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Title: Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, Vol. 64 No. 396 October 1848
Author: Various
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, Vol. 64 No. 396 October 1848" ***

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On P. 462 and 512 of the text version, words within tilde (~) marks are
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       *       *       *       *       *


    NO. CCCXCVI.       OCTOBER, 1848.       VOL. LXIV.


    THE CAXTONS. PART VII.,                                 387

    POLITICAL ECONOMY, BY J. S. MILL,                       407

    LIFE IN THE "FAR WEST." PART V.,                        429

    A LEGEND FROM ANTWERP,                                  444

    IN A LETTER TO EUSEBIUS,                                459

    DISTRESS,                                               475

    BYRON'S ADDRESS TO THE OCEAN,                           499



_To whom all Communications (post paid) must be addressed._




    NO. CCCXCVI.       OCTOBER, 1848.       VOL. LXIV.



Saith Dr Luther, "When I saw Dr Gode begin to tell his puddings
hanging in the chimney, I told him he would not live long!"

I wish I had copied that passage from "The Table Talk" in large round
hand, and set it before my father at breakfast, the morn preceding
that fatal eve in which Uncle Jack persuaded him to tell his puddings.

Yet, now I think of it, Uncle Jack hung the puddings in the
chimney,--but he did not persuade my father to tell them.

Beyond a vague surmise that half the suspended "tomacula" would
furnish a breakfast to Uncle Jack, and that the youthful appetite of
Pisistratus would despatch the rest, my father did not give a thought
to the nutritious properties of the puddings,--in other words, to the
two thousand pounds which, thanks to Mr Tibbets, dangled down the
chimney. So far as the great work was concerned, my father only cared
for its publication, not its profits. I will not say that he might not
hunger for praise, but I am quite sure that he did not care a button
for pudding. Nevertheless, it was an infaust and sinister augury for
Augustine Caxton, the very appearance, the very suspension and
danglement of any puddings whatsoever, right over his ingle-nook, when
those puddings were made by the sleek hands of Uncle Jack! None of the
puddings which he, poor man, had all his life been stringing, whether
from his own chimneys, or the chimneys of other people, had turned out
to be real puddings,--they had always been the _eidola_, the
_erscheinungen_, the phantoms and semblances of puddings. I question
if Uncle Jack knew much about Democritus of Abdera. But he was
certainly tainted with the philosophy of that fanciful sage. He
peopled the air with images of colossal stature, which impressed all
his dreams and divinations, and from whose influences came his very
sensations and thoughts. His whole being, asleep or waking, was thus
but the reflection of great phantom puddings!

As soon as Mr Tibbets had possessed himself of the two volumes of the
"History of Human Error," he had necessarily established that hold
upon my father which hitherto those lubricate hands of his had failed
to effect. He had found what he had so long sighed for in vain, his
_point d'appui_, wherein to fix the Archimedean screw. He fixed it
tight in the "History of Human Error," and moved the Caxtonian world.

A day or two after the conversation recorded in my last chapter, I saw
Uncle Jack coming out of the mahogany doors of my father's banker;
and, from that time, there seemed no reason why Mr Tibbets should not
visit his relations on week-days as well as Sundays. Not a day,
indeed, passed but what he held long conversations with my father. He
had much to report of his interviews with the publishers. In these
conversations he naturally recurred to that grand idea of the
"Literary Times" which had so dazzled my poor father's imagination;
and having heated the iron, Uncle Jack was too knowing a man not to
strike while it was hot.

When I think of the simplicity my wise father exhibited in this crisis
of his life, I must own that I am less moved by pity than admiration
for that poor great-hearted student. We have seen that out of the
learned indolence of twenty years, the ambition which is the instinct
of a man of genius had emerged; the serious preparation of the great
book for the perusal of the world, had insensibly restored the charms
of that noisy world on the silent individual. And therewith came a
noble remorse that he had hitherto done so little for his species. Was
it enough to write quartos upon the past history of Human Error? Was
it not his duty, when the occasion was fairly presented, to enter upon
that present, daily, hourly, war with Error--which is the sworn
chivalry of Knowledge? St George did not dissect dead dragons, he
fought the live one. And London, with that magnetic atmosphere which
in great capitals fills the breath of life with stimulating particles,
had its share in quickening the slow pulse of the student. In the
country, he read but his old authors, and lived with them through the
gone ages. In the city, my father, during the intervals of repose from
the great book, and still more now that the great book had come to a
pause,--inspected the literature of his own time. It had a prodigious
effect upon him. He was unlike the ordinary run of scholars, and,
indeed, of readers for that matter--who, in their superstitious homage
to the dead, are always willing enough to sacrifice the living. He did
justice to the marvellous fertility of intellect which characterises
the authorship of the present age. By the present age, I do not only
mean the present day, I commence with the century. "What," said my
father one day in dispute with Trevanion--"what characterises the
literature of our time is--its _human interest_. It is true that we do
not see scholars addressing scholars, but men addressing men,--not
that scholars are fewer, but that the reading public is more large.
Authors in all ages address themselves to what interests their
readers; the same things do not interest a vast community which
interested half a score of monks or bookworms. The literary _polis_
was once an oligarchy, it is now a republic. It is the general
brilliancy of the atmosphere which prevents your noticing the size of
any particular star. Do you not see, that with the cultivation of the
masses has awakened the Literature of the Affections? Every sentiment
finds an expositor, every feeling an oracle. Like Epimenides, I have
been sleeping in a cave; and, waking, I see those whom I left children
are bearded men; and towns have sprung up in the landscapes which I
left as solitary wastes."

Thence, the reader may perceive the causes of the change which had
come over my father. As Robert Hall says, I think, of Dr Kippis, "he
had laid so many books at the top of his head, that the brains could
not move." But the electricity had now penetrated the heart, and the
quickened vigour of that noble organ enabled the brain to stir.
Meanwhile, I leave my father to these influences, and to the
continuous conversations of Uncle Jack, and proceed with the thread of
my own egotism.

Thanks to Mr Trevanion, my habits were not those which favour
friendships with the idle; but I formed some acquaintances amongst
young men a few years older than myself, who held subordinate
situations in the public offices, or were keeping their terms for the
bar. There was no want of ability amongst these gentlemen; but they
had not yet settled into the stern prose of life. Their busy hours
only made them more disposed to enjoy the hours of relaxation. And
when we got together, a very gay, light-hearted set we were! We had
neither money enough to be very extravagant, nor leisure enough to be
very dissipated; but we amused ourselves notwithstanding. My new
friends were wonderfully erudite in all matters connected with the
theatres. From an opera to a ballet, from Hamlet to the last farce
from the French, they had the literature of the stage at the
finger-ends of their straw-coloured gloves. They had a pretty large
acquaintance with actors and actresses, and were perfect _Walpoluli_
in the minor scandals of the day. To do them justice, however, they
were not indifferent to the more masculine knowledge necessary in
"this wrong world." They talked as familiarly of the real actors of
life as of the sham ones. They could adjust to a hair the rival
pretensions of contending statesmen. They did not profess to be deep
in the mysteries of foreign cabinets, (with the exception of one young
gentleman connected with the Foreign Office, who prided himself on
knowing exactly what the Russians meant to do with India--when they
got it!); but to make amends, the majority of them had penetrated the
closest secrets of our own. It is true that, according to a proper
subdivision of labour, each took some particular member of the
government for his special observation; just as the most skilful
surgeons, however profoundly versed in the general structure of our
frame, rest their anatomical fame on the light they throw on
particular parts of it,--one man taking the brain, another the
duodenum, a third the spinal cord, while a fourth, perhaps, is a
master of all the symptoms indicated by a pensile finger. Accordingly,
one of my friends appropriated to himself the Home Department; another
the Colonies; and a third, whom we all regarded as a future
Talleyrand, (or a de Retz at least,) had devoted himself to the
special study of Sir Robert Peel, and knew, by the way in which that
profound and inscrutable statesman threw open his coat, every thought
that was passing in his breast! Whether lawyers or officials, they all
had a great idea of themselves--high notions of what they were to
_be_, rather than what they were to _do_, some day. As the king of
modern fine gentlemen said of himself, in paraphrase of Voltaire,
"they had letters in their pockets addressed to Posterity,--which the
chances were, however, that they might forget to deliver." Something
"priggish" there might be about some of them; but, on the whole, they
were far more interesting than mere idle men of pleasure. There was
about them, as features of a general family likeness, a redundant
activity of life--a gay exuberance of ambition--a light-hearted
earnestness when at work--a schoolboy's enjoyment of the hours of

A great contrast to these young men was Sir Sedley Beaudesert, who was
pointedly kind to me, and whose bachelor's house was always open to me
after noon; Sir Sedley was visible to no one, but his valet, before
that hour. A perfect bachelor's house it was, too--with its windows
opening on the Park, and sofas niched into the windows, on which you
might loll at your ease, like the philosopher in Lucretius,--

    "Despicere unde queas alios, passimque videre,

And see the gay crowds ride to and fro Rotten Row--without the fatigue
of joining them, especially if the wind was in the east.

There was no affectation of costliness, or what the French and the
upholsterers call _recherché_, about the rooms, but a wonderful
accumulation of comfort. Every patent chair that proffered a variety
in the art of lounging, found its place there; and near every chair a
little table, on which you might deposit your book or your coffee-cup,
without the trouble of moving more than your hand. In winter, nothing
warmer than the quilted curtains and Axminster carpets can be
conceived. In summer, nothing airier and cooler than the muslin
draperies and the Indian mattings. And I defy a man to know to what
perfection dinner may be brought, unless he had dined with Sir Sedley
Beaudesert. Certainly, if that distinguished personage had but been an
egotist, he had been the happiest of men. But, unfortunately for him,
he was singularly amiable and kind-hearted. He had the _bonne
digestion_, but not the other requisite for worldly felicity--the
_mauvais coeur_. He felt a sincere pity for every one else who lived
in rooms without patent chairs and little coffee tables--whose windows
did not look on the Park, with sofas niched into their recesses. As
Henry IV. wished every man to have his _pot au feu_, so Sir Sedley
Beaudesert, if he could have had his way, would have every man served
with an early cucumber for his fish, and a caraffe of iced water by
the side of his bread and cheese. He thus evinced on politics a naïve
simplicity, which delightfully contrasted his acuteness on matters of
taste. I remember his saying, in a discussion on the Beer Bill, "The
poor ought not to be allowed to drink beer, it is so particularly
rheumatic! The best drink in hard work is dry champagne--(not
_mousseux_.) I found that out when I used to shoot on the moors."

Indolent as Sir Sedley was, he had contrived to open an extraordinary
number of drains on his great wealth.

First, as a landed proprietor, there was no end to applications from
distressed farmers, aged poor, benefit societies, and poachers he had
thrown out of employment by giving up his preserves to please his

Next, as a man of pleasure, the whole race of womankind had legitimate
demands on him. From a distressed duchess, whose picture lay _perdu_
under a secret spring of his snuff-box, to a decayed laundress, to
whom he might have paid a compliment on the perfect involutions of a
frill, it was quite sufficient to be a daughter of Eve to establish a
just claim on Sir Sedley's inheritance from Adam.

Again, as an amateur of art, and a respectful servant of every muse,
all whom the public had failed to patronise--painter, actor, poet,
musician--turned, like dying sun-flowers to the sun, towards the
pitying smile of Sir Sedley Beaudesert. Add to these the general
miscellaneous multitude, who 'had heard of Sir Sedley's high character
for benevolence,' and one may well suppose what a very costly
reputation he had set up. In fact, though Sir Sedley could not spend
on what might fairly be called "himself," a fifth part of his princely
income, I have no doubt that he found it difficult to make both ends
meet at the close of the year. That he did so, he owed perhaps to two
rules which his philosophy had peremptorily adopted. He never made
debts, and he never gambled. For both these admirable aberrations from
the ordinary routine of fine gentlemen, I believe he was indebted to
the softness of his disposition. He had a great compassion for a
wretch who was dunned. "Poor fellow!" he would say, "it must be so
painful to him to pass his life in saying No." So little did he know
about that class of promisers,--as if a man dunned ever said No! As
Beau Brummell, when asked if he was fond of vegetables, owned that he
had once eaten a pea, so Sir Sedley Beaudesert owned that he had once
played high at piquet. "I was so unlucky as to win," said he,
referring to that indiscretion, "and I shall never forget the anguish
on the face of the man who paid me. Unless I could always lose, it
would be a perfect purgatory to play."

Now nothing could be more different in their kinds of benevolence than
Sir Sedley and Mr Trevanion. Mr Trevanion had a great contempt for
individual charity. He rarely put his hand into his purse--he drew a
great cheque on his bankers. Was a congregation without a church, or a
village without a school, or a river without a bridge, Mr Trevanion
set to work on calculations, found out the exact sum required by an
algebraic _x-y_, and paid it as he would have paid his butcher. It
must be owned that the distress of a man, whom he allowed to be
deserving, did not appeal to him in vain. But it is astonishing how
little he spent in that way. For it was hard, indeed, to convince Mr
Trevanion that a deserving man ever was in such distress as to want

That Trevanion, nevertheless, did infinitely more real good than Sir
Sedley, I believe; but he did it as a mental operation--by no means as
an impulse from the heart. I am sorry to say that the main difference
was this,--distress always seemed to accumulate round Sir Sedley, and
vanish from the presence of Trevanion. Where the last came, with his
busy, active, searching mind, energy woke, improvement sprang up.
Where the first came, with his warm kind heart, a kind of torpor
spread under its rays; people lay down and basked in the liberal
sunshine. Nature in one broke forth like a brisk sturdy winter, in the
other like a lazy Italian summer. Winter is an excellent invigorator,
no doubt, but we all love summer better.

Now, it is a proof how loveable Sir Sedley was, that I loved him, and
yet was jealous of him. Of all the satellites round my fair Cynthia,
Fanny Trevanion, I dreaded most this amiable luminary. It was in vain
for me to say with the insolence of youth that Sir Sedley Beaudesert
was of the same age as Fanny's father;--to see them together he might
have passed for Trevanion's son. No one amongst the younger generation
was half so handsome as Sir Sedley Beaudesert. He might be eclipsed at
first sight by the showy effect of more redundant locks and more
brilliant bloom. But he had but to speak, to smile, in order to throw
a whole cohort of dandies into the shade. It was the expression of his
countenance that was so bewitching; there was something so kindly in
its easy candour, its benign good-nature. And he understood women so
well! He flattered their foibles so insensibly; he commanded their
affection with so gracious a dignity. Above all, what with his
accomplishments, his peculiar reputation, his long celibacy, and the
soft melancholy of his sentiments, he always contrived to _interest_
them. There was not a charming woman by whom this charming man did not
seem just on the point of being caught! It was like the sight of a
splendid trout in a transparent stream, sailing pensively to and fro
your fly, in a will and a won't sort of way. Such a trout! it would be
a thousand pities to leave him, when evidently so well disposed! That
trout, fair maid, or gentle widow, would have kept you--whipping the
stream and dragging the fly--from morn to dewy eve. Certainly I don't
wish worse to my bitterest foe of five-and-twenty than such a rival as
Sedley Beaudesert at seven-and-forty.

Fanny, indeed, perplexed me horribly. Sometimes I fancied she liked me;
but the fancy scarce thrilled me with delight before it vanished in the
frost of a careless look, or the cold beam of a sarcastic laugh.
Spoiled darling of the world as she was, she seemed so innocent in her
exuberant happiness, that one forgot all her faults in that atmosphere
of joy which she diffused around her. And despite her pretty insolence,
she had so kind a woman's heart below the surface! When she once saw
that she had pained you, she was so soft, so winning, so humble, till
she had healed the wound. But _then_, if she saw she had pleased you
too much, the little witch was never easy till she had plagued you
again. As heiress to so rich a father, or rather, perhaps, mother, (for
the fortune came from Lady Ellinor,) she was naturally surrounded with
admirers not wholly disinterested. She did right to plague _them_--but
ME! Poor boy that I was, why should I seem more disinterested than
others! how should she perceive all that lay hid in my young deep
heart? Was I not in all worldly pretensions the least worthy of her
suitors, and might I not seem, therefore, the most mercenary? I who
never thought of her fortune, or, if that thought did come across me,
it was to make me start and turn pale! And then it vanished at her
first glance, as a ghost from the dawn. How hard it is to convince
youth, that sees all the world of the future before it, and covers that
future with golden palaces, of the inequalities of life! In my
fantastic and sublime romance, I looked out into that Great Beyond, saw
myself orator, statesman, minister, ambassador--Heaven knows what;
laying laurels, which I mistook for rent-rolls, at Fanny's feet.

Whatever Fanny might have discovered as to the state of my heart, it
seemed an abyss not worth prying into by either Trevanion or Lady
Ellinor. The first, indeed, as may be supposed, was too busy to think
of such trifles. And Lady Ellinor treated me as a mere boy--almost
like a boy of her own, she was so kind to me. But she did not notice
much the things that lay immediately around her. In brilliant
conversation with poets, wits, and statesmen--in sympathy with the
toils of her husband--or proud schemes for his aggrandisement, Lady
Ellinor lived a life of excitement. Those large eager shining eyes of
hers, bright with some feverish discontent, looked far abroad as if
for new worlds to conquer--the world at her feet escaped from her
vision. She loved her daughter, she was proud of her, trusted in her
with a superb repose--she did not watch over her. Lady Ellinor stood
alone on a mountain, and amidst a cloud.


One day the Trevanions had all gone into the country, on a visit to a
retired minister, distantly related to Lady Ellinor, and who was one
of the few persons Trevanion himself condescended to consult. I had
almost a holiday. I went to call on Sir Sedley Beaudesert. I had
always longed to sound him on one subject, and had never dared. This
time I resolved to pluck up courage.

"Ah, my young friend!" said he, rising from the contemplation of a
villanous picture by a young artist, which he had just benevolently
purchased, "I was thinking of you this morning--Wait a moment,
Summers, (this to the valet.) Be so good as to take this picture, let
it be packed up, and go down into the country. It is a sort of
picture," he added, turning to me, "that requires a large house. I
have an old gallery with little casements that let in no light. It is
astonishing how convenient I have found it!" As soon as the picture
was gone, Sir Sedley drew a long breath as if relieved; and resumed
more gaily--

"Yes, I was thinking of you; and if you will forgive any interference
in your affairs--from your father's old friend--I should be greatly
honoured by your permission to ask Trevanion what he supposes is to be
the ultimate benefit of the horrible labours he inflicts upon you--"

"But, my dear Sir Sedley, I like the labours; I am perfectly

"Not to remain always secretary to one who, if there were no business
to be done among men, would set about teaching the ants to build hills
upon better architectural principles! My dear sir, Trevanion is an
awful man, a stupendous man, one _catches fatigue_ if one is in the
same room with him three minutes! At your age, an age that ought to be
so happy," continued Sir Sedley, with a compassion perfectly angelic,
"it is sad to see so little enjoyment!"

"But, Sir Sedley, I assure you that you are mistaken. I thoroughly
enjoy myself; and have I not heard even you confess that one may be
idle and not happy?"

"I did not confess that till I was on the wrong side of forty," said
Sir Sedley, with a slight shade on his brow.

"Nobody would ever think you were on the wrong side of forty!" said I
with artful flattery, winding into my subject. "Miss Trevanion for

I paused--Sir Sedley, looked hard at me, from his bright dark-blue
eyes. "Well, Miss Trevanion for instance?--"

"Miss Trevanion, who has all the best-looking fellows in London round
her, evidently prefers you to any of them." I said this with a great
gulp. I was obstinately bent on plumbing the depth of my own fears.

Sir Sedley rose; he laid his hand kindly on mine and said, "Do not let
Fanny Trevanion torment you even more than her father does!--"

"I don't understand you, Sir Sedley!"

"But if I understand you, that is more to the purpose. A girl like
Miss Trevanion is cruel till she discovers she has a heart. It is not
safe to risk one's own with any woman till she has ceased to be a
coquette. My dear young friend, if you took life less in earnest, I
should spare you the pain of these hints. Some men sow flowers, some
plant trees--you are planting a tree under which you will soon find
that no flower will grow. Well and good, if the tree could last to
bear fruit and give shade; but beware lest you have to tear it up one
day or other, for then--what then? why, you will find your whole life
plucked away with its roots!"

Sir Sedley said these last words with so serious an emphasis, that I
was startled from the confusion I had felt at the former part of his
address. He paused long, tapped his snuff-box, inhaled a pinch slowly,
and continued with his more accustomed sprightliness.

"Go as much as you can into the world--again I say 'enjoy yourself.'
And again I ask, what is all this labour to do for you? On some men,
far less eminent than Trevanion, it would impose a duty to aid you in
a practical career, to secure you a public employment--not so on him.
He would not mortgage an inch of his independence by asking a favour
from a minister. He so thinks occupation the delight of life, that he
occupies you out of pure affection. He does not trouble his head about
your future. He supposes your father will provide for _that_, and does
not consider that meanwhile your work leads to nothing! Think over all
this. I have now bored you enough."

I was bewildered--I was dumb: these practical men of the world, how
they take us by surprise! Here had I come to _sound_ Sir Sedley, and
here was I plumbed, gauged, measured, turned inside out, without
having got an inch beyond the surface of that smiling, _debonnair_,
unruffled ease. Yet with his invariable delicacy, in spite of all this
horrible frankness, Sir Sedley had not said a word to wound what he
might think the more sensitive part of my _amour propre_--not a word
as to the inadequacy of my pretensions to think seriously of Fanny
Trevanion. Had we been the Celadon and Chloé of a country village, he
could not have regarded us as more equal, so far as the world went.
And for the rest, he rather insinuated that poor Fanny, the great
heiress, was not worthy of me, than that I was not worthy of Fanny.

I felt that there was no wisdom in stammering and blushing out denials
and equivocations; so I stretched my hand to Sir Sedley, took up my
hat,--and went. Instinctively I bent my way to my father's house. I
had not been there for many days. Not only had I had a great deal to
do in the way of business, but I am ashamed to say that pleasure
itself had so entangled my leisure hours, and Miss Trevanion
especially so absorbed them, that, without even uneasy foreboding, I
had left my father fluttering his wings more feebly and feebly in the
web of Uncle Jack. When I arrived in Russell Street, I found the fly
and the spider cheek by jowl together. Uncle Jack sprang up at my
entrance, and cried, "Congratulate your father, congratulate _him_.
No; congratulate the world!"

"What, Uncle!" said I, with a dismal effort at sympathising
liveliness, "is the 'Literary Times' launched at last?"

"Oh, that is all settled--settled long since. Here's a specimen of the
type we have chosen for the leaders." And Uncle Jack, whose pocket was
never without a wet sheet of some kind or other, drew forth a steaming
papyral monster, which in point of size was to the political "Times"
as a mammoth may be to an elephant. "That is all settled. We are only
preparing our contributors, and shall put out our programme next week
or the week after. No, Pisistratus, I mean the Great Work."

"My dear father, I am so glad. What! it is really sold then?"

"Hum!" said my father.

"Sold!" burst forth Uncle Jack. "Sold--no, sir, we would not sell it!
No; if all the booksellers fell down on their knees to us, as they
will some day, that book should not be sold! Sir, that book is a
revolution--it is an era--it is the emancipator of genius from
mercenary thraldom;--THAT BOOK!--"

I looked inquiringly from uncle to father, and mentally retracted my
congratulations. Then Mr Caxton, slightly blushing, and shyly rubbing
his spectacles, said, "You see, Pisistratus, that though poor Jack has
devoted uncommon pains to induce the publishers to recognise the merit
he has discovered in the 'History of Human Error,' he has failed to do

"Not a bit of it; they all acknowledge its miraculous learning--its--"

"Very true; but they don't think it will sell, and therefore most
selfishly refuse to buy it. One bookseller, indeed, offered to treat
for it if I would leave out all about the Hottentots and Caffres, the
Greek philosophers and Egyptian priests, and, confining myself solely
to polite society, entitle the work 'Anecdotes of the Courts of
Europe, ancient and modern.'"

"The wretch!" groaned Uncle Jack.

"Another thought it might be cut up into little essays, leaving out
the quotations, entitled 'Men and Manners.'"

"A third was kind enough to observe, that though this particular work
was quite unsaleable, yet as I appeared to have some historical
information, he should be happy to undertake a historical romance from
'my graphic pen'--that was the phrase, was it not, Jack?"

Jack was too full to speak. --"Provided I would introduce a proper
love-plot, and make it into three volumes post octavo, twenty-three
lines in a page, neither more nor less. One honest fellow at last was
found, who seemed to me a very respectable and indeed enterprising
person. And after going through a list of calculations, which showed
that no possible profit could arise, he generously offered to give me
half of those no-profits, provided I would guarantee half the very
visible expenses. I was just meditating the prudence of accepting this
proposal, when your uncle was seized with a sublime idea, which has
whisked up my book in a whirlwind of expectation."

"And that idea?" said I despondently.

"That idea," quoth Uncle Jack, recovering himself, "is simply and
shortly this. From time immemorial authors have been the prey of the
publishers. Sir, authors have lived in garrets, nay, have been choked
in the street by an unexpected crumb of bread, like the man who wrote
the play, poor fellow!"

"Otway," said my father. "The story is not true--no matter."

"Milton, sir, as every body knows, sold Paradise Lost for ten
pounds--ten pounds, sir! In short, instances of a like nature are too
numerous to quote. But the booksellers, sir,--they are leviathans--they
roll in seas of gold. They subsist upon authors as vampires upon little
children. But at last endurance has reached its limit--the fiat has
gone forth--the tocsin of liberty has resounded--authors have burst
their fetters. And we have just inaugurated the institution of 'THE
Pisistratus--by which, mark you, every author is to be his own
publisher; that is, every author who joins the Society. No more
submission of immortal works to mercenary calculators, to sordid
tastes--no more hard bargains and broken hearts!--no more crumbs of
bread choking great tragic poets in the streets--no more Paradises Lost
sold at £10 a-piece! The author brings his book to a select committee
appointed for the purpose; men of delicacy, education, and
refinement--authors themselves--they read it, the Society publish; and
after a modest commission towards the funds of the Society, the
treasurer hands over the profits to the author."

"So that in fact, Uncle, every author who can't find a publisher any
where else, will of course come to the Society. The fraternity will be

"It will indeed."

"And the speculation--ruinous?"

"Ruinous, why?"

"Because in all mercantile negotiations it is ruinous to invest
capital in supplies which fail of demand. You undertake to publish
books that booksellers will not publish. Why? because booksellers
can't sell them! It is just probable that you'll not sell them any
better than the booksellers. Ergo, the more your business the larger
your deficit. And the more numerous your society, the more disastrous
your condition. Q.E.D."

"Pooh! The select committee will decide what books are to be

"Then where the deuce is the advantage to the authors? I would as lief
submit my work to a publisher as I would to a select committee of
authors. At all events, the publisher is not my rival; and I suspect
he is the best judge, after all, of a book--as an accoucheur ought to
be of a baby."

"Upon my word, nephew, you pay a bad compliment to your father's great
work, which the booksellers will have nothing to do with."

That was artfully said, and I was posed; when Mr Caxton observed, with
an apologetic smile--

"The fact is, my dear Pisistratus, that I want my book published
without diminishing the little fortune I keep for you some day. Uncle
Jack starts a society so to publish it.--Health and long life to Uncle
Jack's society! One can't look a gift-horse in the mouth."

Here my mother entered, rosy from a shopping expedition with Mrs
Primmins; and in her joy at hearing that I could stay dinner, all
else was forgotten. By a wonder, which I did not regret, Uncle Jack
really was engaged to dine out. He had other irons in the fire besides
the "Literary Times" and the "Confederate Authors' Society;" he was
deep in a scheme for making house-tops of felt, (which, under other
hands, has, I believe, since succeeded;) and he had found a rich man
(I suppose a hatter) who seemed well inclined to the project, and had
actually asked him to dine and expound his views!


Here we three are seated round the open window--after dinner--familiar
as in the old happy time--and my mother is talking low that she may
not disturb my father, who seems in thought.----

Cr-cr-crrr-cr-cr! I feel it--I have it.--Where! What! Where!
Knock it down--brush it off! For Heaven's sake, see to
it!--Crrrr-crrrrr--there--here--in my hair--in my sleeve--in my

I say solemnly, and on the word of a Christian, that, as I sate down
to begin this chapter, being somewhat in a brown study, the pen
insensibly slipt from my hand, and, leaning back in my chair, I fell
to gazing into the fire. It is the end of June, and a remarkably cold
evening--even for that time of year. And while I was so gazing, I felt
something crawling, just by the nape of the neck, ma'am. Instinctively
and mechanically, and still musing, I put my hand there, and drew
forth--What? That _what_ it is which perplexes me. It was a thing--a
dark thing--a much bigger thing than I had expected. And the sight
took me so by surprise that I gave my hand a violent shake, and the
thing went--where I know not. The what and the where are the knotty
points in the whole question! No sooner had it gone than I was seized
with repentance not to have examined it more closely--not to have
ascertained what the creature was. It might have been an earwig--a
very large motherly earwig--an earwig far gone in that way in which
earwigs wish to be who love their lords. I have a profound horror of
earwigs--I firmly believe that they do get into the ear. That is a
subject on which it is useless to argue with me upon philosophical
grounds. I have a vivid recollection of a story told me by Mrs
Primmins--How a lady for many years suffered under the most
excruciating headaches; how, as the tombstones say, "physicians were
in vain;" how she died; how her head was opened, and how such a nest
of earwigs--ma'am--such a nest!--Earwigs are the prolifickest things,
and so fond of their offspring! They sit on their eggs like hens--and
the young, as soon as they are born, creep under them for
protection--quite touchingly! Imagine such an establishment
domesticated at one's tympanum!

But the creature was certainly larger than an earwig. It might have
been one of that genus in the family of _Forficulidæ_, called
_Labidoura_--monsters whose antennæ have thirty joints! There is a
species of this creature in England, but, to the great grief of
naturalists, and to the great honour of Providence, very rarely
found, infinitely larger than the common earwig or _Forficulida
auriculana_. Could it have been an early hornet? It had certainly a
black head, and great feelers. I have a greater horror of hornets,
if possible, than I have of earwigs. Two hornets will kill a man,
and three a carriage-horse sixteen hands high. However, the
creature was gone.--Yes, but where? Where had I so rashly thrown
it? It might have got into a fold of my dressing-gown--or into my
slippers--or, in short, any where, in the various recesses for
earwigs and hornets which a gentleman's habiliments afford. I
satisfy myself at last, as far as I can, seeing that I am not alone
in the room--that it is not upon me. I look upon the carpet--the
rug--the chair--under the fender. It is _non inventus_. I
barbarously hope it is frizzing behind that great black coal in the
grate. I pluck up courage--I prudently remove, to the other end of
the room. I take up my pen--I begin my chapter--very nicely, too, I
think upon the whole. I am just getting into my subject,
Exactly, my dear ma'am, in the same place it was before! Oh, by the
Powers! I forgot all my scientific regrets at not having
scrutinised its genus before, whether _Forficulida_ or _Labidoura_.
I made a desperate lunge with both hands, something between thrust
and cut, ma'am. The beast is gone. Yes, but again where? I say that
that where is a very horrible question. Having come twice, in spite
of all my precautions--and exactly on the same spot, too--it shows
a confirmed disposition to habituate itself to its quarters--to
effect a parochial settlement upon me; there is something awful and
preternatural in it. I assure you that there is not a part of me
that has not gone cr-cr-cr!--that has not crept, crawled, and
forficulated ever since; and I just put it to you what sort of a
chapter I can make after such a----My good little girl, will you
just take the candle, and look carefully under the table?--that's a
dear! Yes, my love, very black indeed, with two horns, and inclined
to be corpulent. Gentlemen and ladies who have cultivated an
acquaintance with the Phoenician language, are aware that Belzebub,
examined etymologically and entomologically, is nothing more nor
less than Baal-zebub--"the Jupiter-Fly"--an emblem of the
Destroying Attribute, which attribute, indeed, is found in all the
insect tribes, more or less. Wherefore, as Mr Payne Knight, in his
_Inquiry into Symbolical Languages_, hath observed--the Egyptian
priests shaved their whole bodies, even to their eyebrows, lest
unaware they should harbour any of the minor Zebubs of the great
Baal. If I were the least bit more persuaded that that black cr-cr
were about me still, and that the sacrifice of my eyebrows would
deprive him of shelter, by the souls of the Ptolemies! I
would,--and I will, too. Ring the bell, my little dear!
John,--my--my cigar-box! There is not a cr in the world that can
abide the fumes of the Havannah! Pshaw, sir, I am not the only man
who lets his first thoughts upon cold steel end, like this chapter,


Every thing in this world is of use, even a black thing crawling over
the nape of one's neck! Grim unknown, I shall make of thee--a simile!

I think, ma'am, you will allow that if an incident such as I have
described had befallen yourself, and you had a proper and ladylike
horror of earwigs (however motherly and fond of their offspring,) and
also of early hornets, and indeed of all unknown things of the insect
tribe with black heads and two great horns, or feelers or forceps,
just by your ear--I think, ma'am, you will allow that you would find
it difficult to settle back to your former placidity of mood and
innocent stitch-work. You would feel a something that grated on your
nerves--and cr'd--cr'd "all over you like," as the children say. And
the worst is, that you would be ashamed to say it. You would feel
obliged to look pleased and join in the conversation, and not fidget
too much, nor always be shaking your flounces, and looking into a dark
corner of your apron. Thus it is with many other things in life
besides black insects. One has a secret care--an abstraction--a
something between the memory and the feeling, of a dark crawling cr,
which one has never dared to analyse. So I sate by my mother, trying
to smile and talk as in the old time,--but longing to move about and
look around, and escape to my own solitude, and take the clothes off
my mind, and see what it was that had so troubled and terrified
me--for trouble and terror were upon me. And my mother, who was always
(heaven bless her!) inquisitive enough in all that concerned her
darling Anachronism, was especially inquisitive that evening. She made
me say where I had been, and what I had done, and how I had spent my
time,--and Fanny Trevanion, (whom she had seen, by the way, three or
four times, and whom she thought the prettiest person in the
world)--oh, she must know exactly what I thought of Fanny Trevanion!

And all this while my father seemed in thought; and so, with my arm
over my mother's chair, and my hand in hers--I answered my mother's
questions, sometimes by a stammer, sometimes by a violent effort at
volubility, when, at some interrogatory that went tingling right to my
heart, I turned uneasily, and there were my father's eyes fixed on
mine. Fixed, as they had been--when, and none knew why, I pined and
languished, and my father said "he must go to school." Fixed, with
quiet watchful tenderness. Ah no!--his thought had not been on the
great work--he had been deep in the pages of that less worthy one for
which he had yet more an author's paternal care. I met those eyes, and
yearned to throw myself on his heart--and tell him all. Tell him what?
Ma'am, I no more knew what to tell him, than I know what that black
thing was which has so worried me all this blessed evening!

"Pisistratus," said my father softly, "I fear you have forgotten the
saffron bag."

"No, indeed, sir," said I smiling.

"He," resumed my father--"he who wears the saffron bag has more
cheerful, settled spirits than you seem to have, my poor boy."

"My dear Austin, his spirits are very good, I think," said my mother

My father shook his head--then he took two or three turns about the

"Shall I ring for candles, sir, it is getting dark: you will wish to

"No, Pisistratus, it is you who shall read, and this hour of twilight
best suits the book I am about to open to you."

So saying, he drew a chair between me and my mother, and seated
himself gravely, looking down a long time in silence--then turning his
eyes to each of us alternately.

"My dear wife," said he at length, almost solemnly, "I am going to
speak of myself as I was before I knew you."

Even in the twilight I saw that my mother's countenance changed.

"You have respected my secrets, Katherine, tenderly--honestly. Now the
time is come when I can tell them to you and to our son."



"I lost my mother early; my father, (a good man, but who was so
indolent that he rarely stirred from his chair, and who often passed
whole days without speaking, like an Indian dervish,) left Roland and
myself to educate ourselves much according to our own tastes. Roland
shot, and hunted, and fished,--read all the poetry and books of
chivalry to be found in my father's collection, which was rich in such
matters, and made a great many copies of the old pedigree;--the only
thing in which my father ever evinced much of the vital principle.
Early in life I conceived a passion for graver studies, and by good
luck I found a tutor in Mr Tibbets, who, but for his modesty, Kitty,
would have rivalled Porson. He was a second Budæus for industry, and,
by the way, he said exactly the same thing that Budæus did, viz. 'that
the only lost day in his life was that in which he was married; for on
that day he had only had six hours for reading!' Under such a master I
could not fail to be a scholar. I came from the university with such
distinction as led me to look sanguinely on my career in the world.

"I returned to my father's quiet rectory to pause and look about me,
and consider what path I should take to fame. The rectory was just at
the foot of the hill, on the brow of which were the ruins of the
castle Roland has since purchased. And though I did not feel for the
ruins the same romantic veneration as my dear brother, (for my
day-dreams were more coloured by classic than feudal recollections,) I
yet loved to climb the hill, book in hand, and build my castles in
the air amidst the wrecks of that which time had shattered on the

"One day, entering the old weed-grown court, I saw a lady, seated on
my favourite spot, sketching the ruins. The lady was young--more
beautiful than any woman I had yet seen, at least to my eyes. In a
word, I was fascinated, and, as the trite phrase goes, 'spell-bound.'
I seated myself at a little distance, and contemplated her without
desiring to speak. By-and-by, from another part of the ruins, which
were then uninhabited, came a tall, imposing, elderly gentleman, with
a benignant aspect; and a little dog. The dog ran up to me, barking.
This drew the attention of both lady and gentleman to me. The
gentleman approached, called off the dog, and apologised with much
politeness. Surveying me somewhat curiously, he then began to ask
questions about the old place and the family it had belonged to, with
the name and antecedents of which he was well acquainted. By degrees
it came out that I was the descendant of that family, and the younger
son of the humble rector who was now its representative. The gentleman
then introduced himself to me as the Earl of Rainsforth, the principal
proprietor in the neighbourhood, but who had so rarely visited the
county during my childhood and earlier youth, that I had never before
seen him. His only son, however, a young man of great promise, had
been at the same college with me in my first year at the university.
The young lord was a reading man and a scholar; and we had become
slightly acquainted when he left for his travels.

"Now, on hearing my name, Lord Rainsforth took my hand cordially, and
leading me to his daughter, said, 'Think, Ellinor, how fortunate; this
is the Mr Caxton whom your brother so often spoke of.'

"In short, my dear Pisistratus, the ice was broken, the acquaintance
made, and Lord Rainsforth, saying he was come to atone for his long
absence from the county, and to reside at Compton the greater part of
the year, pressed me to visit him. I did so. Lord Rainsforth's liking
to me increased: I went there often."

My father paused, and seeing my mother had fixed her eyes upon him
with a sort of mournful earnestness, and had pressed her hands very
tightly together, he bent down and kissed her forehead.

"There is no cause, my child!" said he. It is the only time I ever
heard him call my mother by that paternal name. But then, I never
heard him before so grave and solemn--not a quotation, too--it was
incredible: it was not my father speaking--it was another man. "Yes, I
went there often. Lord Rainsforth was a remarkable person. Shyness,
that was wholly without pride, (which is rare,) and a love for quiet
literary pursuits, had prevented his taking that personal part in
public life for which he was richly qualified; but his reputation for
sense and honour, and his personal popularity, had given him no
inconsiderable influence even, I believe, in the formation of
cabinets, and he had once been prevailed upon to fill a high
diplomatic situation abroad, in which I have no doubt that he was as
miserable as a good man can be under any infliction. He was now
pleased to retire from the world, and look at it through the loopholes
of retreat. Lord Rainsforth had a great respect for talent, and a warm
interest in such of the young as seemed to him to possess it. By
talent, indeed, his family had risen, and were strikingly
characterised. His ancestor, the first peer, had been a distinguished
lawyer; his father had been celebrated for scientific attainments; his
children, Ellinor and Lord Pendarvis, were highly accomplished. Thus,
the family identified themselves with the aristocracy of intellect,
and seemed unconscious of their claims to the lower aristocracy of
rank. You must bear this in mind throughout my story.

"Lady Ellinor shared her father's tastes and habits of thought--(she
was not then an heiress.) Lord Rainsforth talked to me of my career.
It was a time when the French Revolution had made statesmen look round
with some anxiety to strengthen the existing order of things, by
alliance with all in the rising generation who evinced such ability as
might influence their contemporaries.

"University distinction is, or was formerly, among the popular
passports to public life. By degrees Lord Rainsforth liked me so well,
as to suggest to me a seat in the House of Commons. A member of
Parliament might rise to any thing, and Lord Rainsforth had sufficient
influence to effect my return. Dazzling prospect this to a young
scholar fresh from Thucydides, and with Demosthenes fresh at his
tongue's end. My dear boy, I was not then, you see, quite what I am
now; in a word, I loved Ellinor Compton, and therefore I was
ambitious. You know how ambitious she is still. But I could not mould
my ambition to hers. I could not contemplate entering the senate of my
country as a dependant on a party or a patron--as a man who must make
his fortune there--as a man who, in every vote, must consider how much
nearer he advanced himself to emolument. I was not even certain that
Lord Rainsforth's views on politics were the same as mine would be.
How could the politics of an experienced man of the world be those of
an ardent young student? But had they been identical, I felt that I
could not so creep into equality with a patron's daughter. No! I was
ready to abandon my own more scholastic predilections--to strain every
energy at the bar--to carve, or force my own way to fortune--and, if I
arrived at independence, then--what then? why, the right to speak of
love, and aim at power. This was not the view of Ellinor Compton. The
law seemed to her a tedious, needless drudgery: there was nothing in
it to captivate her imagination. She listened to me with that charm
which she yet retains, and by which she seems to identify herself with
those who speak to her. She would turn to me with a pleading look when
her father dilated on the brilliant prospects of a parliamentary
success; for he (not having gained it, yet having lived with those who
had,) overvalued it, and seemed ever to wish to enjoy it through some
other. But when I, in turn, spoke of independence, of the bar,
Ellinor's face grew overcast. The world--the world was with her, and
the ambition of the world, which is always for power or effect! A part
of the house lay exposed to the east wind, 'Plant half way down the
hill,' said I one day. 'Plant?' cried Lady Emily--'it will be twenty
years before the trees grow up. No, my dear father, build a wall, and
cover it with creepers!' That was an illustration of her whole
character. She could not wait till trees had time to grow up; a dead
wall would be so much more quickly thrown up, and parasite creepers
would give it a prettier effect. Nevertheless, she was a grand and
noble creature. And I--in love! Not so discouraged as you may suppose;
for Lord Rainsforth often hinted encouragement, which even I could
scarcely misconstrue. Not caring for rank, and not wishing for fortune
beyond competence for his daughter, he saw in me all he required,--a
gentleman of ancient birth, and one in whom his own active mind could
prosecute that kind of mental ambition which overflowed in him, and
yet had never had its vent. And Ellinor!--heaven forbid I should say
she loved me,--but something made me think she could do so. Under
these notions, suppressing all my hopes, I made a bold effort to
master the influences round me, and to adopt that career I thought
worthiest of us all. I went to London to read for the bar."

"The bar! is it possible?" cried I. My father smiled sadly.

"Every thing seemed possible to me then. I read some months. I began
to see my way even in that short time; began to comprehend what would
be the difficulties before me, and to feel there was that within me
which could master them. I took a holiday and returned to Cumberland.
I found Roland there on my return. Always of a roving adventurous
temper, though he had not then entered the army, he had, for more than
two years, been wandering over the Continent on foot. It was a young
knight-errant whom I embraced, and who overwhelmed me with reproaches
that I should be reading for the law. There had never been a lawyer in
the family! It was about that time, I think, that I petrified him with
the discovery of the printer! I knew not exactly wherefore, whether
from jealousy, fear, foreboding--but it certainly _was_ a pain that
seized me--when I learned from Roland that he had become intimate at
Compton Hall. Roland and Lord Rainsforth had met at the house of a
neighbouring gentleman, and Lord Rainsforth had welcomed his
acquaintance, at first perhaps for my sake, afterwards for his own.

"I could not for the life of me," continued my father, "ask Roland if
he admired Ellinor; but, when I found that he did not put that
question to me, I trembled!

"We went to Compton together, speaking little by the way. We stayed
there some days."

My father here thrust his hand into his waistcoat--all men have their
little ways, which denote much; and when my father thrust his hand
into his waistcoat, it was always a sign of some mental effort--he was
going to prove, or to argue, to moralise, or to preach. Therefore,
though I was listening before with all my ears, I believe I had,
speaking magnetically and mesmerically, an extra pair of ears, a new
sense supplied to me, when my father put his hand into his waistcoat.



"There is not a mystical creation, type, symbol, or poetical invention
for meanings abstruse, recondite, and incomprehensible, which is not
represented by the female gender," said my father, having his hand
quite buried in his waistcoat. "There is the Sphynx, and the Enigma,
and the Chimera, and Isis, whose veil no man had ever lifted: they are
all ladies, Kitty, every one of them! And so was Persephone, who must
be always either in heaven or hell--and Hecate, who was one thing by
night and another by day. The Sibyls were females; and so were the
Gorgons, the Harpies, the Furies, the Fates, and the Teutonic Valkyrs,
Nornies, and Hela herself: in short, all representations of ideas,
obscure, inscrutable, and portentous, are nouns feminine."

Heaven bless my father! Augustine Caxton was himself again! I began to
fear that the story had slipped away from him, lost in that labyrinth
of learning. But, luckily, as he paused for breath, his look fell on
those limpid blue eyes of my mother's, and that honest open brow of
hers, which had certainly nothing in common with Sphynges, Chimeras,
Fates, Furies, or Valkyrs; and, whether his heart smote him, or his
reason made him own that he had fallen into a very disingenuous and
unsound train of assertion, I know not, but his front relaxed, and
with a smile he resumed--"Ellinor was the last person in the world to
deceive any one willingly. Did she deceive me and Roland that we both,
though not conceited men, fancied that, if we had dared to speak
openly of love, we had not so dared in vain? or do you think, Kitty,
that a woman really can love (not much, perhaps, but somewhat) two or
three, or half a dozen at a time?"

"Impossible," cried my mother. "And as for this Lady Ellinor, I am
shocked at her--I don't know what to call it!"

"Nor I either, my dear!" said my father, slowly taking his hand from
his waistcoat, as if the effort were too much for him, and the problem
were insoluble. "But this, begging your pardon, I do think, that
before a young woman does really, truly, and cordially centre her
affections on one object, she suffers fancy, imagination, the desire
of power, curiosity, or heaven knows what, to simulate, even to her
own mind, pale reflexions of the luminary not yet risen--parhelia that
precede the sun. Don't judge of Roland as you see him now,
Pisistratus--grim, and gray, and formal; imagine a nature soaring high
amongst daring thoughts, or exuberant with the nameless poetry of
youthful life--with a frame matchless for bounding elasticity--an eye
bright with haughty fire--a heart from which noble sentiments sprang
like sparks from an anvil. Lady Ellinor had an ardent, inquisitive
imagination. This bold fiery nature must have moved her interest. On
the other hand, she had an instructed, full, and eager mind. Am I vain
if I say, now at the lapse of so many years, that in my mind her
intellect felt companionship? When a woman loves, and marries, and
settles, why then she becomes--a one whole, a completed being. But a
girl like Ellinor has in her many women. Various herself, all
varieties please her. I do believe that, if either of us had spoken
the word boldly, Lady Ellinor would have shrunk back to her own
heart--examined it, tasked it, and given a frank and generous answer.
And he who had spoken first might have had the better chance not to
receive a 'No.' But neither of us spoke. And perhaps she was rather
curious to know if she had made an impression, than anxious to create
it. It was not that she willingly deceived us, but her whole
atmosphere was delusion. Mists come before the sunrise. However this
be, Roland and I were not long in detecting each other. And hence
arose, first coldness, then jealousy, then quarrels."

"Oh, my father, your love must have been indeed powerful, to have made
a breach between the hearts of two such brothers!"

"Yes," said my father; "it was amidst the old ruins of the castle,
there, where I had first seen Ellinor--that, winding my arm round
Roland's neck, as I found him seated amongst the weeds and stones, his
face buried in his hands--it was there that I said--'Brother, we both
love this woman! My nature is the calmer of the two, I shall feel the
loss less. Brother, shake hands, and God speed you, for I go!'"

"Austin," murmured my mother, sinking her head on my father's breast.

"And therewith we quarrelled. For it was Roland who insisted, while
the tears rolled down his eyes, and he stamped his foot on the ground,
that he was the intruder, the interloper--that he had no hope--that he
had been a fool and a madman--and that it was for him to go! Now,
while we were disputing, and words began to run high, my father's old
servant entered the desolate place, with a note from Lady Ellinor to
me, asking for the loan of some book I had praised. Roland saw the
hand-writing, and while I turned the note over and over irresolutely,
before I broke the seal, he vanished.

"He did not return to my father's house. We did not know what had
become of him. But I, thinking over that impulsive volcanic nature,
took quick alarm. And I went in search of him; came on his track at
last; and, after many days, found him in a miserable cottage amongst
the most dreary of the dreary wastes which form so large a part of
Cumberland. He was so altered I scarcely knew him. To be brief, we
came at last to a compromise. We would go back to Compton. This
suspense was intolerable. One of us at least should take courage and
learn his fate. But who should speak first? We drew lots, and the lot
fell on me.

"And now that I was really to pass the Rubicon, now that I was to
impart that secret hope which had animated me so long--been to me a
new life--what were my sensations? My dear boy, depend on it that that
age is the happiest, when such feelings as I felt then can agitate us
no more. They are mistakes in the serene order of that majestic life
which heaven meant for thoughtful man. Our souls should be as stars on
earth, not as meteors and tortured comets. What could I offer to
Ellinor--to her father? What but a future of patient labour? And in
either answer, what alternative of misery!--my own existence
shattered, or Roland's noble heart!

"Well, we went to Compton. In our former visits we had been almost the
only guests. Lord Rainsforth did not much affect the intercourse of
country squires, less educated then than now. And in excuse for
Ellinor and for us, we were almost the only men of her own age she saw
when in that large dull house. But now the London season had broken
up, the house was filled; there was no longer that familiar and
constant approach to the mistress of the Hall, which had made us like
one family. Great ladies, fine people, were round her; a look, a
smile, a passing word, were as much as I had a right to expect. And
the talk, too, how different! Before, I could speak on books,--I was
at home there! Roland could pour forth his dreams, his chivalrous love
for the past, his bold defiance of the unknown future. And Ellinor,
cultivated and fanciful, could sympathise with both. And her father,
scholar and gentleman, could sympathise too. But now--"



"It is no use in the world," said my father, "to know all the
languages expounded in grammars and splintered up into lexicons, if we
don't learn the language of the world. It is a talk apart, Kitty,"
cried my father warming up. "It is an ANAGLYPH--a spoken anaglyph, my
dear! If all the hieroglyphs of the Egyptians had been A B C to you,
still if you did not know the anaglyph, you would know nothing of the
true mysteries of the priests.[1]

"Neither Roland nor I knew one symbol-letter of the anaglyph. Talk,
talk--talk on persons we never heard of, things we never cared for.
All _we_ thought of importance, puerile or pedantic trifles--all we
thought so trite and childish, the grand momentous business of life!
If you found a little schoolboy, on his half holiday, fishing for
minnows with a crooked pin, and you began to tell him of all the
wonders of the deep, the laws of the tides, and the antediluvian
relics of iguanodon and ichthyosaurus--nay, if you spoke but of pearl
fisheries, and coral banks, or water-kelpies and naiads, would not the
little boy cry out peevishly, 'Don't tease me with all that nonsense!
let me fish in peace for my minnows.' I think the little boy is right
after his own way--it was to fish for minnows that he came out, poor
child, not to hear about iguanodons and water-kelpies!

"So the company fished for minnows, and not a word could we say about
our pearl fisheries and coral banks! And as for fishing for minnows
ourselves, my dear boy, we should have been less bewildered if you had
asked us to fish for a mermaid! Do you see, now, one reason why I have
let you go thus early into the world? Well, but amongst these
minnow-fishers there was one who fished with an air that made the
minnows look larger than salmons.

"Trevanion had been at Cambridge with me. We were even intimate. He
was a young man like myself, with his way to make in the world. Poor
as I--of a family upon a par with mine--old enough but decayed. There
was, however, this difference between us. He had connexions in the
great world--I had none. Like me his chief pecuniary resource was a
college fellowship. Now, Trevanion had established a high reputation
at the university; but less as a scholar, though a pretty fair one,
than as a man to rise in life. Every faculty he had was an energy. He
aimed at every thing--lost some things, gained others. He was a great
speaker in a debating society, a member of some politico-economical
club. He was an eternal talker--brilliant, various, paradoxical,
florid--different from what he is now. For, dreading fancy, his career
since has been an effort to curb it. But all his mind attached itself
to something that we Englishmen call solid; it was a large mind--not,
my dear Kitty, like a fine whale sailing through knowledge from the
pleasure of sailing--but like a polypus, that puts forth all its
feelers for the purpose of catching hold of something. Trevanion had
gone at once to London from the university: his reputation and his
talk dazzled his connexions, not unjustly. They made an effort--they
got him into parliament: he had spoken, he had succeeded. He came to
Compton with the flush of his virgin fame. I cannot convey to you, who
know him now--with his care-worn face, and abrupt dry manner,--reduced
by perpetual gladiatorship to the skin and bone of his former
self--what that man was when he first stepped into the arena of life.

"You see, my listeners, that you have to recollect that we middle-aged
folks were young then--that is to say, we were as different from what
we are  now, as the green bough of summer is from the dry wood, out
of which we make a ship or a gate-post. Neither man nor wood comes to
the uses of life till the green leaves are stripped and the sap gone.
And then the uses of life transform us into strange things with other
names: the tree is a tree no more--it is a gate or a ship; the youth
is a youth no more, but a one-legged soldier; a hollow-eyed statesman;
a scholar spectacled and slippered! When Micyllus--(here the hand
slides into the waistcoat again!)--when Micyllus," said my father,
"asked the cock that had once been Pythagoras,[2] if the affair of
Troy was really as Homer told it, the cock replied scornfully, 'How
could Homer know any thing about it?--at that time he was a camel in
Bactria.' Pisistratus, according to the doctrine of metempsychosis,
you might have been a Bactrian camel--when that which to my life was
the siege of Troy saw Roland and Trevanion before the walls.

"Handsome you can see that Trevanion has been; but the beauty of his
countenance then was in its perpetual play, its intellectual
eagerness; and his conversation was so discursive, so various, so
animated, and, above all, so full of the things of the day! If he had
been a priest of Serapis for fifty years, he could not have known the
Anaglyph better! Therefore he filled up every crevice and pore of that
hollow society with his broken, inquisitive, petulant light. Therefore
he was admired, talked of, listened to; and everybody said, 'Trevanion
is a rising man.'

"Yet I did not do him then the justice I have done since--for we
students and abstract thinkers are apt too much, in our first youth,
to look to the _depth_ of a man's mind or knowledge, and not enough to
the _surface_ it may cover. There may be more water in a flowing
stream, only four feet deep, and certainly more force and more health,
than in a sullen pool, thirty yards to the bottom! I did not do
Trevanion justice. I did not see how naturally he realised Lady
Ellinor's ideal. I have said that she was like many women in one.
Trevanion was a thousand men in one. He had learning to please her
mind, eloquence to dazzle her fancy, beauty to please her eye,
reputation precisely of the kind to allure her vanity, honour and
conscientious purpose to satisfy her judgment. And, above all, he was
ambitious. Ambitious not as I--not as Roland was, but ambitious as
Ellinor was: ambitious, not to realise some grand ideal in the silent
heart, but to grasp the practical positive substances that lay

"Ellinor was a child of the great world, and so was he. I saw not all
this, nor did Roland; and Trevanion seemed to pay no particular court
to Ellinor.

"But the time approached when I ought to speak. The house began to
thin. Lord Rainsforth had leisure to resume his easy conferences with
me; and one day walking in his garden he gave me the opportunity. For
I need not say, Pisistratus," said my father, looking at me earnestly,
"that before any man of honour, especially if of inferior worldly
pretensions, will open his heart seriously to the daughter, it is his
duty to speak first to the parent, whose confidence has imposed that
trust." I bowed my head and coloured.

"I know not how it was," continued my father, "but Lord Rainsforth
turned the conversation on Ellinor. After speaking of his expectations
from his son, who was returning home, he said 'But he will of course
enter public life,--will, I trust, soon marry, have a separate
establishment, and I shall see but little of him. My Ellinor!--I
cannot bear the thought of parting wholly with her. And that, to say
the selfish truth, is one reason why I have never wished her to marry
a rich man, and so leave me for ever. I could hope that she will give
herself to one who may be contented to reside at least a great part of
the year with me--who may bless me with another son, not steal from me
a daughter. I do not mean that he should waste his life in the
country; his occupations would probably lead him to London. I care not
where my _house_ is, all I want is to keep my _home_. You know' (he
added, with a smile that I thought meaning,) 'how often I have
implied to you that I have no vulgar ambition for Ellinor. Her portion
must be very small, for my estate is strictly entailed, and I have
lived too much up to my income all my life to hope to save much now.
But her tastes do not require expense; and while I live, at least,
there need be no change. She can only prefer a man whose talents,
congenial to hers, will win their own career, and ere I die that
career may be made.' Lord Rainsforth paused, and then--how, in what
words I know not,--but out all burst!--my long-suppressed, timid,
anxious, doubtful, fearful love. The strange energy it had given to a
nature till then so retiring and calm! My recent devotion to the
law,--my confidence that, with such a prize, I could succeed,--it was
but a transfer of labour from one study to another. Labour could
conquer all things, and custom sweeten them in the conquest. The bar
was a less brilliant career than the senate. But the first aim of the
poor man should be independence. In short, Pisistratus, wretched
egotist that I was, I forgot Roland in that moment; and I spoke as one
who felt his life was in his words.

"Lord Rainsforth looked at me, when I had done, with a countenance
full of affection--but it was not cheerful.

"'My dear Caxton,' said he, tremulously, 'I own that I once wished
this--wished it from the hour I knew you; but why did you so long--I
never suspected that--nor I am sure did Ellinor.' He stopped short,
and added quickly--'However, go and speak, as you have spoken to me,
to Ellinor. Go, it may not yet be too late. And yet--but go.'

"Too late--what meant those words? Lord Rainsforth had turned hastily
down another walk, and left me alone, to ponder over an answer which
concealed a riddle. Slowly I took my way towards the house, and sought
Lady Ellinor, half hoping, half dreading, to find her alone. There was
a little room communicating with a conservatory, where she usually sat
in the morning. Thither I took my course.

"That room, I see it still!--the walls covered with pictures from her
own hand, many were sketches of the haunts we had visited
together--the simple ornaments, womanly but not effeminate--the very
books on the table that had been made familiar by dear associations.
Yes, there the _Tasso_ in which we had read together the episode of
_Clorinda_--there the _Æschylus_ in which I translated to her the
_Prometheus_. Pedantries these might seem to some: pedantries,
perhaps, they were; but they were proofs of that congeniality which
had knit the man of books to the daughter of the world. That room--it
was the home of my heart! Such, in my vanity of spirit, methought
would be the air round a home to come. I looked about me, troubled and
confused, and, halting timidly, I saw Ellinor before me, leaning her
face on her hand, her cheek more flushed than usual, and tears in her
eyes. I approached in silence, and as I drew my chair to the table, my
eye fell on a glove on the floor. It was a man's glove. Do you know,"
said my father, "that once, when I was very young, I saw a Dutch
picture called The Glove, and the subject was of murder. There was a
weed-grown marshy pool, a desolate dismal landscape, that of itself
inspired thoughts of ill deeds and terror. And two men, as if walking
by chance, came to this pool, the finger of one pointed to a
blood-stained glove, and the eyes of both were fixed on each other, as
if there were no need of words. That glove told its tale! The picture
had long haunted me in my boyhood, but it never gave me so uneasy and
fearful a feeling as did that real glove upon the floor. Why? My dear
Pisistratus, the theory of forebodings involves one of those questions
on which we may ask 'why' for ever. More chilled than I had been in
speaking to her father, I took heart at last and spoke to Ellinor"----

My father stopped short; the moon had risen, and was shining full into
the room and on his face. And by that light the face was changed;
young emotions had brought back youth--my father looked a young man.
But what pain was there! If the memory alone could raise what, after
all, was but the ghost of suffering, what had been its living reality!
Involuntarily I seized his hand: my father pressed it convulsively,
and said, with a deep breath, "It was too late; Trevanion was Lady
Ellinor's accepted, plighted, happy lover. My dear Katherine, I do not
envy him now; look up, sweet wife, look up!"


"Ellinor (let me do her justice) was shocked at my silent emotion. No
human lip could utter more tender sympathy, more noble self-reproach;
but that was no balm to my wound. So I left the house--so I never
returned to the law--so all impetus, all motive for exertion, seemed
taken from my being--so I went back into books. And so, a moping,
despondent, worthless mourner might I have been to the end of my days,
but that heaven, in its mercy, sent thy mother, Pisistratus, across my
path; and day and night I bless God and her, for I have been, and
am--oh, indeed, I am, a happy man!"

My mother threw herself on my father's breast, sobbing violently, and
then turned from the room without a word,--my father's eye, swimming
in tears, followed her; and then, after pacing the room for some
moments in silence, he came up to me, and leaning his arm on my
shoulder, whispered, "Can you guess why I have now told you all this,
my son?"

"Yes, partly: thank you, father," I faltered, and sate down, for I
felt faint.

"Some sons," said my father, seating himself beside me, "would find in
their father's follies and errors an excuse for their own: not so will
you, Pisistratus."

"I see no folly, no error, sir--only nature and sorrow."

"Pause, ere you thus think," said my father. "Great was the folly, and
great the error of indulging imagination that had no basis--of linking
the whole usefulness of my life to the will of a human creature like
myself. Heaven did not design the passion of love to be this tyrant;
nor is it so with the mass and multitude of human life. We dreamers,
solitary students like me, or half poets like poor Roland, make our
own disease. How many years, even after I had regained serenity, as
your mother gave me a home long not appreciated, have I wasted. The
main-spring of my existence was snapped--I took no note of time. And
therefore now, you see, late in life the Nemesis wakes. I look back
with regret at powers neglected, opportunities gone. Galvanically I
brace up energies half palsied by disuse, and you see me, rather than
rest quiet and good for nothing, talked into what, I dare say, are sad
follies, by an Uncle Jack! And now I behold Ellinor again; and I say,
in wonder, All this--all this--all this agony, all this torpor for
that haggard face, that worldly spirit! So is it ever in life. Mortal
things fade; immortal things spring more freshly with every step to
the tomb.

"Ah!" continued my father, with a sigh, "it would not have been so, if
at your age I had found out the secret of the saffron bag!"


"And Roland, sir," said I; "how did he take it?"

"With all the indignation of a proud unreasonable man. More indignant,
poor fellow, for me than himself. And so did he wound and gall me by
what he said of Ellinor,--and so did he rage against me because I
would not share his rage,--that again we quarrelled. We parted, and
did not meet for many years. We came into sudden possession of our
little fortunes. His he devoted (as you may know) to the purchase of
the old ruins, and the commission in the army, which had always been
his dream--and so went his way, wrathful. My share gave me an excuse
for indolence,--it satisfied all my wants; and when my old tutor died,
and his young child became my ward, and, somehow or other, from my
ward my wife, it allowed me to resign my fellowship, and live amongst
my books--still as a book myself. One comfort, long before my
marriage, I had conceived; and that, too, Roland has since said was
comfort to him. Ellinor became an heiress--her poor brother died; and
all of the estate that did not pass in the male line devolved on her.
That fortune made a gulf between us almost as wide as her marriage.
For Ellinor, poor and portionless, in spite of her rank, I could have
worked, striven, slaved. But Ellinor RICH! it would have crushed me.
This was a comfort. But still, still the past--that perpetual aching
sense of something that had seemed the essential of life withdrawn
from life, evermore, evermore. What was left was not sorrow, it was a
void. Had I lived more with men, and less with dreams and books, I
should have made my nature large enough to bear the loss of a single
passion. But in solitude we shrink up. No plant so much as man needs
the sun and the air. I comprehend now why most of our best and wisest
men have lived in capitals; and therefore again I say, that one
scholar in a family is enough. Confiding in your sound heart and
strong honour, I turn you thus betimes on the world. Have I done
wrong? Prove that I have not, my child. Do you know what a very good
man has said--Listen and follow my precept, not example.

"The state of the world is such, and so much depends on action, that
every thing seems to say aloud to every man, 'Do something--do it--do
it!'"[3] I was profoundly touched, and I rose refreshed and hopeful,
when suddenly the door opened, and who or what in the world should come
in; but certainly he, she, it, or they, shall not come into this
chapter!--On that point I am resolved. No, my dear young lady, I am
extremely flattered;--I feel for your curiosity; but really not a
peep--not one! And yet--well then, if you will have it, and look so
coaxingly--who, or what I say, should come in abrupt, unexpected--taking
away one's breath, not giving one time to say, "By your leave, or with
your leave," but making one's mouth stand open with surprise, and one's
eyes fix in a big round stupid stare, but--



[1] The anaglyph was peculiar to the Egyptian priests--the hieroglyph
generally known to the well educated.

[2] LUCIAN, _The Dream of Micyllus_.

[3] _Remains of the Rev. Richard Cecil_, p. 349.


In the old feud between the man of experience and the man of theory,
it sometimes happens that the former obtains a triumph by the mere
activity of the latter. Cases have been known where the theorist, in
the clarifying and perfecting his own theory, has argued himself round
to those very truths which his empirical antagonist had held to with a
firm though less reasoning faith. He stood to his post; the stream of
knowledge seemed to be flowing past him, and those who floated on it
laughed at his stationary figure as they left him behind. Nevertheless
he stood still; and by-and-by this meandering stream, with the busy
crew that navigated it, after many a turn and many a curve, have
returned to the very spot where he had made his obstinate halt.

This has been illustrated, and we venture to say will be illustrated
still further, in the progress of the science of political economy.
The man of experience has been taunted for his obstinacy and blindness
in adhering to something which he called common sense and matter of
fact; and behold! the scientific economist, in the course of his own
theorising, is returning to those very positions from which he has
been endeavouring to drive his opponent. The present work of Mr J. S.
Mill, the latest and most complete exposition of the most advanced
doctrines of the political economists, manifests, on more than one
occasion, this _retrograde progress_,--demolishing, on the ground of
still more scientific principles--the value of which time, however,
must test--those arguments by which his scientific predecessors had
attempted to mislead the man of experience or of empirical knowledge.

When, moreover, we consider, that the errors of the political
economist are not allowed to remain mere errors of theory, but are
pushed forward into practice, thrust immediately into the vital
interests of the community, we must admit that never was the man of
experience and common sense more fully justified in holding back and
looking long before he yielded assent to his new teachers. Stranger
paradoxes were never broached than some that have lived their day in
this science; and paradoxes as they were, they claimed immediately
their share of influence in our legislative measures. A learned
professor, a luminary of the science, demonstrated that absenteeism
could have nothing whatever to do with the poverty of Ireland. So the
Greek sophist demonstrated that Achilles could never catch the
tortoise. But the Greek was the more reasonable of the two: he
required of no one to stake his fortune on the issue of the race. The
professor of political economy not only teaches his sophism--he would
have us _back his tortoise_.

Although it has been our irksome task to oppose the application to
practice of half-formed theories, ill made up, and most dangerously
incomplete, yet we surely need not say that we take a genuine interest
in the approximation to a sound and trustworthy state of the science
of political economy. That, notwithstanding its obliquities, the new
science has rendered a substantial service to mankind, and is
calculated, when thoroughly understood, to render still greater
service--that it embraces topics of the widest and most permanent
interest, and that intellects of the highest order have been worthily
occupied in their investigation--this, let no strain of observation in
which from time to time we have indulged, be thought to deny or
controvert. To explain the complicate machinery of a modern commercial
state, is assuredly one of the most useful tasks, and by no means the
most easy, to which a reflective mind could address itself. When Adam
Smith, leaving the arena of metaphysical inquiry, in which he had
honourably distinguished himself, turned his analytic powers to the
examination of the common-place yet intricate affairs of that
commercial community in which he lived, he acted in the same
enlightened spirit which led Bacon to demand of philosophy, that she
should leave listening to the echoes of the school-room, and walk
abroad into nature, amongst things and realities. The author of _The
Wealth of Nations_, like him of the _Novum Organum_, struck out a new
path of wisely utilitarian thinking. If the one led philosophy into
the real world of nature and her daily phenomena, the other conducted
her into a world still more novel to her footsteps--the world of
commerce, of buying and selling, of manufacture and exchange. It may,
indeed, be said of both these men, that in their leading and most
valuable tenets, they were but announcing the claims of common sense;
and that, in doing this, they had from time to time, and in utterances
more or less distinct, been anticipated by others. But the cause of
common sense is, after all, the very last which obtains a fair and
potent advocacy; and the philosophy of one age is always destined, if
it be true, to become the common sense of succeeding ages; and it
detracts very little from the merit of an eminent writer who has been
the means of impressing any great truth upon the minds of men, either
at home or abroad, that others had obtained a view of it also, and
given to it an imperfect and less effective enunciation. Let due
honour, therefore, be paid to our countryman Adam Smith, the founder,
on this side of the Channel at least, of the science of political
economy--honour to him who turned a most keen intellect, sharpened by
those metaphysical studies for which his fragmentary Essays, as well
as and still more than his _Theory of Moral Sentiments_, prove him to
have been eminently qualified--turned it from these captivating
subtleties to inquiries into the causes, actually in operation, of the
prosperity of a commercial people. He left these regions of mazy
labyrinthine thought, which, if not as beautiful as the enchanted
gardens in which Tasso imprisoned his knight, are, to a certain order
of spirits, quite as ensnaring, to look into the mystery of bills of
exchange, of systems of banking, customs, and the currency. Be it
admitted at once, and ungrudgingly, that Adam Smith and some of his
successors have done a substantial service in assisting to explain the
machinery of society--the organisation, so to speak, of a commercial
body. Until this is done, and done thoroughly, no proposed measure of
legislation, and no course of conduct voluntarily adopted by the
people, can be seen in all its bearings; the true causes of the most
immediate and pressing evils can never be certainly known, and, of
course, the efficient remedies can never be applied. Our main
quarrel--though we have many--with the political economists is on this
ground--that, having constructed a theory explanatory of the _wealth_
of nations, they have wished to enforce this upon our legislature, as
if it had embraced all the causes which conspire to the _wellbeing_ of
nations; as if wealth and wellbeing were synonymous. Having determined
the state of things best fitted to procure, in general, the greatest
aggregate amount of riches, they have proceeded to deal with a people
as if it were a corporate body, whose sole object was to increase the
total amount of its possessions. They have overlooked the equally
vital questions concerning the distribution of these possessions, and
of the _various employments_ of mankind. Full of their leading idea,
and accustomed to abstractions and generalities, they forget the
_individual_, and appear to treat their subject as if the aggregate
wealth of a community were to be enjoyed in some aggregate manner, and
a sum-total of possessions would represent the comforts and enjoyments
of its several members. To know what measures tend to increase the
national wealth is undoubtedly of great importance, but it is not
_all_; the theory of riches, or of commerce, is not the theory of

As political economy arose with a metaphysician, and has been
prosecuted by men of the same abstract turn of mind, it very soon
aspired to the philosophical character of a science. It laid down its
_laws_. But it has not always been seen that the harmonious and
systematic form it has been able to assume was owing to an arbitrary
division of social topics, which in their nature, and in their
operation on human welfare, are inextricably combined. They laid down
laws, which could only be considered such by obstinately refusing to
look beyond a certain number of isolated facts; and they persisted in
governing mankind according to laws obtained by this imperfect

With regard to the main doctrine of the political economists, that of
free-trade--their advocacy of unfettered industry, whether working for
the home or foreign market--one sees plainly that there is a truth
here. Looking at the matter abstractedly from other considerations,
what doctrine could be more reasonable or more benign than that which
instructs the separate communities of mankind to throw aside all
commercial jealousies, all unnecessary heartburnings--to throw down
their barriers, their custom-houses, their preventive stations--to let
the commerce and industry of the world be free, so that the peace of
the world, as well as the wealth of nations, would be secured and
advanced? What better doctrine could be taught than this? Did not
Fénélon, mildest and best of archbishops, reasoning from the dictates
of his own Christian conscience, arrive at the same conclusion as the
philosophical economist? What better, we repeat, could be taught than
a doctrine which tends to make all nations as one people, and the most
wealthy people possible? But hold a while. Take the microscope, and
deign to look somewhat closer at the little interests of the many
little men that constitute a nation. Condescend to inquire, before you
change the currents of wealth and industry, (though to increase both,)
into what hands the wealth is to flow, and what the class of labourers
you diminish or multiply. Industry free! Good. But is the capitalist
to be permitted, at all times, to gather round him and his machinery
what multitudes of workmen he pleases--workmen who are to breed up
families dependent for their subsistence on the success of some
gigantic and hazardous enterprise? Is he to be allowed, under all
circumstances, to do this, and give the state no guarantee for the
lives of these men and women and children, but what it obtains from
his perhaps too sanguine calculations of his own profit and loss? Is
it any consolation that he bankrupts himself in ruining others, and
adding immensely to a pauper population? Commerce free! Good. It will
increase your imports, and multiply by an advantageous exchange the
products of your industry. But what if your measure to promote this
freedom of commerce foster a mode of industry at home essentially of a
precarious nature, and attended with fearful political and social
dangers, at the expense of other modes of industry of a more
permanent, stable, peaceful character--must nothing still be heard of
but free commerce? Must the utmost amount of products, at all hazard,
be obtained, whatever the mode of industry that earn it, or the fate
of those called into existence by the overgrown manufacture you
encourage? Is it no matter how won, or who enjoys? Is the only
question that the wealth be there? What if England, by carrying out,
without pause or exception, the doctrine of free-trade, should
aggravate the most alarming symptoms of her present social
condition--must this _law_ of the political economist be still, with
unmitigated strictness, urged upon her? She pleads for exception, for
delay; but the political economist will not see the grounds of her
plea--will not recognise her reasons for exception: full of his
partial science, which has been made to occupy too large a portion of
his field of vision, he _cannot_ see them.

England, by a series of well-known mechanical inventions, extended in
a surprising manner her manufacture of cotton, and with it her foreign
commerce in this article. It is unnecessary to repeat figures that we
have given before, or which may be found in any statistical tables.
Enough that her operations here have been on a quite gigantic scale.
Recollect that _this_ is the channel into which must run the industry
and capital which your measures of free-trade may drive from their old
accustomed course. Look for a moment at the nature of this species of
industry, and ask whether it would be wise to foster and augment it at
the expense of other more ordinary and less precarious modes of
earning a subsistence. An enormous population is brought together,
educated, so far as their industrial habits are concerned, in no
independent labour, but taught merely to perform a part in the great
machinery of a cotton-mill, themselves a part of that machinery, and
trusting, they and their families, for their necessary bread, to the
successful sale of the great stock of goods, the annual amount of
which they are annually increasing. Although the home market may
absorb the greatest portion of these goods, yet the foreign market
takes so considerable a share, that any derangement of the external
commerce throws a large number of this densely-congregated multitude
out of employment. Is there nothing peculiarly hazardous in this
condition of things? Granted that nothing can, or ought to be done to
restrain the enterprising capitalist from speculating too freely with
the lives of men, is it a state of things to be aggravated? Now, at
this juncture comes the apostle of free-trade, and demands (for
illustration's sake) that French boots and shoes be admitted
duty-free. He employs the well-known, and, to its own legitimate
extent, unanswerable argument of the political economist. He tells us
that, by so doing, we shall purchase better and cheaper boots and
shoes, and sell more of our cotton; that, in short, by manufacturing
more cotton goods, in which we marvellously excel, we shall procure
better boots and shoes than by the old process of making them
ourselves. We are evidently the gainers. Let us see the gain. The
gentleman pays something less for his shoes, and is somewhat more
luxuriously shod. The owner of the cotton-mill, too, finds that trade
is _looking up_. To balance this, we have so many shoemakers driven
from their employment--the very steady one of making shoes for their
own countrymen--and added to the number of men working at cotton-mills
for the foreign market,--a mode of industry which we know, by painful
experience, to be precarious in the extreme. We describe the
superfluous shoemaker as going over directly to the artisans of the
factory: we say nothing of the miseries of the _middle passage_;
though in truth this transition is accomplished with pain and
difficulty, and after much struggle, and is rather done in the second
generation than the first, it being rather the children of the
shoemaker that are added to the population of the factory than the
shoemaker himself.

We see here that the mere calculation of profit and loss, such as it
might figure in a debtor and creditor account, would justify the
extreme advocate of free-trade. But there are, surely, other
considerations which may properly rank a little higher than such a
tradesman's balance of profit and loss; we are surely allowed to
follow our inquiries a little further, and ask who is enriched, and
how? and what branch of industry is promoted, and what destroyed or
curtailed? It is not our object here to contend against what is called
the factory system--we accept it with its evil and its good; we are
not calling for measures directly hostile to it; but we certainly
should exclaim against the sacrifice of a branch of household, stable,
permanent industry, to be compensated by an increase in this already
enormous system of factory labour, which, together with much good,
brings with it so dreadfully precarious a condition of thousands and
tens of thousands of men. The political economist has proved that
free-trade is the condition under which the industry of man, so far as
the amount of its products is concerned, can be exercised with the
greatest advantage: he has established this principle; it is an
important one, and we thank him for its lucid exposition; but he shall
be no legislator of ours until he has learned to submit his principle
to wise exceptions, until he has learned to estimate the first
necessity of steady and well-remunerated employment to the labourer,
until he is prepared, in short, to give their due weight to other
considerations besides that of multiplying the gross products of human

We have been viewing the question of free-trade from the position of
an opulent manufacturing people--from the position of England, in
short--and we see that there may be ground even here for exception.
But the case is much stronger, and the claim for exception still
plainer, which might be made out by a less opulent nation, desirous of
fostering its own rising manufactures. These wisely refuse a
reciprocity of free-trade measures. Even on the mere ground of the
increase of national wealth, and without considering the advantage
derived from a variety of employments, and a _due_ admixture of a
manufacturing population, they are fully justified in their protective
policy. The economist will tell them that they deprive themselves of
the opportunity of purchasing cheaper and better goods than they can
produce. We admit that, for a season, they must forego an advantage of
this description; but at the end of a few years how will the account
stand? If the protective duty has fostered a home manufactory that
would not otherwise have existed, (and this is an assumption which the
political economist himself is compelled to admit,) then is there in
that country a new industry--then amongst that people is there more
_labour_ and less idleness, and therefore more of the fruits of
labour. It has created for itself what it otherwise would have had to
purchase with its corn and oil.

The political economists love an extreme case. In order to test the
universality of the principle of free-trade, we give them the
following:--There is a little island somewhere in the Pacific, and it
grows corn, and grapes, and the cotton plant. Two or three great ships
come annually to this island, bringing a store of Manchester goods,
and taking away a portion of the corn and the wine. But the wise men
of the island meet and say, Let us learn to make our own cotton into
stuff for raiment; so shall we have clothes without parting with our
corn and wine. Would the people of the island be very foolish if they
consented to wear, for a time, a much coarser raiment, in order that
they might practise this new industry, and thus provide themselves
with raiment, and keep their provender? We suppose that the same
unequal distribution of property is found in our island as in the rest
of the world--that there are rich and poor. Now, when a people
exchanges its articles of food for articles of clothing, it rarely, if
ever, parts with what, _to the whole of the people_, is a superfluous
quantity of food. Those who own large portions of the land have a
superfluity of produce, which they exchange for other articles either
at home or abroad; but probably no people ever grew a greater quantity
of corn, or other grain for food, than it could very willingly have
consumed itself, could we conceive it distributed amongst all who had
mouths to consume, and half-filled stomachs to stow it away in. Judge,
therefore, whether our little island would not, in a few years, be
much better off for refusing the visit of the great ships, and setting
to work to weave its own cotton into garments. The political
economists always talk of so much labour diverted from one employment
to another; they seem to have forgotten that there is such a thing as
so much idleness converted into so much labour.

In the work of John Stuart Mill, to which we have now to call the
attention of our readers, the science of political economy has
received its latest and most complete exposition. Nor, as the title
itself will inform us, is the work limited to a formal enunciation of
abstract principles, (as was the case with the brief compendium of Mr
Mill, senior,) but it proceeds to apply those principles to the
discussion of some of the most vital and momentous questions with
which public opinion is at present occupied. There are things in these
volumes, as may easily be conceived, in which we do not concur--views
are supported, on some subjects, to which we have been long and
notoriously opposed; but there is, in the exposition of its tenets, so
accurate a statement, so severe and lucid a reasoning, and, withal, so
genuine and manly an interest in the great cause of humanity, that we
cannot hesitate a moment in awarding to it a high rank amongst the
sterling literature of our country. This magazine has never been
slow--it has been second to none--in its hearty recognition of great
talent and ability, from whatever quarter of the political horizon
these have made their appearance. We were amongst the first to give
notice to all whom it concerned of the addition to the students' shelf
of the profound and elaborate work, _The System of Logic_, by the
same author. The present is a work of more general interest, yet it
has the same severe character. In this, as in his logic, the author
has sacrificed nothing deemed by him essential to his task, to the
desire of being popular, or the fear of being pronounced _dry_--the
word of most complete condemnation in the present day. Dry, however,
no person who takes an interest in the actual condition and prospects
of society, can possibly find the greater portion of this work. For,
as we have already intimated, that which honourably distinguishes it
from other professed treatises of political economy is the perpetual,
earnest, never-forgotten interest, which accompanies the writer
throughout, in the great questions at present mooted with respect to
the social condition of man. Mr Mill very wisely refused to limit
himself to the mere abstract principles of his science; he descends
from them, sometimes as from a vantage ground, into the discussions
which most concern and agitate the public mind at the present day;
and, if his conclusions are not always, or even generally, such as we
can wholly coincide with, there is so penetrating an intelligence in
his remarks, and so grave and serious a philanthropy pervading his
book, that it would be impossible for the most complete opponent of
the work not to rise a gainer from its perusal. From what else can we
gain, if not from intercourse with a keen, and full, and sincere mind,
whether we have to struggle with it, or to acquiesce in its guidance?
There are passages in this work, didactic as its style generally is,
which have had on us all the effect of the most thrilling eloquence,
from the fine admixture of severe reasoning and earnestness of

For instance--to give at once an idea of the more elevated tone this
utilitarian science has assumed in the work of Mr Mill--it is no
little novelty to hear a political economist speak in the following
manner of the mere elements of national wealth. The author has been
discoursing on that stationary state to which all opulent nations are
supposed to tend, wherein, by the diminution of profits, there is
little means and no temptation to further accumulation of capital:--

     "I cannot," he says, "regard the stationary state of capital
     and wealth with the unaffected aversion so generally
     manifested towards it by political economists, of the old
     school. I am inclined to believe that it would be, on the
     whole, a very considerable improvement on our present
     condition. I confess I am not charmed with the ideal of life
     held out by those who think that the normal state of human
     beings is that of struggling to get on; that the trampling,
     crushing, elbowing, and treading on each other's heels, which
     form the existing type of social life, are the most desirable
     lot of humankind, or any thing but one of the disagreeable
     symptoms of one of the phases of industrial progress. The
     northern and middle states of America are a specimen of this
     stage of civilisation in very favourable circumstances;
     having apparently got rid of all social injustices and
     inequalities that affect persons of Caucasian race and of the
     male sex, while the proportion of population to capital and
     land is such as to insure abundance to every able-bodied
     member of the community who does not forfeit it by
     misconduct. They have the six points of Chartism, and no
     poverty; and all that these advantages do for them is, that
     the life of the whole of one sex is devoted to
     dollar-hunting, and of the other to breeding dollar-hunters.
     This is not a kind of social perfection which philanthropists
     to come will feel any very eager desire to assist in

     "That the energies of mankind should be kept in employment by
     the struggle for riches, as they were formerly by the
     struggle of war, until the better minds succeed in educating
     the others into better things, is undoubtedly more desirable
     than that they should rust and stagnate. While minds are
     coarse, they require coarse stimuli, and let them have them.
     In the mean time, those who do not accept the present very
     early stage of human improvement as its ultimate type, may be
     excused for being comparatively indifferent to the kind of
     economical progress which usually excites the congratulations
     of politicians--the mere increase of production and
     accumulation. For the safety of national independence, it is
     essential that a country should not fall much behind its
     neighbours in these things. But in themselves they are of
     little importance, so long as either the increase of
     population, or any thing else, prevents the mass of the
     people from reaping any part of the benefit of them. I know
     not why it should be matter of congratulation, that persons
     who are already richer than any one needs to be, should have
     doubled their means of consuming things which give little or
     no pleasure, except as representative of wealth; or that
     numbers of individuals should pass over every year from the
     middle classes into a richer class, or from the class of the
     occupied rich to that of the unoccupied. It is only in the
     backward countries of the world that increased production is
     still an important object; in those most advanced, what is
     economically needed is a better distribution, of which an
     indispensable means is a stricter restraint on population.
     Levelling institutions, either of a just or an unjust kind,
     cannot alone accomplish it; they may lower the heights of
     society, but they cannot raise the depths."--(Vol. ii. p.

It will be already seen, from even this brief extract, that the too
rapid increase of population presents itself to Mr Mill as the chief,
or one of the chief obstacles to human improvement. Without attempting
to repeat all that we have at different times urged upon this head, we
may at once say here that, in the first place, we never denied, or
dreamt of denying, that it was one of the first and most imperative
duties of every human being, to be assured that he could provide for a
family before he called one into existence. This has been at all times
a plain, unquestionable duty, though it has not at all times been
clearly understood as such. But, in the second place, we have combated
the Malthusian alarm, precisely because we believe that the moral
checks to population will be found a sufficient balance to the
physical law of increase. We have repudiated the idea that there is,
in the shape of the law of population, a constant enemy to human
improvement, convinced that this law will be found to be in perfect
harmony with all other laws that regulate the destiny of man. A
certain pressure of population on the means of subsistence has been
always recognised as an element necessary to the progress of
society--especially at that early stage when bare subsistence is the
sole motive for industry. When not only to live, but to live well,
becomes the ruling motive of men, then come into play the various
moral checks arising from prudence, vanity, and duty. But the mere
thinness of population will not, in the first place, induce a high
standard of comfortable subsistence. It is a delusion to suppose that
the low standard of comfort and enjoyment prevailing amongst the
multitude is the result of excessive population. If Neapolitan
lazzaroni are contented with macaroni and sunshine, it matters not
whether their numbers are five hundred or five thousand, they will
labour for nothing beyond their macaroni. We would challenge the
political economist to prove that in England, at this present time, or
in any country of Europe, the prevailing standard of comfort amongst
the working classes has been permanently determined by the amount of
population. This standard is slowly rising, from better education,
mechanical inventions, and other causes, and _it_ will ultimately
control the increase of population. That wages occasionally suffer a
lamentable depression, owing to the numbers of any one class of
workmen, is a fact which does not touch the point at issue. We say
that, whether a population be dense or rare, you must first excite, by
education and the example of a higher class, a certain taste for
comfort, for a cleanly and orderly mode of life, amongst the mass of
labouring men; that until this taste is called forth, it would be in
vain to offer high wages, for men would only work one half the week,
and spend the other half in idleness and coarse intemperance; and
that, this taste once called forth, there will be no fear of the class
of men who possess it being permanently degraded by over-population,
unless the excess of population were derived from some neighbouring
country, unhappily far behind it in the race of civilisation.

We now continue our quotation.

     "There is room in the world, no doubt, and even in old
     countries, for an immense increase of population, supposing
     the arts of life to go on improving and capital to increase.
     But, although it may be innocuous, I confess I see very
     little reason for desiring it. The density of population
     necessary to enable mankind to obtain, in the greatest
     degree, all the advantages both of co-operation and of social
     intercourse, has, in all the more populous countries, been
     attained. A population may be too crowded, though all be
     amply supplied with food and raiment. It is not good for man
     to be kept perforce at all times in the presence of his
     species. A world from which solitude is extirpated is a very
     poor ideal. Solitude, in the sense of being often alone, is
     essential to any depth of meditation or of character; and
     solitude, in the presence of natural beauty and grandeur, is
     the cradle of thoughts and aspirations which are not only
     good for the individual, but which society could ill do
     without. Nor is there much satisfaction in contemplating the
     world, with nothing left to the spontaneous activity of
     nature--with every rood of land brought into cultivation
     which is capable of growing food for human beings--every
     flowery waste or natural pasture ploughed up--all quadrupeds
     or birds, which are not domesticated for man's use,
     exterminated as his rivals for food--every hedgerow or
     superfluous tree rooted out, and scarcely a place left where
     a shrub or flower could grow, without being eradicated as a
     weed in the name of improved agriculture. If the earth must
     lose that great portion of its pleasantness which it owes to
     things that the unlimited increase of wealth and population
     would extirpate from it, for the mere purpose of enabling it
     to support a larger, but not a better or a happier
     population, I sincerely hope, for the sake of posterity, that
     they will be content to be stationary long before necessity
     compels them to it.

     "It is scarcely necessary to remark, that a stationary
     condition of capital and population implies no stationary
     state of human improvement. There would be as much scope as
     ever for all kinds of mental culture, and moral and social
     progress; as much room for improving the Art of Living, and
     much more likelihood of its being improved, when minds ceased
     to be engrossed by the art of getting on. Even the industrial
     arts might be as earnestly and as successfully cultivated,
     with this sole difference--that, instead of serving no
     purpose but the increase of wealth, industrial improvements
     would produce their legitimate effect, that of abridging
     labour. Hitherto it is questionable if all the mechanical
     inventions yet made have lightened the daily toil of any
     human being. They have enabled a greater population to live
     the same life of drudgery and imprisonment, and an increased
     number of manufacturers and others to make large fortunes.
     They have increased the comforts of the middle classes; but
     they have not yet begun to effect those great changes in
     human destiny which it is in their nature and in their
     futurity to accomplish. Only when, in addition to just
     institutions, the increase of mankind shall be under the
     deliberate guidance of a judicious foresight, can the
     conquests made from the powers of nature, by the intellect
     and energy of scientific discoverers, become the common
     property of the species, and the means of improving and
     elevating the universal lot."--(Vol. ii. p. 311.)

These are not the times when truth is to be withheld because it is
disagreeable. There is a morality connected with wealth, its uses and
abuses, not enough taught, certainly not enough understood. The rich
man, who will not learn that there is a _duty_ inseparable from his
riches, is no better fitted for the times that are coming down upon
us, than the poor man who has not learned that patience is a duty
peculiarly imposed upon him, and that the ruin of others, and the
general panic which his violence may create, will inevitably add to
the hardships and privations he already has to endure. If society
demands of the poor man that he endure these evils of his lot, rather
than desperately bring down ruin upon all, himself included; surely
society must also demand of the rich man that he make the best use
possible of his wealth, so that his weaker brother be not driven to
madness and despair. It demands of him that he exert himself manfully
for that safety of the whole in which he has so much more evident an
interest. For, be it known--prescribe whatever remedies you will,
political, moral, or religious--that it is by securing a certain
indispensable amount of wellbeing to the multitude of mankind that the
only security can be found for the social fabric, for life, and
property, and civilisation. If men are allowed to sink into a
wretchedness that savours of despair, it is in vain that you show them
the ruins of the nation, and themselves involved in those ruins. What
interest have they any longer in the preservation of your boasted
state of civilisation? What to them how soon it be all a ruin? You
have lost all hold of them as reasonable beings. As well preach to the
winds as to men thoroughly and bitterly discontented. Those,
therefore, to whom wealth, or station, or intelligence, has given
power of any kind, must do their utmost to prevent large masses of
mankind from sinking into this condition. If they will not learn this
duty from the Christian teaching of their church, they must learn it
from the stern exposition of the economist and the politician.

Political economists have some of them wasted much time, and produced
no little ennui, by unprofitable discussions on the definition of
terms. These Mr Mill wisely spares us: an accurate writer, by a
cautious use of ordinary expressions, will make his meaning more
evident and precise than he will be able to do by any laboured
definitions, or the introduction of purely technical terms. Such have
been the discussions on the strict limits of the science of political
economy, and the propriety of the title it has so long borne; whether
intellectual efforts shall be classed amongst productive or
unproductive labour, and the precise and invariable meaning to be
given to such terms as _wealth_, _value_, and the like. These will
generally be found to be unprofitable controversies, tending more to
confusion of ideas than to precision of language. Let a writer think
steadily and clearly upon his subject, and ordinary language will be
faithful to him; distinctions between the several meanings of the same
term will be made as they are wanted. He who _begins_ by making such
distinctions is only laying a snare for his own feet; he will hamper
himself and perplex his reader. And with regard especially to the
range of topics which an author thinks fit to embrace in his treatise
upon this science, surely he may permit himself some liberty of
choice, without resolving to mete out new boundaries to which all who
follow him are to conform. If M. Dunoyer, for instance, in his able
and, in many respects, valuable work, _De la Liberté du Travail_,
chooses to write a treatise which embraces in fact the whole of human
life, all the energies and activities of man, mental as well as
physical, he could surely have done this without assailing old
distinctions and old titles with so needless a violence. Of what avail
to call in the etymologist at this time of day, to determine the
meaning, or criticise the application of so familiar a term as
political economy?[5]

But there is another class of discussions which, although to the
general reader, who is mostly an impatient one, they will appear at
first sight to be of a purely technical character, must not be so
hastily dismissed. These will be often found to have a direct bearing
on the most important questions that can occupy the mind of the
statesman. They are in fact explanatory of that great machine, a
commercial society, upon which he has to practise--which he has to
keep in order, or to learn to leave alone--and therefore as necessary
a branch of knowledge to him as anatomy or physiology to one who
undertakes to medicine the body. Such are some of the intricate
discussions which concern the nature of _capital_--a subject to which
we shall in the first place and at once turn our attention. It is a
subject which Mr Mill has treated throughout in a most masterly
manner. We may safely say, that there is now no other work to which a
student could be properly directed for obtaining a complete insight
into all the intricacies of this great branch of political economy.
The exposition lies scattered, indeed, through the two volumes; he
must read the entire work to obtain it. This scattering of the several
parts of a subject is inevitable in treating such a science as
political economy, where every topic has to be discussed in relation
to every other topic. We do not think that Mr Mill has been
particularly happy in his arrangement of topics, but, aware as we are
of the extreme difficulty, under such circumstances, of making _any
arrangement at all_, we forbear from any criticism. A man must write
himself out the best way he can; and the reader, after obtaining all
the materials put at his disposition, may pack them up in what
bundles may best suit his own convenience.

We must premise that on this subject--the nature and employment of
capital--there appears to be in one part of Mr Mill's exposition--not
an error--but a temporary forgetfulness of an old and familiar truth,
which ought to have found its place there. Its very familiarity has
occasioned it to be overlooked, in the keen inquiry after truth of a
more recondite nature. The part which the economists call
"unproductive consumption," the self-indulgent luxurious expenditure
of the rich--the part this plays in a system of society based on
individual effort and individual possession, is not fully stated.

He who spends his money, and lives to do little else, however idle he
may be himself, has always had the consolation that he was, at least,
setting other people to work. Mr Mill _seems_ to deny him utterly this
species of consolation; for in contending against a statement, made by
political economists as well as others, that unproductive consumption
is necessary, in a strictly _economical_ sense, to the employment of
the workmen, and as the indispensable relative to productive
consumption, or capital spent in industrial pursuits, he has
overlooked that _moral_ necessity there is, in the present system of
things, that there should be those who spend to enjoy, as well as
those who lay out their money for profit. "What supports and employs
productive labour," says Mr Mill, (Vol. i. p. 97,) "is the capital
expended in setting it to work, and not the demand of purchases for
the produce of the labour when completed. Demand for commodities is
not demand for labour. The demand for commodities determines in what
particular branch of production the labour and capital shall be
employed; it determines the _direction_ of the labour, but not the
more or less of the labour itself, or of the maintenance and payment
of the labour. That depends on the amount of the capital, or other
funds directly devoted to the sustenance and remuneration of labour."
Now, without a doubt, the man who purchases an article of luxury when
it is manufactured, does not employ labour in the same sense as the
manufacturer, who spends his wealth in supporting the artisan, and
finding him the requisites of his art, and who, after selling the
products of this industry, continues to spend the capital returned to
him, together with the profit he has made, in the further sustenance
of workmen. But it has been always understood, and the truth appears
to be almost too trite to insist on, that unless the unproductive
consumer were there to purchase, the capitalist would have had no
motive to employ his wealth in this manner; and, what is of equal
importance to bear in mind, unless the capitalist also calculated on
being, some future day, an unproductive consumer himself, he would
have no motive, by saving and toiling, to increase his wealth.

The necessity for a certain amount of unproductive consumption is not
a necessity in the nature of things. All men might, if they chose, be
saving, might spend upon themselves only what is needful for comfort,
and set apart the residue of their funds for the employment of labour,
not, of course, in the production of articles of luxury, for which
there would be no purchasers, but for such articles as the labourers
themselves, now paid from such ample stores, might be consumers of.
The social machine might still _go on_ under such a regime, and much
to the benefit of the labourer. The capitalists would find their
profits diminishing, it is true--they would be more rapidly
approaching that _minimum_ of profit, that stationary state, of which
we shall by-and-by have to speak; but this diminution of profits must,
at all events, sooner or later, take place, and depends ultimately, as
we shall have occasion to show, on higher laws, over which man has no
control. Men might, if they chose, be all saving, and all convert
superfluous wealth into capital; but need we add, men would never
choose any such thing. There is no necessity in the nature of things,
but there is a necessity in the moral nature of man for a certain
portion of this unproductive consumption. The good of others is not a
motive sufficiently strong to stimulate a man to any of the steady
pursuits of industry. When, therefore, his real wants are satisfied,
it must be the gratification of fictitious wants that induces him to
toil and accumulate, or to part with any thing he has, by way of
barter or exchange. From the time when the rude possessor of the soil
consents to surrender a portion of his surplus produce for some
trinket or piece of gaudy apparel, to the present epoch, when men
consent to live frugally and toil hard during the first period of
life, in order that they or their children may afterwards live idly,
luxuriously, and ostentatiously, this same unproductive expenditure
has performed the part of essential stimulant to human industry. It is
not enough, therefore, to say, that it gives the _direction_ to a
certain portion of labour: it affords the stimulant that converts
idleness into industry, and saving into capital. A very much more
dignified being would man undoubtedly be, if desire for the general
good could replace, as a motive of industry, a selfish desire, which
is often no better than what we ridicule in the savage when he
manifests a most disproportionate anxiety, as it seems to us, for the
possession of glass beads, or a piece of painted calico. But to this
point in the cultivation of human reason we have, at all events, not
yet arrived. And let this be always borne in mind--in order that the
class of society designated as unproductive consumers may not fall
into unmerited odium--that others, who are using their wealth in the
direct and profitable employment of labour, are themselves desirous,
above all things, of taking their place in the class of unproductive
consumers, and are working for that very end.

"Every one can see," writes Mr Mill, "that if a benevolent government
possessed all the food, and all the implements and materials of the
community, it could exact productive labour from all to whom it
allowed a share in the food, and could be in no danger of wanting a
field for the employment of this productive labour, since, as long as
there was a single want unsaturated (which material objects could
supply) of any one individual, the labour of the community could be
turned to the production of something capable of satisfying that want.
Now, the individual possessors of capital, when they add to it by
fresh accumulations, are doing precisely the same thing which we
suppose to be done by our benevolent government."--(Vol. i. p. 83.)
Certainly the individual capitalists could do the same as the
benevolent government, if they had its benevolence. If there are any
political economists who teach otherwise, we hold them in error. We
wish only to add to the statement the old moral truth long ago
recognised, before political economy had a distinct place or name in
the world, that as man is constituted, or rather, as he has hitherto
demeaned himself, (for who knows what moral as well as other
reformations may take place?--the civilised man, such as we have him
at this day, postponing habitually the present enjoyment to the
future, is a creature of cultivation; and who can tell but that
advanced cultivation may make of man a being habitually acting for the
general good, in which general good he finds his own particular
interest sufficiently represented and provided for?)--that, as man has
hitherto acted, this same unproductive selfish expenditure is
indispensable as the motive to set that industry to work, which
ultimately distributes the real necessaries and rational comforts of
life to so many thousands.

Having, in justice to the class of unproductive consumers, brought out
this homely truth, which, in the scientific exposition of Mr Mill,
seemed in danger of being overlooked, we proceed to a branch of the
subject which, if it appears at first of a very technical and abstruse
description, is yet capable of very important applications. One of the
most striking facts relating to the nature of capital is the tendency
of profits, in wealthy and populous countries, to diminish as the
amount of capital increases--a tendency to arrive at a certain
_minimum_ beyond which there would be no motive for saving, and little
possibility of accumulating. This tendency Mr Mill explains as being
the result, not of what has been somewhat vaguely called the
competition of capital, over-production, or general glut in the
market, but, in reality, of the physical laws of nature--of the simple
fact that the products of the soil cannot be indefinitely multiplied.
Manufacturing industry must be ultimately limited by the supply of
the raw material it fashions, which is furnished by the soil, and the
supply of food for the artisan, furnished also by the soil; it
therefore is subjected, as well as agricultural industry, to the
limits which have been set to the productiveness of the earth. Now,
without seeking for any definite ratio, such as might be expressed in
numbers, between the labour and ingenuity of man and the products of
the soil, it may be stated as a simple fact, which admits of no
dispute, that after the land has been fairly cultivated, additional
labour and additional cost yield but a small proportionate return.

     "The limitation to production from the properties of the
     soil," writes our author, "is not like the obstacle opposed
     by a wall, which stands immovable in one particular spot, and
     offers no hindrance to motion, short of stopping it entirely.
     We may rather compare it to a highly elastic and extensible
     band, which is hardly ever so violently stretched that it
     could not possibly be stretched any more; yet the pressure of
     which is felt long before the final limit is reached, and
     felt more severely the nearer that limit is approached.

     "After a certain, and not very advanced stage in the progress
     of agriculture--as soon, in fact, as men have applied
     themselves to cultivation with any energy, and have brought
     to it any tolerable tools--from that time it is the law of
     production from the land, that, in any given state of
     agricultural skill and knowledge, by increasing the labour
     the produce is not increased in an equal degree; doubling the
     labour does not double the produce; or, to express the same
     thing in other words, every increase of produce is obtained
     by a more than proportional increase in the application of
     labour to the land.

     "This general law of agricultural industry is the most
     important proposition in political economy. Were the law
     different, nearly all the phenomena of the production and
     distribution of wealth would be other than they are. The most
     fundamental errors, which still prevail on our subject,
     result from not perceiving this law at work underneath the
     more superficial agencies on which attention fixes itself;
     but mistaking these agencies for the ultimate causes of
     effects of which they may influence the form and mode, but of
     which it alone determines the essence."--(Vol. i. p. 212.)

It is to this physical law, underlying, as it were, the commercial and
industrial energies of man, that we must finally attribute that
gradual diminution of profits, observable in advanced and opulent
countries. This is popularly attributed, we believe, and has been
assigned, by some political economists, to over-production; to a
general glut of the market, or, in other words, a preponderance of
supply over demand. Over-production in this or that article may very
easily, for a time, take place; but general over-production, a general
over-balance in the supply, and deficiency in the demand, may be
demonstrated to be impossible.

The simple but convincing argument against a general glut or
over-balance between supply and demand, which we believe Mr Mill
senior first originated, is this,--that as each producer produces in
order to part with his produce--in order, in fact, to exchange, to
purchase, he must necessarily bring into the market a demand
equivalent to the supply he furnishes. "All sellers," as our present
author expresses it, "are _ex vi termini_ buyers. Could we suddenly
double the productive powers of the country, we should double the
supply of commodities in every market; but we should, by the same
stroke, double the purchasing power. Every body would bring a double
demand as well as supply; every body would be able to buy twice as
much, because every one would have twice as much to offer in
exchange."--(Vol. ii. p. 91.) Of certain articles, there may, of
course, be a superfluity; of certain others a deficiency; but such a
thing as a general over-balance between supply and demand cannot take

The argument, if it laid claim to a sort of mathematical precision,
might be open to an ingenious cavil. The exchange of commodities, it
might be said, is effected through the instrumentality of money; now,
it is one of the peculiar advantages of money that it enables the
vender to sell at one time and purchase at another; it gives him a
command over future markets; it enables him to postpone indefinitely
one half of the operation of barter. Men who come into a market,
wishing to dispose of their commodities _now_, but not intending to
select what commodity they shall take in exchange, till some future
time, postponing indefinitely the other half of the operation of
barter, and seeking only for money, for that _token_ which will give
them or their children a claim on subsequent markets--do _not_ bring
with them a demand equivalent to their supply.

The answer to the objection lets us more fully into the real facts of
the case. Those only who wished to sell their produce in order to
_hoard_, would fall under the description of men who bring a present
supply into the market, postponing indefinitely their demand. But the
producer is almost always a man desirous of increasing his wealth--he
does not hoard; he immediately lays out his capital in some productive
manner, in the purchase of food for labourers, and of the raw
materials of industry. But these articles, it happens, cannot be
supplied to him with the increasing abundance he demands; and thus we
fall back upon the ultimate law to which we have alluded. The
manufacturer finds, that every additional demand he makes for these is
supplied at a greater cost. What has limited the profits of the
agricultural capitalist limits his profits also. He cannot sell his
goods at the accustomed advantage. He exclaims that there is a glut in
the market. What he takes for a glut is a deficiency. It is quite
natural and permissible, however, that this phenomenon of the
diminution of profits should be spoken of as the result of a
superabundance of capital, provided only it be understood _why_ the
later accumulations of capital fail to bring the same return as the

A simple law of nature, therefore, is the true cause of this
commercial phenomenon. Countries, after a certain progress in the
career of wealth, must cease to accumulate;--the diminished profit on
capital affording no longer any motive for frugality and toil;--and
they arrive at what may be called the stationary state. "When a
country," says Mr Mill, "has long possessed a large production, and a
large net income to make savings from, and when, therefore, the means
have long existed of making a great annual addition to capital, (the
country not having, like America, a large reserve of fertile land
still unused,) it is one of the characteristics of such a country,
that the rate of profit is habitually within, as it were, a hand's
breadth of the minimum, and the country, therefore, on the very verge
of the stationary state. By this, I do not mean that this state is
likely, in any of the great countries of Europe, to be soon actually
reached, or that capital does not still yield a profit considerably
greater than what is barely sufficient to induce the people of these
countries to save and accumulate. My meaning is, that it would require
but a short time to reduce profits to the minimum, if capital
continued to increase at its present rate, and no circumstances having
a tendency to raise the rate of profit occurred in the mean
time."--(Vol. ii. p. 287.)

Mr Mill then states what are the counteracting circumstances which
arrest this downward tendency of profits. He mentions the waste of
capital in periods of over-trading and rash speculation, the
expenditure of an unproductive kind, and the perpetual overflow of
capital into colonies and foreign countries, to seek higher profits
than can be obtained at home. This last has a twofold operation. "In
the first place, it does what a fire, or an inundation, or a
commercial crisis, would have done,--it carries off a part of the
increase of capital from which the reduction of profits proceeds.
Secondly, the capital so carried off is not lost, but is chiefly
employed either in founding colonies, which become large exporters of
cheap agricultural produce, or in extending, and perhaps improving,
the agriculture of older communities. It is to the emigration of
English capital that we have chiefly to look for keeping up a supply
of cheap food and cheap materials of clothing, proportional to the
increase of our population; thus enabling an increasing capital to
find employment in the country, without reduction of profit, in
producing manufactured articles with which to pay for this supply of
raw produce. Thus, the exportation of capital is an agent of great
efficacy in extending the field of employment for that which remains;
and it may be said truly that, up to a certain point, the more capital
we send away, the more we shall possess and be able to retain at
home."--(Vol. ii. p. 297.)

This last observation we have quoted is well deserving of attention.
It is an instance of what we mentioned in the outset, of the science
correcting as it advances its own errors. What follows is a still more
striking instance, and still more worthy of attention. It occurs in
the chapter entitled,--_Consequences of the tendency of profits to a
minimum_. To such observations we have wished to draw the especial
attention of our readers, but could not do so till the previous
exposition had been gone through.

     "The theory of the effect of accumulation on profits, laid
     down in the preceding chapter, materially alters many of the
     practical conclusions which might otherwise be supposed to
     follow from the general principles of political economy, and
     which were, indeed, long admitted as true by the highest
     authorities on the subject.

     "It must greatly abate, or, rather, altogether destroy, in
     countries where profits are low, the immense importance which
     used to be attached, by political economists, to the effects
     which an event or a measure of government might have in
     adding to, or subtracting from, the capital of the country.
     We have now seen that the lowness of profits is a proof that
     the spirit of accumulation is so active, and that the
     increase of capital has proceeded at so rapid a rate, as to
     outstrip the two counter agencies, improvements in
     production, and increased supply of cheap necessaries from
     abroad: and that unless a considerable portion of the annual
     increase of capital were either periodically destroyed, or
     exported for foreign investment, the country would speedily
     attain the point at which further accumulation would cease,
     or at least spontaneously slacken, so as no longer to
     overpass the march of invention in the arts which produce the
     necessaries of life. In such a state of things as this, a
     sudden addition to the capital of the country, unaccompanied
     by any increase of productive power, would be but of
     transitory duration; since, by depressing profits and
     interest, it would rather diminish, by a corresponding
     amount, the savings which would be made from income in the
     year or two following, or it would cause an equivalent amount
     to be sent abroad, or to be wasted in rash speculations.
     Neither, on the other hand, would a sudden abstraction of
     capital, unless of inordinate amount, have any real effect in
     impoverishing the country. After a few months or years there
     would exist in the country just as much capital as if none
     had been taken away. The abstraction, by raising profits and
     interest, would give a fresh stimulus to the accumulative
     principle, which would speedily fill up the vacuum. Probably,
     indeed, the only effect that would ensue, would be that, for
     some time afterwards, less capital would be exported, and
     less thrown away in hazardous speculation.

     "In the first place, then, this view of things greatly
     weakens, in a wealthy and industrious country, the force of
     the economical argument against the expenditure of public
     money for really valuable, even though industrially
     unproductive purposes. _If for any great object of justice or
     philanthropic policy, such as the industrial regeneration of
     Ireland, or a comprehensive measure of colonisation or of
     public education, it were proposed to raise a large sum by
     way of loan, politicians need not demur to the abstraction of
     so much capital, as tending to dry up the permanent sources
     of the country's wealth, and diminish the fund which supplies
     the subsistence of the labouring population. The utmost
     expense which could be requisite for any of these purposes,
     would not, in all probability, deprive one labourer of
     employment, or diminish the next year's production by one ell
     of cloth or one bushel of grain._ In poor countries the
     capital of the country requires the legislator's sedulous
     care; he is bound to be most cautious in encroaching upon it,
     and should favour to the utmost its accumulation at home, and
     its introduction from abroad. But in rich, populous, and
     highly cultivated countries, it is not capital which is the
     deficient element, but fertile land; and what the legislator
     should desire and promote, is not a greater aggregate saving,
     but a greater return to saving, either by improved
     cultivation, or by access to the produce of more fertile
     lands in other parts of the globe. In such countries, the
     government may take any moderate portion of the capital of
     the country and convert it into revenue, without affecting
     the national wealth; the whole being rather drawn from that
     portion of the annual saving which would otherwise be sent
     abroad, or being substracted from the unproductive
     expenditure of individuals for the next year or two, since
     every million sent makes room for another million to be
     saved, before reaching the overflowing point. When the object
     in view is worth the sacrifice of such an amount of the
     expenditure that furnishes the daily enjoyment of the people,
     the only well grounded economical objection against taking
     the necessary funds directly from the capital, consists of
     the inconveniences attending the process of raising a
     revenue, by taxation, to pay the interest of a debt.

     "_The same considerations enable us to throw aside, as
     unworthy of regard, one of the common arguments against
     emigration as a means of relief for the labouring class._
     Emigration, it is said, can do no good to the labourers, if,
     in order to defray the cost, as much must be taken away from
     the capital of the country as from its population. That any
     thing like this proportion could require to be abstracted
     from capital for the purpose even of the most extensive
     colonisation, few, I should think, would now assert; but even
     on that untenable supposition, it is an error to suppose that
     no benefit could be conferred on the labouring class. If
     one-tenth of the labouring people of England were transferred
     to the colonies, and along with them one-tenth of the
     circulating capital of the country, either wages, or profits,
     or both, would be greatly benefited by the diminished
     pressure of capital and population upon the fertility of the
     land. There would be a reduced demand for food; the inferior
     arable lands would be thrown out of cultivation, and would
     become pasture; the superior would be cultivated less highly,
     but with a greater proportional return; food would be lowered
     in price, and, though money wages would not rise, every
     labourer would be considerably improved in circumstances--an
     improvement which, if no increased stimulus to population and
     fall of wages ensued, would be permanent; while, if there
     did, profits would rise, and accumulation start forward so as
     to repair the loss of capital. The landlords alone would
     sustain some loss of income; and even they, only if
     colonisation went to the length of actually diminishing
     capital and population, but not if it merely carried off the
     annual increase."--(Vol. ii. p. 999.)

Does not all this place the condition of England in a very striking
aspect before us? We have a country here so wealthy, so nearly
approaching that state where its accessions of capital can no longer
be profitably employed, that it wastes its funds in ruinous
speculations, building perhaps useless factories--and, if useless, how
mischievous!--that it sends its money abroad to construct foreign
railways, or throws it away upon South American republics. Yet the
people of this country is degraded and brutalised for want of
education, and it is threatened with political convulsions for want of
a good system of emigration; and you call for education, and you call
for colonisation, and the only obstacle that is opposed to you is--the
want of money! Shame upon England, if this be so! With all her
knowledge and civilisation, she will go down to ruin, rather than
give, in the shape of taxes, for the most necessary as well as
philanthropic purposes, that wealth which she can fling abroad or
waste at home with the most reckless prodigality.

Of late the Irish landlord has been very justly held up to public
reproof for the hard, unthinking, extortionate manner in which he has
been in the habit of dealing with the soil--or allowing certain
middlemen to deal with it--taking a famine-price for the
land--permitting the miserable cottiers to bid against each other,
instead of fixing an equitable rent, such as would finally have
secured to himself better and more profitable tenants. For his
thoughtlessness or cupidity, whichever it may be, both he and the
country at large are paying a severe penalty. But the Irish landlords
are not the only class that are to blame. That indiscriminate recoil
from all taxation, whatever be its object, which characterises the
upper and middling classes of society in England, is a sad blot in
their escutcheon.[6]

Before quitting this subject of capital, we must quote a passage
which occurs at an earlier part of the work, but which is in perfect
harmony with the strain of observations we have been calling attention
to. It serves to show and explain the elastic power there is in every
thoroughly industrious country to revive from any temporary loss, or
sacrifice, or calamity. Let but the people with their knowledge and
habits, the soil and a little food, remain, and there is no effort,
and no ruin or desolation from which it would not speedily recover.
Moreover, it is a passage of a certain popular interest, and we are
glad of the opportunity to relieve our pages by its quotation.

     "Every thing which is produced is consumed; both what is
     saved and what is said to be spent; and the former quite as
     rapidly as the latter. All the ordinary forms of language
     tend to disguise this. When men talk of the ancient wealth of
     a country, of riches inherited from ancestors, and similar
     expressions, the idea suggested is, that the riches so
     transmitted were produced long ago, at the time when they are
     said to have been first acquired, and that no portion of the
     capital of the country was produced this year, except so much
     as may have been this year added to the total amount. The
     fact is far otherwise. The greater part, in value, of the
     wealth now existing in England, has been produced by human
     hands within the last twelve months. A very small proportion
     indeed of that large aggregate was in existence ten years
     ago;--of the present productive capital of the country,
     scarcely any part except farm-houses and factories, and a few
     ships and machines; and even these would not in most cases
     have survived so long, if fresh labour had not been employed
     within that period in putting them in repair. The land
     subsists, and the land is almost the only thing that
     subsists. Every thing which is produced perishes, and most
     things very quickly. Most kinds of capital are not fitted by
     their nature to be long preserved. There are a few, and but a
     few productions, capable of a very prolonged existence.
     Westminster Abbey has lasted many centuries, with occasional
     repairs; some ancient sculptures have existed above two
     thousand years; the Pyramids perhaps double or treble that
     time. But these were objects devoted to unproductive use. If
     we except bridges and aqueducts, (to which may sometimes be
     added tanks and embankments,) there are few instances of any
     edifice applied to industrial purposes which has been of
     great duration: such buildings do not hold out against wear
     and tear, nor is it good economy to construct them of the
     solidity necessary for permanency. Capital is kept in
     existence from age to age, not by preservation, but by
     perpetual reproduction: every part of it is used and
     destroyed, generally very soon after it has been produced;
     but those who consume it are employed meanwhile in producing
     more. The growth of capital is similar to the growth of
     population. Every individual who is born, dies, but in each
     year the number born exceeds the number who die; the
     population, therefore, always increases, although not one
     person of those comprising it was alive until a very recent

     "This perpetual consumption and reproduction of capital
     affords the explanation of what has so often excited
     wonder--the great rapidity with which countries recover from
     a state of devastation; the disappearance in a short time of
     all traces of the mischief done by earthquakes, of floods,
     hurricanes, and the ravages of war. An enemy lays waste a
     country by fire and sword, and destroys or carries away
     nearly all the movable wealth existing in it: all the
     inhabitants are ruined; yet in a few years after, every thing
     is much as it was before. This _vis medicatrix naturæ_ has
     been a subject of sterile astonishment, or has been cited to
     exemplify the wonderful strength of the principle of saving,
     which can repair such enormous losses in so brief an
     interval. There is nothing at all wonderful in the matter.
     What the enemy have destroyed would have been destroyed in a
     little time by the inhabitants themselves; the wealth which
     they so rapidly reproduce would have needed to be produced,
     and would have been reproduced in any case, and probably in
     as short an interval."--(Vol. i. p. 91.)

One of the most interesting portions of the work is that devoted to
questions touching the cultivation of the land--as whether large or
small farms are most advisable. Mr Mill appears to advocate the
latter, and enlarges much on the industry universally displayed by the
peasants of those countries who either cultivate land of their own, or
in which they have a certain and permanent interest. Additional value
is given to these chapters, from the bearing they are made to have on
the vexed questions of the causes and the remedies of the lamentable
state of that unhappy country, Ireland.

We remember well the impression made upon us on reading, some time,
ago, these passages in Sismondi's work which Mr Mill quotes on this
occasion, where the habits and life of the peasant proprietors of
Switzerland are so minutely, and apparently so faithfully described.
Coupling his description with what our own hasty observation had
taught us of this country, we were disposed to believe that nowhere,
and under no circumstances, does human life wear a more enviable
aspect than amongst these small proprietors, this rustic aristocracy
of Switzerland. But we regarded it, as we still do, as one of those
instances of _compensation_ so general in the moral world. All the
wealth of England could not purchase this sort of pastoral happiness.
At all events, only here and there such a primitive state of things
could exist. It was not necessary for our Norman ancestors to have
added manor to manor: a wealthy commercial state, which gives origin
to great fortunes, must inevitably give origin to large properties.
The same wealth which decides for us that the land shall be cultivated
in large farms, would also decide that it should be divided amongst
large proprietors. It is well to keep in mind that neither of these
facts is, to any material extent, owing to any peculiarity in the
history or the laws of England, but to its commercial opulence.

Meanwhile we may be permitted to admire "the picture of unwearied
industry, and what may be called affectionate interest in the land;"
the patience, frugality, and prudence in entering into marriage, that
almost always characterise the class of small proprietors cultivating
their own soil. Our own yeomen, at that distant and almost fabulous
epoch when our country obtained the name of "merry England," were of
this description of men. We wish we had space to transfer to our pages
some of the extracts which our author has drawn together from French,
and German, and English writers, all showing the hearty, incessant,
and, as one author calls it, the "superhuman" industry of the peasant

A great number of such properties England cannot be expected to have;
there may, too, be reasons for not desiring their existence; but one
fact is placed beyond all controversy, both by the testimony of
travellers, and the known operations of the common feelings of our
nature, that they are the most indefatigable of all labourers. If you
wish to convert an idle and improvident man into an industrious and
frugal one, give him a piece of land of his own: the recipe _may_
fail; but if this does not reform him, nothing else will.

It is on the condition of Ireland, as we have intimated, that this
description of the peasant proprietor is made particularly to bear. To
substitute for the wretched cottier system, some system under which
the Irish peasant, having a substantial interest in the improvement of
the soil, would be placed under strong motives to industry and
providence, is the great remedy which Mr Mill proposes for the unhappy
state of that country.

The evils of the cottier system are notorious. A peasantry who have no
resource but the potato field, and who are multiplying as only utter
poverty can multiply, bid against each other for the possession of the
land. They promise rents they cannot possibly pay. They are
immediately and continually in debt; but being there upon the soil,
they can first feed themselves; this they do, and the rest, whatever
it may be, is for the landlord.

     "In such a condition," writes Mr Mill, "what can a tenant
     gain by any amount of industry or prudence, and what lose by
     any recklessness? If the landlord at any time exerted his
     full legal rights, the cottier would not be able even to
     live. If by extra exertion he doubled the produce of his bit
     of land, or if he prudently abstained from producing mouths
     to eat it up, his only gain would be to have more left to pay
     to his landlord, while, if he had twenty children, they would
     still be fed first, and the landlord would only take what was
     left. Almost alone among mankind, the Irish cottier is in
     this condition,--that he can scarcely be either better or
     worse off by any act of his own. If he was industrious or
     prudent, nobody but his landlord would gain; if he is lazy or
     intemperate, it is at his landlord's expense. A situation
     more devoid of motives to either labour or self-command,
     imagination itself cannot conceive. The inducements of free
     human beings are taken away, and those of a slave not
     substituted. He has nothing to hope and nothing to fear,
     except being dispossessed of his holding; and against this he
     protects himself by the _ultima ratio_ of a civil
     war."--(Vol. i. p. 374)

That this system must be got rid of is admitted by all--but how? It is
often proposed to convert the cottiers into hired labourers; but
without entering upon (either to admit or controvert) the other
objections which Mr Mill makes to this plan, it is enough to say that
it is, at present, impracticable. "The conversion of cottiers into
hired labourers," he justly observes, "implies the introduction all
over Ireland of capitalist farmers, in lieu of the present small
tenants. These farmers, or their capital at least, must come from
England. But to induce capital to come in, the cottier population must
first be peaceably got rid of: in other words, that must be already
accomplished, which English capital is proposed as the means of
accomplishing." Besides which, it is the characteristic of the English
system of farming, that it employs the fewest number of labourers.
"Taking the number of Irish peasants in the square mile, and the
number of hired labourers in an equal space in the model counties of
Scotland or England, the former number is commonly computed to be
about three times the latter. Two-thirds, therefore, of the Irish
peasantry would be absolutely dispensed with. What is to be done with
them?... The people are there; and the problem is, not how to improve
the country, but how it can be improved by and for its present

To wait till the English system of farming can be introduced into
Ireland is tantamount to resigning all attempt to improve the
condition of the people of that country. Something must be done to
prepare the way for the introduction of that system. There are several
schemes afloat for giving or extending a certain _tenant-right_ to the
peasantry. Into these we have not space to enter--for it would take
some to explain the several significations attached to this term
tenant-right. It is sufficient to say, that, whenever the term has any
really important signification, and under it any effective remedy is
proposed, it means this,--that the legislature should interfere
between the landlord and tenant, and assign an equitable rent, and an
equitable duration of the tenancy. Such an act of the legislature
might be perfectly justifiable, and might be found to be as
advantageous to the landlord as the tenant; for the former as much
needs to be protected from his own indolence or thoughtless cupidity,
as the latter from the desperate pressure of want. But we should, of
course, infinitely prefer that such an equitable arrangement between
these parties should be arrived at without the intervention of the
legislature; and we think it would be an indirect result of the scheme
which Mr Mill proposes, or rather advocates. He would begin the work
of reformation by forming a body of peasant proprietors on the waste
lands of Ireland. Carried out with due consideration to the rights of
property, we confess we can detect no objections to this plan. Some
differences of opinion, we believe, exist amongst the best judges as
to the nature of the soil in question, and its capability of being
reclaimed; and on this point we cannot profess to give an opinion:
but, so far as principles of legislation, or the objects in view are
concerned, we cordially approve of the scheme, though we cannot say
that we entertain the same sanguine view of it as the author before
us. It deserves a trial, in conjunction with other measures of relief,
when the temper of that misguided people shall admit of the
application, with any probability of success, of this class of
remedial measures.

We shall give the project as it is stated in the work before us. After
observing that it is not necessary that peasant properties should be
universal, in order to be useful, nor, indeed, desirous that they
should be universal, he thus proceeds:--

     "It is enough, if there be land available on which to locate
     so great a portion of the population, that the remaining area
     of the country shall not be required to maintain greater
     numbers than are compatible with large farming and hired
     labour. For this purpose there is an obvious resource in the
     waste lands, which are happily so extensive, and a large
     portion of them so improveable, as to afford a means by
     which, without making the present tenants proprietors, nearly
     the whole surplus population might be converted into peasant
     proprietors elsewhere. This plan has been strongly pressed
     upon the public by several writers; but the first to bring it
     prominently forward in England, was Mr William Thornton.[7]

     "The detailed estimate of an irrefragable authority, Mr
     Griffith, annexed to the Report of Lord Devon's Commission,
     shows nearly a million and a half of acres reclaimable for
     the spade or plough, some of them with the promise of great
     fertility, and about two millions and a half more reclaimable
     for pasture; the greater part being in most convenient
     proximity to the principal masses of destitute population.
     Besides these four millions of acres, there are above two
     millions and a half, pronounced by Mr Griffith to be
     unimprovable; but he is only speaking of reclamation for
     profit: it is doubtful if there be any land, in a temperate
     climate, which cannot be reclaimed and rendered productive by
     labourers themselves under the inducement of a permanent
     property. Confining ourselves to the one and a half millions
     of arable first mentioned, it would furnish properties
     averaging five acres each to three hundred thousand persons,
     which, at the rate of five persons to a family--a rather low
     rate for Ireland--answers to a population of fifteen hundred
     thousand. Suppose such a number drafted off to a state of
     independence and comfort, together with any moderate
     additional relief of emigration, and the introduction of
     English capital and farming over the remaining surface of
     Ireland would cease to be chimerical.

     "'The improvement of waste,' Mr Thornton observes, 'may
     perhaps be thought to require a good deal of capital; but
     capital is principally useful for its command of labour, and
     the Irish peasantry have quite labour enough at their own
     disposal. Their misfortune is that they have so much. Their
     labour would not be worse applied because they worked for
     themselves instead of for a pay-master. So far is large
     capital from being indispensable for the cultivation of
     barren tracts, that schemes of this kind, which could only
     bring loss to a real speculator, are successfully achieved by
     his penniless rival. A capitalist must have a certain return
     for the money he lays out, but the poor man expends nothing
     but his own superabundant labour, which would be valueless if
     not so employed; so that his returns, however small, are all
     clear profit. No man in his senses would ever have thought of
     wasting money upon the original sand of the Pays de Waes; but
     the hard-working boors who settled there two hundred years
     ago, without any other stock than their industry, contrived
     to enrich both themselves and the land, and indeed to make
     the latter the richest in Europe.'

     "'The profit of reclaiming waste land,' says the Digest of
     Evidence to Lord Devon's Commission, 'will be best understood
     from a practice not uncommon in Ireland, to which farmers
     sometimes resort. This consists in giving the use of a small
     portion of it to a poor cottier or herdsman for the first
     three crops, after which this improved portion is given up to
     the farmer, and a fresh piece of the waste land is taken on
     the same terms by the cottier.' Well may the compiler say,
     'Here we have the example of the very poorest class in
     Ireland obtaining a livelihood by the cultivation of waste
     land under the most discouraging and the least remunerative
     circumstances that can well be imagined.'

     "It is quite worthy of the spirit which pervades the wretched
     attempts as yet made to do good to Ireland, that this
     spectacle of the poorest of mankind making the land valuable
     by their labour for the profit of other people who have done
     nothing to assist them, does not at once strike Lord Devon
     and his Commission as a thing which ought not to be. Mr
     Thornton strongly urges the claims of common justice and
     common sense.

     "'The colonists ought to be allowed to retain permanent
     possession of the spots reclaimed by them. To employ them as
     labourers in bringing the land into a remunerative condition,
     (see Report of Land Occupation Commissioners,) in order that
     it may then be let to some one else, while they are sent to
     shift for themselves where they can, may be an excellent mode
     of enriching the landlord, but must eventually aggravate the
     sufferings of the poor. It is probably because this plan has
     been generally practised, that the reclamation of waste land
     has hitherto done nothing for the benefit of the Irish
     peasantry. If the latter are to derive any advantage from it,
     such of them as may be located on the waste should receive
     perpetual leases of their respective allotments--should be
     made freeholders in fact, or at least perpetual tenants at a
     quit-rent. Such an appropriation of waste land would, of
     course, require that compensation should be made to all who
     previously possessed any interest in it. But the value of a
     legal interest in land which cannot be enclosed or cultivated
     without permission of the legislature, can only be
     proportionate to the actual yearly produce; and as land in a
     natural state yields little or nothing, all legal claims upon
     it might be bought up at a trifling expense, or might be
     commuted for a very small annual payment to be made by the
     settlers. Of the perfect competence of parliament to direct
     some arrangement of this kind there can be no question. An
     authority which compels individuals to part with their most
     valued property on the slightest pretext of public
     convenience, and permits railway projectors to throw down
     family mansions and cut up favourite pleasure-grounds, need
     not be very scrupulous about forcing the sale of boggy
     meadows or mountain pastures, in order to obtain the means of
     curing the destitution and misery of an entire people.'

     "It would be desirable," continues Mr Mill, "and in most
     cases necessary, that the tracts of land should be prepared
     for the labours of the peasant by being drained and
     intersected with roads, at the expense of government; the
     interest of the sums so expended, and of compensation paid
     for the existing rights to the waste land, being charged on
     it, when reclaimed, as a perpetual quit-rent, redeemable at a
     moderate number of years' purchase. The state would thus
     incur no loss, while the advances made would give that
     immediate employment to the surplus labour of Ireland, which,
     if not given in this manner, will assuredly have to be given
     in some other, not only less useful, but far less likely to
     repay its cost. The millions lavished, during the famine, in
     the almost nominal execution of useless works, without any
     result but that of keeping the people alive, would, if
     employed in a great operation in the waste lands, have been
     quite as effectual for relieving immediate distress, and
     would have laid the foundation, broad and deep, for something
     really deserving the name of social improvement. But, as
     usual, it was thought better to throw away money and exertion
     in a beaten track, than to take the responsibility of the
     most advantageous investment of them in an untrodden
     one."--(Vol. i. p. 392.)

We make no apology for the length of the above extract; the subject is
of great importance; but having stated the proposal in the words of
its principal author (if Mr Thornton can claim the distinction) and
its most distinguished advocate, we have nothing left but to express
our own wish that some such wide and general plan will at all events
meet with a fair trial, when the fitting time shall occur for making
the experiment.

Any of our readers into whose hands the work of Mr Mill has already
fallen, will be aware of the numerous topics on which it must excite
controversy or provoke discussion. Some of these topics we had marked
out for examination; but we have no space to enter upon a new subject,
and shall content ourselves with closing our notice with an extract or
two from what is the closing chapter of the work itself--_On the
Limits of the Province of Government_. His observations upon this
subject are so temperate and judicious, and conceived throughout in so
liberal and enlightened a spirit, that although there must always be a
_shade_ of difference between such a writer and ourselves, we should
have little hesitation in adopting almost the whole of the chapter. He
draws a very necessary distinction between the authoritative
interference of government, controlling and interdicting, and that
kind of intervention where a government, "leaving individuals free to
use their own means of pursuing any object of general interest, but
not trusting the object solely to their care, establishes, side by
side with their arrangements, an agency of its own for a like purpose.
Thus it is one thing to maintain a church establishment, and another
to refuse toleration to other religions, or to persons professing no
religion. It is one thing to provide schools or colleges, and another
to require that no person shall act as an instructor of youth without
a government license."

We like the tone of the following remark:--"Whatever theory we adopt
respecting the foundation of the social union, and under whatever
political institutions we live, there is a circle around every
individual human being which no government, be it that of one, of a
few, or of the many, ought to be permitted to overstep; there is a
part of the life of every person, who has come to years of discretion,
within which the individuality of that person ought to reign
uncontrolled, either by any other individual or the public
collectively. That there is, or ought to be, some space of human
existence thus entrenched round, and sacred from authoritative
intrusion, no one who professes the smallest regard to human freedom
or dignity will call in question."

     "Many," he continues, "in latter times have been prone to
     think that limitation of the powers of government is only
     essential when the government itself is badly constituted;
     when it does not represent the people, but is the organ of a
     class, or a coalition of classes; and that a government of a
     sufficiently popular constitution might be trusted with any
     amount of power over the nation, since its power would be
     only that of the nation over itself. This might be true, if
     the nation, in such cases, did not practically mean a mere
     majority of the nation, and if minorities only were capable
     of oppressing, but not of being oppressed. Experience,
     however, proves that the depositaries of power, who are mere
     delegates of the people--that is, of a majority--are quite as
     ready (when they think they can count upon popular support)
     as any organs of oligarchy to assume arbitrary power, and
     encroach unduly on the liberty of private life. The public
     collectively is abundantly ready to impose, not only its
     generally narrow views of its interests, but its abstract
     opinions, and even its tastes, as laws binding upon
     individuals; and our present civilisation tends so strongly
     to make the power of persons acting in masses the only
     substantial power in society, that there never was more
     necessity for surrounding individual independence of thought,
     speech, and conduct with the most powerful defences, in order
     to maintain that originality of mind and individuality of
     character, which are the only source of any real progress,
     and of most of the qualities which make the human race much
     superior to any herd of animals."

It is not the error which Conservative politicians are liable to
commit, to throw too large a share of the management of affairs into
the hands of a central power; they would, therefore, readily coincide
with Mr Mill, when he observes, that even if a government could
comprehend within itself the most eminent intellectual capacity and
active talent of the nation, it would not be the less desirable that
the conduct of a large portion of the affairs of society should be
left in the hands of the persons immediately interested in them. "The
business of life," he remarks, "is an essential part of the practical
education of a people; without which, book and school instruction,
though most necessary and salutary, does not suffice to qualify them
for conduct, and for the adaptation of means to ends.... A people
among whom there is no habit of spontaneous action for a collective
interest--who look habitually to their government to command or prompt
them in all matters of joint concern--who expect to have every thing
done for them, except what can be made an affair of mere habit and
routine--have their faculties only half developed; their education is
defective in one of its most important branches."

We must conclude with the following extract, which is so extremely
applicable to the affairs of our neighbours, that we wish we could
make it heard from the tribune of their National Assembly.

     "A democratic constitution, not supported by democratic
     institutions in detail, but confined to the central
     government, not only is not political freedom, but often
     creates a spirit precisely the reverse, carrying down to the
     lowest grade in society the desire and ambition of political
     domination. In some countries, the desire of the people is
     for not being tyrannised over, but in others, it is merely
     for an equal chance to every body of tyrannising. Unhappily,
     this last state of the desires is fully as natural to mankind
     as the former, and in many of the conditions even of
     civilised humanity, is far more largely exemplified. In
     proportion as the people are accustomed to manage their
     affairs by their own active intervention, instead of leaving
     them to the government, their desires will turn to the
     repelling tyranny, rather than to tyrannising; while, in
     proportion as all real initiative and direction resides in
     the government, and individuals perpetually feel and act as
     under its perpetual tutelage, popular institutions develop in
     them not the desire of freedom, but an unmeasured appetite
     for place and power; diverting the intelligence and activity
     of the country from its principal business to a wretched
     competition for the selfish prizes and the petty vanities of
     office."--(Vol. ii. p. 515.)

In quitting this work, we must again repeat that our task would be
endless if we entered upon every topic on which it provokes
discussion. On some of these we may take a future opportunity to
express ourselves. Amongst the subjects we had designed, had space
permitted, for some discussion, are certain heresies, as we think
them, regarding property in land; and some views, rather hinted at
than explained, on the position which the female sex ought to take in
society. In the extract we first made, the reader may have remarked
this singular expression. Speaking of the Americans, he says they have
"apparently got rid of all social injustices and inequalities that
affect persons of Caucasian race _and of the male sex_;" leaving it to
be inferred, that even in America there still remain certain social
injustices and inequalities affecting _the female sex_. There are many
inuendos scattered throughout the book of the same description, but we
nowhere gather a distinct view of the sort of reformation that is
called for. In a writer of another character these expressions would
be encountered only with ridicule; coming from Mr Mill, they excite
our surprise, and, in some measure, our curiosity.


[4] _Principles of Political Economy, with some of their applications
to Social Philosophy._ By JOHN STUART MILL. 2 vols.

[5] "Mais d'abord va-t-on désigner cet ordre particulier
d'investigations par le nom d'économie politique? Quoi donc! Économie
politique, économie de la société,--c'est à dire--production,
distribution, consommation des richesses? Mais c'est se moquer; on ne
traduit pas avec une liberté pareille. Il ne faut qu'ouvrir le premier
dictionnaire venu pour voir," &c.--DUNOYER, _De la Liberté du

[6] The discussions upon the income tax reveal a lamentable state of
public feeling on this subject. That this tax might have been more
equitably adjusted, every one but a Chancellor of the Exchequer will
admit. Those who have to insure their lives, or otherwise save a fund
out of their income for survivors, ought not to pay the same tax as
those who can enjoy the whole of their income. But no such
modification as this would have pacified discontent. One often heard
it said that the tax should fall exclusively on realised property. The
prosperous tradesman, with his income of some thousands a-year, was to
pay nothing; the poor widow, who draws her sixty pounds per annum from
her property in the funds, she was to pay the tax. Mr Mill, in
noticing this very equitable proposition, says--"Except the proposal
of applying a sponge to the national debt, no such palpable violation
of common honesty has found sufficient support in this country during
the present generation to be regarded within the domain of discussion.
It has not the palliation of a graduated property-tax, that of laying
the burthen on those best able to bear it; for 'realised property'
includes almost every provision made for those who are unable to work,
and consists, in great part, of extremely small fractions. I can
hardly conceive a more shameless pretension than that the major part
of the property of the country, that of merchants, manufacturers,
farmers, and shopkeepers, should be exempted from its share of
taxation; that these classes should only begin to pay their proportion
after retiring from business, and if they never retire, should be
excused from it altogether."--(Vol. ii. p. 355.)

[7] In a work entitled, _Over-Population and its Remedy_.

Life in the "Far West."


The Mission of San Fernando is situated on a small river called Las
Animas, a branch of the Los Martires. The convent is built at the neck
of a large plain, at the point of influx of the stream from the broken
spurs of the sierra. The savanna is covered with luxuriant grass, kept
down, however, by the countless herds of cattle which pasture on it.
The banks of the creek are covered with a lofty growth of oak and
poplar, which near the Mission have been considerably thinned for the
purpose of affording fuel and building material for the increasing
settlement. The convent stands in the midst of a grove of fruit-trees,
its rude tower and cross peeping above them, and contrasting
picturesquely with the wildness of the surrounding scenery. Gardens
and orchards lie immediately in front of the building, and a vineyard
stretches away to the upland ridge of the valley. The huts of the
Indians are scattered here and there, built of stone and adobe,
sometimes thatched with flags and boughs, but comfortable enough. The
convent itself is a substantial building, of the style of architecture
characterising monastic edifices in most parts of the world. Loopholes
peer from its plastered walls, and on a flat portion of the roof a
comically mounted gingall or wall-piece, carrying a two-pound ball,
threatens the assailant in time of war. At one end of the oblong
building, a rough irregular arch of sun-burned bricks is surmounted by
a rude cross, under which hangs a small but deep-toned bell--the
wonder of the Indian peones, and highly venerated by the frayles
themselves, who received it as a present from a certain venerable
archbishop of Old Spain, and who, whilst guarding it with reverential
awe, tell wondrous tales of its adventures on the road to its present
abiding place.

Of late years the number of the canonical inmates of the convent has
been much reduced--there being but four priests now to do the duties
of the eleven who formerly inhabited it: Fray Augustin, a Capuchin of
due capacity of paunch, being at the head of the holy quartette.
Augustin is the conventual name of the reverend father, who fails not
to impress upon such casual visitants to that _ultima Thule_ as he
deems likely to appreciate the information, that, but for his
humility, he might add the sonorous appellations of Ignacio
Sabanal-Morales-y Fuentes--his family being of the best blood of Old
Castile, and known there since the days of Ruy Gomez--el
Campéador--possessing, moreover, half the "vega" of the Ebro, &c.,
where, had fate been propitious, he would now have been the sleek
superior of a rich capuchin convent, instead of vegetating, a
leather-clad frayle, in the wilds of California Alta.

Nevertheless, his lot is no bad one. With plenty of the best and
fattest meat to eat, whether of beef or venison, of bear or mountain
mutton; with good wine and brandy of home make, and plenty of it;
fruit of all climes in great abundance; wheaten or corn bread to suit
his palate; a tractable flock of natives to guide, and assisted in the
task by three brother shepherds; far from the strife of politics or
party--secure from hostile attack, (not quite, by-the-by,) and eating,
drinking, and sleeping away his time, one would think that Fray
Augustin Ignacio Sabanal-Morales-y Fuentes had little to trouble him,
and had no cause to regret even the vega of Castilian Ebro, held by
his family since the days of el Campéador.

One evening Fray Augustin sat upon an adobe bench, under the fig-tree
shadowing the porch of the Mission. He was dressed in a goat-skin
jerkin, softly and beautifully dressed, and descending to his hips,
under which his only covering--tell it not in Gath!--was a long linen
shirt, reaching to his knees, and lately procured from Puebla de los
Angeles, as a sacerdotal garment. Boots, stockings, or unmentionables,
he had none. A cigarito, of tobacco rolled in corn shuck, was
occasionally placed between his lips; whereupon huge clouds of smoke
rushed in columns from his mouth and nostrils. His face was of a golden
yellow colour, relieved by arched and very black eyebrows; his shaven
chin was of most respectable duplicity--his corporation of orthodox
dimensions. Several Indians and half-bred Mexican women were pounding
Indian corn on metates near at hand; whilst sundry beef-fed urchins of
whitey-brown complexion sported before the door, exhibiting, as they
passed Fray Augustin, a curious resemblance to the strongly marked
features of that worthy padre. They were probably his nieces and
nephews--a class of relations often possessed in numbers by priests and

The three remaining brothers were absent from the Mission; Fray
Bernardo, hunting elk in the sierra; Fray José, gallivanting at Puebla
de los Angeles, ten days' journey distant; Fray Cristoval, lassoing
colts upon the plain. Augustin, thus left to his own resources, had
just eaten his vespertine frijolitos and chile colorado, and was
enjoying a post-coenal smoke of fragrant pouche under the shadow of
his own fig-tree.

Whilst thus employed, an Indian dressed in Mexican attire approached
him hat in hand, and, making a reverential bow, asked his directions
concerning domestic business of the Mission.

"Hola! friend José," cried Fray Augustin in a thick guttural voice,
"pensaba yo--I was thinking that it was very nearly this time three
years ago when those 'malditos Americanos' came by here and ran off
with so many of our cavallada."

"True, reverend father," answered the administrador, "just three years
ago, all but fifteen days: I remember it well. _Malditos sean_--curse

"How many did we kill, José?"

"Quizas moochos--a great many, I dare say. But they did not fight
fairly--charged right upon us, and gave us no time to do any thing.
They don't know how to fight, these Mericanos; come right at you,
before you can swing a lasso, hallooing like Indios Bravos."

"But, José, how many did they leave dead on the field?"

"Not one."

"And we?"

"Valgame Dios! thirteen dead, and many more wounded."

"That's it! Now if these savages come again, (and the Chemeguaba, who
came in yesterday, says he saw a large trail,) we must fight
adentro--within--outside is no go; for as you very properly say, José,
these Americans don't know how to fight, and kill us before--before we
can kill them. Vaya!"

At this moment there issued from the door of the Mission Don Antonio,
Velez Trueba, a Gachupin--that is, a native of Old Spain--a wizened
old hidalgo refugee, who had left the mother country on account of his
political opinions, which were stanchly Carlist, and had found his
way--how, he himself scarcely knew--from Mexico to San Francisco in
Upper California, where, having a most perfect contempt for every
thing Mexican, and hearing that in the Mission of San Fernando, far
away, were a couple of Spanish padres of "sangre regular," he had
started into the wilderness to ferret them out; and having escaped all
dangers on the route, (which, however, were hardly dangers to the Don,
who could not realise the idea of scalp-taking savages,) had arrived
with a whole skin at the Mission. There he was received with open arms
by his countryman Fray Augustin, who made him welcome to all the place
afforded, and there he harmlessly smoked away his time; his heart far
away on the banks of the Genil and in the grape-bearing vegas of his
beloved Andalusia, his withered cuerpo in the sierras of Upper
California. Don Antonio was the walking essence of a Spaniard of the
_ancien régime_. His family dated from the Flood, and with the
exception of sundry refreshing jets of Moorish blood, injected into
the Truebas during the Moorish epoch, no strange shoot was ever
engrafted on their genealogical tree. The marriages of the family were
ever confined to the family itself--never looking to fresh blood in a
station immediately below it, which was not hidalgueño; nor above,
since any thing higher in rank than the Trueba y Trueba family, _no
habia_, there was not.

Thus, in the male and female scions of the house, were plainly visible
the ill effects of breeding "in and in." The male Truebas were sadly
degenerate Dons, in body as in mind--compared to their ancestors of
Boabdil's day; and the señoritas of the name were all eyes, and eyes
alone, and hardly of such stamp as would have tempted that amorous
monarch to bestow a kingdom for a kiss, as ancient ballads tell.

    "Dueña de la negra toca,
    Por un beso de tu boca,
      Diera un reyno, Boabdil;
    Y yo por ello, Cristiana,
    Te diera de buena gana
      Mil cielos, si fueran mil."

Come of such poor stock, and reared on tobacco smoke and "gazpacho,"
Don Antonio would not have shone, even amongst pigmy Mexicans, for
physical beauty. Five feet high, a frame-work of bones covered with a
skin of Andalusian tint, the Trueba stood erect and stiff in all the
consciousness of his "sangre regular." His features were handsome, but
entirely devoid of flesh, his upper lip was covered with a jet-black
mustache mixed with gray, his chin was bearded "like the pard." Every
one around him clad in deer and goat skin, our Don walked conspicuous
in shining suit of black--much the worse for wear, it must be
confessed--with beaver hat sadly battered, and round his body and over
his shoulder an unexceptionable "capa" of the amplest dimensions.
Asking, as he stepped over him, the pardon of an Indian urchin who
blocked the door, and bowing with punctilious politeness to the sturdy
mozas who were grinding corn, Don Antonio approached our friend
Augustin, who was discussing warlike matters with his administrador.

"Hola! Don Antonio, how do you find yourself, sir?"

"Perfectly well, and your very humble servant, reverend father; and
your worship also, I trust you are in good health?"

"_Sin novedad_--without novelty;" which, since it was one hour and a
half since our friends had separated to take their siestas, was not

"Myself and the worthy José," continued Fray Augustin, "were speaking
of the vile invasion of a band of North American robbers, who three
years since fiercely assaulted this peaceful Mission, killing many of
its inoffensive inhabitants, wounding many more, and carrying off
several of our finest colts and most promising mules to their dens and
caves in the Rocky Mountains. Not with impunity, however, did they
effect this atrocity. José informs me that many of the assailants were
killed by my brave Indians. How many said you, José?"

"Quizas mo-o-ochos," answered the Indian.

"Yes, probably a great multitude," continued the padre; "but, unwarned
by such well-merited castigation, it has been reported to me by a
Chemeguaba mansito, that a band of these audacious marauders are now
on their road to repeat the offence, numbering many thousands, well
mounted and armed; and to oppose these white barbarians it behoves us
to make every preparation of defence."[8]

"There is no cause for alarm," answered the Andaluz. "I (tapping his
breast) have served in three wars: in that glorious one 'de la
Independencia,' when our glorious patriots drove the French like sheep
across the Pyrenees; in that equally glorious one of 1821; and in the
late magnanimous struggle for the legitimate rights of his majesty
Charles V., king of Spain, (doffing his hat,) whom God preserve. With
that right arm," cried the spirited Don, extending his shrivelled
member, "I have supported the throne of my kings--have fought for my
country, mowing down its enemies before me; and with it," vehemently
exclaimed the Gachupin, working himself into a perfect frenzy, "I
will slay these Norte Americanos, should they dare to show their
faces in my front. Adios, Don Augustin Ignacio Sabanal-Morales-y
Fuentes," he cried, doffing his hat with an earth-sweeping bow: "I go
to grind my sword. Till then adieu."

"A countryman of mine!" said the frayle, admiringly, to the
administrador. "With him by our side we need not to fear: neither
Norte Americanos, nor the devil himself, can harm us when he is by."

Whilst the Trueba sharpens his Tizona, and the priest puffs volumes of
smoke from his nose and mouth, let us introduce to the reader one of
the muchachitas, who knelt grinding corn on the metate, to make
tortillas for the evening meal. Juanita was a stout wench from Sonora,
of Mexican blood, hardly as dark as the other women who surrounded
her, and with a drop or two of the Old Spanish blood struggling with
the darker Indian tint to colour her plump cheeks. An enagua (a short
petticoat) of red serge, was confined round her waist by a gay band
ornamented with beads, and a chemisette covered the upper part of the
body, permitting, however, a prodigal display of her charms. Whilst
pounding sturdily at the corn, she laughed and joked with her
fellow-labourers upon the anticipated American attack, which appeared
to have but few terrors for her. "Que vengan," she exclaimed--"let
them come; they are only men, and will not molest us women. Besides, I
have seen these white men before--in my own country, and they are fine
fellows, very tall, and as white as the snow on the sierras. Let them
come, say I!"

"Only hear the girl!" cried another: "if these savages come, then will
they kill Pedrillo, and what will Juanita say to lose her sweetheart?"

"Pedrillo!" sneered the latter; "what care I for Pedrillo? Soy
Mejicana, yo--a Mexican girl am I, I'd have you know, and don't demean
me to look at a wild Indian. Not I, indeed, by my salvation! What I
say is, let the Norte Americanos come."

At this juncture Fray Augustin called for a glass of aguardiente,
which Juanita was despatched to bring, and, on presenting it, the
churchman facetiously inquired why she wished for the Americans,
adding, "Don't think they'll come here--no, no: here we are brave men,
and have Don Antonio with us, a noble fellow, well used to arms." As
the words were on his lips, the clattering of a horse's hoofs was
heard rattling across the loose stones and pebbles in the bed of the
river, and presently an Indian herder galloped up to the door of the
Mission, his horse covered with foam, and its sides bleeding from

"Oh, padre mio!" he cried, as soon as he caught sight of his
reverence, "vienen los Americanos--the Americans, the Americans are
upon us. Ave Maria purissima--more than ten thousand are at my heels!"

Up started the priest and shouted for the Don.

That hidalgo presently appeared, armed with the sword that had graced
his thigh in so many glorious encounters, the sword with which he had
mowed down the enemies of his country, and by whose aid he now
proposed to annihilate the American savages should they dare to appear
before him.

The alarm was instantly given; peones, vagueros hurried from the
plains; and milpas, warned by the deep-toned bell, which soon rung out
its sonorous alarum. A score of mounted Indians, armed with gun and
lasso, dashed off to bring intelligence of the enemy. The old gingall
on the roof was crammed with powder and bullets to the very muzzle, by
the frayle's own hand. Arms were brought and piled in the sala, ready
for use. The padre exhorted, the women screamed, the men grew pale and
nervous, and thronged within the walls. Don Antonio, the fiery
Andaluz, alone remained outside, flourishing his whetted sabre, and
roaring to the padre, who stood on the roof with lighted match, by the
side of his formidable cannon, not to be affrighted. "That he, the
Trueba, was there, with his Tizona, ready to defeat the devil himself
should he come on."

He was deaf to the entreaties of the priest to enter.

"Siempre en el frente--Ever in the van," he said, "was the war-cry of
the Truebas."

But now a cloud of dust was seen approaching from the plain, and
presently a score of horsemen dashed headlong towards the Mission. "El
enemigo," shouted Fray Augustin; and, without waiting to aim, he
clapped his match to the touch-hole of the gun, harmlessly pointed to
the sky, and crying out "in el nombre de Dios"--in God's name--as he
did so, was instantly knocked over and over by the recoil of the
piece, then was as instantly seized by some of the Indian garrison,
and forced through the trap-door into the building; whilst the
horsemen (who were his own scouts) galloped up with the intelligence
that the enemy was at hand, and in overwhelming force.

Thereupon the men were all mounted, and formed in a body before the
building, to the amount of more than fifty, well armed with guns or
bows and arrows. Here the gallant Don harangued them, and infusing
into their hearts a little of his own courage, they eagerly demanded
to be led against the enemy. Fray Augustin re-appeared on the roof,
gave them his blessing, advised them to give no quarter, and, with
slight misgivings, saw them ride off to the conflict.

About a mile from the Mission, the plain gradually ascended to a ridge
of moderate elevation, on which was a growth of dwarf oak and ilex. To
this point the eyes of the remaining inmates of the convent were
earnestly directed, as at this point the enemy was first expected to
make his appearance. Presently a few figures were seen to crown the
ridge, clearly defined against the clear evening sky. Not more than a
dozen mounted men composed this party, which all imagined must be
doubtless the vanguard of the thousand invaders. On the summit of the
ridge they halted a few minutes, as if to reconnoitre; and by this
time the Californian horsemen were halted in the plain, midway between
the Mission and the ridge, and distant from the former less than
half-a-mile, so that all the operations were clearly visible to the

The enemy wound slowly, in Indian file, down the broken ground of the
descent; but when the plain was reached, they formed into something
like a line, and trotted fearlessly towards the Californians. These
began to sit uneasily in their saddles; nevertheless they made a
forward movement, and even broke into a gallop, but soon halted, and
again huddled together. Then the mountaineers quickened their pace,
and their loud shout was heard as they dashed into the middle of the
faltering troop. The sharp cracks of the rifles were heard, and the
duller reports of the smooth-bored pieces of the Californians; a cloud
of smoke and dust arose from the plain, and immediately half-a-dozen
horses, with empty saddles, broke from it, followed quickly by the
Californians, flying like mad across the level. The little steady line
of the mountaineers advanced, and puffs of smoke arose, as they loaded
and discharged their rifles at the flying horsemen. As the Americans
came on, however, one was seen to totter in his saddle, the rifle fell
from his grasp, and he tumbled headlong to the ground For an instant
his companions surrounded the fallen man, but again forming, dashed
towards the Mission, shouting fierce war-whoops, and brandishing aloft
their long and heavy rifles. Of the defeated Californians some jumped
off their horses at the door of the Mission, and sought shelter
within; others galloped off towards the sierra in panic-stricken
plight. Before the gate, however, still paced valiantly the proud
hidalgo, encumbered with his cloak, and waving with difficulty his
sword above his head. To the priest and women, who implored him to
enter, he replied with cries of defiance, of "Viva Carlos Quinto," and
"Death or glory." He shouted in vain to the flying crowd to halt; but,
seeing their panic was beyond hope, he clutched his weapon more firmly
as the Americans dashed at him, closed his teeth and his eyes, thought
once of the vega of his beloved Genil, and of Granada la Florida, and
gave himself up for lost. Those inside the Mission, when they observed
the flight of their cavalry, gave up the defence as hopeless; and
already the charging mountaineers were almost under the walls when
they observed the curious figure of the little Don making
demonstrations of hostility.

"Wagh!" exclaimed the leading hunter, (no other than our friend La
Bonté) "here's a little crittur as means to do all the fighting;" and
seizing his rifle by the barrel, he poked at the Don with the
butt-end, who parried the blow, and with such a sturdy stroke, as
nearly severed the stock in two. Another mountaineer rode up, and,
swinging his lasso over-head, threw the noose dexterously over the
Spaniard's head, and as it fell over his shoulders, drew it taut, thus
securing the arms of the pugnacious Don as in a vice.

"Quartel!" cried the latter; "por Dios, quartel!"

"Quarter be d----!" exclaimed one of the whites, who understood
Spanish; "who's agoin' to hurt you, you little crittur?"

By this time Fray Augustin was waving a white flag from the roof, in
token of surrender; and soon after he appeared trembling at the door,
beseeching the victors to be merciful and to spare the lives of the
vanquished, when all and every thing in the Mission would be freely
placed at their disposal.

"What does the niggur say?" asked old Walker, the leader of the
mountaineers, of the interpreter.

"Well, he talks so queer, this hos can't rightly make it out."

"Tell the old coon then to quit that, and make them darned greasers
clear out of the lodge, and pock some corn and shucks here for the
animals, for they're nigh give out."

This being conveyed to him in mountain Spanish, which fear alone made
him understand, the padre gave orders to the men to leave the Mission,
advising them, moreover, not to recommence hostilities, as himself was
kept as hostage, and if a finger was lifted against the mountaineers,
he would be killed at once, and the Mission burned to the ground. Once
inside, the hunters had no fear of attack, they could have kept the
building against all California; so, leaving a guard of two outside
the gate, and first seeing their worn-out animals supplied with piles
of corn and shucks, they made themselves at home, and soon were paying
attention to the hot tortillas, meat, and chile colorado which were
quickly placed before them, washing down the hot-spiced viands with
deep draughts of wine and brandy. It would have been amusing to have
seen the faces of these rough fellows as they gravely pledged each
other in the grateful liquor, and looked askance at the piles of fruit
served by the attendant Hebes. These came in for no little share of
attention, it may be imagined; but the utmost respect was paid to
them, for your mountaineer, rough and bear-like though he be, never,
by word or deed, offends the modesty of a woman, although sometimes
obliged to use a compulsory wooing, when time is not allowed for
regular courtship, and not unfrequently known to jerk a New Mexican or
Californian beauty behind his saddle, should the obdurate parents
refuse consent to their immediate union. It tickled the Americans not
a little to have all their wants supplied, and to be thus waited upon,
by what they considered the houris of paradise; and after their long
journey, and the many hardships and privations they had suffered,
their present luxurious situation seemed scarcely real.

The Hidalgo, released from the durance vile of the lasso, assisted at
the entertainment; his sense of what was due to the "sangre regular"
which ran in his veins being appeased by the fact, that he sat _above_
the wild uncouth mountaineers, these preferring to squat crosslegged on
the floor in their own fashion, to the uncomfortable and novel luxury
of a chair. Killbuck, indeed, seemed to have quite forgotten the use of
such pieces of furniture. On Fray Augustin offering him one, and
begging him, with many protestations, to be seated, that old mountain
worthy looked at it, and then at the padre, turned it round, and at
length comprehending the intention, essayed to sit. This he effected at
last, and sat grimly for some moments, when, seizing the chair by the
back, he hurled it out of the open door, exclaiming,--"Wagh! this coon
aint hamshot anyhow, and don't want such fixins, he don't;" and
gathering his legs under his body, reclined in the manner customary to
him. There was a prodigious quantity of liquor consumed that night,
the hunters making up for their many banyans; but as it was the pure
juice of the grape, it had little or no effect upon their hard heads.
They had not much to fear from attacks on the part of the Californians;
but, to provide against all emergencies, the padre and the Gachupin
were "hobbled," and confined in an inner room, to which there was no
ingress nor egress save through the door which opened into the
apartment where the mountaineers lay sleeping, two of the number
keeping watch. A fandango with the Indian girls had been proposed by
some of them, but Walker placed a decided veto on this. He said "they
had need of sleep now, for there was no knowing what to-morrow might
bring forth; that they had a long journey before them, and winter was
coming on; they would have to 'streak' it night and day, and sleep when
their journey was over, which would not be until Pike's Peak was left
behind them. It was now October, and the way they'd have to hump it
back to the mountains would take the gristle off a painter's tail."

Young Ned Wooton was not to the fore when the roll was called. He was
courting the Sonora wench Juanita, and to some purpose, for we may at
once observe, that the maiden accompanied the mountaineer to his
distant home, and at the present moment is sharing his lodge on
Hardscrabble creek of the upper Arkansa, having been duly and legally
married by Fray Augustin before their departure.

But now the snow on the ridge of the Sierra Madre, and the nightly
frosts; the angular flights of geese and ducks constantly passing
over-head; the sober tints of the foliage, and the dead leaves that
strew the ground; the withering grass on the plain, and the cold
gusts, sometimes laden with snow and sleet, that sweep from the
distant snow-clad mountains;--all these signs warn us to linger no
longer in the tempting valley of San Fernando, but at once to pack our
mules to cross the dreary and desert plains and inhospitable sierras;
and to seek with our booty one of the sheltered bayous of the Rocky

On the third day after their arrival, behold our mountaineers again
upon the march, driving before them--with the assistance of
half-a-dozen Indians, impressed for the first few days of the journey
until the cavallada get accustomed to travel without confusion--a band
of four hundred head of mules and horses, themselves mounted on the
strongest and fleetest they could select from at least a thousand.

Fray Augustin and the Hidalgo, from the house-top, watched them
depart: the former glad to get rid of such unscrupulous guests at any
cost, the latter rather loath to part with his boon companions, with
whom he had quaffed many a quartillo of Californian wine. Great was
the grief, and violent the sobbing, when all the girls in the Mission
surrounded Juanita to bid her adieu; as she, seated _en cavalier_ on
an easy pacing mule, bequeathed her late companions to the keeping of
every saint in the calendar, and particularly to the great St
Ferdinand himself, under whose especial tutelage all those in the
Mission were supposed to live. Pedrillo, poor forsaken Pedrillo, a
sullen sulky half-breed, was overcome, not with grief, but with anger
at the slight put upon him, and vowed revenge. He of the "sangre
regular," having not a particle of enmity in his heart, waved his
arm--that arm with which he had mowed down the enemies of Carlos
Quinto--and requested the mountaineers, if ever fate should carry them
to Spain, not to fail to visit his quinta in the vega of Genil, which,
with all in it, he placed at their worships' disposal--con muchissima

Fat Fray Augustin likewise waved his arm, but groaned in spirit as he
beheld the noble band of mules and horses, throwing back clouds of
dust on the plain where they had been bred. One noble roan stallion
seemed averse to leave his accustomed pasture, and again and again
broke away from the band. Luckily old Walker had taken the precaution
to secure the "_bell mare_" of the herd, and mounted on her rode
ahead, the animals all following their well-known leader. As the roan
galloped back, the padre was in ecstasy. It was a favourite steed, and
one he would have gladly ransomed at any price.

"Ya viene, ya viene!" he cried out, "now, now it's coming! hurra for
the roan!" but, under the rifle of a mountaineer, one of the
Californians dashed at it, a lasso whirling round his head, and
turning and twisting like a doubling hare, as the horse tried to avoid
him, at last threw the open coil over the animal's head, and led him
back in triumph to the band.

"Maldito sea aquel Indio--curse that Indian!" quoth the padre, and
turned away.

And now our sturdy band--less two who had gone under--were fairly on
their way. They passed the body of their comrade who had been killed
in the fight before the Mission; the wolves, or Indian dogs, had
picked it to the bones; but a mound near by, surrounded by a rude
cross, showed where the Californians (seven of whom were killed) had
been interred--the pile of stones at the foot of the cross testifying
that many an _ave maria_ had already been said by the poor Indians, to
save the souls of their slaughtered companions from the pangs of

For the first few days progress was slow and tedious. The confusion
attendant upon driving so large a number of animals over a country
without trail or track of any description, was sufficient to prevent
speedy travelling; and the mountaineers, desirous of improving the
pace, resolved to pursue a course more easterly, and to endeavour to
strike the great SPANISH TRAIL, which is the route followed by the New
Mexicans in their journeys to and from the towns of Puebla de los
Angeles and Santa Fé. This road, however, crosses a long stretch of
desert country, destitute alike of grass and water, save at a few
points, the regular halting-places of the caravans; and as but little
pasture is to be found at these places at any time, there was great
reason to doubt, if the Santa Fé traders had passed this season, that
there would not be sufficient grass to support the numerous cavallada,
after the herbage had been laid under contribution by the traders'
animals. However, a great saving of time would be effected by taking
this trail, although it wound a considerable distance out of the way
to avoid the impassable chain of the Sierra Nevada--the gap in those
mountains through which the Americans had come being far to the
southward, and at this late season probably obstructed by the snow.

Urged by threats and bribes, one of the Indians agreed to guide the
cavalcade to the trail, which he declared was not more than five days'
distant. As they advanced, the country became wilder and more
sterile,--the valleys, through which several small streams coursed,
being alone capable of supporting so large a number of animals. No
time was lost in hunting for game; the poorest of the mules and horses
were killed for provisions, and the diet was improved by a little
venison when a deer casually presented itself near the camping ground.
Of Indians they had seen not one; but they now approached the country
of the Diggers, who infest the district through which the Spanish
trail passes, laying contributions on the caravans of traders, and who
have been, not inaptly, termed the "Arabs of the American desert." The
Californian guide now earnestly entreated permission to return,
saying, that he should lose his life if he attempted to pass the
Digger country alone on his return. He pointed to a snow-covered peak,
at the foot of which the trail passed; and leave being accorded, he
turned his horse's head towards the Mission of San Fernando.

Although the cavallada travelled, by this time, with much less
confusion than at first, still, from the want of a track to follow,
great trouble and exertion were required to keep the proper direction.
The bell-mare led the van, carrying Walker, who was better acquainted
with the country than the others; another hunter, of considerable
distinction in the band, on a large mule, rode by his side. Then
followed the cavallada, jumping and frisking with each other, stopping
whenever a blade of grass showed, and constantly endeavouring to break
away to green patches which sometimes presented themselves in the
plains. Behind the troop, urging them on by dint of loud cries and
objurgations, rode six mountaineers, keeping as much as possible in a
line. Two others were on each flank to repress all attempts to wander,
and keep the herd in a compact body. In this order the caravan had
been crossing a broken country, up and down ridges, all day, the
animals giving infinite trouble to their drivers, when a loud shout
from the advanced guard put them all upon the _qui-vive_. Old Walker
was seen to brandish the rifle over his head and point before him, and
presently the cry of "The trail! the trail!" gladdened all hearts with
the anticipation of a respite from the harassing labour of
mule-driving. Descending a broken ridge, they at once struck into a
distinct and tolerably well-worn track, into which the cavallada
turned as easily and instinctively, as if they had all their lives
been accustomed to travel on beaten roads. Along this they travelled
merrily--their delight being, however, alloyed by frequent indications
that hunger and thirst had done their work on the mules and horses of
the caravans which had preceded them on the trail. They happened to
strike it in the centre of a long stretch of desert, extending sixty
miles without either water or pasture; and many animals had perished
here, leaving their bones to bleach upon the plain. The soil was
sandy, but rocks and stones covered the surface, disabling the feet of
many of the young horses and mules; several of which, at this early
stage of the journey, were already abandoned. Traces of the wretched
Diggers became very frequent; these abject creatures resorting to the
sandy plains for the purpose of feeding upon the lizards which there
abound. As yet they did not show; only at night they prowled around
the camp, waiting a favourable opportunity to run the animals. In the
present instance, however, many of the horses having been left on the
road, the Diggers found so plentiful a supply of meat as to render
unnecessary any attack upon the formidable mountaineers.

One evening the Americans had encamped, earlier than usual, on a creek
well-timbered with willow and quaking-ash, and affording tolerable
pasture; and although it was still rather early, they determined to
stop here, and give the animals an opportunity to fill themselves.
Several deer had jumped out of the bottom as they entered it; and La
Bonté and Killbuck had sallied from the camp with their rifles, to
hunt and endeavour to procure some venison for supper. Along the river
banks, herds of deer were feeding in every direction, within shot of
the belt of timber; and the two hunters had no difficulty in
approaching and knocking over two fine bucks within a few paces of the
thicket. They were engaged in butchering the animals, when La Bonté,
looking up from his work, saw half-a-dozen Indians dodging among the
trees, within a few yards of himself and Killbuck. At the same instant
two arrows _thudded_ into the carcass of the deer over which he knelt,
passing but a few inches from his head. Hollowing to his companion, La
Bonté immediately seized the deer, and, lifting it with main strength,
held it as a shield before him, but not before an arrow had struck him
in the shoulder. Rising from the ground he retreated, behind cover,
yelling loudly to alarm the camp, which was not five hundred yards
distant on the other side of the stream. Killbuck, when apprised of
the danger, ran bodily into the plain, and, keeping out of shot of the
timber, joined La Bonté, who now, out of arrow-shot, threw down his
shield of venison and fired his rifle at the assailants. The Indians
appeared at first afraid to leave the cover; but three or four more
joining them, one a chief, they advanced into the plain, with drawn
bows, scattering wide apart, and running swiftly towards the whites,
in a zigzag course, in order not to present a steady mark to their
unerring rifles. The latter were too cautious to discharge their
pieces, but kept a steady front, with rifle at shoulder. The Indians
evidently disliked to approach nearer; but the chief, an old grizzled
man, incited them by word and gesture,--running in advance and calling
upon the others to follow him.

"Ho, boy!" exclaimed Killbuck to his companion, "that old coon must go
under, or we'll get rubbed out by these darned critturs."

La Bonté understood him. Squatting on the ground, he planted his
wiping-stick firmly at the extent of his left arm, and resting the
long barrel of his rifle on his left hand, which was supported by the
stick, he took a steady aim and fired. The Indian, throwing out his
arms, staggered and let fall his bow,--tried hard to recover himself,
and then fell forward on his face. The others, seeing the death of
their chief, turned and made again for the cover. "You darned
critturs," roared Killbuck, "take that!" and fired his rifle at the
last one, tumbling him over as dead as a stone. The camp had also been
alarmed. Five of them waded across the creek and took the Indians in
rear; their rifles cracked within the timber, several more Indians
fell, and the rest quickly beat a retreat. The venison, however, was
not forgotten; the two deer were packed into camp, and did the duty of
mule-meat that night.

This lesson had a seasonable effect upon the Diggers, who made no
attempt on the cavallada that night or the next; for the camp remained
two days to recruit the animals.

We will not follow the party through all the difficulties and perils
of the desert route, nor detail the various devilries of the Diggers,
who constantly sought opportunities to stampede the animals, or,
approaching them in the night as they grazed, fired their arrows
indiscriminately at the herd, trusting that dead or disabled ones
would be left behind, and afford them a good supply of meat. In the
month of December, the mountaineers crossed the great dividing ridge
of the Rocky Mountains, making their way through the snowy barrier
with the utmost difficulty, and losing many mules and horses in the
attempt. On passing the ridge, they at once struck the head-springs of
the Arkansa river, and turned into the Bayou Salade. Here they found a
village of Arapahós, and were in no little fear of leaving their
cavallada with these dexterous horse-thieves. Fortunately the chief in
command was friendly to the whites, and restrained his young men; and
a present of three horses insured his good offices. Still, the near
neighbourhood of these Indians being hardly desirable, after a few
days' halt, the Americans were again on their way, and halted finally
at the juncture of the Fontaine-qui-bout with the Arkansa, where they
determined to construct a winter camp. They now considered themselves
at home, and at once set about building a log-shanty capable of
containing them all, and a large corral for securing the animals at
night, or in case of Indian alarms. This they effected by felling
several large cottonwoods, and throwing them in the form of a
horse-shoe: the entrance, however, being narrower than in that figure,
and secured by upright logs, between which poles were fixed to be
withdrawn at pleasure. The house, or, "fort"--as any thing in the
shape of a house is called in these parts, where, indeed, every man
must make his house a castle--was loopholed on all sides, and boasted
a turf chimney of rather primitive construction; but which answered
the purpose of drawing the smoke from the interior. Game was plentiful
all around;--bands of buffalo were constantly passing the Arkansa; and
there were always deer and antelope within sight of the fort. The
pasture, too, was good and abundant,--being the rich grama or buffalo
grass, which, although rather dry at this season, still retains its
fattening qualities; and the animals soon began to improve wonderfully
in condition and strength.

Of the four hundred head of mules and horses with which they had
started from California, but one-half reached the Arkansa. Many had
been killed for food, (indeed they had furnished the only provisions
during the journey,) many had been stolen by the Indians, or shot by
them at night; and many had strayed off and not been recovered. We
have omitted to mention that the Sonora girl, Juanita, and her spouse,
Ned Wooton, remained behind at Roubideau's fort and rendezvous on the
Uintah, which our band had passed on the other side of the mountains,
whence they proceeded with a party to Taos in New Mexico, and resided
there for some years, blessed with a fine family, &c. &c. &c., as the
novels end.

As soon as the animals were fat and strong, they were taken down the
Arkansa to Bent's Indian trading fort, about sixty miles below the
mouth of Fontaine-qui-bout. Here a ready sale was found for them,
mules being at that time in great demand on the frontier of the United
States, and every season the Bents carried across the plains to
Independence a considerable number collected in the Indian country,
and in the upper settlements of New Mexico. As the mountaineers
descended the Arkansa, a little incident occurred, and some of the
party very unexpectedly encountered an old friend. Killbuck and La
Bonté, who were generally compañeros, were riding some distance ahead
of the cavallada, passing at the time the mouth of the Huerfano or
Orphan Creek, when, at a long distance before them, they saw the
figure of a horseman, followed by two loose animals, descending the
bluff into the timbered bottom of the river. Judging the stranger to
be Indian, they spurred their horses and galloped in pursuit, but the
figure ahead suddenly disappeared. However, they quickly followed the
track, which was plain enough in the sandy bottom, that of a horse and
two mules. Killbuck scrutinised the "sign," and puzzled over it a
considerable time; and at last exclaimed--"Wagh! this sign's as plain
as mon beaver to me; look at that hos-track, boy; did ye ever see that

"_Well_, I have!" answered La Bonté, peering down at it: "that ar
shuffle-toe seems handy to me now, I _tell_ you."

"The man as used to ride that hos is long gone under, but the hos,
darn the old crittur, is old Bill Williams's, I'll swar by hook."

"Well, it aint nothin else," continued La Bonté, satisfying himself by
a long look; "it's the old boy's hos as shure as shootin: and them
Rapahos has rubbed him out at last, and raised his animals. Ho, boy!
let's lift their hair."

"Agreed," answered Killbuck; and away they started in pursuit,
determined to avenge the death of their old comrade.

They followed the track through the bottom and into the stream, which
it crossed, and, passing a few yards up the bank, entered the water
again, when they could see nothing more of it. Puzzled at this, they
sought on each side the river, but in vain; and, not wishing to lose
more time in the search, they proceeded through the timber on the
banks to find a good camping-place for the night, which had been their
object in riding in advance of the cavallada. On the left bank, a
short distance before them, was a heavy growth of timber, and the
river ran in one place close to a high bluff, between which and the
water was an almost impervious thicket of plum and cherry trees. The
grove of timber ended before it reached this point, and but few
scattered trees grew in the little glade which intervened, and which
was covered with tolerable grass. This being fixed upon as an
excellent camp, the two mountaineers rode into the glade, and
dismounted close to the plum and cherry thicket, which formed almost a
wall before them, and an excellent shelter from the wind. Jumping off
their horses, they were in the act of removing the saddles from their
backs, when a shrill neigh burst from the thicket not two yards behind
them; a rustling in the bushes followed, and presently a man dressed
in buck-skin, and rifle in hand, burst out of the tangled brush,
exclaiming in an angry voice--

"Do'ee hy'ar now? I was nigh upon gut-shootin some of e'e--I was now;
thought e'e was darned Rapahos, I did, and câched right off."

"Ho, Bill! what, old hos! not gone under yet?" cried both the hunters.
"Give us your paw."

"Do'ee now, if hy'ar ar'nt them boys as was rubbed out on Lodge Pole
(creek) a time ago. Do'ee hy're? if this aint 'some' now, I wouldn't
say so."

Leaving old Bill Williams and our two friends to exchange their rough
but hearty greetings, we will glance at that old worthy's history
since the time when we left him câching in the fire and smoke on the
Indian battle-ground in the Rocky Mountains. He had escaped fire and
smoke, or he would not have been here on Arkansa with his old grizzled
Nez-percé steed. On that occasion, the veteran mountaineer had lost
his two pack-animals and all his beaver. He was not the man, however,
to want a horse or mule as long as an Indian village was near at
hand. Skulking, therefore, by day in cañons and deep gorges of the
mountains, and travelling by night, he followed closely on the trail
of the victorious savages, bided his time, struck his "coup," and
recovered a pair of pack-horses, which was all he required. Ever
since, he had been trapping alone in all parts of the mountains; had
visited the rendezvous but twice for short periods, and then with full
packs of beaver; and was now on his way to Bent's Fort, to dispose of
his present loads of peltry, enjoy one good carouse on Taos whisky,
and then return to some hole or corner in the mountains which he knew
of, to follow in the spring his solitary avocation. He too had had his
share of troubles, and had many Indian scrapes, but passed safely
through all, and scarcely cared to talk of what he had done, so
matter-of-fact to him were the most extraordinary of his perilous

Arrived at Bent's Fort, the party disposed of their cavallada, and
then--respect for the pardonable weaknesses of our mountain friends
prompts us to draw a veil over the furious orgies that ensued. A
number of hunters and trappers were "in" from their hunting-grounds,
and a village of Shians and some lodges of Kioways were camped round
the fort. As long as the liquor lasted, and there was good store of
alcohol as well as of Taos whisky, the Arkansa resounded with furious
mirth--not unmixed with graver scenes; for your mountaineer, ever
quarrelsome in his cups, is quick to give and take offence, when
rifles alone can settle the difference, and much blood is spilt upon
the prairie in his wild and frequent quarrels.

Bent's Fort is situated on the left or northern bank of the river
Arkansa, about one hundred miles from the foot of the Rocky
Mountains--on a low and level bluff of the prairie which here slopes
gradually to the water's-edge. The walls are built entirely of
adobes--or sun-burned bricks--in the form of a hollow square, at two
corners of which are circular flanking towers of the same material.
The entrance is by a large gateway into the square, round which are
the rooms occupied by the traders and employés of the host. These are
small in size, with walls coloured by a white-wash made of clay found
in the prairie. Their flat roofs are defended along the exterior by
parapets of adobe, to serve as a cover to marksmen firing from the
top; and along the coping grow plants of cactus of all the varieties
common in the plains. In the centre of the square is the press for
packing the furs; and there are three large rooms, one used as a store
and magazine, another as a council-room, where the Indians assemble
for their "talks," whilst the third is the common dining-hall, where
the traders, trappers, and hunters, and all employés, feast upon the
best provender the game-covered country affords. Over the culinary
department presided of late years a fair lady of colour, Charlotte by
name, who was, as she loved to say, "de onlee lady in de dam Injun
country," and who moreover was celebrated from Long's Peak to the
Cumbres Espanolás for slap-jacks and pumpkin pies.

Here congregate at certain seasons the merchants of the plains and
mountains, with their stocks of peltry. Chiefs of the Shian, the
Kioway, and Arapahó, sit in solemn conclave with the head traders, and
smoke the "calumet" over their real and imaginary grievances. Now
O-cun-no-whurst, the Yellow Wolf, grand chief of the Shian, complains
of certain grave offences against the dignity of his nation! A trader
from the "big lodge" (the fort) has been in his village, and before
the trade was opened, in laying the customary chief's gift "on the
prairie"[9] has not "opened his hand," but "squeezed out his present
between his fingers" grudgingly and with too sparing measure. This was
hard to bear, but the Yellow Wolf would say no more!

Tah-kai-buhl or, "he who jumps," is deputed from the Kioway to warn
the white traders not to proceed to the Canadian to trade with the
Comanche. That nation is mad--a "heap mad" with the whites, and has
"dug up the hatchet" to "rub out" all who enter its country. The
Kioway loves the paleface, and gives him warning, (and "he who jumps"
looks as if he deserves something "on the prairie" for his

Shawh-noh-qua-mish, "the peeled lodge-pole," is there to excuse his
Arapahó braves, who lately made free with a band of horses belonging
to the fort. He promises the like shall never happen again, and he,
Shawh-noh-qua-mish, speaks with a "single tongue." Over clouds of
tobacco and kinnik-kinnik, these grave affairs are settled and terms

In the corral, groups of leather-clad mountaineers, with "decks" of
"euker" and "seven up," gamble away their hard-earned peltries. The
employés--mostly St Louis Frenchmen and Canadian voyageurs--are
pressing packs of buffalo skins, beating robes, or engaged in other
duties of a trading fort. Indian squaws, the wives of mountaineers,
strut about in all the pride of beads and fanfaron, jingling with
bells and bugles, and happy as paint can make them. Hunters drop in
with animals packed with deer or buffalo meat to supply the fort;
Indian dogs look anxiously in at the gateway, fearing to enter and
encounter the enmity of their natural enemies, the whites; and outside
the fort, at any hour of the day or night, one may safely wager to see
a dozen coyotes or prairie wolves loping round, or seated on their
haunches, and looking gravely on, waiting patiently for some chance
offal to be cast outside. Against the walls, groups of Indians, too
proud to enter without an invitation, lean, wrapped in their buffalo
robes, sulky and evidently ill at ease to be so near the whites
without a chance of fingering their scalp-locks; their white lodges
shining in the sun, at a little distance from the river-banks; their
horses feeding in the plain beyond.

The appearance of the fort is very striking, standing as it does
hundreds of miles from any settlement, on the vast and lifeless
prairie, surrounded by hordes of hostile Indians, and far out of reach
of intercourse with civilised man; its mud-built walls inclosing a
little garrison of a dozen hardy men, sufficient to hold in check the
numerous tribes of savages ever thirsting for their blood. Yet the
solitary stranger passing this lone fort, feels proudly secure when he
comes within sight of the "stars and stripes" which float above the

Again we must take a jump with La Bonté over a space of several
months; when we find him, in company of half a dozen trappers, amongst
them his inseparable compañero Killbuck, camped on the Greenhorn
creek, _en route_ to the settlements of New Mexico. They have a few
mules packed with beaver for the Taos market; but this expedition has
been planned more for pleasure than profit--a journey to Taos valley
being the only civilised relaxation coveted by the mountaineers. Not a
few of the present band are bound thither with matrimonial intentions;
the belles of Nuevo Mejico being to them the _ne plus ultra_ of female
perfection, uniting most conspicuous personal charms (although coated
with cosmetic _alegria_--an herb, with the juice of which the women of
Mexico hideously bedaub their faces) with all the hardworking industry
of Indian squaws. The ladies, on their part, do not hesitate to leave
the paternal abodes, and eternal tortilla-making, to share the perils
and privations of the American mountaineers in the distant wilderness.
Utterly despising their own countrymen, whom they are used to contrast
with the dashing white hunters who swagger in all the pride of fringe
and leather through their towns--they, as is but natural, gladly
accept husbands from the latter class; preferring the stranger, who
possesses the heart and strong right arm to defend them, to the
miserable, cowardly "peládos," who hold what little they have on
sufferance of savage Indians, but one degree superior to themselves.

Certainly no band of hunters that ever appeared in the vale of Taos,
numbered in its ranks a properer lot of lads than those now camped on
Greenhorn, intent on matrimonial foray into the settlements of New
Mexico. There was young Dick Wooton, who was "some" for his inches,
being six feet six, and as straight and strong as the barrel of his
long rifle. Shoulder to shoulder with this "boy," stood Rube Herring,
and not a hair's-breadth difference in height or size between them.
Killbuck, though mountain winters had sprinkled a few snow-flakes on
his head, _looked up_ to neither; and La Bonté held his own with any
mountaineer who ever set a trap in sight of Long's Peak or the Snowy
Range. Marcelline--who, though a Mexican, despised his people and
abjured his blood, having been all his life in the mountains with the
white hunters--looked down easily upon six feet and odd inches. In
form a Hercules, he had the symmetry of an Apollo; with strikingly
handsome features, and masses of long black hair hanging from his
slouching beaver over the shoulders of his buck-skin hunting shirt.
He, as he was wont to say, was "no dam Spaniard, but 'mountainee man,'
wagh!" Chabonard, a half-breed, was not lost in the crowd;--and, the
last in height, but the first in every quality which constitutes
excellence in a mountaineer, whether of indomitable courage, or
perfect indifference to death or danger; with an iron frame capable of
withstanding hunger, thirst, heat, cold, fatigue and hardships of
every kind; of wonderful presence of mind, and endless resource in
time of great peril; with the instinct of an animal, and the moral
courage of a _man_,--who was "taller" for his inches than KIT CARSON,
paragon of mountaineers?[10] Small in stature, and slenderly limbed,
but with muscles of wire, with a fair complexion and quiet intelligent
features, to look at Kit none would suppose that the mild-looking
being before him was an incarnate devil in Indian fight, and had
raised more hair from head of Redskins than any two men in the western
country; and yet, thirty winters had scarcely planted a line or furrow
on his clean-shaven face. No name, however, was better known in the
mountains--from Yellow Stone to Spanish Peaks, from Missouri to
Columbia River,--than that of Kit Carson, "raised" in Boonlick, county
of Missouri State, and a credit to the diggins that gave him birth.

On Huerfano or Orphan Creek, so called from an isolated _hutte_ which
stands on a prairie near the stream, our party fell in with a village
of Yutah Indians, at that time hostile to the whites. Both parties
were preparing for battle, when Killbuck, who spoke the language, went
forward with signs of peace, and after a talk with several chiefs,
entered into an armistice, each party agreeing not to molest the
other. After trading for a few deer-skins which the Yutahs are
celebrated for dressing delicately fine, the trappers moved hastily on
out of such dangerous company, and camped under the mountain on Oak
Creek, where they forted in a strong position, and constructed a
corral in which to secure their animals at night. At this point is a
tolerable pass through the mountains, where a break occurs in the
range, whence they gradually decrease in magnitude until they meet the
sierras of Mexico, which connect the two mighty chains of the Andes
and the Rocky Mountains. From the summit of the dividing ridge, to the
eastward, a view is had of the vast sea of prairie which stretches
away from the base of the mountains, in dreary barrenness, for nearly
a thousand miles, until it meets the fertile valley of the great
Missouri. Over this boundless expanse, nothing breaks the
uninterrupted solitude of the view. Not a tree or atom of foliage
relieves the eye; for the lines of scattered timber which belt the
streams running from the mountains, are lost in the shadow of their
stupendous height, and beyond this nothing is seen but the bare
surface of the rolling prairie. In no other part of the chain are the
grand characteristics of the Far West more strikingly displayed than
from this pass. The mountains here rise, on the eastern side, abruptly
from the plain, and the view over the great prairies is not therefore
obstructed by intervening ridges. To the westward the eye sweeps over
the broken spurs which stretch from the main range in every direction;
whilst distant peaks, for the most part snow-covered, are seen at
intervals rising isolated above the range. On all sides the scene is
wild and dismal.

Crossing by this pass, the trappers followed the Yutah trail over a
plain, skirting a pine-covered ridge, in which countless herds of
antelope, tame as sheep, were pasturing. Numerous creeks intersect it,
well timbered with oak, pine, and cedar, and well stocked with game of
all kinds. On the eleventh day from leaving the Huerfano, they struck
the Taos valley settlement on Arroyo Hondo, and pushed on at once to
the village of Fernandez--sometimes, but improperly, called Taos. As
the dashing band clattered through the village, the dark eyes of the
reboso-wrapped muchachas peered from the doors of the adobe houses,
each mouth armed with cigarito, which was at intervals removed to
allow utterance to the salutation to each hunter as he trotted past of
_Adios, Americanos_,--"Welcome to Fernandez!" and then they hurried
off to prepare for the fandango, which invariably followed the advent
of the mountaineers. The men, however, seemed scarcely so well
pleased; but leaned sulkingly against the walls, their sarapes turned
over the left shoulder, and concealing the lower part of the face, the
hand appearing from its upper folds only to remove the eternal cigarro
from their lips. They, from under their broad-brimmed sombreros,
scowled with little affection upon the stalwart hunters, who clattered
past them, scarcely deigning to glance at the sullen Peládos, but
paying incomprehensible compliments to the buxom wenches who smiled at
them from the doors. Thus exchanging salutations, they rode up to the
house of an old mountaineer, who had long been settled here with a New
Mexican wife, and who was the recognised entertainer of the hunters
when they visited Taos valley, receiving in exchange such peltry as
they brought with them.


[8] From the report to the Governor of California by the Head of the
Mission, in reference to the attacks by the American mountaineers.

[9] Indian expression for a free gift.

[10] Since the time of which we speak, Kit Carson has distinguished
himself in guiding the several U. S. exploring expeditions, under
Frémont, across the Rocky Mountains, and to all parts of Oregon and
California; and for his services, the President of the United States
presented the gallant mountaineer with the commission of lieutenant in
a newly raised regiment of mounted riflemen, of which his old leader
Frémont is appointed colonel.


I scarcely know why, upon my last passage through Antwerp, I took up
my quarters at the Park Hotel, instead of alighting, according to my
previous custom, at the sign of the blessed Saint Anthony. The change
was perhaps owing to my hackney coachman, who, seeing me fagged and
bewildered by a weary jolting on the worst of European railroads,
affected to mistake my directions--a misunderstanding that possibly
resulted from his good understanding with mine host of the "Park." Be
that as it may, my baggage, before I could say nay, was in the
embraces of a cloud of waiters, who forthwith disappeared in the
recesses of the inn, whither I was fain to follow. It was a bright May
day, and I felt no way dissatisfied with the change of hostelry when,
on looking from the window of my exquisitely clean Flemish bedroom, I
saw the cheerful boulevard crowded with comely damsels and uniformed
idlers, and the spring foliage of the lime-trees fluttering freshly in
the sunshine. And having picked up the commencement of a furious
appetite during my rickety ride from Herbesthal, I replied by a
particularly willing affirmative to the inquiry of a spruce waiter,
whether _Monsieur_ would be pleased to dine at the _table-d'hôte_, at
the early hour of three o'clock.

The excellent dinner of the Park Hotel was served up that day to
unusually few guests; so at least it appeared to one accustomed to
the numerous daily congregations at the public tables of France and
Germany. Twelve persons surrounded the board, or, I should rather
say, took post in two opposite rows at one extremity of the long
dresser-like table, whose capacity of accommodating six times the
number was tacit evidence that the inn was not wont to reckon its
diners by the single dozen. Of these twelve guests, three or four
were of the class _commis-voyageur--Anglicé_, bagmen--whose talk,
being as usual confined to the rail and the road, their grisettes and
their samples, I did my best not to hear. There was a French singer,
then starring at the Antwerp theatre; a plump, taciturn,
respectable-looking man, in blue spectacles and a loose coat, whom I
had difficulty in recognising that evening when I saw him trip the
boards in the character of the gay Count Almaviva. Next to the man of
notes sat a thin, sunburned, middle-aged German, who informed us, in
the course of conversation, that after spending twenty years on a
cochineal farm in Mexico, he was on his way back to his native land,
to pass the latter portion of his life in the tranquil enjoyment of
pipe, beer, and competency, in the shadow of his village steeple, and
possibly--although of this he said nothing--in the peaceful
companionship of a placid, stocking-knitting, child-bearing _Frau_.
There was another German at table, a coarse, big-headed baron from
Swabia, who ate like a pig, used his fork as a toothpick, and
indulged, to a most disgusting extent, in the baronial and peculiarly
Teutonic amusement of _hawking_. These persons were all foreigners;
but the remainder of the party, myself excepted, consisted of
natives, belonging to the better class of Antwerp burghers. With one
of these, next to whom I sat, I got into conversation; and finding
him courteous, intelligent, and good-humoured, I was glad to detain
him after dinner over the best bottle of Bordeaux the "Park" cellars
could produce. This opened his heart, and he volunteered to act as my
cicerone through Antwerp. Although I had seen, upon former visits,
all the "lions" of the place, it had been under the guidance of those
odious animals called _valets-de-place_; and I now gladly availed
myself of my new friend's offer, and walked out to the citadel. He
had lived in Antwerp all his life; consequently had been there during
the siege, in reminiscences of whose incidents and episodes he
abounded--so much so, that the invalid soldier who exhibits the
fortress was kind enough to spare us his monotonous elucidations,
and, whilst opening gates, to keep his mouth closed. I lingered
willingly on the scene of that unjust aggression and gallant defence,
and saw every thing worth seeing, including the identical arm-chair
in which, as the story goes, old Chassé, gouty as he was brave, sat
and smoked and gave his orders, unruffled by the thunder of French
batteries and the storm of French shot. Daylight began to fade as we
re-entered the town, and passed, at my request, through some of its
older portions, where I begged my Antwerper to point out to me any
houses of particular antiquity, or notable as the residence of
remarkable persons. He showed me the dwellings of more than one of
those great artists of whom Flanders is so justly proud; also several
mansions of Spanish grandees, dating from the days of Alva's rule,
and built in Spanish style, with abundant and massive balconies, and
the _patio_, or inner court. At last I thought of returning to my
hotel, and was meditating an invitation to supper to my obliging
acquaintance, when, as we passed through a narrow and sequestered
street, he suddenly stood still.

"See there!" he said; "that house, although of great age, has
apparently little to distinguish it from others, equally ancient,
scattered through Antwerp; nevertheless, to us Flemings it possesses
powerful and peculiar interest. And truly no residence of painter or
grandee could tell stranger tales, were its walls to speak all that
has passed within them."

I looked curiously at the house, but could see nothing remarkable
about it, except that it was visibly very old--to all appearance one
of the oldest in the town. It was of moderate dimensions, built of
mingled stone and brick, to which time and damp had given one general
tint of dingy greenish black. Its door was low, and of unusual
strength; its windows were narrow, and defended here and there by iron
bars. Formerly these bars had been much more numerous, but many had
been sawn off close to the stone-work, in which their extremities
still remained deeply set. A shallow niche in the wall contained one
of those rudely-carved images of the Virgin and Child, once deemed an
indispensable appendage to Antwerp houses as a protection against evil
spirits, and especially against one,--a sort of municipal brownie, the
scarecrow of the honest and credulous burgesses. The features of the
images, never very delicately chiselled, were obtuse and scarcely
distinguishable with age and dirt, but vestiges of blue and crimson
were still discernible on the Virgin's garments. I observed that the
house had the appearance of having once stood alone--perhaps in the
middle of a garden, or, more probably, of a paved court--for it
receded some yards from the line of street, and the open plot in its
front was paved with blocks of stone, worn, here and there, by
frequent treading, whilst on either hand a house of modern
architecture filled up a space originally left between the centre
building and another of corresponding date. There being nothing else
out of the common in the exterior of the house, I concluded that
whatever singularity pertained to it was to be sought in its interior
or its inmates, and I looked to my companion for an explanation.

"That house," he said, replying to my mute inquiry, "was for centuries
the dwelling of the Antwerp executioner."

I started at the word. The strange customs, laws, and traditions
connected with the last minister of the law, during the less civilised
ages of the Christian era, had always exercised upon my mind a
peculiar fascination. With fresh and strong interest I gazed at the
building, and for a minute I almost fancied its front became
transparent, disclosing to me the horrid instruments of death and
torture, the grisly rack, the keen broad axe and glittering sword, the
halter and the thongs; whilst in another compartment the headsman and
his aids, sad, sullen men, in hose and jerkins of a blood-red hue, sat
moodily at their evening meal. The momentary hallucination was quickly
dispelled. The door opened, and a tall and comely damsel, whose dark
eyes, and skin of a slightly olive hue, hinted at the possible
partiality of some gay ancestress for a Spanish cavalier, issued
forth, pitcher on head, and carolling a lively air, to fetch water
from the fountain. The smiling, cheerful reality incontinently chased
away the dismal vision.

"Evidently," said I, "it is now no hangman's abode. Such fresh
flowers bloom not in the shade of the gallows-tree: the walls of the
doomster's dwelling would refuse to echo ditties so joyous."

"Perhaps," said my companion, with a smile. "And yet a tale is told
that would partly refute one of your propositions."

"A tale!" cried I, catching at the word--"about what?"

"About some former occupants of the house. A wild old story, but a
true one, as I believe."

"My dear sir!" I exclaimed, "did I not fear encroaching on your
kindness, I would beg you to grant me the evening, as you have already
given me the afternoon, and, after supping with me at the 'Park,' to
relate the tradition in question."

"Willingly," said the Antwerper, good-humouredly, "were I not pledged
to the theatre to-night. We do not often catch such a nightingale as
this Frenchman, and when we do, we make the most of him. But the
legend is in print; I have the book, and will lend it you with

"A thousand thanks," said I, rather cooled, however, on the subject,
by the discovery that the tale of wonder I anticipated was written
instead of oral.

"By the bye," said my companion, when we had walked a few yards in
silence, "are you acquainted with Flemish?"

"The patois of the country?" said I, smiling, perhaps a little
contemptuously--"Perfectly unacquainted."

"Then you cannot read the legend, for it is printed in that language?"

"In what language?"

"In Flemish."

If he had said in Laputan, I should hardly have been more surprised.

"I thought the patois was spoken only by the lower orders, and that to
the reading-classes it was as unintelligible as myself."

"It is not a _patois_, but a language," replied the Fleming, gravely.
"The general use of French is a modern innovation in our country, and
no good one either. Flemish is the original language of the land; and
not only is it much more widely known than you imagine, but several
very eminent writers, both of prose and poetry, compose in no other
tongue, preferring it far before the French, on account of its greater
sweetness and power."

I began to feel as much ashamed of my non-acquaintance with the
Flemish school of literature, as if I had been convicted of profound
ignorance of a Flemish school of painting. Of course, I made allowance
for a little patriotic exaggeration, when accepting my friend's
account of this host of poets and prosaists, who pass their lives in
writing a language which scarce any besides themselves understand. But
after all, thought I, why should there not be Flemish writers, just as
writers are found in other tongues, equally unknown to the world at
large? Did I not myself, when in Southern France, get shaved, clipped,
and trimmed, in the prune-producing town of Agen, by a literary
barber, hight Jessamine, who had written volume upon volume of poems
in that Gascon dialect which, according to M. Alexandre Dumas, and
other of the highest French literary authorities, is entirely
comprised in the words _Cadedis_, _Mordious_, _Capdedious_,
_Parfandious_, and eight or ten other expletives, equally profane and
energetic,--just as, according to some funny Frenchman, the essence of
the English tongue resides in a favourite anti-ocular malediction? At
any rate, it was neither civil nor grateful to let my kind companion
suspect contempt on my part for what he chose to consider his national
tongue. So I bowed humbly, and expressed my deep regret that a
defective education left it out of my power to read the legend with
which I had desired to become acquainted. The contrite tone of this
confession fully regained me any ground I had lost in my Fleming's
good opinion. He mused for a minute before again breaking silence.

"Are you bent upon leaving Antwerp to-morrow?"

"It is my present intention."

"Change it. Come to the opera to-night, breakfast with me in the
morning, and I will read you the tale between coffee and _chasse_."

"I have already had the painful honour of informing you that my
godfathers, reckless of baptismal promises, have suffered me to attain
my present mature age in profound ignorance of the Flemish tongue."

The Fleming looked at me with the half-pleased half-angry air of a dog
pelted with marrow-bones, and as if he smoked I was roasting him. I
loaded my countenance with a double charge of gravity.

"It is fortunate," he said, "that my sponsors have been less negligent
towards me with respect to French, in which language, if you will take
patience with slow reading, I doubt not of conveying to you the
substance, and in some degree the style of the tale. Nay, no thanks,"
added he, forestalling my acknowledgments. "My motives are more
selfish than you think. I want to convince you that if the Flemish
tongue is little known, there are Flemish writers well worth the

There was no resisting such amiable pertinacity. I put off my journey,
breakfasted with my Fleming, and after breakfast--none of your tea and
toast business, but a real good _déjeuner-à-la-fourchette_, a dinner
less the soup--he produced his Flemish volume, and read me in French
the promised story. Seemingly unused to this off-hand style of
translation, and patriotically anxious to do full justice to the
original, he read so slowly that I had time to put down the narrative
nearly verbatim. As it is more than probable that none of the readers
of Maga, numberless though they be as the pebbles upon ocean's strand,
are acquainted with the Flemish, I might have arrogated to myself,
with every chance of impunity, the invention of the tale I now place
before them. But it would go against conscience thus to rob the poor;
and therefore have I taken the trouble to write these few pages, to
explain the source whence I derive the veracious legend of



The eve of Whitsuntide, in the year of grace 1507, was unusually dark
and dismal in the good city of Antwerp, over which a dense and
impenetrable canopy of cloud had spread and settled down. It was
owing, doubtless, to this unpleasant aspect of the weather that at
nine o'clock, an hour at which few of the inhabitants were in bed,
profound silence reigned in the streets, broken only by the occasional
dull clang of a church bell, and by the melancholy dripping of the
water which a small dense noiseless rain made to stream from the eaves
and gutters. Heedless of the rain and of the raw fog from the Scheldt,
a man stood motionless and absorbed in thought upon one of the
deserted squares. His back was against a tree, his arms were folded on
his breast, his eyes were wide open; although evidently awake, he had
the appearance of one in a dream. From time to time unintelligible but
energetic words escaped his lips, and his features assumed an
expression of extraordinary wildness; then a deep and painful sigh
burst from his breast, or a sound, half groan, half gasping, like that
with which an over-burthened porter throws down his load. At times,
too, a smile passed across his face--no sign of joy, or laugh extorted
by jovial or pleasant thoughts, but the bitter smile of agony and
despair, more afflicting to behold than a flood of tears. He smiled,
certainly, but whilst his countenance yet wore the deceitful sign of
joy, he bit his lips till they bled, and his hand, thrust within his
doublet, dug its nails into his breast. Thrice wretched was this
unhappy man: for him the pains of purgatory had no new terrors, for
already, during twenty years, he had felt its direst torments in his
heart. To him the pleasant earth had been a valley of tears, an abode
of bitter sorrow. When his mother bore him, and his first cry broke
upon her ear, she pressed no kiss of welcome on his cheek. It was no
gush of tenderness and maternal joy that brought tears to her eyes,
when she knew it was a man-child she had brought forth. His father
felt no pride in the growth and beauty of his first and only son;
often he wept over him and prayed for his death, as though the child
had been the offspring of some foul and accursed sin. And when the
infant grew--although fed with his mother's tears rather than with her
milk--into a comely boy, and ventured forth to mingle in the sports of
others of his age, he was scoffed, tormented, and despised, as though
his face were the face of a devil. Yet was he so patient and gentle,
that none ever saw frown on his brow, or the flush of anger on his
features; only his father knew what bitter melancholy lurked in the
heart of his son.

Now the child had become a man. Despite his sufferings, his body had
grown into strength and vigour. He felt a craving after society, a
burning desire for the sympathy and respect of his fellows. But the
hatred and persecution that had made his youth wretched, clave to him
in manhood,--scoff and scorn were his portion wheresoever he showed
himself; and if he failed instantly to retire, with servile mien and
prayer for pity, he was driven forth, like a dog, with kick and cuff.
For him there was no justice in the wide world,--submission was his
lot, God his only comforter.

Such had been the life of the man who now leaned against the poplar
tree, a prey to the tortures of despair. Yet that man's heart was
formed for tenderness and love, his mind was intelligent, his
countenance not without nobility, his gait proud and manly, his voice
earnest and persuasive. At this moment he lifted it up to heaven,
towards which he passionately extended his arms.

"Great God!" he cried, "since thy holy will created me to suffer,
grant me also strength to endure my tortures! My heart burns! my
senses leave me! Protect me, O Lord, from despair and madness!
Preserve to me the consolatory belief in thy goodness and justice; for
my heart is rent with the agonies of doubt!"

His voice grew weaker and subsided into an inarticulate murmur.
Suddenly raising his head and starting from his leaning posture, he
hurried across the square and through two or three streets, as though
endeavouring to escape reflection by rapidity of motion. Then his pace
slackened and grew irregular, and he occasionally stood still, like
one who, absorbed in weighty thoughts, unconsciously pauses, the
better to indulge them. On a sudden a shrill harsh sound broke from
his lips; they were parched with thirst and fever.

"I must drink," he cried; "I am choked by this burning thirst."

There were many taverns in that street, and he approached the windows
of several, from the crevices of whose shutters a bright light
streamed; but he entered not, and still passed on, for in every house
he heard men's voices, and that sufficed to drive him away. In St
Jan's Street he paused somewhat longer before a public-house, and
listened attentively at all the windows. A transient gleam of
satisfaction lighted up his countenance.

"Ha!" he said to himself, "no one is there. I can drink then!"

And lifting the latch, he entered. Hearing nothing, he expected to
find no one; but how great was his disappointment, when he saw a
number of persons sitting at a long table with bottles and beer-cans
before them. The silence that had deceived him was caused by the
profound attention given to one of the party, who enacted the juggler
for his companions' amusement, and who was busied, when the stranger
listened at the window, in certain mysterious preparations for a new
trick. All eyes were fixed upon his fingers, in a vain endeavour to
detect the legerdemain.

The thirsty youth started at the sight of all these men, and took a
step backwards as if to leave the house, but observing several heads
turned toward him with curious looks, and fearing such sudden
departure might prove a signal for his pursuit and persecution, he
approached the bar and asked the landlady for a can of beer. The woman
cast a suspicious look at her new customer, and sought to distinguish
his features beneath the broad slouched brim of his hat; but,
observing this, he sank his head still more upon his breast to escape
her observation. But whilst she descended the cellar stairs to fetch
him the beer, the whole of the guests fixed their eyes upon him with
no friendly expression. Then they laid their heads together and
whispered, and made indignant gestures, and one of them in particular
appeared inflamed with anger, and looked furiously at the stranger,
as though he would fain have fallen foul of him. The stranger, his
face averted, waited silently for his beer; but he trembled with
anxiety and apprehension. The landlady made unusual haste, and handed
the full can to the object of her curiosity, who drank with hurried
eagerness, and half-emptied the vessel at a draught; then, placing it
upon the bar, he gave a small coin in payment. But whilst the woman
sought for change, one of the guests strode across the room, took up
the can, and threw the remaining beer in the young man's face.

"Accursed gallows'-bird!" he cried, "how dare you drink in our
company? What can you urge that I should not break your bones here
upon the spot? Thank heaven, thou wretched outcast, that I will not
befoul my hand by contact with thy vile carcass!"

The unfortunate being to whom this cruel and outrageous speech was
addressed, was the only son of the Antwerp executioner: his name was
Gerard, and he was little more than twenty years old. His parentage
sufficiently explains why he shunned the sight of men, from whom
hatred and persecution were the best he had to expect. What now befell
him always took place when a headsman ventured into the society of
other burghers.

Patiently bowing his head, the unhappy Gerard gazed vacantly at the
beer-stains upon his garments, without daring by word or deed to
resent the brutality of his enemy, who, continuing to overwhelm him
with abuse and maledictions, at last directed part of his indignation
against the hostess:

"You will draw no more beer for us, woman!" he said. "To-morrow night
I and my friends meet at Sebastian's. You would be giving us our
liquor in the hangman's can!"

"See, there it lies!" exclaimed the hostess, terrified for the loss of
custom, and dashing upon the ground the stone pot, which broke in
pieces. "Is it fault of mine if the hangman's bastard sneaks into an
honest house? Out with you!" cried she furiously to Gerard; "out of my
doors, dealer in dead men, torturer of living bodies! Will'st not be
gone, base panderer to the rack? Away to thy bed beneath the

The youth, who had borne at first with silence and resignation the
abuse heaped upon him, was roused at last by these coarse invectives
to a sense of what manly dignity persecution had left him. Instead of
flying from the woman's execrations, he raised his head and answered
coldly and calmly.

"Woman, I go! Although a hangman's son, I would show more compassion
to my fellow-creatures than they show me. My father tortures men,
because the law and man compel him; but _men_ torture _me_ without
necessity, and without provocation. Remember that you sin against God
by treating me, his creature, like a dog."

So gentle and touching were the tones of the young man's voice, that
the hostess wondered, and could not understand how one so sorely
ill-treated could speak thus mildly. For a moment the woman got the
better of the trader, and, with something like a tear glistening in
her eye, she took up the coin Gerard had given her, and threw it over
to him.

"There," she said; "I want not thy money; take it, and go in peace."

The man who had thrown the beer in Gerard's face picked the coin from
the floor, looked at it, and threw it upon a table with a gesture of

"See!" he cried, "there is blood upon it--human blood!"

His companions crowded round the table, and started back in horror, as
from a fresh and bleeding corpse. A murmur of loathing and aversion
assailed the ears of Gerard, who well knew the charge was false, for
he had taken the piece of money in change that very evening, from a
woman who let out praying-chairs in the church. The injustice of his
foes so irritated him, that his face turned white with passion, as a
linen cloth. Pressing his hat more firmly upon his head, he sprang
forward to the table, and confronted his enemies with the fierce bold
brow of an exasperated lion.

"Scoundrels!" he shouted, "what speak you of blood? See you not that
the metal is alloyed, and looks red, like all other coins of the kind?
But no, you are blinded by hate, and know not justice. You say I am
the hangman's son. 'Tis true,--God so willed it. But yet are ye more
despicable than I am; and proud am I to resemble neither in name nor
deed such base and heartless men!"

The words were scarcely uttered when from all sides blows and kicks
rained upon the imprudent speaker. Manfully did he defend himself, and
brought more than one assailant to the ground; but the numbers were
too great for his strength. Oaths and abuse resounded through the
apartment, tables and benches were upset, jugs and glasses broken; the
hostess screamed for help. But the strife and tumult were brief; and
Gerard suddenly found himself in the street, stunned and bruised by
the blows he had received. Settling his cloak, and smoothing his
crushed hat, he went his way, scarce bestowing another thought upon
the scuffle; for things far weightier, far more painful and
engrossing, crowded upon his excited mind.


Whilst the above occurred in the beer-house, a fair young girl waited
Gerard's coming, her heart beating fast from apprehension that some
evil had befallen him. To the headsman's son she was the angel of hope
and consolation; she alone loved him,--partly, perhaps, because she
knew that the world hated and despised him. Her love had braved her
mother's censure, her neighbours' reproaches, her companions' sneers.
Nay, more than this,--when they shouted after her, by way of scoff,
the office of Gerard's father, or called her the headsman's bride, and
the like, she rejoiced and was glad; for then she felt her love was
noble and pure, and acceptable in the sight of God. For was she not,
in loving Gerard, doing as she would be done by, comforting and
supporting him whom all men oppressed and persecuted?

This poor girl, whose name was Lina, lived in a small apartment in the
Vlier Street, with her old mother and her brother Franz, a
good-hearted, hard-handed fellow, who worked like a slave for five
days out of the seven, spent half a day in church, and a day and a
half in the beer-house, where he drank and sang to his heart's
content, and which he seldom left without a black eye. During the five
days allotted to labour, there was not in Antwerp a more clever and
indefatigable carpenter; and punctually each Saturday night he brought
his mother a round sum from his earnings, wherefore the old woman had
him in particular affection.

On the night of Gerard's ill-timed visit to the tavern, Lina sat
opposite to her mother in their humble chimney-corner, a single
slender candle burning between them,--their fingers busily engaged in
lace-making. On the other side of the room stood a joiner's bench, at
which Franz was hard at work. The room itself was clean and neat, and
strewn with white sand; a crucifix and a few pictures of saints
decorated the walls; but otherwise it contained little beyond the most
necessary furniture, for, labour as they would, its inmates' combined
efforts could earn but a scanty pittance.

Eight o'clock was the usual hour of Gerard's visit, and hitherto he
had never come later without warning Lina beforehand of the probable
delay; but now it was ten, and there were no signs of his appearance.
The maiden knew not what to think of this irregularity, and was so
uneasy and absent that she neither heard nor answered a question put
to her by her mother.

"Now then, child," cried the old woman, "your wits are surely
wool-gathering. What's the use of fretting? If he come not to-day, he
will to-morrow. There are days enough in the year."

"True, mother; but I fear some harm has happened to him, that he
misses coming. People are so ill-minded towards him!"

"Ay, that are they; but then he is the headsman's son, and hatred is
the portion of his tribe. Did not the mob murder Headsman Hansken with
stones, and drown Headsman Harmen, hard by the Kroonenburg tower?"

"And what had they done, mother?"

"I'm sure I can't tell. Nothing, I believe. But it so happens,
because the executioners hang many innocent people."

"Surely, mother, the headsman must do what the judge bids him. Why not
drown the judge, sooner than his servant?"

"Ay, ay, Lina, but it has always been so. Mind the proverb--'In a
kennel of dogs, the smallest gets fewest bits and most bites.'"

"That is a stupid proverb, mother."

And the two women gossiped on, till the old one got weary of watching,
and said to her daughter--

"Leave off work, child, and let us to bed. The night grows late."

The young girl was ill-pleased with the order, for she had not yet
given up hopes of Gerard's coming; but she could think of no pretext
to keep her mother from her bed. After brief reflection--

"Mother," she said, "wait a little longer; three more flowers and my
lace is done."

"Make haste then, dear child, or I shall sleep on my chair."

"I am not yet for bed," cried Franz from his bench. "I must finish
this sewing-cushion for the landlady at Peerdeken; she is to fetch it
early to-morrow."

"Boy, boy!" said his mother, smiling and shaking her head, "for a
certainty you drank more last Sunday at Peerdeken than your pocket
could pay for, and now you are working out your debt. Well,
well!--good-night; and forget not your prayers before laying your
heads to rest."

And with this pious injunction, the good woman got up and entered a
small adjacent closet, serving as sleeping chamber for herself and her
daughter. She could have been but a few minutes in bed when Gerard
knocked at the door, and Franz let him in.

The young man's face was pale and gloomy, but Lina wondered not at
this, for seldom had she the happiness of seeing her lover's brow
otherwise than care-laden. Slowly approaching her, Gerard took her
hand and pressed it sadly and silently to his breast. This was his
usual greeting. Of words he was habitually frugal, but his eyes
expressed heartfelt gratitude and ardent love.

"Gerard!" cried Lina, "what is wrong? Your hand is cold as ice!
Heavens! there is blood upon your throat!"

"'Tis nothing, Lina; I knocked myself in the dark. Happy for me, were
my sufferings only of the body!"

The words were followed by a deep sigh, and by a look of profound
dejection, that filled Lina with alarm. Gerard's eyes had assumed a
fixed hard look, in which she read the announcement of some terrible
novelty. With the tenderest care she cleansed his neck from the blood,
which flowed from a trifling wound; and taking her lover's hand,
clasped it in both of hers, with a glance of affectionate
encouragement. But he continued to regard her with the same unvarying
gaze, until at last, unable longer to endure the suspense and his
seeming coldness, she sank into a chair.

"Oh, Gerard!" she exclaimed, "look not thus, if you would not kill me
with your glance!"

The young man cast his eyes upon the ground, then raised them again to
Lina's face, but this time with an expression of ineffable sadness,
and took a seat by her side.

"Lina," he said, in a tone betraying the deepest emotion, "give me
patient hearing, for I have much to say. We meet for the last time."

And without attending to poor Lina's increasing agitation, he

"When children," he said, "we played together, mutually attracted by a
feeling we could not understand, and which has since grown into love.
You knew not, sweet Lina, what it is to be the headsman's firstborn.
You knew not that he who hangs and racks and brands, is laden with
more ignominy than the criminal who suffers at his hands. Later you
learned it, but your pure soul refused to become accomplice of man's
injustice, and you loved me the more, when you found how much I needed
love to save me from despair. And truly, without thee my sufferings
had long since been ended in the grave; for I no longer had faith in
any thing save in the justice of God, and that He reserved me
compensation in a better world. Men persecute me like one accursed;
the blood you have just now wiped was shed by their hatred. But I care
little for pain of body; blest with thy love, my Lina, I would bear
uncomplaining the worst tortures they could inflict. The pain, the
martyrdom is here." He paused, and pressed his hand upon his temples.
"Lina, we have ever indulged a fond dream that some unexpected event
would free me from the headsman's terrible duties. In this expectation
you have sacrificed yourself, and I, blinded by love, have hoped where
hope there was none. Beloved! the illusion has fled, the dream is
past. To-morrow I am no longer the headsman's son, but the headsman
himself! My father lies upon a bed of sickness whence he can never
rise. To-morrow there is an execution, and his odious duties devolve
on me! But think not, Lina, that I will basely claim the pledges given
in hopes of a brighter future. Think not I will expose you to the
disgrace of being pointed at as the headsman's mistress--the
headsman's wife! No, Lina, I come to release you from all promises;
from this moment you are free!"

Whilst Gerard spoke, a gradual but visible change came over the young
girl's countenance, and when he paused, it wore an expression of
joyful pride--a pride that flashed out of her eyes, and smiled in the
dimples of her cheeks. She felt that exhilaration of the heart, the
consequence and reward of generous and noble resolves.

"I understand your meaning, Gerard," she said, "and could quarrel with
you for thinking me less devoted than yourself, or less ready with a
sacrifice. O my beloved! thine I am, and thine will I remain, to-day,
to-morrow, and for ever--here or on the scaffold. Gerard, the path of
duty is plain before me; as thy wife, I will console thee for the
cruelty of men, and shed over thy life the soothing balm of love!"

"Never, Lina, never! What! thou the doomster's wife! A double curse
would be upon me, did I consent to such profanation. Dare I drag you
down into the pit of ignominy and contempt? Never, oh never!"

"And never," said the maiden, in accents of solemn determination,
"will I abandon thee, Gerard, or annul the pledges by which we are
mutually bound. Whithersoever thou goest, thither will I go; and all
thy efforts shall not detach me from thee. Our lives are indissolubly
united. Think you I would desert you on your solitary path? Friend,
did you but know how proud and happy I feel! With humble confidence
shall I approach the table of the Lord, for my heart tells me the good
and just God approves and blesses my resolve."

Gerard gazed in wondering and rapturous admiration on the pure and
beautiful countenance of his mistress, now flushed with the enthusiasm
of her generous love. There was something divine in the affection that
thus courted shame and opprobrium for the sake of the loved one. For a
moment his brow beamed with heartfelt joy, and a sigh, but not of
sorrow, escaped his lightened breast.

"Forgive me, O Lord," he exclaimed, raising his eyes to heaven,
"forgive me that I murmured! In thy great mercy thou has sent an angel
to console me!"

Whilst this affecting dialogue took place, Franz had continued his
work, without attending to the discourse of Gerard and his sister.
Now, however, having finished the cushion, he put by his tools, took
up his lamp, and approached the lovers.

"Come, Lina," said he, "I am dead with sleep, and in haste for bed.
You must bid Gerard come earlier to-morrow."

Although Gerard had still much to say to his mistress, he could not
but take the hint thus plainly but kindly given.

"Franz," said he, gloomily, to his future brother-in-law, "to-morrow I
must strike off a man's head upon the scaffold."

"Have a care, then, Gerard!" replied Franz coolly: "if you miss your
stroke they will stone you, as they did Headsman Hansken. However, in
case of mishap, there is one man at least will stand by you to the

The young headsman looked mournfully at Lina, and approached the
door, a tear trembling on his eyelid. But Lina threw herself
passionately on his neck.

"To-morrow," she cried, "I will be near the scaffold. Observe me

And she listened, with clasped hands and tearful cheeks, to her
lover's footsteps, as they grew fainter and more faint, and finally
died away in the distance.


The house of the Antwerp executioner stood hard by the fortifications,
and was surrounded by a high stone wall, over whose solid portal a red
flag, denoting the occupation of the tenant, was displayed during the
day. The grim ensign had been some hours removed when Gerard knocked
for admission.

"Has the judge been here, Jan?" inquired the young man of the varlet
who opened.

"Yes, he has but just left. Your father desires to speak to you."

Gerard ascended the stairs, and entered the room where his sick father
lay stretched upon his bed.

The old headsman was ashy pale, and worn to the very bone; the ravages
of a terrible malady were legible in his hollow cheeks and sunken
glassy eyes. But, although sick and weak of body, his mind was still
active and vigorous as that of one in health. With a quick glance he
noted his son's entrance; but he uttered no greeting. Gerard took a
chair beside his father's pillow, sought under the bed-clothes for his
thin and feeble hand, and pressed it anxiously and affectionately.

"Father!" he cried in an unsteady voice, "tell me my doom! The judge
has been here! Say, must I assume the headsman's office?"

"My son," replied the old man, mournfully, "I have done my utmost, but
in vain. The judge will not hear of my varlet's doing the duty.
Neither gold nor entreaties softened him. My unhappy son, there is no
alternative. Headsman you must become!"

Although Gerard had foreseen his fate, this confirmation, destroying
the last ray of hope, was a terrible shock. A cold sweat broke out
upon his forehead, and he convulsively squeezed his father's hand. But
the emotion was of brief duration, and he relapsed into his habitual
calm dejection.

"To-morrow!" he exclaimed, after a short pause--"Father, to-morrow
destroys my last hope of a future happier than the past. To-morrow I
must dip my hands in the blood of a fellow-creature. To-morrow is the
first day of a life of agony. Thenceforward I am a hired murderer!"

"My son!" said the old headsman anxiously but firmly, "what must be
must, and against destiny 'tis vain to strive. It were sin to deceive
you. Be prepared for a joyless and weary existence. But there is a God
above, who takes account of human suffering, to repay it in His own
good time."

Gerard heard but the bitter portion of his father's speech--the
concluding words of comfort escaped his ear. He replied as if he had
heard nothing.

"I can conceive," he said, "my fellow-citizens' hatred of me. May I
not be called upon, any day and every day, to strike off the head of
one of them, and he perhaps innocent? They think the headsman takes
pleasure in bloodshed, that he gloats over his victim; and yet, if he
shrinks at sight of the sufferer's naked throat, if his trembling
hands refuse to wield the sword, then, indeed, they slay him with
stones, because he is no true headsman, but suffers himself to be
touched by pity!"

"Often, my son, has this inexplicable contradiction struck me."

"Methinks, father, 'tis not hard to interpret. In every society of men
a scapegoat is needed, on whom to pour out the superabundant hate and
malice of the human heart, to serve as a ready butt for the brutal, a
safe laughingstock for cowards. But, father!--is there no possible
outlet, no means of escape, unthought of or untried? Is my fate
inevitable--_must_ I steep myself in blood?"

"My son!" said the headsman, "there is no remedy. See yonder book,
left me by the judge. It is open at the page that seals thy doom."

Gerard read; then dashed the book violently to the ground.

"Accursed be the unjust law," he cried, "that sentenced me, whilst yet
in my mother's womb, to a life of infamy and blood! Thrice accursed, I
say, be the law and its makers! What! whilst I lay in my cradle,
smiling at life and at God's glorious works, in happy ignorance of the
future, men had already doomed me to live loathed and detested of all,
like the venomous reptile against which every hand is lifted? Oh,
shame, shame!"

"Despair carries you too far, Gerard," replied his father, with a
sigh. "I appreciate your sufferings--too long have I endured the like;
but, remember that the headsman's is a necessary office, and must be
filled. God has allotted it to thee, and submission to His will is the
Christian's duty. In resignation and humility wilt thou find peace."

"Peace!--have you found it, my father? Is it resignation that has laid
you thus prematurely upon the bed of sickness? Were they from the
springs of peace and contentment, those tears that during twenty long
years you shed upon your son's head? You have had courage thus long to
bear it; but I feel not such strength. Oh, that our souls might depart
together, to find mercy and peace before the judgment-seat of the Most
High! But no; I am young, and healthy, and grief does not kill,--at
least not as fast as I would have it. But, praise be to heaven! the
man who fears not death is ever master of his destiny!"

The headsman raised himself in his bed, and drawing his son towards
him, embraced him tenderly, whilst a flood of bitter tears coursed
over his cheeks, worn and wrinkled by sorrow rather than by years.

"O Gerard!" he said, "my beloved son, can you cherish thoughts of
suicide, and delight in the sinful project? What! would you precede me
to the tomb, leaving me to drag out in solitude my few remaining days
of misery? Is this kind, Gerard?--is it generous, unselfish? Think of
Him who for our sakes bore a cross, compared to which thine is of
feather's weight. Bear it, in imitation of Him, patiently and humbly.
So shall we meet hereafter in that bright and blessed world where
persecutors are not, and where the weary find rest!"

These touching and pious words made a deep impression upon Gerard. He
reproached himself for his egotism, and his whole feelings underwent a
sudden and total change. All that day and evening he had nursed
thoughts of self-destruction, which he looked upon as an enviable lot
compared to the long career of blood prescribed to him by the cruel
laws of his country. And now, out of love to his dying father, he must
abandon the idea, and cling to an existence he viewed with deepest
loathing! It cost a severe effort, but generosity and filial duty
finally prevailed, and he made up his mind to the sacrifice.

"Father!" he exclaimed, "forgive my senseless words--heedlessly and
cruelly spoken. I forget not my duty to you; and, since such is your
desire, I will ascend the scaffold and do my office firmly, horrible
though it be. Let shame and scandal fall on those who force me to a
work so repugnant to my nature. Fear not, my father, but that I will
strike the blow with a veteran's coolness, and bathe my hands in my
brother's blood, as calmly as ever butcher in that of unresisting
lamb. I have said it; the sin is not mine, but theirs who compel me.
Weep no move, father! thy son will become headsman; ay, and with a
headsman's heart!"

Those who, hearing this bold speech, should have discerned in it a
strong and sudden resolution, to be afterwards borne out by the deeds
of the speaker, would have deceived themselves, even as Gerard
deceived both himself and his father. It was but one of those fleeting
flashes of determination, which persons wavering in an alternative of
terrible evils sometimes exhibit. The resolution was dissipated with
the sound of the words it dictated. These, however, answered their
chief purpose, by carrying joy and consolation to the old man's

"I am weary, my son," he said, "yet will I give thee brief word of
advice, the fruit of long experience. To-morrow, when you mount the
scaffold, look not at the mob; the ocean of eyes will confuse you, and
make you falter. Fancy you are alone with the condemned man, and deal
your blow steadily and carefully. If the head falls not at the first
stroke, a thousand voices will cry haro on the bungling headsman: a
thousand arms will be uplifted against him, and I shall never again
behold thee alive. I will pray to God that He mercifully strengthen
thee for the terrible task. Go, my son, and His blessing be upon

Whilst the old man thus spoke, with a coolness resulting from long
habit, all Gerard's apprehensions returned with redoubled violence,
and he longed to throw himself on his knees before his father, to
declare his inability to carry out his instructions, and to recall his
promise of supporting the burthen of existence. But affection for his
sole surviving parent, and fear of accelerating the fatal termination
of his malady, stimulated him to self-restraint; and, after a last
embrace, and a murmured "good-night," he retired to his chamber.
There, however, he neither sought his bed nor found repose. The rays
of the morning sun shone upon the unhappy youth sitting in the same
place, almost in the very same posture, he had taken on entering his
room--as mute, as motionless, and nearly as pale, as statue of whitest


The execution of Hendrik the Mariner was fixed for six in the evening.
Long before the appointed hour, crowds of people, eager to see the
horrible spectacle, thronged through the St George's Gate, in the
direction of the place of punishment. Nothing was more seductive to
the populace of that day than the sight of a grisly head rolling upon
the scaffold, and reddening the boards with its blood. The Antwerp
burghers were not exempt from this horrible curiosity; and Headsman's
Acre, as the field was called in which capital punishments then took
place, was crowded with spectators of all ages and classes, including
women, many of them with their children in their arms, urchins of
tender age, and old men who, already on the brink of the grave,
tottered from their easy chair and chimney corner to behold a
fellow-creature expiate, by a premature death, his sin against
society. Noisy and merry was the mob collected round the tall black
gallows and the grim rusty wheel.

In the crowd, close to the scaffold, stood Lina, her heart beating
quickly and anxiously, her tears restrained from flowing only by the
reflection that she was there to give Gerard courage, and that weeping
was the worst way to do it. Her brother Franz stood beside her, in
holiday suit, his broad-leafed Spanish hat upon his head, and his
brown cloak over his shoulder, according to the fashion of the time.
Lina had represented to him, in lively colours, the frightful danger
incurred by Gerard; and he, with his usual rough good-heartedness,
swore to break the neck of the first man who threw a stone at the new

It was late, and the shades of evening fell upon the earth, before the
executioner's varlets completed the necessary arrangements on the
scaffold. At the moment these terminated, a cart pierced the throng
amidst general stir and hum of curiosity. The criminal, attired in a
black linen gown, sat with a priest in the hinder part of the vehicle.
Gerard was on the foremost bench, his broad bright sword in his hand,
and one of his assistants beside him. None could divine, from his
countenance, what passed in his mind; his features were fixed and
rigid; his eyes, bent upon the ground, avoided the people's gaze; and
but for the weapon he bore, none could have told which of the two, he
or Hendrik, was the condemned man. Unconscious of his own movements,
he ascended the scaffold, so confused in spirit that he saw nothing,
not even Lina, although Franz several times made signs to catch his

And now the varlets would have removed the prisoner from the cart to
the scaffold; but he pretended he had not finished his confession,
which he wished now, for the first time, to make full and complete,
seeing all chance of pardon gone. Perhaps he nourished a vague hope of
escape in the darkness; for heavy clouds drifted across the sky, and
night approached so rapidly that already those upon the outskirts of
the crowd could scarcely distinguish what passed upon the scaffold. So
that the people, fearing the increasing darkness would deprive them
altogether of the show they coveted, began to clamour loudly for the
execution of the sentence. The culprit, still resisting, and claiming
delay, was brought upon the scaffold by force, and made to kneel down.
The headsman's assistant bared the condemned wretch's neck, and
pointed to it with a significant look, as if to say, "Master, strike."

At sight of the naked flesh into which he was to cut, Gerard started
as from a heavy sleep, and his limbs trembled till the scaffold shook
under him, and the broad-bladed sword fell from his hand. The varlet
picked up the weapon and gave it back to his master, who clutched it
convulsively, whilst the red rod of the superintending official gave
the signal to strike. But Gerard neither saw the rod nor heard the
voice of its bearer. Already a murmur arose amongst the crowd. "Quick,
master! quick!" said the varlet, whose ear caught the ill-omened

Summoning all the strength and courage his recent sufferings had left
him, Gerard raised the sword, with the fixed determination to strike a
bold and steady blow, when at that moment the victim turned his head,
and at sight of the impending steel, uttered a lamentable yell. No
more was wanting to upset Gerard's resolution and presence of mind.
They left him on the instant: his arms lost their strength, and he let
the sword fall on Hendrik's shoulder, but so feebly that it did not
even wound him.

At the chill touch of the blade, the criminal's whole frame quivered
with agony; but the next instant, feeling himself unhurt, and
perceiving the advantage to be derived from his executioner's
irresolution, he sprang to his feet, and stretching out his fettered
arms to the people, implored help and pity, for that he was wilfully

At this appeal the fury of the mob burst forth with uncontrollable

"Strike him dead!" was the universal cry; "strike the torturer dead!"

And stones flew about Gerard's head, but in no great number, since,
fortunately for him, they were not plentiful on the field. The unhappy
youth stood for a moment stunned by the uproar; then, folding his
arms, he stepped forward to the edge of the scaffold with the air of
one for whom death has no terrors.

"Wolves!" he exclaimed;--"wolves in the garb of men! ye came for
blood--take mine, and slake your fiendish thirst!"

This rash defiance excited to madness the fury of the rabble. Women,
children, and men of the better classes, fled in all haste from the
field, leaving it occupied by the very dregs and refuse of Antwerp,
who pressed fiercely forward to the scaffold, making violent efforts
to seize the headsman, in spite of the resistance of the police and
officials. The uproar and confusion were tremendous. Around Gerard a
number of officers of justice assembled--less, however, for his
protection, than to prevent the escape of the culprit, who made
furious efforts to get rid of his manacles, and continued to appeal to
the people and shout for assistance. At this moment of confusion, when
scarcely anyone knew what his neighbour did, a man ascended the
scaffold, and approached the executioner. It was Franz.

"Gerard," he said, "Lina conjures you, in God's name, and by your love
for her, to speak to her for one moment. She is below; follow me!" And
he leaped from the scaffold, on the side where the mob was thinnest.
Gerard obeyed the charm of Lina's name. How gladly, he thought, would
he bid his beloved one more farewell before encountering the death he
deemed inevitable. In another second he stood by her side. At the same
instant Franz, stripping off his cloak, muffled Gerard in its folds,
pressed his broad hat over his eyes, and placing Lina's arm in that of
the bewildered headsman, drew them gently from the spot.

"Go quietly and fearlessly through the crowd," he said, "and wait for
me in the copse beyond the farthest gibbet."

And seeing that Lina obeyed his directions and led away Gerard, who
followed passively as a child, Franz ran round to the other side of
the scaffold, and set up such a shouting, that the mob, thinking he
had seized the delinquent headsman, rushed furiously in that
direction, leaving a free passage to the lovers. Franz continued to
shout with all his might, and to affect the most violent indignation.

"Strike him dead!" he cried; "strike him dead! Down with the base
torturer! Throw his carcass to the ravens!"

And he hurled stones at the scaffold, headed a charge on the police,
and behaved altogether like a madman let loose. Favoured by this
attracting of the attention from them, and under cover of the
darkness, Lina succeeded in getting her lover away unrecognised, for
Franz's cloak and hat completely concealed the headsman's well-known
costume. But before they reached the thicket, the mob got possession
of the scaffold, released the prisoner, and began ill-treating the
officials, to compel them to confess what had become of the
executioner. On finding that this latter personage, the cause of the
whole tumult, had disappeared, a man, one of the lowest of the people,
who had seen Franz throw his cloak over Gerard's shoulders, and who
had watched the direction taken by Lina and her disguised companion,
guessed that the fugitive was no other than the headsman himself, and
immediately started in pursuit. Before he could overtake them, Lina
and Gerard disappeared amongst the trees. His suspicions confirmed by
this mysterious conduct, the ruffian, blaspheming with exultation and
fury, rushed upon the lovers; and, tearing off Gerard's cloak, beheld
the headsman's livery. Thereupon, without word or question, he lifted
a heavy cudgel, and struck the poor fellow violently upon the head.
Gerard fell senseless to the ground. The murderer would have repeated
his blow, but Lina, with the courage of a lioness defending her young,
grappled him vigorously, and clasping her arms around his, impeded his
further movements. The sight of her lover, stunned and bleeding at her
feet, seemed to give her superhuman strength; and bethinking her that
it was better to have one enemy to contend with than a hundred, she
abstained from calling out, lest her cries should bring foes instead
of friends. Fortunately the uproar of the mob drowned the imprecations
of Gerard's assailant, who vociferated horrible curses as he strove,
with brutal violence, to shake off the heroic girl. At the very moment
when, her last strength exhausted, she was about to succumb, Franz
entered the copse, and, seeing Gerard motionless on the ground and his
sister struggling with a stranger, immediately guessed what had
occurred. A cry of rage burst from his lips, and before Lina remarked
his presence, his powerful hands were upon the shoulders of her
antagonist, who lay, the next instant, upon the grass at his feet.

"Lina!" cried Franz, seizing the fallen man and dragging him in the
direction of the scaffold, "hide Gerard in the bushes; if he still
lives, he is rescued from all he most dreads. Quick! I will return."

With these words he hurried from the copse, dragging his prisoner
after him so rapidly, that the prostrate man, his legs in Franz's iron
grasp, his head trailing in the dust, and striking violently against
each stock and stone, could make no effectual resistance. As soon as
Franz was within earshot of the mob, he shouted, more loudly than

"The headsman! here I have him--the headsman!"

"Death to the villain!" was re-echoed on all sides; and from all four
corners of the field the mob, who had dispersed to seek the object of
their hate, rushed towards Franz. When Lina's brother saw himself the
centre of a dense crowd, howling and frantic for blood, he hurled
amongst them the man whom he dragged by the feet, with the words--

"There is the headsman!"

"Death to him!" hoarsely repeated a hundred voices, and as many blows
descended upon the shrieking wretch, whose expostulations and prayers
for mercy were unheard in the mighty tumult, and whom the mob, blinded
by fury, easily mistook in the darkness for the delinquent
executioner. His cries were soon silenced by the cruel treatment he
received; in a few minutes he was dead, his clothes were torn from his
body, and his face was disfigured and mutilated so as to be wholly

Leaving the mob to their bloody work, Franz returned to his sister,
and found her weeping and praying beside the body of her lover, whom
she believed dead. On examination, however, he found Gerard's pulse
still beating. The violent blow he had received had stunned but not
slain him. Fresh water thrown upon his face and chest restored him to
consciousness, and to the caresses of his dear Lina, speechless and
almost beside herself with joy at his recovery. When his strength
returned, the trio crept stealthily from the copse, and safely reached
the town, where Gerard concealed himself during the evening in the
house of his mistress. When midnight came, and the streets of Antwerp
were deserted, he betook himself, accompanied by Franz, to his own
dwelling, and made his unexpected appearance in his father's chamber.

The old headsman, who lay broad awake upon his bed of sickness,
weeping bitterly, and deploring the death of his unhappy son, deemed
himself the sport of a deceitful vision when he saw the dead man
approach his couch. But when convinced, by Gerard's voice and
affectionate embrace, that he indeed beheld his child in solid flesh
and bone, his joy knew no bounds, and for a moment inspired the young
man with fears of his immediate dissolution.

"My son, my son!" he cried, "you know not half your good fortune. Not
only have you miraculously escaped a cruel death, but you are also
delivered from the horrible employment which has been mine, and was to
be yours. The accursed obligation that weighed upon our race ceases
with life, and you, my son, are _dead_!"

"And pure from the stain of blood!" joyfully exclaimed Gerard.

"Begone," continued the old man, "and dwell far from thine unjust
brethren. Quit Antwerp, marry thy good Lina, be faithful and kind to
her, and heaven bless thee in thy posterity! Thy sons will not be born
to wield the axe, nor wilt thou weep over them, as I have wept over
thee. The savings of thine ancestors and mine insure thee for ever
from poverty; make good use of them and be happy!"

His voice grew weak with emotion, and died away in inarticulate
benedictions. Gerard hung upon his father's neck, and stammered forth
his thanks. The events of the day appeared to him like a dream. He
could not realise the sudden transition from the depths of despair to
the utmost height of happiness.

       *       *       *       *       *

For many years after these incidents there lived at Brussels, under an
assumed name, the son of the Antwerp headsman, and his beautiful wife
Lina. The old man's blessing was heard, and when Gerard's turn came to
quit a world of cares for a brighter and better abode, brave sons and
fair daughters wept around the dying bed of the DOOMSTER'S FIRSTBORN.


DEAR EUSEBIUS,--Whether it be a fable or not that the Lydians invented
chess, to relieve themselves from pain and trouble, and were content
to eat one day and play another, unquestionably amusement is a most
salutary medicine to heal the "mind diseased," and even to mitigate
hunger itself.

The utilitarian ant would not have had the best of the argument with
the grasshopper,--"dance now,"--if the latter had not insisted on
dancing too long--a whole summer. Even hunger would do its dire work
in double-quick time, if left to fret incessantly on the mind as well
as the fast failing substance. Avert the thought of it, and half a
loaf will keep alive longer than a whole one, eaten together with
cankering care. "Post equitem sedet atra Cura," said the most amiable
of satirists; but Care, the real "gentleman in black," won't always be
contented to sit behind, but is apt to assume an opposite seat at the
table, and, grinning horribly, to take away your appetite "quite and
entirely." You may try, Eusebius, to run away from him, and bribe the
stoker to seventy or eighty miles an hour, but Care will telegraph
you, and thus electrify you on your arrival, when you thought him a
hundred miles or so off. I have ascertained a fact, Eusebius, that
Care is not out of one, but _in_ one, and has a lodging somewhere in
the stomach, where he sets up a diabolical laboratory, and sends his
vile fumes up, up--and so all over the brain; and from that
conjuration what blue devils do not arise, as he smokes at leisure his
infernal cigar below! Charge me not, Eusebius, with being
poetical--this is sober prose to the indescribable reality. Your
friend has been hypochondriacal. It is a shameful truth; but
confession is the demon's triumph, and so the sufferer is
punished--mocked, scoffed at, unpitied, and uncured. The Lady Dorothea
Dosewell had proposed a seventy-fifth remedy. My lady, I am in
despair: I have not as yet completed the fifty-sixth prescription; the
fifty-fifth has left me worse. The Curate, who happened to be present,
laughed at me, as all do, and said, "No wonder--you are like the man
who complained of inveterate deafness, had applied every recipe, and
was cured by the most simple one--a cork-screw. Do set aside all your
nostrums, and spend a week or two at the curacy, and I'll take care to
pack in half-a-dozen novels, and you will soon forget your own in
other folks' woes."

"I will go," I replied; "but I protest against any woes whatsoever.
When young as you, Mr Curate, I could bear them, and sit out a tragedy
stoically; but shaken nerves and increasing years won't bear the
tragic phantasmagoria now. Sentimental comedy is too much, and I
positively, with shame, cry over a child's book."

"I fear," quoth the Curate, "it is a sure sign your heart is
hardening. The sympathy that should soften it is too easily and too
quickly drawn off by the fancy to waste, and leaves the interior dry.
Come to us, and alternate your feelings between fancy and active
realities; between reading imaginary histories and entering
practically and interestingly into the true histories of the many
homes I must visit, and you will soon be fresh in spirit and sound

Let me, Eusebius, use the dialogue form, as in some former letters:
suffice it only to tell you previously, that I took the Curate's
advice and invitation, and for a time did my best to throw off every
ailment, and refresh myself by country-air exercise, in the society of
the happy Curate and his wife, at the vicarage of ----, which you know
well by description. And here we read novels. Even at the Curate's
house did we read novels--those "Satan's books," as a large body of
Puritans call them, whilst they read them privately; or, if seen,
ostensibly that they may point out the wickedness in them, and thus
forbid the use of them; as an elder of the demure sect excused himself
when detected at a theatre, that he "came to see if any of their young
folk were there." How often people do what is right, and defend it as
if it was a wrong, and apologise for what gives them no shame! Thus
the Curate commenced the defence of novel-reading:--

CURATE.--What is the meaning of the absurd cry against works of
fiction? If it be true that "the proper study of mankind is man," is
it not wise to foresee, as it were, life under all its possible
contingencies? Are we not armed for coming events by knowing something
of their nature beforehand? Who learns only from the world amid which
he walks, learns from a master that conceals too much; and the greater
portion of the lesson, after all, must come out of the learner's own
mind, and it is a weary while before he has learnt by experience the
requisite shrewdness. Life is too short to learn by a process so slow,
that the pupil begins to decay before he has learnt one truth. The
preparatory education is not amiss. The early tears that tales of
fiction bid to flow scald not like the bitter ones of real sorrow; and
they, as it were by a charm of inoculation, prepare the cheek for the
after tears, that they burn not and furrow too deeply. I cannot
conceive how people came to take it into their heads that plays and
novels are wicked things necessarily. Your Lady Prudence will take
infinite pains that her young people shall not contaminate even their
fingers with the half-binding--and perhaps fail too--and for honest
simplicity induce a practice of duplicity, for fiction will be read.
It is the proper food to natural curiosity--an instinct given us to
learn; and I dare to say that letters were invented by Cadmus
purposely for that literature.

AQUILIUS.--Say nothing of Cadmus, or the serpent's teeth will be
thrown against your argument. Their sowing was not unlike the setting
up a press; and your literary men are as fierce combatants as ever
sprang from the dragon's teeth, and have as strong a propensity to
slaughter each other.

CURATE.--Yes, and even in works of fiction we have had the conflict of
authors. They write now as much against each other as formerly.
Fielding proposed to himself to write down Richardson; and religious
novelists of our days take the field against real or imaginary
opponents. Richardson, able as he was, very cunningly set about his
work--his _Clarissa_. By an assumed gravity, and well-managed
affectation of morality, he contrived to render popular among prudes a
most indecent work. The book was actually put into the hands of young
people as an antidote to novels in general. This appeared to Fielding
abominable hypocrisy, corrupting under disguise. And to this honest
indignation are we indebted to him for his _Joseph Andrews_, the
antidote to the very questionable morality, and unquestionable moral,
of the virtue-rewarded _Pamela_.

AQUILIUS.--I was told the other day by a lady, that there are few
kitchens in which _Pamela_ is not to be found. She detected her own
maid reading it, and was obliged to part with her, for setting her cap
at her son, a youth just entered at College. The girl defended her
conduct as a laudable and virtuous ambition, which the good author
encouraged,--was not the title Virtue Rewarded? So much, for _Pamela_.
You will not, however, surely defend the novel-writing system of
nearly half a century ago--the sickly sentimentalities of the _All for
Love_ school--that restless progeny not allowed to rest on circulating
library shelves till their rest was final--whose tendency was to make
young persons of either sex nothing but fools.

CURATE.--And whose authors had the fool's mark set upon them, not
unhappily, by Jenner, in his _Town Eclogues_:--

      "Thrice-happy authors, who with little skill
    In two short weeks can two short volumes fill!
    Who take some miss, of Christian name inviting,
    And plunge her deep in love and letter-writing,
    Perplex her well with jealous parents' cares,
    Expose her virtue to a lover's snares,
    Give her false friends and perjured swains by dozens,
    With all the episodes of aunts and cousins;
    Make parents thwart her, and her lover scorn her,
    And some mishap spring up at every corner;
    Make her lament her fate with ahs and ohs,
    And tell some dear Miss Willis all her woes,
    Whilst now with love and now with grief she rages;
    Till, having brought her through two hundred pages,
    Finding at length her father's heart obdurate,
    Will make her take the squire, and leave the curate;
    She scales the garden-wall, or fords a river,
    Elopes, gets married, and her friends forgive her."

AQUILIUS.--And was it not whimsical enough that, in the presumption of
their vanity, upstarted the Puritan school, who had ever declaimed
against novels and dramas, to counteract the mischievous tendency of
these silly love-tales, and wrote themselves much sillier, and quite
as mischievous?

CURATE.--Are you then audacious enough to pass censure upon _Coelebs_,
and suchlike?

AQUILIUS.--"Great is Diana of Ephesus!" I abominate every thing Hannah
More wrote--vain, clever, idolised, spoiled woman as she was--her
style all riddle-ma-ree. Read her lauded _What is Prayer?_ and you are
reading a conundrum. An affected woman, she wrote affectedly, with a
kind of unwomanly dishonesty. There was good natural stuff in her too,
but it was sadly spoilt in the making up.

CURATE.--You will shock the good, or rather the goody folk, who will
insist upon the religious and moral purpose of all her works.

AQUILIUS.--They may insist, for they are an obstinate race. What
moral, or what religion, is inculcated in this--"A brute of a
husband"--selfish, a tyrant, a gourmandiser--ill-treats an amiable
wife. He scorns patient virtue, and is an infidel. He must be
_converted_--that is the religious object. He must be metamorphosed,
not after Ovid's fashion--there is the moral object. How is it done,
do you remember? If not, you will never guess. By what latent virtue
is he to be reclaimed? Virtue, indeed! would the indignant Puritan
proclaim--what virtue is in poor human rags? He shall be reclaimed
through his vice! Indeed, Madam Puritan, that is a novelty. So,
however, it is. The man is a glutton. On his conversion-day he is
gifted with an extraordinary appetite and discriminating taste. It is
a pie--yes, _a pie_, that converts him to piety.

CURATE.--Oh, oh, oh! you are mocking surely. A pie!

AQUILIUS.--Yes, a pie. It is remarkably good--quite delicious. It puts
the brute in good humour with himself and every body, and he grunts
applause, and promises his favour to the cook. At this stage--this
incipient stage of his conversion--a pathetic butler bursts into
tears, and affectionately sobs out the beautiful truth. The cook for
the occasion was his mistress--the ill-treated wife. He becomes a
perfect Christian on the instant; and with the conversion comes the
moral metamorphosis, and the "brute of a husband" is, on a sudden, the
best and most religious of men. Now, in what respect, Mr Curate, would
you bid any of your flock to go and do likewise? Setting aside as
worthless, then, to say the best of it, the moral, the set-up primness
of the whole affair is so odious, that you long even for a little
wickedness to set nature upon nature's legs, that we may at least
acknowledge the presence of humanity.

CURATE.--We must ask Lydia to defend the writers of her sex. You are
severe upon poor Hannah, who would have been good enough in spite of
her extreme vanity, if the clique had let her alone. Her _Coelebs_ was
to be the novel _par excellence_, the model tale,--and with no little
contempt for all others.

AQUILIUS.--Your Lydia has too much good sense, and too much plain
honesty, to defend any thing wrong because it is found in woman. The
utmost you can expect from her is not to object to the saintly Hannah,
as was the charity of the Wolverhampton audience, when her play was
acted there. Master Betty was hissed, and this impromptu was uttered,
during a lull, from the gallery--

    "The age of childhood now is o'er,
      Of folly and of whim--
    We dont object to Hannah More,
      But we'll _ha-na-more_ of him."

CURATE.--Yet she is supposed to have done some good by her minor tales
for the poor. Possibly she did--the object was at all events good.

AQUILIUS.--And here she was the precursor to a worse set, so bad that
it can hardly be said of them that they are "daturos progeniem

CURATE.--Yes, even wickedly religious. The scheme was, that the poor
should teach the rich, and the infant the man. I remember reading some
of these tales of Mrs Sherwood's. Is there not one where a little
urchin, not long after he is able to run alone, is sent out on an
errand,--an unconverted child,--commits the very natural sin of
idleness, loiters by the way, and lies under a tree. There, you will
suppose, sleep comes upon him--no, but grace. He rises a converted
man-child, an infant apostle, goes home and converts his wicked
grandfather, or great-grandfather. "Ex uno disce omnes." Great was the
outcry against Maria Edgeworth's children's tales, because they did
not inculcate religious dogmas. This was a great compliment to her
genius, for it showed that every sect would have wished her theirs.
She wisely left the catechism to fathers, mothers, and nurses, and
preferred leaving to the parson of each parish the prerogative of

AQUILIUS.--Some of you take your prerogative as a sanitary
prescription, and sweeten your own tempers by throwing off their
acerbities, _ad libitum_, one day in the week; abusing in very
unmeasured terms all mankind, and their own congregation in
particular--indeed, often in language that, used on week days, and by
any other people, would be looked upon as nearly akin to what is
called "cursing and swearing." So do extremes sometimes meet. A little
thunder clears the air wonderfully; the _lightning may_ not always be

CURATE.--All writers, especially novelists and reviewers, assume this
privilege of bitterness, without the restriction to one day out of
seven; hence, to say nothing of the better motives in the other case,
they are more practised in acerbity than amiability. Your medicine
becomes the habit, not the cure. We must have civil tongues the
greater part of our lives. Your literary satirist uses the drunkard's

    "Which is the properest day to drink--
      Saturday, Sunday, Monday?
    Each is the properest day, I think;
      Why should you name but one day?"

AQUILIUS.--But to return to our subject. Novels are not objected to as
they were; now that every sect in politics and religion have found
their efficacy as a means, the form is adopted by all. And with a more
vigorous health do each embody their principle. The sickly
sentimentality school is sponged out--or nearly so. The novel now
really represents the mind of a country in all its phases, and, if not
the only, is nearly the best of its literature. It assumes to teach as
well as to amuse. I could wish that, in their course down the stream
of time, it had not taken the drama by the neck, and held it under
water to the drowning.

CURATE.--You are wrong. The novel has not drowned the drama. It is the
goody, the Puritan school, has done the work, and will, not drown, but
suffocate, the noble art that gave us Shakspeare, by stopping up all
avenues and entrance to the theatres--having first filled the inside
with brimstone, or at least cautioned the world that the smell of
brimstone will never quit those who enter. In discussing the subject,
however, I would class the play and the novel together, under "works
of fiction." Why, by the way, did the self-styled religious world that
set up a crusade against novelists--and "fiction-mongers"--show such
peculiar favour to John Bunyan, and his _Pilgrim's Progress_--the most
daring fiction? I believe that very imaginative, nay, very powerful
work, has gone through more editions than any other in our language: a
proof at least that there is something innate in us all,--a natural
power of curiosity to see and hear more than actual life presents to
us--that sends all, from infancy to age, in every stage of life,
either openly or secretly, to the reading tales of fiction. We all
like to see Nature herself with a difference; and, loving "to hold the
mirror up to nature," we prefer that the glass should be coloured, or
at least a shade deeper, and love the image more than the thing.

AQUILIUS.--Yes; and we indulge in a double and seeming contrary
propensity--excitement and repose. We are safe in the storm--look out
"from our loopholes of retreat," as Cowper calls them, on the busy
world--and in our search after that equally evasive philosopher's
stone, the "~gnôthi seauton~," like to squint at our deformities in
private, and, by seeing them in other folks, we learn our faults by

CURATE.--And what a wonderful and wisely-given instinct is there in us
all, that we may learn to the utmost in one short life--an instinct by
which we recognise as nature, as belonging strictly to ourselves, what
we have never seen or experienced, and have only portrayed to us in
works of fiction. All people speak of the extensive range of
Shakspeare's genius--that he appears to have been conversant with
every mode of life, with the sentiments and language appropriate to
each--that he is at once king, courtier, citizen, and clown; yet what
do those who so admire him for this universality know themselves, but
through him, of all these phases of life? We recognise them by an
instinct, that enters readily into the possibilities of all nature
which is akin to us; and if this be so, the busiest man who is no
reader, may, in his walk through life, see much more of mankind than
the reader, but know far less. Who teaches to read puts but the key of
knowledge into the scholar's hand. It was well said by Aristophanes,
"Masters for children, poets for men."

AQUILIUS.--True; and if all literary fiction could be withdrawn and
forgotten, and its renovation prohibited, the greater part of us would
be dolts, and, what is worse, unfeeling, ungenerous, and under the
debasing dominion of the selfishness of simple reason. It has always
appeared to me that those who cautiously keep novels from young people
mistake the nature of mind, thinking it only intellect, and would
cultivate the understanding alone. Imagination they look upon as an
_ignis fatuus_, to be extinguished if possible--an _ignis fatuus_
arising out of a quagmire, and leading astray into one. There is
nothing good comes from the intellect alone. The inventive faculty is
compound, in which imagination does the most work; the intellectual
portion selects and decides, but collects not the materials. All true
sentiment, all noble, all tender feeling, comes not of the
understanding, but of that mind--or heart, if we so please to call
it--which imagination raises, educates, and perfects. Even feelings
are to be made--are much the result of education. The wildest romances
will, in this respect, teach nothing wrong. If they create a world
somewhat unlike the daily visible, they create another, which is a
reality to the possessor, to the romantic, from which he can extract
much that is practical, though it may seem not so; for from hence may
spring noble impulses, generosity and fortitude. It is not true that
such reading enervates the mind: I firmly believe it strengthens it in
every respect, and fits it for every action, by unchaining it from a
lower and cowardly caution. Who ever read a romance that inculcated
listless, shapeless idleness? It encourages action and endurance. We
have not high natures till we learn to suffer. I have noted much the
different effects troubles have upon different persons, and have seen
the unromantic drop like sheep under the rot of their calamities,
while the romantic have been buoyant, and mastered them. They have
more resources in themselves, and are not bowed down to one thought
nor limited to one feeling: in fact, they are higher beings.

CURATE.--The caution professes mainly to protect women; yet, among all
the young women whom I have been acquainted with, I should say that
the novel-readers are not only the best informed, but of the best
nature, and some capable of setting examples of a sublime
fortitude--the more sublime because shown in a secret and all-enduring
patience. Who are they that will sit by the bed-side of the sick day
and night, suffer privation, poverty, even undeserved disgrace, and
shrink not from the self-imposed duty, but those very young women in
whom the understanding and imagination have been equally cultivated,
so as to render the feelings acute and impulsive?--and these are
novel-readers. Love, it is said, is the only subject all novels are
constructed upon; and such reading encourages extravagant thoughts,
and gives rise to dangerous feelings. And why dangerous? And why
should not such thoughts and feelings be encouraged? Are they bad? Are
they not such as are requisite for wife and mother to hold, and best
for the destiny of woman--best in every view--best if her lot be a
happy one, and far best if her lot be an ill one? For the great mark
of such an education is endurance--a power to create a high duty, and
energy and patience where both are wanted. Women never sink under any
calamity but blighted affection; and we love them not less, we admire
them not less, that they do sink then, for their heroism is in the
patience that brings and that awaits death.

AQUILIUS.--I have heard Eusebius say that he has made it a point,
wherever he goes, to recommend earnestly to all young mothers to
select no nurse for their children but such as have a good stock of
nursery tales. He has often purposed to write an essay on the subject
of the requisite education for nurses, asserting that there ought to
be colleges for training to that one purpose alone; for, as the nurse
gives the first education, the first impression, she gives the most
important. The child that is not sung to, and whose ear has not been
attentive to nursery tales, he would say, would be brought up to turn
his father and mother out of doors, and deserve, if he did not come,
to be hanged; and if such unfortunate child be a daughter, she would
live to be a slut, a slattern, a fool, and a disgrace. He had no
doubt, he said, believing that all Shakspeare's creations were
realities, that Regan and Goneril were ill nursed, and no readers; and
that Cordelia was in infancy well sung to, and being the youngest, was
set to read romances to her old and wayward father,--

    "Methinks that lady is my child Cordelia!"

How full are these few words of the old father's feeling, and
reminiscent of the nursery, of songs, of tales, wherein he had seen
the growth of his "child Cordelia!" Eusebius would be eloquent upon
this subject: I cannot tell you half of what he thought and vigorously
expressed. He used to delight in getting children together and telling
them stories, and invariably began with "once upon a time," which, he
used to say, had, if any words could have, a magical charm.

CURATE.--Bad, indeed, was the change when story reading and telling
ceased to be a part of education: and what was put in its
place?--stuff that no child could understand or care about. The good
old method once abandoned, there was no end to the absurdities that
followed; and they who wrote them knew nothing about children, or what
would amuse, and, by interesting, improve them. The false system of
cramming them with knowledge, which it was impossible for them to
digest, really stopped their intellectual growth, and checked the
natural spring of their feelings. Wisdom-mongering went on upon the
"rational plan," till the wise-heads, full-grown infant pumpkins,
fatuated, empty of anything solid or digestible; and so they grew, and
grew from night to morn, and morn to night, stolid boobies, lulled
into a melancholy sleep by the monotonous hum of "Hymns in Prose."

AQUILIUS.--"Hymns in Prose!" Is not that one of Mrs Barbauld's books
for children, I have often heard mothers say, "that is so very good?"

CURATE.--Oh yes! Here it is in Lydia's library.

AQUILIUS.--Open it--any where.

CURATE.--Well, now, I do not think the information given to the child
here is quite correct in its order, for I think the parent of the
mother must be the child's grandmother. "The mother loveth her little
child; she bringeth it up on her knees; she nourisheth its body with

AQUILIUS.--A very unnatural parent if she did not. It is very new
information for a child. Well, go on.

CURATE.--"She feedeth its mind with knowledge. If it is sick, she
nurseth it with tender love; she watcheth over it when asleep; she
forgetteth it not for a moment."

AQUILIUS.--A most exemplary and extraordinary mother--not a moment! Go

CURATE.--"She teacheth it how to be good; she rejoiceth daily in its
growth." I do not see the connexion between the "teaching to be good"
and the growth. "But who is the parent of the mother? Who nourisheth
her with good things, and watcheth over her with tender love, and
remembereth her every moment? Whose arms are about her to guard her
from harm?"

AQUILIUS.--Stay a moment--whose arms? Why, the husband's to be sure;
which the child may have seen, and need not have been told as a

CURATE.--"And if she is sick, who shall heal her?" Now, you would say,
the apothecary, and so would the child naturally answer; but that
would not be according to the "rational plan." The riddle is to have
a religious solution--"God is the parent of the mother; he is the
parent of all, for he created all."

AQUILIUS.--Shut the book! shut the book! or rather put it in the fire,
or one of these days one of your own babes will be so spoon-fed. So
these are hymns for children! Why, the children brought up on this
"rational plan" have set up themselves for teachers, and in a line,
too, sometimes quite beyond Mrs Barbauld's intention. I took up a book
of prayers off a goody-table the other day, written by a boy of six
years old, with a preface by himself, to the purport that his object
was to improve the thoughtless world. At the end were some verses--all
such cherub children love to "lisp in numbers." As well as I can
remember, they ran thus--they are lines on the occasion of its
father's breaking his leg, or having some accidental sickness--

    "O Lord! in mercy do look down,
      And heal my dear papa;
    Or if it please thee not to cure,
      Do comfort dear mama!"

CURATE.--Well, I don't think there is a pin to choose between the hymn
in prose and the hymn in verse, excepting that the infant versifier is
rather more intelligible. I saw the little book a month or two ago at
----. I must have called after you; for I suspect some lines in pencil
at the end were your work. Did you write these?--

    "Defend me from such wretched stuff
    As children write and parents puff!
    Put the small hypocrites to bed,
    And whip the big ones in their stead!"

AQUILIUS.--At least I will write them in Lydia's, to protect the
future. The child would have been better employed in reading Jack the
Giant-killer. But what think you of Bible stories, adopted for those
of somewhat more advanced childhood--a religious novel made out of the
history of Joseph, price eighteenpence? I picked it up at the same
house, and had permission to put it in my pocket. It is a curious
story to choose, as the writer says, "to entertain my young reader
without vitiating his mind." I mean not the genuine story, but such as
the writer promises it to be; for he says in his preface, "I am not at
all aware of having at all departed from the spirit of the text, nor
from the rules of probability. I have, indeed, ventured upon a few
conjectures and fictious possibilities, which some very grave reader
may perhaps be offended with." The author professes his object to be,
to make the Bible popular; so what the conjectures and fictious
possibilities that may offend very grave people may be, we must guess
by the object--to make it fashionable. But the recommendation to the
young on the score of love, and the "_letting down_" the Bible to the
capacities of the young, must be given in the author's own words: "The
sacred volume is fertile of subjects calculated both to please and
instruct, when let down, by proper elucidation, within the reach of
young capacities. And rather than one class of readers should want
entertainment, let me tell them, that the Bible contains many
histories of love affairs; perhaps this may tend more to recommend it
to attention than all besides which I could say." You will not,
however, conclude that I object to religious novels. It is a
legitimate mode of enforcing doctrines by lives, and showing the
pernicious effects of what is false, and the natural result of the

CURATE.--And will not the authority of parables justify the adoption?
There may, it is true, be mischievous novels of the kind; but what is
there that may not be perverted to a bad use? We had at one time
irreligious and basely immoral novels; and there have been too many
such recently from the Parisian press--blasphemous, immoral,
seditious. The existence of such demands the antidote. You have, of
course, read Miss Hamilton's "Modern Philosophers?" That work was well
timed, and did its work well, so cleverly were the very passages from
Godwin and others of that school brought in juxtaposition with their
necessary results. It is a melancholy tale.

AQUILIUS.--Yes; but this quiet woman, whom, as I am told, if you had
met her in society, you would never have suspected of power and shrewd
observation, by her little pen scattered the philosophers right and
left, and their works with them. I read the other day Godwin's "St
Leon"--a most tiresome, objectless novel; the repetitions, varying
with no little ingenuity of language, of the expression of the
feelings of St Leon, are tiresome to a degree. In his _Caleb Williams_
the same thing is done; but there it agrees well with the nature of
the tale, and well represents the movements of the persecuting Erinnys
in the mind of the victim. I read it at a great disadvantage, it must
be owned, for I had just laid down that tale of singular interest, the
"Kreutzner" of Mrs H. Lee. There is a slight resemblance in some
points to Godwin's style, especially to this expression of the
feelings of the victim; but they are exactly timed to suspend the
narrative just where it ought to stay. Too rapid a succession of
events would have been out of keeping with that incessant persecution,
which tracks more perfectly, because more surely and slowly. The true
bloodhound is not fleet. Cassandra stayed her prophetic speech; but
the pause was the scent of blood, and awful was the burst that
followed. Know you the _Canterbury Tales_?

CURATE.--Oh yes; and well remember that strangely interesting and most
powerful one of "Kreutzner." I have admired how, in every tale, the
style is various and characteristic. I see, then, that you have taken
to "light reading" of late.

AQUILIUS.--It is not very easy to say what light-reading is. I once
heard a very grave person accused of light-reading, because he was
detected with the "History of a Foundling" in his hand. He replied,
"You may call it light-reading, but to me there is more solid matter
in it than in most books. I find it all substance,--full weight in the
scale of sense, common or uncommon, and will weigh down a library of
heavy works. And yet you may pleasantly enough handle it--it fits so
well, and the pressure is so convenient. You may even fancy it light
too, for it imparts a vigour as you hold it. And so you can play with
it for your health, as did the Greek king, in the Arabian tale, with
the mallet and medicinal balls which the physician Douban gave him,
with which he was lustily to exercise himself. It was all play, but
the drugs worked through it. There may be something sanatory even in
the 'History of the Foundling.' There is a light-reading which is the
heaviest of all reading: it comes with a deadly weight upon the
eyelids, and then drops like lead from your fingers,--but then,
indeed, it proves light enough in escaping." Fielding's novel is not
of this kind: my grave friend always read it once a-year, and said he
as often found new matter in it. Did you ever--indeed I ought not to
ask the question--notice Fielding's admirable English? Our best
writers have had a short vocabulary, and such was the case with
Fielding; but he is the perfect master of it. The manners he portrays
are gone by. Some of the characters it would be impossible now to
reproduce, and yet we know at a glance that they were drawn from life.

CURATE.--Comparing that novel, and indeed those of that day, with our
more modern, may we not say, that this our England is improved?

AQUILIUS.--I hope so: it is at least more refined. But there is a
question, Is not the taste above the honesty? Some say, it is a better
hypocrite. I do not venture an opinion, but take Dr Primrose's
ingenious mode of prophecy, who, in ambiguous cases, always wished it
might turn out well six months hence.

CURATE.--Now, indeed, you speak of a novel _sui generis_--that had no
prototype. It stands now unapproachable and original as the Iliad.
Yet I have often wondered by what art Goldsmith invested _such_
characters with so great interest. That in every one he put something
of himself, it has been well observed; hence the strong vitality, the
flesh and blood life of all. I believe the great charm lies in its
simpletonianism--I coin a word; admit it. There is scarcely a
character that is not more or less of the simpleton; and the more
this simpletonianism is conspicuous, the more are we delighted.
Perhaps the reader, whether justified or not, is all along under the
conviction that he has himself more common sense than any of the
company to whom he is introduced, and with whom he becomes familiar.
Simplicity runs through the whole tale--a fascinating simplicity,
distinct from, and yet in happy relation with, this simpletonianism.
The vicar is a simpleton in more things than his controversy, and is
the worthy parent of Moses of the spectacles. The eccentricity of the
baronet, the over-trust and the mis-trust of mankind, at the
different periods of his life, are of the simpletonian school; and
not the least so that act of injurious folly, the giving up his
estate to a nephew, of whom he could have known no good. Mrs Primrose
is a simpleton born and bred, and in any other hands but those of
charitable Goldsmith must have turned out an odious character, for
she has scarcely feeling, and certainly no sense. Simpletonianism
reigns, whether at the vicarage or at Farmer Flamborough's. Yet is
there not a single character in this exquisitely perfect novel that
you would in any one respect wish other than as put before you. There
is a great charm in this simpletonianism: the reader is in perfect
sympathy with the common feelings of all, yet cognisant of a
simpletonianism of which none of the _dramatis personæ_ are
conscious. He thus sits, as it were, in the conclave of nature's
administrators, knows the secret that fixes characters in their
lines; and is pleased to see the strings pulled, and the figures move
according to their kind; is delighted with their perfect harmony, and
looks on with complacency and self-satisfaction, believing himself
all the while, though he may in reality be something of a simpleton,
a person of very superior sagacity. Follies that do not offend,
amuse--they are not neutral: we cheat ourselves into an idea that we
are exempt from, and are so much above them, that we can afford to
look down and laugh: we say to ourselves we are wiser. May not this
in some measure be the cause that all, whether children of small or
of bigger growth, of three feet or six, take pleasure in the jokes,
verbal and practical, of the clown Mr Merryman, and pardon the
wickedness of Punch when he so adroitly slips the rope round the neck
of the simpleton chief-justice, who trusted himself within reach of
the knave's fingers.

AQUILIUS.--Your theory is plausible; be the cause what it may, our
best authors seem to have been aware of the charm of simpletonianism.
Never was there a more perfect master of it than Shakspeare. And how
various the characters--what differences between Shallow, Slender,
Malvolio, and indeed all his troop of simpletons! None but he would
have thought of putting Falstaff in the category. But let no man boast
of his wisdom; we had laughed with him, but laugh too at him when
simpletonianised in the buck basket. The inimitable Sterne, did he not
know the value of simpletonianism, and make us love it, in the weak
and in the wise, in the Shandean philosophy and the no-philosophy of
the misapprehending gentle Uncle Toby, and the faithful Trim, taking
to himself a portion of both masters' simpletonianism? Did not Le Sage
know the value of this art?--Gil Blas retaining to the last somewhat
of the simpleton, and, as if himself unconscious, so naïvely relating
his failure with the Archbishop of Grenada. And have we not perfect
examples in the delicious pages of Cervantes?--the grave, the wise,
the high-minded simpletonianism of Don Quixotte; and that
contrastingly low and mother-wit kind in the credulous Sancho
Panza--ignorance made mad by contact with madness engendered of
reading? The very Rosinante that carried madness partakes of the sweet
and insane simpletonianism, and Sancho and his ass are fellows well
met, well matched.

CURATE.--As he is the cleverest actor that plays the fool, so is he
the wisest and ablest writer that portrays simpletonianism. I suppose
it is an ingredient in human nature, and that we are none of us really
exempt, but that it is kept out of sight, for the most part, and
covered by the cloak of artificial manners; and so, when it does break
out, the touch of human nature is irresistible; we in fact acknowledge
the kinship. But the nicest painting is required; the least
exaggeration turns all to caricature. Even Fielding's hand, though
under the direction of consummate genius, was occasionally too
unrestrained. His Parson Adams might have been a trifle more happily
delineated; we see its error in the after-type, Pangloss. What a
field was there for extravagance in Don Quixotte! but Cervantes had a
forbearing as well as free hand. How could people mistake the aim of
Cervantes, and pronounce him to be the Satirist of Romance? He was
himself the most exquisite romancer. His episodes are romantic in the
extreme, whether of the pastoral or more real life. Though it was not
right in Avelanda to take up his tale, it must be regretted that
Cervantes changed the plan of his story. What would the tournament
have been? Some critics have thought all the after-part inferior:
without admitting so much, he certainly wrote it in pique, and
possibly might not have concluded the tale at all, if it had not been
thus forced upon him.

AQUILIUS.--We must not omit to mention our own Addison. There is an
air of simpletonianism running through all his papers, as one
unconscious of his own wit, so perfect was he in his art; and as to
character, the simpletonianism of Sir Roger de Coverley must ever
immortalise the author--for the good eccentric Sir Roger is one of the
world's characters, that can never be put by and forgotten. What nice
touches constitute it!

CURATE.--Yes, great nicety; and how often the little too far injures!
I confess I was never so charmed with some of the characters in Sir
Walter Scott's novels, from this carrying too far. Even
simpletonianism must not intrude, as did sometimes Monkbarns and the
Dominie: the "prodigious!" and absence of mind were beyond nature.
Character should never become the author's puppets: mere eccentricity
and catch phraseology do not make simpletonianism. Smollet, too, fell
into the caricature. He sometimes told too much, and let his figures
play antics. The fool would thereby spoil his part. There must be some
repose every where, into which, as into an obscure, the mind of the
reader or spectator may look, and make conjecture--some quiet, in
which imagination may work. The reader is never satisfied, unless he
too in a certain sense is a creator; the art is, to make all his
conjectures, though seemingly his own, the actual result of the
writing before him. "Master Shallow, I owe you a thousand pounds." How
much does the mind accumulate at once, to fill up the history of those
few words! There is no need of more--all is told; while the spectator
thinks he is making out the history himself.

AQUILIUS.--It is a great fault in a very popular novel writer of the
day, that he will not give his readers credit for any imagination at
all; every character is in extreme. To one ignorant of the world, but
through books, it would appear that there is not a common middle
character in life: we are to be acquainted with the minutest
particulars, or rather peculiarities, of dress and manners. It is as
if a painter should colour each individual in his grouping, in the
most searching light. The inanimate nature must be made equally
conspicuous, and every thing exaggerated. And it is often as forced in
the expression as it is exaggerated in character. He has great powers,
great genius, overflowing with matter, yet as a writer he wants
agreeability: his satire is bitter, unnecessarily accumulated, and his
choice of odious characters offers too frequently a disgusting picture
of life.

CURATE.--The worst is, that, with a genius for investing his
characters with interest, by the events with which he links them
together, in which he has so much art, that he compels persons of most
adverse tastes to read him,--he is not a good-natured writer, and he
evidently, it might be almost said professedly, writes with a
purpose--and that I think a very mischievous one, and one in which he
is to a certain extent joined by some other writers of the day--to
decry, and bring into contempt as unfeeling, the higher classes. This
is a very vulgar as well as evil taste, and is quite unworthy the
genius of Mr Dickens. And, what is a great error in a novelist, he
gives a very false view of life as it is. There is too much of the
police-office reporter in all his works. _Dombey and Son_ is, however,
his greatest failure, as a whole. You give him credit for a deep plot
and mystery, ere you have gone far; but it turns out--nothing.
Admirable, indeed, are some things, parts and passages of wonderful
power; but the spring that should have attached them has snapped, and
they are, and ever will be, admired, only as scenes. The termination
is miserable--a poor conclusion, indeed, of such a beginning; every
thing is promised, nothing given, in conclusion. Some things are quite
out of possibility. The whole conduct of the wife is out of nature.
Such a character should have a deep cause for her conduct: she has
none but the having married a disagreeable man, out of pique, from
whom she runs away with one still more odious to herself and every
one, and assumes, not a virtue which she has not, but a vice which she
scorns, and glories in the stigma, because it wounds her husband. Such
a high and daring mind, and from the commencement so scorning
contamination, could not so degrade itself without having a stronger
purpose than the given one. The entire change of character in Dombey
is out of all nature--it is impossible; nor does the extraordinary
affection of the daughter spring from any known principle of humanity.
The very goodness of some of the accessory characters becomes
wearisome, as the vice of others is disgusting.

AQUILIUS.--After all, he is an uncomfortable writer: he puts you out
of humour with the world, perhaps with yourself, and certainly with
him as a writer. Yet let us acknowledge that he has done much good. He
should be immortalised, if only for the putting down the school
tyrannies, exposing and crushing school pretensions, and doubtless
saving many a fair intellect from withering blight and perversion. He
takes in hand fools, dolts, and knaves; but Dickens wants
simpletonianism. He gave some promise that way in his _Pickwick
Papers_, but it was not fulfilled. Turn we now to Mrs Trollope. What
say you to her _Vicar of Wrexhill_? let it have a text, and what is
it? I will not suggest a text--that is your province. I dare to say
you would easily find one.

CURATE.--Why, I think Mrs Trollope was very unfairly dealt with. The
narrative in that novel was a fair deduction from the creed of a sect;
and if it does not always produce similar consequences, it is because
men will be often better than their creeds. But that fact does not
make her comment unfit for the text, that it told; I should judge from
the abuse that has been heaped upon it--no, not upon it, but upon the
authoress. Why was it not open to her to make this answer to other
works of fiction, as she thought, inculcating evil? What Miss Hamilton
did with the philosophers, she did with the Antinomians.

AQUILIUS.--It has been the fashion to call her a coarse writer--a
vulgar writer. I see nothing of it in her best works. She takes vulgar
and coarse people to expose them as warnings, and, if possible, to
amend them. We cannot spare Mrs Trollope from our literature. I have
been told by an eye-witness that her American "camp scene" is very far
short of the truth, and that she could not give the details. He must
surely be a bit of a bigot, who would hastily pronounce that even
Greave's _Spiritual Quixotte_ is an irreligious work. There are too
many people interested in decrying the novel of so powerful a writer
as Mrs Trollope, to suffer her to be without reproach both for style
and object. I should rather object to her that she writes too
much--for she is capable, were she to bestow due time upon it, to
write something better than has yet dropped from her pen; let her give
up her fashionable novels. When I say better, yet would I except the
_Vicar of Wrexhill_: for, however unpopular with some, it places her,
as a writer, very high.

CURATE.--They who oppose themselves to any set of opinions must make
up their minds, during the present generation at least, to receive but
half their meed of praise. Was this ever proved more remarkably than
in the publication of that singular novel, _Ten Thousand a-Year_? It
is a political satire, certainly; but not only that--it has a far
wider scope; but it was sufficiently so to set all the Whigs against
it. And sore enough they were. But has there been any such novel since
the days of Fielding? And it exhibits a pathos, and tone of high
principle and personal dignity, that were out of the reach even of
Fielding. This novel, and its precursor, the _Diary of a Physician_
will--must--ever live in the standard literature of the country.

AQUILIUS.--And why not add _Now and Then_? One thing I cannot but
greatly admire in Mr Warren--he is ever alive to the dignity of his
profession. Hating law as I do, in all its courses, ways, contacts,
and consequences, and officials, from the Lord Chief-Justice to the
petty constable; and having a kind of envious dislike to the
arrogation to themselves, by lawyers, of the greater part of the great
profits and emoluments of the country; and seeing, besides, that most
men of any station and property pay, in their course of life, as much
to lawyers as in taxes, the one cried-up grievance; yet I confess that
Mr Warren has put the noble portraiture of the profession, in all its
dignity and usefulness, and in its high moral and intellectual
acquirements and actions, so vigorously before me, that I recant, and
even venerate the profession--against my will, nevertheless.

CURATE.--How touching are the early struggles with his poverty, in the
person of the young physician himself! with what fine taste and
feeling of the gentleman and the scholar are they written! Perhaps no
novel can show a more perfectly complete-in-itself character than his
Gammon, in whom is the strange interweaving of the man of taste and
sense--even, in some sense, better feeling--with the vile and low
habits of knavery.

AQUILIUS.--The author differs from most novelists in this, that he
does not make love, by which must be understood love-making or
love-pursuing, the subject, but incidental to his subject. He sets up
affection, rather, in the niche for his idolatry. Tenderness, and duty
linked with it, and made sublime by it, is with him far more than the
"passion," of love. It is life with love, rather than in the chase of
it, that we see detailed in trial and in power.

CURATE.--It is so; and yet you do not, I presume, mean to blame other
authors if they have made "the passion" their subject. We are only
bound to the author's choice, be it what it may--love, ambition, or,
any other--we must have every feature of life, every notice of action,

AQUILIUS.--Surely: but there is a masculine virtue, seeing that the
one field has been so decidedly occupied, in making it less prominent;
and where it is thus abstinently administered, there is often a great
charm in the conciseness and unexpectedness. Let me exemplify Mr
Southey's _Doctor_. There may be, strictly speaking, or rather
speaking after the fashion of novels, but little love-making; there
are, nevertheless, two little scenes, that are the most touchingly
effective I ever remember to have read. The one is a scene between
cousins--dependent and in poverty, I think, at Salisbury; the other,
the unexpected and brief courtship of Doctor Dove himself. It is many
years since I read _The Doctor_, yet these two scenes have often been
conjured up, and vividly pictured to my imagination. I doubt if
Southey could have told a love-tale in any other way, and few in any
way would have told one so well.

CURATE.--Those who dwell too unsparingly on such scenes, and spin out
their sentimental tales, and bring the loving pair incessantly before
the eye, do for the most part the very thing which the nature of the
passion forbids. Its whole virtue is in the secrecy. And though the
writer often supposes a secrecy, by professing himself only the
narrator and not the witness, yet the reader is not quite satisfied,
seeing that he too is called in to look over the wall or behind the
hedge; and the virtue he is willing to give the lovers is at some
expense of his own, for he has a shrewd suspicion that both he and the
writer are little better than spies.

AQUILIUS.--Surely you will admit something conventional, as you would
the soliloquy on the stage--words must pass for thoughts. I find a
greater fault with those kind of novels; they work, as it were, too
much to a point, beyond which, and out of which aim, there is no
interest. These I call melodramatic novels, in which the object seems
to harrow up or continually excite the feelings, to rein the hasty
course of curiosity, working chiefly for the denouement, after which
there is nothing left but a blank. Curiosity, satisfied, cannot go
back; the threads have all been taken up that lead out of the
labyrinth--they will not conduct you back again. Novels of this kind
have greater power, at first, than any other; but, the effect for
which they labour fully produced, the effervescence is over; and
though we remember them for the delight they have given, we do not
return to them. Novels of less overstrained incident, full of a
certain _naiveté_ in the description of men and manners, from which
the reader may make inferences and references out of his own
knowledge, though they will not be read by so many, will be read
oftener by the same persons. Perhaps there is more genius in the
greater part of these novels, but the writers sacrifice to effect--to
immediate effect--too much. Cooper's novels are somewhat of this kind;
and may I venture to say that the Waverley novels, as they are called,
assume a little more than one could wish of this character. Authors,
in this respect, are like painters of _effect_--they strike much at
first, but become even tiresome by the permanency of what is, in
nature, evanescent. It is too forced for the quietness under which
things are both seen and read twice. Generally, in such tales, when
the parties have got well out of their troubles, we are content to
leave them at the church door, and not to think of them afterwards.

CURATE.--Novelists, too, seem to think that, by their very title, they
are compelled to seek novelties. I have to complain of a very bad
novelty. The "lived together happy for ever after" is not only to be
omitted, but these last pages of happiness are sadly slurred over; as
if the author was mostly gifted with the malicious propensity for
accumulating trouble upon his favourites, and with reluctance
registered their escape into happiness. They do out of choice what
biographers do out of necessity, the disagreeable necessity of
biography, and for which--I confess the weakness--I dislike it. I do
not like to come to the "vanitas vanitatum"--to see the last page
contradict and make naught of the vitality, the energy, the pursuit,
the attainment of years. It is all true enough--as it is--that old men
have rheum, but, as Hamlet says, it is villanous to set it down. You
have, of course, read that powerful novel _Mount Sorel_. You remember
the last page--the one before had been "voti compos"--all were happy;
and there it should have ended. Not a bit of it. Then follows the
monumental scene. You are desired to look forward, to see them, or
rather to be told of their lying in their shrouds, with their feet,
that recently so busily walked the flowery path of the accomplishment
of their hopes, upturned and fixed in the solemn posture of death.

AQUILIUS.--Yes, I remember it well, and being rather nervous, declined
reading _Emilia Wyndham_, by the same author, because I heard it was
melancholy, and feared a similar conclusion. I agree with you with
respect to biography: and remember, when a boy, the sickening
sensation when I read at school the end of Socrates. I wish
biographers would know where to stop, and save us the sad catastrophe.
It is strange, that you must not read the life of a buffoon but you
must see his tricks come to an end, and his whole broad farce of life
suddenly drop down dead in tragedy. Whatever may be said of the
biographer in his defence, I hold the novelist inexcusable.

CURATE.--I should even prefer the drop-scene of novel happiness to
come quietly down before the accoucheur and the registrar of births
make their appearance. Why should we be told of a nursery of brats--a
whole quiverful, as Lamb says, "shot out" upon you? It is better to
take these things for granted. Doubtless it is as true, that the happy
couple will occasionally suffer--she from nerves, and he under
dyspepsia; but we do not see such matters, nor ought they to be
brought forward, although I doubt not the authors might obtain a very
handsome fee from an advertising doctor for only publishing the
prescriptions. If they go on, however, in this absurd way, it is to be
feared they will go one step further with the biographers, and publish
the will, with certificate of probate and legacy-tax duly paid.

AQUILIUS.--We are not, however, as bad as the French. If our novels do
sometimes require an epitaph at the end, they do not make death at
once a lewd, sentimental, frightful, and suicidal act--and that not as
a warning, but as a French sublime act.

CURATE.--You have read, then, the _Juif Errant_. I am not very well
acquainted with French novels, but have read some very pretty stories
in the voluminous Balzac, most of which were not of a bad tendency.
Did you ever read the Greek novels _Theagenes and Chariclea_, and the
_Loves of Ismenias and Ismene_? Being curious to see how the
Thessalonian archbishop, who lived in the times of Manuelis and Alexis
Commenus, about the year 750, would speak the sentiments of his age on
the passion of love, I lately took up his novel, the "_Loves of
Ismenias and Ismene_."

AQUILIUS.--I know it not; perhaps you will give me an outline, and
select passages. I have great respect for the old Homeric commentator.

CURATE.--I remember a few tender passages, and graceful descriptions
of gardens and fountains, and that he is not unmindful of his Homer,
for he refers to the gardens of Alcinous as his model. I confess I am
a little ashamed of the archbishop; but read with more than shame that
Greek novel of Longus, written it is doubted whether in the second or
fourth century, and to which, it is said, Eustathius was indebted for
his novel. Longus's _Daphnis and Chloë_ is a pastoral,--it would burn
well. There are pleasing descriptions in both of garden scenery.
Speaking of gardens and fountains reminds me of the richness of the
_Arabian Nights' Entertainments_, which I am surprised did not before
come into our discussion. How strange is it that, though manners and
scenes are so far from our usages and any known locality, we admit
them at once within the recognised boundary of imaginative nature!
They are indeed fascinating; yet have I not unfrequently met with
persons who professed that they could not endure them.

AQUILIUS.--Were they young persons?--if so, they must be very scantily
gifted with a conciliating imagination, though they may very possibly
be the most reasonable of human beings. The charm that renders the
_Arabian Nights_ acceptable in all countries appears to me to arise
from this--that vivid are the touches which speak of our common
nature, and what is extraneous is less defined. Indeed, not
unfrequently is great use made of the obscure--such obscure as
Rembrandt, the master of mystery, profusely spread around the gorgeous
riches of his pencil. There is here and there, too, a sprinkling of
simpletonianism in a foreign shape, showing that all nations have
something akin.

CURATE.--Besides, they have the charm of magic, and a magic which
blends very skilfully and harmoniously with the realities of every-day
life. They were evidently composed in a country where magic was a
creed. Could such tales have been ever the product of this country, so
different from any of our "fairy tales?" though perhaps none of ours,
those that delighted us in our childhood, are of English origin. Magic
of some kind or other must have been adopted in tale at a very early
period. Ulysses' safety girdle, which he was directed mysteriously to
throw behind him, and I believe not to look back, comes undoubtedly
from some far land of faery, from whence the genius of Homer took it
with a willing hand.

AQUILIUS.--Grecian fable is steeped in the charmed fountain. The power
of the Medusa's head, and the black marble prince's metamorphoses, are
nearly allied. And a Circe may be discovered in many places of Arabic

CURATE.--Time converts everything into beauty. You smile, thinking
doubtless that age has something to do with ugliness. Perhaps so,
though it follows not but that there may be, personally speaking, to
every age its own beauty, visible to eyes not human, whilst we are
under earthly beauty's fascination, at any rate with regard to fact
and to fable. Time unites them, as it covers the riven rock with
lichen; so the shattered and ugliest idols of remotest ages doth Time
hand over to Fable, to remodel and invest with garments of beauty or
deformity, to suit every desire of the imagination. Strange as it may
seem, it is true that there is in most of us, weary and unsatisfied
with this matter-of-fact world, a propensity to throw ourselves into
dream, and let fancy build up for us a world of its own, and, for a
season, fit us with an existence for it--taking with us the beautiful
of this, and charming what is plain under the converting influence of
fiction. Who understood this as Shakspeare did? His _Tempest_,
_Midsummer's Night Dream_, his _Merchant of Venice_, are built up out
of the materials supplied by this natural propensity.

AQUILIUS.--How beautiful are impossibilities when genius sets them
forth as truth! Who does not yield implicit belief to every creation
of Shakspeare? I prefer the utter impossibilities to improbabilities
converted into real substantial fact. Let us have _Mysteries of
Udolpho_ uncleared up; it is dissatisfying at the end to find you have
been cheated. One would not have light let in to a mysterious obscure,
and exhibit perhaps but a bare wall ten feet off. I had rather have
the downright honest ghost than one, on discovery, that shall be
nothing but an old stick and a few rags. The reader is put in the
condition of the frogs in the fable, when they found themselves
deluded into wonder and worship of an old log. I would not even clear
up the darkness of ignorance respecting the Pyramids, and will believe
that the hieroglyphics are the language of fables, that are better,
like the mummies, under a shroud. Wherever you find a bit of the
mysterious, you are sure to be under a charm. In _Corinne_ of Madame
de Stael, not the most romantic of authors, the destiny cloud across
the moon you would not have resolved into smoke ascending from a
house-top. Let the burial-place of Oedipus be ever hid. Imagination
converts ignorance into a pleasure. There is a belief beyond, and
better than that of eyes and ears.

CURATE.--Not at present; at this moment I will trust both. I hear the
carriage, and here is Lydia returned from ----. I hope she has picked
up the parcel of books which I gathered for our reading.

Now here, Eusebius, our dialogue broke off, and we greeted the
Curate's wife. The box, it seems, had not reached the little town; so,
with a woman's nice tact, Lydia, the Curate's Lydia, had brought us
two novels to begin with. I therefore put my letter to you by, until
we had read them, and I was enabled to say something about them. You
perceive, Eusebius, that I have made some mention in the dialogue of
you, and your opinions upon nursery _fabulous_ education. Lydia
says--for to her we mentioned your whim--that you must come and
discuss it with her; and she will, to provoke you, bring you into
company with some very good people, and very much devoted to
education. She tells me she has a neighbour who burnt Gay's fables,
which a godfather had given to one of her children; because, said she,
it taught children lying, for her children looked incredulous as one
day she told them that beasts cannot speak. The Curate's wife promises
herself some amusement, you perceive, when you come; you must
therefore be as provoking as possible. But now, Eusebius, we have read
the novels brought to us. The first, _Jane Eyre_, has been out some
time: not so the other, _Madame de Malguet_, which has only now made
its first appearance. I do not think it fair, though it is a common
practice with critics, to give out a summary of the tales they
review--for this is sure to spoil the reading. I will resume, then,
the dialogue, omitting such parts as may be too searching into the

LYDIA.--Well, I am glad we read _Jane Eyre_ first, for I should have
been sorry to have ended with tears, which she has drawn so
plentifully; and not from my eyes alone, though both you men, as
ashamed of your better natures, have endeavoured to conceal them in

AQUILIUS.--It _is_ a very pathetic tale--very singular; and so like
truth that it is difficult to avoid believing that much of the
characters and incidents are taken from life, though woman is called
the weaker sex. Here, in one example, is represented the strongest
passion and the strongest principle, admirably supported.

CURATE.--It is an episode in this work-a-day world, most interesting,
and touched at once with a daring, yet delicate hand. In spite of all
novel rules, the love heroine of the tale has no personal beauty to
recommend her to the deepest affection of a man of sense, of station,
and who had seen much of the world, not uncontaminated by it. It
seems to have been the purpose of the author to show that high and
noble sentiments, and great affection, can be both made subservient,
and even heightened, by the energy of practical wisdom. If the author
has purposely formed a heroine without the heroine's usual
accomplishments, with a knowledge of the world, and even with a
purpose to heighten that woman in our admiration, he has made no
small inroad into the virtues that are usually attributed to every
lover, in the construction of a novel. He, the hero, has great
faults--why should we mince the word?--vice. And yet so singular is
the fatality of love, that it would be impossible to find two
characters so necessary to exhibit true virtues, and make the
happiness of each. The execution of the painting is as perfect as the

LYDIA.--I think every part of the novel perfect, though I have no
doubt many will object, in some instances, both to the attachment and
the conduct of Jane Eyre.

AQUILIUS.--It is not a book for Prudes--it is not a book for
effeminate and tasteless men; it is for the enjoyment of a feeling
heart and vigorous understanding.

LYDIA.--I never can forget her passage across the heath, and her
desolate night's lodging there.

CURATE.--But you will remember it without pain, for it was at once the
suffering and the triumph of woman's virtue.

AQUILIUS.--To my mind, one of the most beautiful passages is the
return of Jane Eyre, when she sees in the twilight her "master" and
her lover solitary, and feeling his way with his hands, baring his
sightless sorrow to the chill and drizzly night.

CURATE.--But what think you of _Madame de Malguet_? In a different
way, that is as unlike any other novel as _Jane Eyre_. This, too, is
written to exhibit the character of woman under no ordinary

AQUILIUS.--She reminds me of the Chevalier d'Eon, whose portrait I
remember to have seen years ago in the _Wonderful Magazine_--half man,
half woman. Madame de Malguet is perhaps an amalgamation of the
Chevalier and Lady Hester Stanhope. These, after all, are not the
beings to be exempt from the _tender passion_, but it is under the
strongest vagaries. Love without courtship is the very romance of the
passion; and such is there in the tale of _Madame de Malguet_. The
scene is laid in a little town, and its immediate neighbourhood, in
France; and though a "Tale of 1820," carries back its interest, and
much of the detail of the story, to the horrors of the first French
Revolution. There is consequently a wide field for diversity of
character, and for conflict of opinions, and their effects, as shown
upon every grade of social life; and it is very striking that the
deepest rooted prejudices, ere the conclusion, change sides, and are
fitted upon characters to whom, at the commencement, they seemed but
little to belong. The inborn aristocratic feelings, alike with the
republican habits, meet their check; and I suppose it was the
intention of the author to show the weakness of both.

CURATE.--I am not certain of that, for I think the innate is preserved
even through the disguise of contrary habits. I know not which is the
hero--the Buonapartean soldier or the English naval captain. There are
some discussions on subjects of life interspersed, which show the
author to be a man of a deeply reflecting mind, and endued with no
little power of expressing what he thinks and what he feels.

AQUILIUS.--When I found fault with this wet blanket of happiness, the
monumental termination of _Mount Sorel_, I did not so soon expect to
meet with a repetition of this fault. I must pick a quarrel with the
writer for unnecessarily putting his characters _hors-de-combat_. I
think authors now-a-days need not be afraid of the fate of
Cervantes--of having them taken off their hands, and made to play
their parts upon any other stages than their own.

LYDIA.--You seem, both of you, to forget the real moral of the
story--that a person endowed with a little more than common sense,
general kindness, amiability, and energy of character, may be more
useful in the world than the most accomplished hero.

CURATE.--You would have found him too a hero, if his actions had been
within the sphere of heroism. I hope to meet with Mr Torrens again. He
has very great powers, and his conceptions are original.

And now, Eusebius, having written you this account of our dialogue,
and breathed country air, and witnessed happiness, I am, yours ever,

    "Precipue sanus, nisi cùm pituita molesta est."



Seven months have barely elapsed since the throne of Louis Philippe
was overturned, by a sudden and well-concerted urban tumult; and six
have not expired since the fervour of revolution invaded the Germanic
empire, and Italy, torn by the innovating passions, commenced a strife
with the Austrian power. How marvellous have been the changes, how
vehement the action, how powerful the reaction, since those events
commenced! Involved in the whirlwind of anarchy, the greater as well
as the lesser states of Germany seemed to be on the verge of
destruction. Austria, tormented by diversity of lineage, race, and
interest, seemed to be irrevocably broken up; and amidst the rebellion
in Lombardy, the severance of Venice, the insurrection in Bohemia, and
the fierce demand of the Hungarians for independence, it seemed
scarcely possible to hope that the house of Hapsburg could maintain
its existence, or the important element of Austria in the balance of
European power be preserved. Torn by contending passions, a prey to
the ambition of the republicans, the dreams of the socialists, and the
indignation of the loyalists, France resembled a fiery volcano in the
moment of irruption, of which the throes were watched by surrounding
nations with trembling anxiety for their own existence. Italy, with
Sicily severed from the throne of Naples; Rome in scarcely disguised
insurrection against the Papal authority; Lombardy, Tuscany, and
Venice in open revolt; and Piedmont, under revolutionary guidance,
commencing the usual system of external democratic aggression,
scarcely presented a spot on which the eye of hope could rest.
Prussia, the first to be reached by the destructive flame, seemed so
strongly excited, that it was hard to say whether its national unity
or monarchical institutions would first fall to pieces. England,
assailed by Chartism in the one island, and the approaching
insurrection of the Irish in the other; oppressed with a debt to which
its finances, under present management, seemed unequal--having
borrowed £8,000,000 in a single year of general peace--seemed shaken
to its foundation. The distress so generally diffused by the combined
effect of free trade and a fettered currency, appeared at once to have
dried up its material resources and overturned the wonted stability of
the national mind: every thing seemed to be returning to chaos; and
even the most sanguine advocates of human perfectibility, the most
devout believers in democratic regeneration, looked on with trembling
anxiety, and could hardly anticipate any other result from the
disturbed passions of society, but a general and sanguinary war,
terminating in the irresistible ascendency of one victorious power, or
possibly a fresh inundation, over the exhausted field of European
strife, of northern barbarians.

But truth is great, and will prevail. There are limits imposed by the
wisdom of nature to the madness of the people, not less than the
strife of the elements. Extraordinary convulsions seldom fail to
restore government, after a time, to a bearable form: the letting
loose of the passions of nations ere long rouses the feelings and
alarms the interests, which produce reaction, and restore the
subverted equilibrium of society. Men will not be permanently ruled by
brutal force. Triumph reveals the latent tyranny of the multitude;
power brings to light the selfishness and rapacity of their leaders.
How strikingly have those truths--so often enunciated, so little
attended to--been demonstrated by the events of the last summer! Six
months only have elapsed, and what years, what centuries of experience
have been passed during that brief period! How many delusions has it
seen dispelled, and fallacies exposed; how many pretensions levelled,
and expectations blasted; how many reputations withered, and
iniquities detected! How much has the peril of inflammatory language
been demonstrated, and the hollowness of revolutionary regeneration
established! how quickly have words been blown into the air by deeds,
and the men of eloquence supplanted by those of the sword! "Words,"
says Lamartine,[11] "set nations on fire; bayonets alone restore them
to reason." Who has furnished such a commentary on these words as
Lamartine himself?

Is it the doctrines of the French Revolution which were deemed
seductive, its principles insinuating, its example dangerous? The Red
Republicans, the insurrection of June, the slaughter of a greater
number of men in a single revolt than has taken place in many a
decisive battle, the withering agony of Parisian destitution, the ten
thousand captives in its dungeons; the nightly transportation, for
weeks together, of hundreds of deluded fanatics; the state of
siege,--the prostration of freedom, a military dictatorship, rise up
in grim and hideous array to dispel the illusion. Is it the Io Pæans
of Italian regeneration which have caused the heart of the patriot to
throb all over the world, and led the enthusiastic to anticipate a
second era of Italian independence in the old age of its civilisation?
The defeats on the Adige, the fall of Milan, the dispersion of the
Lombard and Tuscan levies, tell us how miserable was the delusion on
which such expectations rested, and how vain is the hope that a
selfish and worn-out nation, destitute alike of civil firmness or
military courage, can successfully establish its independence. Is it
from Rome that this regeneration of society is expected to arise, and
the reforming pope who is to be the Peter the Hermit of the new
crusade in favour of the liberties of mankind? Behold him now
trembling in his palace, bereft of authority, deprived of
consideration; hated, despised, discrowned; waiting to see which of
the Tramontane powers is to send a regiment of horse to receive the
keys of the Eternal City, and give a lasting ruler to the former
mistress of the world.

Is it Prussia that is to take the lead in the regeneration of the
world, and from the north that a new Arminius is to issue, to assert
the liberties of the great Teutonic family of mankind? Turn to Berlin,
and see to what a pitiable degree of weakness revolutionary triumphs
have reduced the monarchy of the Great Frederick. Behold its monarch
and its army defeated by a band of students and shop-boys; its arsenal
pillaged by an insurgent mob; and the power which withstood the banded
strength of Europe, a century ago, and fronted Napoleon in the
plenitude of his power, waging a doubtful and aggressive war with
Denmark, a fifth-rate power, and paralysed by processions of
apprentices, and the menaces of trades-unions, in the capital. Is it
Ireland that is regarded as the sheet-anchor of the cause of
revolution, and from the Emerald Isle that the bands of heroes are to
issue who are to crush the tyranny of England, restore the freedom of
the seas, and avenge the long quarrel of the Celt with the Saxon? It
is in Boulagh Common that we must look for the exploits of the new
Spartan heroes, and among the widow's cabbages we must search for the
grave of a modern Leonidas! Is it in the energy, courage, and
perseverance of the army of Tipperary, that we must find the
realisation of the long-cherished hopes of Irish independence, and the
demonstration of the solid foundation on which the much vaunted
prospects of Hibernian success against British oppression is to be
founded! It must augment the admiration which all the world must feel
at the _gallant_ conduct of the Irish, in this memorable struggle, to
reflect that they owed their _success_ to themselves alone; that none
of their arms had been purchased, nor preparations made, with the
wealth of the stranger; that they had spurned the charity of England
as proudly as they had repelled its arms; and that, whatever could be
cast up against them, this, at least, could not be said, that they had
evinced ingratitude for recent benefits, or eaten the bread of their
benefactor while they were preparing to pierce him to the heart!

Memorable, indeed, has been the year which has given these examples,
and taught these lessons, to mankind. History will be sought in vain
for a period in which, during so short a time, so many important
political truths were unfolded, so many moral precepts taught, by
suffering; or in which, after being for a season obscured by clouds,
the polar star of religion and duty has shone forth with so bright a
lustre. It is a proud thing for England to reflect on the exalted post
she has occupied during this marvellous and trying time. While other
nations, possessed of far greater military forces, were reeling under
the shock, or prostrated by the treachery and treason of their
defenders, she alone has repelled the danger by the constable's baton.
She has neither augmented her army, nor increased her navy; she has
not added a gun to her ships, nor a bayonet to her battalions. She has
neither yielded to the violence of the Revolutionists, nor been guilty
of deeds of cruelty to repress them. If her government is to blame for
their conduct during the crisis, it is for having been too
lenient--for having dallied too long with agitation, and winked at
sedition till it grew into treason. A fault it undoubtedly has been,
for it has brought matters to a crisis, and caused the ultimate
outbreak to be repressed with far greater and more unavoidable
severity than would have been required if the first merciful coercion
had taken place. Had the Habeas Corpus Act been suspended in November,
and the farce of Irish patriotism been hindered from turning into a
burlesque tragedy, for one person whom it would have been necessary to
imprison or transport, fifty must now undergo that punishment. Yet is
this leniency or temporisation, misplaced as it was, and calamitous as
it has turned out, a proud passage in England's story. It is some
consolation to reflect that she conquered the revolutionary spirit, by
which so many of the military monarchies of Europe had been
prostrated, by moral strength alone; that scarce a shot was fired in
anger by her troops, and not a drop of blood was shed on the scaffold;
and that undue forbearance and lenity is the only fault which, during
the crisis, can be imputed to the government which braved the storm
under which the world was reeling.

Nor is the moral lesson less striking, or less important, which
France, during the same period, has read to mankind. She has not, on
this occasion, been assailed by the Continental powers. No Pitt or
Cobourg has stood forth to mar, by ensanguined hostility, the bright
aurora of her third Revolution. No Louis Philippe has stepped in, to
change its character or intercept its consequences, and reap for
royalty the fruits of insurrection. No bands of Cossacks or plumed
Highlanders have again approached the capital of civilisation, to
wrest from Freedom the rights she has acquired, or tear from her brows
the glory she has won. Whatever she has gained, or suffered, or lost,
has been owing to herself, and herself alone. Europe has looked on in
anxious, it may be affrighted, neutrality. Though undermined every
where by the spirit of propagandism, though openly assailed in some
quarters by scarcely disguised attacks, the adjoining powers have
abstained from any act of hostility. Albeit attacked by a
revolutionary expedition, fitted out and armed by the French
government at Paris, Belgium has attempted no act of retaliation.
Victorious Austria, though grievously provoked, has accepted the
mediation of France and England: when Turin was at his mercy, the
triumphant Radetsky sheathed his victorious sword at Milan, and sought
not to revenge on Piedmont the unprovoked aggression which its
revolutionary government had committed on the Imperial dominions in
Italy. Russia has armed, but not moved; the Czar has left to the
patriotism and valour of Denmark the burden of a contest with the
might of revolutionised Germany. Revolution has every where had fair
play; a clear stage and no favour has been accorded to it by all the
surviving monarchies in Europe. The enthusiasm of Lamartine, the
intrigues of Caussidière, the dreams of Louis Blanc, the ambition of
Ledru Rollin, have been allowed their full development. Nothing has
intercepted the realisation of their projects. If France has suffered
beyond all precedent from her convulsion; if her finances are in a
state of hopeless embarrassment; if forty-five per cent has been
added to her direct taxes, and the addition cannot be levied from the
public distress; if three hundred thousand men have been added to her
regular army; if poverty and destitution stalk through her streets; if
her jails teem with ten thousand captives, and thousands of families
mourn a father or a brother slain on the barricades, or transported
for civil war,--the cause is to be found in the Revolution, and the
Revolution alone.

The terrible and tragic result of the strife in the streets of Paris
in June, has done scarcely a less service to mankind, by opening the
eyes of the world to the real nature of crimes which recent events had
rendered popular, and restoring their old and just appellation to acts
of the deepest atrocity, which the general delusion had caused to pass
for virtues. Since the successful result of the Revolt of the
Barricades in 1830, the ideas of men have been so entirely subverted,
that no government was practicable in France but that of corruption or
the sword; and treason and sedition appeared to have been blotted out
of the list of crimes in the statute-book of England. So licentious
had the age become, and so much was government paralysed by terror at
the unprecedented turn which the public mind had taken, that, in
Ireland especially, it can scarcely be said, for the last ten years,
that, in regard to state offences, there has been any government at
all. The Repeal agitation--the wholesale liberation of prisoners by
Lord Normanby--the unchecked monster meetings,--the quashing of
O'Connell's conviction by the casting vote of one Whig peer, in
opposition to the opinion of the twelve judges of England--the
unparalleled and long-continued violence of the treasonable press in
Dublin--the open drilling and arming of the people in the south and
west of Ireland--the undisguised announcement of an approaching
insurrection, of which the time was openly fixed for the completion of
harvest--were so many indications that Government had become
paralysed, and ceased to discharge its functions, in the neighbouring

If matters were not as yet so menacing in England, it was not that the
executive was more powerful or efficient in this country, but that the
English mind was slower to take fire than on the other side of the
Channel, and that more weighty interests required to be subverted
among the Saxons than the Celts, before the institutions of society
were overturned, and anarchy, plunder, and spoliation, became the
order of the day. Yet even here there were many indications of
Government having become paralysed, and lamentable proof that the
public tranquillity was preserved, more by the moderation of its
assailants than the strength of its defenders. The violence and
general impunity of the trades-unions, in both England and Scotland;
the open and undisguised preparations of the Chartists in both
countries; the toleration in the metropolis, on two different
occasions, of a Chartist Convention, which aspired at usurping the
government of the country; the uniform and atrocious violence of the
revolutionary press; the entire impunity with which, on every
occasion, the most dangerous sedition was spouted on the platform, or
retailed in the columns of the journals; the open preparation, at
last, of treasonable measures; and the organisation of the disaffected
in clubs, where arms were distributed, and projects of rebellion,
massacre, and conflagration hatched--were so many indications, and
that, too, of the most alarming kind, that matters were approaching a
crisis in these islands; and that the paralysis and imbecility of a
Government which had ceased to discharge its functions, might prove,
as it did in France in the feeble hands of Louis XVI., the precursor
of a dreadful and disastrous convulsion.

Thanks to the French revolution and Irish rebellion, this state of
matters has met, for the time at least, with a decisive check. The
eyes of men have been opened; things are called by their right name.
We again hear of treason and sedition--words, of late years, so much
gone into disuse that the rising generation scarcely knew what they
meant. In France the heroes of the barricades have ceased to be lauded
as the greatest of men. Insurrection is no longer preached as the
first of social duties. That which was the chief of civic virtues on
the 24th February has become the greatest of civic crimes on the 24th
June. The soldiers of treason no longer meet with an honoured
sepulchre, nor, if surviving, are they fêted and caressed by royal
hands. If killed, they are thrust into undistinguished graves; if
taken alive, they are immured in dungeons or transported. Universal
suffrage has done that which royalty was too indulgent or too timorous
to do--it has ceased the dallying with treason. It has fought the Red
Republic with its own weapon, and conquered in the strife. It has
erected a military despotism in the great revolutionised capital.
Industry, almost destroyed by, the first triumph of anarchy in France,
is slowly reviving under the protection of absolute power. With
suppression of the trade of the "journaliste," the "émeutier," and the
"homme des barricades," other branches of employment are at length
beginning to revive.[12]

Nor is the change less remarkable in Great Britain, where government
have not only followed Mr Pitt's example of suspending the Habeas
Corpus Act in Ireland, but have passed a special statute, assimilating
for two years the punishment of aggravated cases of sedition to what
it was by the old common law of Scotland. Great was the abuse which
the Whig writers for half a century bestowed on the Scotch Judges in
1793, for applying the punishment of the Scotch law to the sedition of
1793, and transporting Muir and Fische Palmer, for trying to force on
a revolution by means of a national convention. The "Martyrs'
Monument" in Edinburgh stands as a durable monument of their sympathy.
Lord Campbell, in his _Lives of the Chancellors_, has in bitter terms
exhaled their collected indignation. But scarcely was the ink of his
lordship's lucubrations dry, when he saw fit, as a member of Lord John
Russell's cabinet, to bring in a bill to _assimilate the punishment of
sedition in Ireland to the old law of Scotland_; and under it Mitchell
has been transported fourteen, and Martin ten years--the very
punishments inflicted for similar offences on Muir and Fische Palmer.
The difference is, that for one person transported or imprisoned under
Mr Pitt's system of timely coercion and prevention, in 1793, in Great
Britain and Ireland, a hundred will be transported or imprisoned under
the Whig system of long temporisation and final repression, in 1848.
So true it is, that undue weakness in the prevention of crime is the
inevitable parent of undue sternness in its punishment, and that in
troubled times government incur the reality of severity to avoid its

Not less important, to the final interests of mankind, is the exposure
of the real designs and objects of the revolutionary party, over the
world, which has now taken place. The days of delusion are gone past;
words have ceased to mislead men as to the nature of things. For half
a century, men have been continually misled by the generous and
elevated language under which the democratic party veiled their real
designs. The strength of revolution consists in the power it possesses
of rousing effort by the language of virtue, to render it subservient
to the purposes of vice. But its designs have now reached their
accomplishment: men see what was intended under all this veil of
philanthropic intentions. The revolutionists have been victorious in
Paris; and immediately their projects of spoliation, anarchy, and
plunder, were set on foot, and approached so near their
accomplishment, that a desperate and last effort of all the holders of
property became indispensable, to prevent the total ruin of society;
and carnage to an unheard of extent for three days stained the streets
of Paris, to avert the triumph of the Red Republic, and the return of
the Reign of Terror. The cry for repeal turned into rebellion in
Ireland; and a vast concentration of the forces of England was
requisite to prevent the Emerald Isle becoming the theatre of general
massacre, devastation, and ruin. For two hours the Chartists got
possession of Glasgow, and instantly a general system of plunder and
sacking of houses commenced. The Chartist Convention was long
tolerated in England, and, in return, they tried to overturn the
Government on the 10th April; and organised a general plan of plunder
and conflagration, which was to have broken out in the end of August,
and was only mercifully prevented by the designs of the conspirators
having become known, and the timely vigour of Government having
prevented their accomplishment. The ultimate objects of the enemies of
society, therefore, have become apparent: deeds have told us what
meaning to attach to words. Revolution in France means spoliation, and
the division of property, at a convenient opportunity. Repeal in
Ireland means the massacre of the Protestants, and the division of
their estates at a convenient opportunity. Chartism in England means
general plunder, murder, and conflagration, the moment there is the
least chance of perpetrating these crimes with impunity.

Ireland has been, in an especial manner, the subject of these general
delusions; and there is perhaps no subject on which foreigners, the
English, and the Irish themselves, have for so long a period been
entirely misled, as in regard to the real cause of the protracted, and
apparently irremediable evils of that distracted country. The
proneness of the English to believe, that all mankind will be blessed
by the institutions under which they themselves have flourished and
waxed great, and the virulence with which party ambition has fastened
upon Ireland, as the battle-field on which to dispossess political
opponents, and gain possession of power, are the main causes of this
long-continued and wide-spread misconception. We have to thank the
Irish for having, by their reception of the magnificent gift of
England in 1847, and subsequent rebellion in 1848, done so much to
dispel the general delusion. To aid in disseminating juster views on
the subject, we shall proceed to disinter from the earlier volumes of
this Magazine, an extract from the first of a series of papers on
Ireland, published in 1833, immediately before Lord Grey's Coercion
Act, and which might pass for an essay on present events. It affords a
striking example, both of the justice of the views there enunciated,
and of the pernicious and continual recurrence of those real causes of
Irish suffering, which party spirit in both islands has so long
concealed from the people of Great Britain.

     "It is in vain to attempt to shake ourselves loose of
     Ireland, or consider its misery as a foreign and extraneous
     consideration with which the people of this country have
     little concern. The starvation and anarchy of that kingdom is
     a leprosy, which will soon spread over the whole empire. The
     redundance of our own population, the misery of our own poor,
     the weight of our own poor-rates, are all chiefly owing to
     the multitudes who are perpetually pressing upon them from
     the Irish shores. During the periods of the greatest
     depression of industry in this country since the peace, if
     the Irish labourers could have been removed, the native poor
     would have found ample employment; and more than one
     committee of the House of Commons have reported, after the
     most patient investigation and minute examination of evidence
     from all parts of the country, that there is no tendency to
     undue increase among the people of Great Britain, and that
     the whole existing distress was owing to the immigration from
     the sister kingdom.

     "Nature has forbidden us to sever the connexion which
     subsists between the two countries. We must swim or sink
     together. It is utterly impossible to effect that disjunction
     of British from Irish interests, for which the demagogues of
     that country so strenuously contend, and which many persons
     in this island, from the well-founded jealousy of Catholic
     ascendency in the House of Commons, and the apparent
     hopelessness of all attempts to improve its condition, are
     gradually becoming inclined to support. The legislature may
     be separated by act of Parliament; the Government may be
     severed by Catholic revolts; but Ireland will not the less
     hang like a dead weight round the neck of England; its
     starving multitudes will not the less overwhelm our
     labourers; its passions and its jealousies will not the less
     paralyse the exertions of our Government. Let a Catholic
     Republic be established in Ireland; let O'Connell be its
     President; let the English landholders be rooted out, and
     Ireland, with its priests and its poverty, be left to shift
     for itself; and the weight, the insupportable weight of its
     misery, will be more severely felt in this country than ever.
     Deprived of the wealth and the capital of the English
     landholders, or of the proprietors of English descent; a prey
     to its own furious and ungovernable passions; ruled by an
     ignorant and ambitious priesthood; seduced by frantic and
     unprincipled demagogues, it would speedily fall into an abyss
     of misery far greater than that which already overwhelms it.
     For every thousand of the Irish poor who now approach the
     shores of Britain, ten thousand would then arrive, from the
     experienced impossibility of finding subsistence at home;
     universal distress would produce such anarchy as would
     necessarily lead the better classes to throw themselves into
     the arms of any government who would interfere for their
     protection. France would find the golden opportunity, so long
     wished for, at length arrived, of striking at the power of
     England through the neighbouring island; the tricolor flag
     would speedily wave from the Giant's Causeway to Cape Clear;
     and even if England submitted to the usurpation, and
     relinquished its rebellious subjects to the great parent
     democracy, the cost of men and ships required to guard the
     western shore of Britain, and avert the pestilence from our
     own homes, would be greater than are now employed in
     maintaining a precarious and doubtful authority in that
     distracted island.

     "Whence is all this misery, and these furious passions, in a
     country so richly endowed by nature, and subjected to a
     Government whose sway has, in other states, established so
     large a portion of general felicity? The Irish democrats
     answer, that it is the oppression of the English Government
     which has done all these things; the editors of the Whig
     journals and reviews repeat the same cry; and every Whig,
     following, on this as on every other subject, their leaders,
     like a flock of sheep, re-echo the same sentiment, until it
     has obtained general belief, even among those whose education
     and good sense might have led them to see through the
     fallacy. Yet, in truth, there is no opinion more erroneous;
     and there is none the dissemination of which has done so much
     to perpetuate the very evils which are the subject of such
     general and well-founded lamentation. Ireland, in reality, is
     not miserable because she has, but because _she has not been
     conquered_; she is suffering under a redundant population,
     not because the tyranny of England, but the tyranny of her
     own demagogues, prevents their getting bread; and she is torn
     with discordant passions, not because British oppression has
     called them into existence, but because Irish licentiousness
     has kept them alive for centuries after, under a more
     rigorous Government, they would have been buried for ever.

     "It is the more extraordinary that the popular party in both
     islands should so heedlessly and blindly have adopted this
     doctrine, when it is so directly contrary to what they at the
     same time maintain in regard to the causes of the
     simultaneous rise and prosperity of Scotland. That poor and
     barren land, they see, has made unexampled strides in wealth
     and greatness during the last eighty years: its income during
     that period has been quadrupled, its numbers nearly doubled,
     its prosperity augmented tenfold; they behold its cities
     crowded with palaces, its fields smiling with plenty, its
     mountains covered with herds, its harbours crowded with
     masts, the Atlantic studded with its sails; and yet all this
     has grown up under an aristocratic rule, and with a
     representative system from which the lower classes were in a
     great measure excluded. In despair at beholding a nation
     whose condition was so utterly at variance with all their
     dogmas of the necessity of democratic representation to
     temper the frame of government, they have recourse to the
     salutary influence of English ascendency, and ascribe all
     this improvement to the beneficial influence of English
     freedom. Scotland, they tell us, has prospered, not because
     she has, but because she has not, been governed by her own
     institutions: and she is now rich and opulent, because the
     narrow and jealous spirit of her own Government has been
     tempered by the beneficial influence of English freedom.
     Whether this is really the case, we shall examine in a
     succeeding Number; and many curious and unknown facts as to
     the native institutions of Scotland we promise to unfold;
     but, in the mean time, let it be conceded that this
     observation is well founded, and that all the prosperity of
     Scotland has been owing to English influence. How has it
     happened that the _same_ influence at the _same_ time has been
     the cause of all the misery of Ireland? The common answer
     that Scotland was always an independent country, and that
     Ireland was won and ruled by the sword, is utterly
     unsatisfactory, and betrays an inattention to the most
     notorious historical facts. For how has it happened that
     Ireland was conquered with so much facility, while Scotland
     so long and strenuously resisted the spoiler? How did it
     happen that Henry II., with eleven hundred men, achieved with
     ease the conquest of the one country, while Edward II., at
     the head of eighty thousand men, was unable to effect the
     subjugation of the other? How was it that Scotland, not once,
     but twenty times, expelled vast English armies from her
     territory, while Ireland has never thrown them off since the
     Norman standard first approached her shores? And without
     going back to remote periods, how has it happened that the
     same influence of English legislation, which, according to
     them, has been utterly ruinous to Ireland, has been the sole
     cause of the unexampled prosperity of Scotland? that the same
     gale which has been the zephyr of spring to the one state,
     has been the blast of desolation to the other? It is evident
     that there is a fundamental difference between the two
     states; and that, if we would discover the cause of the
     different modes in which the same legislation of the dominant
     state has operated in the two countries, we must look to the
     different condition of the people to whom it was applied.

     "One fact is very remarkable, and throws a great light on
     this difficult subject--and that is, that at different
     periods opposite systems have been tried in Ireland, and that
     invariably the system of concession and indulgence has been
     immediately followed by an ebullition of more than usual
     atrocity and violence.

     "The first of these instances is the great indulgence showed
     to them by James I. That monarch justly boasted that Ireland
     was the scene of his beneficent legislation; and that he had
     done more to its inhabitants than all the monarchs who had
     sat on the English throne since the time of Henry II. He
     established the boroughs; gave them a right of sending
     representatives to Parliament; and first spread over its
     savage and unknown provinces the institutions and the
     liberties of England. What was the consequence? Did the
     people testify gratitude to their benefactors? Did they prove
     themselves worthy of British freedom, and capable of
     withstanding the passions arising from a representative
     government? We shall give the answer in the words of Mr Hume.

     "'The Irish, everywhere intermingled with the English, needed
     but a hint from their leaders and priests to begin
     hostilities against a people whom they hated on account of
     their religion, and envied for their riches and prosperity.
     The houses, cattle, goods, of the unwary English were first
     seized. Those who heard of the commotions in their
     neighbourhood, instead of deserting their habitations, and
     assembling for mutual protection, remained at home, in hopes
     of defending their property, and fell thus separately into
     the hands of their enemies. After rapacity had fully exerted
     itself, cruelty, and the most barbarous that ever, in any
     nation, was known or heard of, began its operations. A
     universal massacre commenced of the English, now defenceless,
     and passively resigned to their inhuman foes. No age, no sex,
     no condition, was spared. The wife weeping for her butchered
     husband, and embracing her helpless children, was pierced
     with them and perished by the same stroke. The old, the
     young, the vigorous, the infirm, underwent a like fate, and
     were confounded in one common ruin. In vain did flight save
     from the first assault: destruction was every where let
     loose, and met the hunted victims at every turn. In vain was
     recourse had to relations, to companions, to friends;
     connexions were dissolved, and death was dealt by that hand
     from which protection was implored and expected. Without
     provocation, without opposition, the astonished English,
     living in profound peace and full security, were massacred by
     their nearest neighbours, with whom they had long upheld a
     continual intercourse of kindness and good offices.

     "'But death was the slightest punishment inflicted by those
     rebels: all the tortures which wanton cruelty could devise,
     all the lingering pains of body, the anguish of mind, the
     agonies of despair, could not satiate revenge excited without
     injury, and cruelty derived from no cause. To enter into
     particulars would shock the least delicate humanity. Such
     enormities, though attested by undoubted evidence, appear
     almost incredible. Depraved nature, even perverted religion,
     encouraged by the utmost license, reach not to such a pitch
     of ferocity, unless the pity inherent in human breasts be
     destroyed by that contagion of example, which transports men
     beyond all the usual motives of conduct and behaviour.

     "'The weaker sex themselves, naturally tender to their own
     sufferings, and compassionate to those of others, here
     emulated their more robust companions in the practice of
     every cruelty. Even children, taught by the example, and
     encouraged by the exhortation of their parents, essayed their
     feeble blows on the dead carcasses or defenceless children of
     the English. The very avarice of the Irish was not a
     sufficient restraint of their cruelty. Such was their frenzy,
     that the cattle which they had seized, and by rapine made
     their own, were yet, because they bore the name of English,
     wantonly slaughtered, or, when covered with wounds, turned
     loose into the woods and deserts.

     "'The stately buildings or commodious habitations of the
     planters, as if upbraiding the sloth and ignorance of the
     natives, were consumed with fire, or laid level with the
     ground. And where the miserable owners, shut up in their
     houses and preparing for defence, perished in the flames,
     together with their wives and children, a double triumph was
     afforded to their insulting foes.

     "'If any where a number assembled together, and, assuming
     courage from despair, were resolved to sweeten death by
     revenge on their assassins, they were disarmed by
     capitulations and promises of safety, confirmed by the most
     solemn oaths. But no sooner had they surrendered, than the
     rebels, with perfidy equal to their cruelty, made them share
     the fate of their unhappy countrymen.

     "'Others, more ingenious still in their barbarity, tempted
     their prisoners by the fond love of life, to imbrue their
     hands in the blood of friends, brothers, parents; and having
     thus rendered them accomplices in guilt, gave them that death
     which they sought to shun by deserving it.

     "'Amidst all these enormities, the sacred name of RELIGION
     resounded on every side; not to stop the hands of these
     murderers, but to enforce their blows, and to steel their
     hearts against every movement of human or social sympathy.
     The English, as heretics, abhorred of God, and detestable to
     all holy men, were marked out by the priests for slaughter;
     and, of all actions, to rid the world of these declared
     enemies to Catholic faith and piety, was represented as the
     most meritorious. Nature, which, in that rude people, was
     sufficiently inclined to atrocious deeds, was farther
     stimulated by precept; and national prejudices impoisoned by
     those aversions, more deadly and incurable, which arose from
     an enraged superstition. While death finished the sufferings
     of each victim, the bigoted assassins, with joy and
     exultation, still echoed in his expiring ears that these
     agonies were but the commencement of torments infinite and

     "This dreadful rebellion left consequences long felt in Irish
     government. Cromwell, the iron leader of English vengeance,
     treated them with terrible severity: at the storming of a
     single city, 12,000 men were put to the sword; and such was
     the terror inspired by his merciless sword, that all the
     revolted cities opened their gates, and the people submitted,
     trembling, to the law of the conqueror. The recollection of
     the horrors of the Tyrone rebellion was long engraven in the
     English legislature; and it produced, along with the terrors
     of religious dissension, the severe code of laws which were
     imposed on the savage population of the country before the
     close of the seventeenth century. A hundred years of peace
     and tranquillity followed the promulgation of these
     oppressive laws. That they were severe and cruel is obvious
     from their tenor; that they were in many respects not worse
     than was called for by the horrors which preceded their
     enactment, and followed their repeal, is now unhappily proved
     by the result.

     "The next great period of concession commenced about the year
     1772, soon after the accession of George III. The severe code
     under which Ireland had so long lain chained, but quiet, was
     relaxed; the Catholics were admitted to a full share of the
     representation; the more selfish and unnecessary parts of the
     restrictions were removed; and, before 1796, hardly any part
     of the old fetters remained, excepting the exclusion of
     Catholics from the Houses of Lords and Commons, and the
     higher situations in the army. Did tranquillity,
     satisfaction, and peace, follow these immense concessions,
     continued through a period of thirty years? On the contrary,
     they were immediately followed by the same result as had
     attended the concessions of James I. A new rebellion broke
     out; the horrors of 1798 rivalled those of 1641; and the
     dreadful recollection of the Tyrone massacre was drowned in
     the more recent suffering of the same unhappy country.

     "The perilous state in which Ireland then stood, imperfectly
     known at the time even to the Government, is now fully
     developed. From the Memoirs of Wolfe Tone, recently
     published, it appears that 250,000 men were sworn in,
     organised, drilled, and regimented; that colonels and
     officers for this immense force were all appointed; and the
     whole, under the direction of the central committee at
     Dublin, only awaited the arrival of Hoche and the French
     fleet to hoist the tricolor flag, and proclaim the _Hibernian
     Republic_ in close alliance with the Republic of France. With
     truth it may be said, that the fate of England then hung upon
     a thread. Napoleon, and the unconquered army of Italy, were
     still in Europe; a successful descent of the advanced guard,
     15,000 strong, under Hoche, would immediately have been
     followed up by the invasion of the main body under that great
     leader; and the facility with which the French fleet reached
     Bantry Bay in February 1797, where they were only prevented
     from landing by tempestuous gales, proves that the command of
     the seas cannot always be relied on as a security against
     foreign invasion. Had 40,000 French soldiers landed at that
     time in Ireland, to organise 200,000 hot-headed Catholic
     democrats, and lend the hand of fraternity to their numerous
     coadjutors on the other side of St George's Channel, it is
     difficult to say what would have been the present fate of

     "The rebellion of 1798 threw back for ten years the progress
     of the indulgent measures so long practised towards Ireland.
     But at length the spirit of clemency again resumed its sway;
     the system of concession was again adopted, and the last
     remnants of the Irish fetters removed by the liberal Tory
     administration of England. First, the Catholics were declared
     eligible to any situations in the army and navy; and at
     length, by the famous Relief Bill, the remaining distinctions
     between Catholic and Protestant were done away, and an equal
     share of political influence was extended to them as that of
     their Protestant brethren. What has been the consequence? Has
     Ireland increased in tranquillity since this memorable
     change? Have the prophecies of its advocates been verified,
     as to the stilling of the waves of dissension and rebellion?
     Has it proved true, as Earl Grey prophesied it would, in his
     place in the House of Lords,

       Defluit saxis agitatus humor;
       Concedunt venti, fugiuntque nubes;
       Et minax (quod sic voluere) ponto
                         Unda recumbit?

     "The reverse of all this has notoriously been the case. Since
     this last and great concession, Ireland has become worse than
     ever. Midnight conflagration, dastardly assassination, have
     spread with fearful rapidity; the sources of justice have
     been dried up, and the most atrocious criminals repeatedly
     suffered to escape, from the impossibility of bringing them
     to justice. A universal insurrection against the payment of
     tithes has defied all the authority of Government, in open
     violation of the solemn promises of the Catholics that no
     invasion on the rights of the Protestant church was intended;
     and the starving clergy of Ireland have been thrown as a
     burden upon the consolidated fund of England. At this moment
     the authority of England is merely nominal over the
     neighbouring island; the Lord Lieutenant is less generally
     obeyed than the great Agitator, and the dictates of the
     Catholic leaders are looked up to in preference to the acts
     of the British Parliament. In despair at so desperate a state
     of things, so entirely the reverse of all they had hoped from
     the long train of conciliatory measures, the English are
     giving up the cause in despair; while the great and gallant
     body of Irish Protestants are firmly looking the danger in
     the face, and silently preparing for the struggle which they
     well know has now become inevitable.

     "The result of experience, therefore, is complete in all its
     parts. Thrice, during the last two hundred years, have
     conciliatory measures been tried on the largest scale, and
     with the most beneficent intention; and thrice have the
     concessions to the Catholics been followed by a violent and
     intolerable outbreak of savage ferocity. The two first
     rebellions were followed by a firm and severe system of
     coercive government; as long as they continued in force,
     Ireland was comparatively tranquil, and their relaxation was
     the signal for the commencement of a state of insubordination
     which rapidly led to anarchy and revolt. The present
     revolutionary spirit has been met by a different system.
     Every thing has been conceded to the demagogues; their
     demands have been granted, their assemblies allowed, their
     advice followed, their leaders promoted; and the country in
     consequence has arrived at a state of anarchy unparalleled in
     any Christian state.

     "What makes the present state of Ireland, and the democratic
     spirit of its inhabitants, altogether unpardonable is, the
     extreme indulgence and liberality with which, for the last
     fifty years, they have been treated by this country. During
     the whole war, Ireland paid _neither income-tax nor assessed
     taxes_; and the sum thus made a present of by England to her
     people, amounted at the very lowest calculation to
     £50,000,000 sterling. She shared in the full benefit of the
     war in consequence of the immense extent of the demand for
     agricultural produce which its expenditure occasioned,
     without feeling any of the burdens which neutralised its
     extension in this country. No poor's rates are levied on her
     landholders--in other words, they are levied on England and
     Scotland instead--and this island is in consequence
     overwhelmed by a mass of indigence created in the
     neighbouring kingdom, but which British indulgence has
     relieved them from the necessity of maintaining. The amount
     of the sums annually paid by the Parliament of Great Britain
     to objects of charity and utility in Ireland almost exceeds
     belief, and is at least five times greater than all directed
     to the same objects in both the other parts of the empire
     taken together. Yet with all their good deeds, past, present,
     and to come, Ireland is the most discontented part of the
     United Kingdom. She is incessantly crying out against her
     benefactor, and recurring to old oppression rendered
     necessary by her passions, instead of present benefactions,
     of which her democratic population have proved themselves
     unworthy by their ingratitude.

     "Notwithstanding all the efforts of her demagogues to
     distract the country, and counteract all the liberality and
     beneficence of the English Government, Ireland has advanced
     with greater rapidity in industry, wealth, and all the real
     sources of happiness, during the last thirty years, than any
     other part of the empire. Since the Union, she has made a
     start both in agricultural and manufacturing industry, quite
     unparalleled, and much greater than Scotland had made during
     the first hundred years after her incorporation with the
     English dominions. It is quite evident that, if the
     demagogues would let Ireland alone--if the wounds in her
     political system were not continually kept open, and the
     passions of the people incessantly inflamed, by her popular
     leaders, she would become as rich and prosperous as she is
     populous--that, instead of a source of weakness, she would
     become a pillar of strength to the united empire--and instead
     of being overspread with the most wretched and squalid
     population in Europe, she might eventually boast of the most
     contented and happy."

So far what we wrote in December 1832. We make no apology for the
length of this quotation. So precisely is it applicable to the present
time, that were we to write anew on the subject, we should certainly
reproduce the same ideas, and probably, in a great degree, make use of
the same words. It affords a remarkable proof of the manner in which
Ireland has been influenced, in all periods of its history, by the
same causes; and of the way in which all its natural advantages have
been thrown away, by the indolence and want of energy in its
inhabitants, joined to the unhappy extension to it, through British
connexion, of the privileges, excitement, and passions, consequent on
a free constitution, for which it was unfitted by its character,
temperament, and state of social advancement.

Need it be said how precisely the same truths have been illustrated in
later times, and, most of all, in the memorable year in which we now
write? The melancholy tale is known to all: it is written in
characters of fire in England's annals. Such was the state of
excitement, anarchy, and licentiousness to which the Irish were
brought under the Whig rule, by the combined operation of the Reform
mania, and the Repeal agitation, that Lord Grey, albeit the most
impassioned opponent of Mr Pitt's preventive policy, was compelled to
adopt it; and the celebrated Coercion Bill of 1833 invested Government
with extraordinary powers, and for a time superseded, by martial law,
in some districts of Ireland, the ordinary administration of justice.
The result, as much as the anarchy which had preceded it, demonstrated
where the secret of Ireland's ills was to be found, and what was the
species of government adapted for its unsettled, impassioned, and
semi-barbarous inhabitants.[13] Instantly, as if by enchantment, the
disorders ceased: midnight fires no longer illuminated the heavens,
midnight murders no longer struck terror into the inhabitants. The
savage passions of the people, growing out of the civilised license
unhappily allowed them under British rule, were rapidly coerced, and,
instead of Ireland exhibiting an amount of agrarian outrage and
atrocity unprecedented in any Christian land, even her worst provinces
returned to their usual, though yet serious and lamentable

The evil days of conciliation and concession, however, soon returned.
When Sir R. Peel assumed the helm for a brief period in 1835, he said,
that his chief difficulty was Ireland. It was so in truth--not from
the difficulties, great as they were, with which the administration of
Ireland was surrounded, but from the monstrous delusions on the
subject with which the Whigs, then possessed of the chief influence in
the state, had imbued the public mind. So feeble was Government under
his successors, from 1835 to 1841--so thoroughly had they drenched the
people of Great Britain with the belief that severity of rule was the
sole cause of the miseries of Ireland, and that conciliation and
concession were their appropriate remedy--that powers the most
disastrous, privileges the most undeserved, were bestowed on the Irish
people. The very agitators were lauded, flattered, and promoted.
O'Connell was offered a seat on the Bench; the whole, or nearly the
whole, patronage of the country was surrendered into his hands. The
greater part of the police were nominated according to the suggestions
of himself or his party; the Orangemen of the north--the bulwark of
the throne--were vilified, prosecuted, and discouraged;
self-government became the order of the day; municipal reform was
conceded; an ignorant, priest-led, half-savage people were intrusted
with one of the highest duties of civilised citizens--that of electing
their own magistrates. O'Connell, under the new municipal
constitution, was elected Lord Mayor of Dublin; a majority, both of
the constituency and members of Parliament, ere long became Repealers.
The Whig system of governing Ireland, by yielding to its selfish
passions and fostering its political vices, received its full
development; Whig journals, reviews, and magazines, lauded the policy
to the skies, and predicted from its effects the speedy removal of all
the evils which had arisen from the Tory system of coercion and
repression in the Emerald Isle.

The results were soon apparent. Assured of countenance and support
from high quarters--cordially supported by the Popish hierarchy and
priesthood--intrenched, beyond the power of assault, in almost all the
boroughs--possessed of considerable support or connivance in the rural
magistracy--backed, in many parts of the country, by the torch of the
incendiary or the firelock of the assassin--wielding at once the
delegated powers of Government, the daggers of desperadoes, the
enthusiasm of the people, O'Connell proceeded with the step of a
conqueror in the work of agitation. The Temperance movement, headed by
Father Mathew, came most opportunely to aid its funds, by diverting
the vast sums hitherto spent by the people on physical, to support the
cause of mental agitation. Seventy temperance bands were soon
established to head the temperance clubs; the uniforms of the
musicians were so made, that, by being merely turned, they could be
converted into the bands of so many regiments; the Rent flourished;
whisky-shops were ruined; the grand Intoxicator demolished his
inferior competitors; Conciliation Hall boasted of its three thousand
pounds a-week! The distilleries were bankrupt. The simple, misled
people of England believed that, under the combined influence of
political agitation, municipal reform, and suddenly-induced sobriety,
Ireland was to be effectually regenerated, and the Celt was at once
to leap into the privileges of the Saxon, without going through his
seven centuries of painful apprenticement. Monster meetings became
general. Assemblages said to consist of eighty or a hundred thousand,
and which really contained twenty or thirty thousand persons, were
held in the whole south and west of Ireland. Meanwhile industry was
paralysed; capital shunned the agitated shores; labour was diverted
from the field to the platform; the earnings of the poor were wrenched
from them, by priestly influence and the terrors of purgatory, to aid
in the great work of dismembering the empire. Instead of attending to
their business--instead of working at their lazy-beds or tending their
cattle--instead of draining their bogs or reclaiming their wastes, the
people were continually kept running about from one monster meeting to
another, and taught to believe that they were to look for happiness,
not through the labour of their hands, or the sweat of their brows,
but in swelling seditious processions, listening to treasonable
harangues, and extending the ramifications of a vast and atrocious
Ribbon conspiracy throughout Ireland.

Society could not long exist under such a system; but it was long ere
the Liberal party saw the error of their ways--when Sir Robert Peel's
government, in 1843, at length became convinced that the evil had come
to such a height that it could no longer be endured, and that society
would be dissolved under its influence. The meeting, accordingly, at
Clontarff was proclaimed down; O'Connell was prosecuted, and a
conviction obtained. But the Whigs were not long of coming up to the
rescue. A majority of three Whig law peers to two Conservative
ones--Lords Lyndhurst and Brougham being in the minority--overruled
the opinion of the twelve judges of England, and quashed the
prosecution. Elated with this victory, agitation resumed its sway in
Ireland; but it did so under darker auspices, and with more dangerous
ends. Organisation, with a view to insurrection, was now avowedly set
on foot; arms were purchased in large quantities; and the Whig
Secretary of Ireland had the extreme imprudence to write a letter,
which found its way into the public prints, and was soon placarded
over Ireland, in which it was stated generally, and without
qualification, that every Irishman was entitled to possess and carry
arms. Nay, this was made the _cheval de bataille_ between the two
parties; and when Sir R. Peel was turned out in July 1846, it was on
the question of the bill for prohibiting _the possession of arms in
Ireland_. The Whigs came into power on the basis of the Irish
peasantry being entitled to be armed. It covers, like charity, a
multitude of sins in Sir R. Peel, that he left office on the same

But the laws of nature are more durable in their operation than the
revolutions of statesmen. The effects of twenty years' agitation and
disorder in Ireland ere long became apparent. The reign of murder,
incendiarism, and terror, brought down an awful retribution on its
authors. Agriculture, neglected for the more agreeable and gainful
trade of agitation or assassination, had fallen into such neglect,
that the land, in many parts of the country, had become incapable of
bearing grain crops. Nothing would do but lazy-beds, in which often a
wretched crop was raised in the centre of the ridge, on a third of the
land, while the remaining two-thirds were under water. The potato
famine came, in 1846, upon a country thus prepared for such a
visitation--wasted by agitation, disgraced by murder, impoverished by
the protracted reign of terror. Its effects are well known. Ireland,
wholly incapable, from its infatuated system of self-government, of
doing any thing for itself, fell entirely as a burden on England.
Great part of Scotland was wasted by a similar calamity, and in
regions--the West Highlands and Islands--far more sterile and barren
than the south and west of Ireland. But Scotland had not been torn by
political passions, nor palsied by repeal agitation. Scotland righted
itself. It bore the visitation with patience and resignation. It
neither sought nor received aid from England. Not a shilling was
advanced by the Exchequer to relieve Scotch suffering. Ten millions
were given by the nation to relieve that of Ireland: of this immense
sum eight millions were borrowed, and remain a lasting charge on Great
Britain. Hundreds of thousands, raised from the suffering and won by
the labour of England and Scotland, followed in the same direction. In
return, the Irish gave us contumely, defiance, and ingratitude. The
_Nation_ thundered forth weekly its fiendish vituperation against the
people who had saved its countrymen. It was eagerly read by hundreds
of thousands who owed their existence to British generosity. The
beggar gave place to the bully. Great part of the funds, lavished with
misplaced humanity on Irish suffering, was employed in the purchase of
arms to destroy their benefactors; and the unparalleled munificence of
England to Ireland in 1847, was succeeded by the unparalleled
rebellion of Ireland against England in 1848.

He must be blind indeed who cannot read in this rapid summary the real
causes of the long-continued misery and distraction of Ireland. It has
arisen in a great degree from English connexion, but in a way which
the Irish do not perceive, and which they will be the last to admit.
It is all owing to a very simple cause--so simple that philosophers
have passed it over as too obvious to explain the phenomena, and
party-men have rejected it because it afforded no handle for popular
declamation, and gave them no fulcrum whereon to rest the lever which
was to remove an opposite party from power. It is not owing to the
Roman Catholic religion,--for, if so, how have so many Roman Catholic
countries been, and still are, great, and powerful, and happy? It is
not owing to the confiscation of the land, for confiscation as great
followed the establishment of the Normans in England, and the
victories of Robert Bruce in Scotland; and yet, in process of time,
the ghastly wound was healed in both these countries, and from the
united effort of the Britons, Saxons, and North-men, have arisen the
glories and wonders of British civilisation. It is not owing to the
exclusion, from 1608 to 1829, of the Roman Catholics from Parliament;
for, since they were admitted into it, the distractions of Ireland
have gone on constantly increasing, and its pauperism and mendicancy
have advanced in an accelerated ratio. It is entirely owing to
this,--that _England has given Ireland institutions and political
franchises, for the exercise of which it is wholly disqualified by
temperament, habit, and political advancement_. We have put edged
tools into the hands of children, and we are astonished that they have
mangled their limbs. We have emancipated from necessary control the
Bedouin or the savage, and we are disappointed he does not exercise
his newly-acquired powers with the discretion of an Englishman or an
American. We have plunged a youth of sixteen, without control, into
the dissipation of London or Paris, and we are surprised he has run
riot in excess. Thence it is that all the concessions made to Ireland
have instantly and rapidly augmented its political maladies, and that
the only intervals of rest, tranquillity, and happiness it has enjoyed
for the last two hundred years, have been those in which it has for a
brief period been coerced by the wholesome severity of vigorous
government. Thence it is that Whig solicitude, fastening on the
grievances of Ireland as its battle-field, and winning for the
inhabitants privileges for which they are not fitted, has in every
instance so grievously augmented its wretchedness and crimes. This is
the true key to Irish history. Viewed in this light, it is perfectly
clear, intelligible, and consistent with what has occurred in other
parts of the world. Without such guidance, its annals exhibit a chaos
of contradictions; and Ireland must be considered as a _casus
singularis_--an exception from the principles which elsewhere have
ever regulated mankind.

The whole machinery of a free constitution--those institutions under
which the Anglo-Saxons have so long flourished on both sides the
Atlantic--are utter destruction to the semi-barbarous Celtic race to
which they have been extended. Grand juries and petty juries,
self-governments, municipalities, county and burgh elections, popular
representatives, public meetings, hustings' declarations, platform
exaggerations, a licentious press, and all the other attendants on
republican or semi-republican institutions, are utterly destructive to
the impassioned, priest-ridden, ignorant Celtic tribes in the south
and west of Ireland. A paternal despotism is what they require.

We are far from wishing that despotism to be severe--on the contrary,
we would have it beneficent and humane in the highest degree--we would
have it give to Ireland blessings tenfold greater than it will ever
earn for itself in senseless attempts at self-government. We would
commence the work by the grant of sixteen millions of British money,
to set on foot the chief arteries and railroads of the country!--that
grant which, proposed by the patriotic wisdom of Lord George Bentinck,
was defeated by the insane resistance of the Irish members
themselves.[15] We would in every imaginable shape stimulate the
industry of Ireland, and aid the efforts of its really patriotic
children, to extricate their country from the bottomless gulf into
which selfishness, agitation, and the cry for repeal, have plunged it.
But we would intrust little of this grant to the distribution of the
Irish themselves. We would not again be guilty of the enormous error
of committing a magnificent public grant to hands so unfit to direct
it, that we know from the highest authority--that of the
Lord-lieutenant himself--that great part of the fund was misapplied in
private jobbing, and the remainder wasted in making good roads bad
ones. We would execute the works by Irish hands, but distribute the
funds, and guide the undertakings, by English heads. We would deprive
the Irish, till they have shown they are fit to wield its powers, of
the whole rights of self-government. We would commence with a rigorous
and unflinching administration of justice, executed by courts-martial
in cases of insurrection, and by judges without juries in ordinary
cases. A powerful police, double its present strength, should give
security to witnesses, who, if they desire it, should be provided with
an asylum in the colonies at the public expense. "Every thing for the
people, and nothing by them," which Napoleon described as the real
principle of government at all times, should be applied to Ireland at
least during the many years still to run of its national pupilage and

The truth of these principles has been so signally demonstrated by the
events of which Ireland has recently, and we lament to say is still,
the theatre, that it has at length forced itself on the mind of the
English people. Most fortunately, the Whigs being in power themselves,
and having the responsibility and duties of government thrown upon
them, have at length come to see the matter in its true light. The cry
that all is owing to English misrule, is no longer heard in Great
Britain. Its utter falsehood has been demonstrated in language too
clear to be misunderstood. Even the Liberal journals, who have shown
themselves most earnest in promoting the cause of reform and
self-government in Great Britain, have come to see how utterly it is
misapplied when attempted in Ireland. Hear the _Times_ on this
subject, one of the ablest journals which formerly supported the cause
of parliamentary and municipal reform, as well in Ireland as in this

     "The slowly gathering wrath of years has been concentrated to
     a point. John Bull was--as Jonathan would express
     it--"properly riled" at the behaviour of his once beloved
     fondling. He could put up with ingratitude; he could despise
     insolence; he could treat bravado with contempt. But here was
     the most wonderful combination of insolence, ingratitude,
     bravado, and cowardice, that history has recorded. Here were
     men belching out treason and fire and sword one day, and the
     next day sneaking between the bulwarks of a cabbage-garden,
     or through the loopholes of an indictment! For such, and on
     such, had he been expending, not only money, but care,
     anxiety, sympathy, and fear. He was fooled in the eyes of the
     world and his own! The only hope for Ireland is in rest, and
     a strong Government. Almost every Englishman who has regarded
     her with solicitude within late years, is convinced that what
     she and her people require, beyond all things, is discipline.
     Her gentry require discipline; her middle classes require
     discipline; her peasantry require discipline. They should
     altogether be disciplined in a rigid but just system, as the
     picked Irishmen have been who are distinguished as the best
     foremen in our factories, and the best non-commissioned
     officers in our army. Political privileges have been tried
     and misused; judicial forms have been tried and abused; Saxon
     institutions have been tried, and found not to harmonise with
     the Celtic mind. It cannot comprehend them; it does not
     appreciate them. It arrays liberty against law, and the
     technicalities of law against its spirit. It wants that moral
     sense, that instinctive justice and fairness, which have been
     the soul and the strength of Anglo-Saxon jurisprudence. This
     it must be taught by a strong, an irresistible, and, if need
     be, a coercive authority. Duty must be impressed on it as a
     habit, and then it will be inanealed with its sympathies. The
     greatest boon to Ireland would be the rule of a benevolent
     autocrat, who would punish all classes and all parties alike
     for a breach of social and civil duties--the landlords for
     their cruelty, the tenants for their mendacity, the priests
     for their neglect of their most momentous function. This boon
     Ireland will not get; but we can force upon her that which
     comes the nearest to it, the suppression of a vain, vapid,
     selfish, and suicidal agitation. If we do not do it while we
     may, we shall rue it with bitterness and humiliation
     hereafter."--_Times_, September 1847.

To the same purpose, it is observed in a late number of the
_Economist_, also an able Liberal journal:

     "Irish agitation has run its course, and shown its character.
     It has had 'rope enough' allowed to manifest what are its
     materials, and what its means--what are the objects it
     proposes, and of what stuff its leaders are made. It has
     displayed a mixture of ferocity, levity, and incapacity,
     which has covered with shame and confusion all its quondam
     sympathisers and admirers. Demagogism has been stripped
     naked, and has appeared as what it really is--a low, savage,
     dishonest enormity--an 'evil that walketh in darkness'--the
     epidemic malady of Ireland--an enemy which no concessions can
     conciliate, which no mildness can disarm, and with which,
     because of its dishonesty, no parley can be held.

     "An open rebellion has been crushed at its first outbreak. A
     number of its leaders and organisers are in prison, and the
     Government, with a forbearance and adhesion to routine ideas
     which verges on the simple, and almost approaches the
     sublime, intrusts their punishment to the slow and uncertain
     processes of the law--to the courage of Irish juries, and the
     integrity of Irish witnesses. The Government allows rebels
     who have appealed to arms, and been worsted in the conflict,
     to retreat behind the shelter of the law. It is content to
     meet an armament with an indictment; nay, more, it is content
     to submit this indictment to the judgment of men, half of
     whom are in the ranks of the rebel army, and the other half
     in its power. It may have been well to try this hazardous
     experiment; but the result of it could not long be doubtful.
     Accordingly, we find that convictions cannot be obtained.
     Rebels, whose guilt is as clear as the day, are dismissed
     from the dock because juries will not agree upon a
     verdict--and are to be kept safe till March 1849, then to be
     let loose to recommence their work of mischief with all the
     increased audacity which impunity cannot fail to generate.
     They have taken arms against the Government, and the
     Government will have proved impotent to punish them.

     "We are not surprised that Irish juries will not convict
     Irish rebels. It is too much to expect that they should do
     so, even when fully convinced of, and indignant at, their
     guilt. It would be almost too much to ask from Englishmen.
     Government have a right to call upon jurors to do their duty,
     under ordinary circumstances and in ordinary times. In like
     manner, Government has a right to call upon all citizens to
     come forward, and act as special constables, in all cases of
     civil commotion. But it has no right to send them forth,
     unexercised and unarmed, to encounter an organised and
     disciplined force, provided with musket and artillery: that
     is the business of regular troops. In like manner, Government
     has no right to expect jurors to act at the hazard of their
     lives and property. The law never contemplated that serving
     on a jury should be an office of danger. When it becomes
     such, other agencies must be brought into operation.

     "It will not suffice to the Government to have acted with
     such skill and spirit as to have rendered abortive a
     formidable and organised rebellion. It must _crush_ the
     rebellious spirit and the rebellious power. This can never be
     done by the means of juries. Punishment, to be effectual,
     must fall with unerring certainty on every one concerned in
     the crime. They must be made to feel that no legal chicanery,
     no illegitimate sympathy, can avail to save them. The British
     nation, we are sure, will never endure that men who have been
     guilty of such crimes as the Irish felons should escape
     punishment, and be again let loose on society, to mock and
     gibe at the impotence of power. Any termination of the crisis
     would be preferable to one so fatal and
     disgraceful."--_Economist_, Sept. 12, 1848.

These articles, emanating from such sources, induce us to hope that
the long-protracted distractions of Ireland are about to be brought to
a close; and that, after having been for above half a century the
battle-field of English faction, or cursed with Liberal English
sympathy, and its inevitable offspring, Irish agitation and
mendacity--the real secret of its sufferings has been brought to
light; and that, by being governed in a manner suitable to its
character and circumstances, it will at length take its place among
the really civilised nations of the world, and become fit for the
exercise of those privileges which, prematurely conceded, have proved
its ruin.

One circumstance induces the hope that this anticipation maybe
realised, and that is, the highly honourable part which the Irish
enrolled in the police have taken in the late disturbances; the
fidelity of all the Irish in the Queen's service to their colours; and
the general pacific conduct which has, with a few exceptions, been
observed by the numerous Hibernians settled in Great Britain during
the late disturbances. The conduct of the Irish police, in particular,
has been in all respects admirable; and it is net going too far to
assert, that to their zeal, activity, and gallantry, the almost
bloodless suppression of the insurrection is mainly to be ascribed.
The British army does not boast a more courageous body of men than the
Irishmen in its ranks; and it is well known that, after a time, they
form the best officers of a superior kind for all the police
establishments in the kingdom. Although the Irish in our great towns
are often a very great burden, especially when they first come over,
from the vast number of them who are in a state of mendicity, and
cannot at first get into any regular employment, yet when they do
obtain it, they prove hardworking and industrious, and do not exhibit
a greater proportion of crime than the native British with whom they
are surrounded. The Irish quickness need be told to none who have
witnessed the running fire of repartee they keep up from the fields
with travellers, how rapid soever, on the road; their genius is known
to all who are familiar with the works of Swift and Goldsmith, of
Burke and Berkeley. Of one thing only at present _they are incapable,
and that is, self-government_. One curse, and one curse only, has
hitherto blasted all their efforts at improvement, and that is, the
abuse of freedom. One thing, and one thing only, is required to set
them right, and that is, the strong rule suited to national pupilage.
One thing, and one thing only, is required to complete their ruin, and
that is, repeal and independence. An infallible test will tell us when
they have become prepared for self-government, and that is, when they
have ceased to hate the Saxon--when they adopt his industry, imitate
his habits, and emulate his virtues.

       *       *       *       *       *

We have spoken of the French and the Irish, and contrasted, not
without some degree of pride, their present miserable and distracted
state with the steady and pacific condition of Great Britain, during a
convulsion which has shaken the civilised world to its foundation. But
let it not be supposed that France and Ireland alone have grievances
which require redress, erroneous policy which stands in need of
rectification. England has its full share of suffering, and more than
its deserved share of absurd and pernicious legislation. But it is the
glory of this country that we can rectify these evils by the force of
argument steadily applied, and facts sedulously brought forward,
without invoking the destructive aid of popular passions or urban
revolutions. We want neither Red Republicans nor Tipperary Boys to
fight our battles; we neither desire to be intrenched behind Parisian
barricades nor Irish non-convicting juries; we neither want the aid of
Chartist clubs, with their arsenals of rifles, nor Anti-corn-law
Leagues, with their coffers of gold. We appeal to the common sense and
experienced suffering of our countrymen--to the intellect and sense of
justice of our legislators; and we have not a doubt of ultimate
success in the greatest social conflict in which British industry has
ever been engaged.

We need not say that we allude to the CURRENCY--that question of
questions, in comparison of which all others sink into insignificance;
which is of more importance, even, than an adequate supply of food for
the nation; and without the proper understanding of which all attempts
to assuage misery or produce prosperity, to avert disaster or induce
happiness, to maintain the national credit or uphold the national
independence, must ere long prove nugatory. We say, and say advisedly,
that this question is of far more importance than the raising of food
for the nation; for if their industry is adequately remunerated, and
commercial catastrophes are averted from the realm, the people will
find food for themselves either in this or foreign states. Experience
has taught us that we can import _twelve millions_ of grain, a full
fifth of the national subsistence, in a single year. But if the
currency is not put upon a proper footing, the _means of purchasing
this grain are taken from the people_--their industry is blasted,
their labour meets with no reward--and the most numerous and important
class in the community come to present the deplorable spectacle of
industrious worth perishing of hunger, or worn out by suffering, in
the midst of accumulated stores of home-grown or foreign subsistence.

The two grand evils of the present monetary system are, that the
currency provided for the nation is _inadequate_ in point of amount,
and _fluctuating_ in point of stability.

That it is inadequate in point of amount is easily proved. In the
undermentioned years, the aggregate of notes in circulation in England
and Wales, without Scotland and Ireland, was as follows[16]:--

              Bank of England and   Population,
              Provincial Banks.     England and Wales.

    1814,       £47,501,000           13,200,000
    1815,        46,272,650           13,420,000
    1816,        42,109,620           13,640,000
    1817,        43,291,901           13,860,000
    1818,        48,278,070           14,100,000

Including the Scotch and Irish notes, at that period about
£12,000,000, the notes in circulation were about £60,000,000, and the
inhabitants of Great Britain 14,000,000; of the two islands about
19,000,000--or about £3, 4s. a head.

In the year 1848, thirty years afterwards, when the population of the
empire had risen to 29,000,000, the exports had tripled, and the
imports and shipping had on an average more than doubled, the supply
of paper issued to the nation stood thus:--


                   |Aug.14, 1847|Aug.12, 1848|Increase|Decrease | Population |
  Bank of England, |£18,784,890 |£18,710,728 |   --   | £74,162 | England    |
  Private Banks,   |  4,258,380 |  3,520,990 |   --   | 737,390 | and Wales. |
  Joint Stock      |            |            |        |         | 19,500,000 |
    Banks,         |  2,991,351 |  2,479,951 |   --   | 511,400 |            |
                   +------------+------------+--------+---------+ Great      |
  Total in England,| 26,034,621 | 24,711,669 |   --   |1,322,952| Britain and|
  ...     Scotland,|  3,455,651 |  3,035,903 |   --   |  419,748| Ireland.   |
  ...     Ireland, |  5,097,215 |  4,313,304 |   --   |  783,911| 29,500,000 |
  -----------------+------------+------------+--------+---------+            |
  United Kingdom,  | 34,587,487 | 32,060,876 |   --   |2,526,611|            |

     Thus showing a decrease of £1,322,952 in the circulation of
     notes in England, and a decrease of £2,526,611 in the
     circulation of the United Kingdom, when compared with the
     corresponding period last year.[17]--_Times_, Aug. 29, 1848.

Thus, in the last thirty years, the population of Great Britain and
Ireland has _increased_ from 19,000,000 to 29,500,000; while its
currency in paper has _decreased_ from £60,000,000 to £32,000,000.
Above fifty per cent has been added to the people, and above a hundred
per cent to their transactions, and the currency by which they are to
be carried on has been contracted fifty per cent. Thirty years ago,
the paper currency was £3, 5s. a head; now it is not above £1, 5s. a
head! And our statesmen express surprise at the distress which
prevails, and the extreme difficulty experienced in collecting the
revenue! It is no wonder, in such a state of matters, that it is now
more difficult to collect £52,000,000 from 29,000,000 of people, than
in 1814 it was to collect £72,000,000 from 18,000,000.

The circulation, it is particularly to be observed, is _decreasing_
every year. It was, in August 1848, no less than £2,500,000 _less_
than it was in August 1847, though that was the August _between_ the
crisis of April and the crisis of October of that year. And this
prodigious and progressively increasing contraction of the currency,
and consequent drying up of credit and blasting of industry, is
taking place at the precise time when the very legislators who have
produced it have landed the nation in the expenditure, in three years,
of £150,000,000 on domestic railways, independent of a vast and
increasing import trade, which is constantly draining more and more of
our metallic resources out of the country! Need it be wondered at that
money is so tight, and that railway stock in particular exhibits, week
after week, a progressive and most alarming decline.

But, say the bullionists, if we have taken away one-half of your
paper, we have given you double the former command of sovereigns; and
gold is far better than paper, because it is of universal and
permanent value. There can be no doubt that the gold and silver
coinage at the Mint has been very much augmented since paper was so
much withdrawn; and the amount in circulation now probably varies in
ordinary times from £40,000,000 to £45,000,000. There can be as little
doubt that the circulation, on its present basis, is capable of
fostering and permitting the most unlimited amount of speculations;
for absurd adventures never were so rife in the history of England,
not even in the days of the South Sea Company, as in 1845, the year
which immediately followed Sir R. Peel's new currency measures, by
which these dangers were to be for ever guarded against. It is no
wonder it was so; for the bill of 1844 aggravates speculation as much
in periods of prosperity, as it augments distress and pinches credit
in times of adversity. By compelling the Bank of England, and all
other banks, to hold constantly in their coffers a vast amount of
treasure, which must be issued at a fixed price, it leaves them no
resource for defraying its charges but pushing business, and getting
out their notes to the uttermost. That was the real secret of the
lowering of the Bank of England's discounts to 3 and 2-1/2 per cent in
1845, and of the enormous gambling speculations of that year, from the
effects of which the nation is still so severely suffering.

But as gold is made, under the new system, the basis of the
circulation beyond the £32,000,000 allowed to be issued in the United
Kingdom on securities, what provision does it make for keeping the
gold thus constituted the _sole basis of two-thirds of the currency
within the country_? Not only is no such provision made, but _every
imaginable facility is given for its exportation_. Under the
free-trade system, our imports are constantly increasing in a most
extraordinary ratio, and our exports constantly diminishing. Since
1844, our imports have _swelled_ from £75,000,000 to £90,000,000,
while our exports have _decreased_ from £60,000,000 to £58,000,000, of
which only £51,000,000 are British and Irish exports and
manufactures.[18] How is the balance paid, or to be paid? _In cash_:
and that is the preparation which our legislators have made for
keeping the gold, the life-blood of industry and the basis of
two-thirds of the circulation, in the country. They have established a
system of trade which, by inducing a large and constant importation of
food, for which scarcely any thing but gold will be taken, induces a
_constant tendency of the precious metals outwards_. With the right
hand they render the currency and credit beyond £32,000,000 entirely
dependent on keeping the gold in the country, and with the left hand
_they send it headlong out of the country to buy grain_. No less than
£33,000,000 were sent out in this way to buy grain in fifteen months
during and immediately preceding the year 1847. They do this at the
very time when, under bills which themselves have passed, and the
railways which themselves have encouraged, £150,000,000 was in the
next three years to be expended on the extra work of railways! Is it
surprising that, under such a system, half the wealth of our
manufacturing towns has disappeared in two years; that distress to an
unheard-of extent prevails every where; and that the Chancellor of the
Exchequer has been obliged to borrow £10,000,000, in the last and
present session of Parliament, during general peace?

Let it not be supposed this evil has passed away. It is in full vigour
at the present moment. It will never pass away as long as _free trade
and a fettered currency_ coexist in this country. The disastrous fact
has been revealed by the publication of the Board of Trade returns,
that while, during the first six months of this year, our imports have
undergone little diminution, our exports have sunk £4,000,000 below
the corresponding months in last year. In May alone, the decrease was
£1,122,000; in April, £1,467,000.[19] Beyond all doubt our exports,
this year, of British produce and manufactures, will sink to
£45,000,000, while our imports will reach at least £85,000,000! How is
the balance paid? IN SPECIE! And still the monetary laws remain the
same, and for every five sovereigns above £32,000,000 lent out, a note
must be drawn in! It may be doubted whether a system so utterly absurd
and ruinous ever was established in any nation, or persevered in with
such obstinacy after its pernicious effects had been ascertained by

The manner in which these disastrous effects resulted, necessarily and
immediately, from the combined operation of the bills of 1819 and
1844, is thus clearly and justly stated by Mr Salt, in his late
admirable letter to Sir R. Peel on the subject.

     "The potato crop failed, and an importation of food became
     necessary; the food was imported at a cost not exceeding one
     half per cent on the national wealth. It might have been paid
     for in goods or in gold, and the limit of the loss would have
     been the amount paid--a sum too insignificant, compared to
     the national resources, to have been perceptible--and the
     national industry could have replaced it in a few weeks.

     "But the bill of 1819 had made gold the basis of our whole
     system; and, therefore, when the gold was exported to pay for
     the food, the whole system was broken up; and the bill
     provides that this calamity shall in every case be added to
     that of a bad harvest; that the abstraction of an
     infinitesimal part of our money shall destroy our whole
     monetary system; that the purchase of a small quantity of
     food shall cause an immense quantity of starvation, by
     destroying the means of distributing the food, and employing
     labour. If this were the only evil of the bill, its existence
     ought not to be tolerated an hour.

     "Instead of placing the national credit and solvency on the
     broad and indestructible basis of the national industry and
     wealth, you have placed all the great national interest on
     gold, the narrowest and most shifting, and therefore the most
     unfit, basis it was possible to choose. You could not have
     done worse.

     "The gold being in quantity perfectly unequal to effect the
     exchanges needful for the existence of society, an immense
     and disproportioned superstructure of paper money and credit
     became a compulsory result, and a certain cause of
     perpetually recurring ruin.

     "In framing the bill of 1819 you do not appear to have had a
     suspicion of this consequence; but in 1844, after an interval
     of a quarter of a century, this much seems to have dawned
     obscurely in your mind; but, alas! what was your
     remedy?--enlarging and securing the too narrow and shifting
     basis? Not at all; you crippled and limited the
     superstructure. You left us subject to the whole of your
     original error, and provided a new one!

     "The bill of 1844 provides that, in proportion as the gold
     money shall disappear, the paper money shall disappear also!
     Out of the money thus doubly reduced, the unhappy people are
     compelled to pay unreduced taxes; and out of the inadequate
     remnant to discharge unreduced debts, and to provide for the
     unreduced necessities of their respective stations. So the
     leaven of the law works its way through all society. The
     payments cannot be made out of these reduced means, the loss
     of the credit follows the loss of the money; the means of
     exchange, employment, and consumption are destroyed, and the
     world looks with amazement on the consummation of your
     work--the wealthiest nation in the world withering up under
     the blight of a universal insolvency; an abundance of all
     things beyond compute, and a misery and want beyond relief.

     "The sole aim of your bill has been to convert paper money
     into gold. I have shown how signally you have failed in this
     one object, always excepting your special claim of converting
     £48,000,000 of paper money into £15,000,000 of gold, for
     which mutation I suspect few will thank you. In all other
     respects, the whimsicality of your fate has been to establish
     a universal inconvertibility. Labour cannot be converted into
     wages, East India estates, West India estates, railway
     shares, sugar, rice, cotton goods, &c.; in short, all things
     are inconvertible except gold. There has been nothing like it
     since the days of Midas.

     "The facts, sir, are of your creation, not of mine. I cannot
     alter or disguise them. You have had confided to your
     administration, by our illustrious sovereign, this most
     powerful state, of almost unlimited extent and fertility--a
     people unrivalled in their knowledge, caution, skill, and
     energy, possessed of unlimited means of creating wealth, and
     out of all these elements of human happiness your measures
     have produced a chaos of ruin, misery, and discontent. You
     can scarcely place your finger on the map, and mark a spot in
     this vast empire where all the elements of prosperity do not
     exist abundantly; you cannot point out one where you have not
     produced results of ruin. Every resource is paralysed, every
     interest deranged; the very empire is threatened with
     dissolution. The Canadas, the West Indies, and Ireland, are
     threatening secession, and England has to be garrisoned
     against its people as against a hostile force; the very
     loyalty of English hearts is beginning to turn into
     disaffection. Review once more these vast resources, and
     these wretched results, and I trust you will not make the
     fatal opinion of your life the only one to which you will
     persist in adhering."

This is language at once fearless, but measured--cutting, but
respectful, which, on such an emergency, befits a British statesman.
There is no appeal to popular passions, no ascribing of unworthy
motives, no attempt to evade inquiry by irony; facts, known undeniable
facts, are alone appealed to. Inferences, clear, logical, convincing,
are alone drawn. If such language was more frequent, _especially in
the House of Commons_, the plague would soon be stayed, and its former
prosperity would again revisit the British Empire.

In opposition to these damning facts, the whole tactics of the
bullionists consist in recurring to antiquated and childish terrors.
They call out "Assignats, assignats, assignats!"--they seek to alarm
every holder of money by the dread of its depreciation. They affect to
treat the doctrine of keeping a fair proportion between population,
engagements, and currency, as a mere chimera. In the midst of the
deluge, they raise the cry of fire; when wasting of famine, they hold
out to us the terrors of repletion; when sinking from atrophy on the
way-side, they strive to terrify us by the dangers of apoplexy. The
answer to all this tissue of affectation and absurdity is so evident,
that we are almost ashamed to state it. We all know the dangers of
assignats; we know that they are ruinous when issued to any great
extent. So also we know the dangers of apoplexy and intoxication; but
we are not on that account reconciled to a regimen of famine and
starvation. We know that some of the rich die of repletion, but we
know that many more of the poor die of want and wretchedness. We do
not want to be deluged with inconvertible paper, which has been truly
described as "strength in the outset, but weakness in the end;" but
neither do we desire to be starved by the periodical abstraction of
that most evanescent of earthly things, a gold circulation. Having the
means, from our own immense accumulated wealth, of enjoying that first
of social blessings, an _adequate, steady, and safe currency_, we do
not wish to be any longer deprived of it by the prejudices of
theorists, the selfishness of capitalists, or the obstinacy of
statesmen. Half our wealth, engaged in trade and manufactures, has
already disappeared, under this system, in two years; we have no
disposition to lose the remaining half.

The duty on wheat now is only five shillings a quarter; in February
next it will fall to one shilling a quarter, and remain fixed at that
amount. The importation of grain, which was felt as so dreadful a
drain upon our metallic resources in 1847, may, under that system, be
considered as permanent. _We shall be always in the condition in which
the nation is when three weeks' rain has fallen in August._ Let
merchants, manufacturers, holders of funded property, of railway
stock, of bank stock, reflect on that circumstance, and consider what
fate awaits them if the present system remains unchanged. They know
that three days' rain in August lowers the public funds one, and all
railway stock ten per cent. Let them reflect on their fate if, by
human folly, _an effect equal to that of three weeks' continuous fall
of rain takes place every year_. Let them observe what frightful
oscillations in the price of commodities follow the establishing by
law a fixed price for gold. Let them ponder on the consequences of a
system which sends twelve or fifteen millions of sovereigns out of the
country _annually_ to buy grain, and _contracts_ the paper remaining
in it at the same time in the same proportion. Let them observe the
effect of such a system, coinciding with a vast expenditure on
domestic railways. And let them consider whether all these dreadful
evils, and the periodical devastation of the country by absurd
speculation and succeeding ruin, would not be effectually guarded
against, and the perils of an over-issue of paper also prevented, by
the simple expedient of treating gold and silver, the most easily
transported and evanescent of earthly things, like any other
commodity, and making paper always payable _in them_, but _at the
price they bear at the moment of presentment_. That would establish a
_mixed_ circulation of the precious metals and paper, mutually
convertible, and allow an _increased_ issue of the latter to obviate
all the evils flowing from the periodical abstractions of the former.
To establish the circulation on a gold basis _alone_, in a great
commercial state, is the same error as to put the food of the people
in a populous community on one root or species of grain. Ireland has
shown us, in the two last years, what is the consequence of the
one--famine and rebellion; England, of the other--bankruptcy and


[11] Lamartine, _Histoire des Girondins_, i. 83.

[12] The Prefect of Police had published an account of the situation
of Paris during the last ten days, in which he states that the most
perfect tranquillity prevailed in the capital; that confidence was
beginning to revive on every point; that a slow but incontestible
progress manifested itself in every branch of industry; and that at no
former period, and under no previous regimen, did Paris offer more
respect for persons or more security for property. Orders were
arriving from the departments. The manufacture of articles of luxury
and jewellery partook of that resuscitation, as appears from the
returns of the inspector-general of the hall-mark at the mint of
Paris. The articles of jewellery completed and ordered during the last
five months produced the following receipts:--in April, 9,000f.; May,
11,000f.; June, 17,000f.; July, 19,000f.; August, 36,000f. The number
of workmen reduced by distress to reside in lodging-houses had
considerably diminished. In the preceding bulletin their number was
31,480; it is now 27,308--17,977 of whom were employed, and 9,331
unoccupied. The houses of confinement contained nearly the same number
of ordinary prisoners, and only 4,058 insurgents of June; 2,909 of the
latter had been liberated since the 26th of July, and 1,005 conveyed
to Havre between the 28th of August and the 4th of September. From the
26th of August to the 5th of September, nine persons committed
suicide.--_Times_, Sept. 11, 1848.

[13] We mean those in the south and west. The other, of Ulster, are of
British descent, and undistinguished from the rest of the Anglo-Saxon



    Last Quarter of 1829.--Catholic Emancipation passed in March,   300
      Do.        of 1830.--               Do.                       499
      Do.        of 1831.--Reform Agitation,                        814
      Do.        of 1832.--Reform and Repeal Agitation,            1513

    By the Coercion Act the Serious crimes were reduced at once to
    a _fourth_ of their number. See _Hansard, Parl. Debates_, Feb.
    9, 1834.

[15] "It was not so much through the hostility of the English members,
as through the desertion and hostility of the Irish members, (many of
them Repealers,) that in February 1847, Ireland lost the opportunity
of obtaining a loan of sixteen millions of English gold at £3, 7s. 6d.
per cent, to stimulate the construction, by private enterprise, of
railways in your country.

"Unanimous in Palace Yard, on one Tuesday in favour of the proposition
I then brought forward, on the Thursday se'ennight the same sixty
gentlemen, having seen the prime minister at the Foreign Office in the
interval, voted two to one in the House of Commons against giving
railways to Ireland.

"Out of a hundred and five representatives which Ireland possesses,
twenty-eight only, if my memory serves me correctly, would vote for
that loan to Ireland. Two-thirds of the Irish representatives present
declined the measure--the rest took care to be _non est inventus_ at
the division, which was the hour of Ireland's need.

"Read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest the division list, and you
will find many more true friends of Ireland, on that occasion, among
the supporters of the Union than among the Repealers.

"Is it surprising that, where Irish representatives voted two to one
against the acceptance of that measure, and when but twenty-eight, out
of Ireland's hundred and five, could alone be found to say 'ay,' that
a majority of Englishmen could not be found willing to make a
sacrifice of English interests, to force upon Ireland a boon which the
majority of Irish members rejected?

"It is not Repeal of the Union that Ireland wants; she wants men to
represent her, who, understanding her material and substantial
interests, are able and willing to promote and maintain them; and will
not, on the other hand, to gain the shouts of the mob, divert public
and parliamentary attention to phantom reforms, that have no
substantial virtue in them--or, on the other hand, sell their votes to
win the smiles, or may be something more valuable in the gift of the
minister of the day.--I am, Sir your humble servant,

                                              "G. BENTINCK."

[16] ALISON'S _Europe_, xx., Appendix.

[17] Small as these numbers are, the amount of notes in circulation is
daily still further decreasing. For the week ending 9th September
1848, the amount of notes in circulation of the Bank of England was
only £17,844,665. It is no wonder the same journal adds--"The Railway
Market was _more depressed than ever_ this afternoon; and prices of
all descriptions experienced a considerable fall. London and North
Western were done at 105; Great Western stand at 18 to 20
_discount_."--_Times_, 10th Sept. 1848.


          Exports, Declared Value.    Imports, Official Value.

    1844,      £58,584,292                £75,441,565
    1845,       60,111,681                 85,284,965
    1846,       57,786,576                 75,958,875
    1847,       58,971,106                 90,921,866

                                              --_Parl. Returns._



                           |           |           |         |          |
                           |First half |First half |Increase.|Decrease. |
                           | of 1847.  | of 1848.  |         |          |
  Butter                   |   £62,879 |   £71,576 |  £8,697 |    --    |
  Candles                  |    22,155 |    26,475 |   4,329 |    --    |
  Cheese                   |    15,149 |    11,089 |  --     |   £4,060 |
  Coals and culm           |   432,497 |   517,925 |  85,420 |    --    |
  Cotton manufactures      | 9,248,835 | 8,023,825 |  --     |1,225,010 |
  Cotton yarn              | 2,628,616 | 2,214,031 |  --     |  414,185 |
  Earthenware              |   429,387 |   365,382 |  --     |   64,005 |
  Fish, herrings           |    37,883 |    31,220 |  --     |    6,663 |
  Glass                    |   153,746 |   124,121 |  --     |   29,625 |
  Hardwares and cutlery    | 1,096,956 |   939,523 |  --     |  157,433 |
  Leather, wrought &       |           |           |         |          |
      unwrought            |   163,515 |   119,921 |  --     |   43,594 |
  Linen manufactures       | 1,502,770 | 1,413,819 |  --     |   88,951 |
  Linen yarn               |   315,196 |   236,076 |  --     |   79,120 |
  Machinery                |   541,403 |   398,770 |  --     |  142,633 |
  Metals--Iron and steel   | 2,462,954 | 2,545,650 |  82,696 |   --     |
          Copper and brass |   849,751 |   546,648 |  --     |  303,103 |
          Lead             |   100,620 |    57,331 |  --     |   43,289 |
          Tin, unwrought   |    72,882 |    73,477 |     595 |   --     |
          Tin, plates      |   235,771 |   259,950 |  24,179 |   --     |
  Salt                     |   141,195 |   115,757 |  --     |   25,438 |
  Silk manufactures        |   494,806 |   263,798 |  --     |  231,008 |
  Soap                     |    76,686 |    74,166 |  --     |    2,520 |
  Sugar, refined           |   203,628 |   212,298 |   8,670 |   --     |
  Wool, sheep or lambs'    |    95,412 |    58,256 |  --     |   37,156 |
  Woollen yarn             |   444,797 |   291,985 |  --     |  152,812 |
  Woollen manufactures     | 3,564,754 | 2,578,470 |  --     |  986,284 |
                           |£25,394,243|£21,571,939|£214,585 |£4,036,889|

    The entire decrease of exports during the half-year is thus
    shown to be £3,822,304.


                            |      Imported.      |      Taken for      |
                            |                     |  Home Consumption.  |
                            |                     |                     |
                            |   1847.  |   1848.  |   1847.  |   1848.  |
  Grain of all descriptions,|          |          |          |          |
    qrs.                    | 2,195,579| 1,548,464| 2,547,938| 1,436,463|
  Indian corn, qrs.         | 2,082,038|   652,788| 2,082,369|   647,470|
  Flour and meal, cwts.     | 3,382,959|   459,797| 3,860,187|   433,759|
  Provisions--Bacon, pork,  |          |          |          |          |
    &c., cwts.              |   176,319|   234,398|   Free.  |   Free.  |
  Butter and cheese, cwts.  |   298,568|   291,713|   342,170|   312,394|
  Animals, No.              |    61,989|    52,345|   Free.  |   Free.  |
  Eggs, No.                 |41,299,514|48,791,793|41,276,990|48,786,604|
  Cocoa, lbs.               | 2,540,298| 2,407,034| 1,764,590| 1,542,119|
  Coffee, British, lbs.     | 6,394,508|10,227,072|13,545,147|15,158,187|
  Ditto, Foreign, lbs.      | 5,395,669| 7,704,282| 6,092,252| 3,900,457|
               Total coffee |11,790,177|17,931,354|19,637,399|19,058,644|
  Sugar--West India, cwts.  | 1,288,138| 1,091,375|   994,163| 1,212,726|
         Mauritius, cwts.   |   884,699|   568,475|   617,681|   470,410|
         East India, cwts.  |   683,901|   679,279|   710,514|   669,196|
         Foreign, cwts.     | 1,110,948|   621,301|   622,284|   427,542|
                Total sugar | 3,967,686| 2,960,430| 2,944,642| 2,779,874|
  Tea, lbs.                 |30,999,703|32,788,914|23,101,975|24,365,380|
  Rice, cwts.               |   676,130|   497,038|   Free.  |    --    |
  Ditto, qrs.               |    32,343|    31,410|   Free.  |    --    |
  Spirits, galls            | 4,328,426| 4,525,729| 2,282,072| 2,069,720|
  Wines, galls              | 3,332,866| 3,380,826| 3,264,521| 3,114,158|
  Opium, lbs.               |   103,708|    83,693|    27,208|    36,985|
  Tobacco, lbs.             |11,100,328|10,822,184|13,419,830|13,416,118|
  Fruits--Currants, figs,   |          |          |          |          |
    and raisins, cwts.      |   189,844|   107,644|   194,951|   236,918|
          Lemons and        |          |          |          |          |
          oranges, chests   |   209,647|   281,362|   206,058|   261,302|
          Ditto, at value, £|       773|     2,961|    12,449|     8,463|
  Spices, lbs.              | 2,250,664| 3,460,497| 1,564,612| 1,632,833|


Childe Harold's Pilgrimage undertakes an Idea--that of a proud
spirit, born in a castle, self-driven from the bosom of home, seeking
refuge, solace, renovation, from Nature, of sensibilities worn out
with enjoyment. Or, he brings into play a neglected, unused
sensibility--the joy of the Sublime and the Beautiful. We receive, as
given, a mind gifted with extraordinary powers of will and
understanding--by the favour of birth, nursed upon the heights of
society--conversant with pleasure and passion; and, bearing all this
constantly in mind, we must read the poem. From it large passages
might be selected, in which the scorn, despite, bitterness that
elsewhere break in, disfeaturing beauty and sublimity, are silent;
and the passion of divine beholding stands out alone. Is this the
character--or what is the character, of the celebrated concluding
Address to the Ocean? Few things in modern poetry have been more
universally--more indiscriminately admired; be it ours now to recite
with you the famous Stanzas--and here, sitting beneath the
sea-fronting porch of our Marine Villa, indulge in a confabulatory

The Wanderings are at an end. The real and the imaginary pilgrim,
standing together upon Mount Albano, look out upon the blue
Mediterranean. He has generously, honourably, magnanimously, thrown
upon the ground the checkered mantle of scorn, anger, disappointment,
sorrow, and ennui, which had wrapped in disguise his fair stature and
features; and he stands a restored, or at least an escaped man, gazing
with eye and soul upon the beautiful and majestic sea rolling in its
joy beneath his feet. He looks; and he will deliver himself up, as
Nature's lone enthusiast, to the delicious, deep, dread, exulting,
holy passion of--vary the word as he varies it--The Ocean.

Let us chant--with broken, though haply not unmusical voice--what may
be called--the Hymn. That is a high term--let us not anticipate that it
has been misapplied. Childe Harold, or Lord Byron--for it here little
matters whether a grace of pleased fancy resolve the Two into One, or
show the Two side by side, noble forms in brotherly reflection--here is
at last the powerful but self-encumbered Spirit with whom we have
journeyed so long in sunlight and in storm--delighted, sympathising,
wondering at least, or confounded and angry when he will not let us
wonder--here He is at last himself, in unencumbered strength, setting
like the sun upon the sea he gazes on--the clouds broken through,
dispersed, and vanquished, even if a half-tinge of melancholy
remembrance hang in the atmosphere, radiant in majestic farewell.

      "But I forget.--My pilgrim's shrine is won,
      And he and I must part--so let it be,--
      His task and mine alike are nearly done;
      Yet once more let us look upon the sea;
      The midland ocean breaks on him and me,
      And from the Alban Mount we now behold
      Our friend of youth, that Ocean, which when we
      Beheld it last by Calpe's rock unfold
    Those waves, we follow'd on till the dark Euxine roll'd

      "Upon the blue Symplegades: long years--
      Long, though not very many, since have done
      Their work on both; some suffering and some tears
      Have left us nearly where we had begun:
      Yet not in vain our mortal race hath run,
      We have had our reward--and it is here;
      That we can yet feel gladden'd by the sun,
      And reap from earth, sea, joy almost as dear
    As if there were no man to trouble what is clear.

      "Oh! that the Desert were my dwelling-place
      With one fair Spirit for my minister,
      That I might all forget the human race,
      And, hating no one, love but only her!
      Ye Elements!--in whose ennobling stir
      I feel myself exalted--can ye not
      Accord me such a being? Do I err
      In deeming such inhabit many a spot?
    Though with them to converse can rarely be our lot.

      "There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
      There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
      There is society, where none intrudes,
      By the deep Sea, and music in its roar:
      I love not Man the less, but Nature more,
      From these our interviews, in which I steal
      From all I may be, or have been before,
      To mingle with the Universe, and feel
    What I can ne'er express, yet cannot all conceal.

      "Roll on, thou deep and dark blue Ocean!--roll!
      Ten thousand fleets sweep over thee in vain;
      Man marks the earth with ruin--his control
      Stops with the shore;--upon the watery plain
      The wrecks are all thy deed, nor doth remain
      A shadow of man's ravage, save his own,
      When, for a moment, like a drop of rain,
      He sinks into thy depths with bubbling groan,
    Without a grave, unknell'd, uncoffin'd, and unknown.

      "His steps are not upon thy paths--thy fields
      Are not a spoil for him--thou dost arise,
      And shake him from thee; the vile strength he wields
      For earth's destruction thou dost all despise,
      Spurning him from thy bosom to the skies,
      And send'st him, shivering in thy playful spray
      And howling, to his Gods, where haply lies
      His petty hope in some near port or bay,
    And dashest him again to earth;--there let him lay.

      "The armaments which thunderstrike the walls
      Of rock-built cities, bidding nations quake,
      And monarchs tremble in their capitals,
      The oak leviathans, whose huge ribs make
      Their clay creator the vain title take
      Of lord of thee, and arbiter of war;
      These are thy toys, and, as the snowy flake,
      They melt into thy yeast of waves, which mar
    Alike the Armada's pride, or spoils of Trafalgar.

      "Thy shores are empires, changed in all save thee--
      Assyria, Greece, Rome, Carthage, what are they?
      Thy waters wasted them while they were free,
      And many a tyrant since; their shores obey
      The stranger, slave, or savage; their decay
      Has dried up realms to deserts:--not so thou,
      Unchangeable save to thy wild waves' play--
      Time writes no wrinkle on thine azure brow--
    Such as creation's dawn beheld, thou rollest now.

      "Thou glorious mirror, where the Almighty's form
      Glasses itself in tempests; in all time,
      Calm or convulsed--in breeze, or gale, or storm,
      Icing the pole, or in the torrid clime
      Dark-heaving;--boundless, endless, and sublime--
      The image of Eternity--the throne
      Of the Invisible; even from out thy slime
      The monsters of the deep are made; each zone
    Obeys thee; thou goest forth, dread, fathomless, alone.

      "And I have loved thee, Ocean! and my joy
      Of youthful sports was on thy breast to be
      Borne, like thy bubbles, onward: from a boy
      I wanton'd with thy breakers--they to me
      Were a delight; and if the freshening sea
      Made them a terror--'twas a pleasing fear,
      For I was as it were a child of thee,
      And trusted to thy billows far and near,
    And laid my hand upon thy mane--as I do here."

These Stanzas may be separated from the Poem--the feeling of readers
innumerable so separates them--as a HYMN TO THE OCEAN. The passage, a
great effort of a great poet, intends a final putting forth of all his
power--it has been acknowledged and renowned as such; and, if it has
failed, a critique showing this, and showing the ground of the
failure, maybe useful to you, inexperienced yet in the criticism of
poetry, though all alive to its charm.

We observe you delight in the first Four Stanzas--ay, you recite them
over again after us--and the voice of youth, tremulous in emotion, is
pathetic to the Old Man. He will not seek, by what might seem to you,
thus moved, hypercritical objections to some of the words; but,
pleased with your pleasure, he is willing to allow you to believe the
stanzas entirely good in expression as in thought. For here the morbid
disrelish of the sated palate is cleansed away. The obscuring cloud of
the overwhelmed heart is dispersed. The joy of the wilderness here
claimed is not necessarily more or other than that of every powerful
and imaginative spirit, which experiences that solitude is, in simple
truth, by a steadfast law of our nature, the condition under which our
soul is able to wed itself in impassioned communion effectually to the
glorious Universe--where, too, the subjugating footsteps of man,
impairing the pure domain of free nature, are not. "Pathless,"
"lonely,"--of themselves bespeak neither satiety nor hostility: there
is "society by the deep sea, and music in its roar!" all quite right.
Here is a heart, in its thirst for sympathy, peopling the desert with
sympathisers. Here is expansion of the heart; and the spirit that
rejoices in the consciousness of life roused into creative activity.
For an ear untuned and untuning, here is one that listens out
harmonies which you, languid or inept, might not discern. "Pleasure!"
"rapture!" "society!" "music!"--a chain of genialities!

    "I love not man the less, but nature more,
    From these our interviews."

What will you require of kindliest humanity from any poet, from any
lover of nature, that is not here? The savage grandeur of earth and
sea have their peril--the fleeing of human homes and haunts--the
voluptuous banishment self-imposed--the caressing of dear fancies in
secret invisible recesses inviolable--these tend all to engendering
and nurturing an excessive self-delight akin to an usurping self-love;
and the very sublimities of that wonderful intercourse, in which, upon
the one part, stands the feeble dwarf Man, in his hour-lived weakness,
and upon the other, as if Infinitude itself putting on cognisable
forms, the imperishable Hills and the unchangeable Sea--that
intercourse in which he, the pigmy, conscious of the divinity within
him, feels himself the greater--he infinite, immortal, and these
finite and vanishing--the power and exultation of that intercourse
may well engender and nourish Pride. Self-love and Pride, tempting,
decoying, bewildering, devouring demons of the inhuman Waste! But the
self-reproved, repentant pilgrim has well understood these dangers. He
knows that the delight of woods and waterfalls, of stars and storms,
may alienate man from his fellow-man. He has guarded himself by some
wise temperance. He has found here his golden mean. From thus
conversing, he "loves not man the less, but nature more." Is this a
young Wordsworth, beginning, in the school of nature, to learn the
wisdom of humanity?

At all events, here is, for the occasion, the most express and earnest
disclaimer of the mood of misanthropy; and we rejoice to hear the
Pilgrim speak of interviews

                      "in which I steal
    From all I may be, or have been before."

From all! that is, from all the ungracious, the harsh, the unkind, the
sore, the embittered, the angry, the miserable! Not, surely, from all
the amiable and all the gladsome; and especially not from the whole
personality and identity of his character. The picture he had given us
of himself was that of a powerful mind, self-set at war with its kind,
yet within an exasperated hate ever and anon unfolding undestroyed,
sometimes hardly vitiated, some portion of its original ingenerate
faculty of love. Here we behold him now as God made him, and no longer
possessed by a demon. Change his rhyme into our prose--and you do not
dislike our prose--and in sober and sincere sadness the Childe thus
speaks--"I steal, under the power of these delicious, renovating,
gladdening, hallowing influences, out of myself--out of that evil
thing which man had made me--rather, alas! which I had made myself
into;--and if long wandering, disuse of humanity, separation from the
scene of my wrongs, and this auspicious dominion of inviolate nature
have in these past years already amended me--if I have been worse than
I am--even that worse and that worst these 'interviews' obliterate and
extinguish." The soured milk of human kindness is again sweetened. Or,
if that be too much to say, at least man, with all the dissonance that
hangs by his name and recollections, is forgotten, suspended--for the
time absolutely lost. If this be not the meaning, what is?

                                "And feel
    What I can ne'er express, yet cannot all conceal,"

is indeed powerless writing, and the stanza merited a better close.
But the whole stanza protests, proclaims the glad healing power of the
natural world over him. He has described this as well as he could, and
sums up with saying that by him it is indescribable. "I derive from
these communions a rapturous transformation--so great, so wondrous,
that my ignorant skill of words is utterly unable to render it; but,
at the same time, so self-powerful, that, in despite of this my
concealing inability, tones of it will outbreak, make themselves
heard, felt, and understood." Thus Byron sets the tune of his Address
to the Ocean. The first Four Stanzas, therefore, be their poetry more
or less, required, upon this account, enucleation; and further, dear
Neophyte, inasmuch as they are particularly humane, they should take
their effectual place among evidences which separate him personally
from some of his poetical Timons.

You--dear Neophyte--have called the Four Stanzas beautiful,--that is
enough for us,--and they recall to your heart--you say--the kindred
lines of Coleridge--which we call "beautiful exceedingly."--

    "With other ministrations thou! O Nature!
    Healest thy wandering and distemper'd child.
    Thou pourest on him thy soft influences,
    Thy sunny hues, fair forms, and breathing sweets,
    Thy melodies of woods, and winds, and waters,
    Till he relent, and can no more endure
    To be a jarring and a dissonant thing
    Amid this general dance and minstrelsy;
    But, bursting into tears, wins back his way,
    His angry spirit heal'd and harmonised
    By the benignant touch of love and beauty."

Thus--we repeat our words--"Byron sets the tune of his Address to the

The poem, then, is an Address to the Ocean by a Lover of the Ocean. It
seems reasonable, then, to ask, first, what is it natural to expect
that such a poem should be? And if it proves to be something
remarkably different, then to inquire whether any particular
circumstance or condition has intervened which justifies the poet in
following an unexpected course.

Now, for natural expectation, the theme is one of eulogy; and one may
say, therefore, that praise customarily expresses itself in one or
other of two principal ways--namely, directly or indirectly. We praise
directly, for instance, when, moved by the contemplation of some great
or interesting subject, we single forth, one after another, the
qualities of its character, or the facts in its history, which have
provoked our love, our admiration, our joy, our gratitude. Upon the
other hand, we praise indirectly when we extol the subject of our
eulogy by dispraising another foreign subject, which we oppose to the
chosen one in the way of relief or foil; whether we establish mere
comparison of contrast between the two, or cite an opposition of actual
enmity between them--as if, in hymning Apollo, we should insist upon
the horror and fury, the earth-pollution and the earth-affliction, of
the monster Python.

A moment of reflection satisfies us that both ways are alike
natural--both, with occasion, alike unavoidable; but it is impossible
to help equally seeing that these two ways of eulogy differ materially
from each other in two respects,--the temper of inspiration which
dictates, animates, and supports the one or other manner of
attributing renown, and the motive justifying the one eulogistic
procedure or the other. The temper of direct praise is always wholly
genial; that of lauding by illaudation has in it perforce an ungenial
element. The motive to direct praise eternally subsists and is there,
as long as the subject eulogised subsists and is there. This, then, is
the ordinary method. If any thing has just happened that provokes the
indirect way--as if Python has just been vanquished--then good and
well; or if the poet, by some personal haunting sorrow, or by an
unvanquished idiosyncrasy, must arrive at pleasure through pain, so be
it: but this method is clearly extraordinary and exceptive to the
rule; and the reason for using it must be prominent, definite, and
flashing in all men's eyes. The other method never can require
justifying--this does always; and if it fail conspicuously in aught,
the very opposite effect to that intended is produced, and the eulogy
is no laud. You may say, indeed, and say truly, that all eulogy shall
be mixed--that naturally and necessarily every subject has its title
to favour by sympathy and by antipathy. Which of the two shall
predominate? We need scarcely answer that question. The mood of mind
in which the Poet sings must be genial and benign, though he may have
to deal in fierce invective.

Read then, dearest Neophyte, the first Four Stanzas--recite them
again, for you have them by heart. It is not easy to imagine any thing
more completely at variance with all that preamble for the hymn than
the hymn itself. The poet, imbued, as we have seen, with the love of
nature and of man, will breathe on both his benediction. He will
glorify the Sea. And how does he attain the transported and
affectionate contemplation of the abyss of waters? By the opposition
of man's impotence to the might of the sea; by the opposition of the
land subjected to man, mixed up in his destinies, and changeable with
him, to the ocean free from all change, excepting that of its own
moods, the free play of its own gigantic will. For though,
philosophically speaking, the immense mass of waters is in itself
inert and powerless; lifted into tides by the sun and moon; lifted
into storm by raging and invisible winds; yet the poet, lawfully, and
by a compulsion which lies alike upon all our minds, apprehends in
what is involuntary, self-willed motion, wild changeable moods, a
pleasure of rolling--sun, moon, and winds, being for the moment left
utterly out of thought; and it may be that Byron here does this well.
But, what is the worth, what the meaning of the first Four Stanzas--in
which you have delighted, because in them the Bard you love had
deliberately and passionately rejected all hostile regard of man, and
reclaimed for himself his place among the brotherhood--when we see
that hostile regard in all its bitterness, instantaneously return and
become the predominating characteristic of the whole wrathful and
scornful song?

Was his previous confession of faith utterly false and hollow? If
sincere and substantial, what in a moment shattered it?

    "Roll on, thou deep and dark blue ocean--roll!
    Ten thousand fleets sweep over thee."

This is good in temper so far--nor in aught inconsistent with the
spirit pervading the introductory Stanzas; if the ten thousand fleets
are presented for the magnificence of the picture. But are they? No,
already for spleen. The full verse is

    "Ten thousand fleets sweep over thee--_in vain_!"

In vain! for what end in vain? Why for one that never was contemplated
by them, nor by any rational being--that of leaving the bosom of the
deep permanently furrowed by their wakes! This is a minuteness of
thinking we shudder to put down--but mend the matter if you can. Try
to imagine something great, if not intelligible--that the attempt
which has failed was, in some titanic and mysterious way, to have
established a dominion of man over the sea, to have yoked it like the
earth under his hand, ploughed it, set vines and sown corn fields, and
built up towered cities. But "that thought is unstable, and deserts us
quite." "In vain," whatever it means, or if it means nothing--(and
will no one tell us what it means?)--still proposes the sea in
conflict with an adversary, and does not contemplate it for its own
pure great self. The whole Hymn is founded on contrast, and therefore
of indirect inspiration. To aggrandise the sea, Byron knows of no
other way than to disparage the earth; and there is equally a want of
truth, and of imagination and passion. If he had the capacity of
worthily praising nature, if he had the genuine love and admiration
for her beauty and greatness which he proudly claims, he has not shown
this here; and we are induced to think that there were in his mind,
faculties, intellectual and moral, stronger there than the poetical,
and upon which the poetical faculty needed to stay itself--from which
it needed to borrow a factitious energy--say wit and scorn, the
faculties of the satirist.

"In vain," indeed! Imagination beholds ten thousand fleets sweeping
over the ocean--or a hundred of them, or one--and man's exulting
spirit feels that it was not in vain. The purposes for which fleets do
sail--to carry commerce, to carry war, to carry colonies, to carry
civilisation, to bring home knowledge, have triumphantly prospered;
and, of course, are not in the meaning of the poet, although properly
they alone are in the meaning of the word. But, perversely enough, the
imagination of the reader accepts for an instant the pomp of the
representation--"ten thousand fleets sweep over thee"--for good, as an
adjunct of the ocean's magnificence; and in the confusion of thought
and feeling which characterises the passage, this verse of mockery
tells to the total resulting impression, in effect, like a verse of
passion. The reverence which is not intended--not the contempt which
is intended--for these majestic human creations, is acknowledged at
last. The poet, with his living fraternal shadow beside him, is
sitting upon the Italian promontory--love and wonder look through his
eyes upon that sea rolling under that sky--and he speaks

    "Roll on, thou deep and dark blue ocean--roll!"

Roll thy gentle tides on, sweet Mediterranean Sea! to beat in murmurs
at my weary feet! Roll, in thine own unconfined spaces, Atlantic
Ocean! with placid swell or with mounting billows, from pole to pole!
Roll, circumambient World-Ocean! embracing in thy liquid arms our
largest continents as thine islands, and immantling our whole globe. A
fair, gentle, sedate beginning; and at the very next step--war to the

The confused, unstudied impression left upon you is that of a powerful
mind moving in the majesty of its power. But it is not moving in the
majesty of power, after one step taken straight forwards, at the
second to wheel sharply round and march off in the opposite direction.
How otherwise, Homer, Pindar, Milton! They walk as kings, heroes,
bards, archangels. The first canon of great, impassioned, profound
writing--that the soul, filled with its theme, and with affection
fitted for its theme, moves on slowly or impetuously--with a glide, or
with a rush, or with a bound--but that it ever moves consistently with
itself, pouring out its affection, and, in pouring it out, displaying
its theme, and so evolving its work from itself in unity--is here
sinned against by movements owning no law but mere caprice.

How, then, is the glorification of his subject sought here to be
attained by Byron? By means of another subject shown us in hostility,
and quelled. Man, in his weakness, is put in contrast and in conflict
with ocean's omnipotence. Man sends out his fleets, apparently for the
purpose of ruining the ocean. He cannot: he can ruin the land; but on
the land's edge his deadly dominion is at an end. There the reign of a
mightier and more dreadful Ruler, a greater Destroyer, a wilder
Anarch, begins. The sea itself rises, wrecks the timbered vessels,
drowns the crews--or at least those who fall overboard--tosses the
mariner to the skies and on to shore, and swallows up fleets of war.

Such is the first movement or strain. What is the amount relatively to
the purport of the poem? Why, that the first point of glorification
chosen, the first utterance of enthusiastic love and admiration from
the softened heart and elevated soul of a poet, who has just told us
that there is such music in its roar, that by the deep sea he loves
not man the less, but nature more, is, "All hail, O wrathful, dire,
almighty, and remorseless destroyer!"--surely a strange ebullition of
tenderness--an amatory sigh like a lion's roar--something in
Polyphemus' vein--wooing with a vengeance. All this, mark ye, dear
neophyte, following straight upon a proclamation of peace with all
mankind--upon an Invocation to Nature for inward peace!

Grant for a moment that Man is properly to be viewed as Earth's
ravager, not its cultivator, and that "his control stops with the
shore," is good English in verse for "his power of desolating, or his
range of desolation, is bounded by the sea-shore;" grant for a moment
that it is a lawful and just practical contemplation to view him
ravaging and ranging up to that edge, and to view in contrast the
glad, bright, universally-laughing Ocean beyond--unravaged, unstained,
unfooted, no smoke of conflagration rising, only the golden morning
mist seeming all one diffused sun. Grant all this--and then what we
have to complain of is, that the contrast is prepared, but not
presented; and that the natural replication to "Man marks the earth
with ruin," is not here. Instead of picture for picture--instead of,
look on this picture and on that--we have

           "on the watery plain
    The wrecks are all thy deed."

That is to say, peace, happiness, beauty, nowhere! Man wrecks up to
the shore. There the tables are turned upon him. There the sea ravages
the land, and wrecks him in return. Merciful Heaven! nothing but
wrecking; as if evil spirits only possessed the universe--as if the
only question to be asked any where were, Who wrecks here?

Is not this a glaring instance of a false intellectual procedure
arising out of a false moral temper? The unceasing call of the Hymn is
for the display of the subject extolled. And here the beautiful, or
the proud superiority of the "peaceful, immeasurable plain," or of the
indignant, independent, thundrous sea, was imperiously suggested for
some moments surely, if the Poem be one of glorification. But no! We
may imagine for ourselves, if we please, the beauty, splendour, joy,
tempestuous liberty of the unfettered waters; but the love of the
ocean is not in the Poet's mind, as it ought to have been--only the
hate of man.

As it ought to have been? Yea, verily. Had he not taken the pledge? To
drink but of the purest spring of inspiration--the Fount of Love. And
may he, without reproach, break it when he chooses, and we not dare to
condemn? Of all promises, the promise made by poet of world-wide fame
before the wide world, in his soul's best mood, and in nature's
noblest inspiration, is the most sacred--to break it is a sin, and a
sin that brings its appropriate punishment along with it,--loss or
abeyance of the faculty divine. Byron had sworn to love man and
nature, and to glorify their works, on the very instant he seeks to
degrade and vilify. We listen to a religious overture--to the Devil's
March. We are invited to enter with him a temple of worship--and
praise and prayer become imprecations and curses. It is as if a
hermit, telling his beads at the door of his cell, retired into its
interior to hold converse with a blaspheming spirit. Fear not to call
it by its right name--this is Hypocrisy.

So much as to the fitness of the mood; now as to the truth of the

What is, justly considered, the relation of man to the sea? Is it here
truly spoken? Certainly not. The Facts and the Songs of the world are
all the other way. In history, the ocean is the giant slave of the
magician Man--with some difficulty brought under thraldom--humorous,
and not always manageable--mischievous when he gets his own way. But
compare statistically the service and the detriment, for Clio must
instruct Calliope and Erato. Passion that cannot sustain itself but by
hiding that which has been, and accrediting that which has not been,
is personal, not poetical--is mad, not inspired. The truth is, that
the Ship is the glory of man's inventive art and inventive daring--the
most splendid triumph of heroical art. And--for the history of
man--the service of the sea to his ship has been the civilising of the
earth. The wrecks are occasional--so much so that, in our ordinary
estimate, they are forgotten. It would be as good poetry to say that
all the inhabitants of the land live by wrecking.

In this first movement or strain, then, two great relations upheld by
man are put in question,--his relation to the land, and his relation
to the sea. The Basis of Song to the true and great poet is the truth
of things--the truth as the historian and the philosopher know them.
Over this he throws his own affection and creates a truth of his
own--a poetical truth. But the truth, as held in man's actual
knowledge, is recognisable through the transparent veil. Here it is
distorted, not veiled. The two relations are alike falsified. For in
order to bring man into conflict with the sea, where he and not the
sea is to be worsted, he must first be made the foe of the earth! "Man
marks the earth with ruin." Is this the history of man on the earth?
Man has vanquished the Earth, but for its benefit as well as his own.
He has displaced the forest and the swamp, the wild beast and the
serpent. He has adorned the earth like a bride; as if he had made
captive a wild Amazon, charmed her with Orphean arts, wedded and made
her a happy mother of many children. Whatever impressive effect such
verses may have on the inconsiderate mind, it has been illegitimately
attained by a preposterous and utterly unprovoked movement of
tempestuous passion, and by two utterly false contemplations of man's
posture upon the globe, which two embrace about his whole mortal
existence. Eloquence might condescend to this--poetry never.

Note well, O Neophyte! that the calm, contemplative, loving first

    "Roll on, thou deep and dark blue ocean! roll!"

precludes all comparison with such sudden bursts as "Ruin seize thee,
ruthless king!" &c., and "Quousque tandem abutêre, Catilina," &c.; but
it does not preclude, it invites the killing comparison with

    "O Thou that with surpassing glory crown'd
    Look'st from thy sole dominion, like the God
    Of this new world,--at whose sight all the stars
    Hide their diminish'd heads, to thee I call,
    But with no friendly voice, and add thy name,
    O Sun! to tell thee how I hate thy beams,
    That bring to my remembrance from what state
    I fell--how glorious once above thy sphere!" &c.

Where the speaker is fraught with personal, not as a poet with
impersonal affection--where he comes charged with hate, not with love;
and yet how slowly, how sedately, through how many thoughts, how much
admiration, and how many verses, he reaches his hate at last, which is
his object! But on _that_ soliloquy, dear Neophyte, we must discourse
another day.

We must go a little--not very much--into particulars; for otherwise, O
Neophyte! believe thou, whatever wiseacres say, there can be no true
criticism of poetry. Let us--and that which might have been expected
will appear,--a detail of moral and intellectual disorder. The stanza
of which we have been speaking begins well--as we have seen and said.
Thenceforth all is stamped with incongruity, and shows an effect like
power, by violently bringing together, in a most remarkable manner,
things that cannot consist--by the transition from the Universal to
the Individual, when for

    "The wrecks are all thy deed,"

which shows us a thousand ships foundering in mid ocean, and the
earth's shores all strewn with fragments of oak-leviathans, we have
instantaneously substituted, as if this were the same thing,

    "When for a moment, _like a drop of rain_,
      He sinks into thy depths with bubbling groan,
    Without a grave, unknell'd, uncoffin'd, and unknown."

What has happened? What is meant? Is this literally the representation
of some single human being actually dropping, as unfortunately happens
from time to time, from a ship's side into the immensity of waters?
And is this horrible game and triumph of Ocean, which threatened to
annihilate the species, upon a sudden confined to "a man overboard?"
Or are we to understand that, by a strong feat of uncreating and
recreating imagination, this one man, dropped as if naked from the
clouds into the sea and submerged, impersonates and impictures, by
some concentration of human agony and of human impotence, that
universally diffused annihilation of Man in his ships which was the
matter in hand? We do not believe that any reader can give a
satisfactory explanation or account of the course of thinking that has
been here pursued. Upon the face of the words lies that natural pathos
which belongs to the perishing of the individual, which serves to
blind inquiry, and stands as a substitute for any reasonable thinking
at all; and thus a grammatical confusion between Man and a man makes
the whole absolute nonsense.

Then look here:--

            "Upon the watery plain
    The wrecks are _all thy deed_."

This is not only not true--it is false. If man, clothed in the thunder
of war, is able to strew ruin upon the land, he, militant, by the same
power, strews wreck and ruin upon the waters; and so the distinction
pretended, whatever it might be worth, fails. And does not the
swallowing of the unknelled and uncoffined, which is attributed to the
sea as the victor of man, take place as effectually when beak or
broadside sends down a ship with her hundreds of souls, when the great
sea, willing or unwilling, appears merely as the servile minister of
insulting man's hate and fury?

    "Alike the Armada's pride and spoils of Trafalgar."

"Rule Britannia" rings in our ears, and gives that assertion the lie.
Does Macaulay's Ode idly recount an ineffectual muster? Did the Lord
High Admiral of England, with all his commodores and captains, do
nothing to the Armada? With what face dared an English Poet say to the
sea that on all those days "the wrecks were all thy deed?" The storms
were England's allies indeed, from Cape Clear to the Orcades. But only
her allies; and, much as we respect the storms and their services, we
say to the English fleet, "The wrecks were all thy deed." At Trafalgar
the storms finally sided with the Spaniards. "Let the fleet be
anchored," said Nelson ere he died; and, had that been possible, it
had been done by Collingwood. After the fight Gravina came out to the
rescue--but the sea engulfed the spoils. Yet, spite of that, we say
again to the English fleet, "The wrecks were all thy deed;" and the
sea answers--and will answer to all eternity--"Ay, ay, ay!"

Byron, we verily believe, was the first Great Poet that owned not a
patriot's heart. No pride ever had he in his Country's triumphs either
on land or sea. It seems as if he were impatient of every national
and individual greatness that, however far aloof from his sphere,
might eclipse his own. He has written well--but not so well as he
ought to have done--of Waterloo. The glory of Wellington overshadowed
him; and, by keeping his name out of his verses, he would keep the
hero himself out of sight. But there he is resplendent in spite of the
Poet's spleen. _Verbum non amplius_ for Trafalgar! not one for Nelson.
Not so did Cowper--the pious, peace-loving Cowper--regard his
country's conflicts. At thought of these the holy Harper's soul awoke.
He too sung of the sea:--

    "What ails thee, restless as the waves that roar,
    And fling their foam against thy chalky shore?
    Mistress _at least, while Providence shall please_,

That is majestic--and this is sublime:--

    "They trust in navies, and their navies fail--
    God's curse can cast away ten thousand sail."

Ay, then, indeed, "ten thousand fleets sail over Thee in vain." Had
Byron Cowper's great line in his mind? The copy cannot stand
comparison with the original.

If we will try the poet by his words, and know whether he has mastered
the consummation of his art by "writing well," we may cull from
several instances of suspicious language, in this stanza, the

                   "Nor doth remain
    A shadow of man's ravage _save his own_."

What is the meaning--the translation? "There is not on the ocean to be
found a shadow of ravage in which man is the agent. The only ravage
known on the ocean, in which man is concerned, is that which he
suffers from the ocean." This, if false, is nevertheless an
intelligible proposition. But "ravage" is a strange word--a shocking
bad one--applied, as you presently find that it must be, to one
drowning man being "ravaged" by being drowned; and even more strange
still is the grammatical opposition of "his ravage," as properly
signifying, the ravage which he achieves, to "his own ravage" as
properly signifying the ravage which he endures!

Moreover, what is meant by "remain"? Properly, to linger for a moment
ere disappearing. But the proposition is, that ruin effected by man
has no place at all on the waters. The poet means, that as long as
you, the contemplator, tread the land, you walk among ruins made by
man. When you pass on to the sea, no shadow of such ruin any longer
accompanies you,--that is, any longer _remains_ with you.

One great fault of style which the Hymn shows is Equivocation. The
words are equivocal. Hence the contradiction--as in this stanza
especially--between what is promised and what is done. Weigh for a
moment these lines--

                        "Upon the watery plain,
    The wrecks are all thy deed, nor doth remain
    A shadow of man's ravage save his own,
    When for a moment, like a drop of rain,
    He sinks into thy depths with bubbling groan,"

&c., and tell us what they seem to describe. You will find yourself in
a pretty puzzle. A ship? a fleet? myriads of ships lost? or one
drowning man? Surely one drowning man. His own phrase,

                        "the bubbling cry
    Of some strong swimmer in his agony,"

here pre-appears. But he had bound himself quite otherwise. By his
pledge he should, in contrast with man's wreck active upon shore, have
given man's wreck passive upon the flood,--the earth strewn with ruin
by man's hand, the sea strewn with ruin of man himself,--_magnis
excidit ausis_.

The words "remain" and "man" have played the part here of juggling

    "They palter with us in a double sense,
    They keep the word of promise to the ear,
    And break it to our hope."

For lend us your ear for a few minutes. The word "remain" is
originally and essentially a word of time, and means to "continue" in
some assigned condition through a certain duration of time; as, for
example, he "remained in command for a year." In this clause of
Byron's, it has become essentially a word that has regard to space
without regard to time. To see that it is so, you must begin with
possessing the picture that has been set before you, and which is
here the basis and outset of the thinking. This picture is--"man marks
the earth with ruin." Realise the picture at the height of the words
without flinching. For example, from the Atlantic eastward to the
Pacific, man ravages. Here Napoleon--a little farther on Mahomet the
Second--farther, the Crusaders--beyond these Khuli Khan or Timour
Leng--lastly, the Mogul conquerors of the Celestial Empire,--a chain
of desolation from Estremadura to Corea. Had land extended around the
globe, it had been a belt of desolation encircling the globe. Corn
fields, vineyards, trampled under foot of man and horse,--villages,
towns, and great cities, reeking with conflagration, like the smoke
ascending from some enormous altar of abomination to offend the
nostrils of heaven--armed hosts lying trampled in their blood--the
unarmed lying scattered every where in theirs; for man has trodden the
earth in his rage, and before him was as the garden of Eden, behind
him is the desolate wilderness. This is a translation of the
hemistich,--"Man marks the earth with ruin,"--into prose. It is a
faithful, a literal translation--Byron meant as much: and you,
neophyte, in an instantaneous image receive as much--perhaps with more
faith or persuasion, because leaden-pacing, tardy-gaited exposition
goes against such faith; but some belief will remain if we, who have
put ourselves in the place of the poet, have used colours that seize
upon your imagination.

Well, then, if your imagination has done that which the summary
word-picture of the poet required of you, you have swept the earth, or
one of its continents, with instantaneous flight from shore to shore,
and seen this horrible devastation--this widely-spread ravage. You
have not staid your wing at the shore, but have swept on, driven by
your horror, till you have hung, and first breathed at ease, over the
Mid Pacific, over the wide OCEAN OF PEACE--over the unpolluted,
everlasting ocean, murmuring under your feet--the unpolluted,
everlasting heavens over your head. _Here_ is no ravage of man's: no!
nor the shadow of it--

          --"Nor doth remain
    A shadow of man's ravage."

But how "nor doth remain?" The ravage has gone along with you from
sea-marge to sea-marge. _At sea_ it is no longer with you. Traversing
the land it _remained_ your companion. It _remained_ the continual and
loathed object of your eyes. Now no shadow of it is to be seen--it
haunts your flight no longer. No shadow of it any longer accompanies
your aerial voyage--any longer stays, abides, _remains_ with you. If
the word has not this meaning, it has no meaning here in this clause.
In this clause it cannot mean this--"upon the ocean, the ravage made
by man appears like a flash of lightning, seen and gone,--upon the
ocean this ravage, or some shadow of this ravage, has a momentary
duration, but no more than momentary, no abiding, no _remaining_."
This cannot be the meaning, since of man it has been expressly said
'his control stops with the shore'--that is, ends there, is not on the
ocean at all. Manifestly the question at issue is, not whether
destruction effected by man lasts upon the waters, but whether it is
at all upon the waters; and Byron's decision is plainly that it is not
at all. For he has already said "upon the watery plain the wrecks are
all thy deed." That is to say, any sort of wreck effected by man upon
the flood at all has been twice rejected in express words; and this
word "remain" must imperatively be understood consonantly to this

Byron, then, we see, in denying that wrecks made by man "remain" upon
the "watery plain," takes a word which properly sets before you an
extending in time, and uses it for setting before you an extending in
space. The ravage of which man is the agent does not extend over the
"watery plain"--no, not a shadow of it.

But pray attend to this--no sooner does the sequent clause "save his
own," take its place in the verse, than the word "remain" shifts its
meaning back, from the signification accidentally forced upon it as
has been explained, and reverts to its original and wonted power as a
word of time! The force of the united clauses now stands thus--"upon
the water there cannot be found a trace of the ruin executed by man.
But of the ruin suffered by him there is an apparition, a vestige, a
_shadow_, a vanishing display, namely--

    "When for a moment, like a drop of rain,
    He sinks into thy depths, with bubbling groan,
    Without a grave, unknell'd, uncoffin'd and unknown."

He plunges, and all is over. The "bubbling groan" is the momentarily
_remaining_ notice of his extinction.

Now this first equivocation has an immediate moral
consequence--namely, a reaction upon the feelings of the poet.
"Remain," as an "extending in space," acts upon the imagination
expansively here, if it were suffered to act--and if room were given
it to act upon the imagination--inasmuch as "nor doth remain," as a
word of extending in space, marks or helps to mark out the two great
regions into which his lordship divides the terraqueous globe--ravaged
land and unravaged water. But "remain," as an "extending in time,"
acts here contractively; and "nor remain" means now "does not outlive
the moment!" and in this manner an entirely new direction or tenor is
given to thought and feeling--for the zeal of diminishing seizes on
the imagination of the writer. He is led to making man insignificant
by the momentariness of his perishing! He has contracted, by power of
scorn, and by the trick of a word, the seventy years of man into an
instant. That is one diminution, and another follows upon it. The
Fleets, wrecked whenever they fight against the water, vanish from his
fancy, as in the shifting of a dream; and he sees, amidst the troubled
world of waters--_one_ man perishing! One mode of insignificancy
admitted, induces another. With the shrinking of time to a moment goes
along, the shrinking of multitude to one!

The same double-dealing takes place with the word "Man." Man signifies
the individual human being--or the race. "Of man's first
disobedience"--mankind's. "Man marks the earth with ruin"--mankind
does so. "Nor doth remain a shadow of man's ravage"--of mankind's
ravage. "When for a moment, like a drop of rain, _he_ sinks into thy
waves "--that is now the single sailor, whom a roll of the ship has
hurled from the topmast into the waters; or, when the ship has gone
down, some strong swimmer who has fought in vain upon the waters, and,
spent in limb and heart, sinks. And thus the reader, after stumbling
for two or three steps in darkness and perplexity, within a moment of
having left mankind in the annihilating embrace of Ocean, upon a
sudden finds himself set face to face with one man, we shall suppose
"The last man," drowning!

In the Stanza now commented on, there was a struggle depicted, a
question proposed between Man and the Ocean--which shall be the
Wrecker? The Ocean prevails; Man is wrecked. In the succeeding Stanza
there is, it would seem, another question moved between the same
disputants. No, it is the same. Let us examine well. A moment before,
Man appeared as treading the earth as a Destroyer, his proud step
stayed at high water-mark. Now he appears upon the earth as a
traveller and a reaper--by implication or allusion--by the figure of

    "His steps are _not_ upon thy paths, thy fields
    Are _not_ a spoil for him."

He walks and reaps the earth; he does not walk and reap the ocean.
This is plainly the process of the "worthy cogitation;" and
unquestionably the assertion is true--true to the letter, but only to
the letter. For, standing on Mount Albano, or on the Land's End, or
here sitting beneath the porch of our Marine Villa fronting the Firth
of Forth, we are poets every one of us, and we will venture beyond the

    "His steps are not upon thy paths!"

--reply--chaunter of Man's Hope, and of England's Power,--

    "Thy march is o'er the mountain wave,
    Thy home is on the deep."

There is a dash of sea-craft for you; and, "cheered by the grateful
sound, for many a league old ocean smiles."

And for the sickle! What! must the net and the harpoon go for nothing?
No harvests on the barren flood! What else are pearl-fisheries,
herring-fisheries, cod-fisheries, and whale-fisheries? "The sea! The
deep, deep sea!" Why, the sea cannot keep its own; cannot defend the
least or the mightiest of its nurselings from the hand of the gigantic
plunderer Man.

                 ----"thy fields,
    Are not a spoil for him."

The fields of earth are not. For he ploughed and sowed ere he reaped,
and earned back his own. But on _thy_ fields, no ploughing, no
sowing--all reaping! Sheer spoil. Poor, helpless, tributary, rifled,
ravaged Ocean!

Then follows a very eminent instance of the fault which has been urged
as radical in these Stanzas--forced, unnatural, wilful, or false
sequence of thought; a deliberate intention in the mind of the writer,
taking the place of the spontaneous free suggestion proper to poetry.
We have had man trying to produce ruin on the ocean, and wrecked,
swallowed up. Now, man tries to walk and reap the ocean. The poet has
outraged mother earth, and her vengeance is upon him. He has
wrongfully and wilfully brought in the Earth, for its old alliance
with man to hear hard words; and he suffers the penalty. Cease, rude
Boreas, blustering railer, for you are out of breath. Mere mouthing is
not command of words; the sound we hear now is but the echo of the
last stanza, and the angry Childe is unwittingly repeating himself,--

           ----"Thou dost arise
    And shake him from thee; the vile strength he wields
    _For earth's destruction_ thou dost all despise,
    Spurning him from thy bosom to the skies,
    And send'st him, shivering in thy playful spray,
    And howling, to his gods, where haply lies
    His petty hope in some near port or bay,
    And dashest him _again to earth--there let him lay_!"

Here is again the contest, again the ruining upon earth,--nay, he
destroys the earth itself--again the wrecking of the ship. Surely
there is great awkwardness in stepping on from the proof of man's
impotence in the sinking of his ship, to the proof of man's impotence
in the sinking of his ship. "Spurning him from thy bosom to the skies"
may be a vigorous verse, though we doubt it; but if the ship outlive
the storm, which many a ship has done many a thousand times, it can be
turned against the ocean, who has done his worst _in vain_. What is
man's "_petty hope_?" and what means "_again_ to earth?" Is it again
from the skies--or back to the earth from which he embarked? Not one
expression is precise; and so, with some scorn of man's old ally, who
now so roughly receives him,--"there let him _lay_!" There is
something very horrible indeed in insulting a dead man in the Cockney

In all this there is no dignity, no grandeur; Byron does not well to be
angry--it is seldom that any man or poet does--for, though anger is a
"short madness," it is not a "fine frenzy." Such _Te Deum_ true Poetry
never yet sang, for true Poetry never yet was blasphemous--never yet
derided Man's Dread or Man's Hope, when sinking in multitudes in the
sea, which God holds in the hollow of his hand.

Go on to the next Stanza--

    "The armaments which thunderstrike the walls," &c.

Why, here is another shipwreck--only now a fleet of war--before, one
merchant-ship perhaps. The Earth, too, is again implicated, and we
have the same scornful antithesis of Earth and Ocean. Earth with her
towery diadem--Earth, the nurse of nations, trembles at the approach
of armaments, which the ocean devours like melting snow. There has
been, then, a certain progression in the three stanzas. A drowning
man--a merchant-ship tossed and stranded--an armada scattered and
lost. Three striking subjects of poetical delineation, each strikingly
shown with some true touches, mixed with much false writing. One may
understand that in consequence from out the whirlwind and chaos of the
composition, resembling the tumult of the sea, there will remain to
the reader who does not sift the writing an impression of power--of
some great thing done--of Man and his Earth humbled, and the Ocean
exalted. In the mean time, the way of the thoughts, the course of the
mind, by which this ascent or climax is obtained, is extremely hard to
trace, if traceable. The critic may extricate such an order from the
disorder: but observe, that the ascent or climax can be attained only
by neglecting certain strong indications that go another way. Thus, in
the first stanza--

                "Upon the watery plain
    The wrecks are all thy deed,"

includes all that is or can be said more of ship or fleet. Again, in
the next stanza--

                        "Thou dost arise
    And shake him from thee; the vile strength he wields
    For earth's destruction thou dost all despise"--

Here is again said _all_ that is possible to be said. "Thou dost arise
and shake him from thee" being perhaps the strongest expression
obtained at all; and the "vile strength" being precisely the Armadas
described immediately afterwards with so much pomp and pride. Thus
there is really confusion and oscillation of thought--mixed with a
progress a standing still--and this characteristic of much of Byron's
poetry comes prominently out--Uncertainty. Impulses and leaps of a
powerful spirit _are_ here; but self-knowing Power, a mind master of
its purposes, disciplined genius, Art accomplished by studies profound
and severe, lawful Emulation of the great names that shine in the
authentic rolls of immortal Fame, the sanctioned inspiration which the
pleased Muses deign to their devout followers, are _not_ here.

The strength of Man, proved in contest with Ocean and found weakness,
is disposed of. The Earth, as bound up with Man and his destinies,
came in for a share of rough usage. Now she takes her own turn--in
connexion with Man, but now principal. Here the pride of the words is
great--the meaning sometimes almost or quite inextricable. Recite the
Stanza, beginning

    "Thy shores are empires, changed in all save thee,"

and when the sonorous roll has subsided, try to understand it. You
will find some difficulty, if we mistake not, in knowing who or what
is the apostrophised subject. Unquestionably the World's Ocean, and
not the Mediterranean. The very last verse we were afar in the
Atlantic. "Thy shores are empires." The shores of the World's Ocean
are Empires. There are, or have been, the British Empire, the German
Empire, the Russian Empire, and the Empire of the Great Mogul--the
Chinese Empire, the Empire of Morocco, those of Peru and Mexico, the
Four Great Empires of Antiquity, the French Empire, and some others.
The Poet does not intend names and things in this very strict way,
however, and he will take in all great Monarchies, nor will he grudge
us the imagining the whole Earth laid out in imperial dominions.

Well then--we again, dear Neophyte, bid you try to understand the
Stanza, and tell us what it means. What rational thought is there
here? With what propriety do we consider the whole Earth as the shores
of the Ocean--when _shore_ is exactly the interlimitation of land and
sea? Is this a lawful way of celebrating the Ocean, to throw in the
whole of the lately despised Earth as its brilliant appendage? The
question rises, how far from the shore does the shore extend--and
whether inwards or outwards?

But there is a meaning and a good one in a way. ~Ariston men hydôr~.
The water civilises the land. 'Tis an old remark--but how? By ships.
Here, then, are the tables turned. Lately the sea did nothing with
ships but destroy them. Now it patiently wafts them, and by commerce
and colonies the Sea civilises the Globe! Surely this is poetical
injustice. The first glory of the Sea was, that Man could not sail
upon its bosom. The second glory of the Sea is, that, by offering its
bosom to be furrowed by Man's daring and indefatigable keels,
it--ministerially then--civilises the World. The Sea is the civiliser
of the Land--Man is--the Destroyer merely.

Pray, what is the meaning of saying that the Roman and the Assyrian
Empires are shores of the Sea: and changed, excepting that the same
waters wash the same strands? The deep inland Empires recede too much
from the sea-shore to allow any hold to the relation proposed in the
words, "changed in all save thee." We know the Sea as their limit--an
accident, rather than as a part of their being. The meeting of sea
and land being the limit of an empire, the limit remains whilst the
Imperial State has withered from the land. Does the immobility of the
limit belong more to one element than to the other? And is the Roman
Empire, O Neophyte, more unchanged _in_ the Mediterranean and Atlantic
than it is _in_ the Apennines, and Alps, and Pyrenees, and Helvellyn?

Every clause that regards Earth is, in one way or in another,
intolerable--small or tortured. "Thy waters wasted them while they
were free," means either "swallowed up their ships, or--_ate away
their edges_!" Alas! that most unhappy meaning is the true one--and
what a cogitation to come into a man's--an inspired Poet's head! "Thy
waters fretted away the maritime littoral edges of the Assyrian, the
Grecian, the Roman, the Carthaginian Empires, whilst those Empires
flourished!" And this interesting piece of geographical, and
geological, and hydrographical meditation makes part in a burst of
indignant spleen which is to go near to annihilating Man from the face
of the Globe! Was it possible to express more significantly the
imbecility of Old Ocean? And has he not been fretting ever since? And
are not the limits the same, as we were told a minute ago? Old Ocean
must be in his dotage if he can do no more than that--and we must
elect him perpetual President of the Fogie Club.

Such wretched writing shows, with serious warning, how a false temper,
admitted into poetry, overrules the sound intellect into gravely and
weightily entertaining combinations of thought which, looked at either
with common sense or with poetical feeling, cannot be sustained for a
moment. How many of Lord Byron's admirers believe--and, in spite of
Christopher, will continue to believe--that in these almost senseless
stanzas he has said something strong, poignant, cutting, of good edge,
and "full of force driven home!"

    "Time writes no wrinkle on thine azure brow--
    Such as creation's dawn beheld, thou rollest now."

We accept the image; let us grant that the Personification is a fine
one. Nevertheless it does not entirely satisfy the imagination. And
why? Because the thought of the azure brow, on which time writes no
wrinkles, suggests for a moment the thought of the white brow--the
brow of man or woman--the human brow, on which Time does write
wrinkles along with the engraver, Sorrow. For a moment! but _that_ is
not the intended pathos--and it fades away. The intended pathos here
belongs to the wrinkles Time writes on the brow of the Earth--while it
spares that of the Sea. But Time deals not so with our gracious Mother
Earth. Time keeps perpetually beautifying her brow, while it leaves
the brow of Ocean the same as it was at Creation's Dawn. How far more
beautiful has the Dædal Earth been growing, from century to century,
over Continent and Isle, under the love of her grateful children! The
Curse has become a Blessing. In the sweat of their brow they eat their
bread; but Nature's self, made lovelier by their labour of heart and
hand, rejoices in their creative happiness, and troubled life prepares
rest from its toil in many a pleasant place fair as the bowers of

We approach the next Stanza reverently, for it has a religious
look--an aspect "that threatens the profane."

    "Thou glorious Mirror, where the Almighty's Form
    Glasses itself in tempests," &c.

Suitably recited! let it be suitably spoken of--fearlessly, in truth.
The vituperating spirit has exhausted itself--is dead; and all at once
the Poet becomes a worshipper. From cherished exasperation with the
Creature--from varying moods of hate and scorn--he turns to
contemplation of the Creator. Such transition is suspicious--can such
worship be sincere? Fallen, sinful--yet is man God's noblest work. In
His own image did He create him; and to glorify Him must we vilify the
dust into which He breathed a living soul? Let the Poet lament, with
thoughts that lie too deep for tears, over what Man has made of Man!
And in the multitude of thoughts within him adore his Maker--in words.
But he who despises his kind, and delights, in heaping contumely on
the race of man throughout all his history on earth and sea--how may
he, when wearied with chiding, all at once, as if it had been not
hindrance but preparation, dare to speak, in the language of worship,
of the Almighty Maker of Heaven and of Earth?

The Stanza, accordingly, is not good--it is laboured, heavy, formal,
uninspired by _divine afflatus_. There is not in it one truly sublime
expression. Nothing to our mind can be worse than "where the
Almighty's _Form_ glasses itself &c.--" The one word "Form" is
destructive, in its gross materialism, alike of natural Poetry and
natural Religion. If it be not, show us we are wrong, and henceforth
we shall be mute for ever. "In all time, calm or convulsed, in breeze,
or gale, _or storm_," is poor and prosaic; and "or storm," a pitiable
platitude after "in tempests." And the conversion of a Mirror into a
Throne--of the Mirror too in which the Almighty's "_Form_ glasses
itself," into the Throne of the "_Invisible_"--is a fatal
contradiction, proving the utter want of that possession of soul by
one awful thought which was here demanded, and without which the whole
stanza becomes but a mere collocation and hubbub of big-sounding
words. "Even from out thy slime, the monsters of the deep are made,"
is violently jammed in between lines that have no sort of connexion
with it, and introduces a thought which, whether consistent with true
Philosophy or abhorrent from it, breaks in upon the whole course of
contemplation, such as it is,--to say nothing of the extreme poverty
of language shown in the use of such words as "monsters of _the deep_"
made out of the slime _of the sea_.

The strain--such as it is--ceases suddenly with this Stanza; and the
Poet having thus got done with it, exclaiming "and I have loved thee,
Ocean," proceeds forthwith to a different matter altogether--to the
pleasure he was wont to enjoy, when a boy, in swimming among the
breakers. The verses are in themselves very spirited; but we must
think--and hope so do you--very much out of place, and a sad descent
from the altitude attempted, and believed by the Poet himself to have
been attained, in the preceding Stanza about the Almighty.

Why, listening Neophyte, recite both Stanzas, and then tell us whether
or no you think they maybe improved by being put into--our Prose. We
do not seek thereby to injure what Poetry may be in them, but to bring
it out and improve it.

"Thou glorious Mirror, in which, when black with tempests, Fancy might
conceive Omnipotence imaged in visible reflection!--Thou Sea, that in
all thy seasons, whether smooth or agitated, whether soft or wild wind
blow, in all thy regions, icy at the Pole, dark-heaving at the
Equator, ever and every where callest forth our acknowledgment that
Thou art illimitable, interminable, sublime; that Thou art the symbol
of Eternity--(like a circle by returning into itself;) that Thou art
the visible Throne of the Invisible Deity--Thou whose very dregs turn
into enormous life--Thou who, possessing the larger part of every
zone, art thus a King in every zone; Thou takest thy course around the
Earth,--great by thine awfulness, by thine undiscoverable depth, by
thy solitude!

"And I, thy Poet, was of old thy Lover! In young years my favourite
disport was to lie afloat on thy bosom, carried along by Thee,
passive, resigned to Thy power, one of Thy bubbles. A boy, Thy waves
were my playmates, or my playthings. If, as the wind freshened, and
they swelled, I grew afraid, there was a pleasure even in the
palpitation of the fears, for I lived with Thee and loved Thee, even
like a child of Thine, and believed that Thy billows would not hurt
me, and laid my hand boldly and wantonly on their crests--as at this
instant I do, here sitting upon the Alban Mount--_and making (as they
say) a long arm_."


_Printed by William Blackwood and Sons, Edinburgh._

       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's Notes:

Obvious spelling and punctuation errors were repaired, but period or
regional spellings and grammatical uses were retained (inuendo,
substract, Sphynges, etc.). Both administrador and administrator,
hardworking and hard-working, sun-burned and sunburned, were used in
this text, in separate articles.

P. 390: "had once eaten a pea"; original reads "had once eat a pea."

P. 429: "savanna is covered"; original reads "savana."

"A head"(P. 439; "a head of the cavallada") and "a-head"(P. 435) were
changed to "ahead" as in P. 439 ("figure ahead suddenly").

P. 476: "eaten the bread"; original reads "eat the bread."

P. 511: "proof of man's impotence in the sinking of his ship, to the
proof of man's impotence in the sinking of his ship." This repetition
is faithful to the original.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, Vol. 64 No. 396 October 1848" ***

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