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Title: Lay Morals
Author: Stevenson, Robert Louis, 1850-1894
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Transcribed from the Chatto and Windus 1911 edition by David Price, email

                                LAY MORALS

                             And Other Papers

                          ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON

                            [Picture: Graphic]

                              A NEW EDITION
                            WITH A PREFACE BY
                              MRS. STEVENSON

                                * * * * *

                             CHATTO & WINDUS

                                * * * * *

                          _All rights reserved._


In our long voyage on the yacht _Casco_, we visited many islands; I
believe on every one we found the scourge of leprosy.  In the Marquesas
there was a regular leper settlement, though the persons living there
seemed free to wander where they wished, fishing on the beach, or
visiting friends in the villages.  I remember one afternoon, at Anaho,
when my husband and I, tired after a long quest for shells, sat down on
the sand to rest awhile, a native man stepped out from under some
cocoanut trees, regarding us hesitatingly as though fearful of intruding.
My husband waved an invitation to the stranger to join us, offering his
cigarette to the man in the island fashion.  The cigarette was accepted
and, after a puff or two, courteously passed back again according to
native etiquette.  The hand that held it was the maimed hand of a leper.
To my consternation my husband took the cigarette and smoked it out.
Afterwards when we were alone and I spoke of my horror he said, ‘I could
not mortify the man.  And if you think I _liked_ doing it—that was
another reason; because I _didn’t_ want to.’

Another day, while we were still anchored in Anaho Bay, a messenger from
round a distant headland came in a whale-boat with an urgent request that
we go to see a young white girl who was ill with some mysterious malady.
We had supposed that, with the beach-comber ‘Charley the red,’ we were
the only white people on our side of the island.  Though there was much
wind that day and the sea ran high, we started at once, impelled partly
by curiosity and partly by the pathetic nature of the message.
Fortunately we took our luncheon with us, eating it on the beach before
we went up to the house where the sick girl lay.  Our hostess, the girl’s
mother, met us with regrets that we had already lunched, saying, ‘I have
a most excellent cook; here he is, now.’  She turned, as she spoke, to an
elderly Chinaman who was plainly in an advanced stage of leprosy.  When
the man was gone, my husband asked if she had no fear of contagion.  ‘I
don’t believe in contagion,’ was her reply.  But there was little doubt
as to what ailed her daughter.  She was certainly suffering from leprosy.
We could only advise that the girl be taken to the French post at Santa
Maria Bay where there was a doctor.

On our return to the _Casco_ we confessed to each other with what alarm
and repugnance we touched the miserable girl.  We talked long that
evening of Father Damien, his sublime heroism, and his martyrdom which
was already nearing its sad end.  Beyond all noble qualities my husband
placed courage.  The more he saw of leprosy, and he saw much in the
islands, the higher rose his admiration for the simple priest of Molokai.
‘I must see Molokai,’ he said many times.  ‘I must somehow manage to see

In January 1889, we arrived in Honolulu, settling in a pleasant cottage
by the sea to rest until we were ready to return to England.  The _Casco_
we sent back to San Francisco with the captain.  But the knowledge that
every few days some vessel was leaving Honolulu to cruise among islands
we had not seen, and now should never see, was more than we could bear.
First we engaged passage on a missionary ship, but changed our minds—my
husband would not be allowed to smoke on board, for one reason—and
chartered the trading schooner _Equator_.  This was thought too rough a
voyage for my mother-in-law, as indeed it would have been; so she was
sent, somewhat protesting, back to Scotland.

My husband was still intent on seeing Molokai.  After the waste of much
time and red tape, he finally received an official permission to visit
the leper settlement.  It did not occur to him it would be necessary to
get a separate official permission to _leave_ Molokai; hence he was
nearly left behind when the vessel sailed out.  He only saved himself by
a prodigious leap which landed him on board the boat, whence nothing but
force could dislodge him.  By the doctor’s orders he took gloves to wear
as a precautionary measure against contagion, but they were never worn.
At first he avoided shaking hands, but when he played croquet with the
young leper girls he would not listen to the Mother Superior’s warning
that he must wear gloves.  He thought it might remind them of their
condition.  ‘What will you do if you find you have contracted leprosy?’ I
asked.  ‘Do?’ he replied; ‘why, you and I would spend the rest of our
lives in Molokai and become humble followers of Father Damien.’  As Mr.
Balfour says in the Life of Stevenson, he was as stern with his family as
he was with himself, and as exacting.

He talked very little to us of the tragedy of Molokai, though I could see
it lay heavy on his spirits; but of the great work begun by Father Damien
and carried on by his successors he spoke fully.  He had followed the
life of the priest like a detective until there seemed nothing more to
learn.  Mother Mary Ann, the Mother Superior, he could never mention
without deep emotion.  One of the first things he did on his return to
Honolulu was to send her a grand piano for the use of her girls—the girls
with whom he had played croquet.  He also sent toys, sewing materials,
small tools for the younger children, and other things that I have
forgotten.  After his death a letter was found among his papers, of which
I have only the last few lines.  ‘I cannot suppose you remember me, but I
won’t forget you, nor God won’t forget you for your kindness to the blind
white leper at Molokai.’

During my husband’s absence I had made every preparation for our voyage
on the _Equator_, so but little time was lost before we found ourselves
on board, our sails set for the south.  The _Equator_, which had easily
lived through the great Samoan hurricane, made no such phenomenal runs as
the _Casco_, but we could trust her, and she had no ‘tricks and ways’
that we did not understand.  We liked the sailors, we loved the ship and
her captain, so it was with heart-felt regret we said farewell in the
harbour of Apia after a long and perfect cruise.

After reading the letters that awaited us in Apia, we looked over the
newspapers.  Our indignation may be imagined when we read in one item
that, owing to the publication of a letter by a well-known Honolulu
missionary, depicting Father Damien as a dirty old peasant who had
contracted leprosy through his immoral habits, the project to erect a
monument to his memory would be abandoned.  ‘I’ll not believe it,’ said
my husband, ‘unless I see it with my own eyes; for it is too damnable for

But see it he did, in spite of his incredulity, for in Sydney, a month or
two later, the very journal containing the letter condemnatory of Father
Damien was among the first we chanced to open.  I shall never forget my
husband’s ferocity of indignation, his leaping stride as he paced the
room holding the offending paper at arm’s-length before his eyes that
burned and sparkled with a peculiar flashing light.  His cousin Mr.
Balfour, in his _Life of Robert Louis Stevenson_, says: ‘his eyes . . .
when he was moved to anger or any fierce emotion seemed literally to
blaze and glow with a burning light.’  In another moment he disappeared
through the doorway, and I could hear him, in his own room, pulling his
chair to the table, and the sound of his inkstand being dragged towards

That afternoon he called us together—my son, my daughter, and
myself—saying that he had something serious to lay before us.  He went
over the circumstances succinctly, and then we three had the incomparable
experience of hearing its author read aloud the defence of Father Damien
while it was still red-hot from his indignant soul.

As we sat, dazed and overcome by emotion, he pointed out to us that the
subject-matter was libellous in the highest degree, and the publication
of the article might cause the loss of his entire substance.  Without our
concurrence he would not take such a risk.  There was no dissenting
voice; how could there be?  The paper was published with almost no change
or revision, though afterwards my husband said he considered this a
mistake.  He thought he should have waited for his anger to cool, when he
might have been more impersonal and less egotistic.

The next day he consulted an eminent lawyer, more from curiosity than
from any other reason.  Mr. Moses—I think that was his name—was at first
inclined to be jocular.  I remember his smiling question: ‘Have you
called him a hell-hound or an atheist?  Otherwise there is no libel.’
But when he looked over the manuscript his countenance changed.  ‘This is
a serious affair,’ he said; ‘however, no one will publish it for you.’
In that Mr. Moses was right; no one dared publish the pamphlet.  But that
difficulty was soon overcome.  My husband hired a printer by the day, and
the work was rushed through.  We then, my daughter, my son, and myself,
were set to work helping address the pamphlets, which were scattered far
and wide.

Father Damien was vindicated by a stranger, a man of another country and
another religion from his own.

                                                            F. V. DE G. S.


   Preface by Mrs. Robert Louis Stevenson
   Lay Morals
   Father Damien
   The Pentland Rising
      I.  The Causes of the Revolt
      II.  The Beginning
      III.  The March of the Rebels
      IV.  Rullion Green
      V.  A Record of Blood
   The Day After To-morrow
   College Papers
      I.  Edinburgh Students in 1824
      II.  The Modern Student
      III.  Debating Societies
      I.  Lord Lytton’s “Fables in Song”
      II.  Salvini’s Macbeth
      III.  Bagster’s “Pilgrim’s Progress”
      I.  The Satirist
      II.  Nuits Blanches
      III.  The Wreath of Immortelles
      IV.  Nurses
      V.  A Character
  The Great North Road
      I.  Nance at the “Green Dragon”
      II.  In which Mr. Archer is Installed
      III.  Jonathan Holdaway
      IV.  Mingling Threads
      V.  Life in the Castle
      IV.  The Bad Half-Crown
      VII.  The Bleaching-Green
      VIII.  The Mail Guard
   The Young Chevalier
      Prologue: The Wine-Seller’s Wife
      I.  The Prince
      I.  Traqairs of Montroymont
      II.  Francie
      III.  The Hill-End of Drumlowe


_The following chapters of a projected treatise on Ethics were drafted at
Edinburgh in the spring of_ 1879.  _They are unrevised_, _and must not be
taken as representing_, _either as to matter or form_, _their author’s
final thoughts_; _but they contain much that is essentially
characteristic of his mind_.

                                * * * * *

               _Copyright in the United States of America_.


The problem of education is twofold: first to know, and then to utter.
Every one who lives any semblance of an inner life thinks more nobly and
profoundly than he speaks; and the best of teachers can impart only
broken images of the truth which they perceive.  Speech which goes from
one to another between two natures, and, what is worse, between two
experiences, is doubly relative.  The speaker buries his meaning; it is
for the hearer to dig it up again; and all speech, written or spoken, is
in a dead language until it finds a willing and prepared hearer.  Such,
moreover, is the complexity of life, that when we condescend upon details
in our advice, we may be sure we condescend on error; and the best of
education is to throw out some magnanimous hints.  No man was ever so
poor that he could express all he has in him by words, looks, or actions;
his true knowledge is eternally incommunicable, for it is a knowledge of
himself; and his best wisdom comes to him by no process of the mind, but
in a supreme self-dictation, which keeps varying from hour to hour in its
dictates with the variation of events and circumstances.

A few men of picked nature, full of faith, courage, and contempt for
others, try earnestly to set forth as much as they can grasp of this
inner law; but the vast majority, when they come to advise the young,
must be content to retail certain doctrines which have been already
retailed to them in their own youth.  Every generation has to educate
another which it has brought upon the stage.  People who readily accept
the responsibility of parentship, having very different matters in their
eye, are apt to feel rueful when that responsibility falls due.  What are
they to tell the child about life and conduct, subjects on which they
have themselves so few and such confused opinions?  Indeed, I do not
know; the least said, perhaps, the soonest mended; and yet the child
keeps asking, and the parent must find some words to say in his own
defence.  Where does he find them? and what are they when found?

As a matter of experience, and in nine hundred and ninety-nine cases out
of a thousand, he will instil into his wide-eyed brat three bad things:
the terror of public opinion, and, flowing from that as a fountain, the
desire of wealth and applause.  Besides these, or what might be deduced
as corollaries from these, he will teach not much else of any effective
value: some dim notions of divinity, perhaps, and book-keeping, and how
to walk through a quadrille.

But, you may tell me, the young people are taught to be Christians.  It
may be want of penetration, but I have not yet been able to perceive it.
As an honest man, whatever we teach, and be it good or evil, it is not
the doctrine of Christ.  What he taught (and in this he is like all other
teachers worthy of the name) was not a code of rules, but a ruling
spirit; not truths, but a spirit of truth; not views, but a view.  What
he showed us was an attitude of mind.  Towards the many considerations on
which conduct is built, each man stands in a certain relation.  He takes
life on a certain principle.  He has a compass in his spirit which points
in a certain direction.  It is the attitude, the relation, the point of
the compass, that is the whole body and gist of what he has to teach us;
in this, the details are comprehended; out of this the specific precepts
issue, and by this, and this only, can they be explained and applied.
And thus, to learn aright from any teacher, we must first of all, like a
historical artist, think ourselves into sympathy with his position and,
in the technical phrase, create his character.  A historian confronted
with some ambiguous politician, or an actor charged with a part, have but
one pre-occupation; they must search all round and upon every side, and
grope for some central conception which is to explain and justify the
most extreme details; until that is found, the politician is an enigma,
or perhaps a quack, and the part a tissue of fustian sentiment and big
words; but once that is found, all enters into a plan, a human nature
appears, the politician or the stage-king is understood from point to
point, from end to end.  This is a degree of trouble which will be gladly
taken by a very humble artist; but not even the terror of eternal fire
can teach a business man to bend his imagination to such athletic
efforts.  Yet without this, all is vain; until we understand the whole,
we shall understand none of the parts; and otherwise we have no more than
broken images and scattered words; the meaning remains buried; and the
language in which our prophet speaks to us is a dead language in our

Take a few of Christ’s sayings and compare them with our current

‘Ye cannot,’ he says, ‘_serve God and Mammon_.’  Cannot?  And our whole
system is to teach us how we can!

‘_The children of this world are wiser in their generation than the
children of light_.’  Are they?  I had been led to understand the
reverse: that the Christian merchant, for example, prospered exceedingly
in his affairs; that honesty was the best policy; that an author of
repute had written a conclusive treatise ‘How to make the best of both
worlds.’  Of both worlds indeed!  Which am I to believe then—Christ or
the author of repute?

‘_Take no thought for the morrow_.’  Ask the Successful Merchant;
interrogate your own heart; and you will have to admit that this is not
only a silly but an immoral position.  All we believe, all we hope, all
we honour in ourselves or our contemporaries, stands condemned in this
one sentence, or, if you take the other view, condemns the sentence as
unwise and inhumane.  We are not then of the ‘same mind that was in
Christ.’  We disagree with Christ.  Either Christ meant nothing, or else
he or we must be in the wrong.  Well says Thoreau, speaking of some texts
from the New Testament, and finding a strange echo of another style which
the reader may recognise: ‘Let but one of these sentences be rightly read
from any pulpit in the land, and there would not be left one stone of
that meeting-house upon another.’

It may be objected that these are what are called ‘hard sayings’; and
that a man, or an education, may be very sufficiently Christian although
it leave some of these sayings upon one side.  But this is a very gross
delusion.  Although truth is difficult to state, it is both easy and
agreeable to receive, and the mind runs out to meet it ere the phrase be
done.  The universe, in relation to what any man can say of it, is plain,
patent and staringly comprehensible.  In itself, it is a great and
travailing ocean, unsounded, unvoyageable, an eternal mystery to man; or,
let us say, it is a monstrous and impassable mountain, one side of which,
and a few near slopes and foothills, we can dimly study with these mortal
eyes.  But what any man can say of it, even in his highest utterance,
must have relation to this little and plain corner, which is no less
visible to us than to him.  We are looking on the same map; it will go
hard if we cannot follow the demonstration.  The longest and most
abstruse flight of a philosopher becomes clear and shallow, in the flash
of a moment, when we suddenly perceive the aspect and drift of his
intention.  The longest argument is but a finger pointed; once we get our
own finger rightly parallel, and we see what the man meant, whether it be
a new star or an old street-lamp.  And briefly, if a saying is hard to
understand, it is because we are thinking of something else.

But to be a true disciple is to think of the same things as our prophet,
and to think of different things in the same order.  To be of the same
mind with another is to see all things in the same perspective; it is not
to agree in a few indifferent matters near at hand and not much debated;
it is to follow him in his farthest flights, to see the force of his
hyperboles, to stand so exactly in the centre of his vision that whatever
he may express, your eyes will light at once on the original, that
whatever he may see to declare, your mind will at once accept.  You do
not belong to the school of any philosopher, because you agree with him
that theft is, on the whole, objectionable, or that the sun is overhead
at noon.  It is by the hard sayings that discipleship is tested.  We are
all agreed about the middling and indifferent parts of knowledge and
morality; even the most soaring spirits too often take them tamely upon
trust.  But the man, the philosopher or the moralist, does not stand upon
these chance adhesions; and the purpose of any system looks towards those
extreme points where it steps valiantly beyond tradition and returns with
some covert hint of things outside.  Then only can you be certain that
the words are not words of course, nor mere echoes of the past; then only
are you sure that if he be indicating anything at all, it is a star and
not a street-lamp; then only do you touch the heart of the mystery, since
it was for these that the author wrote his book.

Now, every now and then, and indeed surprisingly often, Christ finds a
word that transcends all common-place morality; every now and then he
quits the beaten track to pioneer the unexpressed, and throws out a
pregnant and magnanimous hyperbole; for it is only by some bold poetry of
thought that men can be strung up above the level of everyday conceptions
to take a broader look upon experience or accept some higher principle of
conduct.  To a man who is of the same mind that was in Christ, who stands
at some centre not too far from his, and looks at the world and conduct
from some not dissimilar or, at least, not opposing attitude—or, shortly,
to a man who is of Christ’s philosophy—every such saying should come home
with a thrill of joy and corroboration; he should feel each one below his
feet as another sure foundation in the flux of time and chance; each
should be another proof that in the torrent of the years and generations,
where doctrines and great armaments and empires are swept away and
swallowed, he stands immovable, holding by the eternal stars.  But alas!
at this juncture of the ages it is not so with us; on each and every such
occasion our whole fellowship of Christians falls back in disapproving
wonder and implicitly denies the saying.  Christians! the farce is
impudently broad.  Let us stand up in the sight of heaven and confess.
The ethics that we hold are those of Benjamin Franklin.  _Honesty is the
best policy_, is perhaps a hard saying; it is certainly one by which a
wise man of these days will not too curiously direct his steps; but I
think it shows a glimmer of meaning to even our most dimmed
intelligences; I think we perceive a principle behind it; I think,
without hyperbole, we are of the same mind that was in Benjamin Franklin.


But, I may be told, we teach the ten commandments, where a world of
morals lies condensed, the very pith and epitome of all ethics and
religion; and a young man with these precepts engraved upon his mind must
follow after profit with some conscience and Christianity of method.  A
man cannot go very far astray who neither dishonours his parents, nor
kills, nor commits adultery, nor steals, nor bears false witness; for
these things, rightly thought out, cover a vast field of duty.

Alas! what is a precept?  It is at best an illustration; it is case law
at the best which can be learned by precept.  The letter is not only
dead, but killing; the spirit which underlies, and cannot be uttered,
alone is true and helpful.  This is trite to sickness; but familiarity
has a cunning disenchantment; in a day or two she can steal all beauty
from the mountain tops; and the most startling words begin to fall dead
upon the ear after several repetitions.  If you see a thing too often,
you no longer see it; if you hear a thing too often, you no longer hear
it.  Our attention requires to be surprised; and to carry a fort by
assault, or to gain a thoughtful hearing from the ruck of mankind, are
feats of about an equal difficulty and must be tried by not dissimilar
means.  The whole Bible has thus lost its message for the common run of
hearers; it has become mere words of course; and the parson may bawl
himself scarlet and beat the pulpit like a thing possessed, but his
hearers will continue to nod; they are strangely at peace, they know all
he has to say; ring the old bell as you choose, it is still the old bell
and it cannot startle their composure.  And so with this byword about the
letter and the spirit.  It is quite true, no doubt; but it has no meaning
in the world to any man of us.  Alas! it has just this meaning, and
neither more nor less: that while the spirit is true, the letter is
eternally false.

The shadow of a great oak lies abroad upon the ground at noon, perfect,
clear, and stable like the earth.  But let a man set himself to mark out
the boundary with cords and pegs, and were he never so nimble and never
so exact, what with the multiplicity of the leaves and the progression of
the shadow as it flees before the travelling sun, long ere he has made
the circuit the whole figure will have changed.  Life may be compared,
not to a single tree, but to a great and complicated forest; circumstance
is more swiftly changing than a shadow, language much more inexact than
the tools of a surveyor; from day to day the trees fall and are renewed;
the very essences are fleeting as we look; and the whole world of leaves
is swinging tempest-tossed among the winds of time.  Look now for your
shadows.  O man of formulæ, is this a place for you?  Have you fitted the
spirit to a single case?  Alas, in the cycle of the ages when shall such
another be proposed for the judgment of man?  Now when the sun shines and
the winds blow, the wood is filled with an innumerable multitude of
shadows, tumultuously tossed and changing; and at every gust the whole
carpet leaps and becomes new.  Can you or your heart say more?

Look back now, for a moment, on your own brief experience of life; and
although you lived it feelingly in your own person, and had every step of
conduct burned in by pains and joys upon your memory, tell me what
definite lesson does experience hand on from youth to manhood, or from
both to age?  The settled tenor which first strikes the eye is but the
shadow of a delusion.  This is gone; that never truly was; and you
yourself are altered beyond recognition.  Times and men and circumstances
change about your changing character, with a speed of which no earthly
hurricane affords an image.  What was the best yesterday, is it still the
best in this changed theatre of a to-morrow?  Will your own Past truly
guide you in your own violent and unexpected Future?  And if this be
questionable, with what humble, with what hopeless eyes, should we not
watch other men driving beside us on their unknown careers, seeing with
unlike eyes, impelled by different gales, doing and suffering in another
sphere of things?

And as the authentic clue to such a labyrinth and change of scene, do you
offer me these two score words? these five bald prohibitions?  For the
moral precepts are no more than five; the first four deal rather with
matters of observance than of conduct; the tenth, _Thou shalt not covet_,
stands upon another basis, and shall be spoken of ere long.  The Jews, to
whom they were first given, in the course of years began to find these
precepts insufficient; and made an addition of no less than six hundred
and fifty others!  They hoped to make a pocket-book of reference on
morals, which should stand to life in some such relation, say, as Hoyle
stands in to the scientific game of whist.  The comparison is just, and
condemns the design; for those who play by rule will never be more than
tolerable players; and you and I would like to play our game in life to
the noblest and the most divine advantage.  Yet if the Jews took a petty
and huckstering view of conduct, what view do we take ourselves, who
callously leave youth to go forth into the enchanted forest, full of
spells and dire chimeras, with no guidance more complete than is afforded
by these five precepts?

_Honour thy father and thy mother_.  Yes, but does that mean to obey? and
if so, how long and how far?  _Thou shall not kill_.  Yet the very
intention and purport of the prohibition may be best fulfilled by
killing.  _Thou shall not commit adultery_.  But some of the ugliest
adulteries are committed in the bed of marriage and under the sanction of
religion and law.  _Thou shalt not bear false witness_.  How? by speech
or by silence also? or even by a smile?  _Thou shalt not steal_.  Ah,
that indeed!  But what is _to steal_?

To steal?  It is another word to be construed; and who is to be our
guide?  The police will give us one construction, leaving the word only
that least minimum of meaning without which society would fall in pieces;
but surely we must take some higher sense than this; surely we hope more
than a bare subsistence for mankind; surely we wish mankind to prosper
and go on from strength to strength, and ourselves to live rightly in the
eye of some more exacting potentate than a policeman.  The approval or
the disapproval of the police must be eternally indifferent to a man who
is both valorous and good.  There is extreme discomfort, but no shame, in
the condemnation of the law.  The law represents that modicum of morality
which can be squeezed out of the ruck of mankind; but what is that to me,
who aim higher and seek to be my own more stringent judge?  I observe
with pleasure that no brave man has ever given a rush for such
considerations.  The Japanese have a nobler and more sentimental feeling
for this social bond into which we all are born when we come into the
world, and whose comforts and protection we all indifferently share
throughout our lives:—but even to them, no more than to our Western
saints and heroes, does the law of the state supersede the higher law of
duty.  Without hesitation and without remorse, they transgress the
stiffest enactments rather than abstain from doing right.  But the
accidental superior duty being thus fulfilled, they at once return in
allegiance to the common duty of all citizens; and hasten to denounce
themselves; and value at an equal rate their just crime and their equally
just submission to its punishment.

The evading of the police will not long satisfy an active conscience or a
thoughtful head.  But to show you how one or the other may trouble a man,
and what a vast extent of frontier is left unridden by this invaluable
eighth commandment, let me tell you a few pages out of a young man’s

He was a friend of mine; a young man like others; generous, flighty, as
variable as youth itself, but always with some high motions and on the
search for higher thoughts of life.  I should tell you at once that he
thoroughly agrees with the eighth commandment.  But he got hold of some
unsettling works, the New Testament among others, and this loosened his
views of life and led him into many perplexities.  As he was the son of a
man in a certain position, and well off, my friend had enjoyed from the
first the advantages of education, nay, he had been kept alive through a
sickly childhood by constant watchfulness, comforts, and change of air;
for all of which he was indebted to his father’s wealth.

At college he met other lads more diligent than himself, who followed the
plough in summer-time to pay their college fees in winter; and this
inequality struck him with some force.  He was at that age of a
conversible temper, and insatiably curious in the aspects of life; and he
spent much of his time scraping acquaintance with all classes of man- and
woman-kind.  In this way he came upon many depressed ambitions, and many
intelligences stunted for want of opportunity; and this also struck him.
He began to perceive that life was a handicap upon strange, wrong-sided
principles; and not, as he had been told, a fair and equal race.  He
began to tremble that he himself had been unjustly favoured, when he saw
all the avenues of wealth, and power, and comfort closed against so many
of his superiors and equals, and held unwearyingly open before so idle,
so desultory, and so dissolute a being as himself.  There sat a youth
beside him on the college benches, who had only one shirt to his back,
and, at intervals sufficiently far apart, must stay at home to have it
washed.  It was my friend’s principle to stay away as often as he dared;
for I fear he was no friend to learning.  But there was something that
came home to him sharply, in this fellow who had to give over study till
his shirt was washed, and the scores of others who had never an
opportunity at all.  _If one of these could take his place_, he thought;
and the thought tore away a bandage from his eyes.  He was eaten by the
shame of his discoveries, and despised himself as an unworthy favourite
and a creature of the back-stairs of Fortune.  He could no longer see
without confusion one of these brave young fellows battling up-hill
against adversity.  Had he not filched that fellow’s birthright?  At best
was he not coldly profiting by the injustice of society, and greedily
devouring stolen goods?  The money, indeed, belonged to his father, who
had worked, and thought, and given up his liberty to earn it; but by what
justice could the money belong to my friend, who had, as yet, done
nothing but help to squander it?  A more sturdy honesty, joined to a more
even and impartial temperament, would have drawn from these
considerations a new force of industry, that this equivocal position
might be brought as swiftly as possible to an end, and some good services
to mankind justify the appropriation of expense.  It was not so with my
friend, who was only unsettled and discouraged, and filled full of that
trumpeting anger with which young men regard injustices in the first
blush of youth; although in a few years they will tamely acquiesce in
their existence, and knowingly profit by their complications.  Yet all
this while he suffered many indignant pangs.  And once, when he put on
his boots, like any other unripe donkey, to run away from home, it was
his best consolation that he was now, at a single plunge, to free himself
from the responsibility of this wealth that was not his, and do battle
equally against his fellows in the warfare of life.

Some time after this, falling into ill-health, he was sent at great
expense to a more favourable climate; and then I think his perplexities
were thickest.  When he thought of all the other young men of singular
promise, upright, good, the prop of families, who must remain at home to
die, and with all their possibilities be lost to life and mankind; and
how he, by one more unmerited favour, was chosen out from all these
others to survive; he felt as if there were no life, no labour, no
devotion of soul and body, that could repay and justify these
partialities.  A religious lady, to whom he communicated these
reflections, could see no force in them whatever.  ‘It was God’s will,’
said she.  But he knew it was by God’s will that Joan of Arc was burnt at
Rouen, which cleared neither Bedford nor Bishop Cauchon; and again, by
God’s will that Christ was crucified outside Jerusalem, which excused
neither the rancour of the priests nor the timidity of Pilate.  He knew,
moreover, that although the possibility of this favour he was now
enjoying issued from his circumstances, its acceptance was the act of his
own will; and he had accepted it greedily, longing for rest and sunshine.
And hence this allegation of God’s providence did little to relieve his
scruples.  I promise you he had a very troubled mind.  And I would not
laugh if I were you, though while he was thus making mountains out of
what you think molehills, he were still (as perhaps he was) contentedly
practising many other things that to you seem black as hell.  Every man
is his own judge and mountain-guide through life.  There is an old story
of a mote and a beam, apparently not true, but worthy perhaps of some
consideration.  I should, if I were you, give some consideration to these
scruples of his, and if I were he, I should do the like by yours; for it
is not unlikely that there may be something under both.  In the meantime
you must hear how my friend acted.  Like many invalids, he supposed that
he would die.  Now, should he die, he saw no means of repaying this huge
loan which, by the hands of his father, mankind had advanced him for his
sickness.  In that case it would be lost money.  So he determined that
the advance should be as small as possible; and, so long as he continued
to doubt his recovery, lived in an upper room, and grudged himself all
but necessaries.  But so soon as he began to perceive a change for the
better, he felt justified in spending more freely, to speed and brighten
his return to health, and trusted in the future to lend a help to
mankind, as mankind, out of its treasury, had lent a help to him.

I do not say but that my friend was a little too curious and partial in
his view; nor thought too much of himself and too little of his parents;
but I do say that here are some scruples which tormented my friend in his
youth, and still, perhaps, at odd times give him a prick in the midst of
his enjoyments, and which after all have some foundation in justice, and
point, in their confused way, to some more honourable honesty within the
reach of man.  And at least, is not this an unusual gloss upon the eighth
commandment?  And what sort of comfort, guidance, or illumination did
that precept afford my friend throughout these contentions?  ‘Thou shalt
not steal.’  With all my heart!  But _am_ I stealing?

The truly quaint materialism of our view of life disables us from
pursuing any transaction to an end.  You can make no one understand that
his bargain is anything more than a bargain, whereas in point of fact it
is a link in the policy of mankind, and either a good or an evil to the
world.  We have a sort of blindness which prevents us from seeing
anything but sovereigns.  If one man agrees to give another so many
shillings for so many hours’ work, and then wilfully gives him a certain
proportion of the price in bad money and only the remainder in good, we
can see with half an eye that this man is a thief.  But if the other
spends a certain proportion of the hours in smoking a pipe of tobacco,
and a certain other proportion in looking at the sky, or the clock, or
trying to recall an air, or in meditation on his own past adventures, and
only the remainder in downright work such as he is paid to do, is he,
because the theft is one of time and not of money,—is he any the less a
thief?  The one gave a bad shilling, the other an imperfect hour; but
both broke the bargain, and each is a thief.  In piecework, which is what
most of us do, the case is none the less plain for being even less
material.  If you forge a bad knife, you have wasted some of mankind’s
iron, and then, with unrivalled cynicism, you pocket some of mankind’s
money for your trouble.  Is there any man so blind who cannot see that
this is theft?  Again, if you carelessly cultivate a farm, you have been
playing fast and loose with mankind’s resources against hunger; there
will be less bread in consequence, and for lack of that bread somebody
will die next winter: a grim consideration.  And you must not hope to
shuffle out of blame because you got less money for your less quantity of
bread; for although a theft be partly punished, it is none the less a
theft for that.  You took the farm against competitors; there were others
ready to shoulder the responsibility and be answerable for the tale of
loaves; but it was you who took it.  By the act you came under a tacit
bargain with mankind to cultivate that farm with your best endeavour; you
were under no superintendence, you were on parole; and you have broke
your bargain, and to all who look closely, and yourself among the rest if
you have moral eyesight, you are a thief.  Or take the case of men of
letters.  Every piece of work which is not as good as you can make it,
which you have palmed off imperfect, meagrely thought, niggardly in
execution, upon mankind who is your paymaster on parole and in a sense
your pupil, every hasty or slovenly or untrue performance, should rise up
against you in the court of your own heart and condemn you for a thief.
Have you a salary?  If you trifle with your health, and so render
yourself less capable for duty, and still touch, and still greedily
pocket the emolument—what are you but a thief?  Have you double accounts?
do you by any time-honoured juggle, deceit, or ambiguous process, gain
more from those who deal with you than it you were bargaining and dealing
face to face in front of God?—What are you but a thief?  Lastly, if you
fill an office, or produce an article, which, in your heart of hearts,
you think a delusion and a fraud upon mankind, and still draw your salary
and go through the sham manœuvres of this office, or still book your
profits and keep on flooding the world with these injurious goods?—though
you were old, and bald, and the first at church, and a baronet, what are
you but a thief?  These may seem hard words and mere curiosities of the
intellect, in an age when the spirit of honesty is so sparingly
cultivated that all business is conducted upon lies and so-called customs
of the trade, that not a man bestows two thoughts on the utility or
honourableness of his pursuit.  I would say less if I thought less.  But
looking to my own reason and the right of things, I can only avow that I
am a thief myself, and that I passionately suspect my neighbours of the
same guilt.

Where did you hear that it was easy to be honest?  Do you find that in
your Bible?  Easy!  It is easy to be an ass and follow the multitude like
a blind, besotted bull in a stampede; and that, I am well aware, is what
you and Mrs. Grundy mean by being honest.  But it will not bear the
stress of time nor the scrutiny of conscience.  Even before the lowest of
all tribunals,—before a court of law, whose business it is, not to keep
men right, or within a thousand miles of right, but to withhold them from
going so tragically wrong that they will pull down the whole jointed
fabric of society by their misdeeds—even before a court of law, as we
begin to see in these last days, our easy view of following at each
other’s tails, alike to good and evil, is beginning to be reproved and
punished, and declared no honesty at all, but open theft and swindling;
and simpletons who have gone on through life with a quiet conscience may
learn suddenly, from the lips of a judge, that the custom of the trade
may be a custom of the devil.  You thought it was easy to be honest.  Did
you think it was easy to be just and kind and truthful?  Did you think
the whole duty of aspiring man was as simple as a horn-pipe? and you
could walk through life like a gentleman and a hero, with no more concern
than it takes to go to church or to address a circular?  And yet all this
time you had the eighth commandment! and, what makes it richer, you would
not have broken it for the world!

The truth is, that these commandments by themselves are of little use in
private judgment.  If compression is what you want, you have their whole
spirit compressed into the golden rule; and yet there expressed with more
significance, since the law is there spiritually and not materially
stated.  And in truth, four out of these ten commands, from the sixth to
the ninth, are rather legal than ethical.  The police-court is their
proper home.  A magistrate cannot tell whether you love your neighbour as
yourself, but he can tell more or less whether you have murdered, or
stolen, or committed adultery, or held up your hand and testified to that
which was not; and these things, for rough practical tests, are as good
as can be found.  And perhaps, therefore, the best condensation of the
Jewish moral law is in the maxims of the priests, ‘neminem lædere’ and
‘suum cuique tribuere.’  But all this granted, it becomes only the more
plain that they are inadequate in the sphere of personal morality; that
while they tell the magistrate roughly when to punish, they can never
direct an anxious sinner what to do.

Only Polonius, or the like solemn sort of ass, can offer us a succinct
proverb by way of advice, and not burst out blushing in our faces.  We
grant them one and all and for all that they are worth; it is something
above and beyond that we desire.  Christ was in general a great enemy to
such a way of teaching; we rarely find him meddling with any of these
plump commands but it was to open them out, and lift his hearers from the
letter to the spirit.  For morals are a personal affair; in the war of
righteousness every man fights for his own hand; all the six hundred
precepts of the Mishna cannot shake my private judgment; my magistracy of
myself is an indefeasible charge, and my decisions absolute for the time
and case.  The moralist is not a judge of appeal, but an advocate who
pleads at my tribunal.  He has to show not the law, but that the law
applies.  Can he convince me? then he gains the cause.  And thus you find
Christ giving various counsels to varying people, and often jealously
careful to avoid definite precept.  Is he asked, for example, to divide a
heritage?  He refuses: and the best advice that he will offer is but a
paraphrase of that tenth commandment which figures so strangely among the
rest.  _Take heed, and beware of covetousness_.  If you complain that
this is vague, I have failed to carry you along with me in my argument.
For no definite precept can be more than an illustration, though its
truth were resplendent like the sun, and it was announced from heaven by
the voice of God.  And life is so intricate and changing, that perhaps
not twenty times, or perhaps not twice in the ages, shall we find that
nice consent of circumstances to which alone it can apply.


Although the world and life have in a sense become commonplace to our
experience, it is but in an external torpor; the true sentiment slumbers
within us; and we have but to reflect on ourselves or our surroundings to
rekindle our astonishment.  No length of habit can blunt our first
surprise.  Of the world I have but little to say in this connection; a
few strokes shall suffice.  We inhabit a dead ember swimming wide in the
blank of space, dizzily spinning as it swims, and lighted up from several
million miles away by a more horrible hell-fire than was ever conceived
by the theological imagination.  Yet the dead ember is a green,
commodious dwelling-place; and the reverberation of this hell-fire ripens
flower and fruit and mildly warms us on summer eves upon the lawn.  Far
off on all hands other dead embers, other flaming suns, wheel and race in
the apparent void; the nearest is out of call, the farthest so far that
the heart sickens in the effort to conceive the distance.  Shipwrecked
seamen on the deep, though they bestride but the truncheon of a boom, are
safe and near at home compared with mankind on its bullet.  Even to us
who have known no other, it seems a strange, if not an appalling, place
of residence.

But far stranger is the resident, man, a creature compact of wonders
that, after centuries of custom, is still wonderful to himself.  He
inhabits a body which he is continually outliving, discarding and
renewing.  Food and sleep, by an unknown alchemy, restore his spirits and
the freshness of his countenance.  Hair grows on him like grass; his
eyes, his brain, his sinews, thirst for action; he joys to see and touch
and hear, to partake the sun and wind, to sit down and intently ponder on
his astonishing attributes and situation, to rise up and run, to perform
the strange and revolting round of physical functions.  The sight of a
flower, the note of a bird, will often move him deeply; yet he looks
unconcerned on the impassable distances and portentous bonfires of the
universe.  He comprehends, he designs, he tames nature, rides the sea,
ploughs, climbs the air in a balloon, makes vast inquiries, begins
interminable labours, joins himself into federations and populous cities,
spends his days to deliver the ends of the earth or to benefit unborn
posterity; and yet knows himself for a piece of unsurpassed fragility and
the creature of a few days.  His sight, which conducts him, which takes
notice of the farthest stars, which is miraculous in every way and a
thing defying explanation or belief, is yet lodged in a piece of jelly,
and can be extinguished with a touch.  His heart, which all through life
so indomitably, so athletically labours, is but a capsule, and may be
stopped with a pin.  His whole body, for all its savage energies, its
leaping and its winged desires, may yet be tamed and conquered by a
draught of air or a sprinkling of cold dew.  What he calls death, which
is the seeming arrest of everything, and the ruin and hateful
transformation of the visible body, lies in wait for him outwardly in a
thousand accidents, and grows up in secret diseases from within.  He is
still learning to be a man when his faculties are already beginning to
decline; he has not yet understood himself or his position before he
inevitably dies.  And yet this mad, chimerical creature can take no
thought of his last end, lives as though he were eternal, plunges with
his vulnerable body into the shock of war, and daily affronts death with
unconcern.  He cannot take a step without pain or pleasure.  His life is
a tissue of sensations, which he distinguishes as they seem to come more
directly from himself or his surroundings.  He is conscious of himself as
a joyer or a sufferer, as that which craves, chooses, and is satisfied;
conscious of his surroundings as it were of an inexhaustible purveyor,
the source of aspects, inspirations, wonders, cruel knocks and
transporting caresses.  Thus he goes on his way, stumbling among delights
and agonies.

Matter is a far-fetched theory, and materialism is without a root in man.
To him everything is important in the degree to which it moves him.  The
telegraph wires and posts, the electricity speeding from clerk to clerk,
the clerks, the glad or sorrowful import of the message, and the paper on
which it is finally brought to him at home, are all equally facts, all
equally exist for man.  A word or a thought can wound him as acutely as a
knife of steel.  If he thinks he is loved, he will rise up and glory to
himself, although he be in a distant land and short of necessary bread.
Does he think he is not loved?—he may have the woman at his beck, and
there is not a joy for him in all the world.  Indeed, if we are to make
any account of this figment of reason, the distinction between material
and immaterial, we shall conclude that the life of each man as an
individual is immaterial, although the continuation and prospects of
mankind as a race turn upon material conditions.  The physical business
of each man’s body is transacted for him; like a sybarite, he has
attentive valets in his own viscera; he breathes, he sweats, he digests
without an effort, or so much as a consenting volition; for the most part
he even eats, not with a wakeful consciousness, but as it were between
two thoughts.  His life is centred among other and more important
considerations; touch him in his honour or his love, creatures of the
imagination which attach him to mankind or to an individual man or woman;
cross him in his piety which connects his soul with heaven; and he turns
from his food, he loathes his breath, and with a magnanimous emotion cuts
the knots of his existence and frees himself at a blow from the web of
pains and pleasures.

It follows that man is twofold at least; that he is not a rounded and
autonomous empire; but that in the same body with him there dwell other
powers tributary but independent.  If I now behold one walking in a
garden, curiously coloured and illuminated by the sun, digesting his food
with elaborate chemistry, breathing, circulating blood, directing himself
by the sight of his eyes, accommodating his body by a thousand delicate
balancings to the wind and the uneven surface of the path, and all the
time, perhaps, with his mind engaged about America, or the dog-star, or
the attributes of God—what am I to say, or how am I to describe the thing
I see?  Is that truly a man, in the rigorous meaning of the word? or is
it not a man and something else?  What, then, are we to count the
centre-bit and axle of a being so variously compounded?  It is a question
much debated.  Some read his history in a certain intricacy of nerve and
the success of successive digestions; others find him an exiled piece of
heaven blown upon and determined by the breath of God; and both schools
of theorists will scream like scalded children at a word of doubt.  Yet
either of these views, however plausible, is beside the question; either
may be right; and I care not; I ask a more particular answer, and to a
more immediate point.  What is the man?  There is Something that was
before hunger and that remains behind after a meal.  It may or may not be
engaged in any given act or passion, but when it is, it changes,
heightens, and sanctifies.  Thus it is not engaged in lust, where
satisfaction ends the chapter; and it is engaged in love, where no
satisfaction can blunt the edge of the desire, and where age, sickness,
or alienation may deface what was desirable without diminishing the
sentiment.  This something, which is the man, is a permanence which
abides through the vicissitudes of passion, now overwhelmed and now
triumphant, now unconscious of itself in the immediate distress of
appetite or pain, now rising unclouded above all.  So, to the man, his
own central self fades and grows clear again amid the tumult of the
senses, like a revolving Pharos in the night.  It is forgotten; it is
hid, it seems, for ever; and yet in the next calm hour he shall behold
himself once more, shining and unmoved among changes and storm.

Mankind, in the sense of the creeping mass that is born and eats, that
generates and dies, is but the aggregate of the outer and lower sides of
man.  This inner consciousness, this lantern alternately obscured and
shining, to and by which the individual exists and must order his
conduct, is something special to himself and not common to the race.  His
joys delight, his sorrows wound him, according as _this_ is interested or
indifferent in the affair; according as they arise in an imperial war or
in a broil conducted by the tributary chieftains of the mind.  He may
lose all, and _this_ not suffer; he may lose what is materially a trifle,
and _this_ leap in his bosom with a cruel pang.  I do not speak of it to
hardened theorists: the living man knows keenly what it is I mean.

‘Perceive at last that thou hast in thee something better and more divine
than the things which cause the various effects, and, as it were, pull
thee by the strings.  What is that now in thy mind? is it fear, or
suspicion, or desire, or anything of that kind?’  Thus far Marcus
Aurelius, in one of the most notable passages in any book.  Here is a
question worthy to be answered.  What is in thy mind?  What is the
utterance of your inmost self when, in a quiet hour, it can be heard
intelligibly?  It is something beyond the compass of your thinking,
inasmuch as it is yourself; but is it not of a higher spirit than you had
dreamed betweenwhiles, and erect above all base considerations?  This
soul seems hardly touched with our infirmities; we can find in it
certainly no fear, suspicion, or desire; we are only conscious—and that
as though we read it in the eyes of some one else—of a great and
unqualified readiness.  A readiness to what? to pass over and look beyond
the objects of desire and fear, for something else.  And this something
else? this something which is apart from desire and fear, to which all
the kingdoms of the world and the immediate death of the body are alike
indifferent and beside the point, and which yet regards conduct—by what
name are we to call it?  It may be the love of God; or it may be an
inherited (and certainly well concealed) instinct to preserve self and
propagate the race; I am not, for the moment, averse to either theory;
but it will save time to call it righteousness.  By so doing I intend no
subterfuge to beg a question; I am indeed ready, and more than willing,
to accept the rigid consequence, and lay aside, as far as the treachery
of the reason will permit, all former meanings attached to the word
righteousness.  What is right is that for which a man’s central self is
ever ready to sacrifice immediate or distant interests; what is wrong is
what the central self discards or rejects as incompatible with the fixed
design of righteousness.

To make this admission is to lay aside all hope of definition.  That
which is right upon this theory is intimately dictated to each man by
himself, but can never be rigorously set forth in language, and never,
above all, imposed upon another.  The conscience has, then, a vision like
that of the eyes, which is incommunicable, and for the most part
illuminates none but its possessor.  When many people perceive the same
or any cognate facts, they agree upon a word as symbol; and hence we have
such words as _tree_, _star_, _love_, _honour_, or _death_; hence also we
have this word _right_, which, like the others, we all understand, most
of us understand differently, and none can express succinctly otherwise.
Yet even on the straitest view, we can make some steps towards
comprehension of our own superior thoughts.  For it is an incredible and
most bewildering fact that a man, through life, is on variable terms with
himself; he is aware of tiffs and reconciliations; the intimacy is at
times almost suspended, at times it is renewed again with joy.  As we
said before, his inner self or soul appears to him by successive
revelations, and is frequently obscured.  It is from a study of these
alternations that we can alone hope to discover, even dimly, what seems
right and what seems wrong to this veiled prophet of ourself.

All that is in the man in the larger sense, what we call impression as
well as what we call intuition, so far as my argument looks, we must
accept.  It is not wrong to desire food, or exercise, or beautiful
surroundings, or the love of sex, or interest which is the food of the
mind.  All these are craved; all these should be craved; to none of these
in itself does the soul demur; where there comes an undeniable want, we
recognise a demand of nature.  Yet we know that these natural demands may
be superseded; for the demands which are common to mankind make but a
shadowy consideration in comparison to the demands of the individual
soul.  Food is almost the first prerequisite; and yet a high character
will go without food to the ruin and death of the body rather than gain
it in a manner which the spirit disavows.  Pascal laid aside mathematics;
Origen doctored his body with a knife; every day some one is thus
mortifying his dearest interests and desires, and, in Christ’s words,
entering maim into the Kingdom of Heaven.  This is to supersede the
lesser and less harmonious affections by renunciation; and though by this
ascetic path we may get to heaven, we cannot get thither a whole and
perfect man.  But there is another way, to supersede them by
reconciliation, in which the soul and all the faculties and senses pursue
a common route and share in one desire.  Thus, man is tormented by a very
imperious physical desire; it spoils his rest, it is not to be denied;
the doctors will tell you, not I, how it is a physical need, like the
want of food or slumber.  In the satisfaction of this desire, as it first
appears, the soul sparingly takes part; nay, it oft unsparingly regrets
and disapproves the satisfaction.  But let the man learn to love a woman
as far as he is capable of love; and for this random affection of the
body there is substituted a steady determination, a consent of all his
powers and faculties, which supersedes, adopts, and commands the other.
The desire survives, strengthened, perhaps, but taught obedience and
changed in scope and character.  Life is no longer a tale of betrayals
and regrets; for the man now lives as a whole; his consciousness now
moves on uninterrupted like a river; through all the extremes and ups and
downs of passion, he remains approvingly conscious of himself.

Now to me, this seems a type of that rightness which the soul demands.
It demands that we shall not live alternately with our opposing
tendencies in continual see-saw of passion and disgust, but seek some
path on which the tendencies shall no longer oppose, but serve each other
to a common end.  It demands that we shall not pursue broken ends, but
great and comprehensive purposes, in which soul and body may unite like
notes in a harmonious chord.  That were indeed a way of peace and
pleasure, that were indeed a heaven upon earth.  It does not demand,
however, or, to speak in measure, it does not demand of me, that I should
starve my appetites for no purpose under heaven but as a purpose in
itself; or, in a weak despair, pluck out the eye that I have not yet
learned to guide and enjoy with wisdom.  The soul demands unity of
purpose, not the dismemberment of man; it seeks to roll up all his
strength and sweetness, all his passion and wisdom, into one, and make of
him a perfect man exulting in perfection.  To conclude ascetically is to
give up, and not to solve, the problem.  The ascetic and the creeping
hog, although they are at different poles, have equally failed in life.
The one has sacrificed his crew; the other brings back his seamen in a
cock-boat, and has lost the ship.  I believe there are not many
sea-captains who would plume themselves on either result as a success.

But if it is righteousness thus to fuse together our divisive impulses
and march with one mind through life, there is plainly one thing more
unrighteous than all others, and one declension which is irretrievable
and draws on the rest.  And this is to lose consciousness of oneself.  In
the best of times, it is but by flashes, when our whole nature is clear,
strong and conscious, and events conspire to leave us free, that we enjoy
communion with our soul.  At the worst, we are so fallen and passive that
we may say shortly we have none.  An arctic torpor seizes upon men.
Although built of nerves, and set adrift in a stimulating world, they
develop a tendency to go bodily to sleep; consciousness becomes engrossed
among the reflex and mechanical parts of life; and soon loses both the
will and power to look higher considerations in the face.  This is ruin;
this is the last failure in life; this is temporal damnation, damnation
on the spot and without the form of judgment.  ‘What shall it profit a
man if he gain the whole world and _lose himself_?’

It is to keep a man awake, to keep him alive to his own soul and its
fixed design of righteousness, that the better part of moral and
religious education is directed; not only that of words and doctors, but
the sharp ferule of calamity under which we are all God’s scholars till
we die.  If, as teachers, we are to say anything to the purpose, we must
say what will remind the pupil of his soul; we must speak that soul’s
dialect; we must talk of life and conduct as his soul would have him
think of them.  If, from some conformity between us and the pupil, or
perhaps among all men, we do in truth speak in such a dialect and express
such views, beyond question we shall touch in him a spring; beyond
question he will recognise the dialect as one that he himself has spoken
in his better hours; beyond question he will cry, ‘I had forgotten, but
now I remember; I too have eyes, and I had forgot to use them!  I too
have a soul of my own, arrogantly upright, and to that I will listen and
conform.’  In short, say to him anything that he has once thought, or
been upon the point of thinking, or show him any view of life that he has
once clearly seen, or been upon the point of clearly seeing; and you have
done your part and may leave him to complete the education for himself.

Now, the view taught at the present time seems to me to want greatness;
and the dialect in which alone it can be intelligibly uttered is not the
dialect of my soul.  It is a sort of postponement of life; nothing quite
is, but something different is to be; we are to keep our eyes upon the
indirect from the cradle to the grave.  We are to regulate our conduct
not by desire, but by a politic eye upon the future; and to value acts as
they will bring us money or good opinion; as they will bring us, in one
word, _profit_.  We must be what is called respectable, and offend no one
by our carriage; it will not do to make oneself conspicuous—who knows?
even in virtue? says the Christian parent!  And we must be what is called
prudent and make money; not only because it is pleasant to have money,
but because that also is a part of respectability, and we cannot hope to
be received in society without decent possessions.  Received in society!
as if that were the kingdom of heaven!  There is dear Mr. So-and-so;—look
at him!—so much respected—so much looked up to—quite the Christian
merchant!  And we must cut our conduct as strictly as possible after the
pattern of Mr. So-and-so; and lay our whole lives to make money and be
strictly decent.  Besides these holy injunctions, which form by far the
greater part of a youth’s training in our Christian homes, there are at
least two other doctrines.  We are to live just now as well as we can,
but scrape at last into heaven, where we shall be good.  We are to worry
through the week in a lay, disreputable way, but, to make matters square,
live a different life on Sunday.

The train of thought we have been following gives us a key to all these
positions, without stepping aside to justify them on their own ground.
It is because we have been disgusted fifty times with physical squalls,
and fifty times torn between conflicting impulses, that we teach people
this indirect and tactical procedure in life, and to judge by remote
consequences instead of the immediate face of things.  The very desire to
act as our own souls would have us, coupled with a pathetic disbelief in
ourselves, moves us to follow the example of others; perhaps, who knows?
they may be on the right track; and the more our patterns are in number,
the better seems the chance; until, if we be acting in concert with a
whole civilised nation, there are surely a majority of chances that we
must be acting right.  And again, how true it is that we can never behave
as we wish in this tormented sphere, and can only aspire to different and
more favourable circumstances, in order to stand out and be ourselves
wholly and rightly!  And yet once more, if in the hurry and pressure of
affairs and passions you tend to nod and become drowsy, here are
twenty-four hours of Sunday set apart for you to hold counsel with your
soul and look around you on the possibilities of life.

This is not, of course, all that is to be, or even should be, said for
these doctrines.  Only, in the course of this chapter, the reader and I
have agreed upon a few catchwords, and been looking at morals on a
certain system; it was a pity to lose an opportunity of testing the
catchwords, and seeing whether, by this system as well as by others,
current doctrines could show any probable justification.  If the
doctrines had come too badly out of the trial, it would have condemned
the system.  Our sight of the world is very narrow; the mind but a
pedestrian instrument; there’s nothing new under the sun, as Solomon
says, except the man himself; and though that changes the aspect of
everything else, yet he must see the same things as other people, only
from a different side.

And now, having admitted so much, let us turn to criticism.

If you teach a man to keep his eyes upon what others think of him,
unthinkingly to lead the life and hold the principles of the majority of
his contemporaries, you must discredit in his eyes the one authoritative
voice of his own soul.  He may be a docile citizen; he will never be a
man.  It is ours, on the other hand, to disregard this babble and
chattering of other men better and worse than we are, and to walk
straight before us by what light we have.  They may be right; but so,
before heaven, are we.  They may know; but we know also, and by that
knowledge we must stand or fall.  There is such a thing as loyalty to a
man’s own better self; and from those who have not that, God help me, how
am I to look for loyalty to others?  The most dull, the most imbecile, at
a certain moment turn round, at a certain point will hear no further
argument, but stand unflinching by their own dumb, irrational sense of
right.  It is not only by steel or fire, but through contempt and blame,
that the martyr fulfils the calling of his dear soul.  Be glad if you are
not tried by such extremities.  But although all the world ranged
themselves in one line to tell you ‘This is wrong,’ be you your own
faithful vassal and the ambassador of God—throw down the glove and answer
‘This is right.’  Do you think you are only declaring yourself?  Perhaps
in some dim way, like a child who delivers a message not fully
understood, you are opening wider the straits of prejudice and preparing
mankind for some truer and more spiritual grasp of truth; perhaps, as you
stand forth for your own judgment, you are covering a thousand weak ones
with your body; perhaps, by this declaration alone, you have avoided the
guilt of false witness against humanity and the little ones unborn.  It
is good, I believe, to be respectable, but much nobler to respect oneself
and utter the voice of God.  God, if there be any God, speaks daily in a
new language by the tongues of men; the thoughts and habits of each fresh
generation and each new-coined spirit throw another light upon the
universe and contain another commentary on the printed Bibles; every
scruple, every true dissent, every glimpse of something new, is a letter
of God’s alphabet; and though there is a grave responsibility for all who
speak, is there none for those who unrighteously keep silence and
conform?  Is not that also to conceal and cloak God’s counsel?  And how
should we regard the man of science who suppressed all facts that would
not tally with the orthodoxy of the hour?

Wrong?  You are as surely wrong as the sun rose this morning round the
revolving shoulder of the world.  Not truth, but truthfulness, is the
good of your endeavour.  For when will men receive that first part and
prerequisite of truth, that, by the order of things, by the greatness of
the universe, by the darkness and partiality of man’s experience, by the
inviolate secrecy of God, kept close in His most open revelations, every
man is, and to the end of the ages must be, wrong?  Wrong to the
universe; wrong to mankind; wrong to God.  And yet in another sense, and
that plainer and nearer, every man of men, who wishes truly, must be
right.  He is right to himself, and in the measure of his sagacity and
candour.  That let him do in all sincerity and zeal, not sparing a
thought for contrary opinions; that, for what it is worth, let him
proclaim.  Be not afraid; although he be wrong, so also is the dead,
stuffed Dagon he insults.  For the voice of God, whatever it is, is not
that stammering, inept tradition which the people holds.  These truths
survive in travesty, swamped in a world of spiritual darkness and
confusion; and what a few comprehend and faithfully hold, the many, in
their dead jargon, repeat, degrade, and misinterpret.

So far of Respectability; what the Covenanters used to call ‘rank
conformity’: the deadliest gag and wet blanket that can be laid on men.
And now of Profit.  And this doctrine is perhaps the more redoubtable,
because it harms all sorts of men; not only the heroic and self-reliant,
but the obedient, cowlike squadrons.  A man, by this doctrine, looks to
consequences at the second, or third, or fiftieth turn.  He chooses his
end, and for that, with wily turns and through a great sea of tedium,
steers this mortal bark.  There may be political wisdom in such a view;
but I am persuaded there can spring no great moral zeal.  To look thus
obliquely upon life is the very recipe for moral slumber.  Our intention
and endeavour should be directed, not on some vague end of money or
applause, which shall come to us by a ricochet in a month or a year, or
twenty years, but on the act itself; not on the approval of others, but
on the rightness of that act.  At every instant, at every step in life,
the point has to be decided, our soul has to be saved, heaven has to be
gained or lost.  At every step our spirits must applaud, at every step we
must set down the foot and sound the trumpet.  ‘This have I done,’ we
must say; ‘right or wrong, this have I done, in unfeigned honour of
intention, as to myself and God.’  The profit of every act should be
this, that it was right for us to do it.  Any other profit than that, if
it involved a kingdom or the woman I love, ought, if I were God’s upright
soldier, to leave me untempted.

It is the mark of what we call a righteous decision, that it is made
directly and for its own sake.  The whole man, mind and body, having come
to an agreement, tyrannically dictates conduct.  There are two
dispositions eternally opposed: that in which we recognise that one thing
is wrong and another right, and that in which, not seeing any clear
distinction, we fall back on the consideration of consequences.  The
truth is, by the scope of our present teaching, nothing is thought very
wrong and nothing very right, except a few actions which have the
disadvantage of being disrespectable when found out; the more serious
part of men inclining to think all things _rather wrong_, the more jovial
to suppose them _right enough for practical purposes_.  I will engage my
head, they do not find that view in their own hearts; they have taken it
up in a dark despair; they are but troubled sleepers talking in their
sleep.  The soul, or my soul at least, thinks very distinctly upon many
points of right and wrong, and often differs flatly with what is held out
as the thought of corporate humanity in the code of society or the code
of law.  Am I to suppose myself a monster?  I have only to read books,
the Christian Gospels for example, to think myself a monster no longer;
and instead I think the mass of people are merely speaking in their

It is a commonplace, enshrined, if I mistake not, even in school
copy-books, that honour is to be sought and not fame.  I ask no other
admission; we are to seek honour, upright walking with our own conscience
every hour of the day, and not fame, the consequence, the far-off
reverberation of our footsteps.  The walk, not the rumour of the walk, is
what concerns righteousness.  Better disrespectable honour than
dishonourable fame.  Better useless or seemingly hurtful honour, than
dishonour ruling empires and filling the mouths of thousands.  For the
man must walk by what he sees, and leave the issue with God who made him
and taught him by the fortune of his life.  You would not dishonour
yourself for money; which is at least tangible; would you do it, then,
for a doubtful forecast in politics, or another person’s theory in

So intricate is the scheme of our affairs, that no man can calculate the
bearing of his own behaviour even on those immediately around him, how
much less upon the world at large or on succeeding generations!  To walk
by external prudence and the rule of consequences would require, not a
man, but God.  All that we know to guide us in this changing labyrinth is
our soul with its fixed design of righteousness, and a few old precepts
which commend themselves to that.  The precepts are vague when we
endeavour to apply them; consequences are more entangled than a wisp of
string, and their confusion is unrestingly in change; we must hold to
what we know and walk by it.  We must walk by faith, indeed, and not by

You do not love another because he is wealthy or wise or eminently
respectable: you love him because you love him; that is love, and any
other only a derision and grimace.  It should be the same with all our
actions.  If we were to conceive a perfect man, it should be one who was
never torn between conflicting impulses, but who, on the absolute consent
of all his parts and faculties, submitted in every action of his life to
a self-dictation as absolute and unreasoned as that which bids him love
one woman and be true to her till death.  But we should not conceive him
as sagacious, ascetical, playing off his appetites against each other,
turning the wing of public respectable immorality instead of riding it
directly down, or advancing toward his end through a thousand sinister
compromises and considerations.  The one man might be wily, might be
adroit, might be wise, might be respectable, might be gloriously useful;
it is the other man who would be good.

The soul asks honour and not fame; to be upright, not to be successful;
to be good, not prosperous; to be essentially, not outwardly,
respectable.  Does your soul ask profit?  Does it ask money?  Does it ask
the approval of the indifferent herd?  I believe not.  For my own part, I
want but little money, I hope; and I do not want to be decent at all, but
to be good.


We have spoken of that supreme self-dictation which keeps varying from
hour to hour in its dictates with the variation of events and
circumstances.  Now, for us, that is ultimate.  It may be founded on some
reasonable process, but it is not a process which we can follow or
comprehend.  And moreover the dictation is not continuous, or not
continuous except in very lively and well-living natures; and
between-whiles we must brush along without it.  Practice is a more
intricate and desperate business than the toughest theorising; life is an
affair of cavalry, where rapid judgment and prompt action are alone
possible and right.  As a matter of fact, there is no one so upright but
he is influenced by the world’s chatter; and no one so headlong but he
requires to consider consequences and to keep an eye on profit.  For the
soul adopts all affections and appetites without exception, and cares
only to combine them for some common purpose which shall interest all.
Now, respect for the opinion of others, the study of consequences, and
the desire of power and comfort, are all undeniably factors in the nature
of man; and the more undeniably since we find that, in our current
doctrines, they have swallowed up the others and are thought to conclude
in themselves all the worthy parts of man.  These, then, must also be
suffered to affect conduct in the practical domain, much or little
according as they are forcibly or feebly present to the mind of each.

Now, a man’s view of the universe is mostly a view of the civilised
society in which he lives.  Other men and women are so much more grossly
and so much more intimately palpable to his perceptions, that they stand
between him and all the rest; they are larger to his eye than the sun, he
hears them more plainly than thunder, with them, by them, and for them,
he must live and die.  And hence the laws that affect his intercourse
with his fellow-men, although merely customary and the creatures of a
generation, are more clearly and continually before his mind than those
which bind him into the eternal system of things, support him in his
upright progress on this whirling ball, or keep up the fire of his bodily
life.  And hence it is that money stands in the first rank of
considerations and so powerfully affects the choice.  For our society is
built with money for mortar; money is present in every joint of
circumstance; it might be named the social atmosphere, since, in society,
it is by that alone that men continue to live, and only through that or
chance that they can reach or affect one another.  Money gives us food,
shelter, and privacy; it permits us to be clean in person, opens for us
the doors of the theatre, gains us books for study or pleasure, enables
us to help the distresses of others, and puts us above necessity so that
we can choose the best in life.  If we love, it enables us to meet and
live with the loved one, or even to prolong her health and life; if we
have scruples, it gives us an opportunity to be honest; if we have any
bright designs, here is what will smooth the way to their accomplishment.
Penury is the worst slavery, and will soon lead to death.

But money is only a means; it presupposes a man to use it.  The rich can
go where he pleases, but perhaps please himself nowhere.  He can buy a
library or visit the whole world, but perhaps has neither patience to
read nor intelligence to see.  The table may be loaded and the appetite
wanting; the purse may be full, and the heart empty.  He may have gained
the world and lost himself; and with all his wealth around him, in a
great house and spacious and beautiful demesne, he may live as blank a
life as any tattered ditcher.  Without an appetite, without an
aspiration, void of appreciation, bankrupt of desire and hope, there, in
his great house, let him sit and look upon his fingers.  It is perhaps a
more fortunate destiny to have a taste for collecting shells than to be
born a millionaire.  Although neither is to be despised, it is always
better policy to learn an interest than to make a thousand pounds; for
the money will soon be spent, or perhaps you may feel no joy in spending
it; but the interest remains imperishable and ever new.  To become a
botanist, a geologist, a social philosopher, an antiquary, or an artist,
is to enlarge one’s possessions in the universe by an incalculably higher
degree, and by a far surer sort of property, than to purchase a farm of
many acres.  You had perhaps two thousand a year before the transaction;
perhaps you have two thousand five hundred after it.  That represents
your gain in the one case.  But in the other, you have thrown down a
barrier which concealed significance and beauty.  The blind man has
learned to see.  The prisoner has opened up a window in his cell and
beholds enchanting prospects; he will never again be a prisoner as he
was; he can watch clouds and changing seasons, ships on the river,
travellers on the road, and the stars at night; happy prisoner! his eyes
have broken jail!  And again he who has learned to love an art or science
has wisely laid up riches against the day of riches; if prosperity come,
he will not enter poor into his inheritance; he will not slumber and
forget himself in the lap of money, or spend his hours in counting idle
treasures, but be up and briskly doing; he will have the true alchemic
touch, which is not that of Midas, but which transmutes dead money into
living delight and satisfaction.  _Être et pas avoir_—to be, not to
possess—that is the problem of life.  To be wealthy, a rich nature is the
first requisite and money but the second.  To be of a quick and healthy
blood, to share in all honourable curiosities, to be rich in admiration
and free from envy, to rejoice greatly in the good of others, to love
with such generosity of heart that your love is still a dear possession
in absence or unkindness—these are the gifts of fortune which money
cannot buy and without which money can buy nothing.  For what can a man
possess, or what can he enjoy, except himself?  If he enlarge his nature,
it is then that he enlarges his estates.  If his nature be happy and
valiant, he will enjoy the universe as if it were his park and orchard.

But money is not only to be spent; it has also to be earned.  It is not
merely a convenience or a necessary in social life; but it is the coin in
which mankind pays his wages to the individual man.  And from this side,
the question of money has a very different scope and application.  For no
man can be honest who does not work.  Service for service.  If the farmer
buys corn, and the labourer ploughs and reaps, and the baker sweats in
his hot bakery, plainly you who eat must do something in your turn.  It
is not enough to take off your hat, or to thank God upon your knees for
the admirable constitution of society and your own convenient situation
in its upper and more ornamental stories.  Neither is it enough to buy
the loaf with a sixpence; for then you are only changing the point of the
inquiry; and you must first have _bought the sixpence_.  Service for
service: how have you bought your sixpences?  A man of spirit desires
certainty in a thing of such a nature; he must see to it that there is
some reciprocity between him and mankind; that he pays his expenditure in
service; that he has not a lion’s share in profit and a drone’s in
labour; and is not a sleeping partner and mere costly incubus on the
great mercantile concern of mankind.

Services differ so widely with different gifts, and some are so
inappreciable to external tests, that this is not only a matter for the
private conscience, but one which even there must be leniently and
trustfully considered.  For remember how many serve mankind who do no
more than meditate; and how many are precious to their friends for no
more than a sweet and joyous temper.  To perform the function of a man of
letters it is not necessary to write; nay, it is perhaps better to be a
living book.  So long as we love we serve; so long as we are loved by
others, I would almost say that we are indispensable; and no man is
useless while he has a friend.  The true services of life are inestimable
in money, and are never paid.  Kind words and caresses, high and wise
thoughts, humane designs, tender behaviour to the weak and suffering, and
all the charities of man’s existence, are neither bought nor sold.

Yet the dearest and readiest, if not the most just, criterion of a man’s
services, is the wage that mankind pays him or, briefly, what he earns.
There at least there can be no ambiguity.  St. Paul is fully and freely
entitled to his earnings as a tentmaker, and Socrates fully and freely
entitled to his earnings as a sculptor, although the true business of
each was not only something different, but something which remained
unpaid.  A man cannot forget that he is not superintended, and serves
mankind on parole.  He would like, when challenged by his own conscience,
to reply: ‘I have done so much work, and no less, with my own hands and
brain, and taken so much profit, and no more, for my own personal
delight.’  And though St. Paul, if he had possessed a private fortune,
would probably have scorned to waste his time in making tents, yet of all
sacrifices to public opinion none can be more easily pardoned than that
by which a man, already spiritually useful to the world, should restrict
the field of his chief usefulness to perform services more apparent, and
possess a livelihood that neither stupidity nor malice could call in
question.  Like all sacrifices to public opinion and mere external
decency, this would certainly be wrong; for the soul should rest
contented with its own approval and indissuadably pursue its own calling.
Yet, so grave and delicate is the question, that a man may well hesitate
before he decides it for himself; he may well fear that he sets too high
a valuation on his own endeavours after good; he may well condescend upon
a humbler duty, where others than himself shall judge the service and
proportion the wage.

And yet it is to this very responsibility that the rich are born.  They
can shuffle off the duty on no other; they are their own paymasters on
parole; and must pay themselves fair wages and no more.  For I suppose
that in the course of ages, and through reform and civil war and
invasion, mankind was pursuing some other and more general design than to
set one or two Englishmen of the nineteenth century beyond the reach of
needs and duties.  Society was scarce put together, and defended with so
much eloquence and blood, for the convenience of two or three
millionaires and a few hundred other persons of wealth and position.  It
is plain that if mankind thus acted and suffered during all these
generations, they hoped some benefit, some ease, some wellbeing, for
themselves and their descendants; that if they supported law and order,
it was to secure fair-play for all; that if they denied themselves in the
present, they must have had some designs upon the future.  Now, a great
hereditary fortune is a miracle of man’s wisdom and mankind’s
forbearance; it has not only been amassed and handed down, it has been
suffered to be amassed and handed down; and surely in such a
consideration as this, its possessor should find only a new spur to
activity and honour, that with all this power of service he should not
prove unserviceable, and that this mass of treasure should return in
benefits upon the race.  If he had twenty, or thirty, or a hundred
thousand at his banker’s, or if all Yorkshire or all California were his
to manage or to sell, he would still be morally penniless, and have the
world to begin like Whittington, until he had found some way of serving
mankind.  His wage is physically in his own hand; but, in honour, that
wage must still be earned.  He is only steward on parole of what is
called his fortune.  He must honourably perform his stewardship.  He must
estimate his own services and allow himself a salary in proportion, for
that will be one among his functions.  And while he will then be free to
spend that salary, great or little, on his own private pleasures, the
rest of his fortune he but holds and disposes under trust for mankind; it
is not his, because he has not earned it; it cannot be his, because his
services have already been paid; but year by year it is his to
distribute, whether to help individuals whose birthright and outfit have
been swallowed up in his, or to further public works and institutions.

At this rate, short of inspiration, it seems hardly possible to be both
rich and honest; and the millionaire is under a far more continuous
temptation to thieve than the labourer who gets his shilling daily for
despicable toils.  Are you surprised?  It is even so.  And you repeat it
every Sunday in your churches.  ‘It is easier for a camel to pass through
the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.’  I
have heard this and similar texts ingeniously explained away and brushed
from the path of the aspiring Christian by the tender Great-heart of the
parish.  One excellent clergyman told us that the ‘eye of a needle’ meant
a low, Oriental postern through which camels could not pass till they
were unloaded—which is very likely just; and then went on, bravely
confounding the ‘kingdom of God’ with heaven, the future paradise, to
show that of course no rich person could expect to carry his riches
beyond the grave—which, of course, he could not and never did.  Various
greedy sinners of the congregation drank in the comfortable doctrine with
relief.  It was worth the while having come to church that Sunday
morning!  All was plain.  The Bible, as usual, meant nothing in
particular; it was merely an obscure and figurative school-copybook; and
if a man were only respectable, he was a man after God’s own heart.

Alas! I fear not.  And though this matter of a man’s services is one for
his own conscience, there are some cases in which it is difficult to
restrain the mind from judging.  Thus I shall be very easily persuaded
that a man has earned his daily bread; and if he has but a friend or two
to whom his company is delightful at heart, I am more than persuaded at
once.  But it will be very hard to persuade me that any one has earned an
income of a hundred thousand.  What he is to his friends, he still would
be if he were made penniless to-morrow; for as to the courtiers of luxury
and power, I will neither consider them friends, nor indeed consider them
at all.  What he does for mankind there are most likely hundreds who
would do the same, as effectually for the race and as pleasurably to
themselves, for the merest fraction of this monstrous wage.  Why it is
paid, I am, therefore, unable to conceive, and as the man pays it
himself, out of funds in his detention, I have a certain backwardness to
think him honest.

At least, we have gained a very obvious point: that _what a man spends
upon himself_, _he shall have earned by services to the race_.  Thence
flows a principle for the outset of life, which is a little different
from that taught in the present day.  I am addressing the middle and the
upper classes; those who have already been fostered and prepared for life
at some expense; those who have some choice before them, and can pick
professions; and above all, those who are what is called independent, and
need do nothing unless pushed by honour or ambition.  In this particular
the poor are happy; among them, when a lad comes to his strength, he must
take the work that offers, and can take it with an easy conscience.  But
in the richer classes the question is complicated by the number of
opportunities and a variety of considerations.  Here, then, this
principle of ours comes in helpfully.  The young man has to seek, not a
road to wealth, but an opportunity of service; not money, but honest
work.  If he has some strong propensity, some calling of nature, some
over-weening interest in any special field of industry, inquiry, or art,
he will do right to obey the impulse; and that for two reasons: the first
external, because there he will render the best services; the second
personal, because a demand of his own nature is to him without appeal
whenever it can be satisfied with the consent of his other faculties and
appetites.  If he has no such elective taste, by the very principle on
which he chooses any pursuit at all he must choose the most honest and
serviceable, and not the most highly remunerated.  We have here an
external problem, not from or to ourself, but flowing from the
constitution of society; and we have our own soul with its fixed design
of righteousness.  All that can be done is to present the problem in
proper terms, and leave it to the soul of the individual.  Now, the
problem to the poor is one of necessity: to earn wherewithal to live,
they must find remunerative labour.  But the problem to the rich is one
of honour: having the wherewithal, they must find serviceable labour.
Each has to earn his daily bread: the one, because he has not yet got it
to eat; the other, who has already eaten it, because he has not yet
earned it.

Of course, what is true of bread is true of luxuries and comforts,
whether for the body or the mind.  But the consideration of luxuries
leads us to a new aspect of the whole question, and to a second
proposition no less true, and maybe no less startling, than the last.

At the present day, we, of the easier classes, are in a state of surfeit
and disgrace after meat.  Plethora has filled us with indifference; and
we are covered from head to foot with the callosities of habitual
opulence.  Born into what is called a certain rank, we live, as the
saying is, up to our station.  We squander without enjoyment, because our
fathers squandered.  We eat of the best, not from delicacy, but from
brazen habit.  We do not keenly enjoy or eagerly desire the presence of a
luxury; we are unaccustomed to its absence.  And not only do we squander
money from habit, but still more pitifully waste it in ostentation.  I
can think of no more melancholy disgrace for a creature who professes
either reason or pleasure for his guide, than to spend the smallest
fraction of his income upon that which he does not desire; and to keep a
carriage in which you do not wish to drive, or a butler of whom you are
afraid, is a pathetic kind of folly.  Money, being a means of happiness,
should make both parties happy when it changes hands; rightly disposed,
it should be twice blessed in its employment; and buyer and seller should
alike have their twenty shillings worth of profit out of every pound.
Benjamin Franklin went through life an altered man, because he once paid
too dearly for a penny whistle.  My concern springs usually from a deeper
source, to wit, from having bought a whistle when I did not want one.  I
find I regret this, or would regret it if I gave myself the time, not
only on personal but on moral and philanthropical considerations.  For,
first, in a world where money is wanting to buy books for eager students
and food and medicine for pining children, and where a large majority are
starved in their most immediate desires, it is surely base, stupid, and
cruel to squander money when I am pushed by no appetite and enjoy no
return of genuine satisfaction.  My philanthropy is wide enough in scope
to include myself; and when I have made myself happy, I have at least one
good argument that I have acted rightly; but where that is not so, and I
have bought and not enjoyed, my mouth is closed, and I conceive that I
have robbed the poor.  And, second, anything I buy or use which I do not
sincerely want or cannot vividly enjoy, disturbs the balance of supply
and demand, and contributes to remove industrious hands from the
production of what is useful or pleasurable and to keep them busy upon
ropes of sand and things that are a weariness to the flesh.  That
extravagance is truly sinful, and a very silly sin to boot, in which we
impoverish mankind and ourselves.  It is another question for each man’s
heart.  He knows if he can enjoy what he buys and uses; if he cannot, he
is a dog in the manger; nay, it he cannot, I contend he is a thief, for
nothing really belongs to a man which he cannot use.  Proprietor is
connected with propriety; and that only is the man’s which is proper to
his wants and faculties.

A youth, in choosing a career, must not be alarmed by poverty.  Want is a
sore thing, but poverty does not imply want.  It remains to be seen
whether with half his present income, or a third, he cannot, in the most
generous sense, live as fully as at present.  He is a fool who objects to
luxuries; but he is also a fool who does not protest against the waste of
luxuries on those who do not desire and cannot enjoy them.  It remains to
be seen, by each man who would live a true life to himself and not a
merely specious life to society, how many luxuries he truly wants and to
how many he merely submits as to a social propriety; and all these last
he will immediately forswear.  Let him do this, and he will be surprised
to find how little money it requires to keep him in complete contentment
and activity of mind and senses.  Life at any level among the easy
classes is conceived upon a principle of rivalry, where each man and each
household must ape the tastes and emulate the display of others.  One is
delicate in eating, another in wine, a third in furniture or works of art
or dress; and I, who care nothing for any of these refinements, who am
perhaps a plain athletic creature and love exercise, beef, beer, flannel
shirts and a camp bed, am yet called upon to assimilate all these other
tastes and make these foreign occasions of expenditure my own.  It may be
cynical: I am sure I shall be told it is selfish; but I will spend my
money as I please and for my own intimate personal gratification, and
should count myself a nincompoop indeed to lay out the colour of a
halfpenny on any fancied social decency or duty.  I shall not wear gloves
unless my hands are cold, or unless I am born with a delight in them.
Dress is my own affair, and that of one other in the world; that, in fact
and for an obvious reason, of any woman who shall chance to be in love
with me.  I shall lodge where I have a mind.  If I do not ask society to
live with me, they must be silent; and even if I do, they have no further
right but to refuse the invitation!  There is a kind of idea abroad that
a man must live up to his station, that his house, his table, and his
toilette, shall be in a ratio of equivalence, and equally imposing to the
world.  If this is in the Bible, the passage has eluded my inquiries.  If
it is not in the Bible, it is nowhere but in the heart of the fool.
Throw aside this fancy.  See what you want, and spend upon that;
distinguish what you do not care about, and spend nothing upon that.
There are not many people who can differentiate wines above a certain and
that not at all a high price.  Are you sure you are one of these?  Are
you sure you prefer cigars at sixpence each to pipes at some fraction of
a farthing?  Are you sure you wish to keep a gig?  Do you care about
where you sleep, or are you not as much at your ease in a cheap lodging
as in an Elizabethan manor-house?  Do you enjoy fine clothes?  It is not
possible to answer these questions without a trial; and there is nothing
more obvious to my mind, than that a man who has not experienced some ups
and downs, and been forced to live more cheaply than in his father’s
house, has still his education to begin.  Let the experiment be made, and
he will find to his surprise that he has been eating beyond his appetite
up to that hour; that the cheap lodging, the cheap tobacco, the rough
country clothes, the plain table, have not only no power to damp his
spirits, but perhaps give him as keen pleasure in the using as the
dainties that he took, betwixt sleep and waking, in his former callous
and somnambulous submission to wealth.

The true Bohemian, a creature lost to view under the imaginary Bohemians
of literature, is exactly described by such a principle of life.  The
Bohemian of the novel, who drinks more than is good for him and prefers
anything to work, and wears strange clothes, is for the most part a
respectable Bohemian, respectable in disrespectability, living for the
outside, and an adventurer.  But the man I mean lives wholly to himself,
does what he wishes, and not what is thought proper, buys what he wants
for himself, and not what is thought proper, works at what he believes he
can do well and not what will bring him in money or favour.  You may be
the most respectable of men, and yet a true Bohemian.  And the test is
this: a Bohemian, for as poor as he may be, is always open-handed to his
friends; he knows what he can do with money and how he can do without it,
a far rarer and more useful knowledge; he has had less, and continued to
live in some contentment; and hence he cares not to keep more, and shares
his sovereign or his shilling with a friend.  The poor, if they are
generous, are Bohemian in virtue of their birth.  Do you know where
beggars go?  Not to the great houses where people sit dazed among their
thousands, but to the doors of poor men who have seen the world; and it
was the widow who had only two mites, who cast half her fortune into the

But a young man who elects to save on dress or on lodging, or who in any
way falls out of the level of expenditure which is common to his level in
society, falls out of society altogether.  I suppose the young man to
have chosen his career on honourable principles; he finds his talents and
instincts can be best contented in a certain pursuit; in a certain
industry, he is sure that he is serving mankind with a healthy and
becoming service; and he is not sure that he would be doing so, or doing
so equally well, in any other industry within his reach.  Then that is
his true sphere in life; not the one in which he was born to his father,
but the one which is proper to his talents and instincts.  And suppose he
does fall out of society, is that a cause of sorrow?  Is your heart so
dead that you prefer the recognition of many to the love of a few?  Do
you think society loves you?  Put it to the proof.  Decline in material
expenditure, and you will find they care no more for you than for the
Khan of Tartary.  You will lose no friends.  If you had any, you will
keep them.  Only those who were friends to your coat and equipage will
disappear; the smiling faces will disappear as by enchantment; but the
kind hearts will remain steadfastly kind.  Are you so lost, are you so
dead, are you so little sure of your own soul and your own footing upon
solid fact, that you prefer before goodness and happiness the countenance
of sundry diners-out, who will flee from you at a report of ruin, who
will drop you with insult at a shadow of disgrace, who do not know you
and do not care to know you but by sight, and whom you in your turn
neither know nor care to know in a more human manner?  Is it not the
principle of society, openly avowed, that friendship must not interfere
with business; which being paraphrased, means simply that a consideration
of money goes before any consideration of affection known to this
cold-blooded gang, that they have not even the honour of thieves, and
will rook their nearest and dearest as readily as a stranger?  I hope I
would go as far as most to serve a friend; but I declare openly I would
not put on my hat to do a pleasure to society.  I may starve my appetites
and control my temper for the sake of those I love; but society shall
take me as I choose to be, or go without me.  Neither they nor I will
lose; for where there is no love, it is both laborious and unprofitable
to associate.

But it is obvious that if it is only right for a man to spend money on
that which he can truly and thoroughly enjoy, the doctrine applies with
equal force to the rich and to the poor, to the man who has amassed many
thousands as well as to the youth precariously beginning life.  And it
may be asked, Is not this merely preparing misers, who are not the best
of company?  But the principle was this: that which a man has not fairly
earned, and, further, that which he cannot fully enjoy, does not belong
to him, but is a part of mankind’s treasure which he holds as steward on
parole.  To mankind, then, it must be made profitable; and how this
should be done is, once more, a problem which each man must solve for
himself, and about which none has a right to judge him.  Yet there are a
few considerations which are very obvious and may here be stated.
Mankind is not only the whole in general, but every one in particular.
Every man or woman is one of mankind’s dear possessions; to his or her
just brain, and kind heart, and active hands, mankind intrusts some of
its hopes for the future; he or she is a possible well-spring of good
acts and source of blessings to the race.  This money which you do not
need, which, in a rigid sense, you do not want, may therefore be returned
not only in public benefactions to the race, but in private kindnesses.
Your wife, your children, your friends stand nearest to you, and should
be helped the first.  There at least there can be little imposture, for
you know their necessities of your own knowledge.  And consider, if all
the world did as you did, and according to their means extended help in
the circle of their affections, there would be no more crying want in
times of plenty and no more cold, mechanical charity given with a doubt
and received with confusion.  Would not this simple rule make a new world
out of the old and cruel one which we inhabit?

                                * * * * *

          [_After two more sentences the fragment breaks off_.]


                                                      _February_ 25, 1890.

Sir,—It may probably occur to you that we have met, and visited, and
conversed; on my side, with interest.  You may remember that you have
done me several courtesies, for which I was prepared to be grateful.  But
there are duties which come before gratitude, and offences which justly
divide friends, far more acquaintances.  Your letter to the Reverend H.
B. Gage is a document which, in my sight, if you had filled me with bread
when I was starving, if you had sat up to nurse my father when he lay
a-dying, would yet absolve me from the bonds of gratitude.  You know
enough, doubtless, of the process of canonisation to be aware that, a
hundred years after the death of Damien, there will appear a man charged
with the painful office of the _devil’s advocate_.  After that noble
brother of mine, and of all frail clay, shall have lain a century at
rest, one shall accuse, one defend him.  The circumstance is unusual that
the devil’s advocate should be a volunteer, should be a member of a sect
immediately rival, and should make haste to take upon himself his ugly
office ere the bones are cold; unusual, and of a taste which I shall
leave my readers free to qualify; unusual, and to me inspiring.  If I
have at all learned the trade of using words to convey truth and to
arouse emotion, you have at last furnished me with a subject.  For it is
in the interest of all mankind, and the cause of public decency in every
quarter of the world, not only that Damien should be righted, but that
you and your letter should be displayed at length, in their true colours,
to the public eye.

To do this properly, I must begin by quoting you at large: I shall then
proceed to criticise your utterance from several points of view, divine
and human, in the course of which I shall attempt to draw again, and with
more specification, the character of the dead saint whom it has pleased
you to vilify: so much being done, I shall say farewell to you for ever.

                                                        ‘_August_ 2, 1889.

    ‘Rev. H. B. GAGE.

    ‘Dear Brother,—In answer to your inquiries about Father Damien, I can
    only reply that we who knew the man are surprised at the extravagant
    newspaper laudations, as if he was a most saintly philanthropist.
    The simple truth is, he was a coarse, dirty man, head-strong and
    bigoted.  He was not sent to Molokai, but went there without orders;
    did not stay at the leper settlement (before he became one himself),
    but circulated freely over the whole island (less than half the
    island is devoted to the lepers), and he came often to Honolulu.  He
    had no hand in the reforms and improvements inaugurated, which were
    the work of our Board of Health, as occasion required and means were
    provided.  He was not a pure man in his relations with women, and the
    leprosy of which he died should be attributed to his vices and
    carelessness.  Others have done much for the lepers, our own
    ministers, the government physicians, and so forth, but never with
    the Catholic idea of meriting eternal life.—Yours, etc.,

                                                        ‘C. M. HYDE.’ {65}

To deal fitly with a letter so extraordinary, I must draw at the outset
on my private knowledge of the signatory and his sect.  It may offend
others; scarcely you, who have been so busy to collect, so bold to
publish, gossip on your rivals.  And this is perhaps the moment when I
may best explain to you the character of what you are to read: I conceive
you as a man quite beyond and below the reticences of civility: with what
measure you mete, with that shall it be measured you again; with you, at
last, I rejoice to feel the button off the foil and to plunge home.  And
if in aught that I shall say I should offend others, your colleagues,
whom I respect and remember with affection, I can but offer them my
regret; I am not free, I am inspired by the consideration of interests
far more large; and such pain as can be inflicted by anything from me
must be indeed trifling when compared with the pain with which they read
your letter.  It is not the hangman, but the criminal, that brings
dishonour on the house.

You belong, sir, to a sect—I believe my sect, and that in which my
ancestors laboured—which has enjoyed, and partly failed to utilise, an
exceptional advantage in the islands of Hawaii.  The first missionaries
came; they found the land already self-purged of its old and bloody
faith; they were embraced, almost on their arrival, with enthusiasm; what
troubles they supported came far more from whites than from Hawaiians;
and to these last they stood (in a rough figure) in the shoes of God.
This is not the place to enter into the degree or causes of their
failure, such as it is.  One element alone is pertinent, and must here be
plainly dealt with.  In the course of their evangelical calling, they—or
too many of them—grew rich.  It may be news to you that the houses of
missionaries are a cause of mocking on the streets of Honolulu.  It will
at least be news to you, that when I returned your civil visit, the
driver of my cab commented on the size, the taste, and the comfort of
your home.  It would have been news certainly to myself, had any one told
me that afternoon that I should live to drag such matter into print.  But
you see, sir, how you degrade better men to your own level; and it is
needful that those who are to judge betwixt you and me, betwixt Damien
and the devil’s advocate, should understand your letter to have been
penned in a house which could raise, and that very justly, the envy and
the comments of the passers-by.  I think (to employ a phrase of yours
which I admire) it ‘should be attributed’ to you that you have never
visited the scene of Damien’s life and death.  If you had, and had
recalled it, and looked about your pleasant rooms, even your pen perhaps
would have been stayed.

Your sect (and remember, as far as any sect avows me, it is mine) has not
done ill in a worldly sense in the Hawaiian Kingdom.  When calamity
befell their innocent parishioners, when leprosy descended and took root
in the Eight Islands, a _quid pro quo_ was to be looked for.  To that
prosperous mission, and to you, as one of its adornments, God had sent at
last an opportunity.  I know I am touching here upon a nerve acutely
sensitive.  I know that others of your colleagues look back on the
inertia of your Church, and the intrusive and decisive heroism of Damien,
with something almost to be called remorse.  I am sure it is so with
yourself; I am persuaded your letter was inspired by a certain envy, not
essentially ignoble, and the one human trait to be espied in that
performance.  You were thinking of the lost chance, the past day; of that
which should have been conceived and was not; of the service due and not
rendered.  Time was, said the voice in your ear, in your pleasant room,
as you sat raging and writing; and if the words written were base beyond
parallel, the rage, I am happy to repeat—it is the only compliment I
shall pay you—the rage was almost virtuous.  But, sir, when we have
failed, and another has succeeded; when we have stood by, and another has
stepped in; when we sit and grow bulky in our charming mansions, and a
plain, uncouth peasant steps into the battle, under the eyes of God, and
succours the afflicted, and consoles the dying, and is himself afflicted
in his turn, and dies upon the field of honour—the battle cannot be
retrieved as your unhappy irritation has suggested.  It is a lost battle,
and lost for ever.  One thing remained to you in your defeat—some rags of
common honour; and these you have made haste to cast away.

Common honour; not the honour of having done anything right, but the
honour of not having done aught conspicuously foul; the honour of the
inert: that was what remained to you.  We are not all expected to be
Damiens; a man may conceive his duty more narrowly, he may love his
comforts better; and none will cast a stone at him for that.  But will a
gentleman of your reverend profession allow me an example from the fields
of gallantry?  When two gentlemen compete for the favour of a lady, and
the one succeeds and the other is rejected, and (as will sometimes
happen) matter damaging to the successful rival’s credit reaches the ear
of the defeated, it is held by plain men of no pretensions that his mouth
is, in the circumstance, almost necessarily closed.  Your Church and
Damien’s were in Hawaii upon a rivalry to do well: to help, to edify, to
set divine examples.  You having (in one huge instance) failed, and
Damien succeeded, I marvel it should not have occurred to you that you
were doomed to silence; that when you had been outstripped in that high
rivalry, and sat inglorious in the midst of your wellbeing, in your
pleasant room—and Damien, crowned with glories and horrors, toiled and
rotted in that pigsty of his under the cliffs of Kalawao—you, the elect
who would not, were the last man on earth to collect and propagate gossip
on the volunteer who would and did.

I think I see you—for I try to see you in the flesh as I write these
sentences—I think I see you leap at the word pigsty, a hyperbolical
expression at the best.  ‘He had no hand in the reforms,’ he was ‘a
coarse, dirty man’; these were your own words; and you may think it
possible that I am come to support you with fresh evidence.  In a sense,
it is even so.  Damien has been too much depicted with a conventional
halo and conventional features; so drawn by men who perhaps had not the
eye to remark or the pen to express the individual; or who perhaps were
only blinded and silenced by generous admiration, such as I partly envy
for myself—such as you, if your soul were enlightened, would envy on your
bended knees.  It is the least defect of such a method of portraiture
that it makes the path easy for the devil’s advocate, and leaves for the
misuse of the slanderer a considerable field of truth.  For the truth
that is suppressed by friends is the readiest weapon of the enemy.  The
world, in your despite, may perhaps owe you something, if your letter be
the means of substituting once for all a credible likeness for a wax
abstraction.  For, if that world at all remember you, on the day when
Damien of Molokai shall be named Saint, it will be in virtue of one work:
your letter to the Reverend H. B. Gage.

You may ask on what authority I speak.  It was my inclement destiny to
become acquainted, not with Damien, but with Dr. Hyde.  When I visited
the lazaretto, Damien was already in his resting grave.  But such
information as I have, I gathered on the spot in conversation with those
who knew him well and long: some indeed who revered his memory; but
others who had sparred and wrangled with him, who beheld him with no
halo, who perhaps regarded him with small respect, and through whose
unprepared and scarcely partial communications the plain, human features
of the man shone on me convincingly.  These gave me what knowledge I
possess; and I learnt it in that scene where it could be most completely
and sensitively understood—Kalawao, which you have never visited, about
which you have never so much as endeavoured to inform yourself; for,
brief as your letter is, you have found the means to stumble into that
confession.  ‘_Less than one-half_ of the island,’ you say, ‘is devoted
to the lepers.’  Molokai—‘_Molokai ahina_,’ the ‘grey,’ lofty, and most
desolate island—along all its northern side plunges a front of precipice
into a sea of unusual profundity.  This range of cliff is, from east to
west, the true end and frontier of the island.  Only in one spot there
projects into the ocean a certain triangular and rugged down, grassy,
stony, windy, and rising in the midst into a hill with a dead crater: the
whole bearing to the cliff that overhangs it somewhat the same relation
as a bracket to a wall.  With this hint you will now be able to pick out
the leper station on a map; you will be able to judge how much of Molokai
is thus cut off between the surf and precipice, whether less than a half,
or less than a quarter, or a fifth, or a tenth—or, say, a twentieth; and
the next time you burst into print you will be in a position to share
with us the issue of your calculations.

I imagine you to be one of those persons who talk with cheerfulness of
that place which oxen and wain-ropes could not drag you to behold.  You,
who do not even know its situation on the map, probably denounce
sensational descriptions, stretching your limbs the while in your
pleasant parlour on Beretania Street.  When I was pulled ashore there one
early morning, there sat with me in the boat two sisters, bidding
farewell (in humble imitation of Damien) to the lights and joys of human
life.  One of these wept silently; I could not withhold myself from
joining her.  Had you been there, it is my belief that nature would have
triumphed even in you; and as the boat drew but a little nearer, and you
beheld the stairs crowded with abominable deformations of our common
manhood, and saw yourself landing in the midst of such a population as
only now and then surrounds us in the horror of a nightmare—what a
haggard eye you would have rolled over your reluctant shoulder towards
the house on Beretania Street!  Had you gone on; had you found every
fourth face a blot upon the landscape; had you visited the hospital and
seen the butt-ends of human beings lying there almost unrecognisable, but
still breathing, still thinking, still remembering; you would have
understood that life in the lazaretto is an ordeal from which the nerves
of a man’s spirit shrink, even as his eye quails under the brightness of
the sun; you would have felt it was (even to-day) a pitiful place to
visit and a hell to dwell in.  It is not the fear of possible infection.
That seems a little thing when compared with the pain, the pity, and the
disgust of the visitor’s surroundings, and the atmosphere of affliction,
disease, and physical disgrace in which he breathes.  I do not think I am
a man more than usually timid; but I never recall the days and nights I
spent upon that island promontory (eight days and seven nights), without
heartfelt thankfulness that I am somewhere else.  I find in my diary that
I speak of my stay as a ‘grinding experience’: I have once jotted in the
margin, ‘_Harrowing_ is the word’; and when the _Mokolii_ bore me at last
towards the outer world, I kept repeating to myself, with a new
conception of their pregnancy, those simple words of the song—

    ‘’Tis the most distressful country that ever yet was seen.’

And observe: that which I saw and suffered from was a settlement purged,
bettered, beautified; the new village built, the hospital and the
Bishop-Home excellently arranged; the sisters, the doctor, and the
missionaries, all indefatigable in their noble tasks.  It was a different
place when Damien came there and made his great renunciation, and slept
that first night under a tree amidst his rotting brethren: alone with
pestilence; and looking forward (with what courage, with what pitiful
sinkings of dread, God only knows) to a lifetime of dressing sores and

You will say, perhaps, I am too sensitive, that sights as painful abound
in cancer hospitals and are confronted daily by doctors and nurses.  I
have long learned to admire and envy the doctors and the nurses.  But
there is no cancer hospital so large and populous as Kalawao and
Kalaupapa; and in such a matter every fresh case, like every inch of
length in the pipe of an organ, deepens the note of the impression; for
what daunts the onlooker is that monstrous sum of human suffering by
which he stands surrounded.  Lastly, no doctor or nurse is called upon to
enter once for all the doors of that gehenna; they do not say farewell,
they need not abandon hope, on its sad threshold; they but go for a time
to their high calling, and can look forward as they go to relief, to
recreation, and to rest.  But Damien shut-to with his own hand the doors
of his own sepulchre.

I shall now extract three passages from my diary at Kalawao.

_A_.  ‘Damien is dead and already somewhat ungratefully remembered in the
field of his labours and sufferings.  “He was a good man, but very
officious,” says one.  Another tells me he had fallen (as other priests
so easily do) into something of the ways and habits of thought of a
Kanaka; but he had the wit to recognise the fact, and the good sense to
laugh at’ [over] ‘it.  A plain man it seems he was; I cannot find he was
a popular.’

_B_.  ‘After Ragsdale’s death’ [Ragsdale was a famous Luna, or overseer,
of the unruly settlement] ‘there followed a brief term of office by
Father Damien which served only to publish the weakness of that noble
man.  He was rough in his ways, and he had no control.  Authority was
relaxed; Damien’s life was threatened, and he was soon eager to resign.’

_C_.  ‘Of Damien I begin to have an idea.  He seems to have been a man of
the peasant class, certainly of the peasant type: shrewd, ignorant and
bigoted, yet with an open mind, and capable of receiving and digesting a
reproof if it were bluntly administered; superbly generous in the least
thing as well as in the greatest, and as ready to give his last shirt
(although not without human grumbling) as he had been to sacrifice his
life; essentially indiscreet and officious, which made him a troublesome
colleague; domineering in all his ways, which made him incurably
unpopular with the Kanakas, but yet destitute of real authority, so that
his boys laughed at him and he must carry out his wishes by the means of
bribes.  He learned to have a mania for doctoring; and set up the Kanakas
against the remedies of his regular rivals: perhaps (if anything matter
at all in the treatment of such a disease) the worst thing that he did,
and certainly the easiest.  The best and worst of the man appear very
plainly in his dealings with Mr. Chapman’s money; he had originally laid
it out’ [intended to lay it out] ‘entirely for the benefit of Catholics,
and even so not wisely; but after a long, plain talk, he admitted his
error fully and revised the list.  The sad state of the boys’ home is in
part the result of his lack of control; in part, of his own slovenly ways
and false ideas of hygiene.  Brother officials used to call it “Damien’s
Chinatown.”  “Well,” they would say, “your China-town keeps growing.”
And he would laugh with perfect good-nature, and adhere to his errors
with perfect obstinacy.  So much I have gathered of truth about this
plain, noble human brother and father of ours; his imperfections are the
traits of his face, by which we know him for our fellow; his martyrdom
and his example nothing can lessen or annul; and only a person here on
the spot can properly appreciate their greatness.’

I have set down these private passages, as you perceive, without
correction; thanks to you, the public has them in their bluntness.  They
are almost a list of the man’s faults, for it is rather these that I was
seeking: with his virtues, with the heroic profile of his life, I and the
world were already sufficiently acquainted.  I was besides a little
suspicious of Catholic testimony; in no ill sense, but merely because
Damien’s admirers and disciples were the least likely to be critical.  I
know you will be more suspicious still; and the facts set down above were
one and all collected from the lips of Protestants who had opposed the
father in his life.  Yet I am strangely deceived, or they build up the
image of a man, with all his weaknesses, essentially heroic, and alive
with rugged honesty, generosity, and mirth.

Take it for what it is, rough private jottings of the worst sides of
Damien’s character, collected from the lips of those who had laboured
with and (in your own phrase) ‘knew the man’;—though I question whether
Damien would have said that he knew you.  Take it, and observe with
wonder how well you were served by your gossips, how ill by your
intelligence and sympathy; in how many points of fact we are at one, and
how widely our appreciations vary.  There is something wrong here; either
with you or me.  It is possible, for instance, that you, who seem to have
so many ears in Kalawao, had heard of the affair of Mr. Chapman’s money,
and were singly struck by Damien’s intended wrong-doing.  I was struck
with that also, and set it fairly down; but I was struck much more by the
fact that he had the honesty of mind to be convinced.  I may here tell
you that it was a long business; that one of his colleagues sat with him
late into the night, multiplying arguments and accusations; that the
father listened as usual with ‘perfect good-nature and perfect
obstinacy’; but at the last, when he was persuaded—‘Yes,’ said he, ‘I am
very much obliged to you; you have done me a service; it would have been
a theft.’  There are many (not Catholics merely) who require their heroes
and saints to be infallible; to these the story will be painful; not to
the true lovers, patrons, and servants of mankind.

And I take it, this is a type of our division; that you are one of those
who have an eye for faults and failures; that you take a pleasure to find
and publish them; and that, having found them, you make haste to forget
the overvailing virtues and the real success which had alone introduced
them to your knowledge.  It is a dangerous frame of mind.  That you may
understand how dangerous, and into what a situation it has already
brought you, we will (if you please) go hand-in-hand through the
different phrases of your letter, and candidly examine each from the
point of view of its truth, its appositeness, and its charity.

Damien was _coarse_.

It is very possible.  You make us sorry for the lepers, who had only a
coarse old peasant for their friend and father.  But you, who were so
refined, why were you not there, to cheer them with the lights of
culture?  Or may I remind you that we have some reason to doubt if John
the Baptist were genteel; and in the case of Peter, on whose career you
doubtless dwell approvingly in the pulpit, no doubt at all he was a
‘coarse, headstrong’ fisherman!  Yet even in our Protestant Bibles Peter
is called Saint.

Damien was _dirty_.

He was.  Think of the poor lepers annoyed with this dirty comrade!  But
the clean Dr. Hyde was at his food in a fine house.

Damien was _headstrong_.

I believe you are right again; and I thank God for his strong head and

Damien was _bigoted_.

I am not fond of bigots myself, because they are not fond of me.  But
what is meant by bigotry, that we should regard it as a blemish in a
priest?  Damien believed his own religion with the simplicity of a
peasant or a child; as I would I could suppose that you do.  For this, I
wonder at him some way off; and had that been his only character, should
have avoided him in life.  But the point of interest in Damien, which has
caused him to be so much talked about and made him at last the subject of
your pen and mine, was that, in him, his bigotry, his intense and narrow
faith, wrought potently for good, and strengthened him to be one of the
world’s heroes and exemplars.

Damien _was not sent to Molokai_, _but went there without orders_.

Is this a misreading? or do you really mean the words for blame?  I have
heard Christ, in the pulpits of our Church, held up for imitation on the
ground that His sacrifice was voluntary.  Does Dr. Hyde think otherwise?

Damien _did not stay at the settlement_, _etc._

It is true he was allowed many indulgences.  Am I to understand that you
blame the father for profiting by these, or the officers for granting
them?  In either case, it is a mighty Spartan standard to issue from the
house on Beretania Street; and I am convinced you will find yourself with
few supporters.

Damien _had no hand in the reforms_, _etc._

I think even you will admit that I have already been frank in my
description of the man I am defending; but before I take you up upon this
head, I will be franker still, and tell you that perhaps nowhere in the
world can a man taste a more pleasurable sense of contrast than when he
passes from Damien’s ‘Chinatown’ at Kalawao to the beautiful Bishop-Home
at Kalaupapa.  At this point, in my desire to make all fair for you, I
will break my rule and adduce Catholic testimony.  Here is a passage from
my diary about my visit to the Chinatown, from which you will see how it
is (even now) regarded by its own officials: ‘We went round all the
dormitories, refectories, etc.—dark and dingy enough, with a superficial
cleanliness, which he’ [Mr. Dutton, the lay-brother] ‘did not seek to
defend.  “It is almost decent,” said he; “the sisters will make that all
right when we get them here.”’  And yet I gathered it was already better
since Damien was dead, and far better than when he was there alone and
had his own (not always excellent) way.  I have now come far enough to
meet you on a common ground of fact; and I tell you that, to a mind not
prejudiced by jealousy, all the reforms of the lazaretto, and even those
which he most vigorously opposed, are properly the work of Damien.  They
are the evidence of his success; they are what his heroism provoked from
the reluctant and the careless.  Many were before him in the field; Mr.
Meyer, for instance, of whose faithful work we hear too little: there
have been many since; and some had more worldly wisdom, though none had
more devotion, than our saint.  Before his day, even you will confess,
they had effected little.  It was his part, by one striking act of
martyrdom, to direct all men’s eyes on that distressful country.  At a
blow, and with the price of his life, he made the place illustrious and
public.  And that, if you will consider largely, was the one reform
needful; pregnant of all that should succeed.  It brought money; it
brought (best individual addition of them all) the sisters; it brought
supervision, for public opinion and public interest landed with the man
at Kalawao.  If ever any man brought reforms, and died to bring them, it
was he.  There is not a clean cup or towel in the Bishop-Home, but dirty
Damien washed it.

Damien _was not a pure man in his relations with women_, _etc._

How do you know that?  Is this the nature of the conversation in that
house on Beretania Street which the cabman envied, driving past?—racy
details of the misconduct of the poor peasant priest, toiling under the
cliffs of Molokai?

Many have visited the station before me; they seem not to have heard the
rumour.  When I was there I heard many shocking tales, for my informants
were men speaking with the plainness of the laity; and I heard plenty of
complaints of Damien.  Why was this never mentioned? and how came it to
you in the retirement of your clerical parlour?

But I must not even seem to deceive you.  This scandal, when I read it in
your letter, was not new to me.  I had heard it once before; and I must
tell you how.  There came to Samoa a man from Honolulu; he, in a
public-house on the beach, volunteered the statement that Damien had
‘contracted the disease from having connection with the female lepers’;
and I find a joy in telling you how the report was welcomed in a
public-house.  A man sprang to his feet; I am not at liberty to give his
name, but from what I heard I doubt if you would care to have him to
dinner in Beretania Street.  ‘You miserable little—’ (here is a word I
dare not print, it would so shock your ears).  ‘You miserable little—,’
he cried, ‘if the story were a thousand times true, can’t you see you are
a million times a lower—for daring to repeat it?’  I wish it could be
told of you that when the report reached you in your house, perhaps after
family worship, you had found in your soul enough holy anger to receive
it with the same expressions; ay, even with that one which I dare not
print; it would not need to have been blotted away, like Uncle Toby’s
oath, by the tears of the recording angel; it would have been counted to
you for your brightest righteousness.  But you have deliberately chosen
the part of the man from Honolulu, and you have played it with
improvements of your own.  The man from Honolulu—miserable, leering
creature—communicated the tale to a rude knot of beach-combing drinkers
in a public-house, where (I will so far agree with your temperance
opinions) man is not always at his noblest; and the man from Honolulu had
himself been drinking—drinking, we may charitably fancy, to excess.  It
was to your ‘Dear Brother, the Reverend H. B. Gage,’ that you chose to
communicate the sickening story; and the blue ribbon which adorns your
portly bosom forbids me to allow you the extenuating plea that you were
drunk when it was done.  Your ‘dear brother’—a brother indeed—made haste
to deliver up your letter (as a means of grace, perhaps) to the religious
papers; where, after many months, I found and read and wondered at it;
and whence I have now reproduced it for the wonder of others.  And you
and your dear brother have, by this cycle of operations, built up a
contrast very edifying to examine in detail.  The man whom you would not
care to have to dinner, on the one side; on the other, the Reverend Dr.
Hyde and the Reverend H. B. Gage: the Apia bar-room, the Honolulu manse.

But I fear you scarce appreciate how you appear to your fellow-men; and
to bring it home to you, I will suppose your story to be true.  I will
suppose—and God forgive me for supposing it—that Damien faltered and
stumbled in his narrow path of duty; I will suppose that, in the horror
of his isolation, perhaps in the fever of incipient disease, he, who was
doing so much more than he had sworn, failed in the letter of his
priestly oath—he, who was so much a better man than either you or me, who
did what we have never dreamed of daring—he too tasted of our common
frailty.  ‘O, Iago, the pity of it!’  The least tender should be moved to
tears; the most incredulous to prayer.  And all that you could do was to
pen your letter to the Reverend H. B. Gage!

Is it growing at all clear to you what a picture you have drawn of your
own heart?  I will try yet once again to make it clearer.  You had a
father: suppose this tale were about him, and some informant brought it
to you, proof in hand: I am not making too high an estimate of your
emotional nature when I suppose you would regret the circumstance? that
you would feel the tale of frailty the more keenly since it shamed the
author of your days? and that the last thing you would do would be to
publish it in the religious press?  Well, the man who tried to do what
Damien did, is my father, and the father of the man in the Apia bar, and
the father of all who love goodness; and he was your father too, if God
had given you grace to see it.


    ‘A cloud of witnesses lyes here,
    Who for Christ’s interest did appear.’

                            _Inscription on Battlefield at Rullion Green_.


    ‘Halt, passenger; take heed what thou dost see,
    This tomb doth show for what some men did die.’

                        _Monument_, _Greyfriars’ Churchyard_,_ Edinburgh_,
                                                           1661–1668. {85}

Two hundred years ago a tragedy was enacted in Scotland, the memory
whereof has been in great measure lost or obscured by the deep tragedies
which followed it.  It is, as it were, the evening of the night of
persecution—a sort of twilight, dark indeed to us, but light as the
noonday when compared with the midnight gloom which followed.  This fact,
of its being the very threshold of persecution, lends it, however, an
additional interest.

The prejudices of the people against Episcopacy were ‘out of measure
increased,’ says Bishop Burnet, ‘by the new incumbents who were put in
the places of the ejected preachers, and were generally very mean and
despicable in all respects.  They were the worst preachers I ever heard;
they were ignorant to a reproach; and many of them were openly vicious.
They . . . were indeed the dreg and refuse of the northern parts.  Those
of them who arose above contempt or scandal were men of such violent
tempers that they were as much hated as the others were despised.’ {86}
It was little to be wondered at, from this account that the country-folk
refused to go to the parish church, and chose rather to listen to outed
ministers in the fields.  But this was not to be allowed, and their
persecutors at last fell on the method of calling a roll of the
parishioners’ names every Sabbath, and marking a fine of twenty shillings
Scots to the name of each absenter.  In this way very large debts were
incurred by persons altogether unable to pay.  Besides this, landlords
were fined for their tenants’ absences, tenants for their landlords’,
masters for their servants’, servants for their masters’, even though
they themselves were perfectly regular in their attendance.  And as the
curates were allowed to fine with the sanction of any common soldier, it
may be imagined that often the pretexts were neither very sufficient nor
well proven.

When the fines could not be paid at once, Bibles, clothes, and household
utensils were seized upon, or a number of soldiers, proportionate to his
wealth, were quartered on the offender.  The coarse and drunken privates
filled the houses with woe; snatched the bread from the children to feed
their dogs; shocked the principles, scorned the scruples, and blasphemed
the religion of their humble hosts; and when they had reduced them to
destitution, sold the furniture, and burned down the roof-tree which was
consecrated to the peasants by the name of Home.  For all this attention
each of these soldiers received from his unwilling landlord a certain sum
of money per day—three shillings sterling, according to _Naphtali_.  And
frequently they were forced to pay quartering money for more men than
were in reality ‘cessed on them.’  At that time it was no strange thing
to behold a strong man begging for money to pay his fines, and many
others who were deep in arrears, or who had attracted attention in some
other way, were forced to flee from their homes, and take refuge from
arrest and imprisonment among the wild mosses of the uplands. {87a}

One example in particular we may cite:

John Neilson, the Laird of Corsack, a worthy man, was, unfortunately for
himself, a Nonconformist.  First he was fined in four hundred pounds
Scots, and then through cessing he lost nineteen hundred and ninety-three
pounds Scots.  He was next obliged to leave his house and flee from place
to place, during which wanderings he lost his horse.  His wife and
children were turned out of doors, and then his tenants were fined till
they too were almost ruined.  As a final stroke, they drove away all his
cattle to Glasgow and sold them. {87b}  Surely it was time that something
were done to alleviate so much sorrow, to overthrow such tyranny.

About this time too there arrived in Galloway a person calling himself
Captain Andrew Gray, and advising the people to revolt.  He displayed
some documents purporting to be from the northern Covenanters, and
stating that they were prepared to join in any enterprise commenced by
their southern brethren.  The leader of the persecutors was Sir James
Turner, an officer afterwards degraded for his share in the matter.  ‘He
was naturally fierce, but was mad when he was drunk, and that was very
often,’ said Bishop Burnet.  ‘He was a learned man, but had always been
in armies, and knew no other rule but to obey orders.  He told me he had
no regard to any law, but acted, as he was commanded, in a military way.’

This was the state of matters, when an outrage was committed which gave
spirit and determination to the oppressed countrymen, lit the flame of
insubordination, and for the time at least recoiled on those who
perpetrated it with redoubled force.


    I love no warres,
    I love no jarres,
    Nor strife’s fire.
    May discord cease,
    Let’s live in peace:
    This I desire.

    If it must be
    Warre we must see
    (So fates conspire),
    May we not feel
    The force of steel:
    This I desire.

                                                     T. JACKSON, 1651 {89}

Upon Tuesday, November 13th, 1666, Corporal George Deanes and three other
soldiers set upon an old man in the clachan of Dalry and demanded the
payment of his fines.  On the old man’s refusing to pay, they forced a
large party of his neighbours to go with them and thresh his corn.  The
field was a certain distance out of the clachan, and four persons,
disguised as countrymen, who had been out on the moors all night, met
this mournful drove of slaves, compelled by the four soldiers to work for
the ruin of their friend.  However, chided to the bone by their night on
the hills, and worn out by want of food, they proceeded to the village
inn to refresh themselves.  Suddenly some people rushed into the room
where they were sitting, and told them that the soldiers were about to
roast the old man, naked, on his own girdle.  This was too much for them
to stand, and they repaired immediately to the scene of this gross
outrage, and at first merely requested that the captive should be
released.  On the refusal of the two soldiers who were in the front room,
high words were given and taken on both sides, and the other two rushed
forth from an adjoining chamber and made at the countrymen with drawn
swords.  One of the latter, John M‘Lellan of Barscob, drew a pistol and
shot the corporal in the body.  The pieces of tobacco-pipe with which it
was loaded, to the number of ten at least, entered him, and he was so
much disturbed that he never appears to have recovered, for we find long
afterwards a petition to the Privy Council requesting a pension for him.
The other soldiers then laid down their arms, the old man was rescued,
and the rebellion was commenced. {90}

And now we must turn to Sir James Turner’s memoirs of himself; for,
strange to say, this extraordinary man was remarkably fond of literary
composition, and wrote, besides the amusing account of his own adventures
just mentioned, a large number of essays and short biographies, and a
work on war, entitled _Pallas Armata_.  The following are some of the
shorter pieces ‘Magick,’ ‘Friendship,’ ‘Imprisonment,’ ‘Anger,’
‘Revenge,’ ‘Duells,’ ‘Cruelty,’ ‘A Defence of some of the Ceremonies of
the English Liturgie—to wit—Bowing at the Name of Jesus, The frequent
repetition of the Lord’s Prayer and Good Lord deliver us, Of the
Doxologie, Of Surplesses, Rotchets, Canonnicall Coats,’ etc.  From what
we know of his character we should expect ‘Anger’ and ‘Cruelty’ to be
very full and instructive.  But what earthly right he had to meddle with
ecclesiastical subjects it is hard to see.

Upon the 12th of the month he had received some information concerning
Gray’s proceedings, but as it was excessively indefinite in its
character, he paid no attention to it.  On the evening of the 14th,
Corporal Deanes was brought into Dumfries, who affirmed stoutly that he
had been shot while refusing to sign the Covenant—a story rendered
singularly unlikely by the after conduct of the rebels.  Sir James
instantly dispatched orders to the cessed soldiers either to come to
Dumfries or meet him on the way to Dalry, and commanded the thirteen or
fourteen men in the town with him to come at nine next morning to his
lodging for supplies.

On the morning of Thursday the rebels arrived at Dumfries with 50 horse
and 150 foot.  Neilson of Corsack, and Gray, who commanded, with a
considerable troop, entered the town, and surrounded Sir James Turner’s
lodging.  Though it was between eight and nine o’clock, that worthy,
being unwell, was still in bed, but rose at once and went to the window.

Neilson and some others cried, ‘You may have fair quarter.’

‘I need no quarter,’ replied Sir James; ‘nor can I be a prisoner, seeing
there is no war declared.’  On being told, however, that he must either
be a prisoner or die, he came down, and went into the street in his
night-shirt.  Here Gray showed himself very desirous of killing him, but
he was overruled by Corsack.  However, he was taken away a prisoner,
Captain Gray mounting him on his own horse, though, as Turner naively
remarks, ‘there was good reason for it, for he mounted himself on a farre
better one of mine.’  A large coffer containing his clothes and money,
together with all his papers, were taken away by the rebels.  They robbed
Master Chalmers, the Episcopalian minister of Dumfries, of his horse,
drank the King’s health at the market cross, and then left Dumfries. {92}


    ‘Stay, passenger, take notice what thou reads,
    At Edinburgh lie our bodies, here our heads;
    Our right hands stood at Lanark, these we want,
    Because with them we signed the Covenant.’

                                _Epitaph on a Tombstone at Hamilton_. {93}

On Friday the 16th, Bailie Irvine of Dumfries came to the Council at
Edinburgh, and gave information concerning this ‘horrid rebellion.’  In
the absence of Rothes, Sharpe presided—much to the wrath of some members;
and as he imagined his own safety endangered, his measures were most
energetic.  Dalzell was ordered away to the West, the guards round the
city were doubled, officers and soldiers were forced to take the oath of
allegiance, and all lodgers were commanded to give in their names.
Sharpe, surrounded with all these guards and precautions,
trembled—trembled as he trembled when the avengers of blood drew him from
his chariot on Magus Muir,—for he knew how he had sold his trust, how he
had betrayed his charge, and he felt that against him must their chiefest
hatred be directed, against him their direst thunder-bolts be forged.
But even in his fear the apostate Presbyterian was unrelenting,
unpityingly harsh; he published in his manifesto no promise of pardon, no
inducement to submission.  He said, ‘If you submit not you must die,’ but
never added, ‘If you submit you may live!’ {94a}

Meantime the insurgents proceeded on their way.  At Carsphairn they were
deserted by Captain Gray, who, doubtless in a fit of oblivion, neglected
to leave behind him the coffer containing Sir James’s money.  Who he was
is a mystery, unsolved by any historian; his papers were evidently
forgeries—that, and his final flight, appear to indicate that he was an
agent of the Royalists, for either the King or the Duke of York was heard
to say, ‘That, if he might have his wish, he would have them all turn
rebels and go to arms.’ {94b}

Upon the 18th day of the month they left Carsphairn and marched onwards.

Turner was always lodged by his captors at a good inn, frequently at the
best of which their halting-place could boast.  Here many visits were
paid to him by the ministers and officers of the insurgent force.  In his
description of these interviews he displays a vein of satiric severity,
admitting any kindness that was done to him with some qualifying souvenir
of former harshness, and gloating over any injury, mistake, or folly,
which it was his chance to suffer or to hear.  He appears,
notwithstanding all this, to have been on pretty good terms with his
cruel ‘phanaticks,’ as the following extract sufficiently proves:

‘Most of the foot were lodged about the church or churchyard, and order
given to ring bells next morning for a sermon to be preached by Mr.
Welch.  Maxwell of Morith, and Major M‘Cullough invited me to heare “that
phanatick sermon” (for soe they merrilie called it).  They said that
preaching might prove an effectual meane to turne me, which they
heartilie wished.  I answered to them that I was under guards, and that
if they intended to heare that sermon, it was probable I might likewise,
for it was not like my guards wold goe to church and leave me alone at my
lodgeings.  Bot to what they said of my conversion, I said it wold be
hard to turne a Turner.  Bot because I founde them in a merrie humour, I
said, if I did not come to heare Mr. Welch preach, then they might fine
me in fortie shillings Scots, which was double the suome of what I had
exacted from the phanatics.’ {95}

This took place at Ochiltree, on the 22nd day of the month.  The
following is recounted by this personage with malicious glee, and
certainly, if authentic, it is a sad proof of how chaff is mixed with
wheat, and how ignorant, almost impious, persons were engaged in this
movement; nevertheless we give it, for we wish to present with
impartiality all the alleged facts to the reader:

‘Towards the evening Mr. Robinsone and Mr. Crukshank gaue me a visite; I
called for some ale purposelie to heare one of them blesse it.  It fell
Mr. Robinsone to seeke the blessing, who said one of the most bombastick
graces that ever I heard in my life.  He summoned God Allmightie very
imperiouslie to be their secondarie (for that was his language).  “And
if,” said he, “thou wilt not be our Secondarie, we will not fight for
thee at all, for it is not our cause bot thy cause; and if thou wilt not
fight for our cause and thy oune cause, then we are not obliged to fight
for it.  They say,” said he, “that Dukes, Earles, and Lords are coming
with the King’s General against us, bot they shall be nothing bot a
threshing to us.”  This grace did more fullie satisfie me of the folly
and injustice of their cause, then the ale did quench my thirst.’ {96a}

Frequently the rebels made a halt near some roadside alehouse, or in some
convenient park, where Colonel Wallace, who had now taken the command,
would review the horse and foot, during which time Turner was sent either
into the alehouse or round the shoulder of the hill, to prevent him from
seeing the disorders which were likely to arise.  He was, at last, on the
25th day of the month, between Douglas and Lanark, permitted to behold
their evolutions.  ‘I found their horse did consist of four hundreth and
fortie, and the foot of five hundreth and upwards. . . . The horsemen
were armed for most part with suord and pistoll, some onlie with suord.
The foot with musket, pike, sith (scythe), forke, and suord; and some
with suords great and long.’  He admired much the proficiency of their
cavalry, and marvelled how they had attained to it in so short a time.

At Douglas, which they had just left on the morning of this great
wapinshaw, they were charged—awful picture of depravity!—with the theft
of a silver spoon and a nightgown.  Could it be expected that while the
whole country swarmed with robbers of every description, such a rare
opportunity for plunder should be lost by rogues—that among a thousand
men, even though fighting for religion, there should not be one Achan in
the camp?  At Lanark a declaration was drawn up and signed by the chief
rebels.  In it occurs the following:

‘The just sense whereof ’—the sufferings of the country—‘made us choose,
rather to betake ourselves to the fields for self-defence, than to stay
at home, burdened daily with the calamities of others, and tortured with
the fears of our own approaching misery.’ {97}

The whole body, too, swore the Covenant, to which ceremony the epitaph at
the head of this chapter seems to refer.

A report that Dalzell was approaching drove them from Lanark to Bathgate,
where, on the evening of Monday the 26th, the wearied army stopped.  But
at twelve o’clock the cry, which served them for a trumpet, of ‘Horse!
horse!’ and ‘Mount the prisoner!’ resounded through the night-shrouded
town, and called the peasants from their well-earned rest to toil onwards
in their march.  The wind howled fiercely over the moorland; a close,
thick, wetting rain descended.  Chilled to the bone, worn out with long
fatigue, sinking to the knees in mire, onward they marched to
destruction.  One by one the weary peasants fell off from their ranks to
sleep, and die in the rain-soaked moor, or to seek some house by the
wayside wherein to hide till daybreak.  One by one at first, then in
gradually increasing numbers, at every shelter that was seen, whole
troops left the waning squadrons, and rushed to hide themselves from the
ferocity of the tempest.  To right and left nought could be descried but
the broad expanse of the moor, and the figures of their fellow-rebels,
seen dimly through the murky night, plodding onwards through the sinking
moss.  Those who kept together—a miserable few—often halted to rest
themselves, and to allow their lagging comrades to overtake them.  Then
onward they went again, still hoping for assistance, reinforcement, and
supplies; onward again, through the wind, and the rain, and the
darkness—onward to their defeat at Pentland, and their scaffold at
Edinburgh.  It was calculated that they lost one half of their army on
that disastrous night-march.

Next night they reached the village of Colinton, four miles from
Edinburgh, where they halted for the last time. {98}


    ‘From Covenanters with uplifted hands,
    From Remonstrators with associate bands,
             Good Lord, deliver us!’

                                        _Royalist Rhyme_, KIRKTON, p. 127.

Late on the fourth night of November, exactly twenty-four days before
Rullion Green, Richard and George Chaplain, merchants in Haddington,
beheld four men, clad like West-country Whigamores, standing round some
object on the ground.  It was at the two-mile cross, and within that
distance from their homes.  At last, to their horror, they discovered
that the recumbent figure was a livid corpse, swathed in a blood-stained
winding-sheet. {99}  Many thought that this apparition was a portent of
the deaths connected with the Pentland Rising.

On the morning of Wednesday, the 28th of November 1666, they left
Colinton and marched to Rullion Green.  There they arrived about sunset.
The position was a strong one.  On the summit of a bare, heathery spur of
the Pentlands are two hillocks, and between them lies a narrow band of
flat marshy ground.  On the highest of the two mounds—that nearest the
Pentlands, and on the left hand of the main body—was the greater part of
the cavalry, under Major Learmont; on the other Barscob and the Galloway
gentlemen; and in the centre Colonel Wallace and the weak, half-armed
infantry.  Their position was further strengthened by the depth of the
valley below, and the deep chasm-like course of the Rullion Burn.

The sun, going down behind the Pentlands, cast golden lights and blue
shadows on their snow-clad summits, slanted obliquely into the rich plain
before them, bathing with rosy splendour the leafless, snow-sprinkled
trees, and fading gradually into shadow in the distance.  To the south,
too, they beheld a deep-shaded amphitheatre of heather and bracken; the
course of the Esk, near Penicuik, winding about at the foot of its gorge;
the broad, brown expanse of Maw Moss; and, fading into blue
indistinctness in the south, the wild heath-clad Peeblesshire hills.  In
sooth, that scene was fair, and many a yearning glance was cast over that
peaceful evening scene from the spot where the rebels awaited their
defeat; and when the fight was over, many a noble fellow lifted his head
from the blood-stained heather to strive with darkening eyeballs to
behold that landscape, over which, as over his life and his cause, the
shadows of night and of gloom were falling and thickening.

It was while waiting on this spot that the fear-inspiring cry was raised:
‘The enemy!  Here come the enemy!’

Unwilling to believe their own doom—for our insurgents still hoped for
success in some negotiations for peace which had been carried on at
Colinton—they called out, ‘They are some of our own.’

‘They are too blacke’ (_i.e._ numerous), ‘fie! fie! for ground to draw up
on,’ cried Wallace, fully realising the want of space for his men, and
proving that it was not till after this time that his forces were finally
arranged. {101a}

First of all the battle was commenced by fifty Royalist horse sent
obliquely across the hill to attack the left wing of the rebels.  An
equal number of Learmont’s men met them, and, after a struggle, drove
them back.  The course of the Rullion Burn prevented almost all pursuit,
and Wallace, on perceiving it, dispatched a body of foot to occupy both
the burn and some ruined sheep-walls on the farther side.

Dalzell changed his position, and drew up his army at the foot of the
hill, on the top of which were his foes.  He then dispatched a mingled
body of infantry and cavalry to attack Wallace’s outpost, but they also
were driven back.  A third charge produced a still more disastrous
effect, for Dalzell had to check the pursuit of his men by a

These repeated checks bred a panic in the Lieutenant-General’s ranks, for
several of his men flung down their arms.  Urged by such fatal symptoms,
and by the approaching night, he deployed his men, and closed in
overwhelming numbers on the centre and right flank of the insurgent army.
In the increasing twilight the burning matches of the firelocks,
shimmering on barrel, halbert, and cuirass, lent to the approaching army
a picturesque effect, like a huge, many-armed giant breathing flame into
the darkness.

Placed on an overhanging hill, Welch and Semple cried aloud, ‘The God of
Jacob! The God of Jacob!’ and prayed with uplifted hands for victory.

But still the Royalist troops closed in.

Captain John Paton was observed by Dalzell, who determined to capture him
with his own hands.  Accordingly he charged forward, presenting his
pistols.  Paton fired, but the balls hopped off Dalzell’s buff coat and
fell into his boot.  With the superstition peculiar to his age, the
Nonconformist concluded that his adversary was rendered bullet-proof by
enchantment, and, pulling some small silver coins from his pocket,
charged his pistol therewith.  Dalzell, seeing this, and supposing, it is
likely, that Paton was putting in larger balls, hid behind his servant,
who was killed. {102}

Meantime the outposts were forced, and the army of Wallace was enveloped
in the embrace of a hideous boa-constrictor—tightening, closing, crushing
every semblance of life from the victim enclosed in his toils.  The
flanking parties of horse were forced in upon the centre, and though, as
even Turner grants, they fought with desperation, a general flight was
the result.

But when they fell there was none to sing their coronach or wail the
death-wail over them.  Those who sacrificed themselves for the peace, the
liberty, and the religion of their fellow-countrymen, lay bleaching in
the field of death for long, and when at last they were buried by
charity, the peasants dug up their bodies, desecrated their graves, and
cast them once more upon the open heath for the sorry value of their

_Inscription on stone at Rullion Green_:

                                 AND NEAR TO
                             THIS PLACE LYES THE
                         REVEREND MR JOHN CROOKSHANK
                           AND MR ANDREW MCCORMICK
                         MINISTERS OF THE GOSPEL AND
                            PRESBYTERIANS WHO WERE
                      KILLED IN THIS PLACE IN THEIR OWN
                              OF THE COVENANTED
                            WORK OF REFORMATION BY
                            THOMAS DALZEEL OF BINS
                           UPON THE 28 OF NOVEMBER
                         1666.  REV. 12. 11. ERECTED
                                SEPT. 28 1738.

                             _Back of stone_:

    A Cloud of Witnesses lyes here,
    Who for Christ’s Interest did appear,
    For to restore true Liberty,
    O’erturnèd then by tyranny.
    And by proud Prelats who did Rage
    Against the Lord’s Own heritage.
    They sacrificed were for the laws
    Of Christ their king, his noble cause.
    These heroes fought with great renown;
    By falling got the Martyr’s crown. {103}


    ‘They cut his hands ere he was dead,
    And after that struck of his head.
    His blood under the altar cries
    For vengeance on Christ’s enemies.’

                         _Epitaph on Tomb at Longcross of Clermont_. {104}

Master Andrew Murray, an outed minister, residing in the Potterrow, on
the morning after the defeat, heard the sounds of cheering and the march
of many feet beneath his window.  He gazed out.  With colours flying, and
with music sounding, Dalzell, victorious, entered Edinburgh.  But his
banners were dyed in blood, and a band of prisoners were marched within
his ranks.  The old man knew it all.  That martial and triumphant strain
was the death-knell of his friends and of their cause, the rust-hued
spots upon the flags were the tokens of their courage and their death,
and the prisoners were the miserable remnant spared from death in battle
to die upon the scaffold.  Poor old man! he had outlived all joy.  Had he
lived longer he would have seen increasing torment and increasing woe; he
would have seen the clouds, then but gathering in mist, cast a more than
midnight darkness over his native hills, and have fallen a victim to
those bloody persecutions which, later, sent their red memorials to the
sea by many a burn.  By a merciful Providence all this was spared to
him—he fell beneath the first blow; and ere four days had passed since
Rullion Green, the aged minister of God was gathered to is fathers.

When Sharpe first heard of the rebellion, he applied to Sir Alexander
Ramsay, the Provost, for soldiers to guard his house.  Disliking their
occupation, the soldiers gave him an ugly time of it.  All the night
through they kept up a continuous series of ‘alarms and incursions,’
‘cries of “Stand!” “Give fire!”’ etc., which forced the prelate to flee
to the Castle in the morning, hoping there to find the rest which was
denied him at home. {105b}  Now, however, when all danger to himself was
past, Sharpe came out in his true colours, and scant was the justice
likely to be shown to the foes of Scottish Episcopacy when the Primate
was by.  The prisoners were lodged in Haddo’s Hole, a part of St. Giles’
Cathedral, where, by the kindness of Bishop Wishart, to his credit be it
spoken, they were amply supplied with food. {105c}

Some people urged, in the Council, that the promise of quarter which had
been given on the field of battle should protect the lives of the
miserable men.  Sir John Gilmoure, the greatest lawyer, gave no
opinion—certainly a suggestive circumstance—but Lord Lee declared that
this would not interfere with their legal trial, ‘so to bloody executions
they went.’ {105d}  To the number of thirty they were condemned and
executed; while two of them, Hugh M‘Kail, a young minister, and Neilson
of Corsack, were tortured with the boots.

The goods of those who perished were confiscated, and their bodies were
dismembered and distributed to different parts of the country; ‘the heads
of Major M‘Culloch and the two Gordons,’ it was resolved, says Kirkton,
‘should be pitched on the gate of Kirkcudbright; the two Hamiltons and
Strong’s head should be affixed at Hamilton, and Captain Arnot’s sett on
the Watter Gate at Edinburgh.  The armes of all the ten, because they
hade with uplifted hands renewed the Covenant at Lanark, were sent to the
people of that town to expiate that crime, by placing these arms on the
top of the prison.’ {106}  Among these was John Neilson, the Laird of
Corsack, who saved Turner’s life at Dumfries; in return for which service
Sir James attempted, though without success, to get the poor man
reprieved.  One of the condemned died of his wounds between the day of
condemnation and the day of execution.  ‘None of them,’ says Kirkton,
‘would save their life by taking the declaration and renouncing the
Covenant, though it was offered to them. . . . But never men died in
Scotland so much lamented by the people, not only spectators, but those
in the country.  When Knockbreck and his brother were turned over, they
clasped each other in their armes, and so endured the pangs of death.
When Humphrey Colquhoun died, he spoke not like an ordinary citizen, but
like a heavenly minister, relating his comfortable Christian experiences,
and called for his Bible, and laid it on his wounded arm, and read John
iii. 8, and spoke upon it to the admiration of all.  But most of all,
when Mr. M‘Kail died, there was such a lamentation as was never known in
Scotland before; not one dry cheek upon all the street, or in all the
numberless windows in the mercate place.’ {107a}

The following passage from this speech speaks for itself and its author:

‘Hereafter I will not talk with flesh and blood, nor think on the world’s
consolations.  Farewell to all my friends, whose company hath been
refreshful to me in my pilgrimage.  I have done with the light of the sun
and the moon; welcome eternal light, eternal life, everlasting love,
everlasting praise, everlasting glory.  Praise to Him that sits upon the
throne, and to the Lamb for ever!  Bless the Lord, O my soul, that hath
pardoned all my iniquities in the blood of His Son, and healed all my
diseases.  Bless Him, O all ye His angels that excel in strength, ye
ministers of His that do His pleasure.  Bless the Lord, O my soul!’

After having ascended the gallows ladder he again broke forth in the
following words of touching eloquence: ‘And now I leave off to speak any
more to creatures, and begin my intercourse with God, which shall never
be broken off.  Farewell father and mother, friends and relations!
Farewell the world and all delights!  Farewell meat and drink!  Farewell
sun, moon, and stars!—Welcome God and Father!  Welcome sweet Jesus
Christ, the Mediator of the new covenant!  Welcome blessed Spirit of
grace and God of all consolation!  Welcome glory!  Welcome eternal life!
Welcome Death!’ {107c}

At Glasgow, too, where some were executed, they caused the soldiers to
beat the drums and blow the trumpets on their closing ears.  Hideous
refinement of revenge!  Even the last words which drop from the lips of a
dying man—words surely the most sincere and the most unbiassed which
mortal mouth can utter—even these were looked upon as poisoned and as
poisonous.  ‘Drown their last accents,’ was the cry, ‘lest they should
lead the crowd to take their part, or at the least to mourn their doom!’
{108a}  But, after all, perhaps it was more merciful than one would
think—unintentionally so, of course; perhaps the storm of harsh and
fiercely jubilant noises, the clanging of trumpets, the rattling of
drums, and the hootings and jeerings of an unfeeling mob, which were the
last they heard on earth, might, when the mortal fight was over, when the
river of death was passed, add tenfold sweetness to the hymning of the
angels, tenfold peacefulness to the shores which they had reached.

Not content with the cruelty of these executions, some even of the
peasantry, though these were confined to the shire of Mid-Lothian,
pursued, captured, plundered, and murdered the miserable fugitives who
fell in their way.  One strange story have we of these times of blood and
persecution: Kirkton the historian and popular tradition tell us alike of
a flame which often would arise from the grave, in a moss near Carnwath,
of some of those poor rebels: of how it crept along the ground; of how it
covered the house of their murderer; and of how it scared him with its
lurid glare.

Hear Daniel Defoe: {108b}

    ‘If the poor people were by these insupportable violences made
    desperate, and driven to all the extremities of a wild despair, who
    can justly reflect on them when they read in the Word of God “That
    oppression makes a wise man mad”?  And therefore were there no other
    original of the insurrection known by the name of the Rising of
    Pentland, it was nothing but what the intolerable oppressions of
    those times might have justified to all the world, nature having
    dictated to all people a right of defence when illegally and
    arbitrarily attacked in a manner not justifiable either by laws of
    nature, the laws of God, or the laws of the country.’

Bear this remonstrance of Defoe’s in mind, and though it is the fashion
of the day to jeer and to mock, to execrate and to contemn, the noble
band of Covenanters—though the bitter laugh at their old-world religious
views, the curl of the lip at their merits, and the chilling silence on
their bravery and their determination, are but too rife through all
society—be charitable to what was evil and honest to what was good about
the Pentland insurgents, who fought for life and liberty, for country and
religion, on the 28th of November 1666, now just two hundred years ago.

                                * * * * *

EDINBURGH, 28_th November_ 1866.


History is much decried; it is a tissue of errors, we are told, no doubt
correctly; and rival historians expose each other’s blunders with
gratification.  Yet the worst historian has a clearer view of the period
he studies than the best of us can hope to form of that in which we live.
The obscurest epoch is to-day; and that for a thousand reasons of
inchoate tendency, conflicting report, and sheer mass and multiplicity of
experience; but chiefly, perhaps, by reason of an insidious shifting of
landmarks.  Parties and ideas continually move, but not by measurable
marches on a stable course; the political soil itself steals forth by
imperceptible degrees, like a travelling glacier, carrying on its bosom
not only political parties but their flag-posts and cantonments; so that
what appears to be an eternal city founded on hills is but a flying
island of Laputa.  It is for this reason in particular that we are all
becoming Socialists without knowing it; by which I would not in the least
refer to the acute case of Mr. Hyndman and his horn-blowing supporters,
sounding their trumps of a Sunday within the walls of our individualist
Jericho—but to the stealthy change that has come over the spirit of
Englishmen and English legislation.  A little while ago, and we were
still for liberty; ‘crowd a few more thousands on the bench of
Government,’ we seemed to cry; ‘keep her head direct on liberty, and we
cannot help but come to port.’  This is over; _laisser faire_ declines in
favour; our legislation grows authoritative, grows philanthropical,
bristles with new duties and new penalties, and casts a spawn of
inspectors, who now begin, note-book in hand, to darken the face of
England.  It may be right or wrong, we are not trying that; but one thing
it is beyond doubt: it is Socialism in action, and the strange thing is
that we scarcely know it.

Liberty has served us a long while, and it may be time to seek new
altars.  Like all other principles, she has been proved to be
self-exclusive in the long run.  She has taken wages besides (like all
other virtues) and dutifully served Mammon; so that many things we were
accustomed to admire as the benefits of freedom and common to all were
truly benefits of wealth, and took their value from our neighbours’
poverty.  A few shocks of logic, a few disclosures (in the journalistic
phrase) of what the freedom of manufacturers, landlords, or shipowners
may imply for operatives, tenants, or seamen, and we not unnaturally
begin to turn to that other pole of hope, beneficent tyranny.  Freedom,
to be desirable, involves kindness, wisdom, and all the virtues of the
free; but the free man as we have seen him in action has been, as of
yore, only the master of many helots; and the slaves are still ill-fed,
ill-clad, ill-taught, ill-housed, insolently treated, and driven to their
mines and workshops by the lash of famine.  So much, in other men’s
affairs, we have begun to see clearly; we have begun to despair of virtue
in these other men, and from our seat in Parliament begin to discharge
upon them, thick as arrows, the host of our inspectors.  The landlord has
long shaken his head over the manufacturer; those who do business on land
have lost all trust in the virtues of the shipowner; the professions look
askance upon the retail traders and have even started their co-operative
stores to ruin them; and from out the smoke-wreaths of Birmingham a
finger has begun to write upon the wall the condemnation of the landlord.
Thus, piece by piece, do we condemn each other, and yet not perceive the
conclusion, that our whole estate is somewhat damnable.  Thus, piece by
piece, each acting against his neighbour, each sawing away the branch on
which some other interest is seated, do we apply in detail our
Socialistic remedies, and yet not perceive that we are all labouring
together to bring in Socialism at large.  A tendency so stupid and so
selfish is like to prove invincible; and if Socialism be at all a
practicable rule of life, there is every chance that our grand-children
will see the day and taste the pleasures of existence in something far
liker an ant-heap than any previous human polity.  And this not in the
least because of the voice of Mr. Hyndman or the horns of his followers;
but by the mere glacier movement of the political soil, bearing forward
on its bosom, apparently undisturbed, the proud camps of Whig and Tory.
If Mr. Hyndman were a man of keen humour, which is far from my conception
of his character, he might rest from his troubling and look on: the walls
of Jericho begin already to crumble and dissolve.  That great servile
war, the Armageddon of money and numbers, to which we looked forward when
young, becomes more and more unlikely; and we may rather look to see a
peaceable and blindfold evolution, the work of dull men immersed in
political tactics and dead to political results.

The principal scene of this comedy lies, of course, in the House of
Commons; it is there, besides, that the details of this new evolution (if
it proceed) will fall to be decided; so that the state of Parliament is
not only diagnostic of the present but fatefully prophetic of the future.
Well, we all know what Parliament is, and we are all ashamed of it.  We
may pardon it some faults, indeed, on the ground of Irish obstruction—a
bitter trial, which it supports with notable good humour.  But the excuse
is merely local; it cannot apply to similar bodies in America and France;
and what are we to say of these?  President Cleveland’s letter may serve
as a picture of the one; a glance at almost any paper will convince us of
the weakness of the other.  Decay appears to have seized on the organ of
popular government in every land; and this just at the moment when we
begin to bring to it, as to an oracle of justice, the whole skein of our
private affairs to be unravelled, and ask it, like a new Messiah, to take
upon itself our frailties and play for us the part that should be played
by our own virtues.  For that, in few words, is the case.  We cannot
trust ourselves to behave with decency; we cannot trust our consciences;
and the remedy proposed is to elect a round number of our neighbours,
pretty much at random, and say to these: ‘Be ye our conscience; make laws
so wise, and continue from year to year to administer them so wisely,
that they shall save us from ourselves and make us righteous and happy,
world without end.  Amen.’  And who can look twice at the British
Parliament and then seriously bring it such a task?  I am not advancing
this as an argument against Socialism: once again, nothing is further
from my mind.  There are great truths in Socialism, or no one, not even
Mr. Hyndman, would be found to hold it; and if it came, and did one-tenth
part of what it offers, I for one should make it welcome.  But if it is
to come, we may as well have some notion of what it will be like; and the
first thing to grasp is that our new polity will be designed and
administered (to put it courteously) with something short of inspiration.
It will be made, or will grow, in a human parliament; and the one thing
that will not very hugely change is human nature.  The Anarchists think
otherwise, from which it is only plain that they have not carried to the
study of history the lamp of human sympathy.

Given, then, our new polity, with its new waggon-load of laws, what
headmarks must we look for in the life?  We chafe a good deal at that
excellent thing, the income-tax, because it brings into our affairs the
prying fingers, and exposes us to the tart words, of the official.  The
official, in all degrees, is already something of a terror to many of us.
I would not willingly have to do with even a police-constable in any
other spirit than that of kindness.  I still remember in my dreams the
eye-glass of a certain _attaché_ at a certain embassy—an eyeglass that
was a standing indignity to all on whom it looked; and my next most
disagreeable remembrance is of a bracing, Republican postman in the city
of San Francisco.  I lived in that city among working folk, and what my
neighbours accepted at the postman’s hands—nay, what I took from him
myself—it is still distasteful to recall.  The bourgeois, residing in the
upper parts of society, has but few opportunities of tasting this
peculiar bowl; but about the income-tax, as I have said, or perhaps about
a patent, or in the halls of an embassy at the hands of my friend of the
eye-glass, he occasionally sets his lips to it; and he may thus imagine
(if he has that faculty of imagination, without which most faculties are
void) how it tastes to his poorer neighbours, who must drain it to the
dregs.  In every contact with authority, with their employer, with the
police, with the School Board officer, in the hospital, or in the
workhouse, they have equally the occasion to appreciate the light-hearted
civility of the man in office; and as an experimentalist in several
out-of-the-way provinces of life, I may say it has but to be felt to be
appreciated.  Well, this golden age of which we are speaking will be the
golden age of officials.  In all our concerns it will be their beloved
duty to meddle, with what tact, with what obliging words, analogy will
aid us to imagine.  It is likely these gentlemen will be periodically
elected; they will therefore have their turn of being underneath, which
does not always sweeten men’s conditions.  The laws they will have to
administer will be no clearer than those we know to-day, and the body
which is to regulate their administration no wiser than the British
Parliament.  So that upon all hands we may look for a form of servitude
most galling to the blood—servitude to many and changing masters, and for
all the slights that accompany the rule of jack-in-office.  And if the
Socialistic programme be carried out with the least fulness, we shall
have lost a thing, in most respects not much to be regretted, but as a
moderator of oppression, a thing nearly invaluable—the newspaper.  For
the independent journal is a creature of capital and competition; it
stands and falls with millionaires and railway bonds and all the abuses
and glories of to-day; and as soon as the State has fairly taken its bent
to authority and philanthropy, and laid the least touch on private
property, the days of the independent journal are numbered.  State
railways may be good things and so may State bakeries; but a State
newspaper will never be a very trenchant critic of the State officials.

But again, these officials would have no sinecure.  Crime would perhaps
be less, for some of the motives of crime we may suppose would pass away.
But if Socialism were carried out with any fulness, there would be more
contraventions.  We see already new sins ringing up like mustard—School
Board sins, factory sins, Merchant Shipping Act sins—none of which I
would be thought to except against in particular, but all of which, taken
together, show us that Socialism can be a hard master even in the
beginning.  If it go on to such heights as we hear proposed and lauded,
if it come actually to its ideal of the ant-heap, ruled with iron
justice, the number of new contraventions will be out of all proportion
multiplied.  Take the case of work alone.  Man is an idle animal.  He is
at least as intelligent as the ant; but generations of advisers have in
vain recommended him the ant’s example.  Of those who are found truly
indefatigable in business, some are misers; some are the practisers of
delightful industries, like gardening; some are students, artists,
inventors, or discoverers, men lured forward by successive hopes; and the
rest are those who live by games of skill or hazard—financiers,
billiard-players, gamblers, and the like.  But in unloved toils, even
under the prick of necessity, no man is continually sedulous.  Once
eliminate the fear of starvation, once eliminate or bound the hope of
riches, and we shall see plenty of skulking and malingering.  Society
will then be something not wholly unlike a cotton plantation in the old
days; with cheerful, careless, demoralised slaves, with elected
overseers, and, instead of the planter, a chaotic popular assembly.  If
the blood be purposeful and the soil strong, such a plantation may
succeed, and be, indeed, a busy ant-heap, with full granaries and long
hours of leisure.  But even then I think the whip will be in the
overseer’s hands, and not in vain.  For, when it comes to be a question
of each man doing his own share or the rest doing more, prettiness of
sentiment will be forgotten.  To dock the skulker’s food is not enough;
many will rather eat haws and starve on petty pilferings than put their
shoulder to the wheel for one hour daily.  For such as these, then, the
whip will be in the overseer’s hand; and his own sense of justice and the
superintendence of a chaotic popular assembly will be the only checks on
its employment.  Now, you may be an industrious man and a good citizen,
and yet not love, nor yet be loved by, Dr. Fell the inspector.  It is
admitted by private soldiers that the disfavour of a sergeant is an evil
not to be combated; offend the sergeant, they say, and in a brief while
you will either be disgraced or have deserted.  And the sergeant can no
longer appeal to the lash.  But if these things go on, we shall see, or
our sons shall see, what it is to have offended an inspector.

This for the unfortunate.  But with the fortunate also, even those whom
the inspector loves, it may not be altogether well.  It is concluded that
in such a state of society, supposing it to be financially sound, the
level of comfort will be high.  It does not follow: there are strange
depths of idleness in man, a too-easily-got sufficiency, as in the case
of the sago-eaters, often quenching the desire for all besides; and it is
possible that the men of the richest ant-heaps may sink even into
squalor.  But suppose they do not; suppose our tricksy instrument of
human nature, when we play upon it this new tune, should respond kindly;
suppose no one to be damped and none exasperated by the new conditions,
the whole enterprise to be financially sound—a vaulting supposition—and
all the inhabitants to dwell together in a golden mean of comfort: we
have yet to ask ourselves if this be what man desire, or if it be what
man will even deign to accept for a continuance.  It is certain that man
loves to eat, it is not certain that he loves that only or that best.  He
is supposed to love comfort; it is not a love, at least, that he is
faithful to.  He is supposed to love happiness; it is my contention that
he rather loves excitement.  Danger, enterprise, hope, the novel, the
aleatory, are dearer to man than regular meals.  He does not think so
when he is hungry, but he thinks so again as soon as he is fed; and on
the hypothesis of a successful ant-heap, he would never go hungry.  It
would be always after dinner in that society, as, in the land of the
Lotos-eaters, it was always afternoon; and food, which, when we have it
not, seems all-important, drops in our esteem, as soon as we have it, to
a mere prerequisite of living.

That for which man lives is not the same thing for all individuals nor in
all ages; yet it has a common base; what he seeks and what he must have
is that which will seize and hold his attention.  Regular meals and
weatherproof lodgings will not do this long.  Play in its wide sense, as
the artificial induction of sensation, including all games and all arts,
will, indeed, go far to keep him conscious of himself; but in the end he
wearies for realities.  Study or experiment, to some rare natures, is the
unbroken pastime of a life.  These are enviable natures; people shut in
the house by sickness often bitterly envy them; but the commoner man
cannot continue to exist upon such altitudes: his feet itch for physical
adventure; his blood boils for physical dangers, pleasures, and triumphs;
his fancy, the looker after new things, cannot continue to look for them
in books and crucibles, but must seek them on the breathing stage of
life.  Pinches, buffets, the glow of hope, the shock of disappointment,
furious contention with obstacles: these are the true elixir for all
vital spirits, these are what they seek alike in their romantic
enterprises and their unromantic dissipations.  When they are taken in
some pinch closer than the common, they cry, ‘Catch me here again!’ and
sure enough you catch them there again—perhaps before the week is out.
It is as old as _Robinson Crusoe_; as old as man.  Our race has not been
strained for all these ages through that sieve of dangers that we call
Natural Selection, to sit down with patience in the tedium of safety; the
voices of its fathers call it forth.  Already in our society as it
exists, the bourgeois is too much cottoned about for any zest in living;
he sits in his parlour out of reach of any danger, often out of reach of
any vicissitude but one of health; and there he yawns.  If the people in
the next villa took pot-shots at him, he might be killed indeed, but so
long as he escaped he would find his blood oxygenated and his views of
the world brighter.  If Mr. Mallock, on his way to the publishers, should
have his skirts pinned to a wall by a javelin, it would not occur to
him—at least for several hours—to ask if life were worth living; and if
such peril were a daily matter, he would ask it never more; he would have
other things to think about, he would be living indeed—not lying in a box
with cotton, safe, but immeasurably dull.  The aleatory, whether it touch
life, or fortune, or renown—whether we explore Africa or only toss for
halfpence—that is what I conceive men to love best, and that is what we
are seeking to exclude from men’s existences.  Of all forms of the
aleatory, that which most commonly attends our working men—the danger of
misery from want of work—is the least inspiriting: it does not whip the
blood, it does not evoke the glory of contest; it is tragic, but it is
passive; and yet, in so far as it is aleatory, and a peril sensibly
touching them, it does truly season the men’s lives.  Of those who fail,
I do not speak—despair should be sacred; but to those who even modestly
succeed, the changes of their life bring interest: a job found, a
shilling saved, a dainty earned, all these are wells of pleasure
springing afresh for the successful poor; and it is not from these but
from the villa-dweller that we hear complaints of the unworthiness of
life.  Much, then, as the average of the proletariat would gain in this
new state of life, they would also lose a certain something, which would
not be missed in the beginning, but would be missed progressively and
progressively lamented.  Soon there would be a looking back: there would
be tales of the old world humming in young men’s ears, tales of the tramp
and the pedlar, and the hopeful emigrant.  And in the stall-fed life of
the successful ant-heap—with its regular meals, regular duties, regular
pleasures, an even course of life, and fear excluded—the vicissitudes,
delights, and havens of to-day will seem of epic breadth.  This may seem
a shallow observation; but the springs by which men are moved lie much on
the surface.  Bread, I believe, has always been considered first, but the
circus comes close upon its heels.  Bread we suppose to be given amply;
the cry for circuses will be the louder, and if the life of our
descendants be such as we have conceived, there are two beloved pleasures
on which they will be likely to fall back: the pleasures of intrigue and
of sedition.

In all this I have supposed the ant-heap to be financially sound.  I am
no economist, only a writer of fiction; but even as such, I know one
thing that bears on the economic question—I know the imperfection of
man’s faculty for business.  The Anarchists, who count some rugged
elements of common sense among what seem to me their tragic errors, have
said upon this matter all that I could wish to say, and condemned
beforehand great economical polities.  So far it is obvious that they are
right; they may be right also in predicting a period of communal
independence, and they may even be right in thinking that desirable.  But
the rise of communes is none the less the end of economic equality, just
when we were told it was beginning.  Communes will not be all equal in
extent, nor in quality of soil, nor in growth of population; nor will the
surplus produce of all be equally marketable.  It will be the old story
of competing interests, only with a new unit; and, as it appears to me, a
new, inevitable danger.  For the merchant and the manufacturer, in this
new world, will be a sovereign commune; it is a sovereign power that will
see its crops undersold, and its manufactures worsted in the market.  And
all the more dangerous that the sovereign power should be small.  Great
powers are slow to stir; national affronts, even with the aid of
newspapers, filter slowly into popular consciousness; national losses are
so unequally shared, that one part of the population will be counting its
gains while another sits by a cold hearth.  But in the sovereign commune
all will be centralised and sensitive.  When jealousy springs up, when
(let us say) the commune of Poole has overreached the commune of
Dorchester, irritation will run like quicksilver throughout the body
politic; each man in Dorchester will have to suffer directly in his diet
and his dress; even the secretary, who drafts the official
correspondence, will sit down to his task embittered, as a man who has
dined ill and may expect to dine worse; and thus a business difference
between communes will take on much the same colour as a dispute between
diggers in the lawless West, and will lead as directly to the arbitrament
of blows.  So that the establishment of the communal system will not only
reintroduce all the injustices and heart-burnings of economic inequality,
but will, in all human likelihood, inaugurate a world of hedgerow
warfare.  Dorchester will march on Poole, Sherborne on Dorchester,
Wimborne on both; the waggons will be fired on as they follow the
highway, the trains wrecked on the lines, the ploughman will go armed
into the field of tillage; and if we have not a return of ballad
literature, the local press at least will celebrate in a high vein the
victory of Cerne Abbas or the reverse of Toller Porcorum.  At least this
will not be dull; when I was younger, I could have welcomed such a world
with relief; but it is the New-Old with a vengeance, and irresistibly
suggests the growth of military powers and the foundation of new empires.



On the 2nd of January 1824 was issued the prospectus of the _Lapsus
Linguæ_; _or_, _the College Tatler_; and on the 7th the first number
appeared.  On Friday the 2nd of April ‘_Mr. Tatler_ became speechless.’
Its history was not all one success; for the editor (who applies to
himself the words of Iago, ‘I am nothing if I am not critical’)
overstepped the bounds of caution, and found himself seriously embroiled
with the powers that were.  There appeared in No. XVI. a most bitter
satire upon Sir John Leslie, in which he was compared to Falstaff,
charged with puffing himself, and very prettily censured for publishing
only the first volume of a class-book, and making all purchasers pay for
both.  Sir John Leslie took up the matter angrily, visited Carfrae the
publisher, and threatened him with an action, till he was forced to turn
the hapless _Lapsus_ out of doors.  The maltreated periodical found
shelter in the shop of Huie, Infirmary Street; and No. XVII. was duly
issued from the new office.  No. XVII. beheld _Mr. Tatler’s_ humiliation,
in which, with fulsome apology and not very credible assurances of
respect and admiration, he disclaims the article in question, and
advertises a new issue of No. XVI. with all objectionable matter omitted.
This, with pleasing euphemism, he terms in a later advertisement, ‘a new
and improved edition.’  This was the only remarkable adventure of _Mr.
Tatler’s_ brief existence; unless we consider as such a silly Chaldee
manuscript in imitation of _Blackwood_, and a letter of reproof from a
divinity student on the impiety of the same dull effusion.  He laments
the near approach of his end in pathetic terms.  ‘How shall we summon up
sufficient courage,’ says he, ‘to look for the last time on our beloved
little devil and his inestimable proof-sheet?  How shall we be able to
pass No. 14 Infirmary Street and feel that all its attractions are over?
How shall we bid farewell for ever to that excellent man, with the long
greatcoat, wooden leg and wooden board, who acts as our representative at
the gate of _Alma Mater_?’  But alas! he had no choice: _Mr. Tatler_,
whose career, he says himself, had been successful, passed peacefully
away, and has ever since dumbly implored ‘the bringing home of bell and

_Alter et idem_.  A very different affair was the _Lapsus Linguæ_ from
the _Edinburgh University Magazine_.  The two prospectuses alone, laid
side by side, would indicate the march of luxury and the repeal of the
paper duty.  The penny bi-weekly broadside of session 1828–4 was almost
wholly dedicated to Momus.  Epigrams, pointless letters, amorous verses,
and University grievances are the continual burthen of the song.  But
_Mr. Tatler_ was not without a vein of hearty humour; and his pages
afford what is much better: to wit, a good picture of student life as it
then was.  The students of those polite days insisted on retaining their
hats in the class-room.  There was a cab-stance in front of the College;
and ‘Carriage Entrance’ was posted above the main arch, on what the
writer pleases to call ‘coarse, unclassic boards.’  The benches of the
‘Speculative’ then, as now, were red; but all other Societies (the
‘Dialectic’ is the only survivor) met downstairs, in some rooms of which
it is pointedly said that ‘nothing else could conveniently be made of
them.’  However horrible these dungeons may have been, it is certain that
they were paid for, and that far too heavily for the taste of session
1823–4, which found enough calls upon its purse for porter and toasted
cheese at Ambrose’s, or cranberry tarts and ginger-wine at Doull’s.
Duelling was still a possibility; so much so that when two medicals fell
to fisticuffs in Adam Square, it was seriously hinted that single combat
would be the result.  Last and most wonderful of all, Gall and Spurzheim
were in every one’s mouth; and the Law student, after having exhausted
Byron’s poetry and Scott’s novels, informed the ladies of his belief in
phrenology.  In the present day he would dilate on ‘Red as a rose is
she,’ and then mention that he attends Old Greyfriars’, as a tacit claim
to intellectual superiority.  I do not know that the advance is much.

But _Mr. Tatler’s_ best performances were three short papers in which he
hit off pretty smartly the idiosyncrasies of the ‘_Divinity_,’ the
‘_Medical_,’ and the ‘_Law_’ of session 1823–4.  The fact that there was
no notice of the ‘_Arts_’ seems to suggest that they stood in the same
intermediate position as they do now—the epitome of student-kind.  _Mr.
Tatler’s_ satire is, on the whole, good-humoured, and has not grown
superannuated in _all_ its limbs.  His descriptions may limp at some
points, but there are certain broad traits that apply equally well to
session 1870–1.  He shows us the _Divinity_ of the period—tall, pale, and
slender—his collar greasy, and his coat bare about the seams—‘his white
neckcloth serving four days, and regularly turned the third’—‘the rim of
his hat deficient in wool’—and ‘a weighty volume of theology under his
arm.’  He was the man to buy cheap ‘a snuff-box, or a dozen of pencils,
or a six-bladed knife, or a quarter of a hundred quills,’ at any of the
public sale-rooms.  He was noted for cheap purchases, and for exceeding
the legal tender in halfpence.  He haunted ‘the darkest and remotest
corner of the Theatre Gallery.’  He was to be seen issuing from ‘aerial
lodging-houses.’  Withal, says mine author, ‘there were many good points
about him: he paid his landlady’s bill, read his Bible, went twice to
church on Sunday, seldom swore, was not often tipsy, and bought the
_Lapsus Linguæ_.’

The _Medical_, again, ‘wore a white greatcoat, and consequently talked
loud’—(there is something very delicious in that _consequently_).  He
wore his hat on one side.  He was active, volatile, and went to the top
of Arthur’s Seat on the Sunday forenoon.  He was as quiet in a debating
society as he was loud in the streets.  He was reckless and imprudent:
yesterday he insisted on your sharing a bottle of claret with him (and
claret was claret then, before the cheap-and-nasty treaty), and to-morrow
he asks you for the loan of a penny to buy the last number of the

The student of _Law_, again, was a learned man.  ‘He had turned over the
leaves of Justinian’s _Institutes_, and knew that they were written in
Latin.  He was well acquainted with the title-page of Blackstone’s
_Commentaries_, and _argal_ (as the gravedigger in _Hamlet_ says) he was
not a person to be laughed at.’  He attended the Parliament House in the
character of a critic, and could give you stale sneers at all the
celebrated speakers.  He was the terror of essayists at the Speculative
or the Forensic.  In social qualities he seems to have stood unrivalled.
Even in the police-office we find him shining with undiminished lustre.
‘If a _Charlie_ should find him rather noisy at an untimely hour, and
venture to take him into custody, he appears next morning like a Daniel
come to judgment.  He opens his mouth to speak, and the divine precepts
of unchanging justice and Scots law flow from his tongue.  The magistrate
listens in amazement, and fines him only a couple of guineas.’

Such then were our predecessors and their College Magazine.  Barclay,
Ambrose, Young Amos, and Fergusson were to them what the Café, the
Rainbow, and Rutherford’s are to us.  An hour’s reading in these old
pages absolutely confuses us, there is so much that is similar and so
much that is different; the follies and amusements are so like our own,
and the manner of frolicking and enjoying are so changed, that one pauses
and looks about him in philosophic judgment.  The muddy quadrangle is
thick with living students; but in our eyes it swarms also with the
phantasmal white greatcoats and tilted hats of 1824.  Two races meet:
races alike and diverse.  Two performances are played before our eyes;
but the change seems merely of impersonators, of scenery, of costume.
Plot and passion are the same.  It is the fall of the spun shilling
whether seventy-one or twenty-four has the best of it.

In a future number we hope to give a glance at the individualities of the
present, and see whether the cast shall be head or tail—whether we or the
readers of the _Lapsus_ stand higher in the balance.


We have now reached the difficult portion of our task.  _Mr. Tatler_, for
all that we care, may have been as virulent as he liked about the
students of a former; but for the iron to touch our sacred selves, for a
brother of the Guild to betray its most privy infirmities, let such a
Judas look to himself as he passes on his way to the Scots Law or the
Diagnostic, below the solitary lamp at the corner of the dark quadrangle.
We confess that this idea alarms us.  We enter a protest.  We bind
ourselves over verbally to keep the peace.  We hope, moreover, that
having thus made you secret to our misgivings, you will excuse us if we
be dull, and set that down to caution which you might before have charged
to the account of stupidity.

The natural tendency of civilisation is to obliterate those distinctions
which are the best salt of life.  All the fine old professional flavour
in language has evaporated.  Your very gravedigger has forgotten his
avocation in his electorship, and would quibble on the Franchise over
Ophelia’s grave, instead of more appropriately discussing the duration of
bodies under ground.  From this tendency, from this gradual attrition of
life, in which everything pointed and characteristic is being rubbed
down, till the whole world begins to slip between our fingers in smooth
undistinguishable sands, from this, we say, it follows that we must not
attempt to join _Mr. Taller_ in his simple division of students into
_Law_, _Divinity_, and _Medical_.  Nowadays the Faculties may shake hands
over their follies; and, like Mrs. Frail and Mrs. Foresight (in _Love for
Love_) they may stand in the doors of opposite class-rooms, crying:
‘Sister, Sister—Sister everyway!’  A few restrictions, indeed, remain to
influence the followers of individual branches of study.  The Divinity,
for example, must be an avowed believer; and as this, in the present day,
is unhappily considered by many as a confession of weakness, he is fain
to choose one of two ways of gilding the distasteful orthodox bolus.
Some swallow it in a thin jelly of metaphysics; for it is even a credit
to believe in God on the evidence of some crack-jaw philosopher, although
it is a decided slur to believe in Him on His own authority.  Others
again (and this we think the worst method), finding German grammar a
somewhat dry morsel, run their own little heresy as a proof of
independence; and deny one of the cardinal doctrines that they may hold
the others without being laughed at.

Besides, however, such influences as these, there is little more
distinction between the faculties than the traditionary ideal, handed
down through a long sequence of students, and getting rounder and more
featureless at each successive session.  The plague of uniformity has
descended on the College.  Students (and indeed all sorts and conditions
of men) now require their faculty and character hung round their neck on
a placard, like the scenes in Shakespeare’s theatre.  And in the midst of
all this weary sameness, not the least common feature is the gravity of
every face.  No more does the merry medical run eagerly in the clear
winter morning up the rugged sides of Arthur’s Seat, and hear the church
bells begin and thicken and die away below him among the gathered smoke
of the city.  He will not break Sunday to so little purpose.  He no
longer finds pleasure in the mere output of his surplus energy.  He
husbands his strength, and lays out walks, and reading, and amusement
with deep consideration, so that he may get as much work and pleasure out
of his body as he can, and waste none of his energy on mere impulse, or
such flat enjoyment as an excursion in the country.

See the quadrangle in the interregnum of classes, in those two or three
minutes when it is full of passing students, and we think you will admit
that, if we have not made it ‘an habitation of dragons,’ we have at least
transformed it into ‘a court for owls.’  Solemnity broods heavily over
the enclosure; and wherever you seek it, you will find a dearth of
merriment, an absence of real youthful enjoyment.  You might as well try

    ‘To move wild laughter in the throat of death’

as to excite any healthy stir among the bulk of this staid company.

The studious congregate about the doors of the different classes,
debating the matter of the lecture, or comparing note-books.  A reserved
rivalry sunders them.  Here are some deep in Greek particles: there,
others are already inhabitants of that land

    ‘Where entity and quiddity,
    ‘Like ghosts of defunct bodies fly—
    Where Truth in person does appear
    Like words congealed in northern air.’

But none of them seem to find any relish for their studies—no pedantic
love of this subject or that lights up their eyes—science and learning
are only means for a livelihood, which they have considerately embraced
and which they solemnly pursue.  ‘Labour’s pale priests,’ their lips seem
incapable of laughter, except in the way of polite recognition of
professorial wit.  The stains of ink are chronic on their meagre fingers.
They walk like Saul among the asses.

The dandies are not less subdued.  In 1824 there was a noisy dapper
dandyism abroad.  Vulgar, as we should now think, but yet genial—a matter
of white greatcoats and loud voices—strangely different from the stately
frippery that is rife at present.  These men are out of their element in
the quadrangle.  Even the small remains of boisterous humour, which still
clings to any collection of young men, jars painfully on their morbid
sensibilities; and they beat a hasty retreat to resume their perfunctory
march along Princes Street.  Flirtation is to them a great social duty, a
painful obligation, which they perform on every occasion in the same
chill official manner, and with the same commonplace advances, the same
dogged observance of traditional behaviour.  The shape of their raiment
is a burden almost greater than they can bear, and they halt in their
walk to preserve the due adjustment of their trouser-knees, till one
would fancy he had mixed in a procession of Jacobs.  We speak, of course,
for ourselves; but we would as soon associate with a herd of sprightly
apes as with these gloomy modern beaux.  Alas, that our Mirabels, our
Valentines, even our Brummels, should have left their mantles upon
nothing more amusing!

Nor are the fast men less constrained.  Solemnity, even in dissipation,
is the order of the day; and they go to the devil with a perverse
seriousness, a systematic rationalism of wickedness that would have
surprised the simpler sinners of old.  Some of these men whom we see
gravely conversing on the steps have but a slender acquaintance with each
other.  Their intercourse consists principally of mutual bulletins of
depravity; and, week after week, as they meet they reckon up their items
of transgression, and give an abstract of their downward progress for
approval and encouragement.  These folk form a freemasonry of their own.
An oath is the shibboleth of their sinister fellowship.  Once they hear a
man swear, it is wonderful how their tongues loosen and their bashful
spirits take enlargement, under the consciousness of brotherhood.  There
is no folly, no pardoning warmth of temper about them; they are as
steady-going and systematic in their own way as the studious in theirs.

Not that we are without merry men.  No.  We shall not be ungrateful to
those, whose grimaces, whose ironical laughter, whose active feet in the
‘College Anthem’ have beguiled so many weary hours and added a pleasant
variety to the strain of close attention.  But even these are too
evidently professional in their antics.  They go about cogitating puns
and inventing tricks.  It is their vocation, Hal.  They are the
gratuitous jesters of the class-room; and, like the clown when he leaves
the stage, their merriment too often sinks as the bell rings the hour of
liberty, and they pass forth by the Post-Office, grave and sedate, and
meditating fresh gambols for the morrow.

This is the impression left on the mind of any observing student by too
many of his fellows.  They seem all frigid old men; and one pauses to
think how such an unnatural state of matters is produced.  We feel
inclined to blame for it the unfortunate absence of _University feeling_
which is so marked a characteristic of our Edinburgh students.
Academical interests are so few and far between—students, as students,
have so little in common, except a peevish rivalry—there is such an
entire want of broad college sympathies and ordinary college friendships,
that we fancy that no University in the kingdom is in so poor a plight.
Our system is full of anomalies.  A, who cut B whilst he was a shabby
student, curries sedulously up to him and cudgels his memory for
anecdotes about him when he becomes the great so-and-so.  Let there be an
end of this shy, proud reserve on the one hand, and this shuddering fine
ladyism on the other; and we think we shall find both ourselves and the
College bettered.  Let it be a sufficient reason for intercourse that two
men sit together on the same benches.  Let the great A be held excused
for nodding to the shabby B in Princes Street, if he can say, ‘That
fellow is a student.’  Once this could be brought about, we think you
would find the whole heart of the University beat faster.  We think you
would find a fusion among the students, a growth of common feelings, an
increasing sympathy between class and class, whose influence (in such a
heterogeneous company as ours) might be of incalculable value in all
branches of politics and social progress.  It would do more than this.
If we could find some method of making the University a real mother to
her sons—something beyond a building of class-rooms, a Senatus and a
lottery of somewhat shabby prizes—we should strike a death-blow at the
constrained and unnatural attitude of our Society.  At present we are not
a united body, but a loose gathering of individuals, whose inherent
attraction is allowed to condense them into little knots and coteries.
Our last snowball riot read us a plain lesson on our condition.  There
was no party spirit—no unity of interests.  A few, who were mischievously
inclined, marched off to the College of Surgeons in a pretentious file;
but even before they reached their destination the feeble inspiration had
died out in many, and their numbers were sadly thinned.  Some followed
strange gods in the direction of Drummond Street, and others slunk back
to meek good-boyism at the feet of the Professors.  The same is visible
in better things.  As you send a man to an English University that he may
have his prejudices rubbed off, you might send him to Edinburgh that he
may have them ingrained—rendered indelible—fostered by sympathy into
living principles of his spirit.  And the reason of it is quite plain.
From this absence of University feeling it comes that a man’s friendships
are always the direct and immediate results of these very prejudices.  A
common weakness is the best master of ceremonies in our quadrangle: a
mutual vice is the readiest introduction.  The studious associate with
the studious alone—the dandies with the dandies.  There is nothing to
force them to rub shoulders with the others; and so they grow day by day
more wedded to their own original opinions and affections.  They see
through the same spectacles continually.  All broad sentiments, all real
catholic humanity expires; and the mind gets gradually stiffened into one
position—becomes so habituated to a contracted atmosphere, that it
shudders and withers under the least draught of the free air that
circulates in the general field of mankind.

Specialism in Society then is, we think, one cause of our present state.
Specialism in study is another.  We doubt whether this has ever been a
good thing since the world began; but we are sure it is much worse now
than it was.  Formerly, when a man became a specialist, it was out of
affection for his subject.  With a somewhat grand devotion he left all
the world of Science to follow his true love; and he contrived to find
that strange pedantic interest which inspired the man who

    ‘Settled _Hoti’s_ business—let it be—
       Properly based _Oun—_
    Gave us the doctrine of the enclitic _De_,
       Dead from the waist down.’

Nowadays it is quite different.  Our pedantry wants even the saving
clause of Enthusiasm.  The election is now matter of necessity and not of
choice.  Knowledge is now too broad a field for your Jack-of-all-Trades;
and, from beautifully utilitarian reasons, he makes his choice, draws his
pen through a dozen branches of study, and behold—John the Specialist.
That this is the way to be wealthy we shall not deny; but we hold that it
is _not_ the way to be healthy or wise.  The whole mind becomes narrowed
and circumscribed to one ‘punctual spot’ of knowledge.  A rank unhealthy
soil breeds a harvest of prejudices.  Feeling himself above others in his
one little branch—in the classification of toadstools, or Carthaginian
history—he waxes great in his own eyes and looks down on others.  Having
all his sympathies educated in one way, they die out in every other; and
he is apt to remain a peevish, narrow, and intolerant bigot.  Dilettante
is now a term of reproach; but there is a certain form of dilettantism to
which no one can object.  It is this that we want among our students.  We
wish them to abandon no subject until they have seen and felt its
merit—to act under a general interest in all branches of knowledge, not a
commercial eagerness to excel in one.

In both these directions our sympathies are constipated.  We are apostles
of our own caste and our own subject of study, instead of being, as we
should, true men and _loving_ students.  Of course both of these could be
corrected by the students themselves; but this is nothing to the purpose:
it is more important to ask whether the Senatus or the body of alumni
could do nothing towards the growth of better feeling and wider
sentiments.  Perhaps in another paper we may say something upon this

One other word, however, before we have done.  What shall we be when we
grow really old?  Of yore, a man was thought to lay on restrictions and
acquire new deadweight of mournful experience with every year, till he
looked back on his youth as the very summer of impulse and freedom.  We
please ourselves with thinking that it cannot be so with us.  We would
fain hope that, as we have begun in one way, we may end in another; and
that when we are in fact the octogenarians that we _seem_ at present,
there shall be no merrier men on earth.  It is pleasant to picture us,
sunning ourselves in Princes Street of a morning, or chirping over our
evening cups, with all the merriment that we wanted in youth.


A debating society is at first somewhat of a disappointment.  You do not
often find the youthful Demosthenes chewing his pebbles in the same room
with you; or, even if you do, you will probably think the performance
little to be admired.  As a general rule, the members speak shamefully
ill.  The subjects of debate are heavy; and so are the fines.  The Ballot
Question—oldest of dialectic nightmares—is often found astride of a
somnolent sederunt.  The Greeks and Romans, too, are reserved as sort of
_general-utility_ men, to do all the dirty work of illustration; and they
fill as many functions as the famous waterfall scene at the ‘Princess’s,’
which I found doing duty on one evening as a gorge in Peru, a haunt of
German robbers, and a peaceful vale in the Scottish borders.  There is a
sad absence of striking argument or real lively discussion.  Indeed, you
feel a growing contempt for your fellow-members; and it is not until you
rise yourself to hawk and hesitate and sit shamefully down again, amid
eleemosynary applause, that you begin to find your level and value others
rightly.  Even then, even when failure has damped your critical ardour,
you will see many things to be laughed at in the deportment of your

Most laughable, perhaps, are your indefatigable strivers after eloquence.
They are of those who ‘pursue with eagerness the phantoms of hope,’ and
who, since they expect that ‘the deficiencies of last sentence will be
supplied by the next,’ have been recommended by Dr. Samuel Johnson to
‘attend to the History of Rasselas, Prince of Abyssinia.’  They are
characterised by a hectic hopefulness.  Nothing damps them.  They rise
from the ruins of one abortive sentence, to launch forth into another
with unabated vigour.  They have all the manner of an orator.  From the
tone of their voice, you would expect a splendid period—and lo! a string
of broken-backed, disjointed clauses, eked out with stammerings and
throat-clearings.  They possess the art (learned from the pulpit) of
rounding an uneuphonious sentence by dwelling on a single syllable—of
striking a balance in a top-heavy period by lengthening out a word into a
melancholy quaver.  Withal, they never cease to hope.  Even at last, even
when they have exhausted all their ideas, even after the would-be
peroration has finally refused to perorate, they remain upon their feet
with their mouths open, waiting for some further inspiration, like
Chaucer’s widow’s son in the dung-hole, after

    ‘His throat was kit unto the nekké bone,’

in vain expectation of that seed that was to be laid upon his tongue, and
give him renewed and clearer utterance.

These men may have something to say, if they could only say it—indeed
they generally have; but the next class are people who, having nothing to
say, are cursed with a facility and an unhappy command of words, that
makes them the prime nuisances of the society they affect.  They try to
cover their absence of matter by an unwholesome vitality of delivery.
They look triumphantly round the room, as if courting applause, after a
torrent of diluted truism.  They talk in a circle, harping on the same
dull round of argument, and returning again and again to the same remark
with the same sprightliness, the same irritating appearance of novelty.

After this set, any one is tolerable; so we shall merely hint at a few
other varieties.  There is your man who is pre-eminently conscientious,
whose face beams with sincerity as he opens on the negative, and who
votes on the affirmative at the end, looking round the room with an air
of chastened pride.  There is also the irrelevant speaker, who rises,
emits a joke or two, and then sits down again, without ever attempting to
tackle the subject of debate.  Again, we have men who ride pick-a-back on
their family reputation, or, if their family have none, identify
themselves with some well-known statesman, use his opinions, and lend him
their patronage on all occasions.  This is a dangerous plan, and serves
oftener, I am afraid, to point a difference than to adorn a speech.

But alas! a striking failure may be reached without tempting Providence
by any of these ambitious tricks.  Our own stature will be found high
enough for shame.  The success of three simple sentences lures us into a
fatal parenthesis in the fourth, from whose shut brackets we may never
disentangle the thread of our discourse.  A momentary flush tempts us
into a quotation; and we may be left helpless in the middle of one of
Pope’s couplets, a white film gathering before our eyes, and our kind
friends charitably trying to cover our disgrace by a feeble round of
applause.  _Amis lecteurs_, this is a painful topic.  It is possible that
we too, we, the ‘potent, grave, and reverend’ editor, may have suffered
these things, and drunk as deep as any of the cup of shameful failure.
Let us dwell no longer on so delicate a subject.

In spite, however, of these disagreeables, I should recommend any student
to suffer them with Spartan courage, as the benefits he receives should
repay him an hundredfold for them all.  The life of the debating society
is a handy antidote to the life of the classroom and quadrangle.  Nothing
could be conceived more excellent as a weapon against many of those
_peccant humours_ that we have been railing against in the jeremiad of
our last ‘College Paper’—particularly in the field of intellect.  It is a
sad sight to see our heather-scented students, our boys of seventeen,
coming up to College with determined views—_roués_ in speculation—having
gauged the vanity of philosophy or learned to shun it as the middle-man
of heresy—a company of determined, deliberate opinionists, not to be
moved by all the sleights of logic.  What have such men to do with study?
If their minds are made up irrevocably, why burn the ‘studious lamp’ in
search of further confirmation?  Every set opinion I hear a student
deliver I feel a certain lowering of my regard.  He who studies, he who
is yet employed in groping for his premises, should keep his mind fluent
and sensitive, keen to mark flaws, and willing to surrender untenable
positions.  He should keep himself teachable, or cease the expensive
farce of being taught.  It is to further this docile spirit that we
desire to press the claims of debating societies.  It is as a means of
melting down this museum of premature petrifactions into living and
impressionable soul that we insist on their utility.  If we could once
prevail on our students to feel no shame in avowing an uncertain attitude
towards any subject, if we could teach them that it was unnecessary for
every lad to have his _opinionette_ on every topic, we should have gone a
far way towards bracing the intellectual tone of the coming race of
thinkers; and this it is which debating societies are so well fitted to

We there meet people of every shade of opinion, and make friends with
them.  We are taught to rail against a man the whole session through, and
then hob-a-nob with him at the concluding entertainment.  We find men of
talent far exceeding our own, whose conclusions are widely different from
ours; and we are thus taught to distrust ourselves.  But the best means
of all towards catholicity is that wholesome rule which some folk are
most inclined to condemn—I mean the law of _obliged speeches_.  Your
senior member commands; and you must take the affirmative or the
negative, just as suits his best convenience.  This tends to the most
perfect liberality.  It is no good hearing the arguments of an opponent,
for in good verity you rarely follow them; and even if you do take the
trouble to listen, it is merely in a captious search for weaknesses.
This is proved, I fear, in every debate; when you hear each speaker
arguing out his own prepared _spécialité_ (he never intended speaking, of
course, until some remarks of, etc.), arguing out, I say, his own
_coached-up_ subject without the least attention to what has gone before,
as utterly at sea about the drift of his adversary’s speech as Panurge
when he argued with Thaumaste, and merely linking his own prelection to
the last by a few flippant criticisms.  Now, as the rule stands, you are
saddled with the side you disapprove, and so you are forced, by regard
for your own fame, to argue out, to feel with, to elaborate completely,
the case as it stands against yourself; and what a fund of wisdom do you
not turn up in this idle digging of the vineyard!  How many new
difficulties take form before your eyes? how many superannuated arguments
cripple finally into limbo, under the glance of your enforced

Nor is this the only merit of Debating Societies.  They tend also to
foster taste, and to promote friendship between University men.  This
last, as we have had occasion before to say, is the great requirement of
our student life; and it will therefore be no waste of time if we devote
a paragraph to this subject in its connection with Debating Societies.
At present they partake too much of the nature of a _clique_.  Friends
propose friends, and mutual friends second them, until the society
degenerates into a sort of family party.  You may confirm old
acquaintances, but you can rarely make new ones.  You find yourself in
the atmosphere of your own daily intercourse.  Now, this is an
unfortunate circumstance, which it seems to me might readily be
rectified.  Our Principal has shown himself so friendly towards all
College improvements that I cherish the hope of seeing shortly realised a
certain suggestion, which is not a new one with me, and which must often
have been proposed and canvassed heretofore—I mean, a real _University
Debating Society_, patronised by the Senatus, presided over by the
Professors, to which every one might gain ready admittance on sight of
his matriculation ticket, where it would be a favour and not a necessity
to speak, and where the obscure student might have another object for
attendance besides the mere desire to save his fines: to wit, the chance
of drawing on himself the favourable consideration of his teachers.  This
would be merely following in the good tendency, which has been so
noticeable during all this session, to increase and multiply student
societies and clubs of every sort.  Nor would it be a matter of much
difficulty.  The united societies would form a nucleus: one of the
class-rooms at first, and perhaps afterwards the great hall above the
library, might be the place of meeting.  There would be no want of
attendance or enthusiasm, I am sure; for it is a very different thing to
speak under the bushel of a private club on the one hand, and, on the
other, in a public place, where a happy period or a subtle argument may
do the speaker permanent service in after life.  Such a club might end,
perhaps, by rivalling the ‘Union’ at Cambridge or the ‘Union’ at Oxford.


It is wonderful to think what a turn has been given to our whole Society
by the fact that we live under the sign of Aquarius—that our climate is
essentially wet.  A mere arbitrary distinction, like the walking-swords
of yore, might have remained the symbol of foresight and respectability,
had not the raw mists and dropping showers of our island pointed the
inclination of Society to another exponent of those virtues.  A ribbon of
the Legion of Honour or a string of medals may prove a person’s courage;
a title may prove his birth; a professorial chair his study and
acquirement; but it is the habitual carriage of the umbrella that is the
stamp of Respectability.  The umbrella has become the acknowledged index
of social position.

Robinson Crusoe presents us with a touching instance of the hankering
after them inherent in the civilised and educated mind.  To the
superficial, the hot suns of Juan Fernandez may sufficiently account for
his quaint choice of a luxury; but surely one who had borne the hard
labour of a seaman under the tropics for all these years could have
supported an excursion after goats or a peaceful _constitutional_ arm in
arm with the nude Friday.  No, it was not this: the memory of a vanished
respectability called for some outward manifestation, and the result
was—an umbrella.  A pious castaway might have rigged up a belfry and
solaced his Sunday mornings with the mimicry of church-bells; but Crusoe
was rather a moralist than a pietist, and his leaf-umbrella is as fine an
example of the civilised mind striving to express itself under adverse
circumstances as we have ever met with.

It is not for nothing, either, that the umbrella has become the very
foremost badge of modern civilisation—the Urim and Thummim of
respectability.  Its pregnant symbolism has taken its rise in the most
natural manner.  Consider, for a moment, when umbrellas were first
introduced into this country, what manner of men would use them, and what
class would adhere to the useless but ornamental cane.  The first,
without doubt, would be the hypochondriacal, out of solicitude for their
health, or the frugal, out of care for their raiment; the second, it is
equally plain, would include the fop, the fool, and the Bobadil.  Any one
acquainted with the growth of Society, and knowing out of what small
seeds of cause are produced great revolutions, and wholly new conditions
of intercourse, sees from this simple thought how the carriage of an
umbrella came to indicate frugality, judicious regard for bodily welfare,
and scorn for mere outward adornment, and, in one word, all those homely
and solid virtues implied in the term RESPECTABILITY.  Not that the
umbrella’s costliness has nothing to do with its great influence.  Its
possession, besides symbolising (as we have already indicated) the change
from wild Esau to plain Jacob dwelling in tents, implies a certain
comfortable provision of fortune.  It is not every one that can expose
twenty-six shillings’ worth of property to so many chances of loss and
theft.  So strongly do we feel on this point, indeed, that we are almost
inclined to consider all who possess really well-conditioned umbrellas as
worthy of the Franchise.  They have a qualification standing in their
lobbies; they carry a sufficient stake in the common-weal below their
arm.  One who bears with him an umbrella—such a complicated structure of
whalebone, of silk, and of cane, that it becomes a very microcosm of
modern industry—is necessarily a man of peace.  A half-crown cane may be
applied to an offender’s head on a very moderate provocation; but a
six-and-twenty shilling silk is a possession too precious to be
adventured in the shock of war.

These are but a few glances at how umbrellas (in the general) came to
their present high estate.  But the true Umbrella-Philosopher meets with
far stranger applications as he goes about the streets.

Umbrellas, like faces, acquire a certain sympathy with the individual who
carries them: indeed, they are far more capable of betraying his trust;
for whereas a face is given to us so far ready made, and all our power
over it is in frowning, and laughing, and grimacing, during the first
three or four decades of life, each umbrella is selected from a whole
shopful, as being most consonant to the purchaser’s disposition.  An
undoubted power of diagnosis rests with the practised
Umbrella-Philosopher.  O you who lisp, and amble, and change the fashion
of your countenances—you who conceal all these, how little do you think
that you left a proof of your weakness in our umbrella-stand—that even
now, as you shake out the folds to meet the thickening snow, we read in
its ivory handle the outward and visible sign of your snobbery, or from
the exposed gingham of its cover detect, through coat and waistcoat, the
hidden hypocrisy of the ‘_dickey_’!  But alas! even the umbrella is no
certain criterion.  The falsity and the folly of the human race have
degraded that graceful symbol to the ends of dishonesty; and while some
umbrellas, from carelessness in selection, are not strikingly
characteristic (for it is only in what a man loves that he displays his
real nature), others, from certain prudential motives, are chosen
directly opposite to the person’s disposition.  A mendacious umbrella is
a sign of great moral degradation.  Hypocrisy naturally shelters itself
below a silk; while the fast youth goes to visit his religious friends
armed with the decent and reputable gingham.  May it not be said of the
bearers of these inappropriate umbrellas that they go about the streets
‘with a lie in their right hand’?

The kings of Siam, as we read, besides having a graduated social scale of
umbrellas (which was a good thing), prevented the great bulk of their
subjects from having any at all, which was certainly a bad thing.  We
should be sorry to believe that this Eastern legislator was a fool—the
idea of an aristocracy of umbrellas is too philosophic to have originated
in a nobody—and we have accordingly taken exceeding pains to find out the
reason of this harsh restriction.  We think we have succeeded; but, while
admiring the principle at which he aimed, and while cordially recognising
in the Siamese potentate the only man before ourselves who had taken a
real grasp of the umbrella, we must be allowed to point out how
unphilosophically the great man acted in this particular.  His object,
plainly, was to prevent any unworthy persons from bearing the sacred
symbol of domestic virtues.  We cannot excuse his limiting these virtues
to the circle of his court.  We must only remember that such was the
feeling of the age in which he lived.  Liberalism had not yet raised the
war-cry of the working classes.  But here was his mistake: it was a
needless regulation.  Except in a very few cases of hypocrisy joined to a
powerful intellect, men, not by nature _umbrellarians_, have tried again
and again to become so by art, and yet have failed—have expended their
patrimony in the purchase of umbrella after umbrella, and yet have
systematically lost them, and have finally, with contrite spirits and
shrunken purses, given up their vain struggle, and relied on theft and
borrowing for the remainder of their lives.  This is the most remarkable
fact that we have had occasion to notice; and yet we challenge the candid
reader to call it in question.  Now, as there cannot be any _moral
selection_ in a mere dead piece of furniture—as the umbrella cannot be
supposed to have an affinity for individual men equal and reciprocal to
that which men certainly feel toward individual umbrellas—we took the
trouble of consulting a scientific friend as to whether there was any
possible physical explanation of the phenomenon.  He was unable to supply
a plausible theory, or even hypothesis; but we extract from his letter
the following interesting passage relative to the physical peculiarities
of umbrellas: ‘Not the least important, and by far the most curious
property of the umbrella, is the energy which it displays in affecting
the atmospheric strata.  There is no fact in meteorology better
established—indeed, it is almost the only one on which meteorologists are
agreed—than that the carriage of an umbrella produces desiccation of the
air; while if it be left at home, aqueous vapour is largely produced, and
is soon deposited in the form of rain.  No theory,’ my friend continues,
‘competent to explain this hygrometric law has been given (as far as I am
aware) by Herschel, Dove, Glaisher, Tait, Buchan, or any other writer;
nor do I pretend to supply the defect.  I venture, however, to throw out
the conjecture that it will be ultimately found to belong to the same
class of natural laws as that agreeable to which a slice of toast always
descends with the buttered surface downwards.’

But it is time to draw to a close.  We could expatiate much longer upon
this topic, but want of space constrains us to leave unfinished these few
desultory remarks—slender contributions towards a subject which has
fallen sadly backward, and which, we grieve to say, was better understood
by the king of Siam in 1686 than by all the philosophers of to-day.  If,
however, we have awakened in any rational mind an interest in the
symbolism of umbrellas—in any generous heart a more complete sympathy
with the dumb companion of his daily walk—or in any grasping spirit a
pure notion of respectability strong enough to make him expend his
six-and-twenty shillings—we shall have deserved well of the world, to say
nothing of the many industrious persons employed in the manufacture of
the article.


    ‘How many Cæsars and Pompeys, by mere inspirations of the names, have
    been rendered worthy of them?  And how many are there, who might have
    done exceeding well in the world, had not their characters and
    spirits been totally depressed and Nicodemus’d into
    nothing?’—_Tristram Shandy_, vol. I. chap xix.

Such were the views of the late Walter Shandy, Esq., Turkey merchant.  To
the best of my belief, Mr. Shandy is the first who fairly pointed out the
incalculable influence of nomenclature upon the whole life—who seems
first to have recognised the one child, happy in an heroic appellation,
soaring upwards on the wings of fortune, and the other, like the dead
sailor in his shotted hammock, haled down by sheer weight of name into
the abysses of social failure.  Solomon possibly had his eye on some such
theory when he said that ‘a good name is better than precious ointment’;
and perhaps we may trace a similar spirit in the compilers of the English
Catechism, and the affectionate interest with which they linger round the
catechumen’s name at the very threshold of their work.  But, be these as
they may, I think no one can censure me for appending, in pursuance of
the expressed wish of his son, the Turkey merchant’s name to his system,
and pronouncing, without further preface, a short epitome of the
‘Shandean Philosophy of Nomenclature.’

To begin, then: the influence of our name makes itself felt from the very
cradle.  As a schoolboy I remember the pride with which I hailed Robin
Hood, Robert Bruce, and Robert le Diable as my name-fellows; and the
feeling of sore disappointment that fell on my heart when I found a
freebooter or a general who did not share with me a single one of my
numerous _prænomina_.  Look at the delight with which two children find
they have the same name.  They are friends from that moment forth; they
have a bond of union stronger than exchange of nuts and sweetmeats.  This
feeling, I own, wears off in later life.  Our names lose their freshness
and interest, become trite and indifferent.  But this, dear reader, is
merely one of the sad effects of those ‘shades of the prison-house’ which
come gradually betwixt us and nature with advancing years; it affords no
weapon against the philosophy of names.

In after life, although we fail to trace its working, that name which
careless godfathers lightly applied to your unconscious infancy will have
been moulding your character, and influencing with irresistible power the
whole course of your earthly fortunes.  But the last name, overlooked by
Mr. Shandy, is no whit less important as a condition of success.  Family
names, we must recollect, are but inherited nicknames; and if the
_sobriquet_ were applicable to the ancestor, it is most likely applicable
to the descendant also.  You would not expect to find Mr. M‘Phun acting
as a mute, or Mr. M‘Lumpha excelling as a professor of dancing.
Therefore, in what follows, we shall consider names, independent of
whether they are first or last.  And to begin with, look what a pull
_Cromwell_ had over _Pym_—the one name full of a resonant imperialism,
the other, mean, pettifogging, and unheroic to a degree.  Who would
expect eloquence from _Pym_—who would read poems by _Pym_—who would bow
to the opinion of _Pym_?  He might have been a dentist, but he should
never have aspired to be a statesman.  I can only wonder that he
succeeded as he did.  Pym and Habakkuk stand first upon the roll of men
who have triumphed, by sheer force of genius, over the most unfavourable
appellations.  But even these have suffered; and, had they been more
fitly named, the one might have been Lord Protector, and the other have
shared the laurels with Isaiah.  In this matter we must not forget that
all our great poets have borne great names.  Chaucer, Spenser,
Shakespeare, Milton, Pope, Wordsworth, Shelley—what a constellation of
lordly words!  Not a single common-place name among them—not a Brown, not
a Jones, not a Robinson; they are all names that one would stop and look
at on a door-plate.  Now, imagine if _Pepys_ had tried to clamber somehow
into the enclosure of poetry, what a blot would that word have made upon
the list!  The thing was impossible.  In the first place a certain
natural consciousness that men would have held him down to the level of
his name, would have prevented him from rising above the Pepsine
standard, and so haply withheld him altogether from attempting verse.
Next, the booksellers would refuse to publish, and the world to read
them, on the mere evidence of the fatal appellation.  And now, before I
close this section, I must say one word as to _punnable_ names, names
that stand alone, that have a significance and life apart from him that
bears them.  These are the bitterest of all.  One friend of mine goes
bowed and humbled through life under the weight of this misfortune; for
it is an awful thing when a man’s name is a joke, when he cannot be
mentioned without exciting merriment, and when even the intimation of his
death bids fair to carry laughter into many a home.

So much for people who are badly named.  Now for people who are _too_
well named, who go top-heavy from the font, who are baptized into a false
position, and find themselves beginning life eclipsed under the fame of
some of the great ones of the past.  A man, for instance, called William
Shakespeare could never dare to write plays.  He is thrown into too
humbling an apposition with the author of _Hamlet_.  Its own name coming
after is such an anti-climax.  ‘The plays of William Shakespeare’? says
the reader—‘O no!  The plays of William Shakespeare Cockerill,’ and he
throws the book aside.  In wise pursuance of such views, Mr. John Milton
Hengler, who not long since delighted us in this favoured town, has never
attempted to write an epic, but has chosen a new path, and has excelled
upon the tight-rope.  A marked example of triumph over this is the case
of Mr. Dante Gabriel Rossetti.  On the face of the matter, I should have
advised him to imitate the pleasing modesty of the last-named gentleman,
and confine his ambition to the sawdust.  But Mr. Rossetti has triumphed.
He has even dared to translate from his mighty name-father; and the voice
of fame supports him in his boldness.

Dear readers, one might write a year upon this matter.  A lifetime of
comparison and research could scarce suffice for its elucidation.  So
here, if it please you, we shall let it rest.  Slight as these notes have
been, I would that the great founder of the system had been alive to see
them.  How he had warmed and brightened, how his persuasive eloquence
would have fallen on the ears of Toby; and what a letter of praise and
sympathy would not the editor have received before the month was out!
Alas, the thing was not to be.  Walter Shandy died and was duly buried,
while yet his theory lay forgotten and neglected by his
fellow-countrymen.  But, reader, the day will come, I hope, when a
paternal government will stamp out, as seeds of national weakness, all
depressing patronymics, and when godfathers and godmothers will soberly
and earnestly debate the interest of the nameless one, and not rush
blindfold to the christening.  In these days there shall be written a
‘Godfather’s Assistant,’ in shape of a dictionary of names, with their
concomitant virtues and vices; and this book shall be scattered broadcast
through the land, and shall be on the table of every one eligible for
godfathership, until such a thing as a vicious or untoward appellation
shall have ceased from off the face of the earth.



It seems as if Lord Lytton, in this new book of his, had found the form
most natural to his talent.  In some ways, indeed, it may be held
inferior to _Chronicles and Characters_; we look in vain for anything
like the terrible intensity of the night-scene in _Irene_, or for any
such passages of massive and memorable writing as appeared, here and
there, in the earlier work, and made it not altogether unworthy of its
model, Hugo’s _Legend of the Ages_.  But it becomes evident, on the most
hasty retrospect, that this earlier work was a step on the way towards
the later.  It seems as if the author had been feeling about for his
definite medium, and was already, in the language of the child’s game,
growing hot.  There are many pieces in _Chronicles and Characters_ that
might be detached from their original setting, and embodied, as they
stand, among the _Fables in Song_.

For the term Fable is not very easy to define rigorously.  In the most
typical form some moral precept is set forth by means of a conception
purely fantastic, and usually somewhat trivial into the bargain; there is
something playful about it, that will not support a very exacting
criticism, and the lesson must be apprehended by the fancy at half a
hint.  Such is the great mass of the old stories of wise animals or
foolish men that have amused our childhood.  But we should expect the
fable, in company with other and more important literary forms, to be
more and more loosely, or at least largely, comprehended as time went on,
and so to degenerate in conception from this original type.  That
depended for much of its piquancy on the very fact that it was fantastic:
the point of the thing lay in a sort of humorous inappropriateness; and
it is natural enough that pleasantry of this description should become
less common, as men learn to suspect some serious analogy underneath.
Thus a comical story of an ape touches us quite differently after the
proposition of Mr. Darwin’s theory.  Moreover, there lay, perhaps, at the
bottom of this primitive sort of fable, a humanity, a tenderness of rough
truths; so that at the end of some story, in which vice or folly had met
with its destined punishment, the fabulist might be able to assure his
auditors, as we have often to assure tearful children on the like
occasions, that they may dry their eyes, for none of it was true.

But this benefit of fiction becomes lost with more sophisticated hearers
and authors: a man is no longer the dupe of his own artifice, and cannot
deal playfully with truths that are a matter of bitter concern to him in
his life.  And hence, in the progressive centralisation of modern
thought, we should expect the old form of fable to fall gradually into
desuetude, and be gradually succeeded by another, which is a fable in all
points except that it is not altogether fabulous.  And this new form,
such as we should expect, and such as we do indeed find, still presents
the essential character of brevity; as in any other fable also, there is,
underlying and animating the brief action, a moral idea; and as in any
other fable, the object is to bring this home to the reader through the
intellect rather than through the feelings; so that, without being very
deeply moved or interested by the characters of the piece, we should
recognise vividly the hinges on which the little plot revolves.  But the
fabulist now seeks analogies where before he merely sought humorous
situations.  There will be now a logical nexus between the moral
expressed and the machinery employed to express it.  The machinery, in
fact, as this change is developed, becomes less and less fabulous.  We
find ourselves in presence of quite a serious, if quite a miniature
division of creative literature; and sometimes we have the lesson
embodied in a sober, everyday narration, as in the parables of the New
Testament, and sometimes merely the statement or, at most, the
collocation of significant facts in life, the reader being left to
resolve for himself the vague, troublesome, and not yet definitely moral
sentiment which has been thus created.  And step by step with the
development of this change, yet another is developed: the moral tends to
become more indeterminate and large.  It ceases to be possible to append
it, in a tag, to the bottom of the piece, as one might write the name
below a caricature; and the fable begins to take rank with all other
forms of creative literature, as something too ambitious, in spite of its
miniature dimensions, to be resumed in any succinct formula without the
loss of all that is deepest and most suggestive in it.

Now it is in this widest sense that Lord Lytton understands the term;
there are examples in his two pleasant volumes of all the forms already
mentioned, and even of another which can only be admitted among fables by
the utmost possible leniency of construction.  ‘Composure,’ ‘Et Cætera,’
and several more, are merely similes poetically elaborated.  So, too, is
the pathetic story of the grandfather and grandchild: the child, having
treasured away an icicle and forgotten it for ten minutes, comes back to
find it already nearly melted, and no longer beautiful: at the same time,
the grandfather has just remembered and taken out a bundle of
love-letters, which he too had stored away in years gone by, and then
long neglected; and, behold! the letters are as faded and sorrowfully
disappointing as the icicle.  This is merely a simile poetically worked
out; and yet it is in such as these, and some others, to be mentioned
further on, that the author seems at his best.  Wherever he has really
written after the old model, there is something to be deprecated: in
spite of all the spirit and freshness, in spite of his happy assumption
of that cheerful acceptation of things as they are, which, rightly or
wrongly, we come to attribute to the ideal fabulist, there is ever a
sense as of something a little out of place.  A form of literature so
very innocent and primitive looks a little over-written in Lord Lytton’s
conscious and highly-coloured style.  It may be bad taste, but sometimes
we should prefer a few sentences of plain prose narration, and a little
Bewick by way of tail-piece.  So that it is not among those fables that
conform most nearly to the old model, but one had nearly said among those
that most widely differ from it, that we find the most satisfactory
examples of the author’s manner.

In the mere matter of ingenuity, the metaphysical fables are the most
remarkable; such as that of the windmill who imagined that it was he who
raised the wind; or that of the grocer’s balance (‘Cogito ergo sum’) who
considered himself endowed with free-will, reason, and an infallible
practical judgment; until, one fine day, the police made a descent upon
the shop, and find the weights false and the scales unequal; and the
whole thing is broken up for old iron.  Capital fables, also, in the same
ironical spirit, are ‘Prometheus Unbound,’ the tale of the vainglorying
of a champagne-cork, and ‘Teleology,’ where a nettle justifies the ways
of God to nettles while all goes well with it, and, upon a change of
luck, promptly changes its divinity.

In all these there is still plenty of the fabulous if you will, although,
even here, there may be two opinions possible; but there is another
group, of an order of merit perhaps still higher, where we look in vain
for any such playful liberties with Nature.  Thus we have ‘Conservation
of Force’; where a musician, thinking of a certain picture, improvises in
the twilight; a poet, hearing the music, goes home inspired, and writes a
poem; and then a painter, under the influence of this poem, paints
another picture, thus lineally descended from the first.  This is
fiction, but not what we have been used to call fable.  We miss the
incredible element, the point of audacity with which the fabulist was
wont to mock at his readers.  And still more so is this the case with
others.  ‘The Horse and the Fly’ states one of the unanswerable problems
of life in quite a realistic and straightforward way.  A fly startles a
cab-horse, the coach is overset; a newly-married pair within and the
driver, a man with a wife and family, are all killed.  The horse
continues to gallop off in the loose traces, and ends the tragedy by
running over an only child; and there is some little pathetic detail here
introduced in the telling, that makes the reader’s indignation very
white-hot against some one.  It remains to be seen who that some one is
to be: the fly?  Nay, but on closer inspection, it appears that the fly,
actuated by maternal instinct, was only seeking a place for her eggs: is
maternal instinct, then, ‘sole author of these mischiefs all’?  ‘Who’s in
the Right?’ one of the best fables in the book, is somewhat in the same
vein.  After a battle has been won, a group of officers assemble inside a
battery, and debate together who should have the honour of the success;
the Prince, the general staff, the cavalry, the engineer who posted the
battery in which they then stand talking, are successively named: the
sergeant, who pointed the guns, sneers to himself at the mention of the
engineer; and, close by, the gunner, who had applied the match, passes
away with a smile of triumph, since it was through his hand that the
victorious blow had been dealt.  Meanwhile, the cannon claims the honour
over the gunner; the cannon-ball, who actually goes forth on the dread
mission, claims it over the cannon, who remains idly behind; the powder
reminds the cannon-ball that, but for him, it would still be lying on the
arsenal floor; and the match caps the discussion; powder, cannon-ball,
and cannon would be all equally vain and ineffectual without fire.  Just
then there comes on a shower of rain, which wets the powder and puts out
the match, and completes this lesson of dependence, by indicating the
negative conditions which are as necessary for any effect, in their
absence, as is the presence of this great fraternity of positive
conditions, not any one of which can claim priority over any other.  But
the fable does not end here, as perhaps, in all logical strictness, it
should.  It wanders off into a discussion as to which is the truer
greatness, that of the vanquished fire or that of the victorious rain.
And the speech of the rain is charming:

    ‘Lo, with my little drops I bless again
    And beautify the fields which thou didst blast!
    Rend, wither, waste, and ruin, what thou wilt,
    But call not Greatness what the Gods call Guilt.
    Blossoms and grass from blood in battle spilt,
    And poppied corn, I bring.
    ‘Mid mouldering Babels, to oblivion built,
    My violets spring.
    Little by little my small drops have strength
    To deck with green delights the grateful earth.’

And so forth, not quite germane (it seems to me) to the matter in hand,
but welcome for its own sake.

Best of all are the fables that deal more immediately with the emotions.
There is, for instance, that of ‘The Two Travellers,’ which is profoundly
moving in conception, although by no means as well written as some
others.  In this, one of the two, fearfully frost-bitten, saves his life
out of the snow at the cost of all that was comely in his body; just as,
long before, the other, who has now quietly resigned himself to death,
had violently freed himself from Love at the cost of all that was finest
and fairest in his character.  Very graceful and sweet is the fable (if
so it should be called) in which the author sings the praises of that
‘kindly perspective,’ which lets a wheat-stalk near the eye cover twenty
leagues of distant country, and makes the humble circle about a man’s
hearth more to him than all the possibilities of the external world.  The
companion fable to this is also excellent.  It tells us of a man who had,
all his life through, entertained a passion for certain blue hills on the
far horizon, and had promised himself to travel thither ere he died, and
become familiar with these distant friends.  At last, in some political
trouble, he is banished to the very place of his dreams.  He arrives
there overnight, and, when he rises and goes forth in the morning, there
sure enough are the blue hills, only now they have changed places with
him, and smile across to him, distant as ever, from the old home whence
he has come.  Such a story might have been very cynically treated; but it
is not so done, the whole tone is kindly and consolatory, and the
disenchanted man submissively takes the lesson, and understands that
things far away are to be loved for their own sake, and that the
unattainable is not truly unattainable, when we can make the beauty of it
our own.  Indeed, throughout all these two volumes, though there is much
practical scepticism, and much irony on abstract questions, this kindly
and consolatory spirit is never absent.  There is much that is cheerful
and, after a sedate, fireside fashion, hopeful.  No one will be
discouraged by reading the book; but the ground of all this hopefulness
and cheerfulness remains to the end somewhat vague.  It does not seem to
arise from any practical belief in the future either of the individual or
the race, but rather from the profound personal contentment of the
writer.  This is, I suppose, all we must look for in the case.  It is as
much as we can expect, if the fabulist shall prove a shrewd and cheerful
fellow-wayfarer, one with whom the world does not seem to have gone much
amiss, but who has yet laughingly learned something of its evil.  It will
depend much, of course, upon our own character and circumstances, whether
the encounter will be agreeable and bracing to the spirits, or offend us
as an ill-timed mockery.  But where, as here, there is a little tincture
of bitterness along with the good-nature, where it is plainly not the
humour of a man cheerfully ignorant, but of one who looks on, tolerant
and superior and smilingly attentive, upon the good and bad of our
existence, it will go hardly if we do not catch some reflection of the
same spirit to help us on our way.  There is here no impertinent and
lying proclamation of peace—none of the cheap optimism of the well-to-do;
what we find here is a view of life that would be even grievous, were it
not enlivened with this abiding cheerfulness, and ever and anon redeemed
by a stroke of pathos.

It is natural enough, I suppose, that we should find wanting in this book
some of the intenser qualities of the author’s work; and their absence is
made up for by much happy description after a quieter fashion.  The burst
of jubilation over the departure of the snow, which forms the prelude to
‘The Thistle,’ is full of spirit and of pleasant images.  The speech of
the forest in ‘Sans Souci’ is inspired by a beautiful sentiment for
nature of the modern sort, and pleases us more, I think, as poetry should
please us, than anything in _Chronicles and Characters_.  There are some
admirable felicities of expression here and there; as that of the hill,
whose summit

             ‘Did print
    The azure air with pines.’

Moreover, I do not recollect in the author’s former work any symptom of
that sympathetic treatment of still life, which is noticeable now and
again in the fables; and perhaps most noticeably, when he sketches the
burned letters as they hover along the gusty flue, ‘Thin, sable veils,
wherein a restless spark Yet trembled.’  But the description is at its
best when the subjects are unpleasant, or even grisly.  There are a few
capital lines in this key on the last spasm of the battle before alluded
to.  Surely nothing could be better, in its own way, than the fish in
‘The Last Cruise of the Arrogant,’ ‘the shadowy, side-faced, silent
things,’ that come butting and staring with lidless eyes at the sunken
steam-engine.  And although, in yet another, we are told, pleasantly
enough, how the water went down into the valleys, where it set itself
gaily to saw wood, and on into the plains, where it would soberly carry
grain to town; yet the real strength of the fable is when it dealt with
the shut pool in which certain unfortunate raindrops are imprisoned among
slugs and snails, and in the company of an old toad.  The sodden
contentment of the fallen acorn is strangely significant; and it is
astonishing how unpleasantly we are startled by the appearance of her
horrible lover, the maggot.

And now for a last word, about the style.  This is not easy to criticise.
It is impossible to deny to it rapidity, spirit, and a full sound; the
lines are never lame, and the sense is carried forward with an
uninterrupted, impetuous rush.  But it is not equal.  After passages of
really admirable versification, the author falls back upon a sort of
loose, cavalry manner, not unlike the style of some of Mr. Browning’s
minor pieces, and almost inseparable from wordiness, and an easy
acceptation of somewhat cheap finish.  There is nothing here of that
compression which is the note of a really sovereign style.  It is unfair,
perhaps, to set a not remarkable passage from Lord Lytton side by side
with one of the signal masterpieces of another, and a very perfect poet;
and yet it is interesting, when we see how the portraiture of a dog,
detailed through thirty odd lines, is frittered down and finally almost
lost in the mere laxity of the style, to compare it with the clear,
simple, vigorous delineation that Burns, in four couplets, has given us
of the ploughman’s collie.  It is interesting, at first, and then it
becomes a little irritating; for when we think of other passages so much
more finished and adroit, we cannot help feeling, that with a little more
ardour after perfection of form, criticism would have found nothing left
for her to censure.  A similar mark of precipitate work is the number of
adjectives tumultuously heaped together, sometimes to help out the sense,
and sometimes (as one cannot but suspect) to help out the sound of the
verses.  I do not believe, for instance, that Lord Lytton himself would
defend the lines in which we are told how Laocoön ‘Revealed to Roman
crowds, now _Christian_ grown, That _Pagan_ anguish which, in _Parian_
stone, The _Rhodian_ artist,’ and so on.  It is not only that this is bad
in itself; but that it is unworthy of the company in which it is found;
that such verses should not have appeared with the name of a good
versifier like Lord Lytton.  We must take exception, also, in conclusion,
to the excess of alliteration.  Alliteration is so liable to be abused
that we can scarcely be too sparing of it; and yet it is a trick that
seems to grow upon the author with years.  It is a pity to see fine
verses, such as some in ‘Demos,’ absolutely spoiled by the recurrence of
one wearisome consonant.


Salvini closed his short visit to Edinburgh by a performance of
_Macbeth_.  It was, perhaps, from a sentiment of local colour that he
chose to play the Scottish usurper for the first time before Scotsmen;
and the audience were not insensible of the privilege.  Few things,
indeed, can move a stronger interest than to see a great creation taking
shape for the first time.  If it is not purely artistic, the sentiment is
surely human.  And the thought that you are before all the world, and
have the start of so many others as eager as yourself, at least keeps you
in a more unbearable suspense before the curtain rises, if it does not
enhance the delight with which you follow the performance and see the
actor ‘bend up each corporal agent’ to realise a masterpiece of a few
hours’ duration.  With a player so variable as Salvini, who trusts to the
feelings of the moment for so much detail, and who, night after night,
does the same thing differently but always well, it can never be safe to
pass judgment after a single hearing.  And this is more particularly true
of last week’s _Macbeth_; for the whole third act was marred by a
grievously humorous misadventure.  Several minutes too soon the ghost of
Banquo joined the party, and after having sat helpless a while at a
table, was ignominiously withdrawn.  Twice was this ghostly
Jack-in-the-box obtruded on the stage before his time; twice removed
again; and yet he showed so little hurry when he was really wanted, that,
after an awkward pause, Macbeth had to begin his apostrophe to empty air.
The arrival of the belated spectre in the middle, with a jerk that made
him nod all over, was the last accident in the chapter, and worthily
topped the whole.  It may be imagined how lamely matters went throughout
these cross purposes.

In spite of this, and some other hitches, Salvini’s Macbeth had an
emphatic success.  The creation is worthy of a place beside the same
artist’s Othello and Hamlet.  It is the simplest and most unsympathetic
of the three; but the absence of the finer lineaments of Hamlet is
redeemed by gusto, breadth, and a headlong unity.  Salvini sees nothing
great in Macbeth beyond the royalty of muscle, and that courage which
comes of strong and copious circulation.  The moral smallness of the man
is insisted on from the first, in the shudder of uncontrollable jealousy
with which he sees Duncan embracing Banquo.  He may have some northern
poetry of speech, but he has not much logical understanding.  In his
dealings with the supernatural powers he is like a savage with his
fetich, trusting them beyond bounds while all goes well, and whenever he
is crossed, casting his belief aside and calling ‘fate into the list.’
For his wife, he is little more than an agent, a frame of bone and sinew
for her fiery spirit to command.  The nature of his feeling towards her
is rendered with a most precise and delicate touch.  He always yields to
the woman’s fascination; and yet his caresses (and we know how much
meaning Salvini can give to a caress) are singularly hard and unloving.
Sometimes he lays his hand on her as he might take hold of any one who
happened to be nearest to him at a moment of excitement.  Love has fallen
out of this marriage by the way, and left a curious friendship.  Only
once—at the very moment when she is showing herself so little a woman and
so much a high-spirited man—only once is he very deeply stirred towards
her; and that finds expression in the strange and horrible transport of
admiration, doubly strange and horrible on Salvini’s lips—‘Bring forth
men-children only!’

The murder scene, as was to be expected, pleased the audience best.
Macbeth’s voice, in the talk with his wife, was a thing not to be
forgotten; and when he spoke of his hangman’s hands he seemed to have
blood in his utterance.  Never for a moment, even in the very article of
the murder, does he possess his own soul.  He is a man on wires.  From
first to last it is an exhibition of hideous cowardice.  For, after all,
it is not here, but in broad daylight, with the exhilaration of conflict,
where he can assure himself at every blow he has the longest sword and
the heaviest hand, that this man’s physical bravery can keep him up; he
is an unwieldy ship, and needs plenty of way on before he will steer.

In the banquet scene, while the first murderer gives account of what he
has done, there comes a flash of truculent joy at the ‘twenty trenchèd
gashes’ on Banquo’s head.  Thus Macbeth makes welcome to his imagination
those very details of physical horror which are so soon to turn sour in
him.  As he runs out to embrace these cruel circumstances, as he seeks to
realise to his mind’s eye the reassuring spectacle of his dead enemy, he
is dressing out the phantom to terrify himself; and his imagination,
playing the part of justice, is to ‘commend to his own lips the
ingredients of his poisoned chalice.’  With the recollection of Hamlet
and his father’s spirit still fresh upon him, and the holy awe with which
that good man encountered things not dreamt of in his philosophy, it was
not possible to avoid looking for resemblances between the two
apparitions and the two men haunted.  But there are none to be found.
Macbeth has a purely physical dislike for Banquo’s spirit and the ‘twenty
trenchèd gashes.’  He is afraid of he knows not what.  He is abject, and
again blustering.  In the end he so far forgets himself, his terror, and
the nature of what is before him, that he rushes upon it as he would upon
a man.  When his wife tells him he needs repose, there is something
really childish in the way he looks about the room, and, seeing nothing,
with an expression of almost sensual relief, plucks up heart enough to go
to bed.  And what is the upshot of the visitation?  It is written in
Shakespeare, but should be read with the commentary of Salvini’s voice
and expression:—‘O! _siam nell’ opra ancor fanciulli_’—‘We are yet but
young in deed.’  Circle below circle.  He is looking with horrible
satisfaction into the mouth of hell.  There may still be a prick to-day;
but to-morrow conscience will be dead, and he may move untroubled in this
element of blood.

In the fifth act we see this lowest circle reached; and it is Salvini’s
finest moment throughout the play.  From the first he was admirably made
up, and looked Macbeth to the full as perfectly as ever he looked
Othello.  From the first moment he steps upon the stage you can see this
character is a creation to the fullest meaning of the phrase; for the man
before you is a type you know well already.  He arrives with Banquo on
the heath, fair and red-bearded, sparing of gesture, full of pride and
the sense of animal wellbeing, and satisfied after the battle like a
beast who has eaten his fill.  But in the fifth act there is a change.
This is still the big, burly, fleshly, handsome-looking Thane; here is
still the same face which in the earlier acts could be superficially
good-humoured and sometimes royally courteous.  But now the atmosphere of
blood, which pervades the whole tragedy, has entered into the man and
subdued him to its own nature; and an indescribable degradation, a
slackness and puffiness, has overtaken his features.  He has breathed the
air of carnage, and supped full of horrors.  Lady Macbeth complains of
the smell of blood on her hand: Macbeth makes no complaint—he has ceased
to notice it now; but the same smell is in his nostrils.  A contained
fury and disgust possesses him.  He taunts the messenger and the doctor
as people would taunt their mortal enemies.  And, indeed, as he knows
right well, every one is his enemy now, except his wife.  About her he
questions the doctor with something like a last human anxiety; and, in
tones of grisly mystery, asks him if he can ‘minister to a mind
diseased.’  When the news of her death is brought him, he is staggered
and falls into a seat; but somehow it is not anything we can call grief
that he displays.  There had been two of them against God and man; and
now, when there is only one, it makes perhaps less difference than he had
expected.  And so her death is not only an affliction, but one more
disillusion; and he redoubles in bitterness.  The speech that follows,
given with tragic cynicism in every word, is a dirge, not so much for her
as for himself.  From that time forth there is nothing human left in him,
only ‘the fiend of Scotland,’ Macduff’s ‘hell-hound,’ whom, with a stern
glee, we see baited like a bear and hunted down like a wolf.  He is
inspired and set above fate by a demoniacal energy, a lust of wounds and
slaughter.  Even after he meets Macduff his courage does not fail; but
when he hears the Thane was not born of woman, all virtue goes out of
him; and though he speaks sounding words of defiance, the last combat is
little better than a suicide.

The whole performance is, as I said, so full of gusto and a headlong
unity; the personality of Macbeth is so sharp and powerful; and within
these somewhat narrow limits there is so much play and saliency that, so
far as concerns Salvini himself, a third great success seems indubitable.
Unfortunately, however, a great actor cannot fill more than a very small
fraction of the boards; and though Banquo’s ghost will probably be more
seasonable in his future apparitions, there are some more inherent
difficulties in the piece.  The company at large did not distinguish
themselves.  Macduff, to the huge delight of the gallery, out-Macduff’d
the average ranter.  The lady who filled the principal female part has
done better on other occasions, but I fear she has not metal for what she
tried last week.  Not to succeed in the sleep-walking scene is to make a
memorable failure.  As it was given, it succeeded in being wrong in art
without being true to nature.

And there is yet another difficulty, happily easy to reform, which
somewhat interfered with the success of the performance.  At the end of
the incantation scene the Italian translator has made Macbeth fall
insensible upon the stage.  This is a change of questionable propriety
from a psychological point of view; while in point of view of effect it
leaves the stage for some moments empty of all business.  To remedy this,
a bevy of green ballet-girls came forth and pointed their toes about the
prostrate king.  A dance of High Church curates, or a hornpipe by Mr. T.
P. Cooke, would not be more out of the key; though the gravity of a Scots
audience was not to be overcome, and they merely expressed their
disapprobation by a round of moderate hisses, a similar irruption of
Christmas fairies would most likely convulse a London theatre from pit to
gallery with inextinguishable laughter.  It is, I am told, the Italian
tradition; but it is one more honoured in the breach than the observance.
With the total disappearance of these damsels, with a stronger Lady
Macbeth, and, if possible, with some compression of those scenes in which
Salvini does not appear, and the spectator is left at the mercy of
Macduffs and Duncans, the play would go twice as well, and we should be
better able to follow and enjoy an admirable work of dramatic art.


I have here before me an edition of the _Pilgrim’s Progress_, bound in
green, without a date, and described as ‘illustrated by nearly three
hundred engravings, and memoir of Bunyan.’  On the outside it is lettered
‘Bagster’s Illustrated Edition,’ and after the author’s apology, facing
the first page of the tale, a folding pictorial ‘Plan of the Road’ is
marked as ‘drawn by the late Mr. T. Conder,’ and engraved by J. Basire.
No further information is anywhere vouchsafed; perhaps the publishers had
judged the work too unimportant; and we are still left ignorant whether
or not we owe the woodcuts in the body of the volume to the same hand
that drew the plan.  It seems, however, more than probable.  The literal
particularity of mind which, in the map, laid down the flower-plots in
the devil’s garden, and carefully introduced the court-house in the town
of Vanity, is closely paralleled in many of the cuts; and in both, the
architecture of the buildings and the disposition of the gardens have a
kindred and entirely English air.  Whoever he was, the author of these
wonderful little pictures may lay claim to be the best illustrator of
Bunyan. {183}  They are not only good illustrations, like so many others;
but they are like so few, good illustrations of Bunyan.  Their spirit, in
defect and quality, is still the same as his own.  The designer also has
lain down and dreamed a dream, as literal, as quaint, and almost as
apposite as Bunyan’s; and text and pictures make but the two sides of the
same homespun yet impassioned story.  To do justice to the designs, it
will be necessary to say, for the hundredth time, a word or two about the
masterpiece which they adorn.

All allegories have a tendency to escape from the purpose of their
creators; and as the characters and incidents become more and more
interesting in themselves, the moral, which these were to show forth,
falls more and more into neglect.  An architect may command a wreath of
vine-leaves round the cornice of a monument; but if, as each leaf came
from the chisel, it took proper life and fluttered freely on the wall,
and if the vine grew, and the building were hidden over with foliage and
fruit, the architect would stand in much the same situation as the writer
of allegories.  The _Faëry Queen_ was an allegory, I am willing to
believe; but it survives as an imaginative tale in incomparable verse.
The case of Bunyan is widely different; and yet in this also Allegory,
poor nymph, although never quite forgotten, is sometimes rudely thrust
against the wall.  Bunyan was fervently in earnest; with ‘his fingers in
his ears, he ran on,’ straight for his mark.  He tells us himself, in the
conclusion to the first part, that he did not fear to raise a laugh;
indeed, he feared nothing, and said anything; and he was greatly served
in this by a certain rustic privilege of his style, which, like the talk
of strong uneducated men, when it does not impress by its force, still
charms by its simplicity.  The mere story and the allegorical design
enjoyed perhaps his equal favour.  He believed in both with an energy of
faith that was capable of moving mountains.  And we have to remark in
him, not the parts where inspiration fails and is supplied by cold and
merely decorative invention, but the parts where faith has grown to be
credulity, and his characters become so real to him that he forgets the
end of their creation.  We can follow him step by step into the trap
which he lays for himself by his own entire good faith and triumphant
literality of vision, till the trap closes and shuts him in an
inconsistency.  The allegories of the Interpreter and of the Shepherds of
the Delectable Mountains are all actually performed, like stage-plays,
before the pilgrims.  The son of Mr. Great-grace visibly ‘tumbles hills
about with his words.’  Adam the First has his condemnation written
visibly on his forehead, so that Faithful reads it.  At the very instant
the net closes round the pilgrims, ‘the white robe falls from the black
man’s body.’  Despair ‘getteth him a grievous crab-tree cudgel’; it was
in ‘sunshiny weather’ that he had his fits; and the birds in the grove
about the House Beautiful, ‘our country birds,’ only sing their little
pious verses ‘at the spring, when the flowers appear and the sun shines
warm.’  ‘I often,’ says Piety, ‘go out to hear them; we also ofttimes
keep them tame on our house.’  The post between Beulah and the Celestial
City sounds his horn, as you may yet hear in country places.  Madam
Bubble, that ‘tall, comely dame, something of a swarthy complexion, in
very pleasant attire, but old,’ ‘gives you a smile at the end of each
sentence’—a real woman she; we all know her.  Christiana dying ‘gave Mr.
Stand-fast a ring,’ for no possible reason in the allegory, merely
because the touch was human and affecting.  Look at Great-heart, with his
soldierly ways, garrison ways, as I had almost called them; with his
taste in weapons; his delight in any that ‘he found to be a man of his
hands’; his chivalrous point of honour, letting Giant Maul get up again
when he was down, a thing fairly flying in the teeth of the moral; above
all, with his language in the inimitable tale of Mr. Fearing: ‘I thought
I should have lost my man’—‘chicken-hearted’—‘at last he came in, and I
will say that for my lord, he carried it wonderful lovingly to him.’
This is no Independent minister; this is a stout, honest, big-busted
ancient, adjusting his shoulder-belts, twirling his long moustaches as he
speaks.  Last and most remarkable, ‘My sword,’ says the dying
Valiant-for-Truth, he in whom Great-heart delighted, ‘my sword I give to
him that shall succeed me in my pilgrimage, _and my courage and skill to
him that can get it_.’  And after this boast, more arrogantly unorthodox
than was ever dreamed of by the rejected Ignorance, we are told that ‘all
the trumpets sounded for him on the other side.’

In every page the book is stamped with the same energy of vision and the
same energy of belief.  The quality is equally and indifferently
displayed in the spirit of the fighting, the tenderness of the pathos,
the startling vigour and strangeness of the incidents, the natural strain
of the conversations, and the humanity and charm of the characters.
Trivial talk over a meal, the dying words of heroes, the delights of
Beulah or the Celestial City, Apollyon and my Lord Hate-good,
Great-heart, and Mr. Worldly-Wiseman, all have been imagined with the
same clearness, all written of with equal gusto and precision, all
created in the same mixed element, of simplicity that is almost comical,
and art that, for its purpose, is faultless.

It was in much the same spirit that our artist sat down to his drawings.
He is by nature a Bunyan of the pencil.  He, too, will draw anything,
from a butcher at work on a dead sheep, up to the courts of Heaven.  ‘A
Lamb for Supper’ is the name of one of his designs, ‘Their Glorious
Entry’ of another.  He has the same disregard for the ridiculous, and
enjoys somewhat of the same privilege of style, so that we are pleased
even when we laugh the most.  He is literal to the verge of folly.  If
dust is to be raised from the unswept parlour, you may be sure it will
‘fly abundantly’ in the picture.  If Faithful is to lie ‘as dead’ before
Moses, dead he shall lie with a warrant—dead and stiff like granite; nay
(and here the artist must enhance upon the symbolism of the author), it
is with the identical stone tables of the law that Moses fells the
sinner.  Good and bad people, whom we at once distinguish in the text by
their names, Hopeful, Honest, and Valiant-for-Truth, on the one hand, as
against By-ends, Sir Having Greedy, and the Lord Old-man on the other,
are in these drawings as simply distinguished by their costume.  Good
people, when not armed _cap-à-pie_, wear a speckled tunic girt about the
waist, and low hats, apparently of straw.  Bad people swagger in
tail-coats and chimney-pots, a few with knee-breeches, but the large
majority in trousers, and for all the world like guests at a
garden-party.  Worldly-Wiseman alone, by some inexplicable quirk, stands
before Christian in laced hat, embroidered waistcoat, and trunk-hose.
But above all examples of this artist’s intrepidity, commend me to the
print entitled ‘Christian Finds it Deep.’  ‘A great darkness and horror,’
says the text, have fallen on the pilgrim; it is the comfortless deathbed
with which Bunyan so strikingly concludes the sorrows and conflicts of
his hero.  How to represent this worthily the artist knew not; and yet he
was determined to represent it somehow.  This was how he did: Hopeful is
still shown to his neck above the water of death; but Christian has
bodily disappeared, and a blot of solid blackness indicates his place.

As you continue to look at these pictures, about an inch square for the
most part, sometimes printed three or more to the page, and each having a
printed legend of its own, however trivial the event recorded, you will
soon become aware of two things: first, that the man can draw, and,
second, that he possesses the gift of an imagination.  ‘Obstinate
reviles,’ says the legend; and you should see Obstinate reviling.  ‘He
warily retraces his steps’; and there is Christian, posting through the
plain, terror and speed in every muscle.  ‘Mercy yearns to go’ shows you
a plain interior with packing going forward, and, right in the middle,
Mercy yearning to go—every line of the girl’s figure yearning.  In ‘The
Chamber called Peace’ we see a simple English room, bed with white
curtains, window valance and door, as may be found in many thousand
unpretentious houses; but far off, through the open window, we behold the
sun uprising out of a great plain, and Christian hails it with his hand:

    ‘Where am I now! is this the love and care
    Of Jesus, for the men that pilgrims are!
    Thus to provide!  That I should be forgiven!
    And dwell already the next door to heaven!’

A page or two further, from the top of the House Beautiful, the damsels
point his gaze toward the Delectable Mountains: ‘The Prospect,’ so the
cut is ticketed—and I shall be surprised, if on less than a square inch
of paper you can show me one so wide and fair.  Down a cross road on an
English plain, a cathedral city outlined on the horizon, a hazel shaw
upon the left, comes Madam Wanton dancing with her fair enchanted cup,
and Faithful, book in hand, half pauses.  The cut is perfect as a symbol;
the giddy movement of the sorceress, the uncertain poise of the man
struck to the heart by a temptation, the contrast of that even plain of
life whereon he journeys with the bold, ideal bearing of the wanton—the
artist who invented and portrayed this had not merely read Bunyan, he had
also thoughtfully lived.  The Delectable Mountains—I continue skimming
the first part—are not on the whole happily rendered.  Once, and once
only, the note is struck, when Christian and Hopeful are seen coming,
shoulder-high, through a thicket of green shrubs—box, perhaps, or
perfumed nutmeg; while behind them, domed or pointed, the hills stand
ranged against the sky.  A little further, and we come to that
masterpiece of Bunyan’s insight into life, the Enchanted Ground; where,
in a few traits, he has set down the latter end of such a number of the
would-be good; where his allegory goes so deep that, to people looking
seriously on life, it cuts like satire.  The true significance of this
invention lies, of course, far out of the way of drawing; only one
feature, the great tedium of the land, the growing weariness in
well-doing, may be somewhat represented in a symbol.  The pilgrims are
near the end: ‘Two Miles Yet,’ says the legend.  The road goes ploughing
up and down over a rolling heath; the wayfarers, with outstretched arms,
are already sunk to the knees over the brow of the nearest hill; they
have just passed a milestone with the cipher two; from overhead a great,
piled, summer cumulus, as of a slumberous summer afternoon, beshadows
them: two miles! it might be hundreds.  In dealing with the Land of
Beulah the artist lags, in both parts, miserably behind the text, but in
the distant prospect of the Celestial City more than regains his own.
You will remember when Christian and Hopeful ‘with desire fell sick.’
‘Effect of the Sunbeams’ is the artist’s title.  Against the sky, upon a
cliffy mountain, the radiant temple beams upon them over deep, subjacent
woods; they, behind a mound, as if seeking shelter from the splendour—one
prostrate on his face, one kneeling, and with hands ecstatically
lifted—yearn with passion after that immortal city.  Turn the page, and
we behold them walking by the very shores of death; Heaven, from this
nigher view, has risen half-way to the zenith, and sheds a wider glory;
and the two pilgrims, dark against that brightness, walk and sing out of
the fulness of their hearts.  No cut more thoroughly illustrates at once
the merit and the weakness of the artist.  Each pilgrim sings with a book
in his grasp—a family Bible at the least for bigness; tomes so recklessly
enormous that our second, impulse is to laughter.  And yet that is not
the first thought, nor perhaps the last.  Something in the attitude of
the manikins—faces they have none, they are too small for that—something
in the way they swing these monstrous volumes to their singing, something
perhaps borrowed from the text, some subtle differentiation from the cut
that went before and the cut that follows after—something, at least,
speaks clearly of a fearful joy, of Heaven seen from the deathbed, of the
horror of the last passage no less than of the glorious coming home.
There is that in the action of one of them which always reminds me, with
a difference, of that haunting last glimpse of Thomas Idle, travelling to
Tyburn in the cart.  Next come the Shining Ones, wooden and trivial
enough; the pilgrims pass into the river; the blot already mentioned
settles over and obliterates Christian.  In two more cuts we behold them
drawing nearer to the other shore; and then, between two radiant angels,
one of whom points upward, we see them mounting in new weeds, their
former lendings left behind them on the inky river.  More angels meet
them; Heaven is displayed, and if no better, certainly no worse, than it
has been shown by others—a place, at least, infinitely populous and
glorious with light—a place that haunts solemnly the hearts of children.
And then this symbolic draughtsman once more strikes into his proper
vein.  Three cuts conclude the first part.  In the first the gates close,
black against the glory struggling from within.  The second shows us
Ignorance—alas! poor Arminian!—hailing, in a sad twilight, the ferryman
Vain-Hope; and in the third we behold him, bound hand and foot, and black
already with the hue of his eternal fate, carried high over the
mountain-tops of the world by two angels of the anger of the Lord.
‘Carried to Another Place,’ the artist enigmatically names his plate—a
terrible design.

Wherever he touches on the black side of the supernatural his pencil
grows more daring and incisive.  He has many true inventions in the
perilous and diabolic; he has many startling nightmares realised.  It is
not easy to select the best; some may like one and some another; the
nude, depilated devil bounding and casting darts against the Wicket Gate;
the scroll of flying horrors that hang over Christian by the Mouth of
Hell; the horned shade that comes behind him whispering blasphemies; the
daylight breaking through that rent cave-mouth of the mountains and
falling chill adown the haunted tunnel; Christian’s further progress
along the causeway, between the two black pools, where, at every yard or
two, a gin, a pitfall, or a snare awaits the passer-by—loathsome white
devilkins harbouring close under the bank to work the springes, Christian
himself pausing and pricking with his sword’s point at the nearest noose,
and pale discomfortable mountains rising on the farther side; or yet
again, the two ill-favoured ones that beset the first of Christian’s
journey, with the frog-like structure of the skull, the frog-like
limberness of limbs—crafty, slippery, lustful-looking devils, drawn
always in outline as though possessed of a dim, infernal luminosity.
Horrid fellows are they, one and all; horrid fellows and horrific scenes.
In another spirit that Good-Conscience ‘to whom Mr. Honest had spoken in
his lifetime,’ a cowled, grey, awful figure, one hand pointing to the
heavenly shore, realises, I will not say all, but some at least of the
strange impressiveness of Bunyan’s words.  It is no easy nor pleasant
thing to speak in one’s lifetime with Good-Conscience; he is an austere,
unearthly friend, whom maybe Torquemada knew; and the folds of his
raiment are not merely claustral, but have something of the horror of the
pall.  Be not afraid, however; with the hand of that appearance Mr.
Honest will get safe across.

Yet perhaps it is in sequences that this artist best displays himself.
He loves to look at either side of a thing: as, for instance, when he
shows us both sides of the wall—‘Grace Inextinguishable’ on the one side,
with the devil vainly pouring buckets on the flame, and ‘The Oil of
Grace’ on the other, where the Holy Spirit, vessel in hand, still
secretly supplies the fire.  He loves, also, to show us the same event
twice over, and to repeat his instantaneous photographs at the interval
of but a moment.  So we have, first, the whole troop of pilgrims coming
up to Valiant, and Great-heart to the front, spear in hand and parleying;
and next, the same cross-roads, from a more distant view, the convoy now
scattered and looking safely and curiously on, and Valiant handing over
for inspection his ‘right Jerusalem blade.’  It is true that this
designer has no great care after consistency: Apollyon’s spear is laid
by, his quiver of darts will disappear, whenever they might hinder the
designer’s freedom; and the fiend’s tail is blobbed or forked at his good
pleasure.  But this is not unsuitable to the illustration of the fervent
Bunyan, breathing hurry and momentary inspiration.  He, with his hot
purpose, hunting sinners with a lasso, shall himself forget the things
that he has written yesterday.  He shall first slay Heedless in the
Valley of the Shadow, and then take leave of him talking in his sleep, as
if nothing had happened, in an arbour on the Enchanted Ground.  And
again, in his rhymed prologue, he shall assign some of the glory of the
siege of Doubting Castle to his favourite Valiant-for-the-Truth, who did
not meet with the besiegers till long after, at that dangerous corner by
Deadman’s Lane.  And, with all inconsistencies and freedoms, there is a
power shown in these sequences of cuts: a power of joining on one action
or one humour to another; a power of following out the moods, even of the
dismal subterhuman fiends engendered by the artist’s fancy; a power of
sustained continuous realisation, step by step, in nature’s order, that
can tell a story, in all its ins and outs, its pauses and surprises,
fully and figuratively, like the art of words.

One such sequence is the fight of Christian and Apollyon—six cuts, weird
and fiery, like the text.  The pilgrim is throughout a pale and stockish
figure; but the devil covers a multitude of defects.  There is no better
devil of the conventional order than our artist’s Apollyon, with his
mane, his wings, his bestial legs, his changing and terrifying
expression, his infernal energy to slay.  In cut the first you see him
afar off, still obscure in form, but already formidable in suggestion.
Cut the second, ‘The Fiend in Discourse,’ represents him, not reasoning,
railing rather, shaking his spear at the pilgrim, his shoulder advanced,
his tail writhing in the air, his foot ready for a spring, while
Christian stands back a little, timidly defensive.  The third illustrates
these magnificent words: ‘Then Apollyon straddled quite over the whole
breadth of the way, and said, I am void of fear in this matter: prepare
thyself to die; for I swear by my infernal den that thou shalt go no
farther: here will I spill thy soul!  And with that he threw a flaming
dart at his breast.’  In the cut he throws a dart with either hand,
belching pointed flames out of his mouth, spreading his broad vans, and
straddling the while across the path, as only a fiend can straddle who
has just sworn by his infernal den.  The defence will not be long against
such vice, such flames, such red-hot nether energy.  And in the fourth
cut, to be sure, he has leaped bodily upon his victim, sped by foot and
pinion, and roaring as he leaps.  The fifth shows the climacteric of the
battle; Christian has reached nimbly out and got his sword, and dealt
that deadly home-thrust, the fiend still stretched upon him, but ‘giving
back, as one that had received his mortal wound.’  The raised head, the
bellowing mouth, the paw clapped upon the sword, the one wing relaxed in
agony, all realise vividly these words of the text.  In the sixth and
last, the trivial armed figure of the pilgrim is seen kneeling with
clasped hands on the betrodden scene of contest and among the shivers of
the darts; while just at the margin the hinder quarters and the tail of
Apollyon are whisking off, indignant and discounted.

In one point only do these pictures seem to be unworthy of the text, and
that point is one rather of the difference of arts than the difference of
artists.  Throughout his best and worst, in his highest and most divine
imaginations as in the narrowest sallies of his sectarianism, the
human-hearted piety of Bunyan touches and ennobles, convinces, accuses
the reader.  Through no art beside the art of words can the kindness of a
man’s affections be expressed.  In the cuts you shall find faithfully
parodied the quaintness and the power, the triviality and the surprising
freshness of the author’s fancy; there you shall find him out-stripped in
ready symbolism and the art of bringing things essentially invisible
before the eyes: but to feel the contact of essential goodness, to be
made in love with piety, the book must be read and not the prints

Farewell should not be taken with a grudge; nor can I dismiss in any
other words than those of gratitude a series of pictures which have, to
one at least, been the visible embodiment of Bunyan from childhood up,
and shown him, through all his years, Great-heart lungeing at Giant Maul,
and Apollyon breathing fire at Christian, and every turn and town along
the road to the Celestial City, and that bright place itself, seen as to
a stave of music, shining afar off upon the hill-top, the candle of the



My companion enjoyed a cheap reputation for wit and insight.  He was by
habit and repute a satirist.  If he did occasionally condemn anything or
anybody who richly deserved it, and whose demerits had hitherto escaped,
it was simply because he condemned everything and everybody.  While I was
with him he disposed of St. Paul with an epigram, shook my reverence for
Shakespeare in a neat antithesis, and fell foul of the Almighty Himself,
on the score of one or two out of the ten commandments.  Nothing escaped
his blighting censure.  At every sentence he overthrew an idol, or
lowered my estimation of a friend.  I saw everything with new eyes, and
could only marvel at my former blindness.  How was it possible that I had
not before observed A’s false hair, B’s selfishness, or C’s boorish
manners?  I and my companion, methought, walked the streets like a couple
of gods among a swarm of vermin; for every one we saw seemed to bear
openly upon his brow the mark of the apocalyptic beast.  I half expected
that these miserable beings, like the people of Lystra, would recognise
their betters and force us to the altar; in which case, warned by the
late of Paul and Barnabas, I do not know that my modesty would have
prevailed upon me to decline.  But there was no need for such churlish
virtue.  More blinded than the Lycaonians, the people saw no divinity in
our gait; and as our temporary godhead lay more in the way of observing
than healing their infirmities, we were content to pass them by in scorn.

I could not leave my companion, not from regard or even from interest,
but from a very natural feeling, inseparable from the case.  To
understand it, let us take a simile.  Suppose yourself walking down the
street with a man who continues to sprinkle the crowd out of a flask of
vitriol.  You would be much diverted with the grimaces and contortions of
his victims; and at the same time you would fear to leave his arm until
his bottle was empty, knowing that, when once among the crowd, you would
run a good chance yourself of baptism with his biting liquor.  Now my
companion’s vitriol was inexhaustible.

It was perhaps the consciousness of this, the knowledge that I was being
anointed already out of the vials of his wrath, that made me fall to
criticising the critic, whenever we had parted.

After all, I thought, our satirist has just gone far enough into his
neighbours to find that the outside is false, without caring to go
farther and discover what is really true.  He is content to find that
things are not what they seem, and broadly generalises from it that they
do not exist at all.  He sees our virtues are not what they pretend they
are; and, on the strength of that, he denies us the possession of virtue
altogether.  He has learnt the first lesson, that no man is wholly good;
but he has not even suspected that there is another equally true, to wit,
that no man is wholly bad.  Like the inmate of a coloured star, he has
eyes for one colour alone.  He has a keen scent after evil, but his
nostrils are plugged against all good, as people plugged their nostrils
before going about the streets of the plague-struck city.

Why does he do this?  It is most unreasonable to flee the knowledge of
good like the infection of a horrible disease, and batten and grow fat in
the real atmosphere of a lazar-house.  This was my first thought; but my
second was not like unto it, and I saw that our satirist was wise, wise
in his generation, like the unjust steward.  He does not want light,
because the darkness is more pleasant.  He does not wish to see the good,
because he is happier without it.  I recollect that when I walked with
him, I was in a state of divine exaltation, such as Adam and Eve must
have enjoyed when the savour of the fruit was still unfaded between their
lips; and I recognise that this must be the man’s habitual state.  He has
the forbidden fruit in his waist-coat pocket, and can make himself a god
as often and as long as he likes.  He has raised himself upon a glorious
pedestal above his fellows; he has touched the summit of ambition; and he
envies neither King nor Kaiser, Prophet nor Priest, content in an
elevation as high as theirs, and much more easily attained.  Yes, certes,
much more easily attained.  He has not risen by climbing himself, but by
pushing others down.  He has grown great in his own estimation, not by
blowing himself out, and risking the fate of Æsop’s frog, but simply by
the habitual use of a diminishing glass on everybody else.  And I think
altogether that his is a better, a safer, and a surer recipe than most

After all, however, looking back on what I have written, I detect a
spirit suspiciously like his own.  All through, I have been comparing
myself with our satirist, and all through, I have had the best of the
comparison.  Well, well, contagion is as often mental as physical; and I
do not think my readers, who have all been under his lash, will blame me
very much for giving the headsman a mouthful of his own sawdust.


If any one should know the pleasure and pain of a sleepless night, it
should be I.  I remember, so long ago, the sickly child that woke from
his few hours’ slumber with the sweat of a nightmare on his brow, to lie
awake and listen and long for the first signs of life among the silent
streets.  These nights of pain and weariness are graven on my mind; and
so when the same thing happened to me again, everything that I heard or
saw was rather a recollection than a discovery.

Weighed upon by the opaque and almost sensible darkness, I listened
eagerly for anything to break the sepulchral quiet.  But nothing came,
save, perhaps, an emphatic crack from the old cabinet that was made by
Deacon Brodie, or the dry rustle of the coals on the extinguished fire.
It was a calm; or I know that I should have heard in the roar and clatter
of the storm, as I have not heard it for so many years, the wild career
of a horseman, always scouring up from the distance and passing swiftly
below the window; yet always returning again from the place whence first
he came, as though, baffled by some higher power, he had retraced his
steps to gain impetus for another and another attempt.

As I lay there, there arose out of the utter stillness the rumbling of a
carriage a very great way off, that drew near, and passed within a few
streets of the house, and died away as gradually as it had arisen.  This,
too, was as a reminiscence.

I rose and lifted a corner of the blind.  Over the black belt of the
garden I saw the long line of Queen Street, with here and there a lighted
window.  How often before had my nurse lifted me out of bed and pointed
them out to me, while we wondered together if, there also, there were
children that could not sleep, and if these lighted oblongs were signs of
those that waited like us for the morning.

I went out into the lobby, and looked down into the great deep well of
the staircase.  For what cause I know not, just as it used to be in the
old days that the feverish child might be the better served, a peep of
gas illuminated a narrow circle far below me.  But where I was, all was
darkness and silence, save the dry monotonous ticking of the clock that
came ceaselessly up to my ear.

The final crown of it all, however, the last touch of reproduction on the
pictures of my memory, was the arrival of that time for which, all night
through, I waited and longed of old.  It was my custom, as the hours
dragged on, to repeat the question, ‘When will the carts come in?’ and
repeat it again and again until at last those sounds arose in the street
that I have heard once more this morning.  The road before our house is a
great thoroughfare for early carts.  I know not, and I never have known,
what they carry, whence they come, or whither they go.  But I know that,
long ere dawn, and for hours together, they stream continuously past,
with the same rolling and jerking of wheels and the same clink of horses’
feet.  It was not for nothing that they made the burthen of my wishes all
night through.  They are really the first throbbings of life, the
harbingers of day; and it pleases you as much to hear them as it must
please a shipwrecked seaman once again to grasp a hand of flesh and blood
after years of miserable solitude.  They have the freshness of the
daylight life about them.  You can hear the carters cracking their whips
and crying hoarsely to their horses or to one another; and sometimes even
a peal of healthy, harsh horse-laughter comes up to you through the
darkness.  There is now an end of mystery and fear.  Like the knocking at
the door in _Macbeth_, {205} or the cry of the watchman in the _Tour de
Nesle_, they show that the horrible cæsura is over and the nightmares
have fled away, because the day is breaking and the ordinary life of men
is beginning to bestir itself among the streets.

In the middle of it all I fell asleep, to be wakened by the officious
knocking at my door, and I find myself twelve years older than I had
dreamed myself all night.


It is all very well to talk of death as ‘a pleasant potion of
immortality’, but the most of us, I suspect, are of ‘queasy stomachs,’
and find it none of the sweetest. {206a}  The graveyard may be cloak-room
to Heaven; but we must admit that it is a very ugly and offensive
vestibule in itself, however fair may be the life to which it leads.  And
though Enoch and Elias went into the temple through a gate which
certainly may be called Beautiful, the rest of us have to find our way to
it through Ezekiel’s low-bowed door and the vault full of creeping things
and all manner of abominable beasts.  Nevertheless, there is a certain
frame of mind to which a cemetery is, if not an antidote, at least an
alleviation.  If you are in a fit of the blues, go nowhere else.  It was
in obedience to this wise regulation that the other morning found me
lighting my pipe at the entrance to Old Greyfriars’, thoroughly sick of
the town, the country, and myself.

Two of the men were talking at the gate, one of them carrying a spade in
hands still crusted with the soil of graves.  Their very aspect was
delightful to me; and I crept nearer to them, thinking to pick up some
snatch of sexton gossip, some ‘talk fit for a charnel,’ {206b} something,
in fine, worthy of that fastidious logician, that adept in coroner’s law,
who has come down to us as the patron of Yaughan’s liquor, and the very
prince of gravediggers.  Scots people in general are so much wrapped up
in their profession that I had a good chance of overhearing such
conversation: the talk of fish-mongers running usually on stockfish and
haddocks; while of the Scots sexton I could repeat stories and speeches
that positively smell of the graveyard.  But on this occasion I was
doomed to disappointment.  My two friends were far into the region of
generalities.  Their profession was forgotten in their electorship.
Politics had engulfed the narrower economy of grave-digging.  ‘Na, na,’
said the one, ‘ye’re a’ wrang.’  ‘The English and Irish Churches,’
answered the other, in a tone as if he had made the remark before, and it
had been called in question—‘The English and Irish Churches have
_impoverished_ the country.’

‘Such are the results of education,’ thought I as I passed beside them
and came fairly among the tombs.  Here, at least, there were no
commonplace politics, no diluted this-morning’s leader, to distract or
offend me.  The old shabby church showed, as usual, its quaint extent of
roofage and the relievo skeleton on one gable, still blackened with the
fire of thirty years ago.  A chill dank mist lay over all.  The Old
Greyfriars’ churchyard was in perfection that morning, and one could go
round and reckon up the associations with no fear of vulgar interruption.
On this stone the Covenant was signed.  In that vault, as the story goes,
John Knox took hiding in some Reformation broil.  From that window Burke
the murderer looked out many a time across the tombs, and perhaps o’
nights let himself down over the sill to rob some new-made grave.
Certainly he would have a selection here.  The very walks have been
carried over forgotten resting-places; and the whole ground is uneven,
because (as I was once quaintly told) ‘when the wood rots it stands to
reason the soil should fall in,’ which, from the law of gravitation, is
certainly beyond denial.  But it is round the boundary that there are the
finest tombs.  The whole irregular space is, as it were, fringed with
quaint old monuments, rich in death’s-heads and scythes and hour-glasses,
and doubly rich in pious epitaphs and Latin mottoes—rich in them to such
an extent that their proper space has run over, and they have crawled
end-long up the shafts of columns and ensconced themselves in all sorts
of odd corners among the sculpture.  These tombs raise their backs
against the rabble of squalid dwelling-houses, and every here and there a
clothes-pole projects between two monuments its fluttering trophy of
white and yellow and red.  With a grim irony they recall the banners in
the Invalides, banners as appropriate perhaps over the sepulchres of
tailors and weavers as these others above the dust of armies.  Why they
put things out to dry on that particular morning it was hard to imagine.
The grass was grey with drops of rain, the headstones black with
moisture.  Yet, in despite of weather and common sense, there they hung
between the tombs; and beyond them I could see through open windows into
miserable rooms where whole families were born and fed, and slept and
died.  At one a girl sat singing merrily with her back to the graveyard;
and from another came the shrill tones of a scolding woman.  Every here
and there was a town garden full of sickly flowers, or a pile of crockery
inside upon the window-seat.  But you do not grasp the full connection
between these houses of the dead and the living, the unnatural marriage
of stately sepulchres and squalid houses, till, lower down, where the
road has sunk far below the surface of the cemetery, and the very roofs
are scarcely on a level with its wall, you observe that a proprietor has
taken advantage of a tall monument and trained a chimney-stack against
its back.  It startles you to see the red, modern pots peering over the
shoulder of the tomb.

A man was at work on a grave, his spade clinking away the drift of bones
that permeates the thin brown soil; but my first disappointment had
taught me to expect little from Greyfriars’ sextons, and I passed him by
in silence.  A slater on the slope of a neighbouring roof eyed me
curiously.  A lean black cat, looking as if it had battened on strange
meats, slipped past me.  A little boy at a window put his finger to his
nose in so offensive a manner that I was put upon my dignity, and turned
grandly off to read old epitaphs and peer through the gratings into the
shadow of vaults.

Just then I saw two women coming down a path, one of them old, and the
other younger, with a child in her arms.  Both had faces eaten with
famine and hardened with sin, and both had reached that stage of
degradation, much lower in a woman than a man, when all care for dress is
lost.  As they came down they neared a grave, where some pious friend or
relative had laid a wreath of immortelles, and put a bell glass over it,
as is the custom.  The effect of that ring of dull yellow among so many
blackened and dusty sculptures was more pleasant than it is in modern
cemeteries, where every second mound can boast a similar coronal; and
here, where it was the exception and not the rule, I could even fancy the
drops of moisture that dimmed the covering were the tears of those who
laid it where it was.  As the two women came up to it, one of them
kneeled down on the wet grass and looked long and silently through the
clouded shade, while the second stood above her, gently oscillating to
and fro to lull the muling baby.  I was struck a great way off with
something religious in the attitude of these two unkempt and haggard
women; and I drew near faster, but still cautiously, to hear what they
were saying.  Surely on them the spirit of death and decay had descended;
I had no education to dread here: should I not have a chance of seeing
nature?  Alas! a pawnbroker could not have been more practical and
commonplace, for this was what the kneeling woman said to the woman
upright—this and nothing more: ‘Eh, what extravagance!’

O nineteenth century, wonderful art thou indeed—wonderful, but wearisome
in thy stale and deadly uniformity.  Thy men are more like numerals than
men.  They must bear their idiosyncrasies or their professions written on
a placard about their neck, like the scenery in Shakespeare’s theatre.
Thy precepts of economy have pierced into the lowest ranks of life; and
there is now a decorum in vice, a respectability among the disreputable,
a pure spirit of Philistinism among the waifs and strays of thy Bohemia.
For lo! thy very gravediggers talk politics; and thy castaways kneel upon
new graves, to discuss the cost of the monument and grumble at the
improvidence of love.

Such was the elegant apostrophe that I made as I went out of the gates
again, happily satisfied in myself, and feeling that I alone of all whom
I had seen was able to profit by the silent poem of these green mounds
and blackened headstones.


I knew one once, and the room where, lonely and old, she waited for
death.  It was pleasant enough, high up above the lane, and looking forth
upon a hill-side, covered all day with sheets and yellow blankets, and
with long lines of underclothing fluttering between the battered posts.
There were any number of cheap prints, and a drawing by one of ‘her
children,’ and there were flowers in the window, and a sickly canary
withered into consumption in an ornamental cage.  The bed, with its
checked coverlid, was in a closet.  A great Bible lay on the table; and
her drawers were full of ‘scones,’ which it was her pleasure to give to
young visitors such as I was then.

You may not think this a melancholy picture; but the canary, and the cat,
and the white mouse that she had for a while, and that died, were all
indications of the want that ate into her heart.  I think I know a little
of what that old woman felt; and I am as sure as if I had seen her, that
she sat many an hour in silent tears, with the big Bible open before her
clouded eyes.

If you could look back upon her life, and feel the great chain that had
linked her to one child after another, sometimes to be wrenched suddenly
through, and sometimes, which is infinitely worse, to be torn gradually
off through years of growing neglect, or perhaps growing dislike!  She
had, like the mother, overcome that natural repugnance—repugnance which
no man can conquer—towards the infirm and helpless mass of putty of the
earlier stage.  She had spent her best and happiest years in tending,
watching, and learning to love like a mother this child, with which she
has no connection and to which she has no tie.  Perhaps she refused some
sweetheart (such things have been), or put him off and off, until he lost
heart and turned to some one else, all for fear of leaving this creature
that had wound itself about her heart.  And the end of it all—her month’s
warning, and a present perhaps, and the rest of the life to vain regret.
Or, worse still, to see the child gradually forgetting and forsaking her,
fostered in disrespect and neglect on the plea of growing manliness, and
at last beginning to treat her as a servant whom he had treated a few
years before as a mother.  She sees the Bible or the Psalm-book, which
with gladness and love unutterable in her heart she had bought for him
years ago out of her slender savings, neglected for some newer gift of
his father, lying in dust in the lumber-room or given away to a poor
child, and the act applauded for its unfeeling charity.  Little wonder if
she becomes hurt and angry, and attempts to tyrannise and to grasp her
old power back again.  We are not all patient Grizzels, by good fortune,
but the most of us human beings with feelings and tempers of our own.

And so, in the end, behold her in the room that I described.  Very likely
and very naturally, in some fling of feverish misery or recoil of
thwarted love, she has quarrelled with her old employers and the children
are forbidden to see her or to speak to her; or at best she gets her rent
paid and a little to herself, and now and then her late charges are sent
up (with another nurse, perhaps) to pay her a short visit.  How bright
these visits seem as she looks forward to them on her lonely bed!  How
unsatisfactory their realisation, when the forgetful child, half
wondering, checks with every word and action the outpouring of her
maternal love!  How bitter and restless the memories that they leave
behind!  And for the rest, what else has she?—to watch them with eager
eyes as they go to school, to sit in church where she can see them every
Sunday, to be passed some day unnoticed in the street, or deliberately
cut because the great man or the great woman are with friends before whom
they are ashamed to recognise the old woman that loved them.

When she goes home that night, how lonely will the room appear to her!
Perhaps the neighbours may hear her sobbing to herself in the dark, with
the fire burnt out for want of fuel, and the candle still unlit upon the

And it is for this that they live, these quasi-mothers—mothers in
everything but the travail and the thanks.  It is for this that they have
remained virtuous in youth, living the dull life of a household servant.
It is for this that they refused the old sweetheart, and have no fireside
or offspring of their own.

I believe in a better state of things, that there will be no more nurses,
and that every mother will nurse her own offspring; for what can be more
hardening and demoralising than to call forth the tenderest feelings of a
woman’s heart and cherish them yourself as long as you need them, as long
as your children require a nurse to love them, and then to blight and
thwart and destroy them, whenever your own use for them is at an end.
This may be Utopian; but it is always a little thing if one mother or two
mothers can be brought to feel more tenderly to those who share their
toil and have no part in their reward.


The man has a red, bloated face, and his figure is short and squat.  So
far there is nothing in him to notice, but when you see his eyes, you can
read in these hard and shallow orbs a depravity beyond measure depraved,
a thirst after wickedness, the pure, disinterested love of Hell for its
own sake.  The other night, in the street, I was watching an omnibus
passing with lit-up windows, when I heard some one coughing at my side as
though he would cough his soul out; and turning round, I saw him stopping
under a lamp, with a brown greatcoat buttoned round him and his whole
face convulsed.  It seemed as if he could not live long; and so the sight
set my mind upon a train of thought, as I finished my cigar up and down
the lighted streets.

He is old, but all these years have not yet quenched his thirst for evil,
and his eyes still delight themselves in wickedness.  He is dumb; but he
will not let that hinder his foul trade, or perhaps I should say, his yet
fouler amusement, and he has pressed a slate into the service of
corruption.  Look at him, and he will sign to you with his bloated head,
and when you go to him in answer to the sign, thinking perhaps that the
poor dumb man has lost his way, you will see what he writes upon his
slate.  He haunts the doors of schools, and shows such inscriptions as
these to the innocent children that come out.  He hangs about
picture-galleries, and makes the noblest pictures the text for some
silent homily of vice.  His industry is a lesson to ourselves.  Is it not
wonderful how he can triumph over his infirmities and do such an amount
of harm without a tongue?  Wonderful industry—strange, fruitless,
pleasureless toil?  Must not the very devil feel a soft emotion to see
his disinterested and laborious service?  Ah, but the devil knows better
than this: he knows that this man is penetrated with the love of evil and
that all his pleasure is shut up in wickedness: he recognises him,
perhaps, as a fit type for mankind of his satanic self, and watches over
his effigy as we might watch over a favourite likeness.  As the business
man comes to love the toil, which he only looked upon at first as a
ladder towards other desires and less unnatural gratifications, so the
dumb man has felt the charm of his trade and fallen captivated before the
eyes of sin.  It is a mistake when preachers tell us that vice is hideous
and loathsome; for even vice has her Hörsel and her devotees, who love
her for her own sake.



Nance Holdaway was on her knees before the fire blowing the green wood
that voluminously smoked upon the dogs, and only now and then shot forth
a smothered flame; her knees already ached and her eyes smarted, for she
had been some while at this ungrateful task, but her mind was gone far
away to meet the coming stranger.  Now she met him in the wood, now at
the castle gate, now in the kitchen by candle-light; each fresh
presentment eclipsed the one before; a form so elegant, manners so
sedate, a countenance so brave and comely, a voice so winning and
resolute—sure such a man was never seen!  The thick-coming fancies poured
and brightened in her head like the smoke and flames upon the hearth.

Presently the heavy foot of her uncle Jonathan was heard upon the stair,
and as he entered the room she bent the closer to her work.  He glanced
at the green fagots with a sneer, and looked askance at the bed and the
white sheets, at the strip of carpet laid, like an island, on the great
expanse of the stone floor, and at the broken glazing of the casement
clumsily repaired with paper.

‘Leave that fire a-be,’ he cried.  ‘What, have I toiled all my life to
turn innkeeper at the hind end?  Leave it a-be, I say.’

‘La, uncle, it doesn’t burn a bit; it only smokes,’ said Nance, looking
up from her position.

‘You are come of decent people on both sides,’ returned the old man.
‘Who are you to blow the coals for any Robin-run-agate?  Get up, get on
your hood, make yourself useful, and be off to the “Green Dragon.”’

‘I thought you was to go yourself,’ Nance faltered.

‘So did I,’ quoth Jonathan; ‘but it appears I was mistook.’

The very excess of her eagerness alarmed her, and she began to hang back.
‘I think I would rather not, dear uncle,’ she said.  ‘Night is at hand,
and I think, dear, I would rather not.’

‘Now you look here,’ replied Jonathan, ‘I have my lord’s orders, have I
not?  Little he gives me, but it’s all my livelihood.  And do you fancy,
if I disobey my lord, I’m likely to turn round for a lass like you?  No,
I’ve that hell-fire of pain in my old knee, I wouldn’t walk a mile, not
for King George upon his bended knees.’  And he walked to the window and
looked down the steep scarp to where the river foamed in the bottom of
the dell.

Nance stayed for no more bidding.  In her own room, by the glimmer of the
twilight, she washed her hands and pulled on her Sunday mittens; adjusted
her black hood, and tied a dozen times its cherry ribbons; and in less
than ten minutes, with a fluttering heart and excellently bright eyes,
she passed forth under the arch and over the bridge, into the thickening
shadows of the groves.  A well-marked wheel-track conducted her.  The
wood, which upon both sides of the river dell was a mere scrambling
thicket of hazel, hawthorn, and holly, boasted on the level of more
considerable timber.  Beeches came to a good growth, with here and there
an oak; and the track now passed under a high arcade of branches, and now
ran under the open sky in glades.  As the girl proceeded these glades
became more frequent, the trees began again to decline in size, and the
wood to degenerate into furzy coverts.  Last of all there was a fringe of
elders; and beyond that the track came forth upon an open, rolling
moorland, dotted with wind-bowed and scanty bushes, and all golden brown
with the winter, like a grouse.  Right over against the girl the last red
embers of the sunset burned under horizontal clouds; the night fell clear
and still and frosty, and the track in low and marshy passages began to
crackle under foot with ice.

Some half a mile beyond the borders of the wood the lights of the ‘Green
Dragon’ hove in sight, and running close beside them, very faint in the
dying dusk, the pale ribbon of the Great North Road.  It was the back of
the post-house that was presented to Nance Holdaway; and as she continued
to draw near and the night to fall more completely, she became aware of
an unusual brightness and bustle.  A post-chaise stood in the yard, its
lamps already lighted: light shone hospitably in the windows and from the
open door; moving lights and shadows testified to the activity of
servants bearing lanterns.  The clank of pails, the stamping of hoofs on
the firm causeway, the jingle of harness, and, last of all, the energetic
hissing of a groom, began to fall upon her ear.  By the stir you would
have thought the mail was at the door, but it was still too early in the
night.  The down mail was not due at the ‘Green Dragon’ for hard upon an
hour; the up mail from Scotland not before two in the black morning.

Nance entered the yard somewhat dazzled.  Sam, the tall ostler, was
polishing a curb-chain wit sand; the lantern at his feet letting up
spouts of candle-light through the holes with which its conical roof was

‘Hey, miss,’ said he jocularly, ‘you won’t look at me any more, now you
have gentry at the castle.’

Her cheeks burned with anger.

‘That’s my lord’s chay,’ the man continued, nodding at the chaise, ‘Lord
Windermoor’s.  Came all in a fluster—dinner, bowl of punch, and put the
horses to. For all the world like a runaway match, my dear—bar the bride.
He brought Mr. Archer in the chay with him.’

‘Is that Holdaway?’ cried the landlord from the lighted entry, where he
stood shading his eyes.

‘Only me, sir,’ answered Nance.

‘O, you, Miss Nance,’ he said.  ‘Well, come in quick, my pretty.  My lord
is waiting for your uncle.’

And he ushered Nance into a room cased with yellow wainscot and lighted
by tall candles, where two gentlemen sat at a table finishing a bowl of
punch.  One of these was stout, elderly, and irascible, with a face like
a full moon, well dyed with liquor, thick tremulous lips, a short, purple
hand, in which he brandished a long pipe, and an abrupt and gobbling
utterance.  This was my Lord Windermoor.  In his companion Nance beheld a
younger man, tall, quiet, grave, demurely dressed, and wearing his own
hair.  Her glance but lighted on him, and she flushed, for in that second
she made sure that she had twice betrayed herself—betrayed by the
involuntary flash of her black eyes her secret impatience to behold this
new companion, and, what was far worse, betrayed her disappointment in
the realisation of her dreams.  He, meanwhile, as if unconscious,
continued to regard her with unmoved decorum.

‘O, a man of wood,’ thought Nance.

‘What—what?’ said his lordship.  ‘Who is this?’

‘If you please, my lord, I am Holdaway’s niece,’ replied Nance, with a

‘Should have been here himself,’ observed his lordship.  ‘Well, you tell
Holdaway that I’m aground, not a stiver—not a stiver.  I’m running from
the beagles—going abroad, tell Holdaway.  And he need look for no more
wages: glad of ’em myself, if I could get ’em.  He can live in the castle
if he likes, or go to the devil.  O, and here is Mr. Archer; and I
recommend him to take him in—a friend of mine—and Mr. Archer will pay, as
I wrote.  And I regard that in the light of a precious good thing for
Holdaway, let me tell you, and a set-off against the wages.’

‘But O, my lord!’ cried Nance, ‘we live upon the wages, and what are we
to do without?’

‘What am I to do?—what am I to do?’ replied Lord Windermoor with some
exasperation.  ‘I have no wages.  And there is Mr. Archer.  And if
Holdaway doesn’t like it, he can go to the devil, and you with him!—and
you with him!’

‘And yet, my lord,’ said Mr. Archer, ‘these good people will have as keen
a sense of loss as you or I; keener, perhaps, since they have done
nothing to deserve it.’

‘Deserve it?’ cried the peer.  ‘What?  What?  If a rascally highwayman
comes up to me with a confounded pistol, do you say that I’ve deserved
it?  How often am I to tell you, sir, that I was cheated—that I was

‘You are happy in the belief,’ returned Mr. Archer gravely.

‘Archer, you would be the death of me!’ exclaimed his lordship.  ‘You
know you’re drunk; you know it, sir; and yet you can’t get up a spark of

‘I have drunk fair, my lord,’ replied the younger man; ‘but I own I am
conscious of no exhilaration.’

‘If you had as black a look-out as me, sir,’ cried the peer, ‘you would
be very glad of a little innocent exhilaration, let me tell you.  I am
glad of it—glad of it, and I only wish I was drunker.  For let me tell
you it’s a cruel hard thing upon a man of my time of life and my
position, to be brought down to beggary because the world is full of
thieves and rascals—thieves and rascals.  What?  For all I know, you may
be a thief and a rascal yourself; and I would fight you for a pinch of
snuff—a pinch of snuff,’ exclaimed his lordship.

Here Mr. Archer turned to Nance Holdaway with a pleasant smile, so full
of sweetness, kindness, and composure that, at one bound, her dreams
returned to her.  ‘My good Miss Holdaway,’ said he, ‘if you are willing
to show me the road, I am even eager to be gone.  As for his lordship and
myself, compose yourself; there is no fear; this is his lordship’s way.’

‘What? what?’ cried his lordship.  ‘My way?  Ish no such a thing, my

‘Come, my lord,’ cried Archer; ‘you and I very thoroughly understand each
other; and let me suggest, it is time that both of us were gone.  The
mail will soon be due.  Here, then, my lord, I take my leave of you, with
the most earnest assurance of my gratitude for the past, and a sincere
offer of any services I may be able to render in the future.’

‘Archer,’ exclaimed Lord Windermoor, ‘I love you like a son.  Le’ ’s have
another bowl.’

‘My lord, for both our sakes, you will excuse me,’ replied Mr. Archer.
‘We both require caution; we must both, for some while at least, avoid
the chance of a pursuit.’

‘Archer,’ quoth his lordship, ‘this is a rank ingratishood.  What?  I’m
to go firing away in the dark in the cold po’chaise, and not so much as a
game of écarté possible, unless I stop and play with the postillion, the
postillion; and the whole country swarming with thieves and rascals and

‘I beg your lordship’s pardon,’ put in the landlord, who now appeared in
the doorway to announce the chaise, ‘but this part of the North Road is
known for safety.  There has not been a robbery, to call a robbery, this
five years’ time.  Further south, of course, it’s nearer London, and
another story,’ he added.

‘Well, then, if that’s so,’ concluded my lord, ‘le’ ’s have t’other bowl
and a pack of cards.’

‘My lord, you forget,’ said Archer, ‘I might still gain; but it is hardly
possible for me to lose.’

‘Think I’m a sharper?’ inquired the peer.  ‘Gen’leman’s parole’s all I

But Mr. Archer was proof against these blandishments, and said farewell
gravely enough to Lord Windermoor, shaking his hand and at the same time
bowing very low.  ‘You will never know,’ says he, ‘the service you have
done me.’  And with that, and before my lord had finally taken up his
meaning, he had slipped about the table, touched Nance lightly but
imperiously on the arm, and left the room.  In face of the outbreak of
his lordship’s lamentations she made haste to follow the truant.


The chaise had been driven round to the front door; the courtyard lay all
deserted, and only lit by a lantern set upon a window-sill.  Through this
Nance rapidly led the way, and began to ascend the swellings of the moor
with a heart that somewhat fluttered in her bosom.  She was not afraid,
but in the course of these last passages with Lord Windermoor Mr. Archer
had ascended to that pedestal on which her fancy waited to instal him.
The reality, she felt, excelled her dreams, and this cold night walk was
the first romantic incident in her experience.

It was the rule in these days to see gentlemen unsteady after dinner, yet
Nance was both surprised and amused when her companion, who had spoken so
soberly, began to stumble and waver by her side with the most airy
divagations.  Sometimes he would get so close to her that she must edge
away; and at others lurch clear out of the track and plough among deep
heather.  His courtesy and gravity meanwhile remained unaltered.  He
asked her how far they had to go; whether the way lay all upon the
moorland, and when he learned they had to pass a wood expressed his
pleasure.  ‘For,’ said he, ‘I am passionately fond of trees.  Trees and
fair lawns, if you consider of it rightly, are the ornaments of nature,
as palaces and fine approaches—’  And here he stumbled into a patch of
slough and nearly fell.  The girl had hard work not to laugh, but at
heart she was lost in admiration for one who talked so elegantly.

They had got to about a quarter of a mile from the ‘Green Dragon,’ and
were near the summit of the rise, when a sudden rush of wheels arrested
them.  Turning and looking back, they saw the post-house, now much
declined in brightness; and speeding away northward the two tremulous
bright dots of my Lord Windermoor’s chaise-lamps.  Mr. Archer followed
these yellow and unsteady stars until they dwindled into points and

‘There goes my only friend,’ he said.  ‘Death has cut off those that
loved me, and change of fortune estranged my flatterers; and but for you,
poor bankrupt, my life is as lonely as this moor.’

The tone of his voice affected both of them.  They stood there on the
side of the moor, and became thrillingly conscious of the void waste of
the night, without a feature for the eye, and except for the fainting
whisper of the carriage-wheels without a murmur for the ear.  And
instantly, like a mockery, there broke out, very far away, but clear and
jolly, the note of the mail-guard’s horn.  ‘Over the hills’ was his air.
It rose to the two watchers on the moor with the most cheerful sentiment
of human company and travel, and at the same time in and around the
‘Green Dragon’ it woke up a great bustle of lights running to and fro and
clattering hoofs.  Presently after, out of the darkness to southward, the
mail grew near with a growing rumble.  Its lamps were very large and
bright, and threw their radiance forward in overlapping cones; the four
cantering horses swarmed and steamed; the body of the coach followed like
a great shadow; and this lit picture slid with a sort of ineffectual
swiftness over the black field of night, and was eclipsed by the
buildings of the ‘Green Dragon.’

Mr. Archer turned abruptly and resumed his former walk; only that he was
now more steady, kept better alongside his young conductor, and had
fallen into a silence broken by sighs.  Nance waxed very pitiful over his
fate, contrasting an imaginary past of courts and great society, and
perhaps the King himself, with the tumbledown ruin in a wood to which she
was now conducting him.

‘You must try, sir, to keep your spirits up,’ said she.  ‘To be sure this
is a great change for one like you; but who knows the future?’

Mr. Archer turned towards her in the darkness, and she could clearly
perceive that he smiled upon her very kindly.  ‘There spoke a sweet
nature,’ said he, ‘and I must thank you for these words.  But I would not
have you fancy that I regret the past for any happiness found in it, or
that I fear the simplicity and hardship of the country.  I am a man that
has been much tossed about in life; now up, now down; and do you think
that I shall not be able to support what you support—you who are kind,
and therefore know how to feel pain; who are beautiful, and therefore
hope; who are young, and therefore (or am I the more mistaken?)

‘Nay, sir, not that, at least,’ said Nance; ‘not discontented.  If I were
to be discontented, how should I look those that have real sorrows in the
face?  I have faults enough, but not that fault; and I have my merits
too, for I have a good opinion of myself.  But for beauty, I am not so
simple but that I can tell a banter from a compliment.’

‘Nay, nay,’ said Mr. Archer, ‘I had half forgotten; grief is selfish, and
I was thinking of myself and not of you, or I had never blurted out so
bold a piece of praise.  ’Tis the best proof of my sincerity.  But come,
now, I would lay a wager you are no coward?’

‘Indeed, sir, I am not more afraid than another,’ said Nance.  ‘None of
my blood are given to fear.’

‘And you are honest?’ he returned.

‘I will answer for that,’ said she.

‘Well, then, to be brave, to be honest, to be kind, and to be contented,
since you say you are so—is not that to fill up a great part of virtue?’

‘I fear you are but a flatterer,’ said Nance, but she did not say it
clearly, for what with bewilderment and satisfaction, her heart was quite

There could be no harm, certainly, in these grave compliments; but yet
they charmed and frightened her, and to find favour, for reasons however
obscure, in the eyes of this elegant, serious, and most unfortunate young
gentleman, was a giddy elevation, was almost an apotheosis, for a country

But she was to be no more exercised; for Mr. Archer, disclaiming any
thought of flattery, turned off to other subjects, and held her all
through the wood in conversation, addressing her with an air of perfect
sincerity, and listening to her answers with every mark of interest.  Had
open flattery continued, Nance would have soon found refuge in good
sense; but the more subtle lure she could not suspect, much less avoid.
It was the first time she had ever taken part in a conversation
illuminated by any ideas.  All was then true that she had heard and
dreamed of gentlemen; they were a race apart, like deities knowing good
and evil.  And then there burst upon her soul a divine thought, hope’s
glorious sunrise: since she could understand, since it seemed that she
too, even she, could interest this sorrowful Apollo, might she not learn?
or was she not learning?  Would not her soul awake and put forth wings?
Was she not, in fact, an enchanted princess, waiting but a touch to
become royal?  She saw herself transformed, radiantly attired, but in the
most exquisite taste: her face grown longer and more refined; her tint
etherealised; and she heard herself with delighted wonder talking like a

Meanwhile they had arrived at where the track comes out above the river
dell, and saw in front of them the castle, faintly shadowed on the night,
covering with its broken battlements a bold projection of the bank, and
showing at the extreme end, where were the habitable tower and wing, some
crevices of candle-light.  Hence she called loudly upon her uncle, and he
was seen to issue, lantern in hand, from the tower door, and, where the
ruins did not intervene, to pick his way over the swarded courtyard,
avoiding treacherous cellars and winding among blocks of fallen masonry.
The arch of the great gate was still entire, flanked by two tottering
bastions, and it was here that Jonathan met them, standing at the edge of
the bridge, bent somewhat forward, and blinking at them through the glow
of his own lantern.  Mr. Archer greeted him with civility; but the old
man was in no humour of compliance.  He guided the newcomer across the
court-yard, looking sharply and quickly in his face, and grumbling all
the time about the cold, and the discomfort and dilapidation of the
castle.  He was sure he hoped that Mr. Archer would like it; but in truth
he could not think what brought him there.  Doubtless he had a good
reason—this with a look of cunning scrutiny—but, indeed, the place was
quite unfit for any person of repute; he himself was eaten up with the
rheumatics.  It was the most rheumaticky place in England, and some fine
day the whole habitable part (to call it habitable) would fetch away
bodily and go down the slope into the river.  He had seen the cracks
widening; there was a plaguy issue in the bank below; he thought a spring
was mining it; it might be to-morrow, it might be next day; but they were
all sure of a come-down sooner or later.  ‘And that is a poor death,’
said he, ‘for any one, let alone a gentleman, to have a whole old ruin
dumped upon his belly.  Have a care to your left there; these cellar
vaults have all broke down, and the grass and hemlock hide ’em.  Well,
sir, here is welcome to you, such as it is, and wishing you well away.’

And with that Jonathan ushered his guest through the tower door, and down
three steps on the left hand into the kitchen or common room of the
castle.  It was a huge, low room, as large as a meadow, occupying the
whole width of the habitable wing, with six barred windows looking on the
court, and two into the river valley.  A dresser, a table, and a few
chairs stood dotted here and there upon the uneven flags.  Under the
great chimney a good fire burned in an iron fire-basket; a high old
settee, rudely carved with figures and Gothic lettering, flanked it on
either side; there was a hinge table and a stone bench in the chimney
corner, and above the arch hung guns, axes, lanterns, and great sheaves
of rusty keys.

Jonathan looked about him, holding up the lantern, and shrugged his
shoulders, with a pitying grimace.  ‘Here it is,’ he said.  ‘See the damp
on the floor, look at the moss; where there’s moss you may be sure that
it’s rheumaticky.  Try and get near that fire for to warm yourself; it’ll
blow the coat off your back.  And with a young gentleman with a face like
yours, as pale as a tallow-candle, I’d be afeard of a churchyard cough
and a galloping decline,’ says Jonathan, naming the maladies with gloomy
gusto, ‘or the cold might strike and turn your blood,’ he added.

Mr. Archer fairly laughed.  ‘My good Mr. Holdaway,’ said he, ‘I was born
with that same tallow-candle face, and the only fear that you inspire me
with is the fear that I intrude unwelcomely upon your private hours.  But
I think I can promise you that I am very little troublesome, and I am
inclined to hope that the terms which I can offer may still pay you the

‘Yes, the terms,’ said Jonathan, ‘I was thinking of that.  As you say,
they are very small,’ and he shook his head.

‘Unhappily, I can afford no more,’ said Mr. Archer.  ‘But this we have
arranged already,’ he added with a certain stiffness; ‘and as I am aware
that Miss Holdaway has matter to communicate, I will, if you permit,
retire at once.  To-night I must bivouac; to-morrow my trunk is to follow
from the “Dragon.”  So if you will show me to my room I shall wish you a
good slumber and a better awakening.’

Jonathan silently gave the lantern to Nance, and she, turning and
curtseying in the doorway, proceeded to conduct their guest up the broad
winding staircase of the tower.  He followed with a very brooding face.

‘Alas!’ cried Nance, as she entered the room, ‘your fire black out,’ and,
setting down the lantern, she clapped upon her knees before the chimney
and began to rearrange the charred and still smouldering remains.  Mr.
Archer looked about the gaunt apartment with a sort of shudder.  The
great height, the bare stone, the shattered windows, the aspect of the
uncurtained bed, with one of its four fluted columns broken short, all
struck a chill upon his fancy.  From this dismal survey his eyes returned
to Nance crouching before the fire, the candle in one hand and artfully
puffing at the embers; the flames as they broke forth played upon the
soft outline of her cheek—she was alive and young, coloured with the
bright hues of life, and a woman.  He looked upon her, softening; and
then sat down and continued to admire the picture.

‘There, sir,’ said she, getting upon her feet, ‘your fire is doing
bravely now.  Good-night.’

He rose and held out his hand.  ‘Come,’ said he, ‘you are my only friend
in these parts, and you must shake hands.’

She brushed her hand upon her skirt and offered it, blushing.

‘God bless you, my dear,’ said he.

And then, when he was alone, he opened one of the windows, and stared
down into the dark valley.  A gentle wimpling of the river among stones
ascended to his ear; the trees upon the other bank stood very black
against the sky; farther away an owl was hooting.  It was dreary and
cold, and as he turned back to the hearth and the fine glow of fire,
‘Heavens!’ said he to himself, ‘what an unfortunate destiny is mine!’

He went to bed, but sleep only visited his pillow in uneasy snatches.
Outbreaks of loud speech came up the staircase; he heard the old stones
of the castle crack in the frosty night with sharp reverberations, and
the bed complained under his tossings.  Lastly, far on into the morning,
he awakened from a doze to hear, very far off, in the extreme and
breathless quiet, a wailing flourish on the horn.  The down mail was
drawing near to the ‘Green Dragon.’  He sat up in bed; the sound was
tragical by distance, and the modulation appealed to his ear like human
speech.  It seemed to call upon him with a dreary insistence—to call him
far away, to address him personally, and to have a meaning that he failed
to seize.  It was thus, at least, in this nodding castle, in a cold, miry
woodland, and so far from men and society, that the traffic on the Great
North Road spoke to him in the intervals of slumber.


Nance descended the tower stair, pausing at every step.  She was in no
hurry to confront her uncle with bad news, and she must dwell a little
longer on the rich note of Mr. Archer’s voice, the charm of his kind
words, and the beauty of his manner and person.  But, once at the
stair-foot, she threw aside the spell and recovered her sensible and
workaday self.

Jonathan was seated in the middle of the settle, a mug of ale beside him,
in the attitude of one prepared for trouble; but he did not speak, and
suffered her to fetch her supper and eat of it, with a very excellent
appetite, in silence.  When she had done, she, too, drew a tankard of
home-brewed, and came and planted herself in front of him upon the

‘Well?’ said Jonathan.

‘My lord has run away,’ said Nance.

‘What?’ cried the old man.

‘Abroad,’ she continued; ‘run away from creditors.  He said he had not a
stiver, but he was drunk enough.  He said you might live on in the
castle, and Mr. Archer would pay you; but you was to look for no more
wages, since he would be glad of them himself.’

Jonathan’s face contracted; the flush of a black, bilious anger mounted
to the roots of his hair; he gave an inarticulate cry, leapt upon his
feet, and began rapidly pacing the stone floor.  At first he kept his
hands behind his back in a tight knot; then he began to gesticulate as he

‘This man—this lord,’ he shouted, ‘who is he?  He was born with a gold
spoon in his mouth, and I with a dirty straw.  He rolled in his coach
when he was a baby.  I have dug and toiled and laboured since I was that
high—that high.’  And he shouted again.  ‘I’m bent and broke, and full of
pains.  D’ ye think I don’t know the taste of sweat?  Many’s the gallon
I’ve drunk of it—ay, in the midwinter, toiling like a slave.  All
through, what has my life been?  Bend, bend, bend my old creaking back
till it would ache like breaking; wade about in the foul mire, never a
dry stitch; empty belly, sore hands, hat off to my Lord Redface; kicks
and ha’pence; and now, here, at the hind end, when I’m worn to my poor
bones, a kick and done with it.’  He walked a little while in silence,
and then, extending his hand, ‘Now you, Nance Holdaway,’ says he, ‘you
come of my blood, and you’re a good girl.  When that man was a boy, I
used to carry his gun for him.  I carried the gun all day on my two feet,
and many a stitch I had, and chewed a bullet for.  He rode upon a horse,
with feathers in his hat; but it was him that had the shots and took the
game home.  Did I complain?  Not I.  I knew my station.  What did I ask,
but just the chance to live and die honest?  Nance Holdaway, don’t let
them deny it to me—don’t let them do it.  I’ve been as poor as Job, and
as honest as the day, but now, my girl, you mark these words of mine, I’m
getting tired of it.’

‘I wouldn’t say such words, at least,’ said Nance.

‘You wouldn’t?’ said the old man grimly.  ‘Well, and did I when I was
your age?  Wait till your back’s broke and your hands tremble, and your
eyes fail, and you’re weary of the battle and ask no more but to lie down
in your bed and give the ghost up like an honest man; and then let there
up and come some insolent, ungodly fellow—ah! if I had him in these
hands!  “Where’s my money that you gambled?” I should say.  “Where’s my
money that you drank and diced?”  “Thief!” is what I would say; “Thief!”’
he roared, ‘“Thief”’

‘Mr. Archer will hear you if you don’t take care,’ said Nance, ‘and I
would be ashamed, for one, that he should hear a brave, old, honest,
hard-working man like Jonathan Holdaway talk nonsense like a boy.’

‘D’ ye think I mind for Mr. Archer?’ he cried shrilly, with a clack of
laughter; and then he came close up to her, stooped down with his two
palms upon his knees, and looked her in the eyes, with a strange hard
expression, something like a smile.  ‘Do I mind for God, my girl?’ he
said; ‘that’s what it’s come to be now, do I mind for God?’

‘Uncle Jonathan,’ she said, getting up and taking him by the arm; ‘you
sit down again, where you were sitting.  There, sit still; I’ll have no
more of this; you’ll do yourself a mischief.  Come, take a drink of this
good ale, and I’ll warm a tankard for you.  La, we’ll pull through,
you’ll see.  I’m young, as you say, and it’s my turn to carry the bundle;
and don’t you worry your bile, or we’ll have sickness, too, as well as

‘D’ ye think that I’d forgotten you?’ said Jonathan, with something like
a groan; and thereupon his teeth clicked to, and he sat silent with the
tankard in his hand and staring straight before him.

‘Why,’ says Nance, setting on the ale to mull, ‘men are always children,
they say, however old; and if ever I heard a thing like this, to set to
and make yourself sick, just when the money’s failing.  Keep a good heart
up; you haven’t kept a good heart these seventy years, nigh hand, to
break down about a pound or two.  Here’s this Mr. Archer come to lodge,
that you disliked so much.  Well, now you see it was a clear Providence.
Come, let’s think upon our mercies.  And here is the ale mulling lovely;
smell of it; I’ll take a drop myself, it smells so sweet.  And, Uncle
Jonathan, you let me say one word.  You’ve lost more than money before
now; you lost my aunt, and bore it like a man.  Bear this.’

His face once more contracted; his fist doubled, and shot forth into the
air, and trembled.  ‘Let them look out!’ he shouted.  ‘Here, I warn all
men; I’ve done with this foul kennel of knaves.  Let them look out!’

‘Hush, hush! for pity’s sake,’ cried Nance.

And then all of a sudden he dropped his face into his hands, and broke
out with a great hiccoughing dry sob that was horrible to hear.  ‘O,’ he
cried, ‘my God, if my son hadn’t left me, if my Dick was here!’ and the
sobs shook him; Nance sitting still and watching him, with distress.  ‘O,
if he were here to help his father!’ he went on again.  ‘If I had a son
like other fathers, he would save me now, when all is breaking down; O,
he would save me!  Ay, but where is he?  Raking taverns, a thief perhaps.
My curse be on him!’ he added, rising again into wrath.

‘Hush!’ cried Nance, springing to her feet: ‘your boy, your dead wife’s
boy—Aunt Susan’s baby that she loved—would you curse him?  O, God

The energy of her address surprised him from his mood.  He looked upon
her, tearless and confused.  ‘Let me go to my bed,’ he said at last, and
he rose, and, shaking as with ague, but quite silent, lighted his candle,
and left the kitchen.

Poor Nance! the pleasant current of her dreams was all diverted.  She
beheld a golden city, where she aspired to dwell; she had spoken with a
deity, and had told herself that she might rise to be his equal; and now
the earthly ligaments that bound her down had been tightened.  She was
like a tree looking skyward, her roots were in the ground.  It seemed to
her a thing so coarse, so rustic, to be thus concerned about a loss in
money; when Mr. Archer, fallen from the sky-level of counts and nobles,
faced his changed destiny with so immovable a courage.  To weary of
honesty; that, at least, no one could do, but even to name it was already
a disgrace; and she beheld in fancy her uncle, and the young lad, all
laced and feathered, hand upon hip, bestriding his small horse.  The
opposition seemed to perpetuate itself from generation to generation; one
side still doomed to the clumsy and the servile, the other born to

She thought of the golden zones in which gentlemen were bred, and figured
with so excellent a grace; zones in which wisdom and smooth words, white
linen and slim hands, were the mark of the desired inhabitants; where low
temptations were unknown, and honesty no virtue, but a thing as natural
as breathing.


It was nearly seven before Mr. Archer left his apartment.  On the landing
he found another door beside his own opening on a roofless corridor, and
presently he was walking on the top of the ruins.  On one hand he could
look down a good depth into the green court-yard; on the other his eye
roved along the downward course of the river, the wet woods all smoking,
the shadows long and blue, the mists golden and rosy in the sun, here and
there the water flashing across an obstacle.  His heart expanded and
softened to a grateful melancholy, and with his eye fixed upon the
distance, and no thought of present danger, he continued to stroll along
the elevated and treacherous promenade.

A terror-stricken cry rose to him from the courtyard.  He looked down,
and saw in a glimpse Nance standing below with hands clasped in horror
and his own foot trembling on the margin of a gulf.  He recoiled and
leant against a pillar, quaking from head to foot, and covering his face
with his hands; and Nance had time to run round by the stair and rejoin
him where he stood before he had changed a line of his position.

‘Ah!’ he cried, and clutched her wrist; ‘don’t leave me.  The place
rocks; I have no head for altitudes.’

‘Sit down against that pillar,’ said Nance.  ‘Don’t you be afraid; I
won’t leave you, and don’t look up or down: look straight at me.  How
white you are!’

‘The gulf,’ he said, and closed his eyes again and shuddered.

‘Why,’ said Nance, ‘what a poor climber you must be!  That was where my
cousin Dick used to get out of the castle after Uncle Jonathan had shut
the gate.  I’ve been down there myself with him helping me.  I wouldn’t
try with you,’ she said, and laughed merrily.

The sound of her laughter was sincere and musical, and perhaps its beauty
barbed the offence to Mr. Archer.  The blood came into his face with a
quick jet, and then left it paler than before.  ‘It is a physical
weakness,’ he said harshly, ‘and very droll, no doubt, but one that I can
conquer on necessity.  See, I am still shaking.  Well, I advance to the
battlements and look down.  Show me your cousin’s path.’

‘He would go sure-foot along that little ledge,’ said Nance, pointing as
she spoke; ‘then out through the breach and down by yonder buttress.  It
is easier coming back, of course, because you see where you are going.
From the buttress foot a sheep-walk goes along the scarp—see, you can
follow it from here in the dry grass.  And now, sir,’ she added, with a
touch of womanly pity, ‘I would come away from here if I were you, for
indeed you are not fit.’

Sure enough Mr. Archer’s pallor and agitation had continued to increase;
his cheeks were deathly, his clenched fingers trembled pitifully.  ‘The
weakness is physical,’ he sighed, and had nearly fallen.  Nance led him
from the spot, and he was no sooner back in the tower-stair, than he fell
heavily against the wall and put his arm across his eyes.  A cup of
brandy had to be brought him before he could descend to breakfast; and
the perfection of Nance’s dream was for the first time troubled.

Jonathan was waiting for them at table, with yellow, blood-shot eyes and
a peculiar dusky complexion.  He hardly waited till they found their
seats, before, raising one hand, and stooping with his mouth above his
plate, he put up a prayer for a blessing on the food and a spirit of
gratitude in the eaters, and thereupon, and without more civility, fell
to.  But it was notable that he was no less speedily satisfied than he
had been greedy to begin.  He pushed his plate away and drummed upon the

‘These are silly prayers,’ said he, ‘that they teach us.  Eat and be
thankful, that’s no such wonder.  Speak to me of starving—there’s the
touch.  You’re a man, they tell me, Mr. Archer, that has met with some

‘I have met with many,’ replied Mr. Archer.

‘Ha!’ said Jonathan.  ‘None reckons but the last.  Now, see; I tried to
make this girl here understand me.’

‘Uncle,’ said Nance, ‘what should Mr. Archer care for your concerns?  He
hath troubles of his own, and came to be at peace, I think.’

‘I tried to make her understand me,’ repeated Jonathan doggedly; ‘and now
I’ll try you.  Do you think this world is fair?’

‘Fair and false!’ quoth Mr. Archer.

The old man laughed immoderately.  ‘Good,’ said he, ‘very good, but what
I mean is this: do you know what it is to get up early and go to bed
late, and never take so much as a holiday but four: and one of these your
own marriage day, and the other three the funerals of folk you loved, and
all that, to have a quiet old age in shelter, and bread for your old
belly, and a bed to lay your crazy bones upon, with a clear conscience?’

‘Sir,’ said Mr. Archer, with an inclination of his head, ‘you portray a
very brave existence.’

‘Well,’ continued Jonathan, ‘and in the end thieves deceive you, thieves
rob and rook you, thieves turn you out in your old age and send you
begging.  What have you got for all your honesty?  A fine return!  You
that might have stole scores of pounds, there you are out in the rain
with your rheumatics!’

Mr. Archer had forgotten to eat; with his hand upon his chin he was
studying the old man’s countenance.  ‘And you conclude?’ he asked.

‘Conclude!’ cried Jonathan.  ‘I conclude I’ll be upsides with them.’

‘Ay,’ said the other, ‘we are all tempted to revenge.’

‘You have lost money?’ asked Jonathan.

‘A great estate,’ said Archer quietly.

‘See now!’ says Jonathan, ‘and where is it?’

‘Nay, I sometimes think that every one has had his share of it but me,’
was the reply.  ‘All England hath paid his taxes with my patrimony: I was
a sheep that left my wool on every briar.’

‘And you sit down under that?’ cried the old man.  ‘Come now, Mr. Archer,
you and me belong to different stations; and I know mine—no man
better—but since we have both been rooked, and are both sore with it,
why, here’s my hand with a very good heart, and I ask for yours, and no
offence, I hope.’

‘There is surely no offence, my friend,’ returned Mr. Archer, as they
shook hands across the table; ‘for, believe me, my sympathies are quite
acquired to you.  This life is an arena where we fight with beasts; and,
indeed,’ he added, sighing, ‘I sometimes marvel why we go down to it

In the meanwhile a creaking of ungreased axles had been heard descending
through the wood; and presently after, the door opened, and the tall
ostler entered the kitchen carrying one end of Mr. Archer’s trunk.  The
other was carried by an aged beggar man of that district, known and
welcome for some twenty miles about under the name of ‘Old Cumberland.’
Each was soon perched upon a settle, with a cup of ale; and the ostler,
who valued himself upon his affability, began to entertain the company,
still with half an eye on Nance, to whom in gallant terms he expressly
dedicated every sip of ale.  First he told of the trouble they had to get
his Lordship started in the chaise; and how he had dropped a rouleau of
gold on the threshold, and the passage and doorstep had been strewn with
guinea-pieces.  At this old Jonathan looked at Mr. Archer.  Next the
visitor turned to news of a more thrilling character: how the down mail
had been stopped again near Grantham by three men on horseback—a white
and two bays; how they had handkerchiefs on their faces; how Tom the
guard’s blunderbuss missed fire, but he swore he had winged one of them
with a pistol; and how they had got clean away with seventy pounds in
money, some valuable papers, and a watch or two.

‘Brave! brave!’ cried Jonathan in ecstasy.  ‘Seventy pounds!  O, it’s

‘Well, I don’t see the great bravery,’ observed the ostler,
misapprehending him.  ‘Three men, and you may call that three to one.
I’ll call it brave when some one stops the mail single-handed; that’s a

‘And why should they hesitate?’ inquired Mr. Archer.  ‘The poor souls who
are fallen to such a way of life, pray what have they to lose?  If they
get the money, well; but if a ball should put them from their troubles,
why, so better.’

‘Well, sir,’ said the ostler, ‘I believe you’ll find they won’t agree
with you.  They count on a good fling, you see; or who would risk it?—And
here’s my best respects to you, Miss Nance.’

‘And I forgot the part of cowardice,’ resumed Mr. Archer.  ‘All men

‘O, surely not!’ cried Nance.

‘All men,’ reiterated Mr. Archer.

‘Ay, that’s a true word,’ observed Old Cumberland, ‘and a thief, anyway,
for it’s a coward’s trade.’

‘But these fellows, now,’ said Jonathan, with a curious, appealing
manner—‘these fellows with their seventy pounds!  Perhaps, Mr. Archer,
they were no true thieves after all, but just people who had been robbed
and tried to get their own again.  What was that you said, about all
England and the taxes?  One takes, another gives; why, that’s almost
fair.  If I’ve been rooked and robbed, and the coat taken off my back, I
call it almost fair to take another’s.’

‘Ask Old Cumberland,’ observed the ostler; ‘you ask Old Cumberland, Miss
Nance!’ and he bestowed a wink upon his favoured fair one.

‘Why that?’ asked Jonathan.

‘He had his coat taken—ay, and his shirt too,’ returned the ostler.

‘Is that so?’ cried Jonathan eagerly.  ‘Was you robbed too?’

‘That was I,’ replied Cumberland, ‘with a warrant!  I was a well-to-do
man when I was young.’

‘Ay!  See that!’ says Jonathan.  ‘And you don’t long for a revenge?’

‘Eh!  Not me!’ answered the beggar.  ‘It’s too long ago.  But if you’ll
give me another mug of your good ale, my pretty lady, I won’t say no to

‘And shalt have!  And shalt have!’ cried Jonathan.  ‘Or brandy even, if
you like it better.’

And as Cumberland did like it better, and the ostler chimed in, the party
pledged each other in a dram of brandy before separating.

As for Nance, she slipped forth into the ruins, partly to avoid the
ostler’s gallantries, partly to lament over the defects of Mr. Archer.
Plainly, he was no hero.  She pitied him; she began to feel a protecting
interest mingle with and almost supersede her admiration, and was at the
same time disappointed and yet drawn to him.  She was, indeed, conscious
of such unshaken fortitude in her own heart, that she was almost tempted
by an occasion to be bold for two.  She saw herself, in a brave attitude,
shielding her imperfect hero from the world; and she saw, like a piece of
heaven, his gratitude for her protection.


From that day forth the life of these three persons in the ruin ran very
smoothly.  Mr. Archer now sat by the fire with a book, and now passed
whole days abroad, returning late, dead weary.  His manner was a mask;
but it was half transparent; through the even tenor of his gravity and
courtesy profound revolutions of feeling were betrayed, seasons of numb
despair, of restlessness, of aching temper.  For days he would say
nothing beyond his usual courtesies and solemn compliments; and then, all
of a sudden, some fine evening beside the kitchen fire, he would fall
into a vein of elegant gossip, tell of strange and interesting events,
the secrets of families, brave deeds of war, the miraculous discovery of
crime, the visitations of the dead.  Nance and her uncle would sit till
the small hours with eyes wide open: Jonathan applauding the unexpected
incidents with many a slap of his big hand; Nance, perhaps, more pleased
with the narrator’s eloquence and wise reflections; and then, again, days
would follow of abstraction, of listless humming, of frequent apologies
and long hours of silence.  Once only, and then after a week of
unrelieved melancholy, he went over to the ‘Green Dragon,’ spent the
afternoon with the landlord and a bowl of punch, and returned as on the
first night, devious in step but courteous and unperturbed of speech.

If he seemed more natural and more at his ease it was when he found Nance
alone; and, laying by some of his reserve, talked before her rather than
to her of his destiny, character and hopes.  To Nance these interviews
were but a doubtful privilege.  At times he would seem to take a pleasure
in her presence, to consult her gravely, to hear and to discuss her
counsels; at times even, but these were rare and brief, he would talk of
herself, praise the qualities that she possessed, touch indulgently on
her defects, and lend her books to read and even examine her upon her
reading; but far more often he would fall into a half unconsciousness,
put her a question and then answer it himself, drop into the veiled tone
of voice of one soliloquising, and leave her at last as though he had
forgotten her existence.  It was odd, too, that in all this random
converse, not a fact of his past life, and scarce a name, should ever
cross his lips.  A profound reserve kept watch upon his most unguarded
moments.  He spoke continually of himself, indeed, but still in enigmas;
a veiled prophet of egoism.

The base of Nance’s feelings for Mr. Archer was admiration as for a
superior being; and with this, his treatment, consciously or not,
accorded happily.  When he forgot her, she took the blame upon herself.
His formal politeness was so exquisite that this essential brutality
stood excused.  His compliments, besides, were always grave and rational;
he would offer reason for his praise, convict her of merit, and thus
disarm suspicion.  Nay, and the very hours when he forgot and remembered
her alternately could by the ardent fallacies of youth be read in the
light of an attention.  She might be far from his confidence; but still
she was nearer it than any one.  He might ignore her presence, but yet he
sought it.

Moreover, she, upon her side, was conscious of one point of superiority.
Beside this rather dismal, rather effeminate man, who recoiled from a
worm, who grew giddy on the castle wall, who bore so helplessly the
weight of his misfortunes, she felt herself a head and shoulders taller
in cheerful and sterling courage.  She could walk head in air along the
most precarious rafter; her hand feared neither the grossness nor the
harshness of life’s web, but was thrust cheerfully, if need were, into
the briar bush, and could take hold of any crawling horror.  Ruin was
mining the walls of her cottage, as already it had mined and subverted
Mr. Archer’s palace.  Well, she faced it with a bright countenance and a
busy hand.  She had got some washing, some rough seamstress work from the
‘Green Dragon,’ and from another neighbour ten miles away across the
moor.  At this she cheerfully laboured, and from that height she could
afford to pity the useless talents and poor attitude of Mr. Archer.  It
did not change her admiration, but it made it bearable.  He was above her
in all ways; but she was above him in one.  She kept it to herself, and
hugged it.  When, like all young creatures, she made long stories to
justify, to nourish, and to forecast the course of her affection, it was
this private superiority that made all rosy, that cut the knot, and that,
at last, in some great situation, fetched to her knees the dazzling but
imperfect hero.  With this pretty exercise she beguiled the hours of
labour, and consoled herself for Mr. Archer’s bearing.

Pity was her weapon and her weakness.  To accept the loved one’s faults,
although it has an air of freedom, is to kiss the chain, and this pity it
was which, lying nearer to her heart, lent the one element of true
emotion to a fanciful and merely brain-sick love.

Thus it fell out one day that she had gone to the ‘Green Dragon’ and
brought back thence a letter to Mr. Archer.  He, upon seeing it, winced
like a man under the knife: pain, shame, sorrow, and the most trenchant
edge of mortification cut into his heart and wrung the steady composure
of his face.

‘Dear heart! have you bad news?’ she cried.

But he only replied by a gesture and fled to his room, and when, later
on, she ventured to refer to it, he stopped her on the threshold, as if
with words prepared beforehand.  ‘There are some pains,’ said he, ‘too
acute for consolation, or I would bring them to my kind consoler.  Let
the memory of that letter, if you please, be buried.’  And then as she
continued to gaze at him, being, in spite of herself, pained by his
elaborate phrase, doubtfully sincere in word and manner: ‘Let it be
enough,’ he added haughtily, ‘that if this matter wring my heart, it doth
not touch my conscience.  I am a man, I would have you to know, who
suffers undeservedly.’

He had never spoken so directly: never with so convincing an emotion; and
her heart thrilled for him.  She could have taken his pains and died of
them with joy.

Meanwhile she was left without support.  Jonathan now swore by his
lodger, and lived for him.  He was a fine talker.  He knew the finest
sight of stories; he was a man and a gentleman, take him for all in all,
and a perfect credit to Old England.  Such were the old man’s declared
sentiments, and sure enough he clung to Mr. Archer’s side, hung upon his
utterance when he spoke, and watched him with unwearing interest when he
was silent.  And yet his feeling was not clear; in the partial wreck of
his mind, which was leaning to decay, some after-thought was strongly
present.  As he gazed in Mr. Archer’s face a sudden brightness would
kindle in his rheumy eyes, his eye-brows would lift as with a sudden
thought, his mouth would open as though to speak, and close again on
silence.  Once or twice he even called Mr. Archer mysteriously forth into
the dark courtyard, took him by the button, and laid a demonstrative
finger on his chest; but there his ideas or his courage failed him; he
would shufflingly excuse himself and return to his position by the fire
without a word of explanation.  ‘The good man was growing old,’ said Mr.
Archer with a suspicion of a shrug.  But the good man had his idea, and
even when he was alone the name of Mr. Archer fell from his lips
continually in the course of mumbled and gesticulative conversation.


However early Nance arose, and she was no sluggard, the old man, who had
begun to outlive the earthly habit of slumber, would usually have been up
long before, the fire would be burning brightly, and she would see him
wandering among the ruins, lantern in hand, and talking assiduously to
himself.  One day, however, after he had returned late from the market
town, she found that she had stolen a march upon that indefatigable early
riser.  The kitchen was all blackness.  She crossed the castle-yard to
the wood-cellar, her steps printing the thick hoarfrost.  A scathing
breeze blew out of the north-east and slowly carried a regiment of black
and tattered clouds over the face of heaven, which was already kindled
with the wild light of morning, but where she walked, in shelter of the
ruins, the flame of her candle burned steady.  The extreme cold smote
upon her conscience.  She could not bear to think this bitter business
fell usually to the lot of one so old as Jonathan, and made desperate
resolutions to be earlier in the future.

The fire was a good blaze before he entered, limping dismally into the
kitchen.  ‘Nance,’ said he, ‘I be all knotted up with the rheumatics;
will you rub me a bit?’  She came and rubbed him where and how he bade
her.  ‘This is a cruel thing that old age should be rheumaticky,’ said
he.  ‘When I was young I stood my turn of the teethache like a man! for
why? because it couldn’t last for ever; but these rheumatics come to live
and die with you.  Your aunt was took before the time came; never had an
ache to mention.  Now I lie all night in my single bed and the blood
never warms in me; this knee of mine it seems like lighted up with
rheumatics; it seems as though you could see to sew by it; and all the
strings of my old body ache, as if devils was pulling ’em.  Thank you
kindly; that’s someways easier now, but an old man, my dear, has little
to look for; it’s pain, pain, pain to the end of the business, and I’ll
never be rightly warm again till I get under the sod,’ he said, and
looked down at her with a face so aged and weary that she had nearly

‘I lay awake all night,’ he continued; ‘I do so mostly, and a long walk
kills me.  Eh, deary me, to think that life should run to such a puddle!
And I remember long syne when I was strong, and the blood all hot and
good about me, and I loved to run, too—deary me, to run!  Well, that’s
all by.  You’d better pray to be took early, Nance, and not live on till
you get to be like me, and are robbed in your grey old age, your cold,
shivering, dark old age, that’s like a winter’s morning’; and he bitterly
shuddered, spreading his hands before the fire.

‘Come now,’ said Nance, ‘the more you say the less you’ll like it, Uncle
Jonathan; but if I were you I would be proud for to have lived all your
days honest and beloved, and come near the end with your good name: isn’t
that a fine thing to be proud of?  Mr. Archer was telling me in some
strange land they used to run races each with a lighted candle, and the
art was to keep the candle burning.  Well, now, I thought that was like
life: a man’s good conscience is the flame he gets to carry, and if he
comes to the winning-post with that still burning, why, take it how you
will, the man’s a hero—even if he was low-born like you and me.’

‘Did Mr. Archer tell you that?’ asked Jonathan.

‘No, dear,’ said she, ‘that’s my own thought about it.  He told me of the
race.  But see, now,’ she continued, putting on the porridge, ‘you say
old age is a hard season, but so is youth.  You’re half out of the
battle, I would say; you loved my aunt and got her, and buried her, and
some of these days soon you’ll go to meet her; and take her my love and
tell her I tried to take good care of you; for so I do, Uncle Jonathan.’

Jonathan struck with his fist upon the settle.  ‘D’ ye think I want to
die, ye vixen?’ he shouted.  ‘I want to live ten hundred years.’

This was a mystery beyond Nance’s penetration, and she stared in wonder
as she made the porridge.

‘I want to live,’ he continued, ‘I want to live and to grow rich.  I want
to drive my carriage and to dice in hells and see the ring, I do.  Is
this a life that I lived?  I want to be a rake, d’ ye understand?  I want
to know what things are like.  I don’t want to die like a blind kitten,
and me seventy-six.’

‘O fie!’ said Nance.

The old man thrust out his jaw at her, with the grimace of an irreverent
schoolboy.  Upon that aged face it seemed a blasphemy.  Then he took out
of his bosom a long leather purse, and emptying its contents on the
settle, began to count and recount the pieces, ringing and examining
each, and suddenly he leapt like a young man.  ‘What!’ he screamed.
‘Bad?  O Lord!  I’m robbed again!’  And falling on his knees before the
settle he began to pour forth the most dreadful curses on the head of his
deceiver.  His eyes were shut, for to him this vile solemnity was prayer.
He held up the bad half-crown in his right hand, as though he were
displaying it to Heaven, and what increased the horror of the scene, the
curses he invoked were those whose efficacy he had tasted—old age and
poverty, rheumatism and an ungrateful son.  Nance listened appalled; then
she sprang forward and dragged down his arm and laid her hand upon his

‘Whist!’ she cried.  ‘Whist ye, for God’s sake!  O my man, whist ye!  If
Heaven were to hear; if poor Aunt Susan were to hear!  Think, she may be
listening.’  And with the histrionism of strong emotion she pointed to a
corner of the kitchen.

His eyes followed her finger.  He looked there for a little, thinking,
blinking; then he got stiffly to his feet and resumed his place upon the
settle, the bad piece still in his hand.  So he sat for some time,
looking upon the half-crown, and now wondering to himself on the
injustice and partiality of the law, now computing again and again the
nature of his loss.  So he was still sitting when Mr. Archer entered the
kitchen.  At this a light came into his face, and after some seconds of
rumination he dispatched Nance upon an errand.

‘Mr. Archer,’ said he, as soon as they were alone together, ‘would you
give me a guinea-piece for silver?’

‘Why, sir, I believe I can,’ said Mr. Archer.

And the exchange was just effected when Nance re-entered the apartment.
The blood shot into her face.

‘What’s to do here?’ she asked rudely.

‘Nothing, my dearie,’ said old Jonathan, with a touch of whine.

‘What’s to do?’ she said again.

‘Your uncle was but changing me a piece of gold,’ returned Mr. Archer.

‘Let me see what he hath given you, Mr. Archer,’ replied the girl.  ‘I
had a bad piece, and I fear it is mixed up among the good.’

‘Well, well,’ replied Mr. Archer, smiling, ‘I must take the merchant’s
risk of it.  The money is now mixed.’

‘I know my piece,’ quoth Nance.  ‘Come, let me see your silver, Mr.
Archer.  If I have to get it by a theft I’ll see that money,’ she cried.

‘Nay, child, if you put as much passion to be honest as the world to
steal, I must give way, though I betray myself,’ said Mr. Archer.  ‘There
it is as I received it.’

Nance quickly found the bad half-crown.

‘Give him another,’ she said, looking Jonathan in the face; and when that
had been done, she walked over to the chimney and flung the guilty piece
into the reddest of the fire.  Its base constituents began immediately to
run; even as she watched it the disc crumbled, and the lineaments of the
King became confused.  Jonathan, who had followed close behind, beheld
these changes from over her shoulder, and his face darkened sorely.

‘Now,’ said she, ‘come back to table, and to-day it is I that shall say
grace, as I used to do in the old times, day about with Dick’; and
covering her eyes with one hand, ‘O Lord,’ said she with deep emotion,
‘make us thankful; and, O Lord, deliver us from evil!  For the love of
the poor souls that watch for us in heaven, O deliver us from evil.’


The year moved on to March; and March, though it blew bitter keen from
the North Sea, yet blinked kindly between whiles on the river dell.  The
mire dried up in the closest covert; life ran in the bare branches, and
the air of the afternoon would be suddenly sweet with the fragrance of
new grass.

Above and below the castle the river crooked like the letter ‘S.’  The
lower loop was to the left, and embraced the high and steep projection
which was crowned by the ruins; the upper loop enclosed a lawny
promontory, fringed by thorn and willow.  It was easy to reach it from
the castle side, for the river ran in this part very quietly among
innumerable boulders and over dam-like walls of rock.  The place was all
enclosed, the wind a stranger, the turf smooth and solid; so it was
chosen by Nance to be her bleaching-green.

One day she brought a bucketful of linen, and had but begun to wring and
lay them out when Mr. Archer stepped from the thicket on the far side,
drew very deliberately near, and sat down in silence on the grass.  Nance
looked up to greet him with a smile, but finding her smile was not
returned, she fell into embarrassment and stuck the more busily to her
employment.  Man or woman, the whole world looks well at any work to
which they are accustomed; but the girl was ashamed of what she did.  She
was ashamed, besides, of the sun-bonnet that so well became her, and
ashamed of her bare arms, which were her greatest beauty.

‘Nausicaa,’ said Mr. Archer at last, ‘I find you like Nausicaa.’

‘And who was she?’ asked Nance, and laughed in spite of herself, an empty
and embarrassed laugh, that sounded in Mr. Archer’s ears, indeed, like
music, but to her own like the last grossness of rusticity.

‘She was a princess of the Grecian islands,’ he replied.  ‘A king, being
shipwrecked, found her washing by the shore.  Certainly I, too, was
shipwrecked,’ he continued, plucking at the grass.  ‘There was never a
more desperate castaway—to fall from polite life, fortune, a shrine of
honour, a grateful conscience, duties willingly taken up and faithfully
discharged; and to fall to this—idleness, poverty, inutility, remorse.’
He seemed to have forgotten her presence, but here he remembered her
again.  ‘Nance,’ said he, ‘would you have a man sit down and suffer or
rise up and strive?’

‘Nay,’ she said.  ‘I would always rather see him doing.’

‘Ha!’ said Mr. Archer, ‘but yet you speak from an imperfect knowledge.
Conceive a man damned to a choice of only evil—misconduct upon either
side, not a fault behind him, and yet naught before him but this choice
of sins.  How would you say then?’

‘I would say that he was much deceived, Mr. Archer,’ returned Nance.  ‘I
would say there was a third choice, and that the right one.’

‘I tell you,’ said Mr. Archer, ‘the man I have in view hath two ways
open, and no more.  One to wait, like a poor mewling baby, till Fate save
or ruin him; the other to take his troubles in his hand, and to perish or
be saved at once.  It is no point of morals; both are wrong.  Either way
this step-child of Providence must fall; which shall he choose, by doing
or not doing?’

‘Fall, then, is what I would say,’ replied Nance.  ‘Fall where you will,
but do it!  For O, Mr. Archer,’ she continued, stooping to her work, ‘you
that are good and kind, and so wise, it doth sometimes go against my
heart to see you live on here like a sheep in a turnip-field!  If you
were braver—’ and here she paused, conscience-smitten.

‘Do I, indeed, lack courage?’ inquired Mr. Archer of himself.  ‘Courage,
the footstool of the virtues, upon which they stand?  Courage, that a
poor private carrying a musket has to spare of; that does not fail a
weasel or a rat; that is a brutish faculty?  I to fail there, I wonder?
But what is courage, then?  The constancy to endure oneself or to see
others suffer?  The itch of ill-advised activity: mere
shuttle-wittedness, or to be still and patient?  To inquire of the
significance of words is to rob ourselves of what we seem to know, and
yet, of all things, certainly to stand still is the least heroic.
Nance,’ he said, ‘did you ever hear of _Hamlet_?’

‘Never,’ said Nance.

‘’Tis an old play,’ returned Mr. Archer, ‘and frequently enacted.  This
while I have been talking Hamlet.  You must know this Hamlet was a Prince
among the Danes,’ and he told her the play in a very good style, here and
there quoting a verse or two with solemn emphasis.

‘It is strange,’ said Nance; ‘he was then a very poor creature?’

‘That was what he could not tell,’ said Mr. Archer.  ‘Look at me, am I as
poor a creature?’

She looked, and what she saw was the familiar thought of all her hours;
the tall figure very plainly habited in black, the spotless ruffles, the
slim hands; the long, well-shapen, serious, shaven face, the wide and
somewhat thin-lipped mouth, the dark eyes that were so full of depth and
change and colour.  He was gazing at her with his brows a little knit,
his chin upon one hand and that elbow resting on his knee.

‘Ye look a man!’ she cried, ‘ay, and should be a great one!  The more
shame to you to lie here idle like a dog before the fire.’

‘My fair Holdaway,’ quoth Mr. Archer, ‘you are much set on action.  I
cannot dig, to beg I am ashamed.’  He continued, looking at her with a
half-absent fixity, ‘’Tis a strange thing, certainly, that in my years of
fortune I should never taste happiness, and now when I am broke, enjoy so
much of it, for was I ever happier than to-day?  Was the grass softer,
the stream pleasanter in sound, the air milder, the heart more at peace?
Why should I not sink?  To dig—why, after all, it should be easy.  To
take a mate, too?  Love is of all grades since Jupiter; love fails to
none; and children’—but here he passed his hand suddenly over his eyes.
‘O fool and coward, fool and coward!’ he said bitterly; ‘can you forget
your fetters?  You did not know that I was fettered, Nance?’ he asked,
again addressing her.

But Nance was somewhat sore.  ‘I know you keep talking,’ she said, and,
turning half away from him, began to wring out a sheet across her
shoulder.  ‘I wonder you are not wearied of your voice.  When the hands
lie abed the tongue takes a walk.’

Mr. Archer laughed unpleasantly, rose and moved to the water’s edge.  In
this part the body of the river poured across a little narrow fell, ran
some ten feet very smoothly over a bed of pebbles, then getting wind, as
it were, of another shelf of rock which barred the channel, began, by
imperceptible degrees, to separate towards either shore in dancing
currents, and to leave the middle clear and stagnant.  The set towards
either side was nearly equal; about one half of the whole water plunged
on the side of the castle, through a narrow gullet; about one half ran
ripping past the margin of the green and slipped across a babbling rapid.

‘Here,’ said Mr. Archer, after he had looked for some time at the fine
and shifting demarcation of these currents, ‘come here and see me try my

‘I am not like a man,’ said Nance; ‘I have no time to waste.’

‘Come here,’ he said again.  ‘I ask you seriously, Nance.  We are not
always childish when we seem so.’

She drew a little nearer.

‘Now,’ said he, ‘you see these two channels—choose one.’

‘I’ll choose the nearest, to save time,’ said Nance.

‘Well, that shall be for action,’ returned Mr. Archer.  ‘And since I wish
to have the odds against me, not only the other channel but yon stagnant
water in the midst shall be for lying still.  You see this?’ he
continued, pulling up a withered rush.  ‘I break it in three.  I shall
put each separately at the top of the upper fall, and according as they
go by your way or by the other I shall guide my life.’

‘This is very silly,’ said Nance, with a movement of her shoulders.

‘I do not think it so,’ said Mr. Archer.

‘And then,’ she resumed, ‘if you are to try your fortune, why not

‘Nay,’ returned Mr. Archer with a smile, ‘no man can put complete
reliance in blind fate; he must still cog the dice.’

By this time he had got upon the rock beside the upper fall, and, bidding
her look out, dropped a piece of rush into the middle of the intake.  The
rusty fragment was sucked at once over the fall, came up again far on the
right hand, leaned ever more and more in the same direction, and
disappeared under the hanging grasses on the castle side.

‘One,’ said Mr. Archer, ‘one for standing still.’

But the next launch had a different fate, and after hanging for a while
about the edge of the stagnant water, steadily approached the
bleaching-green and danced down the rapid under Nance’s eyes.

‘One for me,’ she cried with some exultation; and then she observed that
Mr. Archer had grown pale, and was kneeling on the rock, with his hand
raised like a person petrified.  ‘Why,’ said she, ‘you do not mind it, do

‘Does a man not mind a throw of dice by which a fortune hangs?’ said Mr.
Archer, rather hoarsely.  ‘And this is more than fortune.  Nance, if you
have any kindness for my fate, put up a prayer before I launch the next

‘A prayer,’ she cried, ‘about a game like this?  I would not be so

‘Well,’ said he, ‘then without,’ and he closed his eyes and dropped the
piece of rush.  This time there was no doubt.  It went for the rapid as
straight as any arrow.

‘Action then!’ said Mr. Archer, getting to his feet; ‘and then God
forgive us,’ he added, almost to himself.

‘God forgive us, indeed,’ cried Nance, ‘for wasting the good daylight!
But come, Mr. Archer, if I see you look so serious I shall begin to think
you was in earnest.’

‘Nay,’ he said, turning upon her suddenly, with a full smile; ‘but is not
this good advice?  I have consulted God and demigod; the nymph of the
river, and what I far more admire and trust, my blue-eyed Minerva.  Both
have said the same.  My own heart was telling it already.  Action, then,
be mine; and into the deep sea with all this paralysing casuistry.  I am
happy to-day for the first time.’


Somewhere about two in the morning a squall had burst upon the castle, a
clap of screaming wind that made the towers rock, and a copious drift of
rain that streamed from the windows.  The wind soon blew itself out, but
the day broke cloudy and dripping, and when the little party assembled at
breakfast their humours appeared to have changed with the change of
weather.  Nance had been brooding on the scene at the river-side,
applying it in various ways to her particular aspirations, and the
result, which was hardly to her mind, had taken the colour out of her
cheeks.  Mr. Archer, too, was somewhat absent, his thoughts were of a
mingled strain; and even upon his usually impassive countenance there
were betrayed successive depths of depression and starts of exultation,
which the girl translated in terms of her own hopes and fears.  But
Jonathan was the most altered: he was strangely silent, hardly passing a
word, and watched Mr. Archer with an eager and furtive eye.  It seemed as
if the idea that had so long hovered before him had now taken a more
solid shape, and, while it still attracted, somewhat alarmed his

At this rate, conversation languished into a silence which was only
broken by the gentle and ghostly noises of the rain on the stone roof and
about all that field of ruins; and they were all relieved when the note
of a man whistling and the sound of approaching footsteps in the grassy
court announced a visitor.  It was the ostler from the ‘Green Dragon’
bringing a letter for Mr. Archer.  Nance saw her hero’s face contract and
then relax again at sight of it; and she thought that she knew why, for
the sprawling, gross black characters of the address were easily
distinguishable from the fine writing on the former letter that had so
much disturbed him.  He opened it and began to read; while the ostler sat
down to table with a pot of ale, and proceeded to make himself agreeable
after his fashion.

‘Fine doings down our way, Miss Nance,’ said he.  ‘I haven’t been abed
this blessed night.’

Nance expressed a polite interest, but her eye was on Mr. Archer, who was
reading his letter with a face of such extreme indifference that she was
tempted to suspect him of assumption.

‘Yes,’ continued the ostler, ‘not been the like of it this fifteen years:
the North Mail stopped at the three stones.’

Jonathan’s cup was at his lip, but at this moment he choked with a great
splutter; and Mr. Archer, as if startled by the noise, made so sudden a
movement that one corner of the sheet tore off and stayed between his
finger and thumb.  It was some little time before the old man was
sufficiently recovered to beg the ostler to go on, and he still kept
coughing and crying and rubbing his eyes.  Mr. Archer, on his side, laid
the letter down, and, putting his hands in his pocket, listened gravely
to the tale.

‘Yes,’ resumed Sam, ‘the North Mail was stopped by a single horseman;
dash my wig, but I admire him!  There were four insides and two out, and
poor Tom Oglethorpe, the guard.  Tom showed himself a man; let fly his
blunderbuss at him; had him covered, too, and could swear to that; but
the Captain never let on, up with a pistol and fetched poor Tom a bullet
through the body.  Tom, he squelched upon the seat, all over blood.  Up
comes the Captain to the window.  “Oblige me,” says he, “with what you
have.”  Would you believe it?  Not a man says cheep!—not them.  “Thy
hands over thy head.”  Four watches, rings, snuff-boxes, seven-and-forty
pounds overhead in gold.  One Dicksee, a grazier, tries it on: gives him
a guinea.  “Beg your pardon,” says the Captain, “I think too highly of
you to take it at your hand.  I will not take less than ten from such a
gentleman.”  This Dicksee had his money in his stocking, but there was
the pistol at his eye.  Down he goes, offs with his stocking, and there
was thirty golden guineas.  “Now,” says the Captain, “you’ve tried it on
with me, but I scorns the advantage.  Ten I said,” he says, “and ten I
take.”  So, dash my buttons, I call that man a man!’ cried Sam in cordial

‘Well, and then?’ says Mr. Archer.

‘Then,’ resumed Sam, ‘that old fat fagot Engleton, him as held the
ribbons and drew up like a lamb when he was told to, picks up his cattle,
and drives off again.  Down they came to the “Dragon,” all singing like
as if they was scalded, and poor Tom saying nothing.  You would ‘a’
thought they had all lost the King’s crown to hear them.  Down gets this
Dicksee.  “Postmaster,” he says, taking him by the arm, “this is a most
abominable thing,” he says.  Down gets a Major Clayton, and gets the old
man by the other arm.  “We’ve been robbed,” he cries, “robbed!”  Down
gets the others, and all around the old man telling their story, and what
they had lost, and how they was all as good as ruined; till at last Old
Engleton says, says he, “How about Oglethorpe?” says he.  “Ay,” says the
others, “how about the guard?”  Well, with that we bousted him down, as
white as a rag and all blooded like a sop.  I thought he was dead.  Well,
he ain’t dead; but he’s dying, I fancy.’

‘Did you say four watches?’ said Jonathan.

‘Four, I think.  I wish it had been forty,’ cried Sam.  ‘Such a party of
soused herrings I never did see—not a man among them bar poor Tom.  But
us that are the servants on the road have all the risk and none of the

‘And this brave fellow,’ asked Mr. Archer, very quietly, ‘this
Oglethorpe—how is he now?’

‘Well, sir, with my respects, I take it he has a hole bang through him,’
said Sam.  ‘The doctor hasn’t been yet.  He’d ‘a’ been bright and early
if it had been a passenger.  But, doctor or no, I’ll make a good guess
that Tom won’t see to-morrow.  He’ll die on a Sunday, will poor Tom; and
they do say that’s fortunate.’

‘Did Tom see him that did it?’ asked Jonathan.

‘Well, he saw him,’ replied Sam, ‘but not to swear by.  Said he was a
very tall man, and very big, and had a ’ankerchief about his face, and a
very quick shot, and sat his horse like a thorough gentleman, as he is.’

‘A gentleman!’ cried Nance.  ‘The dirty knave!’

‘Well, I calls a man like that a gentleman,’ returned the ostler; ‘that’s
what I mean by a gentleman.’

‘You don’t know much of them, then,’ said Nance.

‘A gentleman would scorn to stoop to such a thing.  I call my uncle a
better gentleman than any thief.’

‘And you would be right,’ said Mr. Archer.

‘How many snuff-boxes did he get?’ asked Jonathan.

‘O, dang me if I know,’ said Sam; ‘I didn’t take an inventory.’

‘I will go back with you, if you please,’ said Mr. Archer.  ‘I should
like to see poor Oglethorpe.  He has behaved well.’

‘At your service, sir,’ said Sam, jumping to his feet.  ‘I dare to say a
gentleman like you would not forget a poor fellow like Tom—no, nor a
plain man like me, sir, that went without his sleep to nurse him.  And
excuse me, sir,’ added Sam, ‘you won’t forget about the letter neither?’

‘Surely not,’ said Mr. Archer.

Oglethorpe lay in a low bed, one of several in a long garret of the inn.
The rain soaked in places through the roof and fell in minute drops;
there was but one small window; the beds were occupied by servants, the
air of the garret was both close and chilly.  Mr. Archer’s heart sank at
the threshold to see a man lying perhaps mortally hurt in so poor a
sick-room, and as he drew near the low bed he took his hat off.  The
guard was a big, blowsy, innocent-looking soul with a thick lip and a
broad nose, comically turned up; his cheeks were crimson, and when Mr.
Archer laid a finger on his brow he found him burning with fever.

‘I fear you suffer much,’ he said, with a catch in his voice, as he sat
down on the bedside.

‘I suppose I do, sir,’ returned Oglethorpe; ‘it is main sore.’

‘I am used to wounds and wounded men,’ returned the visitor.  ‘I have
been in the wars and nursed brave fellows before now; and, if you will
suffer me, I propose to stay beside you till the doctor comes.’

‘It is very good of you, sir, I am sure,’ said Oglethorpe.  ‘The trouble
is they won’t none of them let me drink.’

‘If you will not tell the doctor,’ said Mr. Archer, ‘I will give you some
water.  They say it is bad for a green wound, but in the Low Countries we
all drank water when we found the chance, and I could never perceive we
were the worse for it.’

‘Been wounded yourself, sir, perhaps?’ called Oglethorpe.

‘Twice,’ said Mr. Archer, ‘and was as proud of these hurts as any lady of
her bracelets.  ’Tis a fine thing to smart for one’s duty; even in the
pangs of it there is contentment.’

‘Ah, well!’ replied the guard, ‘if you’ve been shot yourself, that
explains.  But as for contentment, why, sir, you see, it smarts, as you
say.  And then, I have a good wife, you see, and a bit of a brat—a little
thing, so high.’

‘Don’t move,’ said Mr. Archer.

‘No, sir, I will not, and thank you kindly,’ said Oglethorpe.  ‘At York
they are.  A very good lass is my wife—far too good for me.  And the
little rascal—well, I don’t know how to say it, but he sort of comes
round you.  If I were to go, sir, it would be hard on my poor girl—main
hard on her!’

‘Ay, you must feel bitter hardly to the rogue that laid you here,’ said

‘Why, no, sir, more against Engleton and the passengers,’ replied the
guard.  ‘He played his hand, if you come to look at it; and I wish he had
shot worse, or me better.  And yet I’ll go to my grave but what I covered
him,’ he cried.  ‘It looks like witchcraft.  I’ll go to my grave but what
he was drove full of slugs like a pepper-box.’

‘Quietly,’ said Mr. Archer, ‘you must not excite yourself.  These
deceptions are very usual in war; the eye, in the moment of alert, is
hardly to be trusted, and when the smoke blows away you see the man you
fired at, taking aim, it may be, at yourself.  You should observe, too,
that you were in the dark night, and somewhat dazzled by the lamps, and
that the sudden stopping of the mail had jolted you.  In such
circumstances a man may miss, ay, even with a blunder-buss, and no blame
attach to his marksmanship.’ . . .



There was a wine-seller’s shop, as you went down to the river in the city
of the Anti-popes.  There a man was served with good wine of the country
and plain country fare; and the place being clean and quiet, with a
prospect on the river, certain gentlemen who dwelt in that city in
attendance on a great personage made it a practice (when they had any
silver in their purses) to come and eat there and be private.

They called the wine-seller Paradou.  He was built more like a bullock
than a man, huge in bone and brawn, high in colour, and with a hand like
a baby for size.  Marie-Madeleine was the name of his wife; she was of
Marseilles, a city of entrancing women, nor was any fairer than herself.
She was tall, being almost of a height with Paradou; full-girdled,
point-device in every form, with an exquisite delicacy in the face; her
nose and nostrils a delight to look at from the fineness of the
sculpture, her eyes inclined a hair’s-breadth inward, her colour between
dark and fair, and laid on even like a flower’s.  A faint rose dwelt in
it, as though she had been found unawares bathing, and had blushed from
head to foot.  She was of a grave countenance, rarely smiling; yet it
seemed to be written upon every part of her that she rejoiced in life.
Her husband loved the heels of her feet and the knuckles of her fingers;
he loved her like a glutton and a brute; his love hung about her like an
atmosphere; one that came by chance into the wine-shop was aware of that
passion; and it might be said that by the strength of it the woman had
been drugged or spell-bound.  She knew not if she loved or loathed him;
he was always in her eyes like something monstrous—monstrous in his love,
monstrous in his person, horrific but imposing in his violence; and her
sentiment swung back and forward from desire to sickness.  But the mean,
where it dwelt chiefly, was an apathetic fascination, partly of horror;
as of Europa in mid ocean with her bull.

On the 10th November 1749 there sat two of the foreign gentlemen in the
wine-seller’s shop.  They were both handsome men of a good presence,
richly dressed.  The first was swarthy and long and lean, with an alert,
black look, and a mole upon his cheek.  The other was more fair.  He
seemed very easy and sedate, and a little melancholy for so young a man,
but his smile was charming.  In his grey eyes there was much abstraction,
as of one recalling fondly that which was past and lost.  Yet there was
strength and swiftness in his limbs; and his mouth set straight across
his face, the under lip a thought upon side, like that of a man
accustomed to resolve.  These two talked together in a rude outlandish
speech that no frequenter of that wine-shop understood.  The swarthy man
answered to the name of _Ballantrae_; he of the dreamy eyes was sometimes
called _Balmile_, and sometimes _my Lord_, or _my Lord Gladsmuir_; but
when the title was given him, he seemed to put it by as if in jesting,
not without bitterness.

The mistral blew in the city.  The first day of that wind, they say in
the countries where its voice is heard, it blows away all the dust, the
second all the stones, and the third it blows back others from the
mountains.  It was now come to the third day; outside the pebbles flew
like hail, and the face of the river was puckered, and the very
building-stones in the walls of houses seemed to be curdled with the
savage cold and fury of that continuous blast.  It could be heard to hoot
in all the chimneys of the city; it swept about the wine-shop, filling
the room with eddies; the chill and gritty touch of it passed between the
nearest clothes and the bare flesh; and the two gentlemen at the far
table kept their mantles loose about their shoulders.  The roughness of
these outer hulls, for they were plain travellers’ cloaks that had seen
service, set the greater mark of richness on what showed below of their
laced clothes; for the one was in scarlet and the other in violet and
white, like men come from a scene of ceremony; as indeed they were.

It chanced that these fine clothes were not without their influence on
the scene which followed, and which makes the prologue of our tale.  For
a long time Balmile was in the habit to come to the wine-shop and eat a
meal or drink a measure of wine; sometimes with a comrade; more often
alone, when he would sit and dream and drum upon the table, and the
thoughts would show in the man’s face in little glooms and lightenings,
like the sun and the clouds upon a water.  For a long time
Marie-Madeleine had observed him apart.  His sadness, the beauty of his
smile when by any chance he remembered her existence and addressed her,
the changes of his mind signalled forth by an abstruse play of feature,
the mere fact that he was foreign and a thing detached from the local and
the accustomed, insensibly attracted and affected her.  Kindness was
ready in her mind; it but lacked the touch of an occasion to effervesce
and crystallise.  Now Balmile had come hitherto in a very poor plain
habit; and this day of the mistral, when his mantle was just open, and
she saw beneath it the glancing of the violet and the velvet and the
silver, and the clustering fineness of the lace, it seemed to set the man
in a new light, with which he shone resplendent to her fancy.

The high inhuman note of the wind, the violence and continuity of its
outpouring, and the fierce touch of it upon man’s whole periphery,
accelerated the functions of the mind.  It set thoughts whirling, as it
whirled the trees of the forest; it stirred them up in flights, as it
stirred up the dust in chambers.  As brief as sparks, the fancies
glittered and succeeded each other in the mind of Marie-Madeleine; and
the grave man with the smile, and the bright clothes under the plain
mantle, haunted her with incongruous explanations.  She considered him,
the unknown, the speaker of an unknown tongue, the hero (as she placed
him) of an unknown romance, the dweller upon unknown memories.  She
recalled him sitting there alone, so immersed, so stupefied; yet she was
sure he was not stupid.  She recalled one day when he had remained a long
time motionless, with parted lips, like one in the act of starting up,
his eyes fixed on vacancy.  Any one else must have looked foolish; but
not he.  She tried to conceive what manner of memory had thus entranced
him; she forged for him a past; she showed him to herself in every light
of heroism and greatness and misfortune; she brooded with petulant
intensity on all she knew and guessed of him.  Yet, though she was
already gone so deep, she was still unashamed, still unalarmed; her
thoughts were still disinterested; she had still to reach the stage at
which—beside the image of that other whom we love to contemplate and to
adorn—we place the image of ourself and behold them together with

She stood within the counter, her hands clasped behind her back, her
shoulders pressed against the wall, her feet braced out.  Her face was
bright with the wind and her own thoughts; as a fire in a similar day of
tempest glows and brightens on a hearth, so she seemed to glow, standing
there, and to breathe out energy.  It was the first time Ballantrae had
visited that wine-seller’s, the first time he had seen the wife; and his
eyes were true to her.

‘I perceive your reason for carrying me to this very draughty tavern,’ he
said at last.

‘I believe it is propinquity,’ returned Balmile.

‘You play dark,’ said Ballantrae, ‘but have a care!  Be more frank with
me, or I will cut you out.  I go through no form of qualifying my threat,
which would be commonplace and not conscientious.  There is only one
point in these campaigns: that is the degree of admiration offered by the
man; and to our hostess I am in a posture to make victorious love.’

‘If you think you have the time, or the game worth the candle,’ replied
the other with a shrug.

‘One would suppose you were never at the pains to observe her,’ said

‘I am not very observant,’ said Balmile.  ‘She seems comely.’

‘You very dear and dull dog!’ cried Ballantrae; ‘chastity is the most
besotting of the virtues.  Why, she has a look in her face beyond
singing!  I believe, if you was to push me hard, I might trace it home to
a trifle of a squint.  What matters?  The height of beauty is in the
touch that’s wrong, that’s the modulation in a tune.  ’Tis the devil we
all love; I owe many a conquest to my mole’—he touched it as he spoke
with a smile, and his eyes glittered;—‘we are all hunchbacks, and beauty
is only that kind of deformity that I happen to admire.  But come!
Because you are chaste, for which I am sure I pay you my respects, that
is no reason why you should be blind.  Look at her, look at the delicious
nose of her, look at her cheek, look at her ear, look at her hand and
wrist—look at the whole baggage from heels to crown, and tell me if she
wouldn’t melt on a man’s tongue.’

As Ballantrae spoke, half jesting, half enthusiastic, Balmile was
constrained to do as he was bidden.  He looked at the woman, admired her
excellences, and was at the same time ashamed for himself and his
companion.  So it befell that when Marie-Madeleine raised her eyes, she
met those of the subject of her contemplations fixed directly on herself
with a look that is unmistakable, the look of a person measuring and
valuing another—and, to clench the false impression, that his glance was
instantly and guiltily withdrawn.  The blood beat back upon her heart and
leaped again; her obscure thoughts flashed clear before her; she flew in
fancy straight to his arms like a wanton, and fled again on the instant
like a nymph.  And at that moment there chanced an interruption, which
not only spared her embarrassment, but set the last consecration on her
now articulate love.

Into the wine-shop there came a French gentleman, arrayed in the last
refinement of the fashion, though a little tumbled by his passage in the
wind.  It was to be judged he had come from the same formal gathering at
which the others had preceded him; and perhaps that he had gone there in
the hope to meet with them, for he came up to Ballantrae with
unceremonious eagerness.

‘At last, here you are!’ he cried in French.  ‘I thought I was to miss
you altogether.’

The Scotsmen rose, and Ballantrae, after the first greetings, laid his
hand on his companion’s shoulder.

‘My lord,’ said he, ‘allow me to present to you one of my best friends
and one of our best soldiers, the Lord Viscount Gladsmuir.’

The two bowed with the elaborate elegance of the period.

‘_Monseigneur_,’ said Balmile, ‘_je n’ai pas la prétention de m’affubler
d’un titre que la mauvaise fortune de mon roi ne me permet pas de porter
comma il sied_.  _Je m’appelle_, _pour vous servir_, _Blair de Balmile
tout court_.’  [My lord, I have not the effrontery to cumber myself with
a title which the ill fortunes of my king will not suffer me to bear the
way it should be.  I call myself, at your service, plain Blair of

‘_Monsieur le Vicomte ou monsieur Blèr’ de Balmaïl_,’ replied the
newcomer, ‘_le nom n’y fait rien_, _et l’on connaît vos beaux faits_.’
[The name matters nothing, your gallant actions are known.]

A few more ceremonies, and these three, sitting down together to the
table, called for wine.  It was the happiness of Marie-Madeleine to wait
unobserved upon the prince of her desires.  She poured the wine, he drank
of it; and that link between them seemed to her, for the moment, close as
a caress.  Though they lowered their tones, she surprised great names
passing in their conversation, names of kings, the names of de Gesvre and
Belle-Isle; and the man who dealt in these high matters, and she who was
now coupled with him in her own thoughts, seemed to swim in mid air in a
transfiguration.  Love is a crude core, but it has singular and
far-reaching fringes; in that passionate attraction for the stranger that
now swayed and mastered her, his harsh incomprehensible language, and
these names of grandees in his talk, were each an element.

The Frenchman stayed not long, but it was plain he left behind him matter
of much interest to his companions; they spoke together earnestly, their
heads down, the woman of the wine-shop totally forgotten; and they were
still so occupied when Paradou returned.

This man’s love was unsleeping.  The even bluster of the mistral, with
which he had been combating some hours, had not suspended, though it had
embittered, that predominant passion.  His first look was for his wife, a
look of hope and suspicion, menace and humility and love, that made the
over-blooming brute appear for the moment almost beautiful.  She returned
his glance, at first as though she knew him not, then with a swiftly
waxing coldness of intent; and at last, without changing their direction,
she had closed her eyes.

There passed across her mind during that period much that Paradou could
not have understood had it been told to him in words: chiefly the sense
of an enlightening contrast betwixt the man who talked of kings and the
man who kept a wine-shop, betwixt the love she yearned for and that to
which she had been long exposed like a victim bound upon the altar.
There swelled upon her, swifter than the Rhone, a tide of abhorrence and
disgust.  She had succumbed to the monster, humbling herself below
animals; and now she loved a hero, aspiring to the semi-divine.  It was
in the pang of that humiliating thought that she had closed her eyes.

Paradou—quick as beasts are quick, to translate silence—felt the insult
through his blood; his inarticulate soul bellowed within him for revenge.
He glanced about the shop.  He saw the two indifferent gentlemen deep in
talk, and passed them over: his fancy flying not so high.  There was but
one other present, a country lout who stood swallowing his wine, equally
unobserved by all and unobserving—to him he dealt a glance of murderous
suspicion, and turned direct upon his wife.  The wine-shop had lain
hitherto, a space of shelter, the scene of a few ceremonial passages and
some whispered conversation, in the howling river of the wind; the clock
had not yet ticked a score of times since Paradou’s appearance; and now,
as he suddenly gave tongue, it seemed as though the mistral had entered
at his heels.

‘What ails you, woman?’ he cried, smiting on the counter.

‘Nothing ails me,’ she replied.  It was strange; but she spoke and stood
at that moment like a lady of degree, drawn upward by her aspirations.

‘You speak to me, by God, as though you scorned me!’ cried the husband.

The man’s passion was always formidable; she had often looked on upon its
violence with a thrill, it had been one ingredient in her fascination;
and she was now surprised to behold him, as from afar off, gesticulating
but impotent.  His fury might be dangerous like a torrent or a gust of
wind, but it was inhuman; it might be feared or braved, it should never
be respected.  And with that there came in her a sudden glow of courage
and that readiness to die which attends so closely upon all strong

‘I do scorn you,’ she said.

‘What is that?’ he cried.

‘I scorn you,’ she repeated, smiling.

‘You love another man!’ said he.

‘With all my soul,’ was her reply.

The wine-seller roared aloud so that the house rang and shook with it.

‘Is this the—?’ he cried, using a foul word, common in the South; and he
seized the young countryman and dashed him to the ground.  There he lay
for the least interval of time insensible; thence fled from the house,
the most terrified person in the county.  The heavy measure had escaped
from his hands, splashing the wine high upon the wall.  Paradou caught
it.  ‘And you?’ he roared to his wife, giving her the same name in the
feminine, and he aimed at her the deadly missile.  She expected it,
motionless, with radiant eyes.

But before it sped, Paradou was met by another adversary, and the
unconscious rivals stood confronted.  It was hard to say at that moment
which appeared the more formidable.  In Paradou, the whole muddy and
truculent depths of the half-man were stirred to frenzy; the lust of
destruction raged in him; there was not a feature in his face but it
talked murder.  Balmile had dropped his cloak: he shone out at once in
his finery, and stood to his full stature; girt in mind and body all his
resources, all his temper, perfectly in command in his face the light of
battle.  Neither spoke; there was no blow nor threat of one; it was war
reduced to its last element, the spiritual; and the huge wine-seller
slowly lowered his weapon.  Balmile was a noble, he a commoner; Balmile
exulted in an honourable cause.  Paradou already perhaps began to be
ashamed of his violence.  Of a sudden, at least, the tortured brute
turned and fled from the shop in the footsteps of his former victim, to
whose continued flight his reappearance added wings.

So soon as Balmile appeared between her husband and herself,
Marie-Madeleine transferred to him her eyes.  It might be her last
moment, and she fed upon that face; reading there inimitable courage and
illimitable valour to protect.  And when the momentary peril was gone by,
and the champion turned a little awkwardly towards her whom he had
rescued, it was to meet, and quail before, a gaze of admiration more
distinct than words.  He bowed, he stammered, his words failed him; he
who had crossed the floor a moment ago, like a young god, to smite,
returned like one discomfited; got somehow to his place by the table,
muffled himself again in his discarded cloak, and for a last touch of the
ridiculous, seeking for anything to restore his countenance, drank of the
wine before him, deep as a porter after a heavy lift.  It was little
wonder if Ballantrae, reading the scene with malevolent eyes, laughed out
loud and brief, and drank with raised glass, ‘To the champion of the

Marie-Madeleine stood in her old place within the counter; she disdained
the mocking laughter; it fell on her ears, but it did not reach her
spirit.  For her, the world of living persons was all resumed again into
one pair, as in the days of Eden; there was but the one end in life, the
one hope before her, the one thing needful, the one thing possible—to be


That same night there was in the city of Avignon a young man in distress
of mind.  Now he sat, now walked in a high apartment, full of draughts
and shadows.  A single candle made the darkness visible; and the light
scarce sufficed to show upon the wall, where they had been recently and
rudely nailed, a few miniatures and a copper medal of the young man’s
head.  The same was being sold that year in London, to admiring
thousands.  The original was fair; he had beautiful brown eyes, a
beautiful bright open face; a little feminine, a little hard, a little
weak; still full of the light of youth, but already beginning to be
vulgarised; a sordid bloom come upon it, the lines coarsened with a touch
of puffiness.  He was dressed, as for a gala, in peach-colour and silver;
his breast sparkled with stars and was bright with ribbons; for he had
held a levee in the afternoon and received a distinguished personage
incognito.  Now he sat with a bowed head, now walked precipitately to and
fro, now went and gazed from the uncurtained window, where the wind was
still blowing, and the lights winked in the darkness.

The bells of Avignon rose into song as he was gazing; and the high notes
and the deep tossed and drowned, boomed suddenly near or were suddenly
swallowed up, in the current of the mistral.  Tears sprang in the pale
blue eyes; the expression of his face was changed to that of a more
active misery, it seemed as if the voices of the bells reached, and
touched and pained him, in a waste of vacancy where even pain was
welcome.  Outside in the night they continued to sound on, swelling and
fainting; and the listener heard in his memory, as it were their
harmonies, joy-bells clashing in a northern city, and the acclamations of
a multitude, the cries of battle, the gross voices of cannon, the stridor
of an animated life.  And then all died away, and he stood face to face
with himself in the waste of vacancy, and a horror came upon his mind,
and a faintness on his brain, such as seizes men upon the brink of

On the table, by the side of the candle, stood a tray of glasses, a
bottle, and a silver bell.  He went thither swiftly, then his hand
lowered first above the bell, then settled on the bottle.  Slowly he
filled a glass, slowly drank it out; and, as a tide of animal warmth
recomforted the recesses of his nature, stood there smiling at himself.
He remembered he was young; the funeral curtains rose, and he saw his
life shine and broaden and flow out majestically, like a river sunward.
The smile still on his lips, he lit a second candle and a third; a fire
stood ready built in a chimney, he lit that also; and the fir-cones and
the gnarled olive billets were swift to break in flame and to crackle on
the hearth, and the room brightened and enlarged about him like his
hopes.  To and fro, to and fro, he went, his hands lightly clasped, his
breath deeply and pleasurably taken.  Victory walked with him; he marched
to crowns and empires among shouting followers; glory was his dress.  And
presently again the shadows closed upon the solitary.  Under the gilt of
flame and candle-light, the stone walls of the apartment showed down bare
and cold; behind the depicted triumph loomed up the actual failure:
defeat, the long distress of the flight, exile, despair, broken
followers, mourning faces, empty pockets, friends estranged.  The memory
of his father rose in his mind: he, too, estranged and defied; despair
sharpened into wrath.  There was one who had led armies in the field, who
had staked his life upon the family enterprise, a man of action and
experience, of the open air, the camp, the court, the council-room; and
he was to accept direction from an old, pompous gentleman in a home in
Italy, and buzzed about by priests?  A pretty king, if he had not a
martial son to lean upon!  A king at all?

‘There was a weaver (of all people) joined me at St. Ninians; he was more
of a man than my papa!’ he thought.  ‘I saw him lie doubled in his blood
and a grenadier below him—and he died for my papa!  All died for him, or
risked the dying, and I lay for him all those months in the rain and
skulked in heather like a fox; and now he writes me his advice! calls me
Carluccio—me, the man of the house, the only king in that king’s race.’
He ground his teeth.  ‘The only king in Europe!’  Who else?  Who has done
and suffered except me? who has lain and run and hidden with his faithful
subjects, like a second Bruce?  Not my accursed cousin, Louis of France,
at least, the lewd effeminate traitor!’  And filling the glass to the
brim, he drank a king’s damnation.  Ah, if he had the power of Louis,
what a king were here!

The minutes followed each other into the past, and still he persevered in
this debilitating cycle of emotions, still fed the fire of his excitement
with driblets of Rhine wine: a boy at odds with life, a boy with a spark
of the heroic, which he was now burning out and drowning down in futile
reverie and solitary excess.

From two rooms beyond, the sudden sound of a raised voice attracted him.

‘By . . .



The period of this tale is in the heat of the _killing-time_; the scene
laid for the most part in solitary hills and morasses, haunted only by
the so-called Mountain Wanderers, the dragoons that came in chase of
them, the women that wept on their dead bodies, and the wild birds of the
moorland that have cried there since the beginning.  It is a land of many
rain-clouds; a land of much mute history, written there in prehistoric
symbols.  Strange green raths are to be seen commonly in the country,
above all by the kirkyards; barrows of the dead, standing stones; beside
these, the faint, durable footprints and handmarks of the Roman; and an
antiquity older perhaps than any, and still living and active—a complete
Celtic nomenclature and a scarce-mingled Celtic population.  These rugged
and grey hills were once included in the boundaries of the Caledonian
Forest.  Merlin sat here below his apple-tree and lamented Gwendolen;
here spoke with Kentigern; here fell into his enchanted trance.  And the
legend of his slumber seems to body forth the story of that Celtic race,
deprived for so many centuries of their authentic speech, surviving with
their ancestral inheritance of melancholy perversity and patient,
unfortunate courage.

The Traquairs of Montroymont (_Mons Romanus_, as the erudite expound it)
had long held their seat about the head-waters of the Dule and in the
back parts of the moorland parish of Balweary.  For two hundred years
they had enjoyed in these upland quarters a certain decency (almost to be
named distinction) of repute; and the annals of their house, or what is
remembered of them, were obscure and bloody.  Ninian Traquair was
‘cruallie slochtered’ by the Crozers at the kirk-door of Balweary, anno
1482.  Francis killed Simon Ruthven of Drumshoreland, anno 1540; bought
letters of slayers at the widow and heir, and, by a barbarous form of
compounding, married (without tocher) Simon’s daughter Grizzel, which is
the way the Traquairs and Ruthvens came first to an intermarriage.  About
the last Traquair and Ruthven marriage, it is the business of this book,
among many other things, to tell.

The Traquairs were always strong for the Covenant; for the King also, but
the Covenant first; and it began to be ill days for Montroymont when the
Bishops came in and the dragoons at the heels of them.  Ninian (then
laird) was an anxious husband of himself and the property, as the times
required, and it may be said of him, that he lost both.  He was heavily
suspected of the Pentland Hills rebellion.  When it came the length of
Bothwell Brig, he stood his trial before the Secret Council, and was
convicted of talking with some insurgents by the wayside, the subject of
the conversation not very clearly appearing, and of the reset and
maintenance of one Gale, a gardener man, who was seen before Bothwell
with a musket, and afterwards, for a continuance of months, delved the
garden at Montroymont.  Matters went very ill with Ninian at the Council;
some of the lords were clear for treason; and even the boot was talked
of.  But he was spared that torture; and at last, having pretty good
friendship among great men, he came off with a fine of seven thousand
marks, that caused the estate to groan.  In this case, as in so many
others, it was the wife that made the trouble.  She was a great keeper of
conventicles; would ride ten miles to one, and when she was fined,
rejoiced greatly to suffer for the Kirk; but it was rather her husband
that suffered.  She had their only son, Francis, baptized privately by
the hands of Mr. Kidd; there was that much the more to pay for!  She
could neither be driven nor wiled into the parish kirk; as for taking the
sacrament at the hands of any Episcopalian curate, and tenfold more at
those of Curate Haddo, there was nothing further from her purposes; and
Montroymont had to put his hand in his pocket month by month and year by
year.  Once, indeed, the little lady was cast in prison, and the laird,
worthy, heavy, uninterested man, had to ride up and take her place; from
which he was not discharged under nine months and a sharp fine.  It
scarce seemed she had any gratitude to him; she came out of gaol herself,
and plunged immediately deeper in conventicles, resetting recusants, and
all her old, expensive folly, only with greater vigour and openness,
because Montroymont was safe in the Tolbooth and she had no witness to
consider.  When he was liberated and came back, with his fingers singed,
in December 1680, and late in the black night, my lady was from home.  He
came into the house at his alighting, with a riding-rod yet in his hand;
and, on the servant-maid telling him, caught her by the scruff of the
neck, beat her violently, flung her down in the passageway, and went
upstairs to his bed fasting and without a light.  It was three in the
morning when my lady returned from that conventicle, and, hearing of the
assault (because the maid had sat up for her, weeping), went to their
common chamber with a lantern in hand and stamping with her shoes so as
to wake the dead; it was supposed, by those that heard her, from a design
to have it out with the good man at once.  The house-servants gathered on
the stair, because it was a main interest with them to know which of
these two was the better horse; and for the space of two hours they were
heard to go at the matter, hammer and tongs.  Montroymont alleged he was
at the end of possibilities; it was no longer within his power to pay the
annual rents; she had served him basely by keeping conventicles while he
lay in prison for her sake; his friends were weary, and there was nothing
else before him but the entire loss of the family lands, and to begin
life again by the wayside as a common beggar.  She took him up very sharp
and high: called upon him, if he were a Christian? and which he most
considered, the loss of a few dirty, miry glebes, or of his soul?
Presently he was heard to weep, and my lady’s voice to go on continually
like a running burn, only the words indistinguishable; whereupon it was
supposed a victory for her ladyship, and the domestics took themselves to
bed.  The next day Traquair appeared like a man who had gone under the
harrows; and his lady wife thenceforward continued in her old course
without the least deflection.

Thenceforward Ninian went on his way without complaint, and suffered his
wife to go on hers without remonstrance.  He still minded his estate, of
which it might be said he took daily a fresh farewell, and counted it
already lost; looking ruefully on the acres and the graves of his
fathers, on the moorlands where the wild-fowl consorted, the low,
gurgling pool of the trout, and the high, windy place of the calling
curlews—things that were yet his for the day and would be another’s
to-morrow; coming back again, and sitting ciphering till the dusk at his
approaching ruin, which no device of arithmetic could postpone beyond a
year or two.  He was essentially the simple ancient man, the farmer and
landholder; he would have been content to watch the seasons come and go,
and his cattle increase, until the limit of age; he would have been
content at any time to die, if he could have left the estates
undiminished to an heir-male of his ancestors, that duty standing first
in his instinctive calendar.  And now he saw everywhere the image of the
new proprietor come to meet him, and go sowing and reaping, or fowling
for his pleasure on the red moors, or eating the very gooseberries in the
Place garden; and saw always, on the other hand, the figure of Francis go
forth, a beggar, into the broad world.

It was in vain the poor gentleman sought to moderate; took every test and
took advantage of every indulgence; went and drank with the dragoons in
Balweary; attended the communion and came regularly to the church to
Curate Haddo, with his son beside him.  The mad, raging, Presbyterian
zealot of a wife at home made all of no avail; and indeed the house must
have fallen years before if it had not been for the secret indulgence of
the curate, who had a great sympathy with the laird, and winked hard at
the doings in Montroymont.  This curate was a man very ill reputed in the
countryside, and indeed in all Scotland.  ‘Infamous Haddo’ is Shield’s
expression.  But Patrick Walker is more copious.  ‘Curate Hall Haddo,’
says he, _sub voce_ Peden, ‘or _Hell_ Haddo, as he was more justly to be
called, a pokeful of old condemned errors and the filthy vile lusts of
the flesh, a published whore-monger, a common gross drunkard, continually
and godlessly scraping and skirling on a fiddle, continually breathing
flames against the remnant of Israel.  But the Lord put an end to his
piping, and all these offences were composed into one bloody grave.’  No
doubt this was written to excuse his slaughter; and I have never heard it
claimed for Walker that he was either a just witness or an indulgent
judge.  At least, in a merely human character, Haddo comes off not wholly
amiss in the matter of these Traquairs: not that he showed any graces of
the Christian, but had a sort of Pagan decency, which might almost tempt
one to be concerned about his sudden, violent, and unprepared fate.


Francie was eleven years old, shy, secret, and rather childish of his
age, though not backward in schooling, which had been pushed on far by a
private governor, one M‘Brair, a forfeited minister harboured in that
capacity at Montroymont.  The boy, already much employed in secret by his
mother, was the most apt hand conceivable to run upon a message, to carry
food to lurking fugitives, or to stand sentry on the skyline above a
conventicle.  It seemed no place on the moorlands was so naked but what
he would find cover there; and as he knew every hag, boulder, and
heather-bush in a circuit of seven miles about Montroymont, there was
scarce any spot but what he could leave or approach it unseen.  This
dexterity had won him a reputation in that part of the country; and among
the many children employed in these dangerous affairs, he passed under
the by-name of Heathercat.

How much his father knew of this employment might be doubted.  He took
much forethought for the boy’s future, seeing he was like to be left so
poorly, and would sometimes assist at his lessons, sighing heavily,
yawning deep, and now and again patting Francie on the shoulder if he
seemed to be doing ill, by way of a private, kind encouragement.  But a
great part of the day was passed in aimless wanderings with his eyes
sealed, or in his cabinet sitting bemused over the particulars of the
coming bankruptcy; and the boy would be absent a dozen times for once
that his father would observe it.

On 2nd of July 1682 the boy had an errand from his mother, which must be
kept private from all, the father included in the first of them.
Crossing the braes, he hears the clatter of a horse’s shoes, and claps
down incontinent in a hag by the wayside.  And presently he spied his
father come riding from one direction, and Curate Haddo walking from
another; and Montroymont leaning down from the saddle, and Haddo getting
on his toes (for he was a little, ruddy, bald-pated man, more like a
dwarf), they greeted kindly, and came to a halt within two fathoms of the

‘Montroymont,’ the curate said, ‘the deil’s in ’t but I’ll have to
denunciate your leddy again.’

‘Deil’s in ’t indeed!’ says the laird.

‘Man! can ye no induce her to come to the kirk?’ pursues Haddo; ‘or to a
communion at the least of it?  For the conventicles, let be! and the same
for yon solemn fule, M‘Brair: I can blink at them.  But she’s got to come
to the kirk, Montroymont.’

‘Dinna speak of it,’ says the laird.  ‘I can do nothing with her.’

‘Couldn’t ye try the stick to her? it works wonders whiles,’ suggested
Haddo.  ‘No?  I’m wae to hear it.  And I suppose ye ken where you’re

‘Fine!’ said Montroymont.  ‘Fine do I ken where: bankrup’cy and the Bass

‘Praise to my bones that I never married!’ cried the curate.  ‘Well, it’s
a grievous thing to me to see an auld house dung down that was here
before Flodden Field.  But naebody can say it was with my wish.’

‘No more they can, Haddo!’ says the laird.  ‘A good friend ye’ve been to
me, first and last.  I can give you that character with a clear

Whereupon they separated, and Montroymont rode briskly down into the Dule
Valley.  But of the curate Francis was not to be quit so easily.  He went
on with his little, brisk steps to the corner of a dyke, and stopped and
whistled and waved upon a lassie that was herding cattle there.  This
Janet M‘Clour was a big lass, being taller than the curate; and what made
her look the more so, she was kilted very high.  It seemed for a while
she would not come, and Francie heard her calling Haddo a ‘daft auld
fule,’ and saw her running and dodging him among the whins and hags till
he was fairly blown.  But at the last he gets a bottle from his
plaid-neuk and holds it up to her; whereupon she came at once into a
composition, and the pair sat, drinking of the bottle, and daffing and
laughing together, on a mound of heather.  The boy had scarce heard of
these vanities, or he might have been minded of a nymph and satyr, if
anybody could have taken long-leggit Janet for a nymph.  But they seemed
to be huge friends, he thought; and was the more surprised, when the
curate had taken his leave, to see the lassie fling stones after him with
screeches of laughter, and Haddo turn about and caper, and shake his
staff at her, and laugh louder than herself.  A wonderful merry pair,
they seemed; and when Francie had crawled out of the hag, he had a great
deal to consider in his mind.  It was possible they were all fallen in
error about Mr. Haddo, he reflected—having seen him so tender with
Montroymont, and so kind and playful with the lass Janet; and he had a
temptation to go out of his road and question her herself upon the
matter.  But he had a strong spirit of duty on him; and plodded on
instead over the braes till he came near the House of Cairngorm.  There,
in a hollow place by the burnside that was shaded by some birks, he was
aware of a barefoot boy, perhaps a matter of three years older than
himself.  The two approached with the precautions of a pair of strange
dogs, looking at each other queerly.

‘It’s ill weather on the hills,’ said the stranger, giving the watchword.

‘For a season,’ said Francie, ‘but the Lord will appear.’

‘Richt,’ said the barefoot boy; ‘wha’re ye frae?’

‘The Leddy Montroymont,’ says Francie.

‘Ha’e, then!’ says the stranger, and handed him a folded paper, and they
stood and looked at each other again.  ‘It’s unco het,’ said the boy.

‘Dooms het,’ says Francie.

‘What do they ca’ ye?’ says the other.

‘Francie,’ says he.  ‘I’m young Montroymont.  They ca’ me Heathercat.’

‘I’m Jock Crozer,’ said the boy.  And there was another pause, while each
rolled a stone under his foot.

‘Cast your jaiket and I’ll fecht ye for a bawbee,’ cried the elder boy
with sudden violence, and dramatically throwing back his jacket.

‘Na, I’ve nae time the now,’ said Francie, with a sharp thrill of alarm,
because Crozer was much the heavier boy.

‘Ye’re feared.  Heathercat indeed!’ said Crozer, for among this infantile
army of spies and messengers, the fame of Crozer had gone forth and was
resented by his rivals.  And with that they separated.

On his way home Francie was a good deal occupied with the recollection of
this untoward incident.  The challenge had been fairly offered and basely
refused: the tale would be carried all over the country, and the lustre
of the name of Heathercat be dimmed.  But the scene between Curate Haddo
and Janet M‘Clour had also given him much to think of: and he was still
puzzling over the case of the curate, and why such ill words were said of
him, and why, if he were so merry-spirited, he should yet preach so dry,
when coming over a knowe, whom should he see but Janet, sitting with her
back to him, minding her cattle!  He was always a great child for secret,
stealthy ways, having been employed by his mother on errands when the
same was necessary; and he came behind the lass without her hearing.

‘Jennet,’ says he.

‘Keep me,’ cries Janet, springing up.  ‘O, it’s you, Maister Francie!
Save us, what a fricht ye gied me.’

‘Ay, it’s me,’ said Francie.  ‘I’ve been thinking, Jennet; I saw you and
the curate a while back—’

‘Brat!’ cried Janet, and coloured up crimson; and the one moment made as
if she would have stricken him with a ragged stick she had to chase her
bestial with, and the next was begging and praying that he would mention
it to none.  It was ‘naebody’s business, whatever,’ she said; ‘it would
just start a clash in the country’; and there would be nothing left for
her but to drown herself in Dule Water.

‘Why?’ says Francie.

The girl looked at him and grew scarlet again.

‘And it isna that, anyway,’ continued Francie.  ‘It was just that he
seemed so good to ye—like our Father in heaven, I thought; and I thought
that mebbe, perhaps, we had all been wrong about him from the first.  But
I’ll have to tell Mr. M‘Brair; I’m under a kind of a bargain to him to
tell him all.’

‘Tell it to the divil if ye like for me!’ cried the lass.  ‘I’ve naething
to be ashamed of.  Tell M‘Brair to mind his ain affairs,’ she cried
again: ‘they’ll be hot eneugh for him, if Haddie likes!’  And so strode
off, shoving her beasts before her, and ever and again looking back and
crying angry words to the boy, where he stood mystified.

By the time he had got home his mind was made up that he would say
nothing to his mother.  My Lady Montroymont was in the keeping-room,
reading a godly book; she was a wonderful frail little wife to make so
much noise in the world and be able to steer about that patient sheep her
husband; her eyes were like sloes, the fingers of her hands were like
tobacco-pipe shanks, her mouth shut tight like a trap; and even when she
was the most serious, and still more when she was angry, there hung about
her face the terrifying semblance of a smile.

‘Have ye gotten the billet, Francie said she; and when he had handed it
over, and she had read and burned it, ‘Did you see anybody?’ she asked.

‘I saw the laird,’ said Francie.

‘He didna see you, though?’ asked his mother.

‘Deil a fear,’ from Francie.

‘Francie!’ she cried.  ‘What’s that I hear? an aith?  The Lord forgive
me, have I broughten forth a brand for the burning, a fagot for

‘I’m very sorry, ma’am,’ said Francie.  ‘I humbly beg the Lord’s pardon,
and yours, for my wickedness.’

‘H’m,’ grunted the lady.  ‘Did ye see nobody else?’

‘No, ma’am,’ said Francie, with the face of an angel, ‘except Jock
Crozer, that gied me the billet.’

‘Jock Crozer!’ cried the lady.  ‘I’ll Crozer them!  Crozers indeed!  What
next?  Are we to repose the lives of a suffering remnant in Crozers?  The
whole clan of them wants hanging, and if I had my way of it, they wouldna
want it long.  Are you aware, sir, that these Crozers killed your
forebear at the kirk-door?’

‘You see, he was bigger ’n me,’ said Francie.

‘Jock Crozer!’ continued the lady.  ‘That’ll be Clement’s son, the
biggest thief and reiver in the country-side.  To trust a note to him!
But I’ll give the benefit of my opinions to Lady Whitecross when we two
forgather.  Let her look to herself!  I have no patience with
half-hearted carlines, that complies on the Lord’s day morning with the
kirk, and comes taigling the same night to the conventicle.  The one or
the other! is what I say: hell or heaven—Haddie’s abominations or the
pure word of God dreeping from the lips of Mr. Arnot,

    ‘“Like honey from the honeycomb
       That dreepeth, sweeter far.”’

My lady was now fairly launched, and that upon two congenial subjects:
the deficiencies of the Lady Whitecross and the turpitudes of the whole
Crozer race—which, indeed, had never been conspicuous for respectability.
She pursued the pair of them for twenty minutes on the clock with
wonderful animation and detail, something of the pulpit manner, and the
spirit of one possessed.  ‘O hellish compliance!’ she exclaimed.  ‘I
would not suffer a complier to break bread with Christian folk.  Of all
the sins of this day there is not one so God-defying, so
Christ-humiliating, as damnable compliance’: the boy standing before her
meanwhile, and brokenly pursuing other thoughts, mainly of Haddo and
Janet, and Jock Crozer stripping off his jacket.  And yet, with all his
distraction, it might be argued that he heard too much: his father and
himself being ‘compliers’—that is to say, attending the church of the
parish as the law required.

Presently, the lady’s passion beginning to decline, or her flux of ill
words to be exhausted, she dismissed her audience.  Francie bowed low,
left the room, closed the door behind him: and then turned him about in
the passage-way, and with a low voice, but a prodigious deal of
sentiment, repeated the name of the evil one twenty times over, to the
end of which, for the greater efficacy, he tacked on ‘damnable’ and
‘hellish.’  _Fas est ab hoste doceri_—disrespect is made more pungent by
quotation; and there is no doubt but he felt relieved, and went upstairs
into his tutor’s chamber with a quiet mind.  M‘Brair sat by the cheek of
the peat-fire and shivered, for he had a quartan ague and this was his
day.  The great night-cap and plaid, the dark unshaven cheeks of the man,
and the white, thin hands that held the plaid about his chittering body,
made a sorrowful picture.  But Francie knew and loved him; came straight
in, nestled close to the refugee, and told his story.  M‘Brair had been
at the College with Haddo; the Presbytery had licensed both on the same
day; and at this tale, told with so much innocency by the boy, the heart
of the tutor was commoved.

‘Woe upon him!  Woe upon that man!’ he cried.  ‘O the unfaithful
shepherd!  O the hireling and apostate minister!  Make my matters hot for
me? quo’ she! the shameless limmer!  And true it is, that he could repose
me in that nasty, stinking hole, the Canongate Tolbooth, from which your
mother drew me out—the Lord reward her for it!—or to that cold, unbieldy,
marine place of the Bass Rock, which, with my delicate kist, would be
fair ruin to me.  But I will be valiant in my Master’s service.  I have a
duty here: a duty to my God, to myself, and to Haddo: in His strength, I
will perform it.’

Then he straitly discharged Francie to repeat the tale, and bade him in
the future to avert his very eyes from the doings of the curate.  ‘You
must go to his place of idolatry; look upon him there!’ says he, ‘but
nowhere else.  Avert your eyes, close your ears, pass him by like a three
days’ corp.  He is like that damnable monster Basiliscus, which
defiles—yea, poisons!—by the sight.’—All which was hardly claratory to
the boy’s mind.

Presently Montroymont came home, and called up the stairs to Francie.
Traquair was a good shot and swordsman: and it was his pleasure to walk
with his son over the braes of the moorfowl, or to teach him arms in the
back court, when they made a mighty comely pair, the child being so lean,
and light, and active, and the laird himself a man of a manly, pretty
stature, his hair (the periwig being laid aside) showing already white
with many anxieties, and his face of an even, flaccid red.  But this day
Francie’s heart was not in the fencing.

‘Sir,’ says he, suddenly lowering his point, ‘will ye tell me a thing if
I was to ask it?’

‘Ask away,’ says the father.

‘Well, it’s this,’ said Francie: ‘Why do you and me comply if it’s so

‘Ay, ye have the cant of it too!’ cries Montroymont.  ‘But I’ll tell ye
for all that.  It’s to try and see if we can keep the rigging on this
house, Francie.  If she had her way, we would be beggar-folk, and hold
our hands out by the wayside.  When ye hear her—when ye hear folk,’ he
corrected himself briskly, ‘call me a coward, and one that betrayed the
Lord, and I kenna what else, just mind it was to keep a bed to ye to
sleep in and a bite for ye to eat.—On guard!’ he cried, and the lesson
proceeded again till they were called to supper.

‘There’s another thing yet,’ said Francie, stopping his father.  ‘There’s
another thing that I am not sure that I am very caring for.  She—she
sends me errands.’

‘Obey her, then, as is your bounden duty,’ said Traquair.

‘Ay, but wait till I tell ye,’ says the boy.  ‘If I was to see you I was
to hide.’

Montroymont sighed.  ‘Well, and that’s good of her too,’ said he.  ‘The
less that I ken of thir doings the better for me; and the best thing you
can do is just to obey her, and see and be a good son to her, the same as
ye are to me, Francie.’

At the tenderness of this expression the heart of Francie swelled within
his bosom, and his remorse was poured out.  ‘Faither!’ he cried, ‘I said
“deil” to-day; many’s the time I said it, and _damnable_ too, and
_hellitsh_.  I ken they’re all right; they’re beeblical.  But I didna say
them beeblically; I said them for sweir words—that’s the truth of it.’

‘Hout, ye silly bairn!’ said the father, ‘dinna do it nae mair, and come
in by to your supper.’  And he took the boy, and drew him close to him a
moment, as they went through the door, with something very fond and
secret, like a caress between a pair of lovers.

The next day M‘Brair was abroad in the afternoon, and had a long advising
with Janet on the braes where she herded cattle.  What passed was never
wholly known; but the lass wept bitterly, and fell on her knees to him
among the whins.  The same night, as soon as it was dark, he took the
road again for Balweary.  In the Kirkton, where the dragoons quartered,
he saw many lights, and heard the noise of a ranting song and people
laughing grossly, which was highly offensive to his mind.  He gave it the
wider berth, keeping among fields; and came down at last by the
water-side, where the manse stands solitary between the river and the
road.  He tapped at the back door, and the old woman called upon him to
come in, and guided him through the house to the study, as they still
called it, though there was little enough study there in Haddo’s days,
and more song-books than theology.

‘Here’s yin to speak wi’ ye, Mr. Haddie!’ cries the old wife.

And M‘Brair, opening the door and entering, found the little, round, red
man seated in one chair and his feet upon another.  A clear fire and a
tallow dip lighted him barely.  He was taking tobacco in a pipe, and
smiling to himself; and a brandy-bottle and glass, and his fiddle and
bow, were beside him on the table.

‘Hech, Patey M‘Briar, is this you?’ said he, a trifle tipsily.  ‘Step in
by, man, and have a drop brandy: for the stomach’s sake!  Even the deil
can quote Scripture—eh, Patey?’

‘I will neither eat nor drink with you,’ replied M‘Brair.  ‘I am come
upon my Master’s errand: woe be upon me if I should anyways mince the
same.  Hall Haddo, I summon you to quit this kirk which you encumber.’

‘Muckle obleeged!’ says Haddo, winking.

‘You and me have been to kirk and market together,’ pursued M‘Brair; ‘we
have had blessed seasons in the kirk, we have sat in the same
teaching-rooms and read in the same book; and I know you still retain for
me some carnal kindness.  It would be my shame if I denied it; I live
here at your mercy and by your favour, and glory to acknowledge it.  You
have pity on my wretched body, which is but grass, and must soon be
trodden under: but O, Haddo! how much greater is the yearning with which
I yearn after and pity your immortal soul!  Come now, let us reason
together!  I drop all points of controversy, weighty though these be; I
take your defaced and damnified kirk on your own terms; and I ask you,
Are you a worthy minister?  The communion season approaches; how can you
pronounce thir solemn words, “The elders will now bring forrit the
elements,” and not quail?  A parishioner may be summoned to-night; you
may have to rise from your miserable orgies; and I ask you, Haddo, what
does your conscience tell you?  Are you fit?  Are you fit to smooth the
pillow of a parting Christian?  And if the summons should be for
yourself, how then?’

Haddo was startled out of all composure and the better part of his
temper.  ‘What’s this of it?’ he cried.  ‘I’m no waur than my neebours.
I never set up to be speeritual; I never did.  I’m a plain, canty
creature; godliness is cheerfulness, says I; give me my fiddle and a
dram, and I wouldna hairm a flee.’

‘And I repeat my question,’ said M‘Brair: ‘Are you fit—fit for this great
charge? fit to carry and save souls?’

‘Fit?  Blethers!  As fit’s yoursel’,’ cried Haddo.

‘Are you so great a self-deceiver?’ said M‘Brair.  ‘Wretched man,
trampler upon God’s covenants, crucifier of your Lord afresh.  I will
ding you to the earth with one word: How about the young woman, Janet

‘Weel, what about her? what do I ken?’ cries Haddo.  ‘M’Brair, ye daft
auld wife, I tell ye as true’s truth, I never meddled her.  It was just
daffing, I tell ye: daffing, and nae mair: a piece of fun, like!  I’m no
denying but what I’m fond of fun, sma’ blame to me!  But for onything
sarious—hout, man, it might come to a deposeetion!  I’ll sweir it to ye.
Where’s a Bible, till you hear me sweir?’

‘There is nae Bible in your study,’ said M‘Brair severely.

And Haddo, after a few distracted turns, was constrained to accept the

‘Weel, and suppose there isna?’ he cried, stamping.  ‘What mair can ye
say of us, but just that I’m fond of my joke, and so’s she?  I declare to
God, by what I ken, she might be the Virgin Mary—if she would just keep
clear of the dragoons.  But me! na, deil haet o’ me!’

‘She is penitent at least,’ says M‘Brair.

‘Do you mean to actually up and tell me to my face that she accused me?’
cried the curate.

‘I canna just say that,’ replied M‘Brair.  ‘But I rebuked her in the name
of God, and she repented before me on her bended knees.’

‘Weel, I daursay she’s been ower far wi’ the dragoons,’ said Haddo.  ‘I
never denied that.  I ken naething by it.’

‘Man, you but show your nakedness the more plainly,’ said M‘Brair.
‘Poor, blind, besotted creature—and I see you stoytering on the brink of
dissolution: your light out, and your hours numbered.  Awake, man!’ he
shouted with a formidable voice, ‘awake, or it be ower late.’

‘Be damned if I stand this!’ exclaimed Haddo, casting his tobacco-pipe
violently on the table, where it was smashed in pieces.  ‘Out of my house
with ye, or I’ll call for the dragoons.’

‘The speerit of the Lord is upon me,’ said M‘Brair with solemn ecstasy.
‘I sist you to compear before the Great White Throne, and I warn you the
summons shall be bloody and sudden.’

And at this, with more agility than could have been expected, he got
clear of the room and slammed the door behind him in the face of the
pursuing curate.  The next Lord’s day the curate was ill, and the kirk
closed, but for all his ill words, Mr. M‘Brair abode unmolested in the
house of Montroymont.


This was a bit of a steep broken hill that overlooked upon the west a
moorish valley, full of ink-black pools.  These presently drained into a
burn that made off, with little noise and no celerity of pace, about the
corner of the hill.  On the far side the ground swelled into a bare
heath, black with junipers, and spotted with the presence of the standing
stones for which the place was famous.  They were many in that part,
shapeless, white with lichen—you would have said with age: and had made
their abode there for untold centuries, since first the heathens shouted
for their installation.  The ancients had hallowed them to some ill
religion, and their neighbourhood had long been avoided by the prudent
before the fall of day; but of late, on the upspringing of new
requirements, these lonely stones on the moor had again become a place of
assembly.  A watchful picket on the Hill-end commanded all the northern
and eastern approaches; and such was the disposition of the ground, that
by certain cunningly posted sentries the west also could be made secure
against surprise: there was no place in the country where a conventicle
could meet with more quiet of mind or a more certain retreat open, in the
case of interference from the dragoons.  The minister spoke from a knowe
close to the edge of the ring, and poured out the words God gave him on
the very threshold of the devils of yore.  When they pitched a tent
(which was often in wet weather, upon a communion occasion) it was rigged
over the huge isolated pillar that had the name of Anes-Errand, none knew
why.  And the congregation sat partly clustered on the slope below, and
partly among the idolatrous monoliths and on the turfy soil of the Ring
itself.  In truth the situation was well qualified to give a zest to
Christian doctrines, had there been any wanted.  But these congregations
assembled under conditions at once so formidable and romantic as made a
zealot of the most cold.  They were the last of the faithful; God, who
had averted His face from all other countries of the world, still leaned
from heaven to observe, with swelling sympathy, the doings of His
moorland remnant; Christ was by them with His eternal wounds, with
dropping tears; the Holy Ghost (never perfectly realised nor firmly
adopted by Protestant imaginations) was dimly supposed to be in the heart
of each and on the lips of the minister.  And over against them was the
army of the hierarchies, from the men Charles and James Stuart, on to
King Lewie and the Emperor; and the scarlet Pope, and the muckle black
devil himself, peering out the red mouth of hell in an ecstasy of hate
and hope.  ‘One pull more!’ he seemed to cry; ‘one pull more, and it’s
done.  There’s only Clydesdale and the Stewartry, and the three
Bailiaries of Ayr, left for God.’  And with such an august assistance of
powers and principalities looking on at the last conflict of good and
evil, it was scarce possible to spare a thought to those old, infirm,
debile, _ab agendo_ devils whose holy place they were now violating.

There might have been three hundred to four hundred present.  At least
there were three hundred horses tethered for the most part in the ring;
though some of the hearers on the outskirts of the crowd stood with their
bridles in their hand, ready to mount at the first signal.  The circle of
faces was strangely characteristic; long, serious, strongly marked, the
tackle standing out in the lean brown cheeks, the mouth set and the eyes
shining with a fierce enthusiasm; the shepherd, the labouring man, and
the rarer laird, stood there in their broad blue bonnets or laced hats,
and presenting an essential identity of type.  From time to time a
long-drawn groan of adhesion rose in this audience, and was propagated
like a wave to the outskirts, and died away among the keepers of the
horses.  It had a name; it was called ‘a holy groan.’

A squall came up; a great volley of flying mist went out before it and
whelmed the scene; the wind stormed with a sudden fierceness that carried
away the minister’s voice and twitched his tails and made him stagger,
and turned the congregation for a moment into a mere pother of blowing
plaid-ends and prancing horses; and the rain followed and was dashed
straight into their faces.  Men and women panted aloud in the shock of
that violent shower-bath; the teeth were bared along all the line in an
involuntary grimace; plaids, mantles, and riding-coats were proved vain,
and the worshippers felt the water stream on their naked flesh.  The
minister, reinforcing his great and shrill voice, continued to contend
against and triumph over the rising of the squall and the dashing of the

‘In that day ye may go thirty mile and not hear a crawing cock,’ he said;
‘and fifty mile and not get a light to your pipe; and an hundred mile and
not see a smoking house.  For there’ll be naething in all Scotland but
deid men’s banes and blackness, and the living anger of the Lord.  O,
where to find a bield—O sirs, where to find a bield from the wind of the
Lord’s anger?  Do ye call _this_ a wind?  Bethankit!  Sirs, this is but a
temporary dispensation; this is but a puff of wind, this is but a spit of
rain and by with it.  Already there’s a blue bow in the west, and the sun
will take the crown of the causeway again, and your things’ll be dried
upon ye, and your flesh will be warm upon your bones.  But O, sirs, sirs!
for the day of the Lord’s anger!’

His rhetoric was set forth with an ear-piercing elocution, and a voice
that sometimes crashed like cannon.  Such as it was, it was the gift of
all hill-preachers, to a singular degree of likeness or identity.  Their
images scarce ranged beyond the red horizon of the moor and the rainy
hill-top, the shepherd and his sheep, a fowling-piece, a spade, a pipe, a
dunghill, a crowing cock, the shining and the withdrawal of the sun.  An
occasional pathos of simple humanity, and frequent patches of big
Biblical words, relieved the homely tissue.  It was a poetry apart;
bleak, austere, but genuine, and redolent of the soil.

A little before the coming of the squall there was a different scene
enacting at the outposts.  For the most part, the sentinels were faithful
to their important duty; the Hill-end of Drumlowe was known to be a safe
meeting-place; and the out-pickets on this particular day had been
somewhat lax from the beginning, and grew laxer during the inordinate
length of the discourse.  Francie lay there in his appointed hiding-hole,
looking abroad between two whin-bushes.  His view was across the course
of the burn, then over a piece of plain moorland, to a gap between two
hills; nothing moved but grouse, and some cattle who slowly traversed his
field of view, heading northward: he heard the psalms, and sang words of
his own to the savage and melancholy music; for he had his own design in
hand, and terror and cowardice prevailed in his bosom alternately, like
the hot and the cold fit of an ague.  Courage was uppermost during the
singing, which he accompanied through all its length with this impromptu

    ‘And I will ding Jock Crozer down
       No later than the day.’

Presently the voice of the preacher came to him in wafts, at the wind’s
will, as by the opening and shutting of a door; wild spasms of screaming,
as of some undiscerned gigantic hill-bird stirred with inordinate
passion, succeeded to intervals of silence; and Francie heard them with a
critical ear.  ‘Ay,’ he thought at last, ‘he’ll do; he has the bit in his
mou’ fairly.’

He had observed that his friend, or rather his enemy, Jock Crozer, had
been established at a very critical part of the line of outposts; namely,
where the burn issues by an abrupt gorge from the semicircle of high
moors.  If anything was calculated to nerve him to battle it was this.
The post was important; next to the Hill-end itself, it might be called
the key to the position; and it was where the cover was bad, and in which
it was most natural to place a child.  It should have been Heathercat’s;
why had it been given to Crozer?  An exquisite fear of what should be the
answer passed through his marrow every time he faced the question.  Was
it possible that Crozer could have boasted? that there were rumours
abroad to his—Heathercat’s—discredit? that his honour was publicly
sullied?  All the world went dark about him at the thought; he sank
without a struggle into the midnight pool of despair; and every time he
so sank, he brought back with him—not drowned heroism indeed, but
half-drowned courage by the locks.  His heart beat very slowly as he
deserted his station, and began to crawl towards that of Crozer.
Something pulled him back, and it was not the sense of duty, but a
remembrance of Crozer’s build and hateful readiness of fist.  Duty, as he
conceived it, pointed him forward on the rueful path that he was
travelling.  Duty bade him redeem his name if he were able, at the risk
of broken bones; and his bones and every tooth in his head ached by
anticipation.  An awful subsidiary fear whispered him that if he were
hurt, he should disgrace himself by weeping.  He consoled himself,
boy-like, with the consideration that he was not yet committed; he could
easily steal over unseen to Crozer’s post, and he had a continuous
private idea that he would very probably steal back again.  His course
took him so near the minister that he could hear some of his words: ‘What
news, minister, of Claver’se?  He’s going round like a roaring rampaging
lion. . . .

                                * * * * *

                                * * * * *

         Printed by T. and A. CONSTABLE, Printers to His Majesty
                    at the Edinburgh University Press.


{0}  With special reference to _Father Damien_, pp. 63–81.

{65}  From the Sydney _Presbyterian_, October 26, 1889.

{85}  _Theater of Mortality_, p. 10; Edin. 1713.

{86}  _History of My Own Times_, beginning 1660, by Bishop Gilbert
Burnet, p. 158.

{87a}  Wodrow’s _Church History_, Book II. chap. i. sect. I.

{87b}  Crookshank’s _Church History_, 1751, second ed. p. 202.

{88}  Burnet, p. 348.

{89}  _Fuller’s Historie of the Holy Warre_, fourth ed. 1651.

{90}  Wodrow, vol. ii. p. 17.

{92}  Sir J. Turner’s _Memoirs_, pp. 148–50.

{93}  _A Cloud of Witnesses_, p. 376.

{94a}  Wodrow, pp. 19, 20.

{94b}  _A Hind Let Loose_, p. 123.

{95}  Turner, p. 163.

{96a}  Turner, p. 198.

{96b}  _Ibid._ p. 167.

{97}  Wodrow, p. 29.

{98}  Turner, Wodrow, and _Church History_ by James Kirkton, an outed
minister of the period.

{99}  Kirkton, p. 244.

{101a}  Kirkton.

{101b}  Turner.

{102}  Kirkton.

{103}  Kirkton.

{104}  _Cloud of Witnesses_, p. 389; Edin. 1765.

{105a}  Kirkton, p. 247.

{105b}  Ibid. p. 254.

{105c}  _Ibid._ p. 247.

{105d}  _Ibid._ pp. 247, 248.

{106}  Kirkton, p. 248.

{107a}  Kirkton, p. 249.

{107b}  _Naphtali_, p. 205; Glasgow, 1721.

{107c}  Wodrow, p. 59.

{108a}  Kirkton, p. 246.

{108b}  Defoe’s _History of the Church of Scotland_.

{151}  ‘This paper was written in collaboration with James Waiter
Ferrier, and if reprinted this is to be stated, though his principal
collaboration was to lie back in an easy-chair and laugh.’—[R.L.S., Oct.
25, 1894.]

{183}  The illustrator was, in fact, a lady, Miss Eunice Bagster, eldest
daughter of the publisher, Samuel Bagster; except in the case of the cuts
depicting the fight with Apollyon, which were designed by her brother,
Mr. Jonathan Bagster.  The edition was published in 1845.  I am indebted
for this information to the kindness of Mr. Robert Bagster, the present
managing director of the firm.—[SIR SIDNEY COLVIN’S NOTE.]

{205}  See a short essay of De Quincey’s.

{206a}  _Religio Medici_, Part ii.

{206b}  _Duchess of Malfi_.

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