve.  "No, gentlemen," said
he to the delegates who urged his acceptance of the commission, "poor as
I am, and acceptable as would be the position under other circumstances,
I would sooner go to yonder mountains, dig me a cave, and live on roast
potatoes, than be instrumental in promoting the objects for which that
army is to be raised!"  This same fidelity to his principles marked every
public, as well as private, action of his life.

In his own neighborhood, among those who knew him best he early gained an
influence that was never lost nor diminished, but continued to spread
wider during the whole of his long life.  In 1789, he was elected to the
state legislature and retained that position for thirteen successive
years, until chosen a member of the council.  During the same period he
was active in his military duties, as a field officer, and finally
general, of the militia of the county; and Miller, McNeil, and others
learned of him, in this capacity, the soldier-like discipline which was
afterwards displayed on the battle-fields of the northern frontier.

The history, character, and circumstances of General Benjamin Pierce,
though here but briefly touched upon, are essential parts of the
biography of his son, both as indicating some of the native traits which
the latter has inherited, and as showing the influences amid which he
grew up.  At Franklin Pierce's birth, and for many years subsequent, his
father was the most active and public-spirited man within his sphere; a
most decided Democrat, and supporter of Jefferson and Madison; a
practical farmer, moreover, not rich, but independent, exercising a
liberal hospitality, and noted for the kindness and generosity of his
character; a man of the people, but whose natural qualities inevitably
made him a leader among them.  From infancy upward, the boy had before
his eyes, as the model on which he might instinctively form himself, one
of the best specimens of sterling New England character, developed in a
life of simple habits, yet of elevated action.  Patriotism, such as it
had been in Revolutionary days, was taught him by his father, as early as
his mother taught him religion.  He became early imbued, too, with the
military spirit which the old soldier had retained from his long service,
and which was kept active by the constant alarms and warlike preparations
of the first twelve years of the present century.  If any man is bound by
birth and youthful training, to show himself a brave, faithful, and able
citizen of his native country, it is the son of such a father.

At the commencement of the war of 1812, Franklin Pierce was a few months
under eight years of age.  The old general, his father, sent two of his
sons into the army; and as his eldest daughter was soon afterwards
married to Major McNeil, there were few families that had so large a
personal stake in the war as that of General Benjamin Pierce.  He
himself, both in his public capacity as a member of the council, and by
his great local influence in his own county, lent a strenuous support to
the national administration.  It is attributable to his sagacity and
energy, that New Hampshire--then under a federal governor--was saved the
disgrace of participation in the questionable, if not treasonable,
projects of the Hartford Convention.  He identified himself with the
cause of the country, and was doubtless as thoroughly alive with
patriotic zeal, at this eventful period, as in the old days of Bunker
Hill, and Saratoga, and Yorktown.  The general not only took a prominent
part at all public meetings, but was ever ready for the informal
discussion of political affairs at all places of casual resort, where--in
accordance with the custom of the time and country--the minds of men were
made to operate effectually upon each other.  Franklin Pierce was a
frequent auditor of these controversies.  The intentness with which he
watched the old general, and listened to his arguments, is still
remembered; and, at this day, in his most earnest moods, there are
gesticulations and movements that bring up the image of his father to
those who recollect the latter on those occasions of the display of
homely, native eloquence.  No mode of education could be conceived,
better adapted to imbue a youth with the principles and sentiment of
democratic institutions; it brought him into the most familiar contact
with the popular mind, and made his own mind a part of it.

Franklin's father had felt, through life, the disadvantages of a
defective education; although, in his peculiar sphere of action, it might
be doubted whether he did not gain more than he lost, by being thrown on
his own resources, and compelled to study men and their actual affairs,
rather than books.  But he determined to afford his son all the
opportunities of improvement which he himself had lacked.  Franklin,
accordingly, was early sent to the academy at Hancock, and afterwards
to that of Francestown, where he was received into the family of
General Pierce's old and steadfast friend, Peter Woodbury, father of
the late eminent judge.  It is scarcely more than a year ago, at the
semi-centennial celebration of the academy, that Franklin Pierce, the
mature and distinguished man, paid a beautiful tribute to the character
of Madam Woodbury, in affectionate remembrance of the motherly kindness
experienced at her hands by the school-boy.

The old people of his neighborhood give a very delightful picture of
Franklin at this early age.  They describe him as a beautiful boy, with
blue eyes, light curling hair, and a sweet expression of face.  The
traits presented of him indicate moral symmetry, kindliness, and a
delicate texture of sentiment, rather than marked prominences of
character.  His instructors testify to his propriety of conduct, his
fellow-pupils to his sweetness of disposition and cordial sympathy.  One
of the latter, being older than most of his companions, and less advanced
in his studies, found it difficult to keep up with his class; and he
remembers how perseveringly, while the other boys were at play, Franklin
spent the noon recess, for many weeks together, in aiding him in his
lessons.  These attributes, proper to a generous and affectionate nature,
have remained with him through life.  Lending their color to his
deportment, and softening his manners, they are, perhaps, even now, the
characteristics by which most of those who casually meet him would be
inclined to identify the man.  But there are other qualities, not then
developed, but which have subsequently attained a firm and manly growth,
and are recognized as his leading traits among those who really know him.
Franklin Pierce's development, indeed, has always been the reverse of
premature; the boy did not show the germ of all that was in the man, nor,
perhaps, did the young man adequately foreshow the mature one.

In 1820, at the age of sixteen, he became a student of Bowdoin College,
at Brunswick, Maine.  It was in the autumn of the next year that the
author of this memoir entered the class below him; but our college
reminiscences, however interesting to the parties concerned, are not
exactly the material for a biography.  He was then a youth, with the boy
and man in him, vivacious, mirthful, slender, of a fair complexion, with
light hair that had a curl in it: his bright and cheerful aspect made a
kind of sunshine, both as regarded its radiance and its warmth; insomuch
that no shyness of disposition, in his associates, could well resist its
influence.  We soon became acquainted, and were more especially drawn
together as members of the same college society.  There were two of these
institutions, dividing the college between them, and typifying,
respectively, and with singular accuracy of feature, the respectable
conservative, and the progressive or democratic parties.  Pierce's native
tendencies inevitably drew him to the latter.

His chum was Zenas Caldwell, several years older than himself, a member
of the Methodist persuasion, a pure-minded, studious, devoutly religious
character; endowed thus early in life with the authority of a grave and
sagacious turn of mind.  The friendship between Pierce and him appeared
to be mutually strong, and was of itself a pledge of correct deportment
in the former.  His chief friend, I think, was a classmate named Little,
a young man of most estimable qualities and high intellectual promise;
one of those fortunate characters whom an early death so canonizes in the
remembrance of their companions, that the perfect fulfilment of a long
life would scarcely give them a higher place.  Jonathan Cilley, of my own
class,--whose untimely fate is still mournfully remembered,--a person of
very marked ability and great social influence, was another of Pierce's
friends.  All these have long been dead.  There are others, still alive,
who would meet Franklin Pierce, at this day, with as warm a pressure of
the hand, and the same confidence in his kindly feelings as when they
parted from him nearly thirty years ago.

Pierce's class was small, but composed of individuals seriously intent on
the duties and studies of their college life.  They were not boys, but,
for the most part, well advanced towards maturity; and, having wrought
out their own means of education, were little inclined to neglect the
opportunities that had been won at so much cost.  They knew the value of
time, and had a sense of the responsibilities of their position.  Their
first scholar--the present Professor Stowe--has long since established
his rank among the first scholars of the country.  It could have been no
easy task to hold successful rivalry with students so much in earnest as
these were.  During the earlier part of his college course it may be
doubted whether Pierce was distinguished for scholarship.  But, for the
last two years, he appeared to grow more intent on the business in hand,
and, without losing any of his vivacious qualities as a companion, was
evidently resolved to gain an honorable elevation in his class.  His
habits of attention and obedience to college discipline were of the
strictest character; he rose progressively in scholarship, and took a
highly creditable degree.  [See note at close of this Life.]

The first civil office, I imagine, which Franklin Pierce ever held was
that of chairman of the standing committee of the Athenaean Society, of
which, as above hinted, we were both members; and, having myself held a
place on the committee, I can bear testimony to his having discharged
not only his own share of the duties, but that of his colleagues.  I
remember, likewise, that the only military service of my life was as a
private soldier in a college company, of which Pierce was one of the
officers.  He entered into this latter business, or pastime, with an
earnestness with which I could not pretend to compete, and at which,
perhaps, he would now be inclined to smile.  His slender and youthful
figure rises before my mind's eye, at this moment, with the air and step
of a veteran of the school of Steuben; as well became the son of a
revolutionary hero, who had probably drilled under the old baron's
orders.  Indeed, at this time, and for some years afterwards, Pierce's
ambition seemed to be of a military cast.  Until reflection had tempered
his first predilections, and other varieties of success had rewarded his
efforts, he would have preferred, I believe, the honors of the
battle-field to any laurels more peacefully won.  And it was remarkable
how, with all the invariable gentleness of his demeanor, he perfectly
gave, nevertheless, the impression of a high and fearless spirit.  His
friends were as sure of his courage, while yet untried, as now, when it
has been displayed so brilliantly in famous battles.

At this early period of his life, he was distinguished by the same
fascination of manner that has since proved so magical in winning him an
unbounded personal popularity.  It is wronging him, however, to call this
peculiarity a mere effect of manner; its source lies deep in the
kindliness of his nature, and in the liberal, generous, catholic
sympathy, that embraces all who are worthy of it.  Few men possess any
thing like it; so irresistible as it is, so sure to draw forth an
undoubting confidence, and so true to the promise which it gives.  This
frankness, this democracy of good feeling, has not been chilled by the
society of politicians, nor polished down into mere courtesy by his
intercourse with the most refined men of the day.  It belongs to him at
this moment, and will never leave him.  A little while ago, after his
return from Mexico, he darted across the street to exchange a hearty
gripe of the hand with a rough countryman upon his cart--a man who used
to "live with his father," as the general explained the matter to his
companions.  Other men assume this manner, more or less skilfully; but
with Frank Pierce it is an innate characteristic; nor will it ever lose
its charm, unless his heart should grow narrower and colder--a misfortune
not to be anticipated, even in the dangerous atmosphere of elevated rank,
whither he seems destined to ascend.

There is little else that it is worth while to relate as regards his
college course, unless it be that, during one of his winter vacations,
Pierce taught a country school.  So many of the statesmen of New England
have performed their first public service in the character of pedagogue,
that it seems almost a necessary step on the ladder of advancement.



CHAPTER II.

HIS SERVICES IN THE STATE AND NATIONAL LEGISLATURES.


After leaving college, in the year 1824, Franklin Pierce returned to
Hillsborough.  His father, now in a green old age, continued to take a
prominent part in the affairs of the day, but likewise made his declining
years rich and picturesque with recollections of the heroic times through
which he had lived.  On the 26th of December, 1825, it being his
sixty-seventh birthday, General Benjamin Pierce prepared a festival for
his comrades in arms, the survivors of the Revolution, eighteen of whom,
all inhabitants of Hillsborough, assembled at his house.  The ages of
these veterans ranged from fifty-nine up to the patriarchal venerableness
of nearly ninety.  They spent the day in festivity, in calling up
reminiscences of the great men whom they had known and the great deeds
which they had helped to do, and in reviving the old sentiments of the
era of 'seventy-six.  At nightfall, after a manly and pathetic farewell
from their host, they separated--"prepared," as the old general expressed
it, "at the first tap of the shrouded drum, to move and join their
beloved Washington, and the rest of their beloved comrades, who fought
and bled at their sides."  A scene like this must have been profitable
for a young man to witness, as being likely to give him a stronger sense
than most of us can attain of the value of that Union which these old
heroes had risked so much to consolidate--of that common country which
they had sacrificed everything to create; and patriotism must have been
communicated from their hearts to his, with somewhat of the warmth and
freshness of a new-born sentiment.  No youth was ever more fortunate than
Franklin Pierce, through the whole of his early life, in this most
desirable species of moral education.

Having chosen the law as a profession, Franklin became a student in the
office of Judge Woodbury, of Portsmouth.  Allusion has already been made
to the friendship between General Benjamin Pierce and Peter Woodbury, the
father of the judge.  The early progress of Levi Woodbury towards
eminence had been facilitated by the powerful influence of his father's
friend.  It was a worthy and honorable kind of patronage, and bestowed
only as the great abilities of the recipient vindicated his claim to it.
Few young men have met with such early success in life, or have deserved
it so eminently, as did Judge Woodbury.  At the age of twenty-seven, he
was appointed to the bench of the Supreme Court of the state, on the
earnest recommendation of old General Pierce.  The opponents of the
measure ridiculed him as the "baby judge;" but his conduct in that high
office showed the prescient judgment of the friend who had known him from
a child, and had seen in his young manhood already the wisdom of ripened
age.  It was some years afterwards when Franklin Pierce entered the
office of Judge Woodbury as a student.  In the interval, the judge had
been elected governor, and, after a term of office that thoroughly tested
the integrity of his democratic principles, had lost his second election,
and returned to the profession of the law.

The last two years of Pierce's preparatory studies were spent at the law
school of Northampton, in Massachusetts, and in the office of Judge
Parker at Amherst.  In 1827, being admitted to the bar, he began the
practice of his profession at Hillsborough.  It is an interesting fact,
considered in reference to his subsequent splendid career as an advocate,
that he did not, at the outset, give promise of distinguished success.
His first case was a failure, and perhaps a somewhat marked one.  But it
is remembered that this defeat, however mortifying at the moment, did but
serve to make him aware of the latent resources of his mind, the full
command of which he was far from having yet attained.  To a friend, an
older practitioner, who addressed him with some expression of condolence
and encouragement, Pierce replied,--and it was a kind of self-assertion
which no triumph would have drawn oat,--"I do not need that.  I will try
nine hundred and ninety-nine cases, if clients will continue to trust me,
and, if I fail just as I have today, will try the thousandth.  I shall
live to argue cases in this court house in a manner that will mortify
neither myself nor my friends."  It is in such moments of defeat that
character and ability are mot fairly tested; they would irremediably
crush a youth devoid of real energy, and, being neither more nor less
than his just desert, would be accepted as such.  But a failure of this
kind serves an opposite purpose to a mind in which the strongest and
richest qualities lie deep, and, from their very size and mass, cannot at
once be rendered available.  It provokes an innate self-confidence,
while, at the same time, it sternly indicates the sedulous cultivation,
the earnest effort, the toil, the agony, which are the conditions of
ultimate success.  It is, indeed, one of the best modes of discipline
that experience can administer, and may reasonably be counted a fortunate
event in the life of a young man vigorous enough to overcome the
momentary depression.

Pierce's distinction at the bar, however, did not immediately follow; nor
did he acquire what we may designate as positive eminence until some
years after this period.  The enticements of political life--so
especially fascinating to a young lawyer, but so irregular in its
tendencies, and so inimical to steady professional labor--had begun to
operate upon him.  His father's prominent position in the politics of the
state made it almost impossible that the son should stand aloof.  In
1827, the same year when Franklin began the practice of the law, General
Benjamin Pierce had been elected governor of New Hampshire.  He was
defeated in the election of 1828, but was again successful in that of the
subsequent year.  During these years, the contest for the presidency had
been fought with a fervor that drew almost everybody into it, on one side
or the other, and had terminated in the triumph of Andrew Jackson.
Franklin Pierce, in advance of his father's decision, though not in
opposition to it, had declared himself for the illustrious man whose
military renown was destined to be thrown into the shade by a civil
administration, the most splendid and powerful that ever adorned the
annals of our country, I love to record of the subject of this memoir
that his first political faith was pledged to that great leader of the
democracy.

I remember meeting Pierce about this period, and catching from him some
faint reflection of the zeal with which he was now stepping into the
political arena.  My sympathies and opinions, it is true,--so far as I
had any in public affairs,--had, from the first, been enlisted on the
same side with his own.  But I was now made strongly sensible of an
increased development of my friend's mind, by means of which he possessed
a vastly greater power than heretofore over the minds with which he came
in contact.  This progressive growth has continued to be one of his
remarkable characteristics.  Of most men you early know the mental gauge
and measurement, and do not subsequently have much occasion to change it.
Not so with Pierce: his tendency was not merely high, but towards a point
which rose higher and higher as the aspirant tended upward.  Since we
parted, studious days had educated him; life, too, and his own exertions
in it, and his native habit of close and accurate observation, had
likewise begun to educate him.

The town of Hillsborough, in 1829, gave Franklin Pierce his first public
honor, by electing him its representative in the legislature of the
state.  His whole service in that body comprised four years, in the two
latter of which he was elected Speaker by a vote of one hundred and
fifty-five against fifty-eight for other candidates.  This overpowering
majority evinced the confidence which his character inspired, and which,
during his whole career, it has invariably commanded, in advance of what
might be termed positive proof, although the result has never failed to
justify it.  I still recollect his description of the feelings with which
he entered on his arduous duties--the feverish night that preceded his
taking the chair--the doubt, the struggle with himself--all ending in
perfect calmness, full self-possession, and free power of action when the
crisis actually came.

He had all the natural gifts that adapted him for the post; courtesy,
firmness, quickness and accuracy of judgment, and a clearness of mental
perception that brought its own regularity into the scene of confused and
entangled debate; and to these qualities he added whatever was to be
attained by laborious study of parliamentary rules.  His merit as a
presiding officer was universally acknowledged.  It is rare that a man
combines so much impulse with so great a power of regulating the impulses
of himself and others as Franklin Pierce.  The faculty, here exercised
and improved, of controlling an assembly while agitated by tumultuous
controversy, was afterwards called into play upon a higher field; for,
during his congressional service, Pierce was often summoned to preside in
committee of the whole, when a turbulent debate was expected to demand
peculiar energy in the chair.

He was elected a member of Congress in 1833, being young for the station,
as he has always been for every public station that he has filled.  A
different kind of man--a man conscious that accident alone had elevated
him, and therefore nervously anxious to prove himself equal to his
fortunes--would thus have been impelled to spasmodic efforts.  He would
have thrust himself forward in debate, taking the word out of the mouths
of renowned orators, and thereby winning notoriety, as at least the
glittering counterfeit of true celebrity.  Had Pierce, with his genuine
ability, practised this course; had he possessed even an ordinary love of
display, and had he acted upon it with his inherent tact and skill,
taking advantage of fair occasions to prove the power and substance that
were in him, it would greatly have facilitated the task of his
biographer.

To aim at personal distinction, however, as an object independent of the
public service, would have been contrary to all the foregone and
subsequent manifestations of his life.  He was never wanting to the
occasion; but he waited for the occasion to bring him inevitably forward.
When he spoke, it was not only because he was fully master of the
subject, but because the exigency demanded him, and because no other and
older man could perform the same duty as well as himself.  Of the copious
eloquence--and some of it, no doubt, of a high order--which Buncombe has
called forth, not a paragraph, nor a period, is attributable to Franklin
Pierce.  He had no need of these devices to fortify his constituents in
their high opinion of him; nor did he fail to perceive that such was not
the method to acquire real weight in the body of which he was a member.
In truth, he has no fluency of words, except when an earnest meaning and
purpose supply their own expression.  Every one of his speeches in
Congress, and, we may say, in every other hall of oratory, or on any
stump that he may have mounted, was drawn forth by the perception that it
was needed, was directed to a full exposition of the subject, and (rarest
of all) was limited by what he really had to say.  Even the graces of the
orator were never elaborated, never assumed for their own sake, but were
legitimately derived from the force of his conceptions, and from the
impulsive warmth which accompanies the glow of thought.  Owing to these
peculiarities,--for such, unfortunately, they may be termed, in reference
to what are usually the characteristics of a legislative career,--his
position before the country was less conspicuous than that of many men
who could claim nothing like Pierce's actual influence in the national
councils.  His speeches, in their muscular texture and close grasp of
their subject, resembled the brief but pregnant arguments and expositions
of the sages of the Continental Congress, rather than the immeasurable
harangues which are now the order of the day.

His congressional life, though it made comparatively so little show, was
full of labor, directed to substantial objects.  He was a member of the
judiciary and other important committees; and the drudgery of the
committee room, where so much of the real public business of the country
is transacted, fell in large measure to his lot.  Thus, even as a
legislator, he may be said to have been a man of deeds, not words; and
when he spoke upon any subject with which his duty, as chairman or member
of a committee, had brought him in relation, his words had the weight of
deeds, from the meaning, the directness, and the truth, that he conveyed
into them.  His merits made themselves known and felt in the sphere where
they were exercised; and he was early appreciated by one who seldom erred
in his estimate of men, whether in their moral or intellectual aspect.
His intercourse with President Jackson was frequent and free, and marked
by friendly regard on the part of the latter.  In the stormiest periods
of his administration, Pierce came frankly to his aid.  The confidence
then established was never lost; and when Jackson was on his death-bed,
being visited by a gentleman from the North (himself formerly a
democratic member of Congress), the old hero spoke with energy of
Franklin Pierce's ability and patriotism, and remarked, as with prophetic
foresight of his young friend's destiny, that "the interests of the
country would be safe in such hands."

One of President Jackson's measures, which had Pierce's approval and
support, was his veto of the Maysville Road Bill.  This bill was part of
a system of vast public works, principally railroads and canals, which it
was proposed to undertake at the expense of the national treasury--a
policy not then of recent origin, but which had been fostered by John
Quincy Adams, and had attained a gigantic growth at the close of his
Presidency.  The estimate of works undertaken or projected, at the
commencement of Jackson's administration, amounted to considerably more
than a hundred millions of dollars.  The expenditure of this enormous
sum, and doubtless other incalculable amounts, in progressive increase,
was to be for purposes often of unascertained utility, and was to pass
through the agents and officers of the federal government--a means of
political corruption not safely to be trusted even in the purest hands.
The peril to the individuality of the states, from a system tending so
directly to consolidate the powers of government towards a common centre,
was obvious.  The result might have been, with the lapse of time and the
increased activity of the disease, to place the capital of our federative
Union in a position resembling that of imperial Rome, where each once
independent state was a subject province, and all the highways of the
world were said to meet in her forum.  It was against this system, so
dangerous to liberty and to public and private integrity, that Jackson
declared war, by the famous Maysville veto.

It would be an absurd interpretation of Pierce's course, in regard to
this and similar measures, to suppose him hostile either to internal or
coastwise improvements, so far as they may legitimately be the business
of the general government.  He was aware of the immense importance of our
internal commerce, and was ever ready to vote such appropriations as
might be necessary for promoting it, when asked for in an honest spirit,
and at points where they were really needed.  He doubted, indeed, the
constitutional power of Congress to undertake, by building roads through
the wilderness, or opening unfrequented rivers, to create commerce where
it did not yet exist; but he never denied or questioned the right and
duty to remove obstructions in the way of inland trade, and to afford it
every facility, when the nature and necessity of things had brought it
into genuine existence.  And he agreed with the best and wisest statesmen
in believing that this distinction involved the true principle on which
legislation, for the purpose here discussed, should proceed.

While a member of the House of Representatives, he delivered a forcible
speech against the bill authorizing appropriations for the Military
Academy at West Point.  He was decidedly opposed to that institution as
then, and at present organized.  We allude to the subject in illustration
of the generous frankness with which, years afterwards, when the battle
smoke of Mexico had baptized him also a soldier, he acknowledged himself
in the wrong, and bore testimony to the brilliant services which the
graduates of the Academy, trained to soldiership from boyhood, had
rendered to their country.  And if he has made no other such
acknowledgment of past error, committed in his legislative capacity, it
is but fair to believe that it is because his reason and conscience
accuse him of no other wrong.

It was while in the lower house of Congress that Franklin Pierce took
that stand on the slavery question from which he has never since swerved
a hair's breadth.  He fully recognized, by his votes and by his voice,
the rights pledged to the South by the Constitution.  This, at the period
when he so declared himself, was comparatively an easy thing to do.  But
when it became more difficult, when the first imperceptible movement of
agitation had grown to be almost a convulsion, his course was still the
same.  Nor did he ever shun the obloquy that sometimes threatened to
pursue the northern man who dared to love that great and sacred reality--
his whole, united, native country--better than the mistiness of a
philanthropic theory.

He continued in the House of Representatives four years.  If, at this
period of his life, he rendered unobtrusive, though not unimportant,
services to the public, it must also have been a time of vast
intellectual advantage to himself.  Amidst great national affairs, he was
acquiring the best of all educations for future eminence and leadership.
In the midst of statesmen, he grew to be a statesman.  Studious, as all
his speeches prove him to be, of history, he beheld it demonstrating
itself before his eyes.  As regards this sort of training, much of its
good or ill effect depends on the natural force and depth of the man.
Many, no doubt, by early mixture with politics, become the mere
politicians of the moment,--a class of men sufficiently abundant among
us,--acquiring only a knack and cunning, which guide them tolerably well
through immediate difficulties, without instructing them in the great
rules of higher policy.  But when the actual observation of public
measures goes hand in hand with study, when the mind is capable of
comparing the present with its analogies in the past, and of grasping the
principle that belongs to both, this is to have history for a living
tutor.  If the student be fit for such instruction, he will be seen to
act afterwards with the elevation of a high ideal, and with the
expediency, the sagacity, the instinct of what is fit and practicable,
which make the advantage of the man of actual affairs over the mere
theorist.

And it was another advantage of his being brought early into the sphere
of national interests, and continuing there for a series of years, that
it enabled him to overcome any narrow and sectional prejudices.  Without
loving New England less, he loved the broad area of the country more.  He
thus retained that equal sentiment of patriotism for the whole land with
which his father had imbued him, and which is perhaps apt to be impaired
in the hearts of those who come late to the national legislature, after
long training in the narrower fields of the separate states.  His sense
of the value of the Union, which had been taught him at the fireside,
from earliest infancy, by the stories of patriotic valor that he there
heard, was now strengthened by friendly association with its
representatives from every quarter.  It is this youthful sentiment of
Americanism, so happily developed by after circumstances, that we see
operating through all his public life, and making him as tender of what
he considers due to the South as of the rights of his own land of hills.

Franklin Pierce had scarcely reached the legal age for such elevation,
when, in 1837, he was elected to the Senate of the United States.  He
took his seat at the commencement of the presidency of Mr. Van Buren.
Never before nor since has the Senate been more venerable for the array
of veteran and celebrated statesmen than at that time.  Calhoun, Webster,
and Clay had lost nothing of their intellectual might.  Benton, Silas
Wright, Woodbury, Buchanan, and Walker were members; and many even of the
less eminent names were such as have gained historic place--men of
powerful eloquence, and worthy to be leaders of the respective parties
which they espoused.  To this dignified body (composed of individuals
some of whom were older in political experience than he in his mortal
life) Pierce came as the youngest member of the Senate.  With his usual
tact and exquisite sense of propriety, he saw that it was not the time
for him to step forward prominently on this highest theatre in the land.
He beheld these great combatants doing battle before the eyes of the
nation, and engrossing its whole regards.  There was hardly an avenue to
reputation save what was occupied by one or another of those gigantic
figures.

Modes of public service remained, however, requiring high ability, but
with which few men of competent endowments would have been content to
occupy themselves.  Pierce had already demonstrated the possibility of
obtaining an enviable position among his associates, without the windy
notoriety which a member of Congress may readily manufacture for himself
by the lavish expenditure of breath that had been better spared.  In the
more elevated field of the Senate, he pursued the same course as while a
representative, and with more than equal results.

Among other committees, he was a member of that upon revolutionary
pensions.  Of this subject he made himself thoroughly master, and was
recognized by the Senate as an unquestionable authority.  In 1840, in
reference to several bills for the relief of claimants under the pension
law, he delivered a speech which finely illustrates as well the
sympathies as the justice of the man, showing how vividly he could feel,
and, at the same time, how powerless were his feelings to turn him aside
from the strict line of public integrity.  The merits and sacrifices of
the people of the Revolution have never been stated with more earnest
gratitude than in the following passage:--

"I am not insensible, Mr. President, of the advantages with which claims
of this character always come before Congress.  They are supposed to be
based on services for which no man entertains a higher estimate than
myself--services beyond all praise, and above all price.  But, while warm
and glowing with the glorious recollections which a recurrence to that
period of our history can never fail to awaken; while we cherish with
emotions of pride, reverence, and affection the memory of those brave men
who are no longer with us; while we provide, with a liberal hand, for
such as survive, and for the widows of the deceased; while we would
accord to the heirs, whether in the second or third generation, every
dollar to which they can establish a just claim,--I trust we shall not,
in the strong current of our sympathies, forget what becomes us as the
descendants of such men.  They would teach us to legislate upon our
judgment, upon our sober sense of right, and not upon our impulses or our
sympathies.  No, sir; we may act in this way, if we choose, when
dispensing our own means, but we are not at liberty to do it when
dispensing the means of our constituents.

"If we were to legislate upon our sympathies--yet more I will admit--if
we were to yield to that sense of just and grateful remuneration which
presses itself upon every man's heart, there would be scarcely a limit
for our bounty.  The whole exchequer could not answer the demand.  To the
patriotism, the courage, and the sacrifices of the people of that day, we
owe, under Providence, all that we now most highly prize, and what we
shall transmit to our children as the richest legacy they can inherit.
The War of the Revolution, it has been justly remarked, was not a war of
armies merely--it was the war of nearly a whole people, and such a people
as the world had never before seen, in a death struggle for liberty.

"The losses, sacrifices, and sufferings of that period were common to all
classes and conditions of life.  Those who remained at home suffered
hardly less than those who entered upon the active strife.  The aged
father and another underwent not less than the son, who would have been
the comfort and stay of their declining years, now called to perform a
yet higher duty--to follow the standard of his bleeding country.  The
young mother, with her helpless children, excites not less deeply our
sympathies, contending with want, and dragging out years of weary and
toilsome days and anxious nights, than the husband in the field,
following the fortunes of our arms without the proper habiliments to
protect his person, or the requisite sustenance to support his strength.
Sir, I never think of that patient, enduring, self-sacrificing army,
which crossed the Delaware in December, 1777, marching barefooted upon
frozen ground to encounter the foe, and leaving bloody footprints for
miles behind then--I never think of their sufferings during that terrible
winter without involuntarily inquiring, Where then were their families?
Who lit up the cheerful fire upon their hearths at home?  Who spoke the
word of comfort and encouragement?  Nay, sir, who furnished protection
from the rigors of winter, and brought them the necessary means of
subsistence?'

"The true and simple answer to these questions would disclose an amount
of suffering and anguish, mental and physical, such as might not have
been found in the ranks of the armies--not even in the severest trial of
that fortitude which never faltered, and that power of endurance which
seemed to know no limit.  All this no man feels more deeply than I do.
But they were common sacrifices in a common cause, ultimately crowned
with the reward of liberty.  They have an everlasting claim upon our
gratitude, and are destined, as I trust, by their heroic example, to
exert an abiding influence upon our latest posterity."

With this heartfelt recognition of the debt of gratitude due to those
excellent men, the senator enters into an analysis of the claims
presented, and proves them to be void of justice.  The whole speech is a
good exponent of his character; full of the truest sympathy, but, above
all things, just, and not to be misled, on the public behalf, by those
impulses that would be most apt to sway the private man.  The mere
pecuniary amount saved to the nation by his scrutiny into affairs of this
kind, though great, was, after all, but a minor consideration.  The
danger lay in establishing a corrupt system, and placing a wrong
precedent upon the statute book.  Instances might be adduced, on the
other hand, which show him not less scrupulous of the just rights of the
claimants than careful of the public interests.

Another subject upon which he came forward was the military establishment
and the natural defences of the country.  In looking through the columns
of the "Congressional Globe," we find abundant evidences of Senator
Pierce's laborious and unostentatious discharge of his duties--reports of
committees, brief remarks, and, here and there, a longer speech, always
full of matter, and evincing a thoroughly-digested knowledge of the
subject.  Not having been written out by himself, however, these speeches
are no fair specimens of his oratory, except as regards the train of
argument and substantial thought; and adhering very closely to the
business in hand, they seldom present passages that could be quoted,
without tearing them forcibly, as it were, out of the context, and thus
mangling the fragments which we might offer to the reader.  As we have
already remarked, he seems, as a debater, to revive the old type of the
Revolutionary Congress, or to bring back the noble days of the Long
Parliament of England, before eloquence had become what it is now, a
knack, and a thing valued for itself.  Like those strenuous orators, he
speaks with the earnestness of honest conviction, and out of the fervor
of his heart, and because the occasion and his deep sense of it constrain
him.

By the defeat of Mr. Van Buren, in the presidential election of 1840, the
administration of government was transferred, for the first time in
twelve years, to the Whigs.  An extra session of Congress was summoned to
assemble in June, 1841, by President Harrison, who, however, died before
it came together.  At this extra session, it was the purpose of the whig
party, under the leadership of Henry Clay, to overthrow all the great
measures which the successive democratic administrations had established.
The sub-treasury was to be demolished; a national bank was to be
incorporated; a high tariff of duties was to be imposed, for purposes of
protection and abundant revenue.  The whig administration possessed a
majority, both in the Senate and the House.  It was a dark period for the
Democracy, so long unaccustomed to defeat, and now beholding all that
they had won for the cause of national progress, after the arduous
struggle of so many years, apparently about to be swept away.

The sterling influence which Franklin Pierce now exercised is well
described in the following remarks of the Hon. A. O. P. Nicholson:--

"The power of an organized minority was never more clearly exhibited than
in this contest.  The democratic senators acted in strict concert,
meeting night after night for consultation, arranging their plan of
battle, selecting their champions for the coming day, assigning to each
man his proper duty, and looking carefully to the popular judgment for a
final victory.  In these consultations, no man's voice was heard with
more profound respect than that of Franklin Pierce.  His counsels were
characterized by so thorough a knowledge of human nature, by so much
solid common sense, by such devotion to democratic principles, that,
although among the youngest of the senators, it was deemed important that
all their conclusions should be submitted to his sanction.

"Although known to be ardent in his temperament, he was also known to act
with prudence and caution.  His impetuosity in debate was only the result
of the deep convictions which controlled his mind.  He enjoyed the
unbounded confidence of Calhoun, Buchanan, Wright, Woodbury, Walker,
King, Benton, and indeed of the entire democratic portion of the Senate.
When he rose in the Senate or in the committee room, he was heard with
the profoundest attention; and again and again was he greeted by these
veteran Democrats as one of our ablest champions.  His speeches, during
this session, will compare with those of any other senator.  If it be
asked why he did not receive higher distinction, I answer, that such men
as Calhoun, Wright, Buchanan, and Woodbury were the acknowledged leaders
of the Democracy.  The eyes of the nation were on them.  The hopes of
their party were reposed in them.  The brightness of these luminaries was
too great to allow the brilliancy of so young a man to attract especial
attention.  But ask any one of these veterans how Franklin Pierce ranked
in the Senate, and he will tell you, that, to stand in the front rank for
talents, eloquence, and statesmanship, he only lacked a few more years."

In the course of this session he made a very powerful speech in favor of
Mr. Buchanan's resolution, calling on the President to furnish the names
of persons removed from office since the 4th of March, 1841.  The Whigs,
in 1840, as in the subsequent canvass of 1848, had professed a purpose to
abolish the system of official removals on account of political opinion,
but, immediately on coming into power, had commenced a proscription
infinitely beyond the example of the democratic party.  This course, with
an army of office-seekers besieging the departments, was unquestionably
difficult to avoid, and perhaps, on the whole, not desirable to be
avoided.  But it was rendered astounding by the sturdy effrontery with
which the gentlemen in power denied that their present practice had
falsified any of their past professions.  A few of the closing paragraphs
of Senator Pierce's highly effective speech, being more easily separable
than the rest, may here be cited.

"One word more, and I leave this subject,--a painful one to me, from the
beginning to the end.  The senator from North Carolina, in the course of
his remarks the other day, asked, 'Do gentlemen expect that their friends
are to be retained in office against the will of the nation?  Are they so
unreasonable as to expect what the circumstances and the necessity of the
case forbid?'  What our expectations were is not the question now; but
what were your pledges and promises before the people.  On a previous
occasion, the distinguished senator from Kentucky made a similar remark:
'An ungracious task, but the nation demands it!'  Sir, this demand of the
nation,--this plea of STATE NECESSITY,--let me tell you, gentlemen, is as
old as the history of wrong and oppression.  It has been the standing
plea, the never-failing resort of despotism.

"The great Julius found it a convenient plea when he restored the dignity
of the Roman Senate, but destroyed its independence.  It gave countenance
to and justified all the atrocities of the Inquisition in Spain.  It
forced out the stifled groans that issued from the Black Hole of
Calcutta.  It was written in tears upon the Bridge of Sighs in Venice,
and pointed to those dark recesses upon whose gloomy thresholds there was
never seen a returning footprint.

"It was the plea of the austere and ambitious Strafford, in the days of
Charles I.  It filled the Bastile of France, and lent its sanction to the
terrible atrocities perpetrated there.  It was this plea that snatched
the mild, eloquent, and patriotic Camillo Desmoulins from his young and
beautiful wife, and hurried him to the guillotine with thousands of
others equally unoffending and innocent.  It was upon this plea that the
greatest of generals, if not men,--you cannot mistake me,--I mean him,
the presence of whose very ashes within the last few months sufficed to
stir the hearts of a continent,--it was upon this plea that he abjured
the noble wife who had thrown light and gladness around his humbler days,
and, by her own lofty energies and high intellect, had encouraged his
aspirations.  It was upon this plea that he committed that worst and most
fatal acts of his eventful life.  Upon this, too, he drew around his
person the imperial purple.  It has in all times, and in every age, been
the foe of liberty and the indispensable stay of usurpation.

"Where were the chains of despotism ever thrown around the freedom of
speech and of the press but on this plea of STATE NECESSITY?  Let the
spirit of Charles X. and of his ministers answer.

"It is cold, selfish, heartless, and has always been regardless of age,
sex, condition, services, or any of the incidents of life that appeal to
patriotism or humanity.  Wherever its authority has been acknowledged, it
has assailed men who stood by their country when she needed strong arms
and bold hearts, and has assailed them when, maimed and disabled in her
service, they could no longer brandish a weapon in her defence.  It has
afflicted the feeble and dependent wife for the imaginary faults of the
husband.  It has stricken down Innocence in its beauty, Youth in its
freshness, Manhood in its vigor, and Age in its feebleness and
decrepitude.  Whatever other plea or apology may be set up for the
sweeping, ruthless exercise of this civil guillotine at the present day,
in the name of LIBERTY let us be spared this fearful one of STATE
NECESSITY, in this early age of the Republic, upon the floor of the
American Senate, in the face of a people yet free!"

In June, 1842, he signified his purpose of retiring from the Senate.

It was now more than sixteen years since the author of this sketch had
been accustomed to meet Frank Pierce (that familiar name, which the
nation is adopting as one of its household words) in habits of daily
intercourse.  Our modes of life had since been as different as could well
be imagined; our culture and labor were entirely unlike; there was hardly
a single object or aspiration in common between us.  Still we had
occasionally met, and always on the old ground of friendly confidence.
There were sympathies that had not been suffered to die out.  Had we
lived more constantly together, it is not impossible that the relation
might have been changed by the various accidents and attritions of life;
but having no mutual events, and few mutual interests, the tie of early
friendship remained the same as when we parted.  The modifications which
I saw in his character were those of growth and development; new
qualities came out, or displayed themselves more prominently, but always
in harmony with those heretofore known.  Always I was sensible of
progress in him; a characteristic--as, I believe, has been said in the
foregoing pages--more perceptible in Franklin Pierce than in any other
person with whom I have been acquainted.  He widened, deepened, rose to a
higher point, and thus ever made himself equal to the ever-heightening
occasion.  This peculiarity of intellectual growth, continued beyond the
ordinary period, has its analogy in his physical constitution--it being a
fact that he continued to grow in stature between his twenty-first and
twenty-fifth years.

He had not met with that misfortune, which, it is to be feared, befalls
many men who throw their ardor into politics.  The pursuit had taken
nothing from the frankness of his nature; now, as ever, he used direct
means to gain honorable ends; and his subtlety--for, after all, his heart
and purpose were not such as he that runs may read--had the depth of
wisdom, and never any quality of cunning.  In great part, this
undeteriorated manhood was due to his original nobility of nature.  Yet
it may not be unjust to attribute it, in some degree, to the singular
good fortune of his life.  He had never, in all his career, found it
necessary to stoop.  Office had sought him; he had not begged it, nor
manoeuvred for it, nor crept towards it--arts which too frequently bring
a man, morally bowed and degraded, to a position which should be one of
dignity, but in which he will vainly essay to stand upright.

In our earlier meetings, after Pierce had begun to come forward in public
life, I could discern that his ambition was aroused.  He felt a young
man's enjoyment of success, so early and so distinguished.  But as years
went on, such motives seemed to be less influential with him.  He was
cured of ambition, as, one after another, its objects came to him
unsought.  His domestic position, likewise, had contributed to direct his
tastes and wishes towards the pursuits of private life.  In 1834 he had
married Jane Means, a daughter of the Rev. Dr. Appleton, a former
president of Bowdoin College.  Three sons, the first of whom died in
early infancy, were born to him; and, having hitherto been kept poor by
his public service, he no doubt became sensible of the expediency of
making some provision for the future.  Such, it may be presumed, were the
considerations that induced his resignation of the senatorship, greatly
to the regret of all parties.  The senators gathered around him as he was
about to quit the chamber; political opponents took leave of him as of a
personal friend; and no departing member has ever retired from that
dignified body amid warmer wishes for his happiness than those that
attended Franklin Pierce.

His father had died three years before, in 1839, at the mansion which he
built, after the original log-cabin grew too narrow for his rising family
and fortunes.  The mansion was spacious, as the liberal hospitality of
the occupant required, and stood on a little eminence, surrounded by
verdure and abundance, and a happy population, where, half a century
before, the revolutionary soldier had come alone into the wilderness, and
levelled the primeval forest trees.  After being spared to behold the
distinction of his son, he departed this life at the age of eighty-one
years, in perfect peace, and, until within a few hours of his death, in
the full possession of his intellectual powers.  His last act was one of
charity to a poor neighbor--a fitting close to a life that had abounded
in such deeds.  Governor Pierce was a man of admirable qualities--brave,
active, public-spirited, endowed with natural authority, courteous yet
simple in his manners; and in his son we may perceive these same
attributes, modified and softened by a finer texture of character,
illuminated by higher intellectual culture, and polished by a larger
intercourse with the world, but as substantial and sterling as in the
good old patriot.

Franklin Pierce had removed from Hillsborough in 1838, and taken up his
residence at Concord, the capital of New Hampshire.  On this occasion,
the citizens of his native town invited him to a public dinner, in token
of their affection and respect.  In accordance with his usual taste, he
gratefully accepted the kindly sentiment, but declined the public
demonstration of it.



CHAPTER III.

HIS SUCCESS AT THE BAR.


Franklin Pierce's earliest effort at the bar, as we have already
observed, was an unsuccessful one; but instead of discouraging him, the
failure had only served to awaken the consciousness of latent power, and
the resolution to bring it out.  Since those days, he had indeed gained
reputation as a lawyer.  So much, however, was the tenor of his legal
life broken up by the months of public service subtracted from each year,
and such was the inevitable tendency of his thoughts towards political
subjects, that he could but very partially avail himself of the
opportunities of professional advancement.  But on retiring from the
Senate he appears to have started immediately into full practice.  Though
the people of New Hampshire already knew him well, yet his brilliant
achievements as an advocate brought him more into their view, and into
closer relations with them, than he had ever before been.  He now met his
countrymen, as represented in the jury box, face to face, and made them
feel what manner of man he was.  Their sentiment towards him soon grew to
be nothing short of enthusiasm; love, pride, the sense of brotherhood,
affectionate sympathy, and perfect trust, all mingled in it.  It was the
influence of a great heart pervading the general heart, and throbbing
with it in the same pulsation.

It has never been the writer's good fortune to listen to one of Franklin
Pierce's public speeches, whether at the bar or elsewhere; nor, by
diligent inquiry, has he been able to gain a very definite idea of the
mode in which he produces his effects.  To me, therefore, his forensic
displays are in the same category with those of Patrick Henry, or any
other orator whose tongue, beyond the memory of man, has moulded into
dust.  His power results, no doubt, in great measure, from the
earnestness with which he imbues himself with the conception of his
client's cause; insomuch that he makes it entirely his own, and, never
undertaking a case which he believes to be unjust, contends with his
whole heart and conscience, as well as intellectual force, for victory.
His labor in the preparation of his cases is said to be unremitting; and
he throws himself with such energy into a trial of importance as wholly
to exhaust his strength.

Few lawyers, probably, have been interested in a wider variety of
business than he; its scope comprehends the great causes where immense
pecuniary interests are concerned--from which, however, he is always
ready to turn aside, to defend the humble rights of the poor man, or give
his protection to one unjustly accused.  As one of my correspondents
observes, "When an applicant has interested him by a recital of fraud or
wrong, General Pierce never investigates the man's estate before engaging
in his business; neither does he calculate whose path he may cross.  I
have been privy to several instances of the noblest independence on his
part, in pursuing, to the disrepute of those who stood well in the
community, the weal of an obscure client with a good cause."

In the practice of the law, as Pierce pursued it, in one or another of
the court houses of New Hampshire, the rumor of each successive struggle
and success resounded over the rugged hills, and perished without a
record.  Those mighty efforts, into which he put all his strength, before
a county court, and addressing a jury of yeomen, have necessarily been,
as regards the evanescent memory of any particular trial, like the
eloquence that is sometimes poured out in a dream.  In other spheres of
action, with no greater expenditure of mental energy, words have been
spoken that endure from age to age--deeds done that harden into history.
But this, perhaps the most earnest portion of Franklin Pierce's life, has
left few materials from which it can be written.  There is before me only
one report of a case in which he was engaged--the defence of the
Wentworths, at a preliminary examination, on a charge of murder.  His
speech occupied four hours in the delivery, and handles a confused medley
of facts with masterly skill, bringing them to bear one upon another, and
making the entire mass, as it were, transparent, so that the truth may be
seen through it.  The whole hangs together too closely to permit the
quotation of passages.

The writer has been favored with communications from two individuals, who
have enjoyed the best of opportunities to become acquainted with General
Pierce's character as a lawyer.  The following is the graceful and
generous tribute of a gentleman, who, of late, more frequently than any
other, has been opposed to him at the bar:--

"General Pierce cannot be said to have commenced his career at the bar in
earnest until after his resignation of the office of senator, in 1842.
And it is a convincing proof of his eminent powers that he at once placed
himself in the very first rank at a bar so distinguished for ability as
that of New Hampshire.  It is confessed by all who have the means of
knowledge and judgment on this subject, that in no state of the Union are
causes tried with more industry of preparation, skill, perseverance,
energy, or vehement effort to succeed.

"During much of this time, my practice in our courts was suspended; and
it is only within three or four years that I have had opportunities of
intimately knowing his powers as an advocate, by being associated with
him at the bar; and, most of all, of appreciating and feeling that power,
by being opposed to him in the trial of causes before juries.  Far more
than any other man, whom it has been my fortune to meet, he makes himself
felt by one who tries a case against him.  From the first, he impresses
on his opponent a consciousness of the necessity of a deadly struggle,
not only in order to win the victory, but to avoid defeat.

"His vigilance and perseverance, omitting nothing in the preparation and
introduction of testimony, even to the minutest details, which can be
useful to his clients; his watchful attention, seizing on every weak
point in the opposite case; his quickness and readiness; his sound and
excellent judgment; his keen insight into character and motives, his
almost intuitive knowledge of men; his ingenious and powerful
cross-examinations; his adroitness in turning aside troublesome
testimony, and availing himself of every favorable point; his quick sense
of the ridiculous; his pathetic appeals to the feelings; his sustained
eloquence, and remarkably energetic declamation,--all mark him for a
'leader.'

"From the beginning to the end of the trial of a case, nothing with him
is neglected which can by possibility honorably conduce to success.  His
manner is always respectful and deferential to the court, captivating to
the jury, and calculated to conciliate the good will even of those who
would be otherwise indifferent spectators.  In short, he plays the part
of a successful actor; successful, because he always identifies himself
with his part, and in him it is not acting.

"Perhaps, as would be expected by those who know his generosity of heart,
and his scorn of everything like oppression or extortion, he is most
powerful in his indignant denunciations of fraud or injustice, and his
addresses to the feelings in behalf of the poor and lowly, and the
sufferers under wrong.  I remember to have heard of his extraordinary
power on one occasion, when a person who had offered to procure arrears
of a pension for revolutionary services had appropriated to himself a
most unreasonable share of the money.  General Pierce spoke of the
frequency of these instances, and, before the numerous audience, offered
his aid, freely and gratuitously, to redress the wrongs of any widow or
representative of a revolutionary officer or soldier who had been made
the subject of such extortion.

"The reply of the poor man, in the anecdote related by Lord Campbell of
Harry Erskine, would be applicable, as exhibiting a feeling kindred to
that with which General Pierce is regarded: 'There's no a puir man in a'
Scotland need to want a friend or fear an enemy, sae lang as Harry
Erskine lives!'"

We next give his aspect as seen from the bench, in the following
carefully prepared and discriminating article, from the chief justice of
New Hampshire:--

"In attempting to estimate the character and qualifications of Mr. Pierce
as a lawyer and an advocate, we undertake a delicate, but, at the same
time, an agreeable task.  The profession of the law, practised by men of
liberal and enlightened minds, and unstained by the sordidness which more
or less affects all human pursuits, invariably confers honor upon and is
honored by its followers.  An integrity above suspicion, an eloquence
alike vigorous and persuasive, and an intuitive sagacity have earned for
Mr. Pierce the reputation that always follows them.

"The last case of paramount importance in which he was engaged as counsel
was that of Morrison v. Philbrick, tried in the month of February, 1852,
at the Court of Common Pleas for the county of Belknap.  There was on
both sides an array of eminent professional talent, Messrs. Pierce, Bell,
and Bellows appearing for the defendant, and Messrs. Atherton and Whipple
for the plaintiff.  The case was one of almost unequalled interest to the
public generally, and to the inhabitants of the country lying around the
lower part of Lake Winnipiscogee.  A company, commonly called the Lake
Company, had become the owners of many of the outlets of the streams
supplying the lake, and by means of their works at such places, and at
Union Bridge, a few miles below, were enabled to keep back the waters of
the lake, and to use them as occasion should require to supply the mills
at Lowell.  The plaintiff alleged that the dam at Union Bridge had caused
the water to rise higher than was done by the dam that existed in the
year 1828, and that he was essentially injured thereby.  The case had
been on trial nearly seven weeks.  Evidence equivalent to the testimony
of one hundred and eighty witnesses had been laid before the jury.  Upon
this immense mass of facts, involving a great number of issues, Mr.
Pierce was to meet his most formidable opponent in the state, Mr.
Atherton.  In that gentleman are united many of the rarest qualifications
of an advocate.  Of inimitable self-possession; with a coolness and
clearness of intellect which no sudden emergencies can disturb; with that
confidence in his resources which nothing but native strength, aided by
the most thorough training, can bestow; with a felicity and fertility of
illustration, the result alike of an exquisite natural taste and a
cultivation of those studies which refine while they strengthen the mind
for forensic contests,--Mr. Atherton's argument was listened to with an
earnestness and interest which showed the conviction of his audience that
no ordinary man was addressing them.

"No one who witnessed that memorable trial will soon forget the argument
of Mr. Pierce on that occasion.  He was the counsel for the defendant,
and was therefore to precede Mr. Atherton.  He was to analyze and unfold
to the jury this vast body of evidence under the watchful eyes of an
opponent at once enterprising and cautious, and before whom it was
necessary to be both bold and skilful.  He was to place himself in the
position of the jury, to see the evidence as they would be likely to
regard it, to understand the character of their minds and what views
would be the most likely to impress them.  He was not only to be familiar
with his own case, but to anticipate that of his opponent, and answer as
he best might the argument of the counsel.  And most admirably did he
discharge the duties he had assumed on behalf of his client.  Eminently
graceful and attractive in his manner at all times, his demeanor was then
precisely what it should have been, showing a manly confidence in himself
and his case, and a courteous deference to the tribunal he was
addressing.  His erect and manly figure, his easy and unembarrassed air,
bespoke the favorable attention of his audience.  His earnest devotion to
his cause, his deep emotion, evidently suppressed, but for that very
reason all the more interesting, diffused themselves like electricity
through his hearers.  And when, as often happened, in the course of his
argument, his clear and musical accents fell upon the ear in eloquent and
pointed sentences, gratifying the taste while they satisfied the reason,
no man could avoid turning to his neighbor, and expressing by his looks
that pleasure which the very depth of his interest forbade him to express
in words.  And when the long trial was over, every one remembered with
satisfaction that these two distinguished gentlemen had met each other
during a most exciting and exhausting trial of seven weeks, and that no
unkind words, or captious passages, had occurred between them to diminish
their mutual respect, or that in which they were held by their
fellow-citizens.

"In the above remarks, we have indicated a few of Mr. Pierce's
characteristics as an advocate; but he possesses other endowments, to
which we have not alluded.  In the first place, as he is a perfectly
fearless man, so he is a perfectly fearless advocate; and true courage is
as necessary to the civilian as to the soldier, and smiles and frowns Mr.
Pierce disregards alike in the undaunted discharge of his duty.  He never
fears to uphold his client, however unpopular his cause may seem to be
for the moment.  It is this courage which kindles his eloquence, inspires
his conduct, and gives direction and firmness to his skill.  This it is
which impels him onward, at all risks, to lay bare every 'mystery of
iniquity' which he believes is threatening his case.  He does not ask
himself whether his opponent be not a man of wealth and influence, of
whom it might be for his interest to speak with care and circumspection;
but he devotes himself with a ready zeal to his cause, careless of aught
but how he may best discharge his duty.  His argumentative powers are of
the highest order.  He never takes before the court a position which he
believes untenable.  He has a quick and sure perception of his points,
and the power of enforcing them by apt and pertinent illustrations.  He
sees the relative importance and weight of different views, and can
assign to each its proper place, and brings forward the main body of his
reasoning in prominent relief, without distracting the attention by
unimportant particulars.  And above all, he has the good sense, so rarely
shown by many, to stop when he has said all that is necessary for the
elucidation of his subject.  With a proper confidence in his own
perceptions, he states his views so pertinently and in such precise and
logical terms, that they cannot but be felt and appreciated.  He never
mystifies; he never attempts to pervert words from their proper and
legitimate meaning to answer a temporary purpose.

"His demeanor at the bar nay be pronounced faultless.  His courtesy in
the court house, like his courtesy elsewhere, is that which springs from
self-respect and from a kindly heart, disposing its owner to say and do
kindly things.  But he would be a courageous man who, presuming upon the
affability of Mr. Pierce's manner, would venture a second time to attack
him; for he would long remember the rebuke that followed his first
attack.  There is a ready repartee and a quick and cutting sarcasm in his
manner when he chooses to display it, which it requires a man of
considerable nerve to withstand.  He is peculiarly happy in the
examination of witnesses--that art in which so few excel.  He never
browbeats, he never attempts to terrify.  He is never rude or
discourteous.  But the equivocating witness soon discovers that his
falsehood is hunted out of its recesses with an unsparing determination.
If he is dogged and surly, he is met by a spirit as resolute as his own.
If he is smooth and plausible, the veil is lifted from him by a firm but
graceful hand.  If he is pompous and vain, no ridicule was ever more
perfect than that to which he listens with astonished and mortified ears.

"The eloquence of Mr. Pierce is of a character not to be easily
forgotten.  He understands men, their passions and their feelings.  He
knows the way to their hearts, and can make them vibrate to his touch.
His language always attracts the hearer.  A graceful and manly carriage,
bespeaking him at once the gentleman and the true man; a manner warmed by
the ardent glow of an earnest belief; an enunciation ringing, distinct,
and impressive beyond that of most men; a command of brilliant and
expressive language; and an accurate taste, together with a sagacious and
instinctive insight into the points of his case, are the secrets of his
success.  It is thus that audiences are moved and truth ascertained; and
he will ever be the most successful advocate who can approach the nearest
to this lofty and difficult position.

"Mr. Pierce's views as a constitutional lawyer are such as have been
advocated by the ablest minds of America.  They are those which, taking
their rise in the heroic age of the country, were transmitted to him by a
noble father, worthy of the times in which he lived, worthy of that
Revolution which he assisted in bringing about.  He believes that the
Constitution was made, not to be subverted, but to be sacredly preserved;
that a republic is perfectly consistent with the conservation of law, of
rational submission to right authority, and of true self-government.
Equally removed from that malignant hostility to order which
characterizes the demagogues who are eager to rise upon the ruins even of
freedom, and from that barren and bigoted narrowness which would oppose
all rational freedom of opinion, he is, in its loftiest and most
ennobling sense, a friend of that Union, without which the honored name
of American citizen would become a by-word among the nations.  And if, as
we fervently pray and confidently expect he will, Mr. Pierce shall
display before the great tribunals of the nation the courage, the
consistency, the sagacity, and the sense of honor, which have already
secured for him so many thousands of devoted friends, and which have
signalized both his private and professional life, his administration
will long be held in grateful remembrance as one of which the sense of
right and the sagacity to perceive it, a clear insight into the true
destinies of the country and a determination to uphold them at whatever
sacrifice, were the predominant characteristics."

It may appear singular that Franklin Pierce has not taken up his
residence in some metropolis, where his great forensic abilities would so
readily find a more conspicuous theatre, and a far richer remuneration
than heretofore.  He himself, it is understood, has sometimes
contemplated a removal, and, two or three years since, had almost
determined on settling in Baltimore.  But his native state, where he is
known so well, and regarded with so much familiar affection, which he has
served so faithfully, and which rewards him so generously with its
confidence, New Hampshire, with its granite hills, must always be his
home.  He will dwell there, except when public duty for a season shall
summon him away; he will die there, and give his dust to its soil.

It was at his option, in 1846, to accept the highest legal position in
the country, setting aside the bench, and the one which undoubtedly would
most have gratified his professional aspirations.  President Polk, with
whom he had been associated on the most friendly terms in Congress, now
offered him the post of attorney general of the United States.  "In
tendering to you this position in my cabinet," writes the President, "I
have been governed by the high estimate which I place upon your character
and eminent qualifications to fill it."  The letter, in which this
proposal is declined, shows so much of the writer's real self that we
quote a portion of it.

"Although the early years of my manhood were devoted to public life, it
was never really suited to my taste.  I longed, as I am sure you must
often have done, for the quiet and independence that belong only to the
private citizen; and now, at forty, I feel that desire stronger than
ever.

"Coming so unexpectedly as this offer does, it would be difficult, if not
impossible, to arrange the business of an extensive practice, between
this and the first of November, in a manner at all satisfactory to
myself, or to those who have committed their interests to my care, and
who rely on my services.  Besides, you know that Mrs. Pierce's health,
while at Washington, was very delicate.  It is, I fear, even more so now;
and the responsibilities which the proposed change would necessarily
impose upon her ought, probably, in themselves, to constitute an
insurmountable objection to leaving our quiet home for a public station
at Washington.

"When I resigned my seat in the Senate in 1842, I did it with the fixed
purpose never again to be voluntarily separated from my family for any
considerable length of time, except at the call of my country in time of
war; and yet this consequence, for the reason before stated, and on
account of climate, would be very likely to result from my acceptance.

"These are some of the considerations which have influenced my decision.
You will, I am sure, appreciate my motives.  You will not believe that I
have weighed my personal convenience and case against the public
interest, especially as the office is one which, if not sought, would be
readily accepted by gentlemen who could bring to your aid attainments and
qualifications vastly superior to mine."

Previous to the offer of the attorney-generalship, the appointment of
United States Senator had been tendered to Pierce by Governor Steele, and
declined.  It is unquestionable that, at this period, he hoped and
expected to spend a life of professional toil in a private station,
undistinguished except by the exercise of his great talents in peaceful
pursuits.  But such was not his destiny.  The contingency to which he
referred in the above letter, as the sole exception to his purpose of
never being separated from his family, was now about to occur.  Nor did
he fail to comport himself as not only that intimation, but the whole
tenor of his character, gave reason to anticipate.

During the years embraced in this chapter,--between 1842 and 1847,--he
had constantly taken an efficient interest in the politics of the state,
but had uniformly declined the honors which New Hampshire was at all
times ready to confer upon him.  A democratic convention nominated him
for governor, but could not obtain his acquiescence.  One of the
occasions on which he most strenuously exerted himself was in holding the
democratic party loyal to its principles, in opposition to the course of
John P. Hale.  This gentleman, then a representative in Congress, had
broken with his party on no less important a point than the annexation of
Texas.  He has never since acted with the Democracy, and has long been a
leader of the free soil party.

In 1844 died Frank Robert, son of Franklin Pierce, aged four years, a
little boy of rare beauty and promise, and whose death was the greatest
affliction that his father has experienced.  His only surviving child is
a son, now eleven years old.



CHAPTER IV.

THE MEXICAN WAR.


When Franklin Pierce declined the honorable offer of the
attorney-generalship of the United States, he intimated that there might
be one contingency in which he would feel it his duty to give up the
cherished purpose of spending the remainder of his life in a private
station.  That exceptional case was brought about, in 1847, by the
Mexican War.  He showed his readiness to redeem the pledge by enrolling
himself as the earliest volunteer of a company raised in Concord, and
went through the regular drill, with his fellow-soldiers, as a private in
the ranks.  On the passage of the bill for the increase of the army, he
received the appointment of colonel of the Ninth Regiment, which was the
quota of New England towards the ten that were to be raised.  And shortly
afterwards,--in March, 1847,--he was commissioned as brigadier-general in
the army; his brigade consisting of regiments from the extreme north, the
extreme west, and the extreme south of the Union.

There is nothing in any other country similar to what we see in our own,
when the blast of the trumpet at once converts men of peaceful pursuits
into warriors.  Every war in which America has been engaged has done
this; the valor that wins our battles is not the trained hardihood of
veterans, but a native and spontaneous fire; and there is surely a
chivalrous beauty in the devotion of the citizen soldier to his country's
cause, which the man who makes arms his profession, and is but doing his
regular business on the field of battle, cannot pretend to rival.  Taking
the Mexican War as a specimen, this peculiar composition of an American
army, as well in respect to its officers as its private soldiers, seems
to create a spirit of romantic adventure which more than supplies the
place of disciplined courage.

The author saw General Pierce in Boston, on the eve of his departure for
Vera Cruz.  He had been intensely occupied, since his appointment, in
effecting the arrangements necessary on leaving his affairs, as well as
by the preparations, military and personal, demanded by the expedition.
The transports were waiting at Newport to receive the troops.  He was now
in the midst of bustle, with some of the officers of his command about
him, mingled with the friends whom he was to leave behind.  The severest
point of the crisis was over, for he had already bidden his family
farewell.  His spirits appeared to have risen with the occasion.  He was
evidently in his element; nor, to say the truth, dangerous as was the
path before him, could it be regretted that his life was now to have the
opportunity of that species of success which--in his youth, at least--he
had considered the best worth struggling for.  He looked so fit to be a
soldier, that it was impossible to doubt--not merely his good conduct,
which was as certain before the event as afterwards, but--his good
fortune in the field, and his fortunate return.

He sailed from Newport on the 27th of May, in the bark Kepler, having on
board three companies of the Ninth Regiment of Infantry, together with
Colonel Ransom, its commander, and the officers belonging to the
detachment.  The passage was long and tedious, with protracted calms, and
so smooth a sea that a sail-boat might have performed the voyage in
safety.  The Kepler arrived at Vera Cruz in precisely a month after her
departure from the United States, without speaking a single vessel from
the south during her passage, and, of course, receiving no intelligence
as to the position and state of the army which these reenforcements were
to join.

From a journal kept by General Pierce, and intended only for the perusal
of his family and friends, we present some extracts.  They are mere hasty
jottings-down in camp, and at the intervals of weary marches, but will
doubtless bring the reader closer to the man than any narrative which we
could substitute.  [In this reprint it has been thought expedient to omit
the passages from General Pierce's journal.]

          *     *     *     *     *     *

General Pierce's journal here terminates.  In its clear and simple
narrative the reader cannot fail to see--although it was written with no
purpose of displaying them--the native qualities of a born soldier,
together with the sagacity of an experienced one.  He had proved himself,
moreover, physically apt for war, by his easy endurance of the fatigues
of the march; every step of which (as was the case with few other
officers) was performed either on horseback or on foot.  Nature, indeed,
has endowed him with a rare elasticity both of mind and body; he springs
up from pressure like a well-tempered sword.  After the severest toil, a
single night's rest does as much for him, in the way of refreshment, as a
week could do for most other men.

His conduct on this adventurous march received the high encomiums of
military men, and was honored with the commendation of the great soldier
who is now his rival in the presidential contest.  He reached the main
army at Puebla on the 7th of August, with twenty-four hundred men, in
fine order, and without the loss of a single wagon.



CHAPTER V.

HIS SERVICES IN THE VALLEY OF MEXICO.


General Scott, who was at Puebla with the main army awaiting this
reenforcement, began his march towards the city of Mexico on the day
after General Pierce's arrival.  The battle of Contreras was fought on
the 19th of August.

The enemy's force consisted of about seven thousand men, posted in a
strongly-intrenched camp, under General Valencia, one of the bravest and
ablest of the Mexican commanders.  The object of the commanding general
appears to have been to cut off the communications of these detached
troops with Santa Anna's main army, and thus to have them entirely at his
mercy.  For this purpose a portion of the American forces were ordered to
move against Valencia's left flank, and, by occupying strong positions in
the villages and on the roads towards the city, to prevent reenforcements
from reaching him.  In the mean time, to draw the enemy's attention from
this movement, a vigorous onset was made upon his front; and as the
operations upon his flank were not immediately and fully carried out
according to the plan, this front demonstration assumed the character of
a fierce and desperate attack, upon which the fortunes of the day much
depended.  General Pierce's brigade formed a part of the force engaged in
this latter movement, in which four thousand newly-recruited men, unable
to bring their artillery to bear, contended against seven thousand
disciplined soldiers, protected by intrenchments, and showering round
shot and shells against the assailing troops.

The ground in front was of the rudest and roughest character.  The troops
made their way with difficulty over a broken tract called the Pedregal,
bristling with sharp points of rocks, and which is represented as having
been the crater of a now exhausted and extinct volcano.  The enemy had
thrown out skirmishers, who were posted in great force among the crevices
and inequalities of this broken ground, and vigorously resisted the
American advance; while the artillery of the intrenched camp played upon
our troops, and shattered the very rocks over which they were to pass.

General Pierce's immediate command had never before been under such a
fire of artillery.  The enemy's range was a little too high, or the havoc
in our ranks must have been dreadful.  In the midst of this fire, General
Pierce, being the only officer mounted in the brigade, leaped his horse
upon an abrupt eminence, and addressed the colonels and captains of the
regiments, as they passed, in a few stirring words,--reminding them of
the honor of their country, of the victory their steady valor would
contribute to achieve.  Pressing forward to the head of the column, he
had nearly reached the practicable ground that lay beyond, when his horse
slipped among the rocks, thrust his foot into a crevice, and fell,
breaking his own leg, and crushing his rider heavily beneath him.

Pierce's mounted orderly soon came to his assistance.  The general was
stunned, and almost insensible.  When partially recovered, he found
himself suffering from severe bruises, and especially from a sprain of
the left knee, which was undermost when the horse came down.  The orderly
assisted him to reach the shelter of a projecting rock; and as they made
their way thither, a shell fell close beside them and exploded, covering
them with earth.  "That was a lucky miss," said Pierce calmly.  Leaving
him in such shelter as the rock afforded, the orderly went in search of
aid, and was fortunate to meet with Dr. Ritchie, of Virginia, who was
attached to Pierce's brigade, and was following in close proximity to the
advancing column.  The doctor administered to him as well as the
circumstances would admit.  Immediately on recovering his full
consciousness, General Pierce had become anxious to rejoin his troops;
and now, in opposition to Dr. Ritchie's advice and remonstrances, he
determined to proceed to the front.

With pain and difficulty, and leaning on his orderly's arm, he reached
the battery commanded by Captain McGruder, where he found the horse of
Lieutenant Johnson, who had just before received a mortal wound.  In
compliance with his wishes, he was assisted into the saddle; and, in
answer to a remark that he would be unable to keep his seat, "Then," said
the general, "you must tie me on."  Whether his precaution was actually
taken is a point upon which authorities differ; but at all events, with
injuries so severe as would have sent almost any other man to the
hospital, he rode forward into the battle.

The contest was kept up until nightfall, without forcing Valencia's
intrenchment.  General Pierce remained in the saddle until eleven o'clock
at night.  Finding himself, at nine o'clock, the senior officer in the
field, he, in that capacity, withdrew the troops from their advanced
position, and concentrated them at the point where they were to pass the
night.  At eleven, beneath a torrent of rain, destitute of a tent or
other protection, and without food or refreshment, he lay down on an
ammunition wagon, but was prevented by the pain of his injuries,
especially that of his wounded knee, from finding any repose.  At one
o'clock came orders from General Scott to put the brigade into a new
position, in front of the enemy's works, preparatory to taking part in
the contemplated operations of the next morning.  During the night, the
troops appointed for that service, under Riley, Shields, Smith, and
Cadwallader, had occupied the villages and roads between Valencia's
position and the city; so that, with daylight, the commanding general's
scheme of the battle was ready to be carried out, as it had originally
existed in his mind.

At daylight, accordingly, Valencia's intrenched camp was assaulted.
General Pierce was soon in the saddle at the head of his brigade, which
retained its position in front, thus serving to attract the enemy's
attention, and divert him from the true point of attack.  The camp was
stormed in the rear by the American troops, led on by Riley, Cadwallader,
and Dimmick; and in the short space of seventeen minutes it had fallen
into the hands of the assailants, together with a multitude of prisoners.
The remnant of the routed enemy fled towards Churubusco.  As Pierce led
his brigade in pursuit, crossing the battle-field, and passing through
the works that had just been stormed, he found the road and adjacent
fields everywhere strewn with the dead and dying.  The pursuit was
continued until one o'clock, when the foremost of the Americans arrived
in front of the strong Mexican positions at Churubusco and San Antonio,
where Santa Alma's army had been compelled to make a stand, and where the
great conflict of the day commenced.

General Santa Anna entertained the design of withdrawing his forces
towards the city.  In order to intercept this movement, Pierce's brigade,
with other troops, was ordered to pursue a route by which the enemy could
be attacked in the rear.  Colonel Noah E. Smith (a patriotic American,
long resident in Mexico, whose local and topographical knowledge proved
eminently serviceable) had offered to point out the road, and was sent to
summon General Pierce to the presence of the commander-in-chief.  When he
met Pierce, near Coyacan, at the head of his brigade, the heavy fire of
the batteries had commenced.  "He was exceedingly thin," writes Colonel
Smith, "worn down by the fatigue and pain of the day and night before,
and then evidently suffering severely.  Still there was a glow in his
eye, as the cannon boomed, that showed within him a spirit ready for the
conflict."  He rode up to General Scott, who was at this time sitting on
horseback beneath a tree, near the church of Coyacan, issuing orders to
different individuals of his staff.  Our account of this interview is
chiefly taken from the narrative of Colonel Smith, corroborated by other
testimony.

The commander-in-chief had already heard of the accident that befell
Pierce the day before; and as the latter approached, General Scott could
not but notice the marks of pain and physical exhaustion against which
only the sturdiest constancy of will could have enabled him to bear up.
"Pierce, my dear fellow," said he,--and that epithet of familiar kindness
and friendship, upon the battle-field, was the highest of military
commendation from such a man,--"you are badly injured; you are not fit to
be in your saddle."  "Yes, general, I am," replied Pierce, "in a case
like this."  "You cannot touch your foot to the stirrup," said Scott.
"One of them I can," answered Pierce.  The general looked again at
Pierce's almost disabled figure, and seemed on the point of taking his
irrevocable resolution.  "You are rash, General Pierce," said he; "we
shall lose you, and we cannot spare you.  It is my duty to order you back
to St. Augustine."  "For God's sake, general," exclaimed Pierce, "don't
say that!  This is the last great battle, and I must lead my brigade!"
The commander-in-chief made no further remonstrance, but gave the order
for Pierce to advance with his brigade.

The way lay through thick standing corn, and over marshy ground
intersected with ditches, which were filled, or partially so, with water.
Over some of the narrower of these Pierce leaped his horse.  When the
brigade had advanced about a mile, however, it found itself impeded by a
ditch ten or twelve feet wide, and six or eight feet deep.  It being
impossible to leap it, General Pierce was lifted from his saddle, and in
some incomprehensible way, hurt as he was, contrived to wade or scramble
across this obstacle, leaving his horse on the hither side.  The troops
were now under fire.  In the excitement of the battle he forgot his
injury, and hurried forward, leading the brigade, a distance of two or
three hundred yards.  But the exhaustion of his frame, and particularly
the anguish of his knee,--made more intolerable by such free use of it,--
was greater than any strength of nerve, or any degree of mental energy,
could struggle against.  He fell, faint and almost insensible, within
full range of the enemy's fire.  It was proposed to bear him off the
field; but, as some of his soldiers approached to lift him, he became
aware of their purpose, and was partially revived by his determination to
resist it.  "No," said he, with all the strength he had left, "don't
carry me off!  Let me lie here!" And there he lay, under the tremendous
fire of Churubusco, until the enemy, in total rout, was driven from the
field.

Immediately after the victory, when the city of Mexico lay at the mercy
of the American commander, and might have been entered that very night,
Santa Anna sent a flag of truce, proposing an armistice, with a view to
negotiation for peace.  It cannot be considered in any other light than
as a very high and signal compliment to his gallantry in the field that
General Pierce was appointed, by the commander-in-chief, one of the
commissioners on our part, together with General Quitman and General
Persifer F. Smith, to arrange the terms of this armistice.  Pierce was
unable to walk, or to mount his horse without assistance, when
intelligence of his appointment reached him.  He had not taken off his
spurs nor slept an hour, for two nights; but he immediately obeyed the
summons, was assisted into the saddle, and rode to Tacubaya, where, at
the house of the British consul-general, the American and Mexican
commissioners were assembled.  The conference began late in the
afternoon, and continued till four o'clock the next morning, when the
articles were signed.  Pierce then proceeded to the quarters of General
Worth, in the village of Tacubaya, where he obtained an hour or two of
repose.

The expectation of General Scott, that further bloodshed might be avoided
by means of the armistice, proved deceptive.  Military operations, after
a temporary interruption, were actively renewed; and on the 8th of
September was fought the bloody battle of Molino del Rey, one of the
fiercest and most destructive of the war.

In this conflict General Worth, with three thousand troops, attacked and
routed fourteen thousand Mexicans, driving them under the protection of
the Castle of Chepultepec.  Perceiving the obstinacy with which the field
was contested, the commander-in-chief dispatched an order to General
Pierce to advance to the support of General Worth's division.  He moved
forward with rapidity; and although the battle was won just as he reached
the field, he interposed his brigade between Worth and the retreating
enemy, and thus drew upon himself the fire of Chepultepec.  A shell came
streaming from the castle, and, bursting within a few feet of him,
startled his horse, which was near plunging over an adjacent precipice.
Continuing a long time under fire, Pierce's brigade was engaged in
removing the wounded and the captured ammunition.  While thus occupied,
he led a portion of his command to repel the attacks of the enemy's
skirmishers.

There remained but one other battle,--that of Chepultepec,--which was
fought on the 13th of September.  On the preceding day (although the
injuries and the over-exertion resulting from previous marches and
battles had greatly enfeebled him), General Pierce had acted with his
brigade.  In obedience to orders, it had occupied the field of Molino del
Rey.  Contrary to expectation, it was found that the enemy's force had
been withdrawn from this position.  Pierce remained in the field until
noon, when, it being certain that the anticipated attack would not take
place before the following day, he returned to the quarters of General
Worth, which were near at hand.  There he became extremely ill, and was
unable to leave his bed for the thirty-six hours next ensuing.  In the
mean time, the Castle of Chepultepec was stormed by the troops under
Generals Pillow and Quitman.  Pierce's brigade behaved itself gallantly,
and suffered severely; and that accomplished officer, Colonel Ransom,
leading the Ninth Regiment to the attack, was shot through the head, and
fell, with many other brave men, in that last battle of the war.

The American troops, under Quitman and Worth, had established themselves
within the limits of the city, having possession of the gates of Belen
and of San Cosma, but, up till nightfall, had met with a vigorous
resistance from the Mexicans, led on by Santa Anna in person.  They had
still, apparently, a desperate task before them.  It was anticipated
that, with the next morning's light, our troops would be ordered to storm
the citadel, and the city of Mexico itself.  When this was told to
Pierce, upon his sick-bed, he rose, and attempted to dress himself; but
Captain Hardcastle, who had brought the intelligence from Worth,
prevailed upon him to remain in bed, and not to exhaust his scanty
strength until the imminence of the occasion should require his presence.
Pierce acquiesced for the time, but again arose, in the course of the
night, and made his way to the trenches, where he reported himself to
General Quitman, with whose division was a part of his brigade.
Quitman's share in the anticipated assault, it was supposed, owing to the
position which his troops occupied, would be more perilous than that of
Worth.

But the last great battle had been fought.  In the morning, it was
discovered that the citadel had been abandoned, and that Santa Anna had
withdrawn his army from the city.

There never was a more gallant body of officers than those who came from
civil life into the army on occasion of the Mexican War.  All of them,
from the rank of general downward, appear to have been animated by the
spirit of young knights, in times of chivalry, when fighting for their
spurs.  Hitherto known only as peaceful citizens, they felt it incumbent
on them, by daring and desperate valor, to prove their fitness to be
intrusted with the guardianship of their country's honor.  The old and
trained soldier, already distinguished on former fields, was free to be
discreet as well as brave; but these untried warriors were in a different
position, and therefore rushed on perils with a recklessness that found
its penalty on every battle-field--not one of which was won without a
grievous sacrifice of the best blood of America.  In this band of gallant
men, it is not too much to say, General Pierce was as distinguished for
what we must term his temerity in personal exposure, as for the higher
traits of leadership, wherever there was an opportunity for their
display.

He had manifested, moreover, other and better qualities than these, and
such as it affords his biographer far greater pleasure to record.  His
tenderness of heart, his sympathy, his brotherly or paternal care for his
men, had been displayed in a hundred instances, and had gained him the
enthusiastic affection of all who served under his command.  During the
passage from America, under the tropics, he would go down into the
stifling air of the hold, with a lemon, a cup of tea, and, better and
more efficacious than all, a kind word for the sick.  While encamped
before Vera Cruz, he gave up his own tent to a sick comrade, and went
himself to lodge in the pestilential city.  On the march, and even on the
battle-field, he found occasion to exercise those feelings of humanity
which show most beautifully there.  And, in the hospitals of Mexico, he
went among the diseased and wounded soldiers, cheering them with his
voice and the magic of his kindness, inquiring into their wants, and
relieving them to the utmost of his pecuniary means.  There was not a man
of his brigade but loved him, and would have followed him to death, or
have sacrificed his own life in his general's defence.

The officers of the old army, whose profession was war, and who well knew
what a soldier was and ought to be, fully recognized his merit.  An
instance of their honorable testimony in his behalf may fitly be recorded
here.  It was after General Pierce had returned to the United States.  At
a dinner in the halls of Montezuma, at which forty or fifty of the brave
men above alluded to were present, a young officer of the New England
Regiment was called on for a toast.  He made an address, in which he
spoke with irrepressible enthusiasm of General Pierce, and begged to
propose his health.  One of the officers of the old line rose, and
observed that none of the recently appointed generals commanded more
unanimous and universal respect; that General Pierce had appreciated the
scientific knowledge of the regular military men, and had acquired their
respect by the independence, firmness, and promptitude with which he
exercised his own judgment, and acted on the intelligence derived from
them.  In concluding this tribute of high, but well-considered praise,
the speaker very cordially acquiesced in the health of General Pierce,
and proposed that it should be drunk standing, with three times three.

General Pierce remained in Mexico until December, when, as the warfare
was over, and peace on the point of being concluded, he set out on his
return.  In nine months, crowded full of incident, he had seen far more
of actual service than many professional soldiers during their whole
lives.  As soon as the treaty of peace was signed, he gave up his
commission, and returned to the practice of the law, again proposing to
spend the remainder of his days in the bosom of his family.  All the
dreams of his youth were now fulfilled; the military ardor, that had
struck an hereditary root in his breast, had enjoyed its scope, and was
satisfied; and he flattered himself that no circumstances could hereafter
occur to draw him from the retirement of domestic peace.  New Hampshire
received him with even more enthusiastic affection than ever.  At his
departure, he had received a splendid sword at the hands of many of his
friends, in token of their confidence; he had shown himself well worthy
to wear and able to use a soldier's weapon; and his native state now gave
him another, the testimonial of approved valor and warlike conduct.



CHAPTER VI.

THE COMPROMISE AND OTHER MATTERS.


The intervening years, since General Pierce's return from Mexico, and
until the present time, have been spent in the laborious exercise of the
legal profession,--an employment scarcely varied or interrupted, except
by those episodes of political activity which a man of public influence
finds it impossible to avoid, and in which, if his opinions are matter of
conscience with him, he feels it his duty to interest himself.

In the presidential canvass of 1848 he used his best efforts (and with
success, so far as New Hampshire was concerned) in behalf of the
candidate of his party.  A truer and better speech has never been uttered
on a similar occasion than one which he made (during a hurried half hour,
snatched from the court rooms) in October of the above year, before the
democratic state convention, then in session at Concord.  It is an
invariable characteristic of General Pierce's popular addresses, that
they evince a genuine respect for the people; he makes his appeal to
their intelligence, their patriotism, and their integrity, and, never
doubtful of their upright purpose, proves his faith in the great mind
and heart of the country both by what he says and by what he refrains
from saying.  He never yet was guilty of an effort to cajole his
fellow-citizens, to operate upon their credulity, or to trick them even
into what was right; and therefore all the victories which he has ever
won in popular assemblies have been triumphs doubly honored, being as
creditable to his audiences as to himself.

When the series of measures known under the collective term of The
Compromise were passed by Congress in 1850, and put to so searching a
test here at the North the reverence of the people for the Constitution
and their attachment to the Union, General Pierce was true to the
principles which he had long ago avowed.  At an early period of his
congressional service he had made known, with the perfect frankness of
his character, those opinions upon the slavery question which he has
never since seen occasion to change in the slightest degree.  There is an
unbroken consistency in his action with regard to this matter.  It is
entirely of a piece, from his first entrance upon public life until the
moment when he came forward, while many were faltering, to throw the
great weight of his character and influence into the scale in favor of
those measures through which it was intended to redeem the pledges of the
Constitution, and to preserve and renew the old love and harmony among
the sisterhood of States.  His approval embraced the whole series of
these acts, as well those which bore hard upon northern views and
sentiments as those in which the South deemed itself to have made more
than reciprocal concessions.

No friend nor enemy that know Franklin Pierce would have expected him to
act otherwise.  With his view of the whole subject, whether looking at it
through the medium of his conscience, his feelings, or his intellect, it
was impossible for him not to take his stand as the unshaken advocate of
Union, and of the mutual steps of compromise which that great object
unquestionably demanded.  The fiercest, the least scrupulous, and the
most consistent of those who battle against slavery recognize the same
fact that he does.  They see that merely human wisdom and human efforts
cannot subvert it, except by tearing to pieces the Constitution, breaking
the pledges which it sanctions, and severing into distracted fragments
that common country which Providence brought into one nation, through a
continued miracle of almost two hundred years, from the first settlement
of the American wilderness until the Revolution.  In the days when, a
young member of Congress, he first raised his voice against agitation,
Pierce saw these perils and their consequences.  He considered, too, that
the evil would be certain, while the good was, at best, a contingency,
and (to the clear, practical foresight with which he looked into the
future) scarcely so much as that, attended as the movement was and must
be during its progress, with the aggravated injury of those whose
condition it aimed to ameliorate, and terminating, in its possible
triumph,--if such possibility there were,--with the ruin of two races
which now dwelt together in greater peace and affection, it is not too
much to say, than had ever elsewhere existed between the taskmaster and
the serf.

Of course, there is another view of all these matters.  The theorist may
take that view in his closet; the philanthropist by profession may strive
to act upon it uncompromisingly, amid the tumult and warfare of his life.
But the statesman of practical sagacity--who loves his country as it is,
and evolves good from things as they exist, and who demands to feel his
firm grasp upon a better reality before he quits the one already gained--
will be likely here, with all the greatest statesmen of America, to stand
in the attitude of a conservative.  Such, at all events, will be the
attitude of Franklin Pierce.  We have sketched some of the influences
amid which he grew up, inheriting his father's love of country, mindful
of the old patriot's valor in so many conflicts of the Revolution, and
having close before his eyes the example of brothers and relatives, more
than one of whom have bled for America, both at the extremest north and
farthest south; himself, too, in early manhood, serving the Union in its
legislative halls, and, at a maturer age, leading his fellow-citizens,
his brethren, from the widest-sundered states, to redden the same
battle-fields with their kindred blood, to unite their breath into one
shout of victory, and perhaps to sleep, side by side, with the same sod
over them.  Such a man, with such hereditary recollections, and such a
personal experience, must not narrow himself to adopt the cause of one
section of his native country against another.  He will stand up, as he
has always stood, among the patriots of the whole land.  And if the work
of antislavery agitation, which it is undeniable leaves most men who
earnestly engage in it with only half a country in their affections,--if
this work must be done, let others do it.

Those northern men, therefore, who deem the great causes of human welfare
as represented and involved in this present hostility against southern
institutions, and who conceive that the world stands still except so far
as that goes forward,--these, it may be allowed, can scarcely give their
sympathy or their confidence to the subject of this memoir.  But there is
still another view, and probably as wise a one.  It looks upon slavery as
one of those evils which divine Providence does not leave to be remedied
by human contrivances, but which, in its own good time, by some means
impossible to be anticipated, but of the simplest and easiest operation,
when all its uses shall have been fulfilled, it causes to vanish like a
dream.  There is no instance, in all history, of the human will and
intellect having perfected any great moral reform by methods which it
adapted to that end; but the progress of the world, at every step, leaves
some evil or wrong on the path behind it, which the wisest of mankind, of
their own set purpose, could never have found the way to rectify.
Whatever contributes to the great cause of good, contributes to all its
subdivisions and varieties; and, on this score, the lover of his race,
the enthusiast, the philanthropist of whatever theory, might lend his aid
to put a man, like the one before us, into the leadership of the world's
affairs.

How firm and conscientious was General Pierce's support of The Compromise
may be estimated from his conduct in reference to the Reverend John
Atwood.  In the foregoing pages it has come oftener in our way to
illustrate the bland and prepossessing features of General Pierce's
character, than the sterner ones which must necessarily form the bones,
so to speak, the massive skeleton, of any man who retains an upright
attitude amidst the sinister influences of public life.  The transaction
now alluded to affords a favorable opportunity for indicating some of
these latter traits.

In October, 1850, a democratic convention, held at Concord, nominated Mr.
Atwood as the party's regular candidate for governor.  The Compromise,
then recent, was inevitably a prominent element in the discussions of the
convention; and a series of resolutions were adopted, bearing reference
to this great subject, fully and unreservedly indorsing the measures
comprehended under it, and declaring the principles on which the
Democracy of the state was about to engage in the gubernatorial contest.
Mr. Atwood accepted the nomination, acceding to the platform thus
tendered him, taking exceptions to none of the individual resolutions,
and, of course, pledging himself to the whole by the very act of assuming
the candidacy, which was predicated upon them.

The reverend candidate, we should conceive, is a well-meaning, and
probably an amiable man.  In ordinary circumstances, he would, doubtless,
have gone through the canvass triumphantly, and have administered the
high office to which he aspired with no discredit to the party that had
placed him at its head.  But the disturbed state of the public mind on
the Compromise question rendered the season a very critical one; and Mr.
Atwood, unfortunately, had that fatal weakness of character, which,
however respectably it may pass in quiet times, is always bound to make
itself pitiably manifest under the pressure of a crisis.  A letter was
addressed to him by a committee, representing the party opposed to The
Compromise, and with whom, it may be supposed, were included those who
held the more thorough-going degrees of antislavery sentiment.  The
purpose of the letter was to draw out an expression of Mr. Atwood's
opinion on the abolition movement generally, and with an especial
reference to the Fugitive Slave Law, and whether, as chief magistrate of
the state, he would favor any attempt for its repeal.  In an answer of
considerable length the candidate expressed sentiments that brought him
unquestionably within the free soil pale, and favored his correspondents,
moreover, with a pretty decided judgment as to the unconstitutional,
unjust, and oppressive character of the Fugitive Slave Law.

During a space of about two months, this very important document was kept
from the public eye.  Rumors of its existence, however, became gradually
noised abroad, and necessarily attracted the attention of Mr. Atwood's
democratic friends.  Inquiries being made, he acknowledged the existence
of the letter, but averred that it had never been delivered, that it was
merely a rough draught, and that he had hitherto kept it within his own
control, with a view to more careful consideration.  In accordance with
the advice of friends, he expressed a determination, and apparently in
good faith, to suppress the letter, and thus to sever all connection with
the antislavery party.  This, however, was now beyond his power.  A copy
of the letter had been taken; it was published, with high commendations,
in the antislavery newspapers; and Mr. Atwood was exhibited in the
awkward predicament of directly avowing sentiments on the one hand which
he had implicitly disavowed on the other, of accepting a nomination based
on principles diametrically opposite.

The candidate appears to have apprehended this disclosure, and he hurried
to Concord, and sought counsel of General Pierce, with whom he was on
terms of personal kindness, and between whom and himself, heretofore,
there had never been a shade of political difference.  An interview with
the general and one or two other gentlemen ensued.  Mr. Atwood was
cautioned against saying or writing a word that might be repugnant to his
feelings or his principles; but, voluntarily, and at his own suggestion,
he now wrote for publication a second letter, in which he retracted every
objectionable feature of his former one, and took decided ground in favor
of The Compromise, including all its individual measures.  Had he adhered
to this latter position, he might have come out of the affair, if not
with the credit of consistency, yet, at least, as a successful candidate
in the impending election.  But his evil fate, or, rather, the natural
infirmity of his character, was not so to be thrown off.  The very next
day, unhappily, he fell into the hands of some of his antislavery
friends, to whom he avowed a constant adherence to the principles of his
first letter, describing the second as having been drawn from him by
importunity, in an excited state of his mind, and without a full
realization of its purport.

It would be needlessly cruel to Mr. Atwood to trace with minuteness the
further details of this affair.  It is impossible to withhold from him a
certain sympathy, or to avoid feeling that a very worthy man, as the
world goes, had entangled himself in an inextricable knot of duplicity
and tergiversation, by an ill-advised effort to be two opposite things at
once.  For the sake of true manhood, we gladly turn to consider the
course adopted by General Pierce.

The election for governor was now at a distance of only a few weeks; and
it could not be otherwise than a most hazardous movement for the
democratic party, at so late a period, to discard a candidate with whom
the people had become familiar.  It involved nothing less than the
imminent peril of that political supremacy which the party had so long
enjoyed.  With Mr. Atwood as candidate, success might be considered as
certain.  To a short-sighted and a weak man, it would have appeared the
obvious policy to patch up the difficulty, and, at all events, to
conquer, under whatever leadership, and with whatever allies.  But it was
one of those junctures which test the difference between the man of
principle and the mere politician--the man of moral courage and him who
yields to temporary expediency.  General Pierce could not consent that
his party should gain a nominal triumph, at the expense of what he looked
upon as its real integrity and life.  With this view of the matter, he
had no hesitation in his course; nor could the motives which otherwise
would have been strongest with him--pity for the situation of an
unfortunate individual, a personal friend, a Democrat, as Mr. Atwood
describes himself, of nearly fifty years' standing--incline him to mercy
where it would have been fatal to his sense of right.  He took decided
ground against Mr. Atwood.  The convention met again, and satisfactory to
all parties; and one of his political opponents (Professor Sanborn, of
Dartmouth College) has ably sketched him, both in that aspect and as a
debater.

"In drawing the portraits of the distinguished members of the
constitutional convention," writes the professor, "to pass Frank Pierce
unnoticed would be as absurd as to enact one of Shakespeare's dramas
without its principal hero.  I give my impressions of the man as I saw
him in the convention; for I would not undertake to vouch for the truth
or falsehood of those veracious organs of public sentiment, at the
capital, which have loaded him in turn with indiscriminate praise and
abuse.  As a presiding officer, it would be difficult to find his equal.
In proposing questions to the house, he never hesitates or blunders.  In
deciding points of order, he is both prompt and impartial.  His treatment
of every member of the convention was characterized by uniform courtesy
and kindness.  The deportment of the presiding officer of a deliberative
body usually gives tone to the debates.  If he is harsh, morose, or
abrupt in his manner, the speakers are apt to catch his spirit by the
force of involuntary sympathy.  The same is true, to some extent, of the
principal debaters in such a body.  When a man of strong prejudices and
harsh temper rises to address a public assembly, his indwelling
antipathies speak from every feature of his face and from every motion of
his person.  The audience at once brace themselves against his assaults,
and condemn his opinions before they are heard.  The well-known character
of an orator persuades or dissuades quite as forcibly as the language he
utters.  Some men never rise to address a deliberative assembly without
conciliating good will in advance.  The smile that plays upon the
speaker's face awakens emotions of complacency in those who hear, even
before he speaks.  So does that weight of character, which is the matured
fruit of long public services and acknowledged worth, soothe, in advance,
the irritated and angry crowd.

"Mr. Pierce possesses unquestionable ability as a public speaker.  Few
men, in our country, better understand the means of swaying a popular
assembly, or employ them with greater success.  His forte lies in moving
the passions of those whom he addresses.  He knows how to call into
vigorous action both the sympathies and antipathies of those who listen
to him.  I do not mean to imply by these remarks that his oratory is
deficient in argument or sound reasoning.  On the contrary, he seizes
with great power upon the strong points of his subject, and presents them
clearly, forcibly, and eloquently.  As a prompt and ready debater, always
prepared for assault or defence, he has few equals.  In these encounters,
he appears to great advantage, from his happy faculty of turning little
incidents, unexpectedly occurring, to his own account.  A word carelessly
dropped, or an unguarded allusion to individuals or parties by an
opponent, is frequently converted into a powerful weapon of assault, by
this skilful advocate.  He has been so much in office that he may be said
to have been educated in public life.  He is most thoroughly versed in
all the tactics of debate.  He is not only remarkably fluent in his
elocution, but remarkably correct.  He seldom miscalls or repeats a word.
His style is not overloaded with ornament, and yet he draws liberally
upon the treasury of rhetoric.  His figures are often beautiful and
striking, never incongruous.  He is always listened to with respectful
attention, if he does not always command conviction.  From his whole
course in the convention, a disinterested spectator could not fail to
form a very favorable opinion, not only of his talent and eloquence, but
of his generosity and magnanimity."

Among other antiquated relics of the past, and mouldy types of prejudices
that ought now to be forgotten, and of which it was the object of the
present convention to purge the Constitution of New Hampshire, there is a
provision that certain state offices should be held only by Protestants.
Since General Pierce's nomination for the presidency, the existence of
this religious test has been brought as a charge against him, as if, in
spite of his continued efforts to remove it, he were personally
responsible for its remaining on the statute book.

General Pierce has naturally a strong endowment of religious feeling.  At
no period of his life, as is well known to his friends, have the sacred
relations of the human soul been a matter of indifference with him; and,
of more recent years, whatever circumstances of good or evil fortune may
have befallen him, they have alike served to deepen this powerful
sentiment.  Whether in sorrow or success, he has learned, in his own
behalf, the great lesson, that religious faith is the most valuable and
most sacred of human possessions; but, with this sense, there has come no
narrowness or illiberality, but a wide-embracing sympathy for the modes
of Christian worship, and a reverence for individual belief, as a matter
between the Deity and man's soul, and with which no other has a right to
interfere.  With the feeling here described, and with his acute
intellectual perception of the abortive character of all intolerant
measures, as defeating their own ends, it strikes one as nothing less
than ludicrous that he should be charged with desiring to retain this
obsolete enactment, standing, as it does, as a merely gratuitous and
otherwise inoperative stigma upon the fair reputation of his native
state.  Even supposing no higher motives to have influenced him, it would
have sufficed to secure his best efforts for the repeal of the religious
test that so many of the Catholics have always been found in the
advance-guard of freedom, marching onward with the progressive party; and
that, whether in peace or war, they have performed for their adopted
country the hard toil and the gallant services which she has a right to
expect from her most faithful citizens.

The truth is that, ever since his entrance upon public life, on all
occasions,--and often making the occasion where he found none,--General
Pierce has done his utmost to obliterate this obnoxious feature from the
Constitution.  He has repeatedly advocated the calling of a convention
mainly for this purpose.  In that of 1850, he both spoke and voted in
favor of the abolition of the test, and, with the aid of Judge Woodbury
and other democratic members, attained his purpose, so far as the
convention possessed any power or responsibility in the matter.  That the
measure was ultimately defeated is due to other causes, either temporary
or of long continuance; and to some of them it is attributable that the
enlightened public sentiment of New Hampshire was not, long since, made
to operate upon this enactment, so anomalous in the fundamental law of a
free state.

In order to the validity of the amendments passed by the convention, it
was necessary that the people should subsequently act upon them, and pass
a vote of two thirds in favor of their adoption.  The amendments proposed
by the convention of 1850 were numerous.  The Constitution had been
modified in many and very important particulars, in respect to which the
popular mind had not previously been made familiar, and on which it had
not anticipated the necessity of passing judgment.  In March, 1851, when
the vote of the people was taken upon these measures, the Atwood
controversy was at its height, and threw all matters of less immediate
interest into the background.  During the interval since the adjournment
of the convention, the whig newspapers had been indefatigable in their
attempts to put its proceedings in an odious light before the people.
There had been no period, for many years, in which sinister influences
rendered it so difficult to draw out an efficient expression of the will
of the Democracy as on this occasion.  It was the result of all these
obstacles that the doings of the constitutional convention were rejected
in the mass.

In the ensuing April, the convention reassembled, in order to receive the
unfavorable verdict of the people upon its proposed amendments.  At the
suggestion of General Pierce, the amendment abolishing the religious test
was again brought forward, and, in spite of the opposition of the leading
whig members, was a second time submitted to the people.  Nor did the
struggle in behalf of this enlightened movement terminate here.

At the democratic caucus, in Concord, preliminary to the town meeting, he
urged upon his political friends the repeal of the test, as a party
measure; and again, at the town meeting itself, while the balloting was
going forward, he advocated it on the higher ground of religious freedom,
and of reverence for what is inviolable in the human soul.  Had the
amendment passed, the credit would have belonged to no man more than to
General Pierce; and that it failed, and that the free Constitution of New
Hampshire is still disgraced by a provision which even monarchical
England has cast off, is a responsibility which must rest elsewhere than
on his head.

In September, 1851, died that eminent statesman and jurist, Levi
Woodbury, then occupying the elevated post of judge of the Supreme Court
of the United States.  The connection between him and General Pierce,
beginning in the early youth of the latter, had been sustained through
all the subsequent years.  They sat together, with but one intervening
chair between, in the national Senate; they were always advocates of the
same great measures, and held, through life, a harmony of opinion and
action, which was never more conspicuous than in the few months that
preceded Judge Woodbury's death.  At a meeting of the bar, after his
decease, General Pierce uttered some remarks, full of sensibility, in
which he referred to the circumstances that had made this friendship an
inheritance on his part.  Had Judge Woodbury survived, it is not
improbable that his more advanced age, his great public services, and
equally distinguished zeal in behalf of the Union might have placed him
in the position now occupied by the subject of this memoir.  Fortunate
the state which, after losing such a son, can still point to another, not
less worthy to take upon him the charge of the nation's welfare.

We have now finished our record of Franklin Pierce's life, and have only
to describe the posture of affairs which, without his own purpose and
against his wish, has placed him before the people of the United States
as a candidate for the presidency.



CHAPTER VII.

HIS NOMINATION FOR THE PRESIDENCY.


On the 12th of June, 1852, the democratic national convention assembled
at Baltimore, in order to select a candidate for the presidency of the
United States.  Many names, eminently distinguished in peace and war, had
been brought before the public, during several months previous; and among
them, though by no means occupying a very prominent place, was the name
of Franklin Pierce.  In January of this year, the Democracy of New
Hampshire had signified its preference of General Pierce as a
presidential candidate in the approaching canvass--a demonstration which
drew from him the following response, addressed to his friend, Mr.
Atherton:--

"I am far from being insensible to the generous confidence so often
manifested towards me by the people of this state; and although the
object indicated in the resolution, having particular reference to
myself, be not one of desire on my part, the expression is not on that
account less gratifying.

"Doubtless the spontaneous and just appreciation of an intelligent people
is the best earthly reward for earnest and cheerful services rendered to
one's state and country; and while it is a matter of unfeigned regret
that my life has been so barren of usefulness, I shall ever hold this and
similar tributes among my most cherished recollections.

"To these, my sincere and grateful acknowledgments, I desire to add that
the same motives which induced me, several years ago, to retire from
public life, and which since that time controlled my judgment in this
respect, now impel me to say that the use of my name in any event, before
the democratic national convention at Baltimore, to which you are a
delegate, would be utterly repugnant to my taste and wishes."

The sentiments expressed in the above letter were genuine, and from his
heart.  He had looked long and closely at the effects of high public
station on the character and happiness, and on what is the innermost and
dearest part of a man's possessions--his independence; and he had
satisfied himself that office, however elevated, should be avoided for
one's own sake, or accepted only as a good citizen would make any other
sacrifice, at the call and at the need of his country.

As the time for the assembling of the national convention drew near,
there were other sufficient indications of his sincerity in declining a
stake in the great game.  A circular letter was addressed, by Major
Scott, of Virginia, to the distinguished Democrats whose claims had
heretofore been publicly discussed, requesting a statement of their
opinions on several points, and inquiring what would be the course of
each of these gentlemen, in certain contingencies, in case of his
attaining the presidency.  These queries, it may be presumed, were of
such a nature that General Pierce might have answered them, had he seen
fit to do so, to the satisfaction of Major Scott himself, or to that of
the southern democratic party, whom it seemed his purpose to represent.
With not more than one exception, the other statesmen and soldiers, to
whom the circular had been sent, made a response.  General Pierce
preserved an unbroken silence.  It was equivalent to the withdrawal of
all claims which he might be supposed to possess, in reference to the
contemplated office; and he thereby repeated, to the delegates of the
national party, the same avowal of distaste for public life which he had
already made known to the Democracy of his native state.  He had thus
done everything in his power, actively or passively,--everything that he
could have done, without showing such an estimate of his position before
the country as was inconsistent with the modesty of his character,--to
avoid the perilous and burdensome honor of the candidacy.

The convention met, at the date above mentioned, and continued its
sessions during four days.  Thirty-five ballotings were held, with a
continually decreasing prospect that the friends of any one of the
gentlemen hitherto prominent before the people would succeed in obtaining
the two-thirds vote that was requisite for a nomination.  Thus far, not a
vote had been thrown for General Pierce; but, at the thirty-sixth ballot,
the delegation of old Virginia brought forward his name.  In the course
of several more trials, his strength increased, very gradually at first,
but afterwards with a growing impetus, until, at the forty-ninth ballot,
the votes were for Franklin Pierce two hundred and eighty-two, and eleven
for all other candidates.  Thus Franklin Pierce became the nominee of the
convention; and as quickly as the lightning flash could blazon it abroad
his name was on every tongue, from end to end of this vast country.
Within an hour he grew to be illustrious.

It would be a pretension, which we do not mean to put forward, to assert
that, whether considering the length and amount of his public services,
or his prominence before the country, General Pierce stood on equal
ground with several of the distinguished men whose claims, to use the
customary phrase, had been rejected in favor of his own.  But no man, be
his public services or sacrifices what they might, ever did or ever could
possess, in the slightest degree, what we may term a legitimate claim to
be elevated to the rulership of a free people.  The nation would degrade
itself, and violate every principle upon which its institutions are
founded, by offering its majestic obedience to one of its citizens as a
reward for whatever splendor of achievement.  The conqueror may assert a
claim, such as it is, to the sovereignty of the people whom he
subjugates; but, with us Americans, when a statesman comes to the chief
direction of affairs, it is at the summons of the nation, addressed to
the servant whom it deems best fitted to spend his wisdom, his strength,
and his life in its behalf.  On this principle, which is obviously the
correct one, a candidate's previous services are entitled to
consideration only as they indicate the qualities which may enable him to
render higher services in the position which his countrymen choose that
he shall occupy.  What he has done is of no importance, except as proving
what he can do.  And it is on this score, because they see in his public
course the irrefragable evidences of patriotism, integrity, and courage,
and because they recognize in him the noble gift of natural authority,
and have a prescience of the stately endowment of administrative genius,
that his fellow-citizens are about to summon Franklin Pierce to the
presidency.  To those who know him well, the event comes, not like
accident, but as a consummation which might have been anticipated, from
its innate fitness, and as the final step of a career which, all along,
has tended thitherward.

It is not as a reward that he will take upon him the mighty burden of
this office, of which the toil and awful responsibility whiten the
statesman's head, and in which, as in more than one instance we have
seen, the warrior encounters a deadlier risk than in the battle-field.
When General Pierce received the news of his nomination, it affected him
with no thrill of joy, but a sadness, which, for many days, was
perceptible in his deportment.  It awoke in his heart the sense of
religious dependence--a sentiment that has been growing continually
stronger, through all the trials and experiences of his life; and there
was nothing feigned in that passage of his beautiful letter, accepting
the nomination, in which he expresses his reliance upon heavenly support.

The committee, appointed by the Baltimore convention, conveyed to him the
intelligence of his nomination in the following terms:--

"A national convention of the democratic republican party, which met at
Baltimore on the first Tuesday in June, unanimously nominated you as a
candidate for the high trust of the President of the United States.  We
have been delegated to acquaint you with the nomination, and earnestly to
request that you will accept it.  Persuaded as we are that this office
should never be pursued by an unchastened ambition, it cannot be refused
by a dutiful patriotism.

"The circumstances under which you will be presented for the canvass of
your countrymen seem to be propitious to the interests which the
Constitution intrusts to our Federal Union, and must be auspicious to
your own name.  You come before the people without the impulse of
personal wishes, and free from selfish expectations.  You are identified
with none of the distractions which have recently disturbed our country,
whilst you are known to be faithful to the Constitution--to all its
guaranties and compromises.  You will be free to exercise your tried
abilities, within the path of duty, in protecting that repose we happily
enjoy, and in giving efficacy and control to those cardinal principles
that have already illustrated the party which has now selected you as its
leader--principles that regard the security and prosperity of the whole
country, and the paramount power of its laws, as indissolubly associated
with the perpetuity of our civil and religious liberties.

"The convention did not pretermit the duty of reiterating those
principles, and you will find them prominently set forth in the
resolutions it adopted.  To these we respectfully invite your attention.

"It is firmly believed that to your talents and patriotism the security
of our holy Union, with its expanded and expanding interests, may be
wisely trusted, and that, amid all the perils which may assail the
Constitution, you will have the heart to love and the arm to defend it."

We quote likewise General Pierce's reply:--

"I have the honor to acknowledge your personal kindness in presenting me,
this day, your letter, officially informing me of my nomination, by the
democratic national convention, as a candidate for the presidency of the
United States.  The surprise with which I received the intelligence of my
nomination was not unmingled with painful solicitude; and yet it is
proper for me to say that the manner in which it was conferred was
peculiarly gratifying.

"The delegation from New Hampshire, with all the glow of state pride, and
with all the warmth of personal regard, would not have submitted my name
to the convention, nor would they have cast a vote for me, under
circumstances other than those which occurred.

"I shall always cherish with pride and gratitude the recollection of the
fact that the voice which first pronounced, and pronounced alone, came
from the Mother of States--a pride and gratitude rising above any
consequences that can betide me personally.  May I not regard it as a
fact pointing to the overthrow of sectional jealousies, and looking to
the permanent life and vigor of the Union, cemented by the blood of those
who have passed to their reward?--a Union wonderful in its formation,
boundless in its hopes, amazing in its destiny.

"I accept the nomination, relying upon an abiding devotion to the
interests, honor, and glory of the whole country, but, above and beyond
all, upon a Power superior to all human might--a Power which, from the
first gun of the Revolution, in every crisis through which we have
passed, in every hour of acknowledged peril, when the dark clouds had
shut down over us, has interposed as if to baffle human wisdom, outmarch
human forecast, and bring out of darkness the rainbow of promise.  Weak
myself, faith and hope repose there in security.

"I accept the nomination upon the platform adopted by the convention, not
because this is expected of me as a candidate, but because the principles
it embraces command the approbation of my judgment; and with them, I
believe I can safely say, there has been no word or act of my life in
conflict."

The news of his nomination went abroad over the Union, and, far and wide,
there came a response, in which was distinguishable a truer appreciation
of some of General Pierce's leading traits than could have been
anticipated, considering the unobtrusive tenor of his legislative life,
and the lapse of time since he had entirely withdrawn himself from the
nation's eye.  It was the marvellous and mystic influence of character,
in regard to which the judgment of the people is so seldom found
erroneous, and which conveys the perception of itself through some medium
higher and deeper than the intellect.  Everywhere the country knows that
a man of steadfast will, true heart, and generous qualities has been
brought forward, to receive the suffrages of his fellow-citizens.

He comes before the people of the United States at a remarkable era in
the history of this country and of the world.  The two great parties of
the nation appear--at least to an observer somewhat removed from both--to
have nearly merged into one another; for they preserve the attitude of
political antagonism rather through the effect of their old organizations
than because any great and radical principles are at present in dispute
between them.  The measures advocated by the one party, and resisted by
the other, through a long series of years, have now ceased to be the
pivots on which the election turns.  The prominent statesmen, so long
identified with those measures, will henceforth relinquish their
controlling influence over public affairs.  Both parties, it may likewise
be said, are united in one common purpose,--that of preserving our sacred
Union, as the immovable basis from which the destinies, not of America
alone, but of mankind at large, may be carried upward and consummated.
And thus men stand together, in unwonted quiet and harmony, awaiting the
new movement in advance which all these tokens indicate.

It remains for the citizens of this great country to decide, within the
next few weeks, whether they will retard the steps of human progress by
placing at its head an illustrious soldier, indeed, a patriot, and one
indelibly stamped into the history of the past, but who has already done
his work, and has not in him the spirit of the present or of the coming
time; or whether they will put their trust in a new man, whom a life of
energy and various activity has tested, but not worn out, and advance
with him into the auspicious epoch upon which we are about to enter.


NOTE.

We have done far less than justice to Franklin Pierce's college standing,
in our statement in Chapter I.  Some circumstances connected with this
matter are too characteristic not to be reported.

During the first two years, Pierce was extremely inattentive to his
college duties, bestowing only such modicum of time upon them as was
requisite to supply the merest superficial acquaintance with the course
of study for the recitation room.  The consequence was that when the
relative standing of the members of the class was first authoritatively
ascertained, in the junior year, he found himself occupying precisely the
lowest position in point of scholarship.  In the first mortification of
wounded pride, he resolved never to attend another recitation, and
accordingly absented himself from college exercises of all kinds for
several days, expecting and desiring that some form of punishment, such
as suspension or expulsion, would be the result.  The faculty of the
college, however, with a wise lenity, took no notice of this behavior;
and at last, having had time to grow cool, and moved by the grief of his
friend Little and another classmate, Pierce determined to resume the
routine of college duties.  "But," said he to his friends, "if I do so,
you shall see a change!"

Accordingly, from that time forward, he devoted himself to study.  His
mind, having run wild for so long a period, could be reclaimed only by
the severest efforts of an iron resolution; and for three months
afterwards, he rose at four in the morning, toiled all day over his
books, and retired only at midnight, allowing himself but four hours for
sleep.  With habit and exercise, he acquired command over his
intellectual powers, and was no longer under the necessity of application
so intense.  But from the moment when he made his resolve until the close
of his college life, he never incurred a censure, never was absent (and
then unavoidably) but from two college exercises, never went into the
recitation room without a thorough acquaintance with the subject to be
recited, and finally graduated as the third scholar of his class.
Nothing save the low standard of his previous scholarship prevented his
taking a yet higher rank.

The moral of this little story lies in the stern and continued exercise
of self-controlling will, which redeemed him from indolence, completely
changed the aspect of his character, and made this the turning point of
his life.



CHIEFLY ABOUT WAR MATTERS.

By a Peaceable Man.


[This article appeared in the "Atlantic Monthly" for July, 1862, and is
now first reprinted among Hawthorne's collected writings.  The editor of
the magazine objected to sundry paragraphs in the manuscript, and these
were cancelled with the consent of the author, who himself supplied all
the foot-notes that accompanied the article when it was published.  It
has seemed best to retain them in the present reproduction.  One of the
suppressed passages, in which President Lincoln is described, has since
been printed, and is therefore restored to its proper place in the
following pages.--G. P. L.]


Here is no remoteness of life and thought, no hermetically sealed
seclusion, except possibly, that of the grave, into which the disturbing
influences of this war do not penetrate.  Of course, the general
heart-quake of the country long ago knocked at my cottage-door, and
compelled me, reluctantly, to suspend the contemplation of certain
fantasies, to which, according to my harmless custom, I was endeavoring
to give a sufficiently life-like aspect to admit of their figuring in a
romance.  As I make no pretensions to state-craft or soldiership, and
could promote the common weal neither by valor nor counsel, it seemed, at
first, a pity that I should be debarred from such unsubstantial business
as I had contrived for myself, since nothing more genuine was to be
substituted for it.  But I magnanimously considered that there is a kind
of treason in insulating one's self from the universal fear and sorrow,
and thinking one's idle thoughts in the dread time of civil war; and
could a man be so cold and hardhearted, he would better deserve to be
sent to Fort Warren than many who have found their way thither on the
score of violent, but misdirected sympathies.  I remembered the touching
rebuke administered by King Charles to that rural squire the echo of
whose hunting-horn came to the poor monarch's ear on the morning before a
battle, where the sovereignty and constitution of England were to be set
at a stake.  So I gave myself up to reading newspapers and listening to
the click of the telegraph, like other people; until, after a great many
months of such pastime, it grew so abominably irksome that I determined
to look a little more closely at matters with my own eyes.

Accordingly we set out--a friend and myself--towards Washington, while it
was still the long, dreary January of our Northern year, though March in
name; nor were we unwilling to clip a little margin off the five months'
winter, during which there is nothing genial in New England save the
fireside.  It was a clear, frosty morning, when we started.  The sun
shone brightly on snow-covered hills in the neighborhood of Boston, and
burnished the surface of frozen ponds; and the wintry weather kept along
with us while we trundled through Worcester and Springfield, and all
those old, familiar towns, and through the village-cities of Connecticut.
In New York the streets were afloat with liquid mud and slosh.  Over New
Jersey there was still a thin covering of snow, with the face of Nature
visible through the rents in her white shroud, though with little or no
symptom of reviving life.  But when we reached Philadelphia, the air was
mild and balmy; there was but a patch or two of dingy winter here and
there, and the bare, brown fields about the city were ready to be green.
We had met the Spring half-way, in her slow progress from the South; and
if we kept onward at the same pace, and could get through the Rebel
lines, we should soon come to fresh grass, fruit-blossoms, green peas,
strawberries, and all such delights of early summer.

On our way, we heard many rumors of the war, but saw few signs of it.
The people were staid and decorous, according to their ordinary fashion;
and business seemed about as brisk as usual,--though, I suppose, it was
considerably diverted from its customary channels into warlike ones.  In
the cities, especially in New York, there was a rather prominent display
of military goods at the shop windows,--such as swords with gilded
scabbards and trappings, epaulets, carabines, revolvers, and sometimes a
great iron cannon at the edge of the pavement, as if Mars had dropped
one of his pocket-pistols there, while hurrying to the field.  As
railway-companions, we had now and then a volunteer in his French-gray
great-coat, returning from furlough, or a new-made officer travelling to
join his regiment, in his new-made uniform, which was perhaps all of the
military character that he had about him,--but proud of his eagle-buttons
and likely enough to do them honor before the gilt should be wholly
dimmed.  The country, in short, so far as bustle and movement went, was
more quiet than in ordinary times, because so large a proportion of its
restless elements had been drawn towards the seat of the conflict.  But
the air was full of a vague disturbance.  To me, at least, it seemed so,
emerging from such a solitude as has been hinted at, and the more
impressible by rumors and indefinable presentiments, since I had not
lived, like other men, in an atmosphere of continual talk about the war.
A battle was momentarily expected on the Potomac; for, though our army
was still on the hither side of the river, all of us were looking towards
the mysterious and terrible Manassas, with the idea that somewhere in its
neighborhood lay a ghastly battle-field, yet to be fought, but foredoomed
of old to be bloodier than the one where we had reaped such shame.  Of
all haunted places, methinks such a destined field should be thickest
thronged with ugly phantoms, ominous of mischief through ages beforehand.

Beyond Philadelphia there was a much greater abundance of military
people.  Between Baltimore and Washington a guard seemed to hold every
station along the railroad; and frequently, on the hill-sides, we saw a
collection of weather-beaten tents, the peaks of which, blackened with
smoke, indicated that they had been made comfortable by stove-heat
throughout the winter.  At several commanding positions we saw
fortifications, with the muzzles of cannon protruding from the ramparts,
the slopes of which were made of the yellow earth of that region, and
still unsodded; whereas, till these troublous times, there have been no
forts but what were grass-grown with the lapse of at least a lifetime of
peace.  Our stopping-places were thronged with soldiers, some of whom
came through the cars asking for newspapers that contained accounts of
the battle between the Merrimack and Monitor, which had been fought the
day before.  A railway-train met us, conveying a regiment out of
Washington to some unknown point; and reaching the capital, we filed out
of the station between lines of soldiers, with shouldered muskets,
putting us in mind of similar spectacles at the gates of European cities.
It was not without sorrow that we saw the free circulation of the
nation's life-blood (at the very heart, moreover) clogged with such
strictures as these, which have caused chronic diseases in almost all
countries save our own.  Will the time ever come again, in America, when
we may live half a score of years without once seeing the likeness of a
soldier, except it be in the festal march of a company on its summer
tour?  Not in this generation, I fear, nor in the next, nor till the
Millennium; and even that blessed epoch, as the prophecies seem to
intimate, will advance to the sound of the trumpet.

One terrible idea occurs in reference to this matter.  Even supposing the
war should end to-morrow, and the army melt into the mass of the
population within the year, what an incalculable preponderance will there
be of military titles and pretensions for at least half a century to
come!  Every country-neighborhood will have its general or two, its three
or four colonels, half a dozen majors, and captains without end,--besides
non-commissioned officers and privates, more than the recruiting offices
ever knew of,--all with their campaign-stories, which will become the
staple of fireside talk forevermore.  Military merit, or rather, since
that is not so readily estimated, military notoriety, will be the measure
of all claims to civil distinction.--One bullet-headed general will
succeed another in the Presidential chair; and veterans will hold the
offices at home and abroad, and sit in Congress and the state
legislatures, and fill all the avenues of public life.  And yet I do not
speak of this deprecatingly, since, very likely, it may substitute
something more real and genuine, instead of the many shams on which men
have heretofore founded their claims to public regard; but it behooves
civilians to consider their wretched prospects in the future, and assume
the military button before it is too late.

We were not in time to see Washington as a camp.  On the very day of our
arrival sixty thousand men had crossed the Potomac on their march towards
Manassas; and almost with their first step into the Virginia mud, the
phantasmagory of a countless host and impregnable ramparts, before which
they had so long remained quiescent, dissolved quite away.  It was as if
General McClellan had thrust his sword into a gigantic enemy, and,
beholding him suddenly collapse, had discovered to himself and the world
that he had merely punctured an enormously swollen bladder.  There are
instances of a similar character in old romances, where great armies are
long kept at bay by the arts of necromancers, who build airy towers and
battlements, and muster warriors of terrible aspect, and thus feign a
defence of seeming impregnability, until some bolder champion of the
besiegers dashes forward to try an encounter with the foremost foeman,
and finds him melt away in the death grapple.  With such heroic
adventures let the march upon Manassas be hereafter reckoned.  The whole
business, though connected with the destinies of a nation, takes
inevitably a tinge of the ludicrous.  The vast preparation of men and
warlike material,--the majestic patience and docility with which the
people waited through those weary and dreary months,--the martial skill,
courage, and caution, with which our movement was ultimately made,--and,
at last, the tremendous shock with which we were brought suddenly up
against nothing at all!  The Southerners show little sense of humor
nowadays, but I think they must have meant to provoke a laugh at our
expense, when they planted those Quaker guns.  At all events, no other
Rebel artillery has played upon us with such overwhelming effect.

The troops being gone, we had the better leisure and opportunity to look
into other matters.  It is natural enough to suppose that the centre and
heart of Washington is the Capitol; and certainly, in its outward aspect,
the world has not many statelier or more beautiful edifices, nor any, I
should suppose, more skilfully adapted to legislative purposes, and to
all accompanying needs.  But, etc., etc.  [We omit several paragraphs
here, in which the author speaks of some prominent Members of Congress
with a freedom that seems to have been not unkindly meant, but might be
liable to misconstruction.  As he admits that he never listened to an
important debate, we can hardly recognize his qualifications to estimate
these gentlemen, in their legislative and oratorical capacities.]

          *     *     *     *     *     *

We found one man, however, at the Capitol, who was satisfactorily
adequate to the business which brought him thither.  In quest of him, we
went through halls, galleries, and corridors, and ascended a noble
staircase, balustraded with a dark and beautifully variegated marble from
Tennessee, the richness of which is quite a sufficient cause for
objecting to the secession of that State.  At last we came to a barrier
of pine boards, built right across the stairs.  Knocking at a rough,
temporary door, we thrust a card beneath; and in a minute or two it was
opened by a person in his shirt-sleeves, a middle-aged figure, neither
tall nor short, of Teutonic build and aspect, with an ample beard of a
ruddy tinge and chestnut hair.  He looked at us, in the first place, with
keen and somewhat guarded eyes, as if it were not his practice to
vouchsafe any great warmth of greeting, except upon sure ground of
observation.  Soon, however, his look grew kindly and genial (not that it
had ever been in the least degree repulsive, but only reserved), and
Leutze allowed us to gaze at the cartoon of his great fresco, and talked
about it unaffectedly, as only a man of true genius can speak of his own
works.  Meanwhile the noble design spoke for itself upon the wall.  A
sketch in color, which we saw afterwards, helped us to form some distant
and flickering notion of what the picture will be, a few months hence,
when these bare outlines, already so rich in thought and suggestiveness,
shall glow with a fire of their own,--a fire which, I truly believe, will
consume every other pictorial decoration of the Capitol, or, at least,
will compel us to banish those stiff and respectable productions to some
less conspicuous gallery.  The work will be emphatically original and
American, embracing characteristics that neither art nor literature have
yet dealt with, and producing new forms of artistic beauty from the
natural features of the Rocky-Mountain region, which Leutze seems to have
studied broadly and minutely.  The garb of the hunters and wanderers of
those deserts, too, under his free and natural management, is shown as
the most picturesque of costumes.  But it would be doing this admirable
painter no kind office to overlay his picture with any more of my
colorless and uncertain words; so I shall merely add that it looked full
of energy, hope, progress, irrepressible movement onward, all represented
in a momentary pause of triumph; and it was most cheering to feel its
good augury at this dismal time, when our country might seem to have
arrived at such a deadly stand-still.

It was an absolute comfort, indeed, to find Leutze so quietly busy at
this great national work, which is destined to glow for centuries on the
walls of the Capitol, if that edifice shall stand, or must share its
fate, if treason shall succeed in subverting it with the Union which it
represents.  It was delightful to see him so calmly elaborating his
design, while other men doubted and feared, or hoped treacherously, and
whispered to one another that the nation would exist only a little
longer, or that, if a remnant still held together, its centre and seat of
government would be far northward and westward of Washington.  But the
artist keeps right on, firm of heart and hand, drawing his outlines with
an unwavering pencil, beautifying and idealizing our rude, material life,
and thus manifesting that we have an indefeasible claim to a more
enduring national existence.  In honest truth, what with the
hope-inspiring influence of the design, and what with Leutze's
undisturbed evolvement of it, I was exceedingly encouraged, and allowed
these cheerful auguries to weigh against a sinister omen that was pointed
out to me in another part of the Capitol.  The freestone walls of the
central edifice are pervaded with great cracks, and threaten to come
thundering down, under the immense weight of the iron dome,--an
appropriate catastrophe enough if it should occur on the day when we drop
the Southern stars out of our flag.

Everybody seems to be at Washington, and yet there is a singular dearth
of imperatively noticeable people there.  I question whether there are
half a dozen individuals, in all kinds of eminence, at whom a stranger,
wearied with the contact of a hundred moderate celebrities, would turn
round to snatch a second glance.  Secretary Seward, to be sure,--a pale,
large-nosed, elderly man, of moderate stature, with a decided originality
of gait and aspect, and a cigar in his mouth,--etc., etc.
[We are again compelled to interfere with our friend's license of
personal description and criticism.  Even Cabinet Ministers (to whom the
next few pages of the article were devoted) had their private immunities,
which ought to be conscientiously observed,--unless, indeed, the writer
chanced to have some very piquant motives for violating them.]

          *     *     *     *     *     *

Of course, there was one other personage, in the class of statesmen, whom
I should have been truly mortified to leave Washington without seeing;
since (temporarily, at least, and by force of circumstances) he was the
man of men.  But a private grief had built up a barrier about him,
impeding the customary free intercourse of Americans with their chief
magistrate; so that I might have come away without a glimpse of his very
remarkable physiognomy, save for a semi-official opportunity of which I
was glad to take advantage.  The fact is, we were invited to annex
ourselves, as supernumeraries, to a deputation that was about to wait
upon the President, from a Massachusetts whip-factory, with a present of
a splendid whip.

Our immediate party consisted only of four or five (including Major Ben
Perley Poore, with his note-book and pencil), but we were joined by
several other persons, who seemed to have been lounging about the
precincts of the White House, under the spacious porch, or within the
hall, and who swarmed in with us to take the chances of a presentation.
Nine o'clock had been appointed as the time for receiving the deputation,
and we were punctual to the moment; but not so the President, who sent us
word that he was eating his breakfast, and would come as soon as he
could.  His appetite, we were glad to think, must have been a pretty fair
one; for we waited about half an hour in one of the antechambers, and
then were ushered into a reception-room, in one corner of which sat the
Secretaries of War and of the Treasury, expecting, like ourselves, the
termination of the Presidential breakfast.  During this interval there
were several new additions to our group, one or two of whom were in a
working-garb, so that we formed a very miscellaneous collection of
people, mostly unknown to each other, and without any common sponsor, but
all with an equal right to look our head-servant in the face.

By and by there was a little stir on the staircase and in the
passage-way, and in lounged a tall, loose-jointed figure, of an
exaggerated Yankee port and demeanor, whom (as being about the homeliest
man I ever saw, yet by no means repulsive or disagreeable) it was
impossible not to recognize as Uncle Abe.

Unquestionably, Western man though he be, and Kentuckian by birth,
President Lincoln is the essential representative of all Yankees, and the
veritable specimen, physically, of what the world seems determined to
regard as our characteristic qualities.  It is the strangest and yet the
fittest thing in the jumble of human vicissitudes, that he, out of so
many millions, unlooked for, unselected by any intelligible process that
could be based upon his genuine qualities, unknown to those who chose
him, and unsuspected of what endowments may adapt him for his tremendous
responsibility, should have found the way open for him to fling his lank
personality into the chair of state,--where, I presume, it was his first
impulse to throw his legs on the council-table, and tell the Cabinet
Ministers a story.  There is no describing his lengthy awkwardness, nor
the uncouthness of his movement; and yet it seemed as if I had been in
the habit of seeing him daily, and had shaken hands with him a thousand
times in some village street; so true was he to the aspect of the pattern
American, though with a certain extravagance which, possibly, I
exaggerated still further by the delighted eagerness with which I took it
in.  If put to guess his calling and livelihood, I should have taken him
for a country schoolmaster as soon as anything else.  He was dressed in a
rusty black frock-coat and pantaloons, unbrushed, and worn so faithfully
that the suit had adapted itself to the curves and angularities of his
figure, and had grown to be an outer skin of the man.  He had shabby
slippers on his feet.  His hair was black, still unmixed with gray,
stiff, somewhat bushy, and had apparently been acquainted with neither
brush nor comb that morning, after the disarrangement of the pillow; and
as to a night-cap, Uncle Abe probably knows nothing of such effeminacies.
His complexion is dark and sallow, betokening, I fear, an insalubrious
atmosphere around the White House; he has thick black eyebrows and an
impending brow; his nose is large, and the lines about his mouth are very
strongly defined.

The whole physiognomy is as coarse a one as you would meet anywhere in
the length and breadth of the States; but, withal, it is redeemed,
illuminated, softened, and brightened by a kindly though serious look out
of his eyes, and an expression of homely sagacity, that seems weighted
with rich results of village experience.  A great deal of native sense;
no bookish cultivation, no refinement; honest at heart, and thoroughly
so, and yet, in some sort, sly,--at least, endowed with a sort of tact
and wisdom that are akin to craft, and would impel him, I think, to take
an antagonist in flank, rather than to make a bull-run at him right in
front.  But, on the whole, I like this sallow, queer, sagacious visage,
with the homely human sympathies that warmed it; and, for my small share
in the matter, would as lief have Uncle Abe for a ruler as any man whom
it would have been practicable to put in his place.

Immediately on his entrance the President accosted our member of
Congress, who had us in charge, and, with a comical twist of his face,
made some jocular remark about the length of his breakfast.  He then
greeted us all round, not waiting for an introduction, but shaking and
squeezing everybody's hand with the utmost cordiality, whether the
individual's name was announced to him or not.  His manner towards us was
wholly without pretence, but yet had a kind of natural dignity, quite
sufficient to keep the forwardest of us from clapping him on the shoulder
and asking him for a story.  A mutual acquaintance being established, our
leader took the whip out of its case, and began to read the address of
presentation.  The whip was an exceedingly long one, its handle wrought
in ivory (by some artist in the Massachusetts State Prison, I believe),
and ornamented with a medallion of the President, and other equally
beautiful devices; and along its whole length there was a succession of
golden bands and ferrules.  The address was shorter than the whip, but
equally well made, consisting chiefly of an explanatory description of
these artistic designs, and closing with a hint that the gift was a
suggestive and emblematic one, and that the President would recognize the
use to which such an instrument should be put.

This suggestion gave Uncle Abe rather a delicate task in his reply,
because, slight as the matter seemed, it apparently called for some
declaration, or intimation, or faint foreshadowing of policy in reference
to the conduct of the war, and the final treatment of the Rebels.  But
the President's Yankee aptness and not-to-be-caughtness stood him in good
stead, and he jerked or wiggled himself out of the dilemma with an
uncouth dexterity that was entirely in character; although, without his
gesticulation of eye and month,--and especially the flourish of the whip,
with which he imagined himself touching up a pair of fat horses,--I doubt
whether his words would be worth recording, even if I could remember
them.  The gist of the reply was, that he accepted the whip as an emblem
of peace; not punishment; and, this great affair over, we retired out of
the presence in high good-humor, only regretting that we could not have
seen the President sit down and fold up his legs (which is said to be a
most extraordinary spectacle), or have heard him tell one of those
delectable stories for which he is so celebrated.  A good many of them
are afloat upon the common talk of Washington, and are certainly the
aptest, pithiest, and funniest little things imaginable; though, to be
sure, they smack of the frontier freedom, and would not always bear
repetition in a drawing-room, or on the immaculate page of the Atlantic.


[The above passage relating to President Lincoln was one of those omitted
from the article as originally published, and the following note was
appended to explain the omission, which had been indicated by a line of
points:--

We are compelled to omit two or three pages, in which the author
describes the interview, and gives his idea of the personal appearance
and deportment of the President.  The sketch appears to have been written
in a benign spirit, and perhaps conveys a not inaccurate impression of
its august subject; but it lacks reverence, and it pains us to see a
gentleman of ripe age, and who has spent years under the corrective
influence of foreign institutions, falling into the characteristic and
most ominous fault of Young America.]


Good Heavens! what liberties have I been taking with one of the
potentates of the earth, and the man on whose conduct more important
consequences depend than on that of any other historical personage of the
century!  But with whom is an American citizen entitled to take a
liberty, if not with his own chief magistrate?  However, lest the above
allusions to President Lincoln's little peculiarities (already well known
to the country and to the world) should be misinterpreted, I deem it
proper to say a word or two in regard to him, of unfeigned respect and
measurable confidence.  He is evidently a man of keen faculties, and,
what is still more to the purpose, of powerful character.  As to his
integrity, the people have that intuition of it which is never deceived.
Before he actually entered upon his great office, and for a considerable
time afterwards, there is no reason to suppose that he adequately
estimated the gigantic task about to be imposed on him, or, at least, had
any distinct idea how it was to be managed; and I presume there may have
been more than one veteran politician who proposed to himself to take the
power out of President Lincoln's hands into his own, leaving our honest
friend only the public responsibility for the good or ill success of the
career.  The extremely imperfect development of his statesmanly
qualities, at that period, may have justified such designs.  But the
President is teachable by events, and has now spent a year in a very
arduous course of education; he has a flexible mind, capable of much
expansion, and convertible towards far loftier studies and activities
than those of his early life; and if he came to Washington a backwoods
humorist, he has already transformed himself into as good a statesman (to
speak moderately) as his prime-minister.

Among other excursions to camps and places of interest in the
neighborhood of Washington, we went, one day, to Alexandria.  It is a
little port on the Potomac, with one or two shabby wharves and docks,
resembling those of a fishing-village in New England, and the respectable
old brick town rising gently behind.  In peaceful times it no doubt bore
an aspect of decorous quietude and dulness; but it was now thronged with
the Northern soldiery, whose stir and bustle contrasted strikingly with
the many closed warehouses, the absence of citizens from their customary
haunts, and the lack of any symptom of healthy activity, while
army-wagons trundled heavily over the pavements, and sentinels paced the
sidewalks, and mounted dragoons dashed to and fro on military errands.  I
tried to imagine how very disagreeable the presence of a Southern army
would be in a sober town of Massachusetts; and the thought considerably
lessened my wonder at the cold and shy regards that are cast upon our
troops, the gloom, the sullen demeanor, the declared or scarcely hidden
sympathy with rebellion, which are so frequent here.  It is a strange
thing in human life, that the greatest errors both of men and women often
spring from their sweetest and most generous qualities; and so,
undoubtedly, thousands of warm-hearted, sympathetic, and impulsive
persons have joined the Rebels, not from any real zeal for the cause, but
because, between two conflicting loyalties, they chose that which
necessarily lay nearest the heart.  There never existed any other
government against which treason was so easy, and could defend itself by
such plausible arguments, as against that of the United States.  The
anomaly of two allegiances (of which that of the State comes nearest home
to a man's feelings, and includes the altar and the hearth, while the
General Government claims his devotion only to an airy mode of law, and
has no symbol but a flag) is exceedingly mischievous in this point of
view; for it has converted crowds of honest people into traitors, who
seem to themselves not merely innocent but patriotic, and who die for a
bad cause with as quiet a conscience as if it were the best.  In the vast
extent of our country,--too vast by far to be taken into one small human
heart,--we inevitably limit to our own State, or, at farthest, to our own
section, that sentiment of physical love for the soil which renders an
Englishman, for example, so intensely sensitive to the dignity and
well-being of his little island, that one hostile foot, treading anywhere
upon it, would make a bruise on each individual breast.  If a man loves
his individual State, therefore, and is content to be ruined with her,
let us shoot him if we can, but allow him an honorable burial in the soil
he fights for.

[We do not thoroughly comprehend the author's drift in the foregoing
paragraph, but are inclined to think its tone reprehensible, and its
tendency impolitic in the present stage of our national difficulties.]

In Alexandria we visited the tavern in which Colonel Ellsworth was
killed, and saw the spot where he fell, and saw the stairs below, whence
Jackson fired the fatal shot, and where he himself was slain a moment
afterwards; so that the assassin and his victim must have met on the
threshold of the spirit-world, and perhaps came to a better understanding
before they had taken many steps on the other side.  Ellsworth was too
generous to bear an immortal grudge for a deed like that, done in hot
blood, and by no skulking enemy.  The memorial-hunters have completely
cut away the original wood-work around the spot, with their
pocket-knives; and the staircase, balustrade, and floor, as well as the
adjacent doors and door-frames, have recently been renewed; the walls,
moreover, are covered with new paper-hangings, the former having been
torn off in tatters; and thus it becomes something like a metaphysical
question whether the place of the murder actually exists.

Driving out of Alexandria, we stopped on the edge of the city to inspect
an old slave-pen, which is one of the lions of the place, but a very poor
one; and a little farther on, we came to a brick church, where Washington
used sometimes to attend service,--a pre-Revolutionary edifice, with ivy
growing over its walls, though not very luxuriantly.  Reaching the open
country, we saw forts and camps on all sides; some of the tents being
placed immediately on the ground, while others were raised over a
basement of logs, laid lengthwise, like those of a log-hut, or driven
vertically into the soil in a circle,--thus forming a solid wall, the
chinks closed up with Virginia mud, and above it the pyramidal shelter of
the tent.  Here were in progress all the occupations, and all the
idleness, of the soldier in the tented field: some were cooking the
company-rations in pots hung over fires in the open air; some played at
ball, or developed their muscular power by gymnastic exercise; some read
newspapers; some smoked cigars or pipes; and many were cleaning their
arms or accoutrements,--the more carefully, perhaps, because their
division was to be reviewed by the Commander-in-Chief that afternoon;
others sat on the ground, while their comrades cut their hair,--it being
a soldierly fashion (and for excellent reasons) to crop it within an inch
of the skull; others, finally, lay asleep in breast-high tents, with
their legs protruding into the open air.

We paid a visit to Fort Ellsworth, and from its ramparts (which have been
heaped up out of the muddy soil within the last few months, and will
require still a year or two to make them verdant) we had a beautiful view
of the Potomac, a truly majestic river, and the surrounding country.  The
fortifications, so numerous in all this region, and now so unsightly with
their bare, precipitous sides, will remain as historic monuments,
grass-grown and picturesque memorials of an epoch of terror and
suffering: they will serve to make our country dearer and more
interesting to us, and afford fit soil for poetry to root itself in: for
this is a plant which thrives best in spots where blood has been spilt
long ago, and grows in abundant clusters in old ditches, such as the moat
around Fort Ellsworth will be a century hence.  It may seem to be paying
dear for what many will reckon but a worthless weed; but the more
historical associations we can link with our localities, the richer will
be the daily life that feeds upon the past, and the more valuable the
things that have been long established: so that our children will be less
prodigal than their fathers in sacrificing good institutions to
passionate impulses and impracticable theories.  This herb of grace, let
us hope, will be found in the old footprints of the war.

Even in an aesthetic point of view, however, the war has done a great
deal of enduring mischief, by causing the devastation of great tracts of
woodland scenery, in which this part of Virginia would appear to be very
rich.  Around all the encampments, and everywhere along the road, we saw
the bare sites of what had evidently been tracts of hard-wood forest,
indicated by the unsightly stumps of well-grown trees, not smoothly
felled by regular axe-men, but hacked, haggled, and unevenly amputated,
as by a sword or other miserable tool, in an unskilful hand.  Fifty years
will not repair this desolation.  An army destroys everything before and
around it, even to the very grass; for the sites of the encampments are
converted into barren esplanades, like those of the squares in French
cities, where not a blade of grass is allowed to grow.  As to the other
symptoms of devastation and obstruction, such as deserted houses,
unfenced fields, and a general aspect of nakedness and ruin, I know not
how much may be due to a normal lack of neatness in the rural life of
Virginia, which puts a squalid face even upon a prosperous state of
things; but undoubtedly the war must have spoilt what was good, and made
the bad a great deal worse.  The carcasses of horses were scattered along
the wayside.

One very pregnant token of a social system thoroughly disturbed was
presented by a party of contrabands, escaping out of the mysterious
depths of Secessia; and its strangeness consisted in the leisurely delay
with which they trudged forward, as dreading no pursuer, and encountering
nobody to turn them back.  They were unlike the specimens of their race
whom we are accustomed to see at the North, and, in my judgment, were far
more agreeable.  So rudely were they attired,--as if their garb had grown
upon them spontaneously,--so picturesquely natural in manners, and
wearing such a crust of primeval simplicity (which is quite polished away
from the Northern black man), that they seemed a kind of creature by
themselves, not altogether human, but perhaps quite as good, and akin to
the fawns and rustic deities of olden times.  I wonder whether I shall
excite anybody's wrath by saying this.  It is no great matter.  At all
events, I felt most kindly towards these poor fugitives, but knew not
precisely what to wish in their behalf, nor in the least how to help
them.  For the sake of the manhood which is latent in them, I would not
have turned them back; but I should have felt almost as reluctant, on
their own account, to hasten them forward to the stranger's land; and I
think my prevalent idea was, that, whoever may be benefited by the
results of this war, it will not be the present generation of negroes,
the childhood of whose race is now gone forever, and who must henceforth
fight a hard battle with the world, on very unequal terms.  On behalf of
my own race, I am glad and can only hope that an inscrutable Providence
means good to both parties.

There is an historical circumstance, known to few, that connects the
children of the Puritans with these Africans of Virginia in a very
singular way.  They are our brethren, as being lineal descendants from
the Mayflower, the fated womb of which, in her first voyage, sent forth a
brood of Pilgrims on Plymouth Rock, and, in a subsequent one, spawned
slaves upon the Southern soil,--a monstrous birth, but with which we have
an instinctive sense of kindred, and so are stirred by an irresistible
impulse to attempt their rescue, even at the cost of blood and ruin.  The
character of our sacred ship, I fear, may suffer a little by this
revelation; but we must let her white progeny offset her dark one,--and
two such portents never sprang from an identical source before.

While we drove onward, a young officer on horseback looked earnestly into
the carriage, and recognized some faces that he had seen before; so he
rode along by our side, and we pestered him with queries and
observations, to which he responded more civilly than they deserved.  He
was on General McClellan's staff; and a gallant cavalier, high-booted,
with a revolver in his belt, and mounted on a noble horse, which trotted
hard and high without disturbing the rider in his accustomed seat.  His
face had a healthy hue of exposure and an expression of careless
hardihood; and, as I looked at him, it seemed to me that the war had
brought good fortune to the youth of this epoch, if to none beside; since
they now make it their daily business to ride a horse and handle a sword,
instead of lounging listlessly through the duties, occupations,
pleasures--all tedious alike--to which the artificial state of society
limits a peaceful generation.  The atmosphere of the camp and the smoke
of the battle-field are morally invigorating; the hardy virtues flourish
in them, the nonsense dies like a wilted weed.  The enervating effects of
centuries of civilization vanish at once, and leave these young men to
enjoy a life of hardship, and the exhilarating sense of danger,--to kill
men blamelessly, or to be killed gloriously,--and to be happy in
following out their native instincts of destruction, precisely in the
spirit of Homer's heroes, only with some considerable change of mode.
One touch of Nature makes not only the whole world, but all time, akin.
Set men face to face, with weapons in their hands, and they are as ready
to slaughter one another now, after playing at peace and good-will for so
many years, as in the rudest ages, that never heard of peace-societies,
and thought no wine so delicious as what they quaffed from an enemy's
skull.  Indeed, if the report of a Congressional committee may be
trusted, that old-fashioned kind of goblet has again come into use at the
expense of our Northern head-pieces,--a costly drinking-cup to him that
furnishes it!  Heaven forgive me for seeming to jest upon such a
subject!--only, it is so odd, when we measure our advances from
barbarism, and find ourselves just here!  [We hardly expected this
outbreak in favor of war from the Peaceable Man; but the justness of our
cause makes us all soldiers at heart, however quiet in our outward life.
We have heard of twenty Quakers in a single company of a Pennsylvania
regiment.]

We now approached General McClellan's head-quarters, which, at that time,
were established at Fairfield Seminary.  The edifice was situated on a
gentle elevation, amid very agreeable scenery, and, at a distance, looked
like a gentleman's seat.  Preparations were going forward for reviewing a
division of ten or twelve thousand men, the various regiments composing
which had begun to array themselves on an extensive plain, where,
methought, there was a more convenient place for a battle than is usually
found in this broken and difficult country.  Two thousand cavalry made a
portion of the troops to be reviewed.  By and by we saw a pretty numerous
troop of mounted officers, who were congregated on a distant part of the
plain, and whom we finally ascertained to be the Commander-in-Chief's
staff, with McClellan himself at their head.  Our party managed to
establish itself in a position conveniently close to the General, to
whom, moreover, we had the honor of an introduction; and he bowed, on his
horseback, with a good deal of dignity and martial courtesy, but no airs
nor fuss nor pretension beyond what his character and rank inevitably
gave him.

Now, at that juncture, and in fact, up to the present moment, there was,
and is, a most fierce and bitter outcry, and detraction loud and low,
against General McClellan, accusing him of sloth, imbecility, cowardice,
treasonable purposes, and, in short, utterly denying his ability as a
soldier, and questioning his integrity as a man.  Nor was this to be
wondered at; for when before, in all history, do we find a general in
command of half a million of men, and in presence of an enemy inferior in
numbers and no better disciplined than his own troops, leaving it still
debatable, after the better part of a year, whether he is a soldier or
no?  The question would seem to answer itself in the very asking.
Nevertheless, being most profoundly ignorant of the art of war, like the
majority of the General's critics, and, on the other hand, having some
considerable impressibility by men's characters, I was glad of the
opportunity to look him in the face, and to feel whatever influence might
reach me from his sphere.  So I stared at him, as the phrase goes, with
all the eyes I had; and the reader shall have the benefit of what I saw,
--to which he is the more welcome, because, in writing this article, I
feel disposed to be singularly frank, and can scarcely restrain myself
from telling truths the utterance of which I should get slender thanks
for.

The General was dressed in a simple, dark-blue uniform, without epaulets,
booted to the knee, and with a cloth cap upon his head; and, at first
sight, you might have taken him for a corporal of dragoons, of
particularly neat and soldier-like aspect, and in the prime of his age
and strength.  He is only of middling stature, but his build is very
compact and sturdy, with broad shoulders and a look of great physical
vigor, which, in fact, he is said to possess,--he and Beauregard having
been rivals in that particular, and both distinguished above other men.
His complexion is dark and sanguine, with dark hair.  He has a strong,
bold, soldierly face, full of decision; a Roman nose, by no means a thin
prominence, but very thick and firm; and if he follows it (which I should
think likely), it may be pretty confidently trusted to guide him aright.
His profile would make a more effective likeness than the full face,
which, however, is much better in the real man than in any photograph
that I have seen.  His forehead is not remarkably large, but comes
forward at the eyebrows; it is not the brow nor countenance of a
prominently intellectual man (not a natural student, I mean, or abstract
thinker), but of one whose office it is to handle things practically and
to bring about tangible results.  His face looked capable of being very
stern, but wore, in its repose, when I saw it, an aspect pleasant and
dignified; it is not, in its character, an American face, nor an English
one.  The man on whom he fixes his eye is conscious of him.  In his
natural disposition, he seems calm and self-possessed, sustaining his
great responsibilities cheerfully, without shrinking, or weariness, or
spasmodic effort, or damage to his health, but all with quiet, deep-drawn
breaths; just as his broad shoulders would bear up a heavy burden without
aching beneath it.

After we had had sufficient time to peruse the man (so far as it could be
done with one pair of very attentive eyes), the General rode off,
followed by his cavalcade, and was lost to sight among the troops.  They
received him with loud shouts, by the eager uproar of which--now near,
now in the centre, now on the outskirts of the division, and now sweeping
back towards us in a great volume of sound--we could trace his progress
through the ranks.  If he is a coward, or a traitor, or a humbug, or
anything less than a brave, true, and able man, that mass of intelligent
soldiers, whose lives and honor he had in charge, were utterly deceived,
and so was this present writer; for they believed in him, and so did I;
and had I stood in the ranks, should have shouted with the lustiest of
them.  Of course I may be mistaken; my opinion on such a point is worth
nothing, although my impression may be worth a little more; neither do I
consider the General's antecedents as bearing very decided testimony to
his practical soldiership.  A thorough knowledge of the science of war
seems to be conceded to him; he is allowed to be a good military critic;
but all this is possible without his possessing any positive qualities of
a great general, just as a literary critic may show the profoundest
acquaintance with the principles of epic poetry without being able to
produce a single stanza of an epic poem.  Nevertheless, I shall not give
up my faith in General McClellan's soldiership until he is defeated, nor
in his courage and integrity even then.

Another of our excursions was to Harper's Ferry,--the Directors of the
Baltimore and Ohio Railroad having kindly invited us to accompany them on
the first trip over the newly laid track, after its breaking up by the
Rebels.  It began to rain, in the early morning, pretty soon after we
left Washington, and continued to pour a cataract throughout the day; so
that the aspect of the country was dreary, where it would otherwise have
been delightful, as we entered among the hill-scenery that is formed by
the subsiding swells of the Alleghanies.  The latter part of our journey
lay along the shore of the Potomac, in its upper course, where the margin
of that noble river is bordered by gray, over-hanging crags, beneath
which--and sometimes right through them--the railroad takes its way.  In
one place the Rebels had attempted to arrest a train by precipitating an
immense mass of rock down upon the track, by the side of which it still
lay, deeply imbedded in the ground, and looking as if it might have lain
there since the Deluge.  The scenery grew even more picturesque as we
proceeded, the bluffs becoming very bold in their descent upon the river,
which, at Harper's Ferry, presents as striking a vista among the hills as
a painter could desire to see.  But a beautiful landscape is a luxury,
and luxuries are thrown away amid discomfort; and when we alighted in the
tenacious mud and almost fathomless puddle, on the hither side of the
Ferry (the ultimate point to which the cars proceeded, since the railroad
bridge had been destroyed by the Rebels), I cannot remember that any very
rapturous emotions were awakened by the scenery.

We paddled and floundered over the ruins of the track, and, scrambling
down an embankment, crossed the Potomac by a pontoon-bridge, a thousand
feet in length, over the narrow line of which--level with the river, and
rising and subsiding with it--General Banks had recently led his whole
army, with its ponderous artillery and heavy laden wagons.  Yet our own
tread made it vibrate.  The broken bridge of the railroad was a little
below us, and at the base of one of its massive piers, in the rocky bed
of the river, lay a locomotive, which the Rebels had precipitated there.

As we passed over, we looked towards the Virginia shore, and beheld the
little town of Harper's Ferry, gathered about the base of a round hill
and climbing up its steep acclivity; so that it somewhat resembled the
Etruscan cities which I have seen among the Apennines, rushing, as it
were, down an apparently breakneck height.  About midway of the ascent
stood a shabby brick church, towards which a difficult path went
scrambling up the precipice, indicating, one would say; a very fervent
aspiration on the part of the worshippers, unless there was some easier
mode of access in another direction.  Immediately on the shore of the
Potomac, and extending back towards the town, lay the dismal ruins of the
United States arsenal and armory, consisting of piles of broken bricks
and a waste of shapeless demolition, amid which we saw gun-barrels in
heaps of hundreds together.  They were the relics of the conflagration,
bent with the heat of the fire, and rusted with the wintry rain to which
they had since been exposed.  The brightest sunshine could not have made
the scene cheerful, nor have taken away the gloom from the dilapidated
town; for, besides the natural shabbiness, and decayed, unthrifty look of
a Virginian village, it has an inexpressible forlornness resulting from
the devastations of war and its occupation by both armies alternately.
Yet there would be a less striking contrast between Southern and New
England villages, if the former were as much in the habit of using white
paint as we are.  It is prodigiously efficacious in putting a bright face
upon a bad matter.

There was one small shop which appeared to have nothing for sale.  A
single man and one or two boys were all the inhabitants in view, except
the Yankee sentinels and soldiers, belonging to Massachusetts regiments,
who were scattered about pretty numerously.  A guard-house stood on the
slope of the hill; and in the level street at its base were the offices
of the Provost-Marshal and other military authorities, to whom we
forthwith reported ourselves.  The Provost-Marshal kindly sent a corporal
to guide us to the little building which John Brown seized upon as his
fortress, and which, after it was stormed by the United States marines,
became his temporary prison.  It is an old engine-house, rusty and
shabby, like every other work of man's hands in this God-forsaken town,
and stands fronting upon the river, only a short distance from the bank,
nearly at the point where the pontoon-bridge touches the Virginia shore.
In its front wall, on each side of the door, are two or three ragged
loop-holes, which John Brown perforated for his defence, knocking out
merely a brick or two, so as to give himself and his garrison a sight
over their rifles.  Through these orifices the sturdy old man dealt a
good deal of deadly mischief among his assailants, until they broke down
the door by thrusting against it with a ladder, and tumbled headlong in
upon him.  I shall not pretend to be an admirer of old John Brown, any
farther than sympathy with Whittier's excellent ballad about him may go;
nor did I expect ever to shrink so unutterably from any apophthegm of a
sage, whose happy lips have uttered a hundred golden sentences, as from
that saying (perhaps falsely attributed to so honored a source), that the
death of this blood-stained fanatic has "made the Gallows as venerable as
the Cross!"  Nobody was ever more justly hanged.  He won his martyrdom
fairly, and took it firmly.  He himself, I am persuaded (such was his
natural integrity), would have acknowledged that Virginia had a right to
take the life which he had staked and lost; although it would have been
better for her, in the hour that is fast coming, if she could generously
have forgotten the criminality of his attempt in its enormous folly.  On
the other hand, any common-sensible man, looking at the matter
unsentimentally, must have felt a certain intellectual satisfaction in
seeing him hanged, if it were only in requittal of his preposterous
miscalculation of possibilities.  [Can it be a son of old Massachusetts
who utters this abominable sentiment?  For shame.]

But, coolly as I seem to say these things, my Yankee heart stirred
triumphantly when I saw the use to which John Brown's fortress and
prison-house has now been put.  What right have I to complain of any
other man's foolish impulses, when I cannot possibly control my own?  The
engine-house is now a place of confinement for Rebel prisoners.

A Massachusetts soldier stood on guard, but readily permitted our whole
party to enter.  It was a wretched place.  A room of perhaps twenty-five
feet square occupied the whole interior of the building, having an iron
stove in its centre, whence a rusty funnel ascended towards a hole in the
roof, which served the purposes of ventilation, as well as for the exit
of smoke.  We found ourselves right in the midst of the Rebels, some of
whom lay on heaps of straw, asleep, or, at all events, giving no sign of
consciousness; others sat in the corners of the room, huddled close
together, and staring with a lazy kind of interest at the visitors; two
were astride of some planks, playing with the dirtiest pack of cards that
I ever happened to see.  There was only one figure in the least military
among all these twenty prisoners of war,--a man with a dark, intelligent,
moustached face, wearing a shabby cotton uniform, which he had contrived
to arrange with a degree of soldierly smartness, though it had evidently
borne the brunt of a very filthy campaign.  He stood erect, and talked
freely with those who addressed him, telling them his place of residence,
the number of his regiment, the circumstances of his capture, and such
other particulars as their Northern inquisitiveness prompted them to ask.
I liked the manliness of his deportment; he was neither ashamed, nor
afraid, nor in the slightest degree sullen, peppery, or contumacious, but
bore himself as if whatever animosity he had felt towards his enemies was
left upon the battle-field, and would not be resumed till he had again a
weapon in his hand.

Neither could I detect a trace of hostile feeling in the countenance,
words, or manner of any prisoner there.  Almost to a man, they were
simple, bumpkin-like fellows, dressed in homespun clothes, with faces
singularly vacant of meaning, but sufficiently good-humored: a breed of
men, in short, such as I did not suppose to exist in this country,
although I have seen their like in some other parts of the world.  They
were peasants, and of a very low order; a class of people with whom our
Northern rural population has not a single trait in common.  They were
exceedingly respectful,--more so than a rustic New-Englander ever dreams
of being towards anybody, except perhaps his minister; and had they worn
any hats they would probably have been self-constrained to take them off,
under the unusual circumstance of being permitted to hold conversation
with well-dressed persons.  It is my belief that not a single bumpkin of
them all (the moustached soldier always excepted) had the remotest
comprehension of what they had been fighting for, or how they had
deserved to be shut up in that dreary hole; nor, possibly, did they care
to inquire into this latter mystery, but took it as a godsend to be
suffered to lie here in a heap of unwashed human bodies, well warmed and
well foddered to-day, and without the necessity of bothering themselves
about the possible hunger and cold of to-morrow.  Their dark prison-life
may have seemed to them the sunshine of all their lifetime.

There was one poor wretch, a wild-beast of a man, at whom I gazed with
greater interest than at his fellows; although I know not that each one
of them, in their semi-barbarous moral state, might not have been capable
of the same savage impulse that had made this particular individual a
horror to all beholders.  At the close of some battle or skirmish, a
wounded Union soldier had crept on hands and knees to his feet, and
besought his assistance,--not dreaming that any creature in human shape,
in the Christian land where they had so recently been brethren, could
refuse it.  But this man (this fiend, if you prefer to call him so,
though I would not advise it) flung a bitter curse at the poor
Northerner, and absolutely trampled the soul out of his body, as he lay
writhing beneath his feet.  The fellow's face was horribly ugly; but I am
not quite sure that I should have noticed it if I had not known his
story.  He spoke not a word, and met nobody's eye, but kept staring
upward into the smoky vacancy towards the ceiling, where, it might be, he
beheld a continual portraiture of his victim's horror-stricken agonies.
I rather fancy, however, that his moral sense was yet too torpid to
trouble him with such remorseful visions, and that, for his own part, he
might have had very agreeable reminiscences of the soldier's death, if
other eyes had not been bent reproachfully upon him and warned him that
something was amiss.  It was this reproach in other men's eyes that made
him look aside.  He was a wild-beast, as I began with saying,--an
unsophisticated wild-beast,--while the rest of us are partially tamed,
though still the scent of blood excites some of the savage instincts of
our nature.  What this wretch needed, in order to make him capable of the
degree of mercy and benevolence that exists in us, was simply such a
measure of moral and intellectual development as we have received; and,
in my mind, the present war is so well justified by no other
consideration as by the probability that it will free this class of
Southern whites from a thraldom in which they scarcely begin to be
responsible beings.  So far as the education of the heart is concerned,
the negroes have apparently the advantage of them; and as to other
schooling, it is practically unattainable by black or white.

Looking round at these poor prisoners, therefore, it struck me as an
immense absurdity that they should fancy us their enemies; since, whether
we intend it so or no, they have a far greater stake on our success than
we can possibly have.  For ourselves, the balance of advantages between
defeat and triumph may admit of question.  For them, all truly valuable
things are dependent on our complete success; for thence would come the
regeneration of a people,--the removal of a foul scurf that has overgrown
their life, and keeps then in a state of disease and decrepitude, one of
the chief symptoms of which is, that, the more they suffer and are
debased, the more they imagine themselves strong and beautiful.  No human
effort, on a grand scale, has ever yet resulted according to the purpose,
of its projectors.  The advantages are always incidental.  Man's
accidents are God's purposes.  We miss the good we sought, and do the
good we little cared for.  [The author seems to imagine that he has
compressed a great deal of meaning into these little, hard, dry pellets
of aphoristic wisdom.  We disagree with him.  The counsels of wise and
good men are often coincident with the purposes of Providence; and the
present war promises to illustrate our remark.]

Our Government evidently knows when and where to lay its finger upon its
most available citizens; for, quite unexpectedly, we were joined by some
other gentlemen, scarcely less competent than ourselves, in a commission
to proceed to Fortress Monroe and examine into things in general.  Of
course, official propriety compels us to be extremely guarded in our
description of the interesting objects which this expedition opened to
our view.  There can be no harm, however, in stating that we were
received by the commander of the fortress with a kind of acid
good-nature, or mild cynicism, that indicated him to be a humorist,
characterized by certain rather pungent peculiarities, yet of no
unamiable cast.  He is a small, thin, old gentleman, set off by a large
pair of brilliant epaulets,--the only pair, so far as my observation
went, that adorn the shoulders of any officer in the Union army.  Either
for our inspection, or because the matter had already been arranged, he
drew out a regiment of Zouaves that formed the principal part of his
garrison, and appeared at their head, sitting on horseback with rigid
perpendicularity, and affording us a vivid idea of the disciplinarian of
Baron Steuben's school.

There can be no question of the General's military qualities; he must
have been especially useful in converting raw recruits into trained and
efficient soldiers.  But valor and martial skill are of so evanescent a
character (hardly less fleeting than a woman's beauty), that Government
has perhaps taken the safer course in assigning to this gallant officer,
though distinguished in former wars, no more active duty than the
guardianship of an apparently impregnable fortress.  The ideas of
military men solidify and fossilize so fast, while military science makes
such rapid advances, that even here there might be a difficulty.  An
active, diversified, and therefore a youthful, ingenuity is required by
the quick exigencies of this singular war.  Fortress Monroe, for example,
in spite of the massive solidity of its ramparts, its broad and deep
moat, and all the contrivances of defence that were known at the not very
remote epoch of its construction, is now pronounced absolutely incapable
of resisting the novel modes of assault which may be brought to bear upon
it.  It can only be the flexible talent of a young man that will evolve a
new efficiency out of its obsolete strength.

It is a pity that old men grow unfit for war, not only by their
incapacity for new ideas, but by the peaceful and unadventurous
tendencies that gradually possess themselves of the once turbulent
disposition, which used to snuff the battle-smoke as its congenial
atmosphere.  It is a pity; because it would be such an economy of human
existence, if time-stricken people (whose value I have the better right
to estimate, as reckoning myself one of them) could snatch from their
juniors the exclusive privilege of carrying on the war.  In case of death
upon the battle-field, how unequal would be the comparative sacrifice!
On one part, a few unenjoyable years, the little remnant of a life grown
torpid; on the other, the many fervent summers of manhood in its spring
and prime, with all that they include of possible benefit to mankind.
Then, too, a bullet offers such a brief and easy way, such a pretty
little orifice, through which the weary spirit might seize the
opportunity to be exhaled!  If I had the ordering of these matters, fifty
should be the tenderest age at which a recruit might be accepted for
training; at fifty-five or sixty, I would consider him eligible for most
kinds of military duty and exposure, excluding that of a forlorn hope,
which no soldier should be permitted to volunteer upon, short of the ripe
age of seventy.  As a general rule, these venerable combatants should
have the preference for all dangerous and honorable service in the order
of their seniority, with a distinction in favor of those whose
infirmities might render their lives less worth the keeping.  Methinks
there would be no more Bull Runs; a warrior with gout in his toe, or
rheumatism in his joints, or with one foot in the grave, would make a
sorry fugitive!

On this admirable system, the productive part of the population would be
undisturbed even by the bloodiest war; and, best of all, those thousands
upon thousands of our Northern girls, whose proper mates will perish in
camp-hospitals or on Southern battle-fields, would avoid their doom of
forlorn old-maidenhood.  But, no doubt, the plan will be pooh-poohed down
by the War Department; though it could scarcely be more disastrous than
the one on which we began the war, when a young army was struck with
paralysis through the age of its commander.

The waters around Fortress Monroe were thronged with a gallant array of
ships of war and transports, wearing the Union flag,--"Old Glory," as I
hear it called in these days.  A little withdrawn from our national fleet
lay two French frigates, and, in another direction, an English sloop,
under that banner which always makes itself visible, like a red portent
in the air, wherever there is strife.  In pursuance of our official duty
(which had no ascertainable limits), we went on board the flag-ship, and
were shown over every part of her, and down into her depths, inspecting
her gallant crew, her powerful armament, her mighty engines, and her
furnaces, where the fires are always kept burning, as well at midnight as
at noon, so that it would require only five minutes to put the vessel
under full steam.  This vigilance has been felt necessary ever since the
Merrimack made that terrible dash from Norfolk.  Splendid as she is,
however, and provided with all but the very latest improvements in naval
armament, the Minnesota belongs to a class of vessels that will be built
no more, nor ever fight another battle,--being as much a thing of the
past as any of the ships of Queen Elizabeth's time, which grappled with
the galleons of the Spanish Armada.

On her quarter-deck, an elderly flag-officer was pacing to and fro, with
a self-conscious dignity to which a touch of the gout or rheumatism
perhaps contributed a little additional stiffness.  He seemed to be a
gallant gentleman, but of the old, slow, and pompous school of naval
worthies, who have grown up amid rules, forms, and etiquette which were
adopted full-blown from the British navy into ours, and are somewhat too
cumbrous for the quick spirit of to-day.  This order of nautical heroes
will probably go down, along with the ships in which they fought
valorously and strutted most intolerably.  How can an admiral condescend
to go to sea in an iron pot?  What space and elbow-room can be found for
quarter-deck dignity in the cramped lookout of the Monitor, or even in
the twenty-feet diameter of her cheese-box?  All the pomp and splendor of
naval warfare are gone by.  Henceforth there must come up a race of
enginemen and smoke-blackened cannoneers, who will hammer away at their
enemies under the direction of a single pair of eyes; and even heroism--
so deadly a gripe is Science laying on our noble possibilities--will
become a quality of very minor importance, when its possessor cannot
break through the iron crust of his own armament and give the world a
glimpse of it.

At no great distance from the Minnesota lay the strangest-looking craft I
ever saw.  It was a platform of iron, so nearly on a level with the water
that the swash of the waves broke over it, under the impulse of a very
moderate breeze; and on this platform was raised a circular structure,
likewise of iron, and rather broad and capacious, but of no great height.
It could not be called a vessel at all; it was a machine,--and I have
seen one of somewhat similar appearance employed in cleaning out the
docks; or, for lack of a better similitude, it looked like a gigantic
rat-trap.  It was ugly, questionable, suspicious, evidently mischievous,
--nay, I will allow myself to call it devilish; for this was the new
war-fiend, destined, along with others of the same breed, to annihilate
whole navies and batter down old supremacies.  The wooden walls of Old
England cease to exist, and a whole history of naval renown reaches its
period, now that the Monitor comes smoking into view; while the billows
dash over what seems her deck, and storms bury even her turret in green
water, as she burrows and snorts along, oftener under the surface than
above.  The singularity of the object has betrayed me into a more
ambitious vein of description than I often indulge; and, after all, I
might as well have contented myself with simply saying that she looked
very queer.

Going on board, we were surprised at the extent and convenience of her
interior accommodations.  There is a spacious ward-room, nine or ten feet
in height, besides a private cabin for the commander, and sleeping
accommodations on an ample scale; the whole well lighted and ventilated,
though beneath the surface of the water.  Forward, or aft (for it is
impossible to tell stem from stern), the crew are relatively quite as
well provided for as the officers.  It was like finding a palace, with
all its conveniences, under the sea.  The inaccessibility, the apparent
impregnability, of this submerged iron fortress are most satisfactory;
the officers and crew get down through a little hole in the deck,
hermetically seal themselves, and go below; and until they see fit to
reappear, there would seem to be no power given to man whereby they can
be brought to light.  A storm of cannon-shot damages them no more than a
handful of dried peas.  We saw the shot-marks made by the great artillery
of the Merrimack on the outer casing of the iron tower; they were about
the breadth and depth of shallow saucers, almost imperceptible dents,
with no corresponding bulge on the interior surface.  In fact, the thing
looked altogether too safe; though it may not prove quite an agreeable
predicament to be thus boxed up in impenetrable iron, with the
possibility, one would imagine, of being sent to the bottom of the sea,
and, even there, not drowned, but stifled.  Nothing, however, can exceed
the confidence of the officers in this new craft.  It was pleasant to see
their benign exultation in her powers of mischief, and the delight with
which they exhibited the circumvolutory movement of the tower, the quick
thrusting forth of the immense guns to deliver their ponderous missiles,
and then the immediate recoil, and the security behind the closed
port-holes.  Yet even this will not long be the last and most terrible
improvement in the science of war.  Already we hear of vessels the
armament of which is to act entirely beneath the surface of the water; so
that, with no other external symptoms than a great bubbling and foaming,
and gush of smoke, and belch of smothered thunder out of the yeasty
waves, there shall be a deadly fight going on below,--and, by and by, a
sucking whirlpool, as one of the ships goes down.

The Monitor was certainly an object of great interest; but on our way to
Newport News, whither we next went, we saw a spectacle that affected us
with far profounder emotion.  It was the sight of the few sticks that are
left of the frigate Congress, stranded near the shore,--and still more,
the masts of the Cumberland rising midway out of the water, with a
tattered rag of a pennant fluttering from one of them.  The invisible
hull of the latter ship seems to be careened over, so that the three
masts stand slantwise; the rigging looks quite unimpaired, except that a
few ropes dangle loosely from the yards.  The flag (which never was
struck, thank Heaven!) is entirely hidden under the waters of the bay,
but is still doubtless waving in its old place, although it floats to and
fro with the swell and reflex of the tide, instead of rustling on the
breeze.  A remnant of the dead crew still man the sunken ship, and
sometimes a drowned body floats up to the surface.

That was a noble fight.  When was ever a better word spoken than that of
Commodore Smith, the father of the commander of the Congress, when he
heard that his son's ship was surrendered?  "Then Joe's dead!" said he;
and so it proved.  Nor can any warrior be more certain of enduring renown
than the gallant Morris, who fought so well the final battle of the old
system of naval warfare, and won glory for his country and himself out of
inevitable disaster and defeat.  That last gun from the Cumberland, when
her deck was half submerged, sounded the requiem of many sinking ships.
Then went down all the navies of Europe and our own, Old Ironsides and
all, and Trafalgar and a thousand other fights became only a memory,
never to be acted over again; and thus our brave countrymen come last in
the long procession of heroic sailors that includes Blake and Nelson, and
so many mariners of England, and other mariners as brave as they, whose
renown is our native inheritance.  There will be other battles, but no
more such tests of seamanship and manhood as the battles of the past;
and, moreover, the Millennium is certainly approaching, because human
strife is to be transferred from the heart and personality of man into
cunning contrivances of machinery, which by and by will fight out our
wars with only the clank and smash of iron, strewing the field with
broken engines, but damaging nobody's little finger except by accident.
Such is obviously the tendency of modern improvement.  But, in the mean
while, so long as manhood retains any part of its pristine value, no
country can afford to let gallantry like that of Morris and his crew, any
more than that of the brave Worden, pass unhonored and unrewarded.  If
the Government do nothing, let the people take the matter into their own
hands, and cities give him swords, gold boxes, festivals of triumph, and,
if he needs it, heaps of gold.  Let poets brood upon the theme, and make
themselves sensible how much of the past and future is contained within
its compass, till its spirit shall flash forth in the lightning of a
song!

From these various excursions, and a good many others (including one to
Manassas), we gained a pretty lively idea of what was going on; but,
after all, if compelled to pass a rainy day in the hall and parlors of
Willard's Hotel, it proved about as profitably spent as if we had
floundered through miles of Virginia mud, in quest of interesting matter.
This hotel, in fact, may be much more justly called the centre of
Washington and the Union than either the Capitol, the White House, or the
State Department.  Everybody may be seen there.  It is the meeting-place
of the true representatives of the country,--not such as are chosen
blindly and amiss by electors who take a folded ballot from the hand of a
local politician, and thrust it into the ballot-box unread, but men who
gravitate or are attracted hither by real business, or a native impulse
to breathe the intensest atmosphere of the nation's life, or a genuine
anxiety to see how this life-and-death struggle is going to deal with us.
Nor these only, but all manner of loafers.  Never, in any other spot, was
there such a miscellany of people.  You exchange nods with governors of
sovereign States; you elbow illustrious men, and tread on the toes of
generals; you hear statesmen and orators speaking in their familiar
tones.  You are mixed up with office-seekers, wire-pullers, inventors,
artists, poets, prosers (including editors, army-correspondents, attaches
of foreign journals, and long-winded talkers), clerks, diplomatists,
mail-contractors, railway-directors, until your own identity is lost
among them.  Occasionally you talk with a man whom you have never before
heard of, and are struck with the brightness of a thought, and fancy that
there is more wisdom hidden among the obscure than is anywhere revealed
among the famous.  You adopt the universal habit of the place, and call
for mint-julep, a whiskey-skin, a gin-cocktail, a brandy smash, or a
glass of pure Old Rye; for the conviviality of Washington sets in at an
early hour, and, so far as I had opportunity of observing, never
terminates at any hour, and all these drinks are continually in request
by almost all these people.  A constant atmosphere of cigar-smoke, too,
envelops the motley crowd, and forms a sympathetic medium, in which men
meet more closely and talk more frankly than in any other kind of air.
If legislators would smoke in session, they might speak truer words, and
fewer of them, and bring about more valuable results.

It is curious to observe what antiquated figures and costumes sometimes
make their appearance at Willard's.  You meet elderly men with frilled
shirt-fronts, for example, the fashion of which adornment passed away
from among the people of this world half a century ago.  It is as if one
of Stuart's portraits were walking abroad.  I see no way of accounting
for this, except that the trouble of the times, the impiety of traitors,
and the peril of our sacred Union and Constitution have disturbed, in
their honored graves, some of the venerable fathers of the country,
and summoned them forth to protest against the meditated and
half-accomplished sacrilege.  If it be so, their wonted fires are not
altogether extinguished in their ashes,--in their throats, I might rather
say,--for I beheld one of these excellent old men quaffing such a horn of
Bourbon whiskey as a toper of the present century would be loath to
venture upon.  But, really, one would be glad to know where these strange
figures come from.  It shows, at any rate, how many remote, decaying
villages and country-neighborhoods of the North, and forest-nooks of the
West, and old mansion-houses in cities, are shaken by the tremor of our
native soil, so that men long hidden in retirement put on the garments of
their youth and hurry out to inquire what is the matter.  The old men
whom we see here have generally more marked faces than the young ones,
and naturally enough; since it must be an extraordinary vigor and
renewability of life that can overcome the rusty sloth of age, and keep
the senior flexible enough to take an interest in new things; whereas
hundreds of commonplace young men come hither to stare with eyes of
vacant wonder, and with vague hopes of finding out what they are fit for.
And this war (we may say so much in its favor) has been the means of
discovering that important secret to not a few.

We saw at Willard's many who had thus found out for themselves, that,
when Nature gives a young man no other utilizable faculty, she must be
understood as intending him for a soldier.  The bulk of the army had
moved out of Washington before we reached the city; yet it seemed to me
that at least two thirds of the guests and idlers at the hotel were one
or another token of the military profession.  Many of them, no doubt,
were self-commissioned officers, and had put on the buttons and the
shoulder-straps, and booted themselves to the knees, merely because
captain, in these days, is so good a travelling-name.  The majority,
however, had been duly appointed by the President, but might be none the
better warriors for that.  It was pleasant, occasionally, to distinguish
a grizzly veteran among this crowd of carpet-knights,--the trained
soldier of a lifetime, long ago from West Point, who had spent his prime
upon the frontier, and very likely could show an Indian bullet-mark on
his breast,--if such decorations, won in an obscure warfare, were worth
the showing now.

The question often occurred to me,--and, to say the truth, it added an
indefinable piquancy to the scene,--what proportion of all these people,
whether soldiers or civilians, were true at heart to the Union, and what
part were tainted, more or less, with treasonable sympathies and wishes,
even if such had never blossomed into purpose.  Traitors there were among
them,--no doubt of that,--civil servants of the public, very reputable
persons, who yet deserved to dangle from a cord; or men who buttoned
military coats over their breasts, hiding perilous secrets there, which
might bring the gallant officer to stand pale-faced before a file of
musketeers, with his open grave behind him.  But, without insisting upon
such picturesque criminality and punishment as this, an observer, who
kept both his eyes and heart open, would find it by no means difficult to
discern that many residents and visitors of Washington so far sided with
the South as to desire nothing more nor better than to see everything
reestablished a little worse than its former basis.  If the cabinet of
Richmond were transferred to the Federal city, and the North awfully
snubbed, at least, and driven back within its old political limits, they
would deem it a happy day.  It is no wonder, and, if we look at the
matter generously, no unpardonable crime.  Very excellent people
hereabouts remember the many dynasties in which the Southern character
has been predominant, and contrast the genial courtesy, the warm and
graceful freedom of that region, with what they call (though I utterly
disagree with them) the frigidity of our Northern manners, and the
Western plainness of the President.  They have a conscientious, though
mistaken belief, that the South was driven out of the Union by
intolerable wrong on our part, and that we are responsible for having
compelled true patriots to love only half their country instead of the
whole, and brave soldiers to draw their swords against the Constitution
which they would once have died for,--to draw them, too, with a
bitterness of animosity which is the only symptom of brotherhood (since
brothers hate each other best) that any longer exists.  They whisper
these things with tears in their eyes, and shake their heads, and stoop
their poor old shoulders, at the tidings of another and another Northern
victory, which, in their opinion, puts farther off the remote, the
already impossible, chance of a reunion.

I am sorry for them, though it is by no means a sorrow without hope.
Since the matter has gone so far, there seems to be no way but to go on
winning victories, and establishing peace and a truer union in another
generation, at the expense, probably, of greater trouble, in the present
one, than any other people ever voluntarily suffered.  We woo the South
"as the Lion wooes his bride;" it is a rough courtship, but perhaps love
and a quiet household may come of it at last.  Or, if we stop short of
that blessed consummation, heaven was heaven still, as Milton sings,
after Lucifer and a third part of the angels had seceded from its golden
palaces,--and perhaps all the more heavenly, because so many gloomy
brows, and soured, vindictive hearts, had gone to plot ineffectual
schemes of mischief elsewhere.


[We regret the innuendo in the concluding sentence.  The war can never be
allowed to terminate, except in the complete triumph of Northern
principles.  We hold the event in our own hands, and may choose whether
to terminate it by the methods already so successfully used, or by other
means equally within our control, and calculated to be still more
speedily efficacious.  In truth, the work is already done.

We should be sorry to cast a doubt on the Peaceable Man's loyalty, but he
will allow us to say that we consider him premature in his kindly
feelings towards traitors and sympathizers with treason.  As the author
himself says of John Brown (and, so applied, we thought it an atrociously
cold-blooded dictum), "any common-sensible man would feel an intellectual
satisfaction in seeing them hanged, were it only for their preposterous
miscalculation of possibilities."  There are some degrees of absurdity
that put Reason herself into a rage, and affect us like an intolerable
crime,--which this Rebellion is, into the bargain.]



ALICE DOANE'S APPEAL.


On a pleasant afternoon of June, it was my good fortune to be the
companion of two young ladies in a walk.  The direction of our course
being left to me, I led them neither to Legge's Hill, nor to the Cold
Spring, nor to the rude shores and old batteries of the Neck, nor yet to
Paradise; though if the latter place were rightly named, my fair friends
would have been at home there.  We reached the outskirts of the town, and
turning aside from a street of tanners and curriers, began to ascend a
hill, which at a distance, by its dark slope and the even line of its
summit, resembled a green rampart along the road.  It was less steep than
its aspect threatened.  The eminence formed part of an extensive tract of
pasture land, and was traversed by cow paths in various directions; but,
strange to tell, though the whole slope and summit were of a peculiar
deep green, scarce a blade of grass was visible from the base upward.
This deceitful verdure was occasioned by a plentiful crop of "wood-wax,"
which wears the same dark and glossy green throughout the summer, except
at one short period, when it puts forth a profusion of yellow blossoms.
At that season, to a distant spectator, the hill appears absolutely
overlaid with gold, or covered with a glory of sunshine, even beneath a
clouded sky.  But the curious wanderer on the hill will perceive that all
the grass, and everything that should nourish man or beast, has been
destroyed by this vile and ineradicable weed: its tufted roots make the
soil their own, and permit nothing else to vegetate among them; so that a
physical curse may be said to have blasted the spot, where guilt and
frenzy consummated the most execrable scene that our history blushes to
record.  For this was the field where superstition won her darkest
triumph; the high place where our fathers set up their shame, to the
mournful gaze of generations far remote.  The dust of martyrs was beneath
our feet.  We stood on Gallows Hill.

For my own part, I have often courted the historic influence of the spot.
But it is singular how few come on pilgrimage to this famous hill; how
many spend their lives almost at its base, and never once obey the
summons of the shadowy past, as it beckons them to the summit.  Till a
year or two since, this portion of our history had been very imperfectly
written, and, as we are not a people of legend or tradition, it was not
every citizen of our ancient town that could tell, within half a century,
so much as the date of the witchcraft delusion.  Recently, indeed, an
historian has treated the subject in a manner that will keep his name
alive, in the only desirable connection with the errors of our ancestry,
by converting the hill of their disgrace into an honorable monument of
his own antiquarian lore, and of that better wisdom, which draws the
moral while it tells the tale.  But we are a people of the present, and
have no heartfelt interest in the olden time.  Every fifth of November,
in commemoration of they know not what, or rather without an idea beyond
the momentary blaze, the young men scare the town with bonfires on this
haunted height, but never dream of paying funeral honors to those who
died so wrongfully, and, without a coffin or a prayer, were buried here.

Though with feminine susceptibility, my companions caught all the
melancholy associations of the scene, yet these could but imperfectly
overcome the gayety of girlish spirits.  Their emotions came and went
with quick vicissitude, and sometimes combined to form a peculiar and
delicious excitement, the mirth brightening the gloom into a sunny shower
of feeling, and a rainbow in the mind.  My own more sombre mood was
tinged by theirs.  With now a merry word and next a sad one, we trod
among the tangled weeds, and almost hoped that our feet would sink into
the hollow of a witch's grave.  Such vestiges were to be found within the
memory of man, but have vanished now, and with them, I believe, all
traces of the precise spot of the executions.  On the long and broad
ridge of the eminence, there is no very decided elevation of any one
point, nor other prominent marks, except the decayed stumps of two trees,
standing near each other, and here and there the rocky substance of the
hill, peeping just above the wood-wax.

There are few such prospects of town and village, woodland and cultivated
field, steeples and country seats, as we beheld from this unhappy spot.
No blight had fallen on old Essex; all was prosperity and riches,
healthfully distributed.  Before us lay our native town, extending from
the foot of the hill to the harbor, level as a chess board, embraced by
two arms of the sea, and filling the whole peninsula with a close
assemblage of wooden roofs, overtopped by many a spire, and intermixed
with frequent heaps of verdure, where trees threw up their shade from
unseen trunks.  Beyond was the bay and its islands, almost the only
objects, in a country unmarked by strong natural features, on which time
and human toil had produced no change.  Retaining these portions of the
scene, and also the peaceful glory and tender gloom of the declining sun,
we threw, in imagination, a veil of deep forest over the land, and
pictured a few scattered villages, and this old town itself a village, as
when the prince of hell bore sway there.  The idea thus gained of its
former aspect, its quaint edifices standing far apart, with peaked roofs
and projecting stories, and its single meeting-house pointing up a tall
spire in the midst; the vision, in short, of the town in 1692, served to
introduce a wondrous tale of those old times.

I had brought the manuscript in my pocket.  It was one of a series
written years ago, when my pen, now sluggish and perhaps feeble, because
I have not munch to hope or fear, was driven by stronger external motives
and a more passionate impulse within, than I am fated to feel again.
Three or four of these tales had appeared in the "Token," after a long
time and various adventures, but had encumbered me with no troublesome
notoriety, even in my birthplace.  One great heap had met a brighter
destiny: they had fed the flames; thoughts meant to delight the world and
endure for ages had perished in a moment, and stirred not a single heart
but mine.  The story now to be introduced, and another, chanced to be in
kinder custody at the time, and thus, by no conspicuous merits of their
own, escaped destruction.

The ladies, in consideration that I had never before intruded my
performances on them, by any but the legitimate medium, through the
press, consented to hear me read.  I made them sit down on a moss-grown
rock, close by the spot where we chose to believe that the death tree had
stood.  After a little hesitation on my part, caused by a dread of
renewing my acquaintance with fantasies that had lost their charm in the
ceaseless flux of mind, I began the tale, which opened darkly with the
discovery of a murder.



A hundred years, and nearly half that time, have elapsed since the body
of a murdered man was found, at about the distance of three miles, on the
old road to Boston.  He lay in a solitary spot, on the bank of a small
lake, which the severe frost of December had covered with a sheet of ice.
Beneath this, it seemed to have been the intention of the murderer to
conceal his victim in a chill and watery grave, the ice being deeply
hacked, perhaps with the weapon that had slain him, though its solidity
was too stubborn for the patience of a man with blood upon his hand.  The
corpse therefore reclined on the earth, but was separated from the road
by a thick growth of dwarf pines.  There had been a slight fall of snow
during the night, and as if nature were shocked at the deed, and strove
to hide it with her frozen tears, a little drifted heap had partly buried
the body, and lay deepest over the pale dead face.  An early traveller,
whose dog had led him to the spot, ventured to uncover the features, but
was affrighted by their expression.  A look of evil and scornful triumph
had hardened on them, and made death so life-like and so terrible, that
the beholder at once took flight, as swiftly as if the stiffened corpse
would rise up and follow.

I read on, and identified the body as that of a young man, a stranger in
the country, but resident during several preceding months in the town
which lay at our feet.  The story described, at some length, the
excitement caused by the murder, the unavailing quest after the
perpetrator, the funeral ceremonies, and other commonplace matters, in
the course of which, I brought forward the personages who were to move
among the succeeding events.  They were but three.  A young man and his
sister; the former characterized by a diseased imagination and morbid
feelings; the latter, beautiful and virtuous, and instilling something of
her own excellence into the wild heart of her brother, but not enough to
cure the deep taint of his nature.  The third person was a wizard; a
small, gray, withered man, with fiendish ingenuity in devising evil, and
superhuman power to execute it, but senseless as an idiot and feebler
than a child to all better purposes.  The central scene of the story was
an interview between this wretch and Leonard Doane, in the wizard's hut,
situated beneath a range of rocks at some distance from the town.  They
sat beside a smouldering fire, while a tempest of wintry rain was beating
on the roof.

The young man spoke of the closeness of the tie which united him and
Alice, the consecrated fervor of their affection from childhood upwards,
their sense of lonely sufficiency to each other, because they only of
their race had escaped death, in a night attack by the Indians.  He
related his discovery or suspicion of a secret sympathy between his
sister and Walter Brome, and told how a distempered jealousy had maddened
him.  In the following passage, I threw a glimmering light on the mystery
of the tale.

"Searching," continued Leonard, "into the breast of Walter Brome, I at
length found a cause why Alice must inevitably love him.  For he was my
very counterpart!  I compared his mind by each individual portion, and as
a whole, with mine.  There was a resemblance from which I shrunk with
sickness, and loathing, and horror, as if my own features had come and
stared upon me in a solitary place, or had met me in struggling through a
crowd.  Nay! the very same thoughts would often express themselves in the
same words from our lips, proving a hateful sympathy in our secret souls.
His education, indeed, in the cities of the old world, and mine in the
rude wilderness, had wrought a superficial difference.  The evil of his
character, also, had been strengthened and rendered prominent by a
reckless and ungoverned life, while mine had been softened and purified
by the gentle and holy nature of Alice.  But my soul had been conscious
of the germ of all the fierce and deep passions, and of all the many
varieties of wickedness, which accident had brought to their full
maturity in him.  Nor will I deny that, in the accursed one, I could see
the withered blossom of every virtue, which, by a happier culture, had
been made to bring forth fruit in me.  Now, here was a man whom Alice
might love with all the strength of sisterly affection, added to that
impure passion which alone engrosses all the heart.  The stranger would
have more than the love which had been gathered to me from the many
graves of our household--and I be desolate!"


Leonard Doane went on to describe the insane hatred that had kindled his
heart into a volume of hellish flame.  It appeared, indeed, that his
jealousy had grounds, so far as that Walter Brome had actually sought the
love of Alice, who also had betrayed an undefinable, but powerful
interest in the unknown youth.  The latter, in spite of his passion for
Alice, seemed to return the loathful antipathy of her brother; the
similarity of their dispositions made them like joint possessors of an
individual nature, which could not become wholly the property of one,
unless by the extinction of the other.  At last, with the sane devil in
each bosom, they chanced to meet, they two, on a lonely road.  While
Leonard spoke, the wizard had sat listening to what he already knew, yet
with tokens of pleasurable interest, manifested by flashes of expression
across his vacant features, by grisly smiles, and by a word here and
there, mysteriously filling up some void in the narrative.  But when the
young man told how Walter Brome had taunted him with indubitable proofs
of the shame of Alice, and, before the triumphant sneer could vanish from
his face, had died by her brother's hand, the wizard laughed aloud.
Leonard started, but just then a gust of wind came down the chimney,
forming itself into a close resemblance of the slow, unvaried laughter,
by which he had been interrupted.  "I was deceived," thought he; and thus
pursued his fearful story.


"I trod out his accursed soul, and knew that he was dead; for my spirit
bounded as if a chain had fallen from it and left me free.  But the burst
of exulting certainty soon fled, and was succeeded by a torpor over my
brain and a dimness before my eyes, with the sensation of one who
struggles through a dream.  So I bent down over the body of Walter Brome,
gazing into his face, and striving to make my soul glad with the thought,
that he, in very truth, lay dead before me.  I know not what space of
time I had thus stood, nor how the vision came.  But it seemed to me that
the irrevocable years since childhood had rolled back, and a scene, that
had long been confused and broken in my memory, arrayed itself with all
its first distinctness.  Methought I stood a weeping infant by my
father's hearth; by the cold and blood-stained hearth where he lay dead.
I heard the childish wail of Alice, and my own cry arose with hers, as we
beheld the features of our parent, fierce with the strife and distorted
with the pain, in which his spirit had passed away.  As I gazed, a cold
wind whistled by, and waved my father's hair.  Immediately I stood again
in the lonesome road, no more a sinless child, but a man of blood, whose
tears were falling fast over the face of his dead enemy.  But the
delusion was not wholly gone; that face still wore a likeness of my
father; and because my soul shrank from the fixed glare of the eyes, I
bore the body to the lake, and would have buried it there.  But before
his icy sepulchre was hewn, I heard the voices of two travellers and
fled."


Such was the dreadful confession of Leonard Doane.  And now tortured by
the idea of his sister's guilt, yet sometimes yielding to a conviction of
her purity; stung with remorse for the death of Walter Brome, and
shuddering with a deeper sense of some unutterable crime, perpetrated, as
he imagined, in madness or a dream; moved also by dark impulses, as if a
fiend were whispering him to meditate violence against the life of Alice;
he had sought this interview with the wizard, who, on certain conditions,
had no power to withhold his aid in unravelling the mystery.  The tale
drew near its close.


The moon was bright on high; the blue firmament appeared to glow with an
inherent brightness; the greater stars were burning in their spheres; the
northern lights threw their mysterious glare far over the horizon; the
few small clouds aloft were burdened with radiance; but the sky, with all
its variety of light, was scarcely so brilliant as the earth.  The rain
of the preceding night had frozen as it fell, and, by that simple magic,
had wrought wonders.  The trees were hung with diamonds and many-colored
gems; the houses were overlaid with silver, and the streets paved with
slippery brightness; a frigid glory was flung over all familiar things,
from the cottage chimney to the steeple of the meeting-house, that
gleamed upward to the sky.  This living world, where we sit by our
firesides, or go forth to meet beings like ourselves, seemed rather the
creation of wizard power, with so much of resemblance to known objects
that a man might shudder at the ghostly shape of his old beloved
dwelling, and the shadow of a ghostly tree before his door.  One looked
to behold inhabitants suited to such a town, glittering in icy garments,
with motionless features, cold, sparkling eyes, and just sensation enough
in their frozen hearts to shiver at each other's presence.


By this fantastic piece of description, and more in the same style, I
intended to throw a ghostly glimmer round the reader, so that his
imagination might view the town through a medium that should take off its
every-day aspect, and make it a proper theatre for so wild a scene as the
final one.  Amid this unearthly show, the wretched brother and sister
were represented as setting forth, at midnight, through the gleaming
streets, and directing their steps to a graveyard, where all the dead had
been laid from the first corpse in that ancient town, to the murdered man
who was buried three days before.  As they went, they seemed to see the
wizard gliding by their sides, or walking dimly on the path before them.
But here I paused, and gazed into the faces of my two fair auditors, to
judge whether, even on the hill where so many had been brought to death
by wilder tales than this, I might venture to proceed.  Their bright eyes
were fixed on me; their lips apart.  I took courage, and led the fated
pair to a new made grave, where for a few moments, in the bright and
silent midnight, they stood alone.  But suddenly there was a multitude of
people among the graves.


Each family tomb had given up its inhabitants, who, one by one, through
distant years, had been borne to its dark chamber, but now came forth and
stood in a pale group together.  There was the gray ancestor, the aged
mother, and all their descendants, some withered and full of years, like
themselves, and others in their prime; there, too, were the children who
went prattling to the tomb, and there the maiden who yielded her early
beauty to death's embrace, before passion had polluted it.  Husbands and
wives arose, who had lain many years side by side, and young mothers who
had forgotten to kiss their first babes, though pillowed so long on their
bosoms.  Many had been buried in the habiliments of life, and still wore
their ancient garb; some were old defenders of the infant colony, and
gleamed forth in their steel-caps and bright breastplates, as if starting
up at an Indian war-cry; other venerable shapes had been pastors of the
church, famous among the New England clergy, and now leaned with hands
clasped over their gravestones, ready to call the congregation to prayer.
There stood the early settlers, those old illustrious ones, the heroes of
tradition and fireside legends, the men of history whose features had
been so long beneath the sod that few alive could have remembered them.
There, too, were faces of former townspeople, dimly recollected from
childhood, and others, whom Leonard and Alice had wept in later years,
but who now were most terrible of all, by their ghastly smile of
recognition.  All, in short, were there; the dead of other generations,
whose moss-grown names could scarce be read upon their tombstones, and
their successors, whose graves were not yet green; all whom black
funerals had followed slowly thither now reappeared where the mourners
left them.  Yet none but souls accursed were there, and fiends
counterfeiting the likeness of departed saints.

The countenances of those venerable men, whose very features had been
hallowed by lives of piety, were contorted now by intolerable pain or
hellish passion, and now by an unearthly and derisive merriment.  Had the
pastors prayed, all saintlike as they seemed, it had been blasphemy.  The
chaste matrons, too, and the maidens with untasted lips, who had slept in
their virgin graves apart from all other dust, now wore a look from which
the two trembling mortals shrank, as if the unimaginable sin of twenty
worlds were collected there.  The faces of fond lovers, even of such as
had pined into the tomb, because there their treasure was, were bent on
one another with glances of hatred and smiles of bitter scorn, passions
that are to devils what love is to the blest.  At times, the features of
those who had passed from a holy life to heaven would vary to and fro,
between their assumed aspect and the fiendish lineaments whence they had
been transformed.  The whole miserable multitude, both sinful souls and
false spectres of good men, groaned horribly and gnashed their teeth, as
they looked upward to the calm loveliness of the midnight sky, and beheld
those homes of bliss where they must never dwell.  Such was the
apparition, though too shadowy for language to portray; for here would be
the moonbeams on the ice, glittering through a warrior's breastplate, and
there the letters of a tombstone, on the form that stood before it; and
whenever a breeze went by, it swept the old men's hoary heads, the
women's fearful beauty, and all the unreal throng, into one
indistinguishable cloud together.


I dare not give the remainder of the scene, except in a very brief
epitome.  This company of devils and condemned souls had come on a
holiday, to revel in the discovery of a complicated crime; as foul a one
as ever was imagined in their dreadful abode.  In the course of the tale,
the reader had been permitted to discover that all the incidents were
results of the machinations of the wizard, who had cunningly devised that
Walter Brome should tempt his unknown sister to guilt and shame, and
himself perish by the hand of his twin-brother.  I described the glee of
the fiends at this hideous conception, and their eagerness to know if it
were consummated.  The story concluded with the Appeal of Alice to the
spectre of Walter Brome; his reply, absolving her from every stain; and
the trembling awe with which ghost and devil fled as from the sinless
presence of an angel.

The sun had gone down.  While I held my page of wonders in the fading
light, and read how Alice and her brother were left alone among the
graves, my voice mingled with the sigh of a summer wind, which passed
over the hill-top, with the broad and hollow sound as of the flight of
unseen spirits.  Not a word was spoken till I added that the wizard's
grave was close beside us, and that the wood-wax had sprouted originally
from his unhallowed bones.  The ladies started; perhaps their cheeks
might have grown pale had not the crimson west been blushing on them; but
after a moment they began to laugh, while the breeze took a livelier
motion, as if responsive to their mirth.  I kept an awful solemnity of
visage, being, indeed, a little piqued that a narrative which had good
authority in our ancient superstitions, and would have brought even a
church deacon to Gallows Hill, in old witch times, should now be
considered too grotesque and extravagant for timid maids to tremble at.
Though it was past supper time, I detained them a while longer on the
hill, and made a trial whether truth were more powerful than fiction.

We looked again towards the town, no longer arrayed in that icy splendor
of earth, tree, and edifice, beneath the glow of a wintry midnight, which
shining afar through the gloom of a century had made it appear the very
home of visions in visionary streets.  An indistinctness had begun to
creep over the mass of buildings and blend them with the intermingled
tree-tops, except where the roof of a statelier mansion, and the steeples
and brick towers of churches, caught the brightness of some cloud that
yet floated in the sunshine.  Twilight over the landscape was congenial
to the obscurity of time.  With such eloquence as my share of feeling and
fancy could supply, I called back hoar antiquity, and bade my companions
imagine an ancient multitude of people, congregated on the hillside,
spreading far below, clustering on the steep old roofs, and climbing the
adjacent heights, wherever a glimpse of this spot might be obtained.  I
strove to realize and faintly communicate the deep, unutterable loathing
and horror, the indignation, the affrighted wonder, that wrinkled on
every brow, and filled the universal heart.  See! the whole crowd turns
pale and shrinks within itself, as the virtuous emerge from yonder
street.  Keeping pace with that devoted company, I described them one by
one; here tottered a woman in her dotage, knowing neither the crime
imputed her, nor its punishment; there another, distracted by the
universal madness, till feverish dreams were remembered as realities, and
she almost believed her guilt.  One, a proud man once, was so broken down
by the intolerable hatred heaped upon him, that he seemed to hasten his
steps, eager to hide himself in the grave hastily dug at the foot of the
gallows.  As they went slowly on, a mother looked behind, and beheld her
peaceful dwelling; she cast her eyes elsewhere, and groaned inwardly yet
with bitterest anguish, for there was her little son among the accusers.
I watched the face of an ordained pastor, who walked onward to the same
death; his lips moved in prayer; no narrow petition for himself alone,
but embracing all his fellow-sufferers and the frenzied multitude; he
looked to Heaven and trod lightly up the hill.

Behind their victims came the afflicted, a guilty and miserable band;
villains who had thus avenged themselves on their enemies, and viler
wretches, whose cowardice had destroyed their friends; lunatics, whose
ravings had chimed in with the madness of the land; and children, who had
played a game that the imps of darkness might have envied them, since it
disgraced an age, and dipped a people's hands in blood.  In the rear of
the procession rode a figure on horseback, so darkly conspicuous, so
sternly triumphant, that my hearers mistook him for the visible presence
of the fiend himself; but it was only his good friend, Cotton Mather,
proud of his well-won dignity, as the representative of all the hateful
features of his time: the one blood-thirsty man, in whom were
concentrated those vices of spirit and errors of opinion that sufficed to
madden the whole surrounding multitude.  And thus I marshalled them
onward, the innocent who were to die, and the guilty who were to grow old
in long remorse--tracing their every step, by rock, and shrub, and broken
track, till their shadowy visages had circled round the hilltop, where we
stood.  I plunged into my imagination for a blacker horror, and a deeper
woe, and pictured the scaffold----

But here my companions seized an arm on each side; their nerves were
trembling; and, sweeter victory still, I had reached the seldom trodden
places of their hearts, and found the well-spring of their tears.  And
now the past had done all it could.  We slowly descended, watching the
lights as they twinkled gradually through the town, and listening to the
distant mirth of boys at play, and to the voice of a young girl warbling
somewhere in the dusk, a pleasant sound to wanderers from old witch
times.  Yet, ere we left the hill, we could not but regret that there is
nothing on its barren summit, no relic of old, nor lettered stone of
later days, to assist the imagination in appealing to the heart.  We
build the memorial column on the height which our fathers made sacred
with their blood, poured out in a holy cause.  And here, in dark,
funereal stone, should rise another monument, sadly commemorative of the
errors of an earlier race, and not to be cast down while the human heart
has one infirmity that may result in crime.



THE ANCESTRAL FOOTSTEP

Outlines of an English Romance.


INTRODUCTORY NOTE.

"Septimius Felton" was the outgrowth of a project, formed by Hawthorne
during his residence in England, of writing a romance, the scene of which
should be laid in that country; but this project was afterwards
abandoned, giving place to a new conception in which the visionary search
for means to secure an earthly immortality was to form the principal
interest.  The new conception took shape in the uncompleted "Dolliver
Romance."  The two themes, of course, were distinct, but, by a curious
process of thought, one grew directly out of the other: the whole history
constitutes, in fact, a chapter in what may be called the genealogy of a
romance.  There remained, after "Septimius Felton" had been published,
certain manuscripts connected with the scheme of an English story.  One
of these manuscripts was written in the form of a journalized narrative;
the author merely noting the date of what he wrote, as he went along.
The other was a more extended sketch of much greater bulk, and without
date, but probably produced several years later.  It was not originally
intended by those who at the time had charge of Hawthorne's papers that
either of these incomplete writings should be laid before the public;
because they manifestly had not been left by him in a form which he would
have considered as warranting such a course.  But since the second and
larger manuscript has been published under the title of "Dr. Grimshawe's
Secret," it has been thought best to issue the present sketch, so that
the two documents may be examined together.  Their appearance places in
the hands of readers the entire process of development leading to the
"Septimius" and "The Dolliver Romance."  They speak for themselves much
more efficiently than any commentator can expect to do; and little,
therefore, remains to be said beyond a few words of explanation in regard
to the following pages.

The Note-Books show that the plan of an English romance, turning upon the
fact that an emigrant to America had carried away a family secret which
should give his descendant the power to ruin the family in the mother
country, had occurred to Hawthorne as early as April, 1855.  In August of
the same year he visited Smithell's Hall, in Bolton le Moors, concerning
which he had already heard its legend of "The Bloody Footstep," and from
that time on, the idea of this footprint on the threshold-stone of the
ancestral mansion seems to have associated itself inextricably with the
dreamy substance of his yet unshaped romance.  Indeed, it leaves its mark
broadly upon Sibyl Dacy's wild legend in "Septimius Felton," and
reappears in the last paragraph of that story.  But, so far as we can
know at this day, nothing definite was done until after his departure for
Italy.  It was then, while staying in Rome, that he began to put upon
paper that plot which had first occupied his thoughts three years before,
in the scant leisure allowed him by his duties at the Liverpool
consulate.  Of leisure there was not a great deal at Rome, either; for,
as the "French and Italian Note-Books" show, sight-seeing and social
intercourse took up a good deal of his time, and the daily record in his
journal likewise had to be kept up.  But he set to work resolutely to
embody, so far as he might, his stray imaginings upon the haunting
English theme, and to give them connected form.  April 1, 1858, he began;
and then nearly two weeks passed before he found an opportunity to
resume; April 13th being the date of the next passage.  By May he gets
fully into swing, so that day after day, with but slight breaks, he
carries on the story, always increasing in interest for as who read as
for him who improvised.  Thus it continues until May 19th, by which time
he has made a tolerably complete outline, filled in with a good deal of
detail here and there.  Although the sketch is cast in the form of a
regular narrative, one or two gaps occur, indicating that the author had
thought out certain points which he then took for granted without making
note of them.  Brief scenes, passages of conversation and of narration,
follow one another after the manner of a finished story, alternating with
synopses of the plot, and queries concerning particulars that needed
further study; confidences of the romancer to himself which form
certainly a valuable contribution to literary history.  The manuscript
closes with a rapid sketch of the conclusion, and the way in which it is
to be executed.  Succinctly, what we have is a romance in embryo; one,
moreover, that never attained to a viable stature and constitution.
During his lifetime it naturally would not have been put forward as
demanding public attention; and, in consideration of that fact, it has
since been withheld from the press by the decision of his daughter, in
whom the title to it vests.  Students of literary art, however, and many
more general readers will, I think, be likely to discover in it a charm
all the greater for its being in parts only indicated; since, as it
stands, it presents the precise condition of a work of fiction in its
first stage.  The unfinished "Grimshawe" was another development of the
same theme, and the "Septimius" a later sketch, with a new element
introduced.  But the present experimental fragment, to which it has been
decided to give the title of "The Ancestral Footstep," possesses a
freshness and spontaneity recalling the peculiar fascination of those
chalk or pencil outlines with which great masters in the graphic art have
been wont to arrest their fleeting glimpses of a composition still
unwrought.

It would not be safe to conclude, from the large amount of preliminary
writing done with a view to that romance, that Hawthorne always adopted
this laborious mode of making several drafts of a book.  On the contrary,
it is understood that his habit was to mature a design so thoroughly in
his mind before attempting to give it actual existence on paper that but
little rewriting was needed.  The circumstance that he was obliged to
write so much that did not satisfy him in this case may account partly
for his relinquishing the theme, as one which for him had lost its
seductiveness through too much recasting.

It need be added only that the original manuscript, from which the
following pages are printed through the medium of an exact copy, is
singularly clear and fluent.  Not a single correction occurs throughout;
but here and there a word is omitted obviously by mere accident, and
these omissions have been supplied.  The correction in each case is
marked by brackets in this printed reproduction.  The sketch begins
abruptly; but there is no reason to suppose that anything preceded it
except the unrecorded musings in the author's mind, and one or two
memoranda in the "English Note-Books."  We must therefore imagine the
central figure, Middleton, who is the American descendant of an old
English family, as having been properly introduced, and then pass at once
to the opening sentences.  The rest will explain itself.  G. P. L.



THE ANCESTRAL FOOTSTEP.

Outlines of an English Romance.


I.

April 1, 1858.  Thursday.--He had now been travelling long in those rich
portions of England where he would most have wished to find the object of
his pursuit; and many had been the scenes which he would willingly have
identified with that mentioned in the ancient, time-yellowed record which
he bore about with him.  It is to be observed that, undertaken at first
half as the amusement, the unreal object of a grown man's play-day, it
had become more and more real to him with every step of the way that he
followed it up; along those green English lanes it seemed as if
everything would bring him close to the mansion that he sought; every
morning he went on with renewed hopes, nor did the evening, though it
brought with it no success, bring with it the gloom and heaviness of a
real disappointment.  In all his life, including its earliest and
happiest days, he had never known such a spring and zest as now filled
his veins, and gave lightsomeness to his limbs; this spirit gave to the
beautiful country which he trod a still richer beauty than it had ever
borne, and he sought his ancient home as if he had found his way into
Paradise and were there endeavoring to trace out the sight [site] of
Eve's bridal bower, the birthplace of the human race and its glorious
possibilities of happiness and high performance.

In these sweet and delightful moods of mind, varying from one dream to
another, he loved indeed the solitude of his way; but likewise he loved
the facility which his pursuit afforded him, of coming in contact with
many varieties of men, and he took advantage of this facility to an
extent which it was not usually his impulse to do.  But now he came forth
from all reserves, and offered himself to whomever the chances of the way
offered to him, with a ready sensibility that made its way through every
barrier that even English exclusiveness, in whatever rank of life, could
set up.  The plastic character of Middleton was perhaps a variety of
American nature only presenting itself under an individual form; he could
throw off the man of our day, and put on a ruder nature, but then it was
with a certain fineness, that made this only [a] distinction between it
and the central truth.  He found less variety of form in the English
character than he had been accustomed to see at home; but perhaps this
was in consequence of the external nature of his acquaintance with it;
for the view of one well accustomed to a people, and of a stranger to
them, differs in this--that the latter sees the homogeneity, the one
universal character, the ground work of the whole, while the former sees
a thousand little differences, which distinguish the individual men apart
to such a degree that they seem hardly to have any resemblance among
themselves.

But just at the period of his journey when we take him up, Middleton had
been for two or three days the companion of an old man who interested him
more than most of his wayside companions; the more especially as he
seemed to be wandering without an object, or with such a dreamy object as
that which led Middleton's own steps onward.  He was a plain old man
enough, but with a pale, strong-featured face and white hair, a certain
picturesqueness and venerableness, which Middleton fancied might have
befitted a richer garb than he now wore.  In much of their conversation,
too, he was sensible that, though the stranger betrayed no acquaintance
with literature, nor seemed to have conversed with cultivated minds, yet
the results of such acquaintance and converse were here.  Middleton was
inclined to think him, however, an old man, one of those itinerants, such
as Wordsworth represented in the "Excursion," who smooth themselves by
the attrition of the world and gain a knowledge equivalent to or better
than that of books from the actual intellect of man awake and active
around them.

Often, during the short period since their companionship originated,
Middleton had felt impelled to disclose to the old man the object of his
journey, and the wild tale by which, after two hundred years, he had been
blown as it were across the ocean, and drawn onward to commence this
search.  The old man's ordinary conversation was of a nature to draw
forth such a confidence as this; frequently turning on the traditions of
the wayside; the reminiscences that lingered on the battle-fields of the
Roses, or of the Parliament, like flowers nurtured by the blood of the
slain, and prolonging their race through the centuries for the wayfarer
to pluck them; or the family histories of the castles, manor-houses, and
seats which, of various epochs, had their park-gates along the roadside
and would be seen with dark gray towers or ancient gables, or more modern
forms of architecture, rising up among clouds of ancient oaks.  Middleton
watched earnestly to see if, in any of these tales, there were
circumstances resembling those striking and singular ones which he had
borne so long in his memory, and on which he was now acting in so strange
a manner; but [though] there was a good deal of variety of incident in
them, there never was any combination of incidents having the peculiarity
of this.

"I suppose," said he to the old man, "the settlers in my country may have
carried away with them traditions long since forgotten in this country,
but which might have an interest and connection, and might even piece out
the broken relics of family history, which have remained perhaps a
mystery for hundreds of years.  I can conceive, even, that this might be
of importance in settling the heirships of estates; but which now, only
the two insulated parts of the story being known, remain a riddle,
although the solution of it is actually in the world, if only these two
parts could be united across the sea, like the wires of an electric
telegraph."

"It is an impressive idea," said the old man.  "Do you know any such
tradition as you have hinted at?"

April 13th.--Middleton could not but wonder at the singular chance that
had established him in such a place, and in such society, so strangely
adapted to the purposes with which he had been wandering through England.
He had come hither, hoping as it were to find the past still alive and in
action; and here it was so in this one only spot, and these few persons
into the midst of whom he had suddenly been cast.  With these reflections
he looked forth from his window into the old-fashioned garden, and at the
stone sun-dial, which had numbered all the hours--all the daylight and
serene ones, at least--since his mysterious ancestor left the country.
And [is] this, then, he thought to himself, the establishment of which
some rumor had been preserved?  Was it here that the secret had its
hiding-place in the old coffer, in the cupboard, in the secret chamber,
or whatever was indicated by the apparently idle words of the document
which he had preserved?  He still smiled at the idea, but it was with a
pleasant, mysterious sense that his life had at last got out of the dusty
real, and that strangeness had mixed itself up with his daily experience.

With such feelings he prepared himself to go down to dinner with his
host.  He found him alone at table, which was placed in a dark old room
modernized with every English comfort and the pleasant spectacle of a
table set with the whitest of napery and the brightest of glass and
china.  The friendly old gentleman, as he had found him from the first,
became doubly and trebly so in that position which brings out whatever
warmth of heart an Englishman has, and gives it to him if he has none.
The impressionable and sympathetic character of Middleton answered to the
kindness of his host; and by the time the meal was concluded, the two
were conversing with almost as much zest and friendship as if they were
similar in age, even fellow-countrymen, and had known one another all
their lifetime.  Middleton's secret, it may be supposed, came often to
the tip of his tongue; but still he kept it within, from a natural
repugnance to bring out the one romance of his life.  The talk, however,
necessarily ran much upon topics among which this one would have come in
without any extra attempt to introduce it.

"This decay of old families," said the Master, "is much greater than
would appear on the surface of things.  We have such a reluctance to part
with them, that we are content to see them continued by any fiction,
through any indirections, rather than to dispense with old names.  In
your country, I suppose, there is no such reluctance; you are willing
that one generation should blot out all that preceded it, and be itself
the newest and only age of the world."

"Not quite so," answered Middleton; "at any rate, if there be such a
feeling in the people at large, I doubt whether, even in England, those
who fancy themselves possessed of claims to birth, cherish them more as a
treasure than we do.  It is, of course, a thousand times more difficult
for us to keep alive a name amid a thousand difficulties sedulously
thrown around it by our institutions, than for you to do, where your
institutions are anxiously calculated to promote the contrary purpose.
It has occasionally struck me, however, that the ancient lineage might
often be found in America, for a family which has been compelled to
prolong itself here through the female line, and through alien stocks."

"Indeed, my young friend," said the Master, "if that be the case, I
should like to [speak?] further with you upon it; for, I can assure you,
there are sometimes vicissitudes in old families that make me grieve to
think that a man cannot be made for the occasion."

All this while, the young lady at table had remained almost silent; and
Middleton had only occasionally been reminded of her by the necessity of
performing some of those offices which put people at table under a
Christian necessity of recognizing one another.  He was, to say the
truth, somewhat interested in her, yet not strongly attracted by the
neutral tint of her dress, and the neutral character of her manners.  She
did not seem to be handsome, although, with her face full before him, he
had not quite made up his mind on this point.

April 14th.--So here was Middleton, now at length seeing indistinctly a
thread, to which the thread that he had so long held in his hand--the
hereditary thread that ancestor after ancestor had handed down--might
seem ready to join on.  He felt as if they were the two points of an
electric chain, which being joined, an instantaneous effect must follow.
Earnestly, as he would have looked forward to this moment (had he in
sober reason ever put any real weight on the fantasy in pursuit of which
he had wandered so far) he now, that it actually appeared to be realizing
itself, paused with a vague sensation of alarm.  The mystery was
evidently one of sorrow, if not of crime, and he felt as if that sorrow
and crime might not have been annihilated even by being buried out of
human sight and remembrance so long.  He remembered to have heard or
read, how that once an old pit had been dug open, in which were found the
remains of persons that, as the shuddering by-standers traditionally
remembered, had died of an ancient pestilence; and out of that old grave
had come a new plague, that slew the far-off progeny of those who had
first died by it.  Might not some fatal treasure like this, in a moral
view, be brought to light by the secret into which he had so strangely
been drawn?  Such were the fantasies with which he awaited the return of
Alice, whose light footsteps sounded afar along the passages of the old
mansion; and then all was silent.

At length he heard the sound, a great way off, as he concluded, of her
returning footstep, approaching from chamber to chamber, and along the
staircases, closing the doors behind her.  At first, he paid no great
attention to the character of these sounds, but as they drew nearer, he
became aware that the footstep was unlike those of Alice; indeed, as
unlike as could be, very regular, slow, yet not firm, so that it seemed
to be that of an aged person, sauntering listlessly through the rooms.
We have often alluded to Middleton's sensitiveness, and the quick
vibrations of his sympathies; and there was something in this slow
approach that produced a strange feeling within him; so that he stood
breathlessly, looking towards the door by which these slow footsteps were
to enter.  At last, there appeared in the doorway a venerable figure,
clad in a rich, faded dressing-gown, and standing on the threshold looked
fixedly at Middleton, at the same time holding up a light in his left
hand.  In his right was some object that Middleton did not distinctly
see.  But he knew the figure, and recognized the face.  It was the old
man, his long since companion on the journey hitherward.

"So," said the old man, smiling gravely, "you have thought fit, at last,
to accept the hospitality which I offered you so long ago. It might have
been better for both of us--for all parties--if you had accepted it
then!"

"You here!" exclaimed Middleton.  "And what can be your connection with
all the error and trouble, and involuntary wrong, through which I have
wandered since our last meeting?  And is it possible that you even then
held the clue which I was seeking?"

"No,--no," replied Rothermel.  "I was not conscious, at least, of so
doing.  And yet had we two sat down there by the wayside, or on that
English stile, which attracted your attention so much; had we sat down
there and thrown forth each his own dream, each his own knowledge, it
would have saved much that we must now forever regret.  Are you even now
ready to confide wholly in me?"

"Alas," said Middleton, with a darkening brow, "there are many reasons,
at this moment, which did not exist then, to incline me to hold my peace.
And why has not Alice returned?--and what is your connection with her?"

"Let her answer for herself," said Rothermel; and he called her, shouting
through the silent house as if she were at the furthest chamber, and he
were in instant need: "Alice!--Alice!--Alice!--here is one who would know
what is the link between a maiden and her father!"

Amid the strange uproar which he made Alice came flying back, not in
alarm but only in haste, and put her hand within his own.  "Hush,
father," said she.  "It is not time."

Here is an abstract of the plot of this story.  The Middleton who
emigrated to America, more than two hundred years ago, had been a dark
and moody man; he came with a beautiful though not young woman for his
wife, and left a family behind him.  In this family a certain heirloom
had been preserved, and with it a tradition that grew wilder and stranger
with the passing generations.  The tradition had lost, if it ever had,
some of its connecting links; but it referred to a murder, to the
expulsion of a brother from the hereditary house, in some strange way,
and to a Bloody Footstep which he had left impressed into the threshold,
as he turned about to make a last remonstrance.  It was rumored, however,
or vaguely understood, that the expelled brother was not altogether an
innocent man; but that there had been wrong done as well as crime
committed, insomuch that his reasons were strong that led him,
subsequently, to imbibe the most gloomy religious views, and to bury
himself in the Western wilderness.  These reasons he had never fully
imparted to his family; but had necessarily made allusions to them, which
had been treasured up and doubtless enlarged upon.  At last, one
descendant of the family determines to go to England, with the purpose of
searching out whatever ground there may be for these traditions, carrying
with him certain ancient documents, and other relics; and goes about the
country, half in earnest, and half in sport of fancy, in quest of the old
family mansion.  He makes singular discoveries, all of which bring the
book to an end unexpected by everybody, and not satisfactory to the
natural yearnings of novel readers.  In the traditions that he brought
over, there was a key to some family secrets that were still unsolved,
and that controlled the descent of estates and titles.  His influence
upon these matters involves [him] in divers strange and perilous
adventures; and at last it turns out that he himself is the rightful heir
to the titles and estate, that had passed into another name within the
last half-century.  But he respects both, feeling that it is better to
make a virgin soil than to try to make the old name grow in a soil that
had been darkened with so much blood and misfortune as this.

April 27th, Tuesday.--It was with a delightful feeling of release from
ordinary rules, that Middleton found himself brought into this connection
with Alice; and he only hoped that this play-day of his life might last
long enough to rest him from all that he had suffered.  In the enjoyment
of his position he almost forgot the pursuit that occupied him, nor might
he have remembered for a long space if, one evening, Alice herself had
not alluded to it.  "You are wasting precious days," she suddenly said.
"Why do you not renew your quest?"

"To what do you allude?" said Middleton in surprise.  "What object do you
suppose me to have?"

Alice smiled; nay, laughed outright.  "You suppose yourself to be a
perfect mystery, no doubt," she replied.  "But do not I know you--have
not I known you long--as the holder of the talisman, the owner of the
mysterious cabinet that contains the blood-stained secret?"

"Nay, Alice, this is certainly a strange coincidence, that you should
know even thus much of a foolish secret that makes me employ this little
holiday time, which I have stolen out of a weary life, in a wild-goose
chase.  But, believe me, you allude to matters that are more a mystery to
me than my affairs appear to be to you.  Will you explain what you would
suggest by this badinage?"

Alice shook her head.  "You have no claim to know what I know, even if it
would be any addition to your own knowledge.  I shall not, and must not
enlighten you.  You must burrow for the secret with your own tools, in
your own manner, and in a place of your own choosing.  I am bound not to
assist you."

"Alice, this is wilful, wayward, unjust," cried Middleton, with a flushed
cheek.  "I have not told you--yet you know well--the deep and real
importance which this subject has for me.  We have been together as
friends, yet, the instant when there comes up an occasion when the
slightest friendly feeling would induce you to do me a good office, you
assume this altered tone."

"My tone is not in the least altered in respect to you," said Alice.
"All along, as you know, I have reserved myself on this very point; it
being, I candidly tell you, impossible for me to act in your interest in
the matter alluded to.  If you choose to consider this unfriendly, as
being less than the terms on which you conceive us to have stood give you
a right to demand of me--you must resent it as you please.  I shall not
the less retain for you the regard due to one who has certainly
befriended me in very untoward circumstances."

This conversation confirmed the previous idea of Middleton, that some
mystery of a peculiarly dark and evil character was connected with the
family secret with which he was himself entangled; but it perplexed him
to imagine in what way this, after the lapse of so many years, should
continue to be a matter of real importance at the present day.  All the
actors in the original guilt--if guilt it were--must have been long ago
in their graves; some in the churchyard of the village, with those
moss-grown letters embossing their names; some in the church itself, with
mural tablets recording their names over the family-pew, and one, it
might be, far over the sea, where his grave was first made under the
forest leaves, though now a city had grown up around it.  Yet here was
he, the remote descendant of that family, setting his foot at last in the
country, and as secretly as might be; and all at once his mere presence
seemed to revive the buried secret, almost to awake the dead who partook
of that secret and had acted it.  There was a vibration from the other
world, continued and prolonged into this, the instant that he stepped
upon the mysterious and haunted ground.

He knew not in what way to proceed.  He could not but feel that there was
something not exactly within the limits of propriety in being here,
disguised--at least, not known in his true character--prying into the
secrets of a proud and secluded Englishman.  But then, as he said to
himself on his own side of the question, the secret belonged to himself
by exactly as ancient a tenure and by precisely as strong a claim, as to
the Englishman.  His rights here were just as powerful and well-founded
as those of his ancestor had been, nearly three centuries ago; and here
the same feeling came over him that he was that very personage, returned
after all these ages, to see if his foot would fit this bloody footstep
left of old upon the threshold.  The result of all his cogitation was, as
the reader will have foreseen, that he decided to continue his
researches, and, his proceedings being pretty defensible, let the result
take care of itself.

For this purpose he went next day to the hospital, and ringing at the
Master's door, was ushered into the old-fashioned, comfortable library,
where he had spent that well-remembered evening which threw the first ray
of light on the pursuit that now seemed developing into such strange and
unexpected consequences.  Being admitted, he was desired by the domestic
to wait, as his Reverence was at that moment engaged with a gentleman on
business.  Glancing through the ivy that mantled over the window,
Middleton saw that this interview was taking place in the garden, where
the Master and his visitor were walking to and fro in the avenue of box,
discussing some matter, as it seemed to him, with considerable
earnestness on both sides.  He observed, too, that there was warmth,
passion, a disturbed feeling on the stranger's part; while, on that of
the Master, it was a calm, serious, earnest representation of whatever
view he was endeavoring to impress on the other.  At last, the interview
appeared to come toward a climax, the Master addressing some words to his
guest, still with undisturbed calmness, to which the latter replied by a
violent and even fierce gesture, as it should seem of menace, not towards
the Master, but some unknown party; and then hastily turning, he left the
garden and was soon heard riding away.  The Master looked after him
awhile, and then, shaking his white head, returned into the house and
soon entered the parlor.

He looked somewhat surprised, and, as it struck Middleton, a little
startled, at finding him there; yet he welcomed him with all his former
cordiality--indeed, with a friendship that thoroughly warmed Middleton's
heart even to its coldest corner.

"This is strange!" said the old gentleman.  "Do you remember our
conversation on that evening when I first had the unlooked-for pleasure
of receiving you as a guest into my house?  At that time I spoke to you
of a strange family story, of which there was no denouement, such as a
novel-writer would desire, and which had remained in that unfinished
posture for more than two hundred years!  Well; perhaps it will gratify
you to know that there seems a prospect of that wanting termination being
supplied!"

"Indeed!" said Middleton.

"Yes," replied the Master.  "A gentleman has just parted with me who was
indeed the representative of the family concerned in the story.  He is
the descendant of a younger son of that family, to whom the estate
devolved about a century ago, although at that time there was search for
the heirs of the elder son, who had disappeared after the bloody incident
which I related to you.  Now, singular as it may appear, at this late
day, a person claiming to be the descendant and heir of that eldest son
has appeared, and if I may credit my friend's account, is disposed not
only to claim the estate, but the dormant title which Eldredge himself
has been so long preparing to claim for himself.  Singularly enough, too,
the heir is an American."

May 2d, Sunday.--"I believe," said Middleton, "that many English secrets
might find their solution in America, if the two threads of a story could
be brought together, disjoined as they have been by time and the ocean.
But are you at liberty to tell me the nature of the incidents to which
you allude?"

"I do not see any reason to the contrary," answered the Master; "for the
story has already come in an imperfect way before the public, and the
full and authentic particulars are likely soon to follow.  It seems that
the younger brother was ejected from the house on account of a love
affair; the elder having married a young woman with whom the younger was
in love, and, it is said, the wife disappeared on the bridal night, and
was never heard of more.  The elder brother remained single during the
rest of his life; and dying childless, and there being still no news of
the second brother, the inheritance and representation of the family
devolved upon the third brother and his posterity.  This branch of the
family has ever since remained in possession; and latterly the
representation has become of more importance, on account of a claim to an
old title, which, by the failure of another branch of this ancient
family, has devolved upon the branch here settled.  Now, just at this
juncture, comes another heir from America, pretending that he is the
descendant of a marriage between the second son, supposed to have been
murdered on the threshold of the manor-house, and the missing bride! Is
it not a singular story?"

"It would seem to require very strong evidence to prove it," said
Middleton.  "And methinks a Republican should care little for the title,
however he might value the estate."

"Both--both," said the Master, smiling, "would be equally attractive to
your countryman.  But there are further curious particulars in connection
with this claim.  You must know, they are a family of singular
characteristics, humorists, sometimes developing their queer traits into
something like insanity; though oftener, I must say, spending stupid
hereditary lives here on their estates, rusting out and dying without
leaving any biography whatever about them.  And yet there has always been
one very queer thing about this generally very commonplace family.  It is
that each father, on his death-bed, has had an interview with his son, at
which he has imparted some secret that has evidently had an influence on
the character and after life of the son, making him ever after a
discontented man, aspiring for something he has never been able to find.
Now the American, I am told, pretends that he has the clue which has
always been needed to make the secret available; the key whereby the lock
may be opened; the something that the lost son of the family carried away
with him, and by which through these centuries he has impeded the
progress of the race.  And, wild as the story seems, he does certainly
seem to bring something that looks very like the proof of what he says."

"And what are those proofs?" inquired Middleton, wonder-stricken at the
strange reduplication of his own position and pursuits.

"In the first place," said the Master, "the English marriage-certificate
by a clergyman of that day in London, after publication of the banns,
with a reference to the register of the parish church where the marriage
is recorded.  Then, a certified genealogy of the family in New England,
where such matters can be ascertained from town and church records, with
at least as much certainty, it would appear, as in this country.  He has
likewise a manuscript in his ancestor's autograph, containing a brief
account of the events which banished him from his own country; the
circumstances which favored the idea that he had been slain, and which he
himself was willing should be received as a belief; the fortune that led
him to America, where he wished to found a new race wholly disconnected
with the past; and this manuscript he sealed up, with directions that it
should not be opened till two hundred years after his death, by which
time, as it was probable to conjecture, it would matter little to any
mortal whether the story was told or not.  A whole generation has passed
since the time when the paper was at last unsealed and read, so long it
had no operation; yet now, at last, here comes the American, to disturb
the succession of an ancient family!"

"There is something very strange in all this," said Middleton.

And indeed there was something stranger in his view of the matter than he
had yet communicated to the Master.  For, taking into consideration the
relation in which he found himself with the present recognized
representative of the family, the thought struck him that his coming
hither had dug up, as it were, a buried secret that immediately assumed
life and activity the moment that it was above ground again.  For seven
generations the family had vegetated in the quietude of English country
gentility, doing nothing to make itself known, passing from the cradle to
the tomb amid the same old woods that had waved over it before his
ancestor had impressed the bloody footstep; and yet the instant that he
came back, an influence seemed to be at work that was likely to renew the
old history of the family.  He questioned with himself whether it were
not better to leave all as it was; to withdraw himself into the secrecy
from which he had but half emerged, and leave the family to keep on, to
the end of time perhaps, in its rusty innocence, rather than to interfere
with his wild American character to disturb it.  The smell of that dark
crime--that brotherly hatred and attempted murder--seemed to breathe out
of the ground as he dug it up.  Was it not better that it should remain
forever buried, for what to him was this old English title--what this
estate, so far from his own native land, located amidst feelings and
manners which would never be his own?  It was late, to be sure--yet not
too late for him to turn back: the vibration, the fear, which his
footsteps had caused, would subside into peace!  Meditating in this way,
he took a hasty leave of the kind old Master, promising to see him again
at an early opportunity.  By chance, or however it was, his footsteps
turned to the woods of ------ Chace, and there he wandered through its
glades, deep in thought, yet always with a strange sense that he was
treading on the soil where his ancestors had trodden, and where he
himself had best right of all men to be.  It was just in this state of
feeling that he found his course arrested by a hand upon his shoulder.

"What business have you here?" was the question sounded in his ear; and,
starting, he found himself in the grasp, as his blood tingled to know, of
a gentleman in a shooting-dress, who looked at him with a wrathful brow.
"Are you a poacher, or what?"

Be the case what it might, Middleton's blood boiled at the grasp of that
hand, as it never before had done in the coarse of his impulsive life.
He shook himself free, and stood fiercely before his antagonist,
confronting him, with his uplifted stick, while the other, likewise,
appeared to be shaken by a strange wrath.

"Fellow," muttered he--"Yankee blackguard!--imposter--take yourself off
these grounds.  Quick, or it will be the worse for you!"

Middleton restrained himself.  "Mr. Eldredge," said he, "for I believe I
speak to the man who calls himself owner of this land on which we stand,
--Mr. Eldredge, you are acting under a strange misapprehension of my
character.  I have come hither with no sinister purpose, and am entitled,
at the hands of a gentleman, to the consideration of an honorable
antagonist, even if you deem me one at all.  And perhaps, if you think
upon the blue chamber and the ebony cabinet, and the secret connected.
with it,"--

"Villain, no more!" said Eldredge; and utterly mad with rage, he
presented his gun at Middleton; but even at the moment of doing so, he
partly restrained himself, so far as, instead of shooting him, to raise
the butt of his gun, and strike a blow at him.  It came down heavily on
Middleton's shoulder, though aimed at his head; and the blow was terribly
avenged, even by itself, for the jar caused the hammer to come down; the
gun went off, sending the bullet downwards through the heart of the
unfortunate man, who fell dead upon the ground.  Eldredge [Evidently a
slip of the pen; Middleton being intended.] stood stupefied, looking at
the catastrophe which had so suddenly occurred.

May 3d, Monday.--So here was the secret suddenly made safe in this so
terrible way; its keepers reduced from two parties to one interest; the
other who alone knew of this age-long mystery and trouble now carrying it
into eternity, where a long line of those who partook of the knowledge,
in each successive generation, might now be waiting to inquire of him how
he had held his trust.  He had kept it well, there was no doubt of it;
for there he lay dead upon the ground, having betrayed it to no one,
though by a method which none could have foreseen, the whole had come
into the possession of him who had brought hither but half of it.
Middleton looked down in horror upon the form that had just been so full
of life and wrathful vigor--and now lay so quietly.  Being wholly
unconscious of any purpose to bring about the catastrophe, it had not at
first struck him that his own position was in any manner affected by the
violent death, under such circumstances, of the unfortunate man.  But now
it suddenly occurred to him, that there had been a train of incidents all
calculated to make him the object of suspicion; and he felt that he could
not, under the English administration of law, be suffered to go at large
without rendering a strict account of himself and his relations with the
deceased.  He might, indeed, fly; he might still remain in the vicinity,
and possibly escape notice.  But was not the risk too great?  Was it just
even to be aware of this event, and not relate fully the manner of it,
lest a suspicion of blood-guiltiness should rest upon some innocent head?
But while he was thus cogitating, he heard footsteps approaching along
the wood-path; and half-impulsively, half on purpose, he stept aside into
the shrubbery, but still where he could see the dead body, and what
passed near it.

The footsteps came on, and at the turning of the path, just where
Middleton had met Eldredge, the new-comer appeared in sight.  It was
Hoper, in his usual dress of velveteen, looking now seedy,
poverty-stricken, and altogether in ill-case, trudging moodily along,
with his hat pulled over his brows, so that he did not see the ghastly
object before him till his foot absolutely trod upon the dead man's hand.
Being thus made aware of the proximity of the corpse, he started back a
little, yet evincing such small emotion as did credit to his English
reserve; then uttering a low exclamation,--cautiously low, indeed,--he
stood looking at the corpse a moment or two, apparently in deep
meditation.  He then drew near, bent down, and without evincing any
horror at the touch of death in this horrid shape, he opened the dead
man's vest, inspected the wound, satisfied himself that life was extinct,
and then nodded his head and smiled gravely.  He next proceeded to
examine seriatim the dead man's pockets, turning each of them inside out
and taking the contents, where they appeared adapted to his needs: for
instance, a silken purse, through the interstices of which some gold was
visible; a watch, which however had been injured by the explosion, and
had stopt just at the moment--twenty-one minutes past five--when the
catastrophe took place.  Hoper ascertained, by putting the watch to his
ear, that this was the case; then pocketing it, he continued his
researches.  He likewise secured a note-book, on examining which he found
several bank-notes, and some other papers.  And having done this, the
thief stood considering what to do next; nothing better occurring to him,
he thrust the pockets back, gave the corpse as nearly as he could the
same appearance that it had worn before he found it, and hastened away,
leaving the horror there on the wood-path.

He had been gone only a few minutes when another step, a light woman's
step, [was heard] coming along the pathway, and Alice appeared, having on
her usual white mantle, straying along with that fearlessness which
characterized her so strangely, and made her seem like one of the
denizens of nature.  She was singing in a low tone some one of those airs
which have become so popular in England, as negro melodies; when
suddenly, looking before her, she saw the blood-stained body on the
grass, the face looking ghastly upward.  Alice pressed her hand upon her
heart; it was not her habit to scream, not the habit of that strong,
wild, self-dependent nature; and the exclamation which broke from her was
not for help, but the voice of her heart crying out to herself.  For an
instant she hesitated, as [if] not knowing what to do; then approached,
and with her white, maiden hand felt the brow of the dead man,
tremblingly, but yet firm, and satisfied herself that life had wholly
departed.  She pressed her hand, that had just touched the dead man's, on
her forehead, and gave a moment to thought.

What her decision might have been, we cannot say, for while she stood in
this attitude, Middleton stept from his seclusion, and at the noise of
his approach she turned suddenly round, looking more frightened and
agitated than at the moment when she had first seen the dead body.  She
faced Middleton, however, and looked him quietly in the eye.  "You see
this!" said she, gazing fixedly at him.  "It is not at this moment that
you first discover it."

"No," said Middleton, frankly.  "It is not.  I was present at the
catastrophe.  In one sense, indeed, I was the cause of it; but, Alice, I
need not tell you that I am no murderer."

"A murderer?--no," said Alice, still looking at him with the same fixed
gaze.  "But you and this man were at deadly variance.  He would have
rejoiced at any chance that would have laid you cold and bloody on the
earth, as he is now; nay, he would most eagerly have seized on any
fair-looking pretext that would have given him a chance to stretch you
there.  The world will scarcely believe, when it knows all about your
relations with him, that his blood is not on your hand.  Indeed," said
she, with a strange smile, "I see some of it there now!"

And, in very truth, so there was; a broad blood-stain that had dried on
Middleton's hand.  He shuddered at it, but essayed vainly to rub it off.

"You see," said she.  "It was foreordained that you should shed this
man's blood; foreordained that, by digging into that old pit of
pestilence, you should set the contagion loose again.  You should have
left it buried forever.  But now what do you mean to do?"

"To proclaim this catastrophe," replied Middleton.  "It is the only
honest and manly way.  What else can I do?"

"You can and ought to leave him on the wood-path, where he has fallen,"
said Alice, "and go yourself to take advantage of the state of things
which Providence has brought about.  Enter the old house, the hereditary
house, where--now, at least--you alone have a right to tread.  Now is the
hour.  All is within your grasp.  Let the wrong of three hundred years be
righted, and come back thus to your own, to these hereditary fields, this
quiet, long-descended home; to title, to honor."

Yet as the wild maiden spoke thus, there was a sort of mockery in her
eyes; on her brow; gleaming through all her face, as if she scorned what
she thus pressed upon him, the spoils of the dead man who lay at their
feet.  Middleton, with his susceptibility, could not [but] be sensible of
a wild and strange charm, as well as horror, in the situation; it seemed
such a wonder that here, in formal, orderly, well-governed England, so
wild a scene as this should have occurred; that they too [two?] should
stand here, deciding on the descent of an estate, and the inheritance of
a title, holding a court of their own.

"Come, then," said he, at length.  "Let us leave this poor fallen
antagonist in his blood, and go whither you will lead me.  I will judge
for myself.  At all events, I will not leave my hereditary home without
knowing what my power is."

"Come," responded Alice; and she turned back; but then returned and threw
a handkerchief over the dead man's face, which while they spoke had
assumed that quiet, ecstatic expression of joy which often is observed to
overspread the faces of those who die of gunshot wounds, however fierce
the passion in which their spirits took their flight.  With this strange,
grand, awful joy did the dead man gaze upward into the very eyes and
hearts, as it were, of the two that now bent over him.  They looked at
one another.

"Whence comes this expression?" said Middleton, thoughtfully.  "Alice,
methinks he is reconciled to us now; and that we are members of one
reconciled family, all of whom are in heaven but me."

Tuesday, May 4th.--"How strange is this whole situation between you and
me," said Middleton, as they went up the winding pathway that led towards
the house.  "Shall I ever understand it?  Do you mean ever to explain it
to me?  That I should find you here with that old man [The allusion here
is apparently to the old man who proclaims himself Alice's father, in the
portion dated April 14th.  He figures hereafter as the old Hospitaller,
Hammond.  The reader must not take this present passage as referring to
the death of Eldredge, which has just taken place in he preceding
section.  The author is now beginning to elaborate the relation of
Middleton and Alice.  As will be seen, farther on, the death of Eldredge
is ignored and abandoned; Eldredge is revived, and the story proceeds in
another way.--G. P. L.], so mysterious, apparently so poor, yet so
powerful!  What [is] his relation to you?"

"A close one," replied Alice sadly.  "He was my father!"

"Your father!" repeated Middleton, starting back.  "It does but heighten
the wonder!  Your father!  And yet, by all the tokens that birth and
breeding, and habits of thought and native character can show, you are my
countrywoman.  That wild, free spirit was never born in the breast of an
Englishwoman; that slight frame, that slender beauty, that frail
envelopment of a quick, piercing, yet stubborn and patient spirit,--are
those the properties of an English maiden?"

"Perhaps not," replied Alice quietly.  "I am your countrywoman.  My
father was an American, and one of whom you have heard--and no good,
alas!--for many a year."

"And who then was he?" asked Middleton.

"I know not whether you will hate me for telling you," replied Alice,
looking him sadly though firmly in the face.  "There was a man--long
years since, in your childhood--whose plotting brain proved the ruin of
himself and many another; a man whose great designs made him a sort of
potentate, whose schemes became of national importance, and produced
results even upon the history of the country in which he acted.  That man
was my father; a man who sought to do great things, and, like many who
have had similar aims, disregarded many small rights, strode over them,
on his way to effect a gigantic purpose.  Among other men, your father
was trampled under foot, ruined, done to death, even, by the effects of
his ambition."

"How is it possible!" exclaimed Middleton.  "Was it Wentworth?"

"Even so," said Alice, still with the same sad calmness and not
withdrawing her steady eyes from his face.  "After his ruin; after the
catastrophe that overwhelmed him and hundreds more, he took to flight;
guilty, perhaps, but guilty as a fallen conqueror is; guilty to such an
extent that he ceased to be a cheat, as a conqueror ceases to be a
murderer.  He came to England.  My father had an original nobility of
nature; and his life had not been such as to debase it, but rather such
as to cherish and heighten that self-esteem which at least keeps the
possessor of it from many meaner vices.  He took nothing with him;
nothing beyond the bare means of flight, with the world before him,
although thousands of gold would not have been missed out of the
scattered fragments of ruin that lay around him.  He found his way
hither, led, as you were, by a desire to reconnect himself with the place
whence his family had originated; for he, too, was of a race which had
something to do with the ancient story which has now been brought to a
close.  Arrived here, there were circumstances that chanced to make his
talents and habits of business available to this Mr. Eldredge, a man
ignorant and indolent, unknowing how to make the best of the property
that was in his hands.  By degrees, he took the estate into his
management, acquiring necessarily a preponderating influence over such a
man."

"And you," said Middleton.  "Have you been all along in England?  For you
must have been little more than an infant at the time."

"A mere infant," said Alice, "and I remained in our own country under the
care of a relative who left me much to my own keeping; much to the
influences of that wild culture which the freedom of our country gives to
its youth.  It is only two years that I have been in England."

"This, then," said Middleton thoughtfully, "accounts for much that has
seemed so strange in the events through which we have passed; for the
knowledge of my identity and my half-defined purpose which has always
glided before me, and thrown so many strange shapes of difficulty in my
path.  But whence,--whence came that malevolence which your father's
conduct has so unmistakably shown?  I had done him no injury, though I
had suffered much."

"I have often thought," replied Alice, "that my father, though retaining
a preternatural strength and acuteness of intellect, was really not
altogether sane.  And, besides, he had made it his business to keep this
estate, and all the complicated advantages of the representation of this
old family, secure to the person who was deemed to have inherited them.
A succession of ages and generations might be supposed to have blotted
out your claims from existence; for it is not just that there should be
no term of time which can make security for lack of fact and a few
formalities.  At all events, he had satisfied himself that his duty was
to act as he has done."

"Be it so!  I do not seek to throw blame on him," said Middleton.
"Besides, Alice, he was your father!"

"Yes," said she, sadly smiling; "let him [have] what protection that
thought may give him, even though I lose what he may gain.  And now here
we are at the house.  At last, come in!  It is your own; there is none
that can longer forbid you!"

They entered the door of the old mansion, now a farm-house, and there
were its old hall, its old chambers, all before them.  They ascended the
staircase, and stood on the landing-place above; while Middleton had
again that feeling that had so often made him dizzy,--that sense of being
in one dream and recognizing the scenery and events of a former dream.
So overpowering was this feeling, that he laid his hand on the slender
arm of Alice, to steady himself; and she comprehended the emotion that
agitated him, and looked into his eyes with a tender sympathy, which she
had never before permitted to be visible,--perhaps never before felt.  He
steadied himself and followed her till they had entered an ancient
chamber, but one that was finished with all the comfortable luxury
customary to be seen in English homes.

"Whither have you led me now?" inquired Middleton.

"Look round," said Alice.  "Is there nothing here that you ought to
recognize?--nothing that you kept the memory of, long ago?"

He looked around the room again and again, and at last, in a somewhat
shadowy corner, he espied an old cabinet made of ebony and inlaid with
pearl; one of those tall, stately, and elaborate pieces of furniture that
are rather articles of architecture than upholstery; and on which a
higher skill, feeling, and genius than now is ever employed on such
things, was expended.  Alice drew near the stately cabinet and threw wide
the doors, which, like the portals of a palace, stood between two
pillars; it all seemed to be unlocked, showing within some beautiful old
pictures in the panel of the doors, and a mirror, that opened a long
succession of mimic halls, reflection upon reflection, extending to an
interminable nowhere.

"And what is this?" said Middleton,--"a cabinet?  Why do you draw my
attention so strongly to it?"

"Look at it well," said she.  "Do you recognize nothing there?  Have you
forgotten your description?  The stately palace with its architecture,
each pillar with its architecture, those pilasters, that frieze; you
ought to know them all.  Somewhat less than you imagined in size,
perhaps; a fairy reality, inches for yards; that is the only difference.
And you have the key?"

And there then was that palace, to which tradition, so false at once and
true, had given such magnitude and magnificence in the traditions of the
Middleton family, around their shifting fireside in America.  Looming
afar through the mists of time, the little fact had become a gigantic
vision.  Yes, here it was in miniature, all that he had dreamed of; a
palace of four feet high!

"You have the key of this palace," said Alice; "it has waited--that is,
its secret and precious chamber has, for you to open it, these three
hundred years.  Do you know how to find that secret chamber?"

Middleton, still in that dreamy mood, threw open an inner door of the
cabinet, and applying the old-fashioned key at his watch-chain to a hole
in the mimic pavement within, pressed one of the mosaics, and immediately
the whole floor of the apartment sank, and revealed a receptacle withal.
Alice had come forward eagerly, and they both looked into the
hiding-place, expecting what should be there.  It was empty!  They looked
into each other's faces with blank astonishment.  Everything had been so
strangely true, and so strangely false, up to this moment, that they
could not comprehend this failure at the last moment.  It was the
strangest, saddest jest!  It brought Middleton up with such a sudden
revulsion that he grew dizzy, and the room swam round him and the cabinet
dazzled before his eyes.  It had been magnified to a palace; it had
dwindled down to Liliputian size; and yet, up till now, it had seemed to
contain in its diminutiveness all the riches which he had attributed to
its magnitude.  This last moment had utterly subverted it; the whole
great structure seemed to vanish.

"See; here are the dust and ashes of it," observed Alice, taking
something that was indeed only a pinch of dust out of the secret
compartment.  "There is nothing else."


II.

May 5th, Wednesday.--The father of these two sons, an aged man at the
time, took much to heart their enmity; and after the catastrophe, he
never held up his head again.  He was not told that his son had perished,
though such was the belief of the family; but imbibed the opinion that he
had left his home and native land to become a wanderer on the face of the
earth, and that some time or other he might return.  In this idea he
spent the remainder of his days; in this idea he died.  It may be that
the influence of this idea might be traced in the way in which he spent
some of the latter years of his life, and a portion of the wealth which
had become of little value in his eyes, since it had caused dissension
and bloodshed between the sons of one household.  It was a common mode of
charity in those days--a common thing for rich men to do--to found an
almshouse or a hospital, and endow it, for the support of a certain
number of old and destitute men or women, generally such as had some
claim of blood upon the founder, or at least were natives of the parish,
the district, the county, where he dwelt.  The Eldredge Hospital was
founded for the benefit of twelve old men, who should have been wanderers
upon the face of the earth; men, they should be, of some education, but
defeated and hopeless, cast off by the world for misfortune, but not for
crime.  And this charity had subsisted, on terms varying little or
nothing from the original ones, from that day to this; and, at this very
time, twelve old men were not wanting, of various countries, of various
fortunes, but all ending finally in ruin, who had centred here, to live
on the poor pittance that had been assigned to them, three hundred years
ago.  What a series of chronicles it would have been if each of the
beneficiaries of this charity, since its foundation, had left a record of
the events which finally led him hither.  Middleton often, as he talked
with these old men, regretted that he himself had no turn for authorship,
so rich a volume might he have compiled from the experience, sometimes
sunny and triumphant, though always ending in shadow, which he gathered
here.  They were glad to talk to him, and would have been glad and
grateful for any auditor, as they sat on one or another of the stone
benches, in the sunshine of the garden; or at evening, around the great
fireside, or within the chimney-corner, with their pipes and ale.

There was one old man who attracted much of his attention, by the
venerableness of his aspect; by something dignified, almost haughty and
commanding, in his air.  Whatever might have been the intentions and
expectations of the founder, it certainly had happened in these latter
days that there was a difficulty in finding persons of education, of good
manners, of evident respectability, to put into the places made vacant by
deaths of members; whether that the paths of life are surer now than they
used to be, and that men so arrange their lives as not to be left, in any
event, quite without resources as they draw near its close; at any rate,
there was a little tincture of the vagabond running through these twelve
quasi gentlemen,--through several of them, at least.  But this old man
could not well be mistaken; in his manners, in his tones, in all his
natural language and deportment, there was evidence that he had been more
than respectable; and, viewing him, Middleton could not help wondering
what statesman had suddenly vanished out of public life and taken refuge
here, for his head was of the statesman-class, and his demeanor that of
one who had exercised influence over large numbers of men.  He sometimes
endeavored to set on foot a familiar relation with this old man, but
there was even a sternness in the manner in which he repelled these
advances, that gave little encouragement for their renewal.  Nor did it
seem that his companions of the Hospital were more in his confidence than
Middleton himself.  They regarded him with a kind of awe, a shyness, and
in most cases with a certain dislike, which denoted an imperfect
understanding of him.  To say the truth, there was not generally much
love lost between any of the members of this family; they had met with
too much disappointment in the world to take kindly, now, to one another
or to anything or anybody.  I rather suspect that they really had more
pleasure in burying one another, when the time came, than in any other
office of mutual kindness and brotherly love which it was their part to
do; not out of hardness of heart, but merely from soured temper, and
because, when people have met disappointment and have settled down into
final unhappiness, with no more gush and spring of good spirits, there is
nothing any more to create amiability out of.

So the old people were unamiable and cross to one another, and unamiable
and cross to old Hammond, yet always with a certain respect; and the
result seemed to be such as treated the old man well enough.  And thus he
moved about among them, a mystery; the histories of the others, in the
general outline, were well enough known, and perhaps not very uncommon;
this old man's history was known to none, except, of course, to the
trustees of the charity, and to the Master of the Hospital, to whom it
had necessarily been revealed, before the beneficiary could be admitted
as an inmate.  It was judged, by the deportment of the Master, that the
old man had once held some eminent position in society; for, though bound
to treat them all as gentlemen, he was thought to show an especial and
solemn courtesy to Hammond.

Yet by the attraction which two strong and cultivated minds inevitably
have for one another, there did spring up an acquaintanceship, an
intercourse, between Middleton and this old man, which was followed up in
many a conversation which they held together on all subjects that were
supplied by the news of the day, or the history of the past.  Middleton
used to make the newspaper the opening for much discussion; and it seemed
to him that the talk of his companion had much of the character of that
of a retired statesman, on matters which, perhaps, he would look at all
the more wisely, because it was impossible he could ever more have a
personal agency in them.  Their discussions sometimes turned upon the
affairs of his own country, and its relations with the rest of the world,
especially with England; and Middleton could not help being struck with
the accuracy of the old man's knowledge respecting that country, which so
few Englishmen know anything about; his shrewd appreciation of the
American character,--shrewd and caustic, yet not without a good degree of
justice; the sagacity of his remarks on the past, and prophecies of what
was likely to happen,--prophecies which, in one instance, were singularly
verified, in regard to a complexity which was then arresting the
attention of both countries.

"You must have been in the United States," said he, one day.

"Certainly; my remarks imply personal knowledge," was the reply.  "But it
was before the days of steam."

"And not, I should imagine, for a brief visit," said Middleton.  "I only
wish the administration of this government had the benefit to-day of your
knowledge of my countrymen.  It might be better for both of these kindred
nations."

"Not a whit," said the old man.  "England will never understand America;
for England never does understand a foreign country; and whatever you may
say about kindred, America is as much a foreign country as France itself.
These two hundred years of a different climate and circumstances--of life
on a broad continent instead of in an island, to say nothing of the
endless intermixture of nationalities in every part of the United States,
except New England--have created a new and decidedly original type of
national character.  It is as well for both parties that they should not
aim at any very intimate connection.  It will never do."

"I should be very sorry to think so," said Middleton; "they are at all
events two noble breeds of men, and ought to appreciate one another.  And
America has the breadth of idea to do this for England, whether
reciprocated or not."

Thursday, May 6th.--Thus Middleton was established in a singular way
among these old men, in one of the surroundings most unlike anything in
his own country.  So old it was that it seemed to him the freshest and
newest thing that he had ever met with.  The residence was made
infinitely the more interesting to him by the sense that he was near the
place--as all the indications warned him--which he sought, whither his
dreams had tended from his childhood; that he could wander each day round
the park within which were the old gables of what he believed was his
hereditary home.  He had never known anything like the dreamy enjoyment
of these days; so quiet, such a contrast to the turbulent life from which
he had escaped across the sea.  And here he set himself, still with that
sense of shadowiness in what he saw and in what he did, in making all the
researches possible to him, about the neighborhood; visiting every little
church that raised its square battlemented Norman tower of gray stone,
for several miles round about; making himself acquainted with each little
village and hamlet that surrounded these churches, clustering about the
graves of those who had dwelt in the same cottages aforetime.  He visited
all the towns within a dozen miles; and probably there were few of the
inhabitants who had so good an acquaintance with the neighborhood as this
native American attained within a few weeks after his coming thither.

In course of these excursions he had several times met with a young
woman,--a young lady, one might term her, but in fact he was in some
doubt what rank she might hold, in England,--who happened to be wandering
about the country with a singular freedom.  She was always alone, always
on foot; he would see her sketching some picturesque old church, some
ivied ruin, some fine drooping elm.  She was a slight figure, much more
so than Englishwomen generally are; and, though healthy of aspect, had
not the ruddy complexion, which he was irreverently inclined to call the
coarse tint, that is believed the great charm of English beauty.  There
was a freedom in her step and whole little womanhood, an elasticity, an
irregularity, so to speak, that made her memorable from first sight; and
when he had encountered her three or four times, he felt in a certain way
acquainted with her.  She was very simply dressed, and quite as simple in
her deportment; there had been one or two occasions, when they had both
smiled at the same thing; soon afterwards a little conversation had taken
place between them; and thus, without any introduction, and in a way that
somewhat puzzled Middleton himself, they had become acquainted.  It was
so unusual that a young English girl should be wandering about the
country entirely alone--so much less usual that she should speak to a
stranger--that Middleton scarcely knew how to account for it, but
meanwhile accepted the fact readily and willingly, for in truth he found
this mysterious personage a very likely and entertaining companion.
There was a strange quality of boldness in her remarks, almost of
brusqueness, that he might have expected to find in a young countrywoman
of his own, if bred up among the strong-minded, but was astonished to
find in a young Englishwoman.  Somehow or other she made him think more
of home than any other person or thing he met with; and he could not but
feel that she was in strange contrast with everything about her.  She was
no beauty; very piquant; very pleasing; in some points of view and at
some moments pretty; always good-humored, but somewhat too self-possessed
for Middleton's taste.  It struck him that she had talked with him as if
she had some knowledge of him and of the purposes with which he was
there; not that this was expressed, but only implied by the fact that, on
looking back to what had passed, he found many strange coincidences in
what she had said with what he was thinking about.

He perplexed himself much with thinking whence this young woman had come,
where she belonged, and what might be her history; when, the next day, he
again saw her, not this time rambling on foot, but seated in an open
barouche with a young lady.  Middleton lifted his hat to her, and she
nodded and smiled to him; and it appeared to Middleton that a
conversation ensued about him with the young lady, her companion.  Now,
what still more interested him was the fact that, on the panel of the
barouche were the arms of the family now in possession of the estate of
Smithell's; so that the young lady, his new acquaintance, or the young
lady, her seeming friend, one or the other, was the sister of the present
owner of that estate.  He was inclined to think that his acquaintance
could not be the Miss Eldredge, of whose beauty he had heard many tales
among the people of the neighborhood.  The other young lady, a tall,
reserved, fair-haired maiden, answered the description considerably
better.  He concluded, therefore, that his acquaintance must be a
visitor, perhaps a dependent and companion; though the freedom of her
thought, action, and way of life seemed hardly consistent with this idea.
However, this slight incident served to give him a sort of connection
with the family, and he could but hope that some further chance would
introduce him within what he fondly called his hereditary walls.  He had
come to think of this as a dreamland; and it seemed even more a dreamland
now than before it rendered itself into actual substance, an old house of
stone and timber standing within its park, shaded about with its
ancestral trees.

But thus, at all events, he was getting himself a little wrought into the
net-work of human life around him, secluded as his position had at first
seemed to be, in the farm-house where he had taken up his lodgings.  For,
there was the Hospital and its old inhabitants, in whose monotonous
existence he soon came to pass for something, with his liveliness of
mind, his experience, his good sense, his patience as a listener, his
comparative youth even--his power of adapting himself to these stiff and
crusty characters, a power learned among other things in his political
life, where he had acquired something of the faculty (good or bad as
might be) of making himself all things to all men.  But though he amused
himself with them all, there was in truth but one man among them in whom
he really felt much interest; and that one, we need hardly say, was
Hammond.  It was not often that he found the old gentleman in a
conversible mood; always courteous, indeed, but generally cool and
reserved; often engaged in his one room, to which Middleton had never yet
been admitted, though he had more than once sent in his name, when
Hammond was not apparent upon the bench which, by common consent of the
Hospital, was appropriated to him.

One day, however, notwithstanding that the old gentleman was confined to
his room by indisposition, he ventured to inquire at the door, and,
considerably to his surprise, was admitted.  He found Hammond in his
easy-chair, at a table, with writing-materials before him: and as
Middleton entered, the old gentleman looked at him with a stern, fixed
regard, which, however, did not seem to imply any particular displeasure
towards this visitor, but rather a severe way of regarding mankind in
general.  Middleton looked curiously around the small apartment, to see
what modification the character of the man had had upon the customary
furniture of the Hospital, and how much of individuality he had given to
that general type.  There was a shelf of books, and a row of them on the
mantel-piece; works of political economy, they appeared to be, statistics
and things of that sort; very dry reading, with which, however,
Middleton's experience as a politician had made him acquainted.  Besides
there were a few works on local antiquities, a county-history borrowed
from the Master's library, in which Hammond appeared to have been lately
reading.

"They are delightful reading," observed Middleton, "these old
county-histories, with their great folio volumes and their minute account
of the affairs of families and the genealogies, and descents of estates,
bestowing as much blessed space on a few hundred acres as other
historians give to a principality.  I fear that in my own country we
shall never have anything of this kind.  Our space is so vast that we
shall never come to know and love it, inch by inch, as the English
antiquarians do the tracts of country with which they deal; and besides,
our land is always likely to lack the interest that belongs to English
estates; for where land changes its ownership every few years, it does
not become imbued with the personalities of the people who live on it.
It is but so much grass; so much dirt, where a succession of people have
dwelt too little to make it really their own.  But I have found a
pleasure that I had no conception of before, in reading some of the
English local histories."

"It is not a usual course of reading for a transitory visitor," said
Hammond.  "What could induce you to undertake it?"

"Simply the wish, so common and natural with Americans," said Middleton--
"the wish to find out something about my kindred--the local origin of my
own family."

"You do not show your wisdom in this," said his visitor.  "America had
better recognize the fact that it has nothing to do with England, and
look upon itself as other nations and people do, as existing on its own
hook.  I never heard of any people looking back to the country of their
remote origin in the way the Anglo-Americans do.  For instance, England
is made up of many alien races, German, Danish, Norman, and what not: it
has received large, accessions of population at a later date than the
settlement of the United States.  Yet these families melt into the great
homogeneous mass of Englishmen, and look back no more to any other
country.  There are in this vicinity many descendants of the French
Huguenots; but they care no more for France than for Timbuctoo, reckoning
themselves only Englishmen, as if they were descendants of the aboriginal
Britons.  Let it be so with you."

"So it might be," replied Middleton, "only that our relations with
England remain far more numerous than our disconnections, through the
bonds of history, of literature, of all that makes up the memories, and
much that makes up the present interests of a people.  And therefore I
must still continue to pore over these old folios, and hunt around these
precincts, spending thus the little idle time I am likely to have in a
busy life.  Possibly finding little to my purpose; but that is quite a
secondary consideration."

"If you choose to tell me precisely what your aims are," said Hammond,
"it is possible I might give you some little assistance."

May 7th, Friday.--Middleton was in fact more than half ashamed of the
dreams which he had cherished before coming to England, and which since,
at times, had been very potent with him, assuming as strong a tinge of
reality as those [scenes?] into which he had strayed.  He could not
prevail with himself to disclose fully to this severe, and, as he
thought, cynical old man how strong within him was the sentiment that
impelled him to connect himself with the old life of England, to join on
the broken thread of ancestry and descent, and feel every link well
established.  But it seemed to him that he ought not to lose this fair
opportunity of gaining some light on the abstruse field of his
researches; and he therefore explained to Hammond that he had reason,
from old family traditions, to believe that he brought with him a
fragment of a history that, if followed out, might lead to curious
results.  He told him, in a tone half serious, what he had heard
respecting the quarrel of the two brothers, and the Bloody Footstep, the
impress of which was said to remain, as a lasting memorial of the tragic
termination of that enmity.  At this point, Hammond interrupted him.  He
had indeed, at various points of the narrative, nodded and smiled
mysteriously, as if looking into his mind and seeing something there
analogous to what he was listening to.  He now spoke.

"This is curious," said he.  "Did you know that there is a manor-house in
this neighborhood, the family of which prides itself on having such a
blood-stained threshold as you have now described?"

"No, indeed!" exclaimed Middleton, greatly interested.  "Where?"

"It is the old manor-house of Smithell's," replied Hammond, "one of those
old wood and timber [plaster?] mansions, which are among the most ancient
specimens of domestic architecture in England.  The house has now passed
into the female line, and by marriage has been for two or three
generations in possession of another family.  But the blood of the old
inheritors is still in the family.  The house itself, or portions of it,
are thought to date back quite as far as the Conquest."

"Smithell's?" said Middleton.  "Why, I have seen that old house from a
distance, and have felt no little interest in its antique aspect.  And it
has a Bloody Footstep!  Would it be possible for a stranger to get an
opportunity to inspect it?"

"Unquestionably," said Hammond; "nothing easier.  It is but a moderate
distance from here, and if you can moderate your young footsteps, and
your American quick walk, to an old man's pace, I would go there with you
some day.  In this languor and ennui of my life, I spend some time in
local antiquarianism, and perhaps I might assist you in tracing out how
far these traditions of yours may have any connection with reality.  It
would be curious, would it not, if you had come, after two hundred years,
to piece out a story which may have been as much a mystery in England as
there in America?"

An engagement was made for a walk to Smithell's the ensuing day; and
meanwhile Middleton entered more fully into what he had received from
family traditions and what he had thought out for himself on the matter
in question.

"Are you aware," asked Hammond, "that there was formerly a title in this
family, now in abeyance, and which the heirs have at various times
claimed, and are at this moment claiming?  Do you know, too,--but you can
scarcely know it,--that it has been surmised by some that there is an
insecurity in the title to the estate, and has always been; so that the
possessors have lived in some apprehension, from time immemorial, that
another heir would appear and take from them the fair inheritance?  It is
a singular coincidence."

"Very strange," exclaimed Middleton.  "No; I was not aware of it; and, to
say the truth, I should not altogether like to come forward in the light
of a claimant.  But this is a dream, surely!"

"I assure you, sir," continued the old man, "that you come here in a very
critical moment; and singularly enough there is a perplexity, a
difficulty, that has endured for as long a time as when your ancestors
emigrated, that is still rampant within the bowels, as I may say, of the
family.  Of course, it is too like a romance that you should be able to
establish any such claim as would have a valid influence on this matter;
but still, being here on the spot, it may be worth while, if merely as a
matter of amusement, to make some researches into this matter."

"Surely I will," said Middleton, with a smile, which concealed more
earnestness than he liked to show; "as to the title, a Republican cannot
be supposed to think twice about such a bagatelle.  The estate!--that
might be a more serious consideration."

They continued to talk on the subject; and Middleton learned that the
present possessor of the estates was a gentleman nowise distinguished
from hundreds of other English gentlemen; a country squire modified in
accordance with the type of to-day, a frank, free, friendly sort of a
person enough, who had travelled on the Continent, who employed himself
much in field-sports, who was unmarried, and had a sister who was
reckoned among the beauties of the county.

While the conversation was thus going on, to Middleton's astonishment
there came a knock at the door of the room, and, without waiting for a
response, it was opened, and there appeared at it the same young woman
whom he had already met.  She came in with perfect freedom and
familiarity, and was received quietly by the old gentleman; who, however,
by his manner towards Middleton, indicated that he was now to take his
leave.  He did so, after settling the hour at which the excursion of the
next day was to take place.  This arranged, he departed, with much to
think of, and a light glimmering through the confused labyrinth of
thoughts which had been unilluminated hitherto.

To say the truth, he questioned within himself whether it were not better
to get as quickly as he could out of the vicinity; and, at any rate, not
to put anything of earnest in what had hitherto been nothing more than a
romance to him.  There was something very dark and sinister in the events
of family history, which now assumed a reality that they had never before
worn; so much tragedy, so much hatred, had been thrown into that deep
pit, and buried under the accumulated debris, the fallen leaves, the rust
and dust of more than two centuries, that it seemed not worth while to
dig it up; for perhaps the deadly influences, which it had taken so much
time to hide, might still be lurking there, and become potent if he now
uncovered them.  There was something that startled him, in the strange,
wild light, which gleamed from the old man's eyes, as he threw out the
suggestions which had opened this prospect to him.  What right had he--an
American, Republican, disconnected with this country so long, alien from
its habits of thought and life, reverencing none of the things which
Englishmen reverenced--what right had he to come with these musty claims
from the dim past, to disturb them in the life that belonged to them?
There was a higher and a deeper law than any connected with ancestral
claims which he could assert; and he had an idea that the law bade him
keep to the country which his ancestor had chosen and to its
institutions, and not meddle nor make with England.  The roots of his
family tree could not reach under the ocean; he was at most but a
seedling from the parent tree.  While thus meditating he found that his
footsteps had brought him unawares within sight of the old manor-house of
Smithell's; and that he was wandering in a path which, if he followed it
further, would bring him to an entrance in one of the wings of the
mansion.  With a sort of shame upon him, he went forward, and, leaning
against a tree, looked at what he considered the home of his ancestors.

May 9th, Sunday.--At the time appointed, the two companions set out on
their little expedition, the old man in his Hospital uniform, the long
black mantle, with the bear and ragged staff engraved in silver on the
breast, and Middleton in the plain costume which he had adopted in these
wanderings about the country.  On their way, Hammond was not very
communicative, occasionally dropping some shrewd remark with a good deal
of acidity in it; now and then, too, favoring his companion with some
reminiscence of local antiquity; but oftenest silent.  Thus they went on,
and entered the park of Pemberton Manor by a by-path, over a stile and
one of those footways, which are always so well worth threading out in
England, leading the pedestrian into picturesque and characteristic
scenes, when the high-road would show him nothing except what was
commonplace and uninteresting.  Now the gables of the old manor-house
appeared before them, rising amidst the hereditary woods, which doubtless
dated from a time beyond the days which Middleton fondly recalled, when
his ancestors had walked beneath their shade.  On each side of them were
thickets and copses of fern, amidst which they saw the hares peeping out
to gaze upon them, occasionally running across the path, and comporting
themselves like creatures that felt themselves under some sort of
protection from the outrages of man, though they knew too much of his
destructive character to trust him too far.  Pheasants, too, rose close
beside them, and winged but a little way before they alighted; they
likewise knew, or seemed to know, that their hour was not yet come.  On
all sides in these woods, these wastes, these beasts and birds, there was
a character that was neither wild nor tame.  Man had laid his grasp on
them all, and done enough to redeem them from barbarism, but had stopped
short of domesticating them; although Nature, in the wildest thing there,
acknowledged the powerful and pervading influence of cultivation.

Arriving at a side door of the mansion, Hammond rang the bell, and a
servant soon appeared.  He seemed to know the old man, and immediately
acceded to his request to be permitted to show his companion the house;
although it was not precisely a show-house, nor was this the hour when
strangers were usually admitted.  They entered; and the servant did not
give himself the trouble to act as a cicerone to the two visitants, but
carelessly said to the old gentleman that he knew the rooms, and that he
would leave him to discourse to his friend about them.  Accordingly, they
went into the old hall, a dark oaken-panelled room, of no great height,
with many doors opening into it.  There was a fire burning on the hearth;
indeed, it was the custom of the house to keep it up from morning to
night; and in the damp, chill climate of England, there is seldom a day
in some part of which a fire is not pleasant to feel.  Hammond here
pointed out a stuffed fox, to which some story of a famous chase was
attached; a pair of antlers of enormous size; and some old family
pictures, so blackened with time and neglect that Middleton could not
well distinguish their features, though curious to do so, as hoping to
see there the lineaments of some with whom he might claim kindred.  It
was a venerable apartment, and gave a good foretaste of what they might
hope to find in the rest of the mansion.

But when they had inspected it pretty thoroughly, and were ready to
proceed, an elderly gentleman entered the hall, and, seeing Hammond,
addressed him in a kindly, familiar way; not indeed as an equal friend,
but with a pleasant and not irksome conversation.  "I am glad to see you
here again," said he.  "What?  I have an hour of leisure; for, to say the
truth, the day hangs rather heavy till the shooting season begins.  Come;
as you have a friend with you, I will be your cicerone myself about the
house, and show you whatever mouldy objects of interest it contains."

He then graciously noticed the old man's companion, but without asking or
seeming to expect an introduction; for, after a careless glance at him,
he had evidently set him down as a person without social claims, a young
man in the rank of life fitted to associate with an inmate of Pemberton's
Hospital.  And it must be noticed that his treatment of Middleton was not
on that account the less kind, though far from being so elaborately
courteous as if he had met him as an equal.  "You have had something of a
walk," said he, "and it is a rather hot day.  The beer of Pemberton Manor
has been reckoned good these hundred years; will you taste it?"

Hammond accepted the offer, and the beer was brought in a foaming
tankard; but Middleton declined it, for in truth there was a singular
emotion in his breast, as if the old enmity, the ancient injuries, were
not yet atoned for, and as if he must not accept the hospitality of one
who represented his hereditary foe.  He felt, too, as if there were
something unworthy, a certain want of fairness, in entering clandestinely
the house, and talking with its occupant under a veil, as it were; and
had he seen clearly how to do it, he would perhaps at that moment have
fairly told Mr. Eldredge that he brought with him the character of
kinsman, and must be received in that grade or none.  But it was not easy
to do this; and after all, there was no clear reason why he should do it;
so he let the matter pass, merely declining to take the refreshment, and
keeping himself quiet and retired.

Squire Eldredge seemed to be a good, ordinary sort of gentleman,
reasonably well educated, and with few ideas beyond his estate and
neighborhood, though he had once held a seat in Parliament for part of a
term.  Middleton could not but contrast him, with an inward smile, with
the shrewd, alert politicians, their faculties all sharpened to the
utmost, whom he had known and consorted with in the American Congress.
Hammond had slightly informed him that his companion was an American; and
Mr. Eldredge immediately gave proof of the extent of his knowledge of
that country, by inquiring whether he came from the State of New England,
and whether Mr. Webster was still President of the United States;
questions to which Middleton returned answers that led to no further
conversation.

These little preliminaries over, they continued their ramble through the
house, going through tortuous passages, up and down little flights of
steps, and entering chambers that had all the charm of discoveries of
hidden regions; loitering about, in short, in a labyrinth calculated to
put the head into a delightful confusion.  Some of these rooms contained
their time-honored furniture, all in the best possible repair, heavy,
dark, polished; beds that had been marriage beds and dying beds over and
over again; chairs with carved backs; and all manner of old world
curiosities; family pictures, and samplers, and embroidery; fragments of
tapestry; an inlaid floor; everything having a story to it, though, to
say the truth, the possessor of these curiosities made but a bungling
piece of work in telling the legends connected with them.  In one or two
instances Hammond corrected him.

By and by they came to what had once been the principal bed-room of the
house; though its gloom, and some circumstances of family misfortune that
had happened long ago, had caused it to fall into disrepute, in latter
times; and it was now called the Haunted Chamber, or the Ghost's Chamber.
The furniture of this room, however, was particularly rich in its antique
magnificence; and one of the principal objects was a great black cabinet
of ebony and ivory, such as may often be seen in old English houses, and
perhaps often in the palaces of Italy, in which country they perhaps
originated.  This present cabinet was known to have been in the house as
long ago as the reign of Queen Elizabeth, and how much longer neither
tradition nor record told.  Hammond particularly directed Middleton's
attention to it.

"There is nothing in this house," said he, "better worth your attention
than that cabinet.  Consider its plan; it represents a stately mansion,
with pillars, an entrance, with a lofty flight of steps, windows, and
everything perfect.  Examine it well."

There was such an emphasis in the old man's way of speaking that
Middleton turned suddenly round from all that he had been looking at, and
fixed his whole attention on the cabinet; and strangely enough, it seemed
to be the representative, in small, of something that he had seen in a
dream.  To say the truth, if some cunning workman had been employed to
copy his idea of the old family mansion, on a scale of half an inch to a
yard, and in ebony and ivory instead of stone, he could not have produced
a closer imitation.  Everything was there.

"This is miraculous!" exclaimed he.  "I do not understand it."

"Your friend seems to be curious in these matters," said Mr. Eldredge
graciously.  "Perhaps he is of some trade that makes this sort of
manufacture particularly interesting to him.  You are quite at liberty,
my friend, to open the cabinet and inspect it as minutely as you wish.
It is an article that has a good deal to do with an obscure portion of
our family history.  Look, here is the key, and the mode of opening the
outer door of the palace, as we may well call it."  So saying, he threw
open the outer door, and disclosed within the mimic likeness of a stately
entrance hall, with a floor chequered of ebony and ivory.  There were
other doors that seemed to open into apartments in the interior of the
palace; but when Mr. Eldredge threw them likewise wide, they proved to be
drawers and secret receptacles, where papers, jewels, money, anything
that it was desirable to store away secretly, might be kept.

"You said, sir," said Middleton, thoughtfully, "that your family history
contained matter of interest in reference to this cabinet.  Might I
inquire what those legends are?"

"Why, yes," said Mr. Eldredge, musing a little.  "I see no reason why I
should have any idle concealment about the matter, especially to a
foreigner and a man whom I am never likely to see again.  You must know,
then, my friend, that there was once a time when this cabinet was known
to contain the fate of the estate and its possessors; and if it had held
all that it was supposed to hold, I should not now be the lord of
Pemberton Manor, nor the claimant of an ancient title.  But my father,
and his father before him, and his father besides, have held the estate
and prospered on it; and I think we may fairly conclude now that the
cabinet contains nothing except what we see."

And he rapidly again threw open one after another all the numerous
drawers and receptacles of the cabinet.

"It is an interesting object," said Middleton, after looking very closely
and with great attention at it, being pressed thereto, indeed, by the
owner's good-natured satisfaction in possessing this rare article of
vertu.  "It is admirable work," repeated he, drawing back.  "That mosaic
floor, especially, is done with an art and skill that I never saw
equalled."

There was something strange and altered in Middleton's tones, that
attracted the notice of Mr. Eldredge.  Looking at him, he saw that he had
grown pale, and had a rather bewildered air.

"Is your friend ill?" said he.  "He has not our English ruggedness of
look.  He would have done better to take a sip of the cool tankard, and a
slice of the cold beef.  He finds no such food and drink as that in his
own country, I warrant."

"His color has come back," responded Hammond, briefly.  "He does not need
any refreshment, I think, except, perhaps, the open air."

In fact, Middleton, recovering himself, apologized to Mr. Hammond.
[Eldredge?]; and as they had now seen nearly the whole of the house, the
two visitants took their leave, with many kindly offers on Mr. Eldredge's
part to permit the young man to view the cabinet whenever he wished.  As
they went out of the house (it was by another door than that which gave
them entrance), Hammond laid his hand on Middleton's shoulder and pointed
to a stone on the threshold, on which he was about to set his foot.
"Take care!" said he.  "It is the Bloody Footstep."

Middleton looked down and saw something, indeed, very like the shape of a
footprint, with a hue very like that of blood.  It was a twilight sort of
a place, beneath a porch, which was much overshadowed by trees and
shrubbery.  It might have been blood; but he rather thought, in his
wicked skepticism, that it was a natural, reddish stain in the stone.  He
measured his own foot, however, in the Bloody Footstep.

May 10th, Monday.--This is the present aspect of the story: Middleton is
the descendant of a family long settled in the United States; his
ancestor having emigrated to New England with the Pilgrims; or, perhaps,
at a still earlier date, to Virginia with Raleigh's colonists.  There had
been a family dissension,--a bitter hostility between two brothers in
England; on account, probably, of a love affair, the two both being
attached to the same lady.  By the influence of the family on both sides,
the young lady had formed an engagement with the elder brother, although
her affections had settled on the younger.  The marriage was about to
take place when the younger brother and the bride both disappeared, and
were never heard of with any certainty afterwards; but it was believed at
the time that he had been killed, and in proof of it a bloody footstep
remained on the threshold of the ancestral mansion.  There were rumors,
afterwards, traditionally continued to the present day, that the younger
brother and the bride were seen, and together, in England; and that some
voyager across the sea had found them living together, husband and wife,
on the other side of the Atlantic.  But the elder brother became a moody
and reserved man, never married, and left the inheritance to the children
of a third brother, who then became the representative of the family in
England; and the better authenticated story was that the second brother
had really been slain, and that the young lady (for all the parties may
have been Catholic) had gone to the Continent and taken the veil there.
Such was the family history as known or surmised in England, and in the
neighborhood of the manor-house, where the Bloody Footstep still remained
on the threshold; and the posterity of the third brother still held the
estate, and perhaps were claimants of an ancient baronage, long in
abeyance.

Now, on the other side of the Atlantic, the second brother and the young
lady had really been married, and became the parents of a posterity,
still extant, of which the Middleton of the romance is the surviving
male.  Perhaps he had changed his name, being so much tortured with the
evil and wrong that had sprung up in his family, so remorseful, so
outraged, that he wished to disconnect himself with all the past, and
begin life quite anew in a new world.  But both he and his wife, though
happy in one another, had been remorsefully and sadly so; and, with such
feelings, they had never again communicated with their respective
families, nor had given their children the means of doing so.  There
must, I think, have been something nearly approaching to guilt on the
second brother's part, and the bride should have broken a solemnly
plighted troth to the elder brother, breaking away from him when almost
his wife.  The elder brother had been known to have been wounded at the
time of the second brother's disappearance; and it had been the surmise
that he had received this hurt in the personal conflict in which the
latter was slain.  But in truth the second brother had stabbed him in the
emergency of being discovered in the act of escaping with the bride; and
this was what weighed upon his conscience throughout life in America.
The American family had prolonged itself through various fortunes, and
all the ups and downs incident to our institutions, until the present
day.  They had some old family documents, which had been rather
carelessly kept; but the present representative, being an educated man,
had looked over them, and found one which interested him strongly.  It
was--what was it?--perhaps a copy of a letter written by his ancestor on
his deathbed, telling his real name, and relating the above incidents.
These incidents had come down in a vague wild way, traditionally, in the
American family, forming a wondrous and incredible legend, which
Middleton had often laughed at, yet been greatly interested in; and the
discovery of this document seemed to give a certain aspect of veracity
and reality to the tradition.  Perhaps, however, the document only
related to the change of name, and made reference to certain evidences by
which, if any descendant of the family should deem it expedient, he might
prove his hereditary identity.  The legend must be accounted for by
having been gathered from the talk of the first ancestor and his wife.
There must be in existence, in the early records of the colony, an
authenticated statement of this change of name, and satisfactory proofs
that the American family, long known as Middleton, were really a branch
of the English family of Eldredge, or whatever.  And in the legend,
though not in the written document, there must be an account of a certain
magnificent, almost palatial residence, which Middleton shall presume to
be the ancestral house; and in this palace there shall be said to be a
certain secret chamber, or receptacle, where is reposited a document that
shall complete the evidence of the genealogical descent.

Middleton is still a young man, but already a distinguished one in his
own country; he has entered early into politics, been sent to Congress,
but having met with some disappointments in his ambitious hopes, and
being disgusted with the fierceness of political contests in our country,
he has come abroad for recreation and rest.  His imagination has dwelt
much, in his boyhood, on the legendary story of his family; and the
discovery of the document has revived these dreams.  He determines to
search out the family mansion; and thus he arrives, bringing half of a
story, being the only part known in America, to join it on to the other
half, which is the only part known in England.  In an introduction I must
do the best I can to state his side of the matter to the reader, he
having communicated it to me in a friendly way, at the Consulate; as many
people have communicated quite as wild pretensions to English
genealogies.

He comes to the midland counties of England, where he conceives his
claims to lie, and seeks for his ancestral home; but there are
difficulties in the way of finding it, the estates having passed into the
female line, though still remaining in the blood.  By and by, however, he
comes to an old town where there is one of the charitable institutions
bearing the name of his family, by whose beneficence it had indeed been
founded, in Queen Elizabeth's time.  He of course becomes interested in
this Hospital; he finds it still going on, precisely as it did in the old
days; and all the character and life of the establishment must be
picturesquely described.  Here he gets acquainted with an old man, an
inmate of the Hospital, who (if the uncontrollable fatality of the story
will permit) must have an active influence on the ensuing events.  I
suppose him to have been an American, but to have fled his country and
taken refuge in England; he shall have been a man of the Nicholas Biddle
stamp, a mighty speculator, the ruin of whose schemes had crushed
hundreds of people, and Middleton's father among the rest.  Here he had
quitted the activity of his mind, as well as he could, becoming a local
antiquary, etc., and he has made himself acquainted with the family
history of the Eldredges, knowing more about it than the members of the
family themselves do.  He had known in America (from Middleton's father,
who was his friend) the legends preserved in this branch of the family,
and perhaps had been struck by the way in which they fit into the English
legends; at any rate, this strikes him when Middleton tells him his story
and shows him the document respecting the change of name.  After various
conversations together (in which, however, the old man keeps the secret
of his own identity, and indeed acts as mysteriously as possible) they go
together to visit the ancestral mansion.  Perhaps it should not be in
their first visit that the cabinet, representing the stately mansion,
shall be seen.  But the Bloody Footstep may; which shall interest
Middleton much, both because Hammond has told him the English tradition
respecting it, and because too the legends of the American family made
some obscure allusions to his ancestor having left blood--a bloody
footstep--on the ancestral threshold.  This is the point to which the
story has now been sketched out.  Middleton finds a commonplace old
English country gentleman in possession of the estate, where his
forefathers had lived in peace for many generations; but there must be
circumstances contrived which shall cause Middleton's conduct to be
attended by no end of turmoil and trouble.  The old Hospitaller, I
suppose, must be the malicious agent in this; and his malice must be
motived in some satisfactory way.  The more serious question, what shall
be the nature of this tragic trouble, and how can it be brought about?

May 11th, Tuesday.--How much better would it have been if this secret,
which seemed so golden, had remained in the obscurity in which two
hundred years had buried it!  That deep, old, grass-grown grave being
opened, out from it streamed into the sunshine the old fatalities, the
old crimes, the old misfortunes, the sorrows, that seemed to have
departed from the family forever.  But it was too late now to close it
up; he must follow out the thread that led him on,--the thread of fate,
if you choose to call it so; but rather the impulse of an evil will, a
stubborn self-interest, a desire for certain objects of ambition which
were preferred to what yet were recognized as real goods.  Thus reasoned,
thus raved, Eldredge, as he considered the things that he had done, and
still intended to do; nor did these perceptions make the slightest
difference in his plans, nor in the activity with which he set about
their performance.  For this purpose he sent for his lawyer, and
consulted him on the feasibility of the design which he had already
communicated to him respecting Middleton.  But the man of law shook his
head, and, though deferentially, declined to have any active concern with
the matter that threatened to lead him beyond the bounds which he allowed
himself, into a seductive but perilous region.

"My dear sir," said he, with some earnestness, "you had much better
content yourself with such assistance as I can professionally and
consistently give you.  Believe [me], I am willing to do a lawyer's
utmost, and to do more would be as unsafe for the client as for the legal
adviser."

Thus left without an agent and an instrument, this unfortunate man had to
meditate on what means he would use to gain his ends through his own
unassisted efforts.  In the struggle with himself through which he had
passed, he had exhausted pretty much all the feelings that he had to
bestow on this matter; and now he was ready to take hold of almost any
temptation that might present itself, so long as it showed a good
prospect of success and a plausible chance of impunity.  While he was
thus musing, he heard a female voice chanting some song, like a bird's
among the pleasant foliage of the trees, and soon he saw at the end of a
wood-walk Alice, with her basket on her arm, passing on toward the
village.  She looked towards him as she passed, but made no pause nor yet
hastened her steps; not seeming to think it worth her while to be
influenced by him.  He hurried forward and overtook her.

So there was this poor old gentleman, his comfort utterly overthrown,
decking his white hair and wrinkled brow with the semblance of a coronet,
and only hoping that the reality might crown and bless him before he was
laid in the ancestral tomb.  It was a real calamity; though by no means
the greatest that had been fished up out of the pit of domestic discord
that had been opened anew by the advent of the American; and by the use
which had been made of it by the cantankerous old man of the Hospital.
Middleton, as he looked at these evil consequences, sometimes regretted
that he had not listened to those forebodings which had warned him back
on the eve of his enterprise; yet such was the strange entanglement and
interest which had wound about him, that often he rejoiced that for once
he was engaged in something that absorbed him fully, and the zeal for the
development of which made him careless for the result in respect to its
good or evil, but only desirous that it show itself.  As for Alice, she
seemed to skim lightly through all these matters, whether as a spirit of
good or ill he could not satisfactorily judge.  He could not think her
wicked; yet her actions seemed unaccountable on the plea that she was
otherwise.  It was another characteristic thread in the wild web of
madness that had spun itself about all the prominent characters of our
story.  And when Middleton thought of these things, he felt as if it
might be his duty (supposing he had the power) to shovel the earth again
into the pit that he had been the means of opening; but also felt that,
whether duty or not, he would never perform it.

For, you see, on the American's arrival he had found the estate in the
hands of one of the descendants; but some disclosures consequent on his
arrival had thrown it into the hands of another; or, at all events, had
seemed to make it apparent that justice required that it should be so
disposed of.  No sooner was the discovery made than the possessor put on
a coronet; the new heir had commenced legal proceedings; the sons of the
respective branches had come to blows and blood; and the devil knows what
other devilish consequences had ensued.  Besides this, there was much
falling in love at cross-purposes, and a general animosity of every body
against everybody else, in proportion to the closeness of the natural
ties and their obligation to love one another.

The moral, if any moral were to be gathered from these petty and wretched
circumstances, was, "Let the past alone: do not seek to renew it; press
on to higher and better things,--at all events, to other things; and be
assured that the right way can never be that which leads you back to the
identical shapes that you long ago left behind.  Onward, onward, onward!"

"What have you to do here?" said Alice.  "Your lot is in another land.
You have seen the birthplace of your forefathers, and have gratified your
natural yearning for it; now return, and cast in your lot with your own
people, let it be what it will.  I fully believe that it is such a lot as
the world has never yet seen, and that the faults, the weaknesses, the
errors, of your countrymen will vanish away like morning mists before the
rising sun.  You can do nothing better than to go back."

"This is strange advice, Alice," said Middleton, gazing at her and
smiling.  "Go back, with such a fair prospect before me; that were
strange indeed!  It is enough to keep me here, that here only I shall see
you,--enough to make me rejoice to have come, that I have found you
here."

"Do not speak in this foolish way," cried Alice, panting.  "I am giving
you the best advice, and speaking in the wisest way I am capable of,--
speaking on good grounds too,--and you turn me aside with a silly
compliment.  I tell you that this is no comedy in which we are
performers, but a deep, sad tragedy; and that it depends most upon you
whether or no it shall be pressed to a catastrophe.  Think well of it."

"I have thought, Alice," responded the young man, "and I must let things
take their course; if, indeed, it depends at all upon me, which I see no
present reason to suppose.  Yet I wish you would explain to me what you
mean."

To take up the story from the point where we left it: by the aid of the
American's revelations, some light is thrown upon points of family
history, which induce the English possessor of the estate to suppose that
the time has come for asserting his claim to a title which has long been
in abeyance.  He therefore sets about it, and engages in great expenses,
besides contracting the enmity of many persons, with whose interests he
interferes.  A further complication is brought about by the secret
interference of the old Hospitaller, and Alice goes singing and dancing
through the whole, in a way that makes her seem like a beautiful devil,
though finally it will be recognized that she is an angel of light.
Middleton, half bewildered, can scarcely tell how much of this is due to
his own agency; how much is independent of him and would have happened
had he stayed on his own side of the water.  By and by a further and
unexpected development presents the singular fact that he himself is the
heir to whatever claims there are, whether of property or rank,--all
centring in him as the representative of the eldest brother.  On this
discovery there ensues a tragedy in the death of the present possessor of
the estate, who has staked everything upon the issue; and Middleton,
standing amid the ruin and desolation of which he has been the innocent
cause, resigns all the claims which he might now assert, and retires, arm
in arm with Alice, who has encouraged him to take this course, and to act
up to his character.  The estate takes a passage into the female line,
and the old name becomes extinct, nor does Middleton seek to continue it
by resuming it in place of the one long ago assumed by his ancestor.
Thus he and his wife become the Adam and Eve of a new epoch, and the
fitting missionaries of a new social faith, of which there must be
continual hints through the book.

A knot of characters may be introduced as gathering around Middleton,
comprising expatriated Americans of all sorts: the wandering printer who
came to me so often at the Consulate, who said he was a native of
Philadelphia, and could not go home in the thirty years that he had been
trying to do so, for lack of the money to pay his passage; the large
banker; the consul of Leeds; the woman asserting her claims to half
Liverpool; the gifted literary lady, maddened by Shakespeare, etc., etc.
The Yankee who had been driven insane by the Queen's notice, slight as it
was, of the photographs of his two children which he had sent her.  I
have not yet struck the true key-note of this Romance, and until I do,
and unless I do, I shall write nothing but tediousness and nonsense.  I
do not wish it to be a picture of life, but a Romance, grim, grotesque,
quaint, of which the Hospital might be the fitting scene.  It might have
so much of the hues of life that the reader should sometimes think it was
intended for a picture, yet the atmosphere should be such as to excuse
all wildness.  In the Introduction, I might disclaim all intention to
draw a real picture, but say that the continual meetings I had with
Americans bent on such errands had suggested this wild story.  The
descriptions of scenery, etc., and of the Hospital, might be correct, but
there should be a tinge of the grotesque given to all the characters and
events.  The tragic and the gentler pathetic need not be excluded by the
tone and treatment.  If I could but write one central scene in this vein,
all the rest of the Romance would readily arrange itself around that
nucleus.  The begging-girl would be another American character; the
actress too; the caravan people.  It must be humorous work, or nothing.


III.

May 12th, Wednesday.--Middleton found his abode here becoming daily more
interesting; and he sometimes thought that it was the sympathies with the
place and people, buried under the supergrowth of so many ages, but now
coming forth with the life and vigor of a fountain, that, long hidden
beneath earth and ruins, gushes out singing into the sunshine, as soon as
these are removed.  He wandered about the neighborhood with insatiable
interest; sometimes, and often, lying on a hill-side and gazing at the
gray tower of the church; sometimes coming into the village clustered
round that same church, and looking at the old timber and plaster houses,
the same, except that the thatch had probably been often renewed, that
they used to be in his ancestor's days.  In those old cottages still
dwelt the families, the ------s, the Prices, the Hopnorts, the Copleys,
that had dwelt there when America was a scattered progeny of infant
colonies; and in the churchyard were the graves of all the generations
since--including the dust of those who had seen his ancestor's face
before his departure.

The graves, outside the church walls indeed, bore no marks of this
antiquity; for it seems not to have been an early practice in England to
put stones over such graves; and where it has been done, the climate
causes the inscriptions soon to become obliterated and unintelligible.
But, within the church, there were rich words of the personages and times
with whom Middleton's musings held so much converse.

But one of his greatest employments and pastimes was to ramble through
the grounds of Smithell's, making himself as well acquainted with its
wood paths, its glens, its woods, its venerable trees, as if he had been
bred up there from infancy.  Some of those old oaks his ancestor might
have been acquainted with, while they were already sturdy and well-grown
trees; might have climbed them in boyhood; might have mused beneath them
as a lover; might have flung himself at full length on the turf beneath
them, in the bitter anguish that must have preceded his departure forever
from the home of his forefathers.  In order to secure an uninterrupted
enjoyment of his rambles here, Middleton had secured the good-will of the
game-keepers and other underlings whom he was likely to meet about the
grounds, by giving them a shilling or a half-crown; and he was now free
to wander where he would, with only the advice rather than the caution,
to keep out of the way of their old master,--for there might be trouble,
if he should meet a stranger on the grounds, in any of his tantrums.
But, in fact, Mr. Eldredge was not much in the habit of walking about the
grounds; and there were hours of every day, during which it was
altogether improbable that he would have emerged from his own apartments
in the manor-house.  These were the hours, therefore, when Middleton most
frequented the estate; although, to say the truth, he would gladly have
so timed his visits as to meet and form an acquaintance with the lonely
lord of this beautiful property, his own kinsman, though with so many
ages of dark oblivion between.  For Middleton had not that feeling of
infinite distance in the relationship, which he would have had if his
branch of the family had continued in England, and had not intermarried
with the other branch, through such a long waste of years; he rather felt
as if he were the original emigrant who, long resident on a foreign
shore, had now returned, with a heart brimful of tenderness, to revisit
the scenes of his youth, and renew his tender relations with those who
shared his own blood.

There was not, however, much in what he heard of the character of the
present possessor of the estate--or indeed in the strong family
characteristic that had become hereditary--to encourage him to attempt
any advances.  It is very probable that the religion of Mr. Eldredge, as
a Catholic, may have excited a prejudice against him, as it certainly had
insulated the family, in a great degree, from the sympathies of the
neighborhood.  Mr. Eldredge, moreover, had resided long on the Continent;
long in Italy; and had come back with habits that little accorded with
those of the gentry of the neighborhood; so that, in fact, he was almost
as much of a stranger, and perhaps quite as little of a real Englishman,
as Middleton himself.  Be that as it might, Middleton, when he sought to
learn something about him, heard the strangest stories of his habits of
life, of his temper, and of his employments, from the people with whom he
conversed.  The old legend, turning upon the monomania of the family, was
revived in full force in reference to this poor gentleman; and many a
time Middleton's interlocutors shook their wise heads, saying with a
knowing look and under their breath that the old gentleman was looking
for the track of the Bloody Footstep.  They fabled--or said, for it might
not have been a false story--that every descendant of this house had a
certain portion of his life, during which he sought the track of that
footstep which was left on the threshold of the mansion; that he sought
it far and wide, over every foot of the estate; not only on the estate,
but throughout the neighborhood; not only in the neighborhood but all
over England; not only throughout England but all about the world.  It
was the belief of the neighborhood--at least of some old men and women in
it--that the long period of Mr. Eldredge's absence from England had been
spent in the search for some trace of those departing footsteps that had
never returned.  It is very possible--probable, indeed--that there may
have been some ground for this remarkable legend; not that it is to be
credited that the family of Eldredge, being reckoned among sane men,
would seriously have sought, years and generations after the fact, for
the first track of those bloody footsteps which the first rain of drippy
England must have washed away; to say nothing of the leaves that had
fallen and the growth and decay of so many seasons, that covered all
traces of them since.  But nothing is more probable than that the
continual recurrence to the family genealogy, which had been necessitated
by the matter of the dormant peerage, had caused the Eldredges, from
father to son, to keep alive an interest in that ancestor who had
disappeared, and who had been supposed to carry some of the most
important family papers with him.  But yet it gave Middleton a strange
thrill of pleasure, that had something fearful in it, to think that all
through these ages he had been waited for, sought for, anxiously
expected, as it were; it seemed as if the very ghosts of his kindred, a
long shadowy line, held forth their dim arms to welcome him; a line
stretching back to the ghosts of those who had flourished in the old, old
times; the doubletted and beruffled knightly shades of Queen Elizabeth's
time; a long line, stretching from the mediaeval ages, and their
duskiness, downward, downward, with only one vacant space, that of him
who had left the Bloody Footstep.  There was an inexpressible pleasure
(airy and evanescent, gone in a moment if he dwelt upon it too
thoughtfully, but very sweet) to Middleton's imagination, in this idea.
When he reflected, however, that his revelations, if they had any effect
at all, might serve only to quench the hopes of these long expectants, it
of course made him hesitate to declare himself.

One afternoon, when he was in the midst of musings such as this, he saw
at a distance through the park, in the direction of the manor-house, a
person who seemed to be walking slowly and seeking for something upon the
ground.  He was a long way off when Middleton first perceived him; and
there were two clumps of trees and underbrush, with interspersed tracts
of sunny lawn, between them.  The person, whoever he was, kept on, and
plunged into the first clump of shrubbery, still keeping his eyes on the
ground, as if intensely searching for something.  When he emerged from
the concealment of the first clump of shrubbery, Middleton saw that he
was a tall, thin person, in a dark dress; and this was the chief
observation that the distance enabled him to make, as the figure kept
slowly onward, in a somewhat wavering line, and plunged into the second
clump of shrubbery.  From that, too, he emerged; and soon appeared to be
a thin elderly figure, of a dark man with gray hair, bent, as it seemed
to Middleton, with infirmity, for his figure still stooped even in the
intervals when he did not appear to be tracking the ground.  But
Middleton could not but be surprised at the singular appearance the
figure had of setting its foot, at every step, just where a previous
footstep had been made, as if he wanted to measure his whole pathway in
the track of somebody who had recently gone over the ground in advance of
him.  Middleton was sitting at the foot of an oak; and he began to feel
some awkwardness in the consideration of what he would do if Mr.
Eldredge--for he could not doubt that it was he--were to be led just to
this spot, in pursuit of his singular occupation.  And even so it proved.

Middleton could not feel it manly to fly and hide himself, like a guilty
thing; and indeed the hospitality of the English country gentleman in
many cases gives the neighborhood and the stranger a certain degree of
freedom in the use of the broad expanse of ground in which they and their
forefathers have loved to sequester their residences.  The figure kept
on, showing more and more distinctly the tall, meagre, not unvenerable
features of a gentleman in the decline of life, apparently in ill-health;
with a dark face, that might once have been full of energy, but now
seemed enfeebled by time, passion, and perhaps sorrow.  But it was
strange to see the earnestness with which he looked on the ground, and
the accuracy with which he at last set his foot, apparently adjusting it
exactly to some footprint before him; and Middleton doubted not that,
having studied and restudied the family records and the judicial
examinations which described exactly the track that was seen the day
after the memorable disappearance of his ancestor, Mr. Eldredge was now,
in some freak, or for some purpose best known to himself, practically
following it out.  And follow it out he did, until at last he lifted up
his eyes, muttering to himself: "At this point the footsteps wholly
disappear."

Lifting his eyes, as we have said, while thus regretfully and
despairingly muttering these words, he saw Middleton against the oak,
within three paces of him.

May 13th, Thursday.--Mr. Eldredge (for it was he) first kept his eyes
fixed full on Middleton's face, with an expression as if he saw him not;
but gradually--slowly, at first--he seemed to become aware of his
presence; then, with a sudden flush, he took in the idea that he was
encountered by a stranger in his secret mood.  A flush of anger or shame,
perhaps both, reddened over his face; his eyes gleamed; and he spoke
hastily and roughly.

"Who are you?" he said.  "How come you here?  I allow no intruders in my
park.  Begone, fellow!"

"Really, sir, I did not mean to intrude upon you," said Middleton
blandly.  "I am aware that I owe you an apology; but the beauties of your
park must plead my excuse; and the constant kindness of [the] English
gentleman, which admits a stranger to the privilege of enjoying so much
of the beauty in which he himself dwells as the stranger's taste permits
him to enjoy."

"An artist, perhaps," said Mr. Eldredge, somewhat less uncourteously.  "I
am told that they love to come here and sketch those old oaks and their
vistas, and the old mansion yonder.  But you are an obtrusive set, you
artists, and think that a pencil and a sheet of paper may be your
passport anywhere.  You are mistaken, sir.  My park is not open to
strangers."

"I am sorry, then, to have intruded upon you," said Middleton, still in
good humor; for in truth he felt a sort of kindness, a sentiment,
ridiculous as it may appear, of kindred towards the old gentleman, and
besides was not unwilling in any way to prolong a conversation in which
he found a singular interest.  "I am sorry, especially as I have not even
the excuse you kindly suggest for me.  I am not an artist, only an
American, who have strayed hither to enjoy this gentle, cultivated, tamed
nature which I find in English parks, so contrasting with the wild,
rugged nature of my native land.  I beg your pardon, and will retire."

"An American," repeated Mr. Eldredge, looking curiously at him.  "Ah, you
are wild men in that country, I suppose, and cannot conceive that an
English gentleman encloses his grounds--or that his ancestors have done
so before him--for his own pleasure and convenience, and does not
calculate on having it infringed upon by everybody, like your own
forests, as you say.  It is a curious country, that of yours: and in
Italy I have seen curious people from it."

"True, sir," said Middleton, smiling.  "We send queer specimens abroad;
but Englishmen should consider that we spring from them, and that we
present after all only a picture of their own characteristics, a little
varied by climate and in situation."

Mr. Eldredge looked at him with a certain kind of interest, and it seemed
to Middleton that he was not unwilling to continue the conversation, if a
fair way to do so could only be afforded to him.  A secluded man often
grasps at any opportunity of communicating with his kind, when it is
casually offered to him, and for the nonce is surprisingly familiar,
running out towards his chance-companion with the gush of a dammed-up
torrent, suddenly unlocked.  As Middleton made a motion to retire, he put
out his hand with an air of authority to restrain him.

"Stay," said he.  "Now that you are here, the mischief is done, and you
cannot repair it by hastening away.  You have interrupted me in my mood
of thought, and must pay the penalty by suggesting other thoughts.  I am
a lonely man here, having spent most of my life abroad, and am separated
from my neighbors by various circumstances.  You seem to be an
intelligent man.  I should like to ask you a few questions about your
country."

He looked at Middleton as he spoke, and seemed to be considering in what
rank of life he should place him; his dress being such as suited a humble
rank.  He seemed not to have come to any very certain decision on this
point.

"I remember," said he, "you have no distinctions of rank in your country;
a convenient thing enough, in some respects.  When there are no
gentlemen, all are gentlemen.  So let it be.  You speak of being
Englishmen; and it has often occurred to me that Englishmen have left
this country and been much missed and sought after, who might perhaps be
sought there successfully."

"It is certainly so, Mr. Eldredge," said Middleton, lifting his eyes to
his face as he spoke, and then turning them aside.  "Many footsteps, the
track of which is lost in England, might be found reappearing on the
other side of the Atlantic; ay, though it be hundreds of years since the
track was lost here."

Middleton, though he had refrained from looking full at Mr. Eldredge as
he spoke, was conscious that he gave a great start; and he remained
silent for a moment or two, and when he spoke there was the tremor in his
voice of a nerve that had been struck and still vibrated.

"That is a singular idea of yours," he at length said; "not singular in
itself, but strangely coincident with something that happened to be
occupying my mind.  Have you ever heard any such instances as you speak
of?"

"Yes," replied Middleton, "I have had pointed out to me the rightful heir
to a Scottish earldom, in the person of an American farmer, in his
shirt-sleeves.  There are many Americans who believe themselves to hold
similar claims.  And I have known one family, at least, who had in their
possession, and had had for two centuries, a secret that might have been
worth wealth and honors if known in England.  Indeed, being kindred as we
are, it cannot but be the case."

Mr. Eldredge appeared to be much struck by these last words, and gazed
wistfully, almost wildly, at Middleton, as if debating with himself
whether to say more.  He made a step or two aside; then returned
abruptly, and spoke.

"Can you tell me the name of the family in which this secret was kept?"
said he; "and the nature of the secret?"

"The nature of the secret," said Middleton, smiling, "was not likely to
be extended to any one out of the family.  The name borne by the family
was Middleton.  There is no member of it, so far as I am aware, at this
moment remaining in America."

"And has the secret died with them?" asked Mr. Eldredge.

"They communicated it to none," said Middleton.

"It is a pity!  It was a villainous wrong," said Mr. Eldredge.  "And so,
it may be, some ancient line, in the old country, is defrauded of its
rights for want of what might have been obtained from this Yankee, whose
democracy has demoralized them to the perception of what is due to the
antiquity of descent, and of the bounden duty that there is, in all
ranks, to keep up the honor of a family that has had potence enough to
preserve itself in distinction for a thousand years."

"Yes," said Middleton, quietly, "we have sympathy with what is strong and
vivacious to-day; none with what was so yesterday."

The remark seemed not to please Mr. Eldredge; he frowned, and muttered
something to himself; but recovering himself, addressed Middleton with
more courtesy than at the commencement of their interview; and, with this
graciousness, his face and manner grew very agreeable, almost
fascinating: he [was] still haughty, however.

"Well, sir," said he, "I am not sorry to have met you.  I am a solitary
man, as I have said, and a little communication with a stranger is a
refreshment, which I enjoy seldom enough to be sensible of it.  Pray, are
you staying hereabouts?"

Middleton signified to him that he might probably spend some little time
in the village.

"Then, during your stay," maid Mr. Eldredge, "make free use of the walks
in these grounds; and though it is not probable that you will meet me in
them again, you need apprehend no second questioning of your right to be
here.  My house has many points of curiosity that may be of interest to a
stranger from a new country.  Perhaps you have heard of some of them."

"I have heard some wild legend about a Bloody Footstep," answered
Middleton; "indeed, I think I remember hearing something about it in my
own country; and having a fanciful sort of interest in such things, I
took advantage of the hospitable custom which opens the doors of curious
old houses to strangers, to go to see it.  It seemed to me, I confess,
only a natural stain in the old stone that forms the doorstep."

"There, sir," said Mr. Eldredge, "let me say that you came to a very
foolish conclusion; and so, good-by, sir."

And without further ceremony, he cast an angry glance at Middleton, who
perceived that the old gentleman reckoned the Bloody Footstep among his
ancestral honors, and would probably have parted with his claim to the
peerage almost as soon as have given up the legend.

Present aspect of the story: Middleton on his arrival becomes acquainted
with the old Hospitaller, and is familiarized at the Hospital.  He pays a
visit in his company to the manor-house, but merely glimpses at its
remarkable things, at this visit, among others at the old cabinet, which
does not, at first view, strike him very strongly.  But, on musing about
his visit afterwards, he finds the recollection of the cabinet strangely
identifying itself with his previous imaginary picture of the palatial
mansion; so that at last he begins to conceive the mistake he has made.
At this first [visit], he does not have a personal interview with the
possessor of the estate; but, as the Hospitaller and himself go from room
to room, he finds that the owner is preceding them, shyly flitting like a
ghost, so as to avoid them.  Then there is a chapter about the character
of the Eldredge of the day, a Catholic, a morbid, shy man, representing
all the peculiarities of an old family, and generally thought to be
insane.  And then comes the interview between him and Middleton, where
the latter excites such an interest that he dwells upon the old man's
mind, and the latter probably takes pains to obtain further intercourse
with him, and perhaps invites him to dinner, and [to] spend a night in
his house.  If so, this second meeting must lead to the examination of
the cabinet, and the discovery of some family documents in it.  Perhaps
the cabinet may be in Middleton's sleeping-chamber, and he examines it by
himself, before going to bed; and finds out a secret which will perplex
him how to deal with it.

May 14th, Friday.--We have spoken several times already of a young girl,
who was seen at this period about the little antiquated village of
Smithells; a girl in manners and in aspect unlike those of the cottages
amid which she dwelt.  Middleton had now so often met her, and in
solitary places, that an acquaintance had inevitably established itself
between them.  He had ascertained that she had lodgings at a farm-house
near by, and that she was connected in some way with the old Hospitaller,
whose acquaintance had proved of such interest to him; but more than this
he could not learn either from her or others.  But he was greatly
attracted and interested by the free spirit and fearlessness of this
young woman; nor could he conceive where, in staid and formal England,
she had grown up to be such as she was, so without manner, so without
art, yet so capable of doing and thinking for herself.  She had no
reserve, apparently, yet never seemed to sin against decorum; it never
appeared to restrain her that anything she might wish to do was contrary
to custom; she had nothing of what could be called shyness in her
intercourse with him; and yet he was conscious of an unapproachableness
in Alice.  Often, in the old man's presence, she mingled in the
conversation that went on between him and Middleton, and with an
acuteness that betokened a sphere of thought much beyond what could be
customary with young English maidens; and Middleton was often reminded of
the theories of those in our own country, who believe that the
amelioration of society depends greatly on the part that women shall
hereafter take, according to their individual capacity, in all the
various pursuits of life.  These deeper thoughts, these higher qualities,
surprised him as they showed themselves, whenever occasion called them
forth, under the light, gay, and frivolous exterior which she had at
first seemed to present.  Middleton often amused himself with surmises in
what rank of life Alice could have been bred, being so free of all
conventional rule, yet so nice and delicate in her perception of the true
proprieties that she never shocked him.

One morning, when they had met in one of Middleton's rambles about the
neighborhood, they began to talk of America; and Middleton described to
Alice the stir that was being made in behalf of women's rights; and he
said that whatever cause was generous and disinterested always, in that
country, derived much of its power from the sympathy of women, and that
the advocates of every such cause were in favor of yielding the whole
field of human effort to be shared with women.

"I have been surprised," said he, "in the little I have seen and heard of
Englishwomen, to discover what a difference there is between them and my
own countrywomen."

"I have heard," said Alice, with a smile, "that your countrywomen are a
far more delicate and fragile race than Englishwomen; pale, feeble
hot-house plants, unfit for the wear and tear of life, without energy of
character, or any slightest degree of physical strength to base it upon.
If, now, you had these large-framed Englishwomen, you might, I should
imagine, with better hopes, set about changing the system of society, so
as to allow them to struggle in the strife of politics, or any other
strife, hand to hand, or side by side, with men."

"If any countryman of mine has said this of our women," exclaimed
Middleton, indignantly, "he is a slanderous villain, unworthy to have
been borne by an American mother; if an Englishman has said it--as I know
many of them have and do--let it pass as one of the many prejudices only
half believed, with which they strive to console themselves for the
inevitable sense that the American race is destined to higher purposes
than their own.  But pardon me; I forgot that I was speaking to an
Englishwoman, for indeed you do not remind me of them.  But, I assure
you, the world has not seen such women as make up, I had almost said the
mass of womanhood in my own country; slight in aspect, slender in frame,
as you suggest, but yet capable of bringing forth stalwart men; they
themselves being of inexhaustible courage, patience, energy; soft and
tender, deep of heart, but high of purpose.  Gentle, refined, but bold in
every good cause."

"Oh, you have said quite enough," replied Alice, who had seemed ready to
laugh outright, during this encomium.  "I think I see one of those
paragons now, in a Bloomer, I think you call it, swaggering along with a
Bowie knife at her girdle, smoking a cigar, no doubt, and tippling
sherry-cobblers and mint-juleps.  It must be a pleasant life."

"I should think you, at least, might form a more just idea of what women
become," said Middleton, considerably piqued, "in a country where the
roles of conventionalism are somewhat relaxed; where woman, whatever you
may think, is far more profoundly educated than in England, where a few
ill-taught accomplishments, a little geography, a catechism of science,
make up the sum, under the superintendence of a governess; the mind being
kept entirely inert as to any capacity for thought.  They are cowards,
except within certain rules and forms; they spend a life of old
proprieties, and die, and if their souls do not die with them, it is
Heaven's mercy."

Alice did not appear in the least moved to anger, though considerably to
mirth, by this description of the character of English females.  She
laughed as she replied, "I see there is little danger of your leaving
your heart in England."  She added more seriously, "And permit me to say,
I trust, Mr. Middleton, that you remain as much American in other
respects as in your preference of your own race of women.  The American
who comes hither and persuades himself that he is one with Englishmen, it
seems to me, makes a great mistake; at least, if he is correct in such an
idea he is not worthy of his own country, and the high development that
awaits it.  There is much that is seductive in our life, but I think it
is not upon the higher impulses of our nature that such seductions act.
I should think ill of the American who, for any causes of ambition,--any
hope of wealth or rank,--or even for the sake of any of those old,
delightful ideas of the past, the associations of ancestry, the
loveliness of an age-long home,--the old poetry and romance that haunt
these ancient villages and estates of England,--would give up the chance
of acting upon the unmoulded future of America."

"And you, an Englishwoman, speak thus!" exclaimed Middleton.  "You
perhaps speak truly; and it may be that your words go to a point where
they are especially applicable at this moment.  But where have you
learned these ideas?  And how is it that you know how to awake these
sympathies, that have slept perhaps too long?"

"Think only if what I have said be the truth," replied Alice.  "It is no
matter who or what I am that speak it."

"Do you speak," asked Middleton, from a sudden impulse, "with any secret
knowledge affecting a matter now in my mind?"

Alice shook her head, as she turned away; but Middleton could not
determine whether the gesture was meant as a negative to his question, or
merely as declining to answer it.  She left him; and he found himself
strangely disturbed with thoughts of his own country, of the life that he
ought to be leading there, the struggles in which he ought to be taking
part; and, with these motives in his impressible mind, the motives that
had hitherto kept him in England seemed unworthy to influence him.

May 15th, Saturday.--It was not long after Middleton's meeting with Mr.
Eldredge in the park of Smithell's, that he received--what it is
precisely the most common thing to receive--an invitation to dine at the
manor-house and spend the night.  The note was written with much
appearance of cordiality, as well as in a respectful style; and Middleton
could not but perceive that Mr. Eldredge must have been making some
inquiries as to his social status, in order to feel him justified in
putting him on this footing of equality.  He had no hesitation in
accepting the invitation, and on the appointed day was received in the
old house of his forefathers as a guest.  The owner met him, not quite on
the frank and friendly footing expressed in his note, but still with a
perfect and polished courtesy, which however could not hide from the
sensitive Middleton a certain coldness, a something that seemed to him
Italian rather than English; a symbol of a condition of things between
them, undecided, suspicious, doubtful very likely.  Middleton's own
manner corresponded to that of his host, and they made few advances
towards more intimate acquaintance.  Middleton was however recompensed
for his host's unapproachableness by the society of his daughter, a young
lady born indeed in Italy, but who had been educated in a Catholic family
in England; so that here was another relation--the first female one--to
whoa he had been introduced.  She was a quiet, shy, undemonstrative young
woman, with a fine bloom and other charms which she kept as much in the
background as possible, with maiden reserve.  (There is a Catholic priest
at table.)

Mr. Eldredge talked chiefly, during dinner, of art, with which his long
residence in Italy had made him thoroughly acquainted, and for which he
seemed to have a genuine taste and enjoyment.  It was a subject on which
Middleton knew little; but he felt the interest in it which appears to be
not uncharacteristic of Americans, among the earliest of their
developments of cultivation; nor had he failed to use such few
opportunities as the English public or private galleries offered him to
acquire the rudiments of a taste.  He was surprised at the depth of some
of Mr. Eldredge's remarks on the topics thus brought up, and at the
sensibility which appeared to be disclosed by his delicate appreciation
of some of the excellencies of those great masters who wrote their epics,
their tender sonnets, or their simple ballads, upon canvas; and Middleton
conceived a respect for him which he had not hitherto felt, and which
possibly Mr. Eldredge did not quite deserve.  Taste seems to be a
department of moral sense; and yet it is so little identical with it, and
so little implies conscience, that some of the worst men in the world
have been the most refined.

After Miss Eldredge had retired, the host appeared to desire to make the
dinner a little more social than it had hitherto been; he called for a
peculiar species of wine from Southern Italy, which he said was the most
delicious production of the grape, and had very seldom, if ever before,
been imported pure into England.  A delicious perfume came from the
cradled bottle, and bore an ethereal, evanescent testimony to the truth
of what he said: and the taste, though too delicate for wine quaffed in
England, was nevertheless delicious, when minutely dwelt upon.

"It gives me pleasure to drink your health, Mr. Middleton," said the
host.  "We might well meet as friends in England, for I am hardly more an
Englishman than yourself; bred up, as I have been, in Italy, and coming
back hither at my age, unaccustomed to the manners of the country, with
few friends, and insulated from society by a faith which makes most
people regard me as an enemy.  I seldom welcome people here, Mr.
Middleton; but you are welcome."

"I thank you, Mr. Eldredge, and may fairly say that the circumstances to
which you allude make me accept your hospitality with a warmer feeling
than I otherwise might.  Strangers, meeting in a strange land, have a
sort of tie in their foreignness to those around them, though there be no
positive relation between themselves."

"We are friends, then?" said Mr. Eldredge, looking keenly at Middleton,
as if to discover exactly how much was meant by the compact.  He
continued, "You know, I suppose, Mr. Middleton, the situation in which I
find myself on returning to my hereditary estate; which has devolved to
me somewhat unexpectedly by the death of a younger man than myself.
There is an old flaw here, as perhaps you have been told, which keeps me
out of a property long kept in the guardianship of the crown, and of a
barony, one of the oldest in England.  There is an idea--a tradition--a
legend, founded, however, on evidence of some weight, that there is still
in existence the possibility of finding the proof which we need, to
confirm our cause."

"I am most happy to hear it, Mr. Eldredge," said Middleton.

"But," continued his host, "I am bound to remember and to consider that
for several generations there seems to have been the same idea, and the
same expectation; whereas nothing has ever come of it.  Now, among other
suppositions--perhaps wild ones--it has occurred to me that this
testimony, the desirable proof, may exist on your side of the Atlantic;
for it has long enough been sought here in vain."

"As I said in our meeting in your park, Mr. Eldredge," replied Middleton,
"such a suggestion may very possibly be true; yet let me point out that
the long lapse of years, and the continual melting and dissolving of
family institutions--the consequent scattering of family documents, and
the annihilation of traditions from memory, all conspire against its
probability."

"And yet, Mr. Middleton," said his host, "when we talked together at our
first singular interview, you made use of an expression--of one
remarkable phrase--which dwelt upon my memory and now recurs to it."

"And what was that, Mr. Eldredge?" asked Middleton.

"You spoke," replied his host, "of the Bloody Footstep reappearing on the
threshold of the old palace of S------.  Now where, let me ask you, did
you ever hear this strange name, which you then spoke, and which I have
since spoken?"

"From my father's lips, when a child, in America," responded Middleton.

"It is very strange," said Mr. Eldredge, in a hasty, dissatisfied tone.
"I do not see my way through this."

May 16th, Sunday.--Middleton had been put into a chamber in the oldest
part of the house, the furniture of which was of antique splendor, well
befitting to have come down for ages, well befitting the hospitality
shown to noble and even royal guests.  It was the same room in which, at
his first visit to the house, Middleton's attention had been drawn to the
cabinet, which he had subsequently remembered as the palatial residence
in which he had harbored so many dreams.  It still stood in the chamber,
making the principal object in it, indeed; and when Middleton was left
alone, he contemplated it not without a certain awe, which at the same
time he felt to be ridiculous.  He advanced towards it, and stood
contemplating the mimic facade, wondering at the singular fact of this
piece of furniture having been preserved in traditionary history, when so
much had been forgotten,--when even the features and architectural
characteristics of the mansion in which it was merely a piece of
furniture had been forgotten.  And, as he gazed at it, he half thought
himself an actor in a fairy portal [tale?]; and would not have been
surprised--at least, he would have taken it with the composure of a
dream--if the mimic portal had unclosed, and a form of pigmy majesty had
appeared within, beckoning him to enter and find the revelation of what
had so long perplexed him.  The key of the cabinet was in the lock, and
knowing that it was not now the receptacle of anything in the shape of
family papers, he threw it open; and there appeared the mosaic floor, the
representation of a stately, pillared hall, with the doors on either side
opening, as would seem, into various apartments.  And here should have
stood the visionary figures of his ancestry, waiting to welcome the
descendant of their race, who had so long delayed his coming.  After
looking and musing a considerable time,--even till the old clock from the
turret of the house told twelve, he turned away with a sigh, and went to
bed.  The wind moaned through the ancestral trees; the old house creaked
as with ghostly footsteps; the curtains of his bed seemed to waver.  He
was now at home; yes, he had found his home, and was sheltered at last
under the ancestral roof after all those long, long wanderings,--after
the little log-built hut of the early settlement, after the straight roof
of the American house, after all the many roofs of two hundred years,
here he was at last under the one which he had left, on that fatal night,
when the Bloody Footstep was so mysteriously impressed on the threshold.
As he drew nearer and nearer towards sleep, it seemed more and more to
him as if he were the very individual--the self-same one throughout the
whole--who had done, seen, suffered, all these long toils and
vicissitudes, and were now come back to rest, and found his weariness so
great that there could be no rest.

Nevertheless, he did sleep; and it may be that his dreams went on, and
grew vivid, and perhaps became truer in proportion to their vividness.
When he awoke he had a perception, an intuition, that he had been
dreaming about the cabinet, which, in his sleeping imagination, had again
assumed the magnitude and proportions of a stately mansion, even as he
had seen it afar from the other side of the Atlantic.  Some dim
associations remained lingering behind, the dying shadows of very vivid
ones which had just filled his mind; but as he looked at the cabinet,
there was some idea that still seemed to come so near his consciousness
that, every moment, he felt on the point of grasping it.  During the
process of dressing, he still kept his eyes turned involuntarily towards
the cabinet, and at last he approached it, and looked within the mimic
portal, still endeavoring to recollect what it was that he had heard or
dreamed about it,--what half obliterated remembrance from childhood, what
fragmentary last night's dream it was, that thus haunted him.  It must
have been some association of one or the other nature that led him to
press his finger on one particular square of the mosaic pavement; and as
he did so, the thin plate of polished marble slipt aside.  It disclosed,
indeed, no hollow receptacle, but only another leaf of marble, in the
midst of which appeared to be a key-hole: to this Middleton applied the
little antique key to which we have several times alluded, and found it
fit precisely.  The instant it was turned, the whole mimic floor of the
hall rose, by the action of a secret spring, and discovered a shallow
recess beneath.  Middleton looked eagerly in, and saw that it contained
documents, with antique seals of wax appended; he took but one glance at
them, and closed the receptacle as it was before.

Why did he do so?  He felt that there would be a meanness and wrong in
inspecting these family papers, coming to the knowledge of them, as he
had, through the opportunities offered by the hospitality of the owner of
the estate; nor, on the other hand, did he feel such confidence in his
host, as to make him willing to trust these papers in his hands, with any
certainty that they would be put to an honorable use.  The case was one
demanding consideration, and he put a strong curb upon his impatient
curiosity, conscious that, at all events, his first impulsive feeling was
that he ought not to examine these papers without the presence of his
host or some other authorized witness.  Had he exercised any casuistry
about the point, however, he might have argued that these papers,
according to all appearance, dated from a period to which his own
hereditary claims ascended, and to circumstances in which his own
rightful interest was as strong as that of Mr. Eldredge.  But he had
acted on his first impulse, closed the secret receptacle, and hastening
his toilet descended from his room; and, it being still too early for
breakfast, resolved to ramble about the immediate vicinity of the house.
As he passed the little chapel, he heard within the voice of the priest
performing mass, and felt how strange was this sign of mediaeval religion
and foreign manners in homely England.

As the story looks now: Eldredge, bred, and perhaps born, in Italy, and a
Catholic, with views to the church before he inherited the estate, has
not the English moral sense and simple honor; can scarcely be called an
Englishman at all.  Dark suspicions of past crime, and of the possibility
of future crime, may be thrown around him; an atmosphere of doubt shall
envelop him, though, as regards manners, he may be highly refined.
Middleton shall find in the house a priest; and at his first visit he
shall have seen a small chapel, adorned with the richness, as to marbles,
pictures, and frescoes, of those that we see in the churches at Rome; and
here the Catholic forms of worship shall be kept up.  Eldredge shall have
had an Italian mother, and shall have the personal characteristics of an
Italian.  There shall be something sinister about him, the more apparent
when Middleton's visit draws to a conclusion; and the latter shall feel
convinced that they part in enmity, so far as Eldredge is concerned.  He
shall not speak of his discovery in the cabinet.

May 17th, Monday.--Unquestionably, the appointment of Middleton as
minister to one of the minor Continental courts must take place in the
interval between Eldredge's meeting him in the park, and his inviting him
to his house.  After Middleton's appointment, the two encounter each
other at the Mayor's dinner in St. Mary's Hall, and Eldredge, startled at
meeting the vagrant, as he deemed him, under such a character, remembers
the hints of some secret knowledge of the family history, which Middleton
had thrown out.  He endeavors, both in person and by the priest, to make
out what Middleton really is, and what he knows, and what he intends; but
Middleton is on his guard, yet cannot help arousing Eldredge's suspicions
that he has views upon the estate and title.  It is possible, too, that
Middleton may have come to the knowledge--may have had some knowledge--of
some shameful or criminal fact connected with Mr. Eldredge's life on the
Continent; the old Hospitaller, possibly, may have told him this, from
some secret malignity hereafter to be accounted for.  Supposing Eldredge
to attempt his murder, by poison for instance, bringing back into modern
life his old hereditary Italian plots; and into English life a sort of
crime which does not belong to it,--which did not, at least, although at
this very period there have been fresh and numerous instances of it.
There might be a scene in which Middleton and Eldredge come to a fierce
and bitter explanation; for in Eldredge's character there must be the
English surly boldness as well as the Italian subtlety; and here,
Middleton shall tell him what he knows of his past character and life,
and also what he knows of his own hereditary claims.  Eldredge might have
committed a murder in Italy; might have been a patriot and betrayed his
friends to death for a bribe, bearing another name than his own in Italy;
indeed, he might have joined them only as an informer.  All this he had
tried to sink, when he came to England in the character of a gentleman of
ancient name and large estate.  But this infamy of his previous character
must be foreboded from the first by the manner in which Eldredge is
introduced; and it must make his evil designs on Middleton appear natural
and probable.  It may be, that Middleton has learned Eldredge's previous
character through some Italian patriot who had taken refuge in America,
and there become intimate with him; and it should be a piece of secret
history, not known to the world in general, so that Middleton might seem
to Eldredge the sole depositary of the secret then in England.  He feels
a necessity of getting rid of him; and thenceforth Middleton's path lies
always among pitfalls; indeed, the first attempt should follow promptly
and immediately on his rupture with Eldredge.  The utmost pains must be
taken with this incident to give it an air of reality; or else it must be
quite removed out of the sphere of reality by an intensified atmosphere
of romance.  I think the old Hospitaller must interfere to prevent the
success of this attempt, perhaps through the means of Alice.

The result of Eldredge's criminal and treacherous designs is, somehow or
other, that he comes to his death; and Middleton and Alice are left to
administer on the remains of the story; perhaps, the Mayor being his
friend, he may be brought into play here.  The foreign ecclesiastic shall
likewise come forward, and he shall prove to be a man of subtile policy
perhaps, yet a man of religion and honor; with a Jesuit's principles, but
a Jesuit's devotion and self-sacrifice.  The old Hospitaller must die in
his bed, or some other how; or perhaps not--we shall see.  He may just as
well be left in the Hospital.  Eldredge's attempt on Middleton must be in
some way peculiar to Italy, and which he shall have learned there; and,
by the way, at his dinner-table there shall be a Venice glass, one of the
kind that were supposed to be shattered when poison was put into them.
When Eldredge produces his rare wine, he shall pour it into this, with a
jesting allusion to the legend.  Perhaps the mode of Eldredge's attempt
on Middleton's life shall be a reproduction of the attempt made two
hundred years before; and Middleton's knowledge of that incident shall be
the means of his salvation.  That would be a good idea; in fact, I think
it must be done so and no otherwise.  It is not to be forgotten that
there is a taint of insanity in Eldredge's blood, accounting for much
that is wild and absurd, at the same time that it must be subtile, in his
conduct; one of those perplexing mad people, whose lunacy you are
continually mistaking for wickedness or vice versa.  This shall be the
priest's explanation and apology for him, after his death.  I wish I
could get hold of the Newgate Calendar, the older volumes, or any other
book of murders--the Causes Celebres, for instance.  The legendary
murder, or attempt at it, will bring its own imaginative probability with
it, when repeated by Eldredge; and at the same time it will have a
dreamlike effect; so that Middleton shall hardly know whether he is awake
or not.  This incident is very essential towards bringing together the
past time and the present, and the two ends of the story.

May 18th, Tuesday.--All down through the ages since Edward had
disappeared from home, leaving that bloody footstep on the threshold,
there had been legends and strange stories of the murder and the manner
of it.  These legends differed very much among themselves.  According to
some, his brother had awaited him there, and stabbed him on the
threshold.  According to others, he had been murdered in his chamber, and
dragged out.  A third story told, that he was escaping with his lady
love, when they were overtaken on the threshold, and the young man slain.
It was impossible at this distance of time to ascertain which of these
legends was the true one, or whether either of them had any portion of
truth, further than that the young man had actually disappeared from that
night, and that it never was certainly known to the public that any
intelligence had ever afterwards been received from him.  Now, Middleton
may have communicated to Eldredge the truth in regard to the matter; as,
for instance, that he had stabbed him with a certain dagger that was
still kept among the curiosities of the manor-house.  Of course, that
will not do.  It must be some very ingenious and artificially natural
thing, an artistic affair in its way, that should strike the fancy of
such a man as Eldredge, and appear to him altogether fit, mutatis
mutandis, to be applied to his own requirements and purposes.  I do not
at present see in the least how this is to be wrought out.  There shall
be everything to make Eldredge look with the utmost horror and alarm at
any chance that he may be superseded and ousted from his possession of
the estate; for he shall only recently have established his claim to it,
tracing out his pedigree, when the family was supposed to be extinct.
And he is come to these comfortable quarters after a life of poverty,
uncertainty, difficulty, hanging loose on society; and therefore he shall
be willing to risk soul and body both, rather than return to his former
state.  Perhaps his daughter shall be introduced as a young Italian girl,
to whom Middleton shall decide to leave the estate.

On the failure of his design, Eldredge may commit suicide, and be found
dead in the wood; at any rate, some suitable end shall be contrived,
adapted to his wants.  This character must not be so represented as to
shut him out completely from the reader's sympathies; he shall have
taste, sentiment, even a capacity for affection, nor, I think, ought he
to have any hatred or bitter feeling against the man whom he resolves to
murder.  In the closing scenes, when he thinks the fate of Middleton
approaching, there might even be a certain tenderness towards him, a
desire to make the last drops of life delightful; if well done, this
would produce a certain sort of horror, that I do not remember to have
seen effected in literature.  Possibly the ancient emigrant might be
supposed to have fallen into an ancient mine, down a precipice, into some
pitfall; no, not so.  Into a river; into a moat.  As Middleton's
pretensions to birth are not publicly known, there will be no reason why,
at his sudden death, suspicion should fix on Eldredge as the murderer;
and it shall be his object so to contrive his death as that it shall
appear the result of accident.  Having failed in effecting Middleton's
death by this excellent way, he shall perhaps think that he cannot do
better them to make his own exit in precisely the same manner.  It might
be easy, and as delightful as any death could be; no ugliness in it, no
blood; for the Bloody Footstep of old times might be the result of the
failure of the old plot, not of its success.  Poison seems to be the only
elegant method; but poison is vulgar, and in many respects unfit for my
purpose.  It won't do.  Whatever it may be, it must not come upon the
reader as a sudden and new thing, but as one that might have been
foreseen from afar, though he shall not actually have foreseen it until
it is about to happen.  It must be prevented through the agency of Alice.
Alice may have been an artist in Rome, and there have known Eldredge and
his daughter, and thus she may have become their guest in England; or he
may be patronizing her now--at all events she shall be the friend of the
daughter, and shall have a just appreciation of the father's character.
It shall be partly due to her high counsel that Middleton foregoes his
claim to the estate, and prefers the life of an American, with its lofty
possibilities for himself and his race, to the position of an Englishman
of property and title; and she, for her part, shall choose the condition
and prospects of woman in America, to the emptiness of the life of a
woman of rank in England.  So they shall depart, lofty and poor, out of
the home which might be their own, if they would stoop to make it so.
Possibly the daughter of Eldredge may be a girl not yet in her teens, for
whom Alice has the affection of an elder sister.

It should be a very carefully and highly wrought scene, occurring just
before Eldredge's actual attempt on Middleton's life, in which all the
brilliancy of his character--which shall before have gleamed upon the
reader--shall come out, with pathos, with wit, with insight, with
knowledge of life.  Middleton shall be inspired by this, and shall vie
with him in exhilaration of spirits; but the ecclesiastic shall look on
with singular attention, and some appearance of alarm; and the suspicion
of Alice shall likewise be aroused.  The old Hospitaller may have gained
his situation partly by proving himself a man of the neighborhood, by
right of descent; so that he, too, shall have a hereditary claim to be in
the Romance.

Eldredge's own position as a foreigner in the midst of English home life,
insulated and dreary, shall represent to Middleton, in some degree, what
his own would be, were he to accept the estate.  But Middleton shall not
come to the decision to resign it, without having to repress a deep
yearning for that sense of long, long rest in an age-consecrated home,
which he had felt so deeply to be the happy lot of Englishmen.  But this
ought to be rejected, as not belonging to his country, nor to the age,
nor any longer possible.

May 19th, Wednesday.--The connection of the old Hospitaller with the
story is not at all clear.  He is an American by birth, but deriving his
English origin from the neighborhood of the Hospital, where he has
finally established himself.  Some one of his ancestors may have been
somehow connected with the ancient portion of the story.  He has been a
friend of Middleton's father, who reposed entire confidence in him,
trusting him with all his fortune, which the Hospitaller risked in his
enormous speculations, and lost it all.  His fame had been great in the
financial world.  There were circumstances that made it dangerous for his
whereabouts to be known, and so he had come hither and found refuge in
this institution, where Middleton finds him, but does not know who he is.
In the vacancy of a mind formerly so active, he has taken to the study of
local antiquities; and from his former intimacy with Middleton's father,
he has a knowledge of the American part of the story, which he connects
with the English portion, disclosed by his researches here; so that he is
quite aware that Middleton has claims to the estate, which might be urged
successfully against the present possessor.  He is kindly disposed
towards the son of his friend, whom he had so greatly injured; but he is
now very old, and ------.  Middleton has been directed to this old man,
by a friend in America, as one likely to afford him all possible
assistance in his researches; and so he seeks him out and forms an
acquaintance with him, which the old man encourages to a certain extent,
taking an evident interest in him, but does not disclose himself; nor
does Middleton suspect him to be an American.  The characteristic life of
the Hospital is brought out, and the individual character of this old
man, vegetating here after an active career, melancholy and miserable;
sometimes torpid with the slow approach of utmost age; sometimes feeble,
peevish, wavering; sometimes shining out with a wisdom resulting from
originally bright faculties, ripened by experience.  The character must
not be allowed to get vague, but, with gleams of romance, must yet be
kept homely and natural by little touches of his daily life.

As for Alice, I see no necessity for her being anywise related to or
connected with the old Hospitaller.  As originally conceived, I think she
may be an artist--a sculptress--whom Eldredge had known in Rome.  No; she
might be a granddaughter of the old Hospitaller, born and bred in
America, but who had resided two or three years in Rome in the study of
her art, and have there acquired a knowledge of the Eldredges and have
become fond of the little Italian girl his daughter.  She has lodgings in
the village, and of course is often at the Hospital, and often at the
Hall; she makes busts and little statues, and is free, wild, tender,
proud, domestic, strange, natural, artistic; and has at bottom the
characteristics of the American woman, with the principles of the
strong-minded sect; and Middleton shall be continually puzzled at meeting
such a phenomenon in England.  By and by, the internal influence
[evidence?] of her sentiments (though there shall be nothing to confirm
it in her manner) shall lead him to charge her with being an American.

Now, as to the arrangement of the Romance;--it begins as an integral and
essential part, with my introduction, giving a pleasant and familiar
summary of my life in the Consulate at Liverpool; the strange species of
Americans, with strange purposes, in England, whom I used to meet there;
and, especially, how my countrymen used to be put out of their senses by
the idea of inheritances of English property.  Then I shall particularly
instance one gentleman who called on me on first coming over; a
description of him must be given, with touches that shall puzzle the
reader to decide whether it is not an actual portrait.  And then this
Romance shall be offered, half seriously, as the account of the fortunes
that he met with in his search for his hereditary home.  Enough of his
ancestral story may be given to explain what is to follow in the Romance;
or perhaps this may be left to the scenes of his intercourse with the old
Hospitaller.

The Romance proper opens with Middleton's arrival at what he has reason
to think is the neighborhood of his ancestral home, and here he makes
application to the old Hospitaller.  Middleton shall be described as
approaching the Hospital, which shall be pretty literally copied after
Leicester's, although the surrounding village must be on a much smaller
scale of course.  Much elaborateness may be given to this portion of the
book.  Middleton shall have assumed a plain dress, and shall seek to make
no acquaintances except that of the old Hospitaller; the acquaintance of
Alice naturally following.  The old Hospitaller and he go together to the
old Hall, where, as they pass through the rooms, they find that the
proprietor is flitting like a ghost before them from chamber to chamber;
they catch his reflection in a glass, etc., etc.  When these have been
wrought up sufficiently, shall come the scene in the wood, where Eldredge
is seen yielding to the superstition that he has inherited, respecting
the old secret of the family, on the discovery of which depends the
enforcement of his claim to a title.  All this while, Middleton has
appeared in the character of a man of no note; and now, through some
political change, not necessarily told, he receives a packet addressed to
him as an ambassador, and containing a notice of his appointment to that
dignity.  A paragraph in the "Times" confirms the fact, and makes it
known in the neighborhood.  Middleton immediately becomes an object of
attention; the gentry call upon him; the Mayor of the neighboring
county-town invites him to dinner, which shall be described with all its
antique formalities.  Here he meets Eldredge, who is surprised,
remembering the encounter in the wood; but passes it all off, like a man
of the world, makes his acquaintance, and invites him to the Hall.
Perhaps he may make a visit of some time here, and become intimate, to a
certain degree, with all parties; and here things shall ripen themselves
for Eldredge's attempt upon his life.


THE END





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