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Title: The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 04, No. 24, October, 1859 - A Magazine of Literature, Art, and Politics
Author: Various
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 04, No. 24, October, 1859 - A Magazine of Literature, Art, and Politics" ***

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THE

ATLANTIC MONTHLY.

A MAGAZINE OF LITERATURE, ART, AND POLITICS.


VOL. IV.--OCTOBER, 1859.--NO. XXIV.



DAILY BEAUTY.

Toward the end of a city morning, that is, about four o'clock in the
afternoon, Stanford Grey, and his guest, Daniel Tomes, paused in an
argument which had engaged them earnestly for more than half an hour.
What they had talked about it concerns us not to know. We take them as
we find them, each leaning back in his chair, confirmed in the opinion
that he had maintained, convinced only of his opponent's ability and
rectitude of purpose, and enjoying the gradual subsidence of the
excitement that accompanies the friendliest intellectual strife as
surely as it does the gloved set-tos between those two "talented
professors of the noble science of self-defence" who beat each other
with stuffed buck-skin, at notably brief intervals, for the benefit of
the widow and children of the late lamented Slippery Jim, or some other
equally mysterious and eminent person.

The room in which they sat was one of those third rooms on the first
floor, by which city house-builders, self-styled architects, have made
the second room useless except at night, in their endeavor to reconcile
a desire for a multitude of apartments with the fancied necessity that
compels some men to live where land costs five dollars the square foot.
The various members of Mr. Grey's household designated this room by
different names. The servants called it the library; Mrs. Grey and two
small people, the delight and torment of her life, papa's study; and
Grey himself spoke of it as his workshop, or his den. Against every
stretch of wall a bookcase rose from floor to ceiling, upon the shelves
of which the books stood closely packed in double ranks, the varied
colors of the rows in sight wooing the eye by their harmonious
arrangement. A pedestal in one corner supported a half-size copy of the
Venus of Milo, that masterpiece of sculpture; in its faultless amplitude
of form, its large life-giving loveliness, and its sweet dignity, the
embodiment of the highest type of womanhood. In another corner stood a
similar reduction of the Flying Mercury. Between the bookcases and over
the mantel-piece hung prints;--most noticeable among them, Steinla's
engraving of Raphael's Sistine Madonna, and Toschi's reproduction, in
lines, of the luminous majesty of Correggio's St. Peter and St. Paul;
and these were but specimens of the treasures inclosed in a huge
portfolio that stood where the light fell favorably upon it. Opposite
Grey's chair, when in its place, (it was then wheeled half round toward
his guest,) a portrait of Raphael and one of Beethoven flanked a copy
of the Avon bust of Shakespeare; and where the wallpaper peeped through
this thick array of works of literature and art, it showed a tint of
soft tea-green. In the middle of the room a large library-table groaned
beneath a mass of books and papers, some of them arranged in formal
order, others disarranged by present use into that irregular order which
seems chaotic to every eye but one, while for that one the displacement
of a single sheet would insure perplexity and loss of time. But neither
spreading table nor towering cases seemed to afford their owner room
enough to store his printed treasures. Books were everywhere. Below the
windows the recesses were filled out with crowded shelves; the door of a
closet, left ajar, showed that the place was packed with books, roughly
or cheaply clad, and pamphlets. At the bottom of the cases, books
stretched in serried files along the floor. Some had crept up upon the
library-steps, as if, impatient to rejoin their companions, they were
mounting to the shelves of their own accord. They invaded all accessible
nooks and crannies of the room; big folios were bursting out from the
larger gaps, and thin quartos trickling through chinks that otherwise
would have been choked with dust; and even from the mouldings above the
doors bracketed shelves thrust out, upon which rows of volumes perched,
like penguins on a ledge of rock. In fact, books flocked there as
martlets did to Macbeth's castle; there was "no jutty frieze or coigne
of vantage" but a book had made it his "pendent bed,"--and it appeared
"his procreant cradle" too; for the children, in calling the great
folios "papa-books" and "mamma-books," seemed instinctively to have
hit upon the only way of accounting for the rapid increase and
multiplication of volumes in that apartment.

Upon this scene the light fell, tempered by curtains, at the cheapness
and simplicity of which a fashionable upholsterer would have sneered,
but toward whose graceful folds, and soft, rich hues, the study-wearied
eye turned ever gratefully. The two friends sat silently for some
minutes in ruminative mood, till Grey, turning suddenly to Tomes,
asked,--

"What does Iago mean, when he says of Cassio,--

'He hath a daily beauty in his life,
That makes me ugly'?"

"How can you ask the question?" Tomes replied; adding, after a moment's
pause, "he means, more plainly than any other words can tell, that
Cassio's truthful nature and manly bearing, his courtesy, which was the
genuine gold of real kindness brought to its highest polish, and not a
base alloy of selfishness and craft galvanized into a surface-semblance
of such worth, his manifest reverence for and love of what was good and
pure and noble, his charitable, generous, unenvious disposition, his
sweetness of temper, and his gallantry, all of which found expression in
face or action, made a character so lovely and so beautiful that every
daily observer of them both found him, Iago, hateful and hideous by
comparison."

_Grey_. I suspected as much before I had the benefit of your comment;
which, by the way, ran off your tongue as glibly as if you were one of
the folk who profess Shakespeare, and you were threatening the world
with an essay on Othello. But sometimes it has seemed to me as if these
words meant more; Shakespeare's mental vision took in so much. Was the
beauty of Cassio's life only a moral beauty?

_Tomes_. For all we know, it was.

_Grey_. I say, perhaps, or--No,--Cassio has seemed to me not more a
gallant soldier and a generous spirit than a cultivated and accomplished
gentleman; he, indeed, shows higher culture than any other character in
the tragedy, as well as finer natural tastes; and I have thought that
into the scope of this phrase, "daily beauty," Shakespeare took not
only the honorable and lovely traits of moral nature, to which you, and
perhaps the rest of the world with you, seem to limit it, but all the
outward belongings and surroundings of the personage to whom it is
applied. For these, indeed, were a part of his life, of him,--and went
to make up, in no small measure, that daily beauty in which he presented
so strong a contrast to Iago. Look at "mine Ancient" closely, and see,
that, with all his subtle craft, he was a coarse-mannered brute, of
gross tastes and grovelling nature, without a spark of gallantry, and as
destitute of courtesy as of honor. We overrate his very subtlety; for
we measure it by its effects, the woful and agonizing results it brings
about; forgetting that these, like all results, or resultants, are the
product of at least two forces,--the second, in this instance, being the
unsuspecting and impetuous nature of Othello, Had Iago undertaken to
deceive any other than such a man, he would have failed. Why, even
simple-hearted Desdemona, who sees so little of him, suspects him; that
poor goose, Roderigo, though blind with vanity and passion, again and
again loses faith in him; and his wife knows him through and through.
Believe me, he had no touch of gentleness, not one point of contact with
the beautiful, in all his nature,--while Cassio's was filled up with
gentleness and beauty, and all that is akin to them.

_Tomes_. His weakness for wine and women among them?--But thanks for
your commentary. I am quite eclipsed. On you go, too, in your old way,
trying to make out that what is good is beautiful,--no, rather that
what is beautiful is good.--Do you think that Peter and Paul were
well-dressed? I don't believe that you would have listened to them, if
they were not.

_Grey_. I'm not sure about St. Peter,--or whether it was necessary or
proper that he should have been well-dressed, in the general acceptation
of the term. You forget that there is a beauty of fitness. Beside, I
have listened, deferentially and with pleasure, to a fisherman in a red
shirt, a woollen hat, and with his trousers tucked into cow-hide boots;
and why should I not have listened to the great fisherman of Galilee,
had it been my happy fortune to live within sound of his voice?

_Tomes_. Ay, if it had been a fine voice, perhaps you might.

_Grey_. But as to Saint Paul I have less doubt, or none. I believe that
he appeared the gentleman of taste and culture that he was.

_Tomes_. When he made tents? and when he lived at the house of one
Simon, a tanner?

_Grey_. Why not? What had those accidents of Paul's life to do with
Paul, except as occasions which elicited the flexibility of his nature
and the extent of his capacity and culture?

_Tomes_. In making tents? Tent-making is an honest and a useful
handicraft; but I am puzzled to discover how it would afford opportunity
for the exhibition of the talents of such a man as Paul.

_Grey_. Not his peculiar talents, perhaps; though, on that point, those
who sat under the shadow of his canvas were better able to judge than we
are. For a man will make tents none the worse for being a gentleman, a
scholar, and a man of taste,--but, other things being equal, the better.
Your general intelligence and culture enter into your ability to perform
the humblest office of daily life. An educated man, who can use his
hands, will make an anthracite coal-fire better and quicker after half
a dozen trials than a raw Irish servant after a year's experience; and
many a lady charges her housemaid with stupidity and obstinacy, because
she fails again and again in the performance of some oft-explained task
which to the mistress seems "so simple," when there is no obstinacy in
the case, and only the stupidity of a poor neglected creature who had
been taught nothing till she came to this country, not even to eat with
decency, and, since she came, only to do the meanest chores. As to
living with a tanner, I am no Brahmin, and believe that a man may not
only live with a tanner, but be a tanner, and have all the culture, if
not all the learning and the talent, of Simon's guest. Thomas Dowse
pointed the way for many who will go much farther upon it than he did.

_Tomes._ The tanners are obliged to you. But of what real use is that
process of intellectual refinement upon which you set so high a value?
How much better is discipline than culture! Of how much greater worth,
to himself and to the world, is the man who by physical and mental
training, the use of his muscles, the exercise of his faculties, the
restraint of his appetites,--even those mental appetites which you call
tastes,--has acquired vigor, endurance, self-reliance, self-control! Let
a man be pure and honorable, do to others as he would have them do to
him, and, in the words of the old Church of England Catechism, "learn
and labor truly to get his own living in that state of life to which it
has pleased God to call him," and what remains for him to do, and of
time in which to do it, is of very small importance.

_Grey._ You talk like what you are.

_Tomes._ And that is----?

_Grey._ Pardon me,--a cross between a Stoic and a Puritan:--morally, I
mean.

_Tomes._ Don't apologize. You might say many worse things of me, and few
better. But telling me what I am does not disprove what I say.

_Grey._ Do you not see? you cannot fail to see, that, after the labor of
your human animal has supplied his mere animal needs, provided him with
shelter, food, and clothes, he must set himself about something else.
Having made life endurable, he will strive to make it comfortable,
according to his notions of comfort. Comfort secured, he will seek
pleasure; and among the earliest objects of his endeavors in this
direction will be that form of pleasure which results from the
embellishment of his external life; the craving that he then supplies
being just as natural, that is, just as much an inevitable result of his
organization, as that which first claimed his thought and labor.

_Tomes._ A statement of your case entirely inconsistent with the facts
that bear upon it What do you think of your red savage, who, making no
_pro-vision_ for even his animal needs, but merely supplying them
for the moment as he can, and living in squalor, filth, and extreme
discomfort, yet daubs himself with grease and paint, and decorates
his head with feathers, his neck with bear's claws, and his feat with
gaudily-stained porcupine's quills? What of your black barbarian,
whose daily life is a succession of unspeakable abominations, and who
embellishes it by blackening his teeth, tattooing his skin, and wearing
a huge ring in the gristle of his nose? Either of them will give up his
daily food, and run the risk of starvation, for a glass bead or a
brass button. This desire for ornament is plainly, then, no fruit of
individual development, no sign of social progress; it has no relations
whatever with them, but is merely a manifestation of that vanity, that
lust of the eye and pride of life, which we are taught to believe
inherent in all human nature, and which the savage exhibits according to
his savageness, the civilized man according to his civilization.

_Grey._ You're a sturdy fellow, Tomes, but not strong enough to draw
that conclusion from those premises, and make it stay drawn. The savage
does order his life in the preposterous manner which you have described;
but he does it because he is a savage. He has not the wants of the
civilized man, and therefore he does not wait to supply them before he
seeks to gratify others. When man rises in the scale of civilization,
his whole nature rises. You can't mount a ladder piecemeal; your head
will go up first, unless you are an acrobat, and choose to go up feet
foremost; but even if you are Gabriel Ravel, your whole body must needs
ascend together. The savage is comfortable, not according to your
notions of comfort, but according to his own. Comfort is not positive,
but relative. If, with your present habits, you could be transported
back only one hundred years to the best house in London,--a house
provided with all that a princely revenue could then command,--you
would find it, with all its splendor, very uncomfortable in many
respects. The luxuries of one generation become the comforts of the
next, the necessaries of life to the next; and what is comfort for any
individual at any period depends on the manner in which he has been
brought up. So, too, the savage decorates himself after his own savage
tastes. His smoky wigwam or his filthy mud hut is no stronger evidence
of his barbarous condition than his party-colored face, or the hoop of
metal in his nose. Call this desire to enjoy the beauty of the world and
to be a part of it the lust of the eye, or whatever name you please, you
will find, that, with exceedingly rare exceptions, it is universal in
the race, and that its gratification, although it may have an indirectly
injurious effect on some individuals tends to harmonize and humanize
mankind, to lift them above debasing pleasures, and to foster the finer
social feelings by promoting the higher social enjoyments.

_Tomes._ Yes; it makes Mrs. A. snub Mrs. B. because the B.-bonnet is
within a hair's breadth's less danger of falling down her back, or
is decorated with lace made by a poor bonnetless girl in one town of
Europe, at a time when fashion has declared that it should bloom with
flowers made by a poor shoeless girl in another: it instigates Mrs. C.
to make a friendly call on Mrs. D. for the purpose of exulting over
the inferior style in which her house is furnished: it tempts F. to
overreach his business friend, or to embezzle his employer's money, that
he may live in a house with a brown-stone front and give great dinners
twice a month: and it sustains G. in his own eyes as he sits at F.'s
table stimulating digestion by inward sneers at the vulgar fashion of
the new man's plate or the awkwardness of his attendants: and perhaps,
worse than all, it tempts H. to exhibit his pictures, and Mrs. I. to
exhibit herself, "for the benefit of our charitable institutions," in
order that the one may read fulsome eulogies of his munificence and his
taste, and the other see a critical catalogue of the beauties of her
person and her costume in all the daily papers. Such are the social
benefits of what you call the desire to be a part of the world's beauty.

_Grey._ Far from it! They have no relation to each other. You mistake
the occasion for the cause, the means for the motive. Your alphabet is
in fault. Such a set of vain, frivolous, dishonest, mean, hypocritical,
and insufferably vulgar letters would be turned out of any respectable,
well-bred spelling-book. Vanity, frivolity, dishonesty, meanness,
hypocrisy, and vulgarity can be exhibited in all the affairs of life,
not excepting those whose proper office is to sweeten and to beautify
it; but it does not need all your logical faculty to discover that
there is not, therefore, any connection between a pretty bonnet, or an
elegantly furnished house, and the disposition to snub and sneer at
those who are without them,--between dishonesty and the desire to live
handsomely and hospitably,--between a cultivated taste for the fine arts
and hypocrisy or a vulgar desire for notoriety and consequence.

_Tomes._ Perhaps so. But they are very often in each other's company.

_Grey._ And then, of course, the evil taints the reputation of the good,
even with thinking men like you; and how much more with those who have
your prejudices without your sense! But note well that they are not
oftener in company--these tastes and vices--than honesty and meanness,
good-nature and clownishness, sincerity and brutality, hospitality and
debauchery, chastity and the absence of that virtue without which all
others are as nothing. And let me remind you, by the way, that we of
this age and generation make it our business, in fact, feel it our duty,
to violate the injunction of the English Catechism, and get _out_ of
that state of life in which we find ourselves, into a better, as soon
as possible. And even old Mother Church does not insist upon content so
strongly as you made her seem to do; she speaks of the state of life to
which her catechumen "shall" be, not "has" been, called; and thus
makes it possible for a dean to resolve to be content with a bishopric,
and a bishop to muse upon the complete satisfaction with which he would
grasp an archbishop's crosier, without forfeiture of orthodoxy.

Tomes would doubtless have replied; but at this point the attention of
the disputants was attracted by the rustle of silk; there was a light,
quick tap at the glass-door which separated the den of books from the
middle room, and before an answer could be given the emblazoned valves
opened partly, and a sweet, decided voice asked, "Please, may we come
in? or" (and the speaker opened the doors wide) "are you and Mr. Tomes
so absorbed in construing a sentence in a book that nobody ever reads,
that ladies must give place to lexicons?"

"Enter, of course," cried Grey, "and save me from annihilation by
Tomes's next reply, and both of us from our joint stupidity."

And so Mrs. Grey entered, and there were salutations, and presentation
of Mr. Tomes to Miss Laura Larches, and introduction to each other
of the same gentleman and Mr. Carleton Key, who attended the ladies.
Abandoning the only four chairs in the room to the others, Mrs. Grey
sank down upon a hassock with a sigh of satisfaction, and was lost for
a moment in the rising swell of silken-crested waves of crinoline.
Emerging in another moment as far as the shoulders, she turned a look of
intelligence and inquiry upon her husband, who said, "When you came in,
Tomes and I were talking about"--

_Mrs. Grey._ Something very important, I've no doubt; but we've your
own confession that you were stupid, and I've no notion of permitting
a relapse. You were doubtless discussing your favorite subject, Dante,
who, as far as I can discover, was more a politician than a poet, and
went to his _Inferno_ only for the pleasure of sending the opposite
party there, and quartering them according to his notion of their
deserts. But he and they are dead and buried long ago. Let them rest.
We should much rather have you tell us whether his poor countrymen
of to-day are to have their liberty when that ugly Emperor beats the
Austrians; for beat them he surely will.

_Grey._ That is a subject of great moment, and one in which I, perhaps,
feel no less interest than you; but did you never think that the
question, whether these thousands of Italians have liberty or even food
to-day, is one of a few months', or, at most, a few years', concern,
while the soul's experience of that one Italian who died more than five
hundred years ago will be a fruitful theme forever?

_Mrs. Grey._ Why, so it will! I never did think of that. And now I'll
not think of it. Here we are just come from a wedding, and before you
ask us how the bride looked, or even what she had on, you begin to talk
to us about that grim old Florentine, who looks like a hard-featured
Scotch woman in her husband's night-cap, and who wrote such a succession
of frightful things! Where is all your interest in Kitty Jones? I've
seen you talk to her by the half-hour, and heard you say she is a
charming woman; and now she marries,--and you not only won't go to the
wedding, but you don't ask a word about it.

_Grey._ You seem to forget, Nelly, that I saw one wedding all through,
and, indeed, bore as prominent a part in it as one of my downtrodden
sex could aspire to; and as the Frenchman said, who went on an English
fox-chase, _"Une fois, c'est assez;_ I am ver' satisfy." The marriage
service I can read in ten minutes whenever I need its solace; rich
morning-dresses are to be seen by scores in the Academy of Music at
every _matinée,_ as garnish to Verdi's music; and as to Miss Kitty
Jones, I am sure that she, like all brides, never looked so ill as she
did to-day. I would do anything in my power to serve her, and would
willingly walk a mile to have half an hour's chat with her; but to-day I
could not serve her, nor could she talk with me; so why should I trouble
myself about the matter? Had I gone, I should only have seen her
flushed and nervous, her poor fresh-caught husband looking foolish and
superfluous, and an uncomfortable crowd of over-dressed, ill-dressed
people, engaged in analyzing her emotions, estimating the value of her
wedding-presents, and criticizing each other's toilettes.

_Mrs.Grey._ You're an unfeeling wretch!

_Grey._ Of course I am. Any woman will break her neck to see two people,
for whom she does not care a hair-pin, stand up, one in white and the
other in black, and mumble a few words that she knows by heart, and then
take position at the end of a room and have "society" paraded up to them
by solemn little corporals with white favors, and then file off to the
rear for rations of Périgord pie and Champagne.

_Tomes._ Well said, Grey! Here's another of the many ways of wasting
life by your embellishment of it.

_Mr. Key._ I don't know precisely what Mr. Tomes means; but as to
ill-dressed people, I'm sure that the set you meet at the Jones's are
the best-dressed people in town; and I never saw in Paris more splendid
toilettes than were there this morning.

_Miss Larches._ Why, to be sure! What can Mr. Grey mean? There was Mrs.
Oakum's gray and silver brocade, and Mrs. Cotton's _point-de-Venice_
mantle, and Miss Prime and Miss Messe and Miss Middlings, who always
dress exquisitely, and Mrs. Shinnurs Sharcke with that superb India
shawl that must have cost two thousand dollars! What could be finer?

_Mrs. Grey._ And then Mrs. Robinson Smith, celebrated as the
best-dressed woman in town. Being a connection of the family, and so a
sort of hostess, she wore no bonnet; and her dress, of the richest _gros
d'Afrique_, had twenty-eight pinked and scalloped flounces, alternately
one of white and three of as many graduated tints of green. So elegant
and distinguished!

_Grey._ Twenty-eight pinked and scalloped flounces of white and
graduated tints of green! With her pale, sodden complexion, she must
have looked like an enormous chicken-salad _mayonnaise._

_Mrs. Grey [after a brief pause]._ Why, so she did! You good-for-nothing
thing, you've spoiled the prettiest dress I ever saw, for me! It was
quite my ideal; and now I never want to see it again.

_Grey._ Your ideal must have been of marvellous beauty, to admit such a
comparison,--and your preference most intelligently based, to be swept
away by it!

_Tomes._ Come, Grey, be fair. You know that merit has no immunity from
ridicule.

_Grey._ True; but no less true that ridicule does no real harm to
merit. If this Mrs. Robinson Crusoe's gown had been truly beautiful, my
ridiculous comparison could not have so entirely disenchanted my wife
with it;--she, mind you, being supposed (for the sake of our argument
only) to be a woman of sense and taste.

_Mrs. Grey._ Accept my profoundest and most grateful curtsy,--on credit.
It's too much trouble to rise and make it; and, to confess the truth, I
can't; my foot has caught in my hoop. Help me, Laura.

_[Disentanglement,--from which the gentlemen avert modest eyes, laughing
the while.]_

_Grey._ I do assure you, Nelly, that, until you leave off that
monstrosity of steel and cordage, your sense and taste, so far as
costume is concerned, must be taken on credit, as well as your curtsies.

_Mrs. Grey._ Leave off my hoop? Would you have me look like a
fright?--as slinky as if I had been drawn through a key-hole?

_Miss Larches._ Leave off her hoop?

_Mr. Key._ Be seen without a hoop? Why, what a guy a woman would look
without a hoop! I suppose they do take them off at certain times, but
then they are not visible to the naked eye.

_Tomes._ Yes, Grey,--why take off her hoop? I don't care, you know, to
have hoops worn. But worn or not worn, what difference does it make?

_Grey_. All against me?--a fair representation of the general feeling
on the momentous subject at this moment, I suppose. But ten years
ago,--that's about a year after I first saw you, and a year before we
were married, you remember, Nelly,--no lady wore a hoop; and had I said
then that you looked like a fright, or, as Mr. Key phrases it, a guy, I
should have belied my own opinion, and, I believe, given you no little
pain.

_Mrs. Grey_. Master Presumption, I'm responsible for none of your
conceited notions; and if I were, it wasn't the fashion then to wear
hoops,--and to be out of the fashion is to be a fright and a guy.

_Miss Larches_. Yes, the fashion is always pretty.

_Grey_. Is it, Miss Larches? Then it must always have been pretty. Let
us see. Look you all here. In this small portfolio is a collection of
prints which exhibits the fashions of France, Italy, and England, in
more or less detail, for eight hundred years back.

_Miss Larches_. Is there? Oh, that's charming! Do let us see them!

_Grey_. With pleasure. But remember that I expect you to admire them
all,--although I tell you that not one in ten of them is endurable, not
one in fifty pretty, not one in a hundred beautiful.

_Miss Larches_. Why, there aren't more than two or three hundred.

_Grey_. About two hundred and fifty; and if you find more than two
that fulfil all the conditions of beauty in costume, you will be more
fortunate than I have been.

_Miss Larches_ [_after a brief Inspection_]. Ah, Mr. Grey, how can you?
Most of these are caricatures.

_Grey_. Nothing of the sort. All veritable costumes, I assure you. Those
from 1750 down, fashion-plates; the others, portraits.

_Mrs. Grey_. True, Laura. I've looked at them many a time, and thought
how fearfully and wonderfully dresses have been made. Not to go back to
those bristling horrors of the Middle Ages and the _renaissance_, look
at this ball-dress of 1810: a night-gown without sleeves, made of two
breadths of pink silk, very low in the neck, and _very_ short in the
skirt.

_Tomes_. And these were our modest grandmothers, of whom we hear so
much! They went rather far in their search after the beautiful.

_Grey_. Say, rather, in their revelation of it. That was, at least, an
honest fashion, and men who married could not well complain that they
had been deceived by concealment. But that tells nothing against the
modesty of our grandmothers. What is modest in dress depends entirely on
what is customary; and there is an immodesty that hides, as well as one
that exposes. Unconsciousness is modesty's triple shelter against shame.
See here, the dissolute Marguerite of Navarre, visible only at head and
hands; the former from the chin upwards, the latter from the knuckles
downwards; and here, _La belle Hamilton_, rightly named, as chaste as
beautiful, and so modest in her carriage that she escaped the breath of
scandal even in the court of Charles II., and yet with a gown (if
gown it can be called) so loose about the bust and arms that the pink
night-gown would blush crimson at it.

_Tomes_. The ladies seem convinced, though puzzled; but that is because
they don't detect your fallacy. You confound the woman and the fashion.
An immodest woman may be modestly dressed; and if it is the fashion to
be so, she most certainly will, unless she is able herself to set a
fashion more suited to her taste. For usually a woman's care of her
costume is in inverse proportion to that she takes of her character.

_The Ladies [having a vague notion that "inverse proportion" means
something horrible'_]. Mr. Tomes!

_Grey_. Don't misapprehend my friend Daniel. On this occasion he has
come to judgment upon a subject of which he knows so little that it is
worse than nothing. I have reason to believe that he has a profound
respect for one of you, and, being a bachelor, such exalted notions of
your sex in general that he would not wantonly misjudge the humblest
individual of it. His remark was but the fruit of such sheer innocence
with regard to your charming sisterhood, that he has yet to learn that
there is not a single member of it, who confesses to less than seventy
years, to whom, even if she is black, deformed, and the meanest hireling
household drudge, her dress, when she is to be seen of men, is not the
object of a watchful solicitude at least next to that which she feels
for her reputation. Among the sharpest of Douglas Jerrold's unmalicious
witticisms was his saying, that Eve ate the apple that she might dress.

_Mrs. Grey_. Eve's daughters--two of them, at least--are inexpressibly
obliged to you for your defence of the sex against the valorous Tomes.
Another time, pray, leave us to our fate. But, Laura, do look here! See
these hideous peaked and horned head-dresses of the fifteenth century.
That one looks like an Old-Dominion coffee-pot with wings. How
frightful! how uncomfortable! how inconvenient! How could the women wear
such things?

_Miss Larches_. Perfectly ridiculous! How could they get into their
carriages with those steeples on their heads? and how they must have
been in the way at the opera!

_Grey_. Miss Larches forgets. These head-dresses, monstrous as they are,
are not exposed to the objection of being inconsistent with the habits
of life of those who wore them, as so many of the fashions of later
periods and of the present day are. There were no such vehicles as
she is thinking of until more than a century after these stupendous
head-dresses were worn, until which time ladies very rarely used even
a covered wagon as a means of locomotion; and these steeple-crowned
ladies, and many generations after them, had passed away before the
performance of the first opera.

_Miss Larches_. No carriages? Why, how did they go to parties? No opera?
What did they do on winter evenings when there were no parties?

_Grey_. They went to parties in the day-time on horseback; and on the
days when there were no parties, of which there were a great many then,
they gave themselves up to a very delightful mode of passing the time,
when it is intelligently practised, known as staying at home.

_Mr. Key_. What a bore!

_Grey_. But don't confine your criticism of head-dresses to the
fifteenth century. Look through the costumes of the three succeeding
centuries, and see how often invention was taxed for artificial
decorations of the head, equally elaborate and hideous. Anything but to
have a head look like a head! anything but to have hair look like hair!
See this lady of 1750, her hair drawn violently back from her forehead
and piled up on a cushion nine inches high. She is plainly one of those
lovely, warm-toned blondes whose hair is of that priceless red that
makes all other tints look poor and sad; and so she defiles its
exquisite texture with grease, and blanches out its wealth of color with
flour. She might have gathered its gleaming waves into a ravishing knot
behind her head; but no, she has four stiff, enormous curls, noisome
with a mingled smell of hot iron, musk, and ambergris, hanging like
rolls of parchment from the top of her cushion to below her ear. O' top
of this elevation is mounted a wreath of gaudy artificial flowers, in
its turn surmounted by four vast plumes, two yellow, one pink, one blue,
from the midst of which shoot up two long feathers, one green and one
red, while behind hangs down a greasy, floury mass gathered at the
end into a club-like handle, which has some fitness for its place, in
suggesting that it should be used to jerk the heap of hair, grease, and
feathers from the head of the unfortunate who sustains it. Just think of
it! that sweet creature must have given up at least two hours of every
day to this disfigurement of her pretty head.

_Tomes_. And I've no doubt she made a sensation in the ball-room or at
court, in spite of all your ridicule, and so attained her purpose.

_Grey_. Certainly she did; for she was so beautiful in person and
alluring in manner, that even that head-dress, and the accompanying
costume with which she was deformed, could not eclipse her charms for
those who had become at all accustomed to the absurd disguise which she
assumed. But it was the woman that was beautiful, not the costume; and
the woman was so beautiful, in spite of the costume, that she was able
to light up even its forbidding features with the reflection of her own
loveliness. There have been countless similar cases since;--there are
some now.

_Mrs. Grey_. Miss Larches, doubtless, appreciates the approving glance
of so severe a censor.

_Grey_. And this head-dress _was_ open to the objection which Miss
Larches brought against that which preceded it three centuries. These
ladies were in each other's way at the opera; and while riding there
in their coaches, they were obliged to sit with their heads out of the
windows.

_Mrs. Grey_. Their carriages must have been of great service when it
rained!--But look at these stomachers, stiff with embroidery and jewels,
and with points that reach half-way from the waist to the ground! See
those enormous ruffs, standing out a quarter of a yard, and curving over
so smoothly to their very edges! What a protection the fear of ruining
those ruffs must have been against children, and--other troublesome
creatures!

_Grey_. It is true, that ruffs and stomachers seem to indicate great
propriety of conduct, including an aversion to children and--other
troublesome creatures; but students of the manners and morals of the
period at which those articles of dress were worn do not find that the
women who wore them differed much in their conduct, at least as to the
other troublesome creatures, from the women who nowadays have revived
one of the most unsightly and absurd traits of the costume of which
ruffs and stomachers formed a part.

_Mrs. Grey_. What can you mean? Our fashion like that frightful rig?
Why, see this portrait of Queen Elizabeth in full dress! What with
stomacher and pointed waist and fardingale, and sticking in here and
sticking out there, and ruffs and cuffs and ouches and jewels and
puckers, she looks like a hideous flying insect with expanded wings,
seen through a microscope,--not at all like a woman.

_Grey_. And her costume is rivalled, if not outdone, by that of her
critic, in the very peculiarity by which she is made to look most unlike
a woman;--the straight line of the waist and the swelling curve below
it, which meet in such a sharp, unmitigated angle. Look at the Venus
yonder,--she is naked to the hips,--and see how utterly these lines
misrepresent those of Nature. You will find no instance of such a
contour as is formed by the meeting of these lines among all living
creatures, except, perhaps, when a turtle thrusts his head and his tail
out of his shell.

_Miss Larches_. But there's a vase with just such an outline, that I
have heard you admire a hundred times.

_Grey_. True, Miss Larches; but a woman is not a vase;--more beautiful
even than this, certainly more precious, perhaps almost as fragile, but
still not a vase; and she shows as little taste in making herself look
like a vase as some potters do in making vases that look like women.

_Mr. Key_. But I thought it was decided that the female figure below the
shoulders should be left to the imagination. Does Mr. Grey propose to
substitute the charming reality of undisguised Nature?

_Grey_. True, we do not attempt to define the female figure below the
waist, at least; but although we may safely veil or even conceal Nature,
we cannot misrepresent or outrage her, except at the cost of utter
loss of beauty. The lines of drapery, or of any article of dress, must
conform to those of that part of the figure which it conceals, or the
effect will be deforming, monstrous.

_Mr. Key._ Does Mr. Grey mean, to say that ladies nowadays' look
monstrous and deformed?

_Grey._ To a certain extent they do. But such is the influence of habit
upon the eye, that we fully apprehend the effect of such incongruity as
that of which I spoke only in the costumes of past generations, or when
there is a very violent, instead of a gradual change in the fashion of
our own day. Look at these full-length portraits of Catherine de Médicis
and the Princess Marguerite, daughter of Francis the First.

_The Ladies._ What frights!

_Mrs. Grey._ No, not both; Marguerite's dress is pretty, in spite of
those horrid sleeves sticking up so above her shoulders.

_Grey._ You are right. Those sleeves, rising above the shoulders--as
high as the ear in Catherine's costume, you will observe--are unsightly
enough to nullify whatever beauty the costume might have in other
points; though in her case they only complete the expression of the
costume, which is a grim, unnatural stiffness. And the reason of the
unsightliness of these sleeves is, that the outline which they present
is directly opposed to that of Nature. No human shoulders bulge upward
into great hemispherical excrescences nine inches high; and the peculiar
sexual characteristic of this part of woman's figure is the gentle
downward curve by which the lines of the shoulder pass into those of the
arm. Our memory that such is the natural configuration of these parts
enters, consciously or unconsciously, into our judgment of this costume,
in which we see that Nature is deliberately departed from; and our
condemnation of it in this particular respect is strengthened by the
perception, at a glance, that great pains have been taken to make its
outlines discordant with those of the part which they conceal. You
qualified your censure of Marguerite's dress partly because, in her
case, the slope of the shoulder is preserved until the very junction of
the arm with the bust, and partly because her bust and waist are defined
by her gown with a tolerably near approach to Nature, instead of being
entirely concealed, as in the case of her sister-in-law, by stiff lines
sloping outward on all sides to the ground, making the remorseless Queen
look like an enormous extinguisher with a woman's head set on it. And
these advantages of form in the Princess's costume are enhanced by
its presentation of a fine contrast of rich color in unbroken masses,
instead of the Queen's black velvet and white satin elaborately
disfigured with embroidery, ermine, lace, and jewels. You were prompt
in your condemnation of the fashion to which your eye had not been
accustomed: now turn to the costume that you wear, and which you are in
a manner compelled to wear; for I am not so visionary as to expect
a woman, or even a man under sixty, to fly directly in the face of
fashion, although her extravagant caprices may be gracefully disregarded
by both sexes and all ages. Here are two fashion-plates of the last
month,--[Footnote: March, 1869.] not magazine caricatures, mind you, or
anything like it,--but from the first _modistes_ in Paris. Look at that
shawled lady, with her back toward us. If you did not know that that is
a shawl, and that the thing which surmounts it is a bonnet, you would
not suspect the figure to be human. See; there is a slightly undulating
slope at an angle of about sixty-five degrees from the crown of the head
to the lowest hem of the skirt, so that the outline is that of a pyramid
slightly rounded at the apex, and nearly as broad across the base as
it is high. What is there of woman in such a figure? And this
evening-dress; it suggests the enchantments in the stories of the Dark
Ages, where knights encounter women who are women to the breasts and
monsters below. From the head to as far as halfway down the waist, this
figure is natural.

_Mr. Key._ Under the circumstances it could hardly be otherwise. _Au
naturel_, I should call it, except for the spice of a few flowers and a
little lace.

_Grey_. But from that point it begins to lose its semblance to a woman's
shape, (as you will see by raising your eyes again to the Venus,) and
after running two or three inches decidedly inward in a straight line,
where it should turn outward with a gentle curve, its outlines break
into a sharp angle, and it expands, with a sudden hyperbolical curve,
into a monstrous and nameless figure that is not only unlike Nature, but
has no relations whatever with Nature. The eye needs no cultivation,
the brain no instruction, to perceive that such an outline cannot be
produced by drapery upon a woman's form. It is clear, at a glance, that
there is an artificial structure underneath that swelling skirt; that a
scaffold, a framework, has been erected to support that dome of silk;
and that the wearer is merely an automatic machine by which it is made
to perambulate. A woman in this rig hangs in her skirts like a clapper
in a bell; and I never meet one without being tempted to take her by the
neck and ring her.

_Mr. Key_. Those belles like ringing well enough, but not exactly of
that kind.

_Grey_. The costume is also faulty in two other most important respects:
it is without pure, decided color of any tint, but is broken into
patches and blotches of various mongrel hues,----

_Mrs. Grey_. Hear the man! that exquisite brocade!

_Grey_.----and whatever effect it might otherwise have had, of form
or color, would be entirely frittered away by the multitudinous and
multiform trimmings with which it is bedizened; and it is without a
girdle of any kind.

_Mrs. Grey_. Oh, sweet Simplicity, hear and reward thy priest and
prophet! What would your Highness have the woman wear?--a white muslin
gown, with a blue sash, and a rose in her hair? That style went out on
the day that Mesdames Shem, Ham, and Japhet left the ark.

_Grey_. And well it might,--for evening-dress, at least No,--my taste,
or, if you will permit me to say it, good taste, craves rich colors, and
ample, flowing lines,--colors which require taste to be shown in their
arrangement and adaptation, and forms which show invention and knowledge
in their design. Your woman who dresses in white, and your man who wears
plain black, are safe from impeachment of their taste, just as people
who say nothing are secure against an exhibition of folly or ignorance.
They are the mutes of costume, and contribute nothing to the chromatic
harmony of the social circle. They succeed in nothing but the avoidance
of positive offence.

_Miss Larches_. Pray, then, Mr. Grey, what--shall--we--do? You have
condemned enough, and told us what is wrong; can't you find in all this
collection a single costume that is positively beautiful? and can't you
tell us what is right, as well as what is wrong?

_Grey_. Both,--and will. The first, at once; the last, if you continue
to desire it. Here are two costumes, quite unlike in composition and
effect, and yet both beautiful;--the first, the fashions of 1811 and
1812 (for the variations, during that time, were so trifling, and in
such unessential particulars, that the costume had but one character, as
you will see by comparing the twenty-four plates for those years); the
second, that worn by this peasant-girl of Normandy. Look first at the
fashion-plates, and see the adaptation of that beautiful gown to all the
purposes for which a gown is intended. How completely it clothes the
entire figure, and with what ease and comfort to the wearer! There is
not a line about it which indicates compression, or one expressive of
that looseness and languishing abandonment that we remarked just now
in the costume of _La belle Hamilton_. The entire person is concealed,
except the tip of one foot, the hands, the head and throat, and just
enough of the bust to confess the existence of its feminine charms,
without exposing them; both limbs and trunk are amply draped; and yet
how plainly it can be seen that there is a well-developed, untortured
woman underneath those tissues! The waist, girdled in at the proper
place, neither just beneath the breasts, as it was a few years before
and after, nor just above the hips, as it has been for many years past,
and as it was three hundred years ago, is of its natural size:--compare
it with the Venus, and then look at those cruel cones, thrust, point
downward, into mounds of silk and velvet, to which women adapted
themselves about 1575, 1750, and 1830, and thence, with little
mitigation, to the present day. How expressive the lines of one figure
are of health, and grace, and bounteous fulness of life! and how poor,
and sickly, and mean, and man-made the other creatures seem! See, too,
in the former, that all the wearer's limbs are as free as air; she can
even clasp her hands, with arms at full-length, above her head. Queen
Bess, yonder, could do many things, but she could not do that; neither
could your great-great-grandmothers, ladies, if they were people of the
least pretensions to fashion, nor your mothers. Can you?

[_Mrs. Grey, presuming upon her demi-toilette, with a look of arch
defiance, lifts her hands quickly up above her head; but before they
have approached each other, there is a sharp sound, as of rending and
snapping; and, with a sudden flush and a little scream, she subsides
into her crinoline_.]

_Miss Larches_. Why, you foolish creature! you might have known you
couldn't.

_Mr. Key_. A most ignominious failure! Mr. Grey, you had better announce
a course of lectures on costume, with illustrations from the life. Your
subjects will cost you nothing.

_Grey_. Except for silk- and mantua-making. I have no doubt that I could
make such a course useful, and Mrs. Grey has shown that she could make
it amusing. But we can get on very well as we are. Observe this figure
again. Its chief beauty is, that the gown has, or seems to have, _no
form of its own_; it adapts itself to the person, and, while that is
entirely concealed, falls round it in lines of exquisite grace and
softness, upon which the eye rests with untiring pleasure, and which,
upon every movement of the wearer, must change only for others also
beautiful. Notice also, that, although the gown forms an ample drapery,
it yet follows the contour of the figure sufficiently to taper
gracefully to the feet at the front, where it touches the floor lightly,
and presents, as it should, the narrowest diameter of the whole
figure,--not, contrary to Nature, (I beg pardon of your _modistes_,
ladies,) the widest.

_Tomes_. You needn't apologize so ceremoniously to the ladies; for
you've involved yourself in a flagrant contradiction. You said that
these two costumes were equally beautiful; and here's the lady of 1812
with her dress all clinging in little wrinkles round her feet, while the
peasant-girl's frock is wider at the bottom than it is anywhere else.

_Grey_. A most profound and logical objection, 0 Daniel! which in due
time shall be considered. But I am not now to be diverted from two other
very important elements of the beauty of these costumes of 1811 and
1812. They are in one or two, or, at most, three colors,--the tissues of
the gowns, the outer garments, (when they are worn,) and the bonnets or
head-dresses being of one unbroken tint; and they are almost entirely
free from trimming, which appears only upon the principal seams and the
edges of the garments, and then in very moderate quantity, though of
rich quality.

_Miss Larches_. Why, so it is! I should not have noticed that.

_Grey_. You did not notice the lack of it, because it is not required to
make the dress complete or give it character. It is only the presence
of trimming that attracts attention; its absence is never felt in
a well-designed costume.--Now turn to my pretty peasant-girl, who,
although she is not in full holiday-costume, is unmistakably "dressed,"
as ladies call it; for we see that she is going to some slight
merry-making, as she carries in her hands the shoes which are to cover
those stockingless feet. She, too, is entirely at her ease and
unconscious of her costume, except for a shy suspicion that it becomes
her, and she, it. Her waist is of its natural size and in its proper
place. Her shoulders are covered, and her arms have free play; and
although her bodice is cut rather low, the rising chemise and the
falling kerchief redeem it from all objection on that score.

_Tomes_. But how about the length, or rather the shortness, of that
skirt? It seems to me to cry _excelsior_ to the pink night-gown.

_Grey_. You are implacable as to this poor girl's petticoats. Don't you
see that her arms are bare? and yet you make no objection. Now, a woman
has legs as well as arms; and why, if it be the custom, should not one
be seen as well as the other? That girl's grandmothers, to the tenth
degree of greatness, wore skirts of just that length from their
childhood to their dying day; and why should not she? She would as soon
think of hiding her nose as her ankle; and why should she not? Besides,
as you will see, her gown is not shorter than those our grandmothers
wore, or our mothers, twenty-eight or thirty years ago; and that they
were modest, which of us will deny? And now as to the width of these
skirts. You will see that they reach only a little below the calf of
the leg, and therefore it is both impossible and undesirable that
they should fall so closely round the figure as in the case of the
fashionable gowns of 1812 that we were just examining. And besides, in
the case of our peasant-girl, we see that the lines of her gown are
determined by the outline of her figure; and we also see her feet and
the lower part of her legs. Her humanity is not extinguished, her means
of locomotion are visible;--but in looking at a lady nowadays, we see
nothing of the kind; from the waist down, she is a puzzle of silk and
conic sections, a marvellous machine that moves in a mysterious way.
See, again, how beautiful in color this peasant's costume is. The gown
of a rich red, not glaring, but yet positive and pure; the apron, blue;
she is a brunette, and so has wisely chosen to have that enviable
little shawl or kerchief, the ends of which reach but just below her
waist, of yellow; while that high head-dress, quaint and graceful, that
serves her for a bonnet, and in fact is one, is of tender green.

_Miss Larches_. She is not troubled with trimming.

_Grey_. Not troubled with it; but she has it just where it should
be,--on the bottom of her gown, which is edged with black,--in the
flowered border of her kerchief,--on the edge of her bonnet, where there
is a narrow line of yellow,--and in the lace or muslin ruffle of the
cape which falls from it If she were a queen, or the wife of a Russian
prince who owned thousands of girls like her, she might have trimming of
greater cost and beauty, but not a shred more without deterioration
of her costume, which, if she were court-lady to Eugenie and had the
court-painter to help her, could not be in better taste.

_Mrs. Grey_. But, Stanford, don't you see? (just like a man!) you are
charmed with these women, not with their dresses. These fashion-plates
of fifty years ago are designed by very different hands from those which
produce our niminy-piminy looking things,--by artists plainly; and your
peasant-girl was seized upon by some errant knight of palette and brush,
and painted for her beauty. These women are what you men call fine
creatures. Their limbs are rounded and shapely, their figures full and
lithe; they are what I've heard you say Homer calls Briseïs.

_Grey_. White-armed, deep-bosomed?

_Mrs. Grey_. Yes; and their necks rise from their shoulders like ivory
towers. Any costume will look beautiful on such women. But how are poor,
puny, ill-made women to dress in such fashions? They could not wear
those dresses without exhibiting all those personal defects which our
present fashion conceals. It's all very fine for perfectly beautiful
women to have such fashions; but it's very cruel to those who are not
beautiful. Don't you remember, at Mrs. Clarkson's party, just before we
were married, you, and half a dozen other men just like you, went round
raving about Mrs. Horn, and how elegantly she was dressed? and when I
saw her, I found she had on only a plain pale-blue silk dress, that
couldn't have cost a penny more than twelve shillings a yard, and not a
thing beside. All the women were turning up their noses at her.

_Grey_. Because all the men were ready to bend down their heads to her?

_Mrs. Grey_. Yes.--No.--The upshot of it was, that the woman had the
figure and complexion of Hebe, and this dress showed it and set it off;
but the dress was nothing particular in itself.

_Grey_. That is, I suppose, it was not particularly fanciful or
costly;--no detriment to its beauty. But as to the beauty of these
costumes depending on the beauty of the women who wear them, and their
unsuitableness to the needs of women who are without beauty,--It is
undeniably true, that, to be beautiful in any costume, a woman must
be--beautiful. This may be very cruel, but there is no help for it.
Color may enhance the beauty of complexion, as in the case of Mrs.
Horn's blue dress; but as to form and material, the most elaborate, the
most costly, even the most beautiful costume ever devised, cannot make
the woman that wears it be other than she is, or seem so, except to
people who do not look at her, but at her clothes. What did all the ugly
women in 1811 and '12 do? and what have all the ugly peasant-girls in
Normandy done for hundreds of years past? Do you suppose that their
beautiful costume made them look any uglier than ugly women do now and
here? Not a whit. Ugliness may be covered, but it cannot be concealed.
And does the fashion of our day so kindly veil the personal defects in
the interest of which you plead? At parties I have thought differently,
and sorrowed for the owners of arms and busts and shoulders that
inexorable fashion condemns on such occasions to an exposure which, to
say the least, is in many cases needless. No,--by flying in the face of
fashion, a woman attracts attention to her person, which can be done
with impunity only by the beautiful; but do you not see that an ugly
woman, by conforming to fashion, obtains no advantage over other women,
ugly or beautiful, who also conform to it? and consequently, that a set
fashion for all rigidly preserves the contrasts of unequally developed
Nature? If there were no fashion to which all felt that they must
conform at peril of singularity, then, indeed, there would be some help
for the unfortunate; for each individual might adopt a costume suited to
his or her peculiarities of person. Yet, even then, there could only be
a mitigation or humoring of blemishes, not a remedy for them. There is
no way of making deformity or imperfection beautiful.

_Mrs. Grey_. But, Stanford, there are times when----

_Grey_. There are no times when woman's figure has not the charm
of womanhood, unless she attempts to improve it by some monstrous
contrivance of her own; no times when good taste and womanly tact cannot
so drape it that it will possess some attraction peculiar to her sex.
And were it not so, how irrational, how wrongful is it to extinguish, I
will not say the beauty, but, in part, the very humanity of all women,
at all times, for the sake of hiding for some women the sign of their
perfected womanhood at certain times!

_Mr. Key_. It certainly results in most astonishing surprises. In fact,
I was quite stultified the other day, when Mrs. Novamater, who only a
week before had been out yachting with me----

_Mrs. Grey_. Declined going again. That was not strange. I fear that you
did not take good care of her.

_Mr. Key_. I was not as tender of her as I might have been; but it was
her fault, or that of my ignorance,--not really mine. But, Mr. Grey, why
can't you boil all this talk down into an essay, or a paper, as you call
it, for the "Oceanic"? You promised Miss Larches something of the sort
just now. _Miss Larches_. Yes, Mr. Grey, do let us have it. We ladies
would so like to have some masculine rules to dress by!

_Tomes_. Don't confine your endeavors to one sex. Think what an
achievement it would be to teach me how to dress!

_Grey_. Unanimous, even in your irony! for I see that Mrs. Grey looks
quizzical expectation. Well, I will. In fact, I'm as well prepared as
a man whose health is drunk at a dinner given to him, and who is
unexpectedly called upon for a speech,--or as Rosina, when Figaro begs
for _un biglietio_ to Almaviva. [_Opens a drawer_.] _Eccolo quà_! Here
is something not long enough or elaborate enough to be called an essay
nowadays, though it might have borne the name in Bacon's time. I will
read it to you. I call it



THE RUDIMENTS OF DRESS.

To dress the body is to put it into a right, proper, and becoming
external condition. Comfort and decency are to be sought first in dress;
next, fitness to the person and the condition of the wearer; last,
beauty of form and color, and richness of material. But the last object
is usually made the first, and thus all are perilled and often lost; for
that which is not comfortable or decent or suitable cannot be completely
beautiful. The two chief requisites of dress are easily attained. Only a
sufficiency of suitable covering is necessary to them; and this varies
according to climate and custom. The Hottentot has them both in his
strip of cloth; the Esquimau, in his double case of skins over all
except face and fingers;--the most elegant Parisian, the most prudish
Shakeress, has no more.

The two principal objects of covering the body being so easily
attainable, the others are immediately, almost simultaneously sought;
and dress rises at the outset into one of those mixed arts which seek to
combine the useful and the beautiful, and which thus hold a middle place
between mechanic art and fine art. But of these mixed arts, dress is the
lowest and the least important: the lowest, because perfection in it is
most easily arrived at,--being within the reach of persons whose minds
are uninformed and frivolous, whose souls are sensual and grovelling,
and whose taste has little culture,--as in the case of many American,
and more French women, who have had a brief experience of metropolitan
life: the least important, because it has no intellectual or even
emotional significance, and is thus without the slightest aesthetic
purpose, having for its end (as an art) only the transient, sensuous
gratification of an individual, or, at most, of the comparatively few
persons by whom he may be seen in the course of not more than a single
day; for every renovation of the dress is, in its kind, a new work of
Art. As men emerge from the savage state and acquire mechanic skill, the
distaff, the spindle, and the loom produce the earliest fruits of their
advancement, and dress is the first decorative art in which they reach
perfection. Indeed, it may be doubted whether the most beautiful
articles of clothing, the most tasteful and comfortable costumes, have
not been produced by people who are classed as barbarous, or, at best,
as half-civilized. What fabrics surpass the shawls of India in tint or
texture? What garment is more graceful or more serviceable than the
Mexican _poncho_, or the Peruvian _rebozo_? What Frenchman is so
comfortably or so beautifully dressed as a wealthy unsophisticated
Turk? There seems to be an instinct about dress, which, joined to the
diffusion of wealth and the reduced price of all textile fabrics, has
caused it to be no longer any criterion of culture, social position,
breeding, or even taste, except as regards itself.

Dress has, however, some importance in its relations to society and to
the individual. It is always indicative of the temper of the time. This
is notably true of the wanton ease of the costume of Charles the Second,
and the meretricious artificiality of that of the middle of the last
century. And in the deliberate double-skirted costliness of the female
fashions of our own day,--fashions not intended for courts or wealthy
aristocracies, but for everybody,--contrasted as they are with the
sober-hued and unpretending habits which all men wear, and in which
little more is sought than comfort and convenience, we have an
expression of the laborious and the lavish spirit of the times,--the
right hand gathering with painful, unremitting toil, the left scattering
with splendid recklessness. Dress has an appreciable effect upon the
mental condition of individuals, whatever their gravity or intelligence.
There are few men not far advanced in years, and still fewer women, who
do not feel more confidence in themselves, perhaps more self-respect,
for the consciousness of being well-dressed, or, rather, when the
knowledge that they are well-dressed relieves them of all consciousness
upon the subject. To decide upon the costume which can secure this
serene self-satisfaction is impossible. For to excellence in dress
there are positive and relative conditions. A man cannot be positively
well-dressed, whose costume does not suit the peculiarities of
his person and position,--or relatively, whose exterior does not
sufficiently conform to the fashion of his day (unless that should be
very monstrous and ridiculous) to escape remark for eccentricity. The
question is, therefore, complicated with the consideration of individual
peculiarities and the fashion of the day, which are unknown and variable
elements. But maxims of general application can be laid down, to which
both fashions and individuals must conform at peril consequent upon
violation of the laws of reason and beauty.

The comfort and decency needful to dress--the Esquimau's double case of
skins and the Hottentot's _cumberbund_--need not be insisted on; for
maxims are not made for idiots. But dress should not only secure these
points, but seem to secure them; for, as to others than the wearer of a
dress, what difference is there between shivering and seeming to shiver,
sweltering and seeming to swelter?

Convenience, which is to be distinguished from mere bodily comfort,
is the next essential of becoming dress. A man should not go
partridge-shooting in a Spanish cloak; a woman should not enter an
omnibus, that must carry twelve inside, with her skirts so expanded by
steel ribs that the vehicle can comfortably hold but four of her,--or do
the honors of a table in hanging-sleeves that threaten destruction to
cups and saucers, and take toll of gravy from every dish that passes
them. Hoops, borrowed by bankrupt invention from a bygone age to satisfy
craving fickleness, suited the habits of their first wearers, who would
as soon have swept the streets as driven through them, packed thirteen
to the dozen, in a carriage common to every passenger who could pay six
cents; and hanging-sleeves were fit for women who, instead of serving
others, were served themselves by pages on the knee. No beauty of
form or splendor of material in costume can compensate for manifest
inconvenience to the wearer. It is partly from an intuitive recognition
of this truth, that a gown which opens before seems, and is, more
beautiful than one that opens behind. The lady's maid is invisible.

No dress is tolerable, by good taste, which does not permit, and seem to
permit, the easy performance of any movement proper to the wearer's age
and condition in life. Such a costume openly defies the first law of
the mixed arts,--fitness. Thus, the dress of children should be simple,
loose, and, whatever the condition of their parents, inexpensive. Let
them not, girls or boys, except on rare, formal occasions, be tormented
with the toilette. Give them clean skins, twice a day; and, for the
rest, clothes that will protect them from the weather as they exercise
their inalienable right to roll upon the grass and play in the dirt, and
which it will trouble no one to see torn or soiled. Do this, if you have
a prince's revenue,--unless you would be vulgar. For, although you may
be able to afford to cast jewels into the mire or break the Portland
vase for your amusement, if you do so, you are a Goth. Jewels were
not made for the mire, vases to be broken, or handsome clothes to be
soiled and torn.

Next to convenience is fitness to years and condition in life. A man can
as soon, by taking thought, add a cubit to his stature as a woman take
five years from her appearance by "dressing young." The attempt to make
age look like youth only succeeds in depriving age of its peculiar and
becoming beauty, and leaving it a bloated or a haggard sham.--Conditions
of life have no political recognition, with us, yet they none the
less exist. They are not higher and lower; they are different. The
distinction between them is none the less real, that it is not written
down, and they are not labelled. Reason and taste alike require that
this difference should have outward expression. The abandonment of
distinctive professional costume is associated with a movement of social
progress, and so cannot be arrested; but it is much to be deplored in
its effect upon the beauty, the keeping, and the harmonious contrast of
external life.

Of the absolute beauty of dress form is the most important element, as
it is of all arts which appeal to the eye. The lines of costume should,
in every part, conform to those of Nature, or be in harmony with them.
"Papa," said a little boy, who saw his father for the first time in
complete walking-costume, "what a high hat! Does your head go up to the
top of it?" The question touched the cardinal point of form in costume.
Unbroken, flowing lines are essential to the beauty of dress; and fixed
angles are monstrous, except where Nature has placed them, at the
junction of the limbs with the trunk. The general outlines of the figure
should be indicated; and no long garment which flows from the shoulders
downward is complete without a girdle.

[Footnote: _Mr. Grey_ [_in parenthesis, and by way of illustration_].
The fashion for ladies' full dress during several years, and but
recently abandoned, with its straight line cutting pitilessly across the
rounded forms of the shoulders and bust, and making women seem painfully
squeezed upward out of their gowns,--its _berthe_, concealing both the
union of the arms with the trunk and the flowing lines of that part of
the person, and adding another discordant straight line (its lower edge)
to the costume,--its long, ungirdled waist, wrought into peaks before
and behind, and its gathered swell below, is an instance in point, of
utter disregard of Nature and deliberate violation of harmony, and the
consequent attainment of discord and absurdity in every particular.
It is rivalled only by the dress-coat, which, with quite unimportant
variations, has been worn by gentlemen for fifty years. The collar of
this, when stiff and high, quite equals the _berthe_ in absurdity and
ugliness; and the useless skirt is the converse in monstrosity to the
hooped petticoat.]

As to distinctive forms of costume for the sexes, long robes, concealing
the person from the waist to considerably below the knee, are required
by the female figure, if only to veil certain inherent defects,--if
those peculiarities may be called defects, which adapt it to its proper
functions and do not diminish its sexual attractiveness. Woman's figure
having its centre of gravity low, its breadth at the hip great, and,
from the smallness of her feet, its base narrow, her natural movement in
a costume which does not conceal the action of the hip and knee-joints
is unavoidably awkward, though none the less attractive to the eye of
the other sex. [Footnote: For instance, the movements of ballet-dancers,
except the very artificial ones of the feet and hands.]

In color, the point of next importance, no fine effects of costume are
to be attained without broad masses of pure and positive tints. These,
however, may be enlivened with condimental garniture of broken and
combined colors. But dresses striped, or, yet worse, plaided or
checkered, are atrocious violations of good taste; indeed, party-colored
costumes are worthy only of the fools and harlequins to whose official
habits they were once set apart. The three primary, and the three
secondary colors, red, yellow, and blue, orange, green, and purple,
(though not in their highest intensity,) afford the best hues for
costume, and are inexhaustible in their beautiful combinations.
White and black have, in themselves, no costumal character; but they may
be effectively used in combination with other colors. The various tints
of so-called brown, that we find in Nature, may be employed with fine
effect; but other colors, curiously sought out and without distinctive
hue, have little beauty in themselves; and any richness of appearance
which they may present is almost always due to the fabric to which they
are imparted. Colors have harmonies and discords, like sounds, which
must be carefully observed in composing a costume. Perception of these
cannot be taught, more than perception of harmony in music; but, if
possessed, it may be cultivated.

Extrinsic ornament or trimming should be avoided, except to indicate
completeness, as at a hem,--or to blend forms and colors, as soft lace
at the throat or wrists. The essential beauty of costume is in its
fitness, form, and color; and the effect of this beauty may be entirely
frittered away by trimmings. These, however costly, are in themselves
mere petty accessories to dress; and the use of them, except to define
its chief terminal outlines, or soften their infringement upon the
flesh, is a confession of weakness in the main points of the costume,
and an indication of a depraved and trivial taste. When used, they
should have beauty in themselves, which is attainable only by a clearly
marked design. Thus, the exquisite delicacy of fabric in some kinds of
lace does not compensate for the blotchy confusion of the shapeless
flower-patterns worked upon it. Not that lace or any other ornamental
fabric should imitate exactly the forms of flowers or other natural
objects, but that the conventional forms should be beautiful in
themselves and clearly traced in the pattern.--Akin to trimmings are all
other appendages to dress,--jewels, or humbler articles; and as every
part of dress should have a function, and fulfil it, and seem to do so,
and should not seem to do that which it does not, these should never
be worn unless they serve a useful purpose,--as a brooch, a button,
a chain, a signet or guard ring,--or have significance,--as a
wedding-ring, an epaulet, or an order. [Footnote: Thus, it is the office
of a bonnet or a hat to protect the head and face; and so a sun-shade
carried by the wearer of a bonnet is a confession that the bonnet is
a worthless thing, worn only for show: but an umbrella is no such
confession; because it is not the office of the hat or bonnet to shelter
the whole person from sun or rain.] But the brooch and the button must
fasten, the chain suspend, the ring bear a device, or they sink into
pretentious, vulgar shams. And there must be keeping between these
articles and their offices. To use, for instance, a massive golden, or,
worse, gilded chain to support a cheap silver watch is to reverse the
order of reason and good taste.

The human head is the most beautiful object in Nature. It needs a
covering at certain times; but to decorate it is superfluous; and any
decoration, whether of flowers, or jewels, or the hair itself, that
distorts its form or is in discord with its outlines, is an abomination.

Perfumes are hardly a part of dress; yet, as an addition to it often
made, they merit censure, with slight exception, as deliberate
contrivances to attract attention to the person, by appealing to the
lowest and most sensuous of the senses. Next to no perfume at all, a
faint odor of roses, or of lavender, obtained by scattering the leaves
of those plants in clothes-presses, or of the very best Cologne-water,
is most pleasant.

In its general expression, dress should be cheerful and enlivening, but,
at least in the case of adults, not inconsistent with thoughtful
earnestness. There is a radical and absurd incongruity between the real
condition and the outward seeming of a man or woman who knows what life
is, and purposes to discharge its duties, enjoy its joys, and bear its
sorrows, and who is clad in a trivial, grotesque, or extravagant
costume.--These, then, are the elementary requisites of dress: that it
be comfortable and decent, convenient and suitable, beautiful in form
and color, simple, genuine, harmonious with Nature and itself.

       *       *       *       *       *

_Mrs. Grey_. All very fine, and, doubtless, very true, as well as
sententious and profound. But hark you, Mr. Wiseman, to something not
dreamt of in your philosophy! We women dress, not to be simple, genuine,
and harmonious, or even to please you men, but to brave each other's
criticism; and so, when the time comes to get our Fall things, Laura and
I will go and ask what is the fashion, and wear what is the fashion, in
spite of you and your rudiments and elements.

_Grey_. I expected nothing else; and, indeed, I am not sure that in your
present circumstances I should desire you to do otherwise, or, at most,
to deviate more than slightly from the prevailing mode toward such
remote points as simplicity, genuineness, and harmony. But if you were
to set the fashion instead of following it, I should hope for better
things.

_Mrs. Grey_. Fall things?

_Tomes_. But society has little to hope for from you, who would brand
callings and conditions with a distinctive costume. That was a part of
the essay that surprised me much. For the mere sake of a picturesque
variety, would you perpetuate the degradation of labor, the segregation
of professions, and set up again one of the social barriers between man
and man? Your doctrine is fitter for Hindostan than for America. This
uniformity of costume, of which you complain, is the great outward and
visible sign of the present political, and future social, equality of
the race.

_Grey_. You forget that the essay expressly recognizes, not only the
connection between social progress and the abandonment of distinction
in professional costume, but admits, perhaps somewhat hastily, that it
cannot be arrested, and deplores it only on the score of the beauty and
fitness of external life. If we must give up social progress or variety
of costume, who could doubt which to choose? But I do not hesitate to
assert that this uniform phase of costume is not a logical consequence
of social advancement, that it is the result of vanity and petty pride,
and in its spirit at variance with the very doctrine of equality,
irrespective of occupation or condition, from which it seems to spring.
For the carpenter, the smith, the physician, the lawyer, who, when not
engaged in his calling, makes it a point not to be known as belonging to
it, contemns it and puts it to open shame; and so this endeavor of all
men to dress on every possible occasion in a uniform style unsuited to
labor, so far from elevating labor, degrades it, and demoralizes the
laborer. This is exemplified every day, and especially on Sunday, when
nine-tenths of our population do all in their power, at cost of cash
and stretch of credit, at sacrifice of future comfort and present
self-respect and peace of mind, to look as unlike their real selves On
other days as possible. Our very maid-servants, who were brought up
shoeless, stockingless, and bonnetless, and who work day and night for
a few dollars a month, spend those dollars in providing themselves with
hoops, flounced silk dresses, and variegated bonnets for Sunday wearing.

_Tomes_. Do you grudge the poor creatures their holiday and their
holiday-dress?

_Grey_. Far from it! Let them, let us all, have more holidays, and
holiday-dresses as beautiful as may be. But I cannot see why a
holiday-dress should be so entirely unlike the dress they wear on other
days. I have a respect as well as an admiration for the white-capped,
bonnetless head of the French maid, which I cannot feel for my own
wife's nurse, when I meet her flaunting along the streets on Sunday
afternoon in a bonnet which is a cheap and vulgar imitation of that
which my wife wears, and really like it only in affording no protection
to her head, and requiring huge pins to keep it in the place where
a bonnet is least required. I have seen a farmer, whose worth,
intelligence, and manly dignity found fitting expression in the dress
that he daily wore, sacrifice this harmonious outward seeming in an
hour, and sink into insignificance, if not vulgarity, by putting on a
dress-coat and a shiny stove-pipe hat to go to meeting or to "York." A
dress-coat and a fashionable hat are such hideous habits in themselves,
that he must be unmistakably a man bred to wearing them, and on whom
they sit easily, if not a well-looking and distinguished man, who can
don them with impunity, especially if we have been accustomed to see him
in a less exacting costume.

_Mr. Key_. The very reason why every man will, at sacrifice of his
comfort and his last five dollars, exercise his right to wear them
whenever he can do so. But your idea of a beautiful costume, Mr. Grey,
seems to be a blue, red, or yellow bag, or bolster-case, drawn over the
head, mouth downwards, with a hole in the middle of the bottom for the
neck and two at the corners for the arms, and bound about the waist with
a cord; for I observe that you insist upon a girdle.

_Grey_. I don't scout your pattern so much as you probably expected.
Costumes worse in every respect have been often worn.--And the girdle?
Is it not, in female dress, at least, the most charming accessory of
costume? that which most defines the peculiar beauties of woman's form?
that to which the tenderest associations cling? Its knot has ever had
a sweet significance that makes it sacred. What token could a lover
receive that he would prize so dearly as the girdle whose office he has
so often envied? "That," cries Waller,--

  "That which her slender waist confin'd
  Shall now my joyful temples bind.

         *       *       *       *       *

  Give me but what this ribbon bound,
  Take all the rest the sun goes round."

Have women taste? and can they put off this cestus with which the least
attractive of them puts on some of Venus's beauty? Have they sentiment?
and can they discard so true a type of their tender power that its mere
lengthening makes every man their servant?

_Tomes_. Your bringing up the poets to your aid reminds me that you have
the greatest of them against you, as to the importance of richness in
dress. What do you say to Shakespeare's "Costly thy habit as thy purse
can buy, but not expressed in fancy"?

_Grey_. That it is often quoted as Shakespeare's advice in dress by
people who know nothing else that he wrote, and who would have his
support for their extravagance, when, in fact, we do not know what
Shakespeare would have thought upon the subject, had he lived now. It is
the advice of a worldly-minded old courtier to his son, given as a mere
prudential maxim, at a time when, to make an impression and get on at
court, a man had need to be richly dressed. That need has entirely
passed away.

_Miss Larches_. But, Mr. Grey, I remember your finding fault with
the powder on the head-dress of that _marquise_ costume, because it
concealed the red hair of the wearer. In such a case I should consider
powder a blessing. Do you really admire red hair?

_Grey_. When it is beautiful, I do, and prefer it to that of any other
tint. I don't mean golden hair, or flaxen, or yellow, but red,--the
color of dark red amber, or, nearer yet, of freshly cut copper. There is
ugly red hair, as there is ugly hair of black and brown, and every other
hue. It is not the mere name of the color of the hair that makes it
beautiful or not, but its tint and texture. I have seen black hair that
was hideous to the sight and repulsive to the touch,--other, also black,
that charmed the eyes and wooed the fingers. Fashion has asserted
herself even in this particular. There have been times when the really
fortunate possessor of such brown tresses as Miss Larches's would have
been deemed unfortunate. No troubadour would have sung her praises; or
if he did, he would either have left her hair unpraised, or else lied
and called it golden, meaning red, as we know by the illuminated books
of the Middle Ages. Had she lived in Venice, that great school of color,
two or three hundred years ago, in the days of Titian and Giorgione, its
greatest masters, she would probably have sat upon a balcony with her
locks drawn through a crownless broad-brimmed hat, and covered with dye,
to remove some of their rich chestnut hue, and substitute a reddish
tinge;--just as this lady is represented as doing in this Venetian book
of costumes of that date.

_Key_. Oh that two little nephews of mine, that the boys call Carroty
Bill and Brickdust Ben, were here! How these comfortable words would
edify them!

_Grey_. I'm afraid not, if they understood me, or the poets, who, as
well as the painters, are with me, Horace's Pyrrha had red hair,--

  "Cui flavam religas comam
  Simplex munditiis?"

which, if Tomes will not be severely critical, I will translate,--

  "For whom bind'st back thy amber hair
  In neat simplicity?"

_Mrs. Grey_. The poets are always raving about neat simplicity, or
something else that is not the fashion. I suppose they sustain you in
your condemnation of perfumes, too.

_Tomes_. There I'm with Grey,--and the poets, too, I think.

_Mrs. Grey_. What say you, Mr. Key?

_Tomes_. At least, Grey, [_turning to him_,] Plautus says, "_Mulier
recte olet ubi nihil olet_" which you may translate for the ladies, if
you choose. I always distrust a woman steeped in perfumes upon the very
point as to which she seeks to impress me favorably.

_Grey_ [_as if to himself and Tomes_]--

  "Still to be powder'd, still perfum'd,
  Lady, it is to be presum'd,
  Though Art's hid causes are not found,
  All is not sweet, all is not sound."

_Mrs. Grey_. What is that you are having to yourselves, there?

_Grey_. Only a verse or two _à-propos_ from rare Ben.

_Mrs. Grey_. What do poets know about dress, even when they are
poetesses? Look at your friend, the authoress of the "Willow Wreath."
What a spook that woman is! Where does she get those dresses? I've often
wondered--

       *       *       *       *       *

Here the glass door opened, and a neat, fresh-looking maid-servant said,
"Please, Ma'am, dinner is served."

_Grey_. Dinner! Have we been talking here two mortal hours? You'll
all stop, of course: don't think of declining. Nelly blushes, yonder,
doubtful, on "hospitable thoughts intent," I don't believe "our general
mother," though she had Eden for her larder, heard Adam announce the
Archangel's unexpected visit about dinner-time without a momentary qualm
as to whether the peaches would go round twice. There'll be enough for
Miss Larches and you, Nelly; and we gentlemen will beam smiles upon you
as we mince our modest share. Let us go in. Mr. Key, will you commit
yourself to Mrs. Grey? Miss Larches, will you lay aside your bonnet? Oh,
it's off already! One can't see, unless one stands behind you; and
I prefer the front view. Pray, take my arm. And, Tomes, keep at a
respectful distance in the rear, for the safety of Miss Larches's
skirts, or she will be for excluding you, if we should have a talk about
another phase of Daily Beauty, or stay away herself; and neither of you
could be spared.



THE ARTIST-PRISONER.

  Here, in this vacant cell of mine,
  I picture and paint my Apennine.

  In spite of walls and gyvéd wrist,
  I gather my gold and amethyst.

  The muffled footsteps' ebb and swell,
  Immutable tramp of sentinel,

  The clenchéd lip, the gaze of doom,
  The hollow-resounding dungeon-gloom,

  All fade and cease, as, mass and line,
  I shadow the sweep of Apennine,

  And from my olive palette take
  The marvellous pigments, flake by flake.

  With azure, pearl, and silver white,
  The purple of bloom and malachite,

  Ceiling, wall, and iron door,
  When the grim guard goes, I picture o'er.

  E'en where his shadow falls athwart
  The sunlight of noon, I've a glory wrought,--

  Have shaped the gloom and golden shine
  To image my gleaming Apennine.

  No cruel Alpine heights are there,
  Dividing the depths of pallid air;

  But sea-blue liftings, far and fine,
  With driftings of pearl and coralline;

  And domes of marble, every one
  All ambered o'er by setting sun;--

  Yes, marble realms, that, clear and high,
  So float in the purple-azure sky,

  We all have deemed them, o'er and o'er,
  Miraculous isles of madrepore;

  Nor marvel made that hither floods
  Bore wonderful forms of hero-gods.
  Oh, can you see, as spirit sees,
  Yon silvery sheen of olive-trees?

  To me a sound of murmuring doves
  Comes wandering up from olive-groves,

  And lingers near me, while I dwell
  On yonder fair field of asphodel,

  Half-lost in sultry songs of bees,
  As, touching my chaliced anemones,

  I prank their leaves with dusty sheen
  To show where the golden bees have been.

  On granite wall I paint the June
  With emerald grape and wild festoon,--

  Its chestnut-trees with open palms
  Beseeching the sun for daily alms,--

  In sloping valley, veiled with vines,
  A violet path beneath the pines,--

  The way one goes to find old Rome,
  Its far away sign a purple dome.

  But not for me the glittering shrine:
  I worship my God in the Apennine!

  To all save those of artist eyes,
  The listeners to silent symphonies,

  Only a cottage small is mine,
  With poppied pasture, sombre pine.

  But _they_ hear anthems, prayer, and bell,
  And sometimes they hear an organ swell;

  They see what seems--so saintly fair--
  Madonna herself a-wandering there,

  Bearing baby so divine
  They speak of the Child in Palestine!

  Yet I, who threw my palette down
  To fight on the walls of yonder town,

  Know them for wife and baby mine,
  As, weeping, I trace them, line by line,
  In far-off glen of Apennine!



THE MINISTER'S WOOING.

[Continued.]

CHAPTER XXV.

A GUEST AT THE COTTAGE.

Nothing is more striking, in the light and shadow of the human drama,
than to compare the inner life and thoughts of elevated and silent
natures with the thoughts and plans which those by whom they are
surrounded have of and for them. Little thought Mary of any of the
speculations that busied the friendly head of Miss Prissy, or that lay
in the provident forecastings of her prudent mother. When a life into
which all our life-nerves have run is cut suddenly away, there follows,
after the first long bleeding is stanched, an internal paralysis of
certain portions of our nature. It was so with Mary: the thousand fibres
that bind youth and womanhood to earthly love and life were all in her
as still as the grave, and only the spiritual and divine part of her
being was active. Her hopes, desires, and aspirations were all such as
she could have had in greater perfection as a disembodied spirit than as
a mortal woman. The small stake for self which she had invested in
life was gone,--and henceforward all personal matters were to her so
indifferent that she scarce was conscious of a wish in relation to
her own individual happiness. Through the sudden crush of a great
affliction, she was in that state of self-abnegation to which the
mystics brought themselves by fastings and self-imposed penances,--a
state not purely healthy, nor realizing the divine ideal of a perfect
human being made to exist in the relations of human life,--but one of
those exceptional conditions, which, like the hours that often precede
dissolution, seem to impart to the subject of them a peculiar aptitude
for delicate and refined spiritual impressions. We could not afford to
have it always night,--and we must think that the broad, gay morning
light, when meadow-lark and robin and bobolink are singing in chorus
with a thousand insects and the waving of a thousand breezes, is on the
whole the most in accordance with the average wants of those who have
a material life to live and material work to do. But then we reverence
that clear-obscure of midnight, when everything is still and dewy;--then
sing the nightingales, which cannot be heard by day; then shine the
mysterious stars. So when all earthly voices are hushed in the soul, all
earthly lights darkened, music and color float in from a higher sphere.

No veiled nun, with her shrouded forehead and downcast eyes, ever moved
about a convent with a spirit more utterly divided from the world, than
Mary moved about her daily employments. Her care about the details of
life seemed more than ever minute; she was always anticipating
her mother in every direction, and striving by a thousand gentle
preveniences to save her from fatigue and care; there was even a
tenderness about her ministrations, as if the daughter had changed
feelings and places with the mother.

The Doctor, too, felt a change in her manner towards him, which, always
considerate and kind, was now invested with a tender thoughtfulness and
anxious solicitude to serve which often brought tears to his eyes.
All the neighbors who had been in the habit of visiting at the house
received from her, almost daily, in one little form or another, some
proof of her thoughtful remembrance.

She seemed in particular to attach herself to Mrs. Marvyn,--throwing her
care around that fragile and wounded nature, as a generous vine will
sometimes embrace with tender leaves and flowers a dying tree.

But her heart seemed to have yearnings beyond even the circle of home
and friends. She longed for the sorrowful and the afflicted,--she would
go down to the forgotten and the oppressed,--and made herself the
companion of the Doctor's secret walks and explorings among the poor
victims of the slave-ships, and entered with zeal as teacher among his
African catechumens.

Nothing but the limits of bodily strength could confine her zeal to do
and suffer for others; a river of love had suddenly been checked in her
heart, and it needed all these channels to drain off the waters
that must otherwise have drowned her in the suffocating agonies of
repression.

Sometimes, indeed, there would be a returning thrill of the old
wound,--one of those overpowering moments when some turn in life brings
back anew a great anguish. She would find unexpectedly in a book a mark
that he had placed there,--or a turn in conversation would bring back
a tone of his voice,--or she would see on some thoughtless young head
curls just like those which were swaying to and fro down among the
wavering seaweeds,--and then her heart gave one great throb of pain, and
turned for relief to some immediate act of love to some living being.
They who saw her in one of these moments felt a surging of her heart
towards them, a moisture of the eye, a sense of some inexpressible
yearning, and knew not from what pain that love was wrung, nor how that
poor heart was seeking to still its own throbbings in blessing them.

By what name shall we call this beautiful twilight, this night of
the soul, so starry with heavenly mysteries? _Not_ happiness,--but
blessedness. They who have it walk among men "as sorrowful, yet alway
rejoicing,--as poor, yet making many rich,--as having nothing, and yet
possessing all things."

The Doctor, as we have seen, had always that reverential spirit towards
women which accompanies a healthy and great nature; but in the constant
converse which he now held with a beautiful being, from whom every
particle of selfish feeling or mortal weakness seemed sublimed, he
appeared to yield his soul up to her leading with a wondering humility,
as to some fair, miraculous messenger of Heaven. All questions of
internal experience, all delicate shadings of the spiritual history,
with which his pastoral communings in his flock made him conversant, he
brought to her to be resolved with the purest simplicity of trust.

"She is one of the Lord's rarities," he said, one day, to Mrs.
Scudder, "and I find it difficult to maintain the bounds of Christian
faithfulness in talking with her. It is a charm of the Lord's hidden
ones that they know not their own beauty; and God forbid that I should
tempt a creature made so perfect by divine grace to self-exaltation,
or lay my hand unadvisedly, as Uzzah did, upon the ark of God, by my
inconsiderate praises!"

"Well, Doctor," said Miss Prissy, who sat in the corner, sewing on the
dove-colored silk, "I do wish you could come into one of our meetings
and hear those blessed prayers. I don't think you nor anybody else ever
heard anything like 'em."

"I would, indeed, that I might with propriety enjoy the privilege," said
the Doctor.

"Well, I'll tell you what," said Miss Prissy; "next week they're going
to meet here; and I'll leave the door just ajar, and you can hear every
word, just by standing in the entry."

"Thank you, Madam," said the Doctor; "it would certainly be a blessed
privilege, but I cannot persuade myself that such an act would be
consistent with Christian propriety."

"Ah, now do hear that good man!" said Miss Prissy, after he had left the
room; "if he ha'n't got the making of a real gentleman in him, as well
as a real Christian!--though I always did say, for my part, that a real
Christian will be a gentleman. But I don't believe all the temptations
in the world could stir that blessed man one jot or grain to do the
least thing that he thinks is wrong or out of the way. Well, I must say,
I never saw such a good man; he is the only man I ever saw good enough
for our Mary." Another spring came round, and brought its roses, and the
apple-trees blossomed for the third time since the commencement of our
story; and the robins had rebuilt their nest, and began to lay their
blue eggs in it; and Mary still walked her calm course, as a sanctified
priestess of the great worship of sorrow. Many were the hearts now
dependent on her, the spiritual histories, the threads of which were
held in her loving hand,--many the souls burdened with sins, or
oppressed with sorrow, who found in her bosom at once confessional and
sanctuary. So many sought her prayers, that her hours of intercession
were full, and often needed to be lengthened to embrace all for whom
she would plead. United to the good Doctor by a constant friendship and
fellowship, she had gradually grown accustomed to the more and more
intimate manner in which he regarded her,--which had risen from a simple
"dear child," and "dear Mary," to "dear friend," and at last "dearest of
all friends," which he frequently called her, encouraged by the calm,
confiding sweetness of those still, blue eyes, and that gentle smile,
which came without one varying flutter of the pulse or the rising of the
slightest flush on the marble cheek.

One day a letter was brought in, postmarked "Philadelphia." It was from
Madame de Frontignac; it was in French, and ran as follows:---

"MY DEAR LITTLE WHITE ROSE:--

"I am longing to see you once more, and before long [ shall be in
Newport. Dear little Mary, I am sad, very sad;--the days seem all of
them too long; and every morning I look out of my window and wonder why
I was born. I am not so happy as I used to be, when I cared for nothing
but to sing and smooth my feathers like the birds. That is the best kind
of life for us women;--if we love anything better than our clothes, it
is sure to bring us great sorrow. For all that, I can't help thinking it
is very noble and beautiful to love;--love is very beautiful, but very,
very sad. My poor dear little white cat, I should like to hold you a
little while to my heart;--it is so cold all the time, and aches so, I
wish I were dead; but then I am not good enough to die. The Abbe says,
we must offer up our sorrow to God as a satisfaction for our sins. I
have a good deal to offer, because my nature is strong and I can feel a
great deal.

"But I am very selfish, dear little Mary, to think only of myself, when
I know how you must suffer. Ah! but you knew he loved you truly, the
poor dear boy!--that is something. I pray daily for his soul; don't
think it wrong of me; you know it is our religion;--we should all do our
best for each other.

"Remember me tenderly to Mrs. Marvyn. Poor mother!--the bleeding heart
of the Mother of God alone can understand such sorrows.

"I am coming in a week or two, and then I have many things to say to _ma
belle rose blanche_; till then I kiss her little hands.



"VIRGINIE DE FRONTIGNAC."

One beautiful afternoon, not long after, a carriage stopped at the
cottage, and Madame de Frontignac alighted. Mary was spinning in her
garret-boudoir, and Mrs. Scudder was at that moment at a little distance
from the house, sprinkling some linen, which was laid out to bleach on
the green turf of the clothes-yard.

Madame de Frontignac sent away the carriage, and ran up the stairway,
pursuing the sound of Mary's spinning-wheel mingled with her song; and
in a moment, throwing aside the curtain, she seized Mary in her arms,
and kissed her on either cheek, laughing and crying both at once.

"I knew where I should find you, _ma blanche_! I heard the wheel of my
poor little princess! It's a good while since we spun together, _mimi_!
Ah, Mary, darling, little do we know what we spin! life is hard and
bitter, isn't it? Ah, how white your cheeks are, poor child!"

Madame de Frontignac spoke with tears in her own eyes, passing her hand
caressingly over the fair checks.

"And you have grown pale, too, dear Madame," said Mary, looking up, and
struck with the change in the once brilliant face.

"Have I, _petite?_ I don't know why not. We women have secret places
where our life runs out. At home I wear rouge; that makes all
right;--but I don't put it on for you, Mary; you see me just as I am."

Mary could not but notice the want of that brilliant color and roundness
in the cheek, which once made so glowing a picture; the eyes seemed
larger and tremulous with a pathetic depth, and around them those bluish
circles that speak of languor and pain. Still, changed as she was,
Madame de Frontignac seemed only more strikingly interesting and
fascinating than ever. Still she had those thousand pretty movements,
those nameless graces of manner, those wavering shades of expression,
that irresistibly enchained the eye and the imagination,--true
Frenchwoman as she was, always in one rainbow shimmer of fancy and
feeling, like one of those cloud-spotted April days which give you
flowers and rain, sun and shadow, and snatches of bird-singing all at
once.

"I have sent away my carriage, Mary, and come to stay with you. You want
me--_n'est ce pas?_" she said, coaxingly, with her arms round Mary's
neck; "if you don't, _tant pis!_ for I am the bad penny you English
speak of,--you cannot get me off."

"I am sure, dear friend," said Mary, earnestly, "we don't want to put
you off."

"I know it; you are true; you _mean_ what you say; you are all good real
gold, down to your hearts; that is why I love you. But you, my poor
Mary, your cheeks are very white; poor little heart, you suffer!"

"No," said Mary; "I do not suffer now. Christ has given me the victory
over sorrow."

There was something sadly sublime in the manner in which this was
said,--and something so sacred in the expression of Mary's face that
Madame de Frontignac crossed herself, as she been wont before a shrine;
and then said, "Sweet Mary, pray for me; I am not at peace; I cannot get
the victory over sorrow."

"What sorrow can you have?" said Mary,--"you, so beautiful, so rich, so
admired, whom everybody must love?"

"That is what I came to tell you; I came to confess to you. But you
must sit down there" she said, placing Mary on a low seat in the
garret-window; "and Virginie will sit here," she said, drawing a bundle
of uncarded wool towards her, and sitting down at Mary's feet.

"Dear Madame," said Mary, "let me get you a better seat."

"No, no, _mignonne_, this is best; I want to lay my head in your
lap";--and she took off her riding-hat with its streaming plume, and
tossed it carelessly from her, and laid her head down on Mary's lap.
"Now don't call me Madame any more. Do you know," she said, raising her
head with a sudden brightening of cheek and eye, "do you know that there
are two _mes_ to this person?--one is Virginie, and the other is
Madame de Frontignac. Everybody in Philadelphia knows Madame de
Frontignac:--she is very gay, very careless, very happy; she never has
any serious hours, or any sad thoughts; she wears powder and diamonds,
and dances all night, and never prays;--that is Madame. But Virginie is
quite another thing. She is tired of all this,--tired of the balls, and
the dancing, and the diamonds, and the beaux; and she likes true people,
and would like to live very quiet with somebody that she loved. She is
very unhappy; and she prays, too, sometimes, in a poor little way,--like
the birds in your nest out there, who don't know much, but chipper and
cry because they are hungry. This is your Virginie. Madame never comes
here,--never call me Madame."

"Dear Virginie," said Mary, "how I love you!"

"Do you, Mary,--_bien sûr?_ You are my good angel! I felt a good impulse
from you when I first saw you, and have always been stronger to do right
when I got one of your pretty little letters. Oh, Mary, darling, I have
been very foolish and very miserable, and sometimes tempted to be very,
very bad! Oh, sometimes I thought I would not care for God or anything
else!--it was very bad of me,--but I was like a foolish little fly
caught in a spider's net before he knows it."

Mary's eyes questioned her companion, with an expression of eager
sympathy, somewhat blended with curiosity.

"I can't make you understand me quite," said Madame de Frontignac,
"unless I go back a good many years. You see, dear Mary, my dear angel
mamma died when I was very little, and I was sent to be educated at the
Sacré Coeur, in Paris. I was very happy and very good, in those days;
the sisters loved me, and I loved them; and I used to be so pious, and
loved God dearly. When I took my first communion, Sister Agatha prepared
me. She was a true saint, and is in heaven now; and I remember, when I
came to her, all dressed like a bride, with my white crown and white
veil, that she looked at me so sadly, and said she hoped I would never
love anybody better than God, and then I should be happy. I didn't think
much of those words then; but, oh, I have since, many times! They used
to tell me always that I had a husband who was away in the army, and who
would come to marry me when I was seventeen, and that he would give me
all sorts of beautiful things, and show me everything I wanted to see in
the world, and that I must love and honor him.

"Well, I was married at last; and Monsieur de Frontignac is a good brave
man, although he seemed to me very old and sober; but he was always kind
to me, and gave me nobody knows how many sets of jewelry, and let me
do everything I wanted to, and so I liked him very much; but I thought
there was no danger I should love him, or anybody else, better than God.
I didn't _love_ anybody in those days; I only liked people, and some
people more than others. All the men I saw professed to be lovers, and I
liked to lead them about and see what foolish things I could make them
do, because it pleased my vanity; but I laughed at the very idea of
love.

"Well, Mary, when we came to Philadelphia, I heard everybody speaking of
Colonel Burr, and what a fascinating man he was; and I thought it would
be a pretty thing to have him in my train,--and so I did all I could to
charm him. I tried all my little arts,--and if it is a sin for us women
to do such things, I am sure I have been punished for it. Mary, he was
stronger than I was. These men, they are not satisfied with having the
whole earth under their feet, and having all the strength and all the
glory, but they must even take away our poor little reign;--it's too
bad!

"I can't tell you how it was; I didn't know myself; but it seemed to me
that he took my very life away from me; and it--was all done before I
knew it. He called himself my friend, my brother; he offered to teach me
English; he read with me; and by-and-by he controlled my whole life. I,
that used to be so haughty, so proud,-I, that used to laugh to think
how independent I was of everybody,--I was entirely under his control,
though I tried not to show it. I didn't well know where I was; for he
talked friendship, and I talked friendship; he talked about sympathetic
natures that are made for each other, and I thought how beautiful it all
was; it was living in a new world. Monsieur de Frontignac was as much
charmed with him as I was; he often told me that he was his best
friend,--that he was his hero, his model man; and I thought,----oh,
Mary, you would wonder to hear me say what I thought! I thought he was a
Bayard, a Sully, a Montmorenci,--everything grand and noble and good.
I loved him with a religion; I would have died for him; I sometimes
thought how I might lay down my life to save his, like women I read of
in history. I did not know myself; I was astonished I could feel so; and
I did not dream that this could be wrong. How could I, when it made me
feel more religious than anything in my whole life? Everything in the
world seemed to grow sacred. I thought, if men could be so good and
admirable, life was a holy thing, and not to be trifled with.

"But our good Abbé is a faithful shepherd; and when I told him these
things in confession, be told me I was in great danger,--danger of
falling into mortal sin. Oh, Mary, it was as if the earth had opened
under me! He told me, too, that this noble man, this man so dear, was a
heretic, and that, if he died, he would go to dreadful pains. Oh, Mary,
I dare not tell you half what he told me,--dreadful things that make me
shiver when I think of them! And then he said that I must offer myself a
sacrifice for him; that, if I would put down all this love, and overcome
it, God would perhaps accept it as a satisfaction, and bring him into
the True Church at last.

"Then I began to try. Oh, Mary, we never know how we love till we try to
unlove! It seemed like taking my heart out of my breast, and separating
life from life. How can one do it? I wish any one would tell me. The
Abbé said I must do it by prayer; but it seemed to me prayer only made
me think the more of him.

"But at last I had a great shock; everything broke up like a great,
grand, noble dream,--and I waked out of it just as weak and wretched as
one feels when one has overslept. Oh, Mary, I found I was mistaken in
him,--all, all, wholly!"

Madame de Frontignac laid her forehead on Mary's knee, and her long
chestnut hair drooped down over her face.

"He was going somewhere with my husband to explore, out in the regions
of the Ohio, where he had some splendid schemes of founding a state; and
I was all interest. And one day, as they were preparing, Monsieur de
Frontignac gave me a quantity of papers to read and arrange, and among
them was a part of a letter;--I never could imagine how it got there; it
was from Burr to one of his confidential friends. I read it, at first,
wondering what it meant, till I came to two or three sentences about
me."

Madame de Frontignac paused a moment, and then said, rising with sudden
energy,--

"Mary, that man never loved me; he cannot love; he does not know what
love is. What I felt he cannot know; he cannot even dream of it, because
he never felt anything like it. Such men never know us women; we are as
high as heaven above them. It is true enough that my heart was wholly in
his power,--but why? Because I adored him as something divine, incapable
of dishonor, incapable of selfishness, incapable of even a thought that
was not perfectly noble and heroic. If he had been all that, I should
have been proud to be even a poor little flower that should exhale away
to give him an hour's pleasure; I would have offered my whole life to
God as a sacrifice for such a glorious soul;--and all this time, what
was he thinking of me?

"He was _using_ my feelings to carry his plans; he was admiring me like
a picture; he was considering what he should do with me; and but for
his interests with my husband, he would have tried his power to make me
sacrifice this world and the next to his pleasure. But he does not know
me. My mother was a Montmorenci, and I have the blood of her house in my
veins; we are princesses;--we can give all; but he must be a god that we
give it for."

Mary's enchanted eye followed the beautiful narrator, as she enacted
before her this poetry and tragedy of real life, so much beyond what
dramatic art can ever furnish. Her eyes grew splendid in their depth
and brilliancy; sometimes they were full of tears, and sometimes they
flashed out like lightnings; her whole form seemed to be a plastic
vehicle which translated every emotion of her soul; and Mary sat and
looked at her with the intense absorption that one gives to the highest
and deepest in Art or Nature.

"_Enfin,--que faire_?" she said at last, suddenly stopping, and drooping
in every limb. "Mary, I have lived on this dream so long!--never thought
of anything else!--now all is gone, and what shall I do?  I think,
Mary," she added, pointing to the nest in the tree, "I see my life in
many things. My heart was once still and quiet, like the round little
eggs that were in your nest;--now it has broken out of its shell, and
cries with cold and hunger. I want my dream again,--I wish it all
back,--or that my heart could go back into its shell. If I only could
drop this year out of my life, and care for nothing, as I used to! I
have tried to do that; I can't; I cannot get back where I was before."

"_Would_ you do it, dear Virginie?" said Mary; "would you, if you
could?"

"It was very noble and sweet, all that," said Virginie; "it gave me
higher thoughts than ever I had before; I think my feelings were
beautiful;--but now they are like little birds that have no mother; they
kill me with their crying."

"Dear Virginie, there is a real Friend in heaven, who is all you can ask
or think,--nobler, better, purer,--who cannot change, and cannot die,
and who loved you and gave Himself for you."

"You mean Jesus," said Virginie. "Ah, I know it; and I say the offices
to him daily, but my heart is very wild and starts away from my words.
I say, 'My God, I give myself to you!'--and after all, I don't give
myself, and I don't feel comforted. Dear Mary, you must have suffered,
too,--for you loved really,--I saw it;--when we feel a thing ourselves,
we can see very quick the same in others;--and it was a dreadful blow
to come so all at once."

"Yes, it was," said Mary; "I thought I must die; but Christ has given me
peace."

These words were spoken with that long-breathed sigh with which
we always speak of peace,--a sigh that told of storms and sorrows
past,--the sighing of the wave that falls spent and broken on the shores
of eternal rest.

There was a little pause in the conversation, and then Virginie raised
her head and spoke in a sprightlier lone.

"Well, my little fairy cat, my white doe, I have come to you. Poor
Virginie wants something to hold to her heart; let me have you," she
said, throwing her arms round Mary.

"Dear, dear Virginie, indeed you shall!" said Mary. "I will love you
dearly, and pray for you. I always have prayed for you, ever since the
first day I knew you."

"I knew it,--I felt your prayers in my heart. Mary, I have many thoughts
that I dare not tell to any one, lately,--but I cannot help feeling that
some are real Christians who are not in the True Church. You are as true
a saint as Saint Catharine; indeed, I always think of you when I think
of our dear Lady; and yet they say there is no salvation out of the
Church."

This was a new view of the subject to Mary, who had grown up with the
familiar idea that the Romish Church was Babylon and Antichrist, and
who, during the conversation, had been revolving the same surmises with
regard to her friend. She turned her grave, blue eyes on Madame
de Frontignac with a somewhat surprised look, which melted into a
half-smile. But the latter still went on with a puzzled air, as if
trying to talk herself out of some mental perplexity.

"Now, Burr is a heretic,--and more than that, he is an infidel; he has
no religion in his heart,--I saw that often,--it made me tremble for
him,--it ought to have put me on my guard. But you, dear Mary, you love
Jesus as your life. I think you love him just as much as Sister Agatha,
who was a saint. The Abbé says that there is nothing so dangerous as to
begin to use our reason in religion,--that, if we once begin, we never
know where it may carry us; but I can't help using mine a very little. I
must think there are some saints that are not in the True Church."

"All are one who love Christ," said Mary; "we are one in Him."

"I should not dare to tell the Abbé," said Madame de Frontignac; and
Mary queried in her heart, whether Dr. H. would feel satisfied that she
could bring this wanderer to the fold of Christ without undertaking
to batter down the walls of her creed; and yet, there they were, the
Catholic and the Puritan, each strong in her respective faith, yet
melting together in that embrace of love and sorrow, joined in the
great communion of suffering. Mary took up her Testament, and read the
fourteenth chapter of John:--

"Let not your heart be troubled; ye believe in God, believe also in me.
In my Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have
told you. I go to prepare a place for you; and if I go and prepare a
place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself, that where
I am, there ye may be also."

Mary read on through the chapter,--through the next wonderful prayer;
her face grew solemnly transparent, as of an angel; for her soul was
lifted from earth by the words, and walked with Christ far above all
things, over that starry pavement where each footstep is on a world.

The greatest moral effects are like those of music,--not wrought out by
sharp-sided intellectual propositions, but melted in by a divine fusion,
by words that have mysterious, indefinite fulness of meaning, made
living by sweet voices, which seem to be the out-throbbings of angelic
hearts. So one verse in the Bible read by a mother in some hour of
tender prayer has a significance deeper and higher than the most
elaborate of sermons, the most acute of arguments.

Virginie Frontignac sat as one divinely enchanted, while that sweet
voice read on; and when the silence fell between them, she gave a long
sigh, as we do when sweet music stops. They heard between them the soft
stir of summer leaves, the distant songs of birds, the breezy hum when
the afternoon wind shivered through many branches, and the silver sea
chimed in. Virginie rose at last, and kissed Mary on the forehead.

"That is a beautiful book," she said, "and to read it all by one's self
must be lovely. I cannot understand why it should be dangerous; it has
not injured you.

"Sweet saint," she added, "let me stay with you; you shall read to me
every day. Do you know I came here to get you to take me? I want you to
show me how to find peace where you do; will you let me be your sister?"

"Yes, indeed," said Mary, with a cheek brighter than it had been for
many a day; her heart feeling a throb of more real human pleasure than
for long months.

"Will you get your mamma to let me stay?" said Virginie, with the
bashfulness of a child; "haven't you a little place like yours, with
white curtains and sanded floor, to give to poor little Virginie to
learn to be good in?"

"Why, do you really want to stay here with us," said Mary, "in this
little house?"

"Do I really?" said Virginie, mimicking her voice with a start of her
old playfulness;--"_don't_ I really? Come now, _mimi_, coax the good
mamma for me,--tell her I shall try to be very good. I shall help you
with the spinning,--you know I spin beautifully,--and I shall make
butter, and milk the cow, and set the table. Oh, I will be so useful,
you can't spare me!"

"I should love to have you dearly," said Mary, warmly; "but you would
soon be dull for want of society here."

"_Quelle idée! ma petite dróle!_" said the lady,--who, with the mobility
of her nation, had already recovered some of the saucy mocking grace
that was habitual to her, as she began teasing Mary with a thousand
little childish motions. "Indeed, _mimi_, you must keep me hid up here,
or may-be the wolf will find me and eat me up; who knows?"

Mary looked at her with inquiring eyes.

"What do you mean?"

"I mean, Mary,--I mean, that, when _he_ comes back to Philadelphia, he
thinks he shall find me there; he thought I should stay while my husband
was gone; and when he finds I am gone, he may come to Newport; and I
never want to see him again without you;--you must let me stay with
you."

"Have you told him," said Mary, "what you think?"

"I wrote to him, Mary,--but, oh, I can't trust my heart! I want so much
to believe him, it kills me so to think evil of him, that it will never
do for me to see him. If he looks at me with those eyes of his, I am all
gone; I shall believe anything he tells me; he will draw me to him as a
great magnet draws a poor little grain of steel."

"But now you know his unworthiness, his baseness," said Mary, "I should
think it would break all his power."

"_Should_ you think so? Ah, Mary, we cannot unlove in a minute; love is
a great while dying. I do not worship him now as I did. I know what he
is. I know he is bad, and I am sorry for it. I should like to cover
it from all the world,--even from you, Mary, since I see it makes you
dislike him; it hurts me to hear any one else blame him. But sometimes I
do so long to think I am mistaken, that I know, if I should see him, I
should catch at anything he might tell me, as a drowning man at straws;
I should shut my eyes, and think, after all, that it was all my fault,
and ask a thousand pardons for all the evil he has done. No,--Mary, you
must keep your blue eyes upon me, or I shall be gone."

At this moment Mrs. Scudder's voice was heard, calling Mary below.

"Go down now, darling, and tell mamma; make a good little talk to her,
_ma reine_! Ah, you are queen here! all do as you say,--even the
good priest there; you have a little hand, but it leads all; so go,
_petite_."

Mrs. Scudder was somewhat flurried and discomposed at the
proposition;--there were the _pros_ and the _cons_ in her nature, such
as we all have. In the first place, Madame de Frontignac belonged to
high society,--and that was _pro_; for Mrs. Scudder prayed daily against
worldly vanities, because she felt a little traitor in her heart that
was ready to open its door to them, if not constantly talked down. In
the second place, Madame de Frontignac was French,--there was a _con_;
for Mrs. Scudder had enough of her father John Bull in her heart to have
a very wary look-out on anything French. But then, in the third place,
she was out of health and unhappy,--and there was a _pro_ again; for
Mrs. Scudder was as kind and motherly a soul as ever breathed. But
then she was a Catholic,--_con_. But the Doctor and Mary might convert
her,--_pro_. And then Mary wanted her,--_pro_. And she was a pretty,
bewitching, lovable creature,--_pro_.--The _pros_ had it; and it was
agreed that Madame de Frontignac should be installed as proprietress of
the spare chamber, and she sat down to the tea-table that evening in the
great kitchen.



CHAPTER XXVI.

THE DECLARATION.

The domesticating of Madame de Frontignac as an inmate of the cottage
added a new element of vivacity to that still and unvaried life. One
of the most beautiful traits of French nature is that fine gift of
appreciation, which seizes at once the picturesque side of every
condition of life, and finds in its own varied storehouse something to
assort with it. As compared with the Anglo-Saxon, the French appear to
be gifted with a _naïve_ childhood of nature, and to have the power that
children have of gilding every scene of life with some of their own
poetic fancies.

Madame de Frontignac was in raptures with the sanded floor of her little
room, which commanded, through the apple-boughs, a little morsel of a
seaview. She could fancy it was a nymph's cave, she said.

"Yes, _ma Marie_, I will play Calypso, and you shall play Telemachus,
and Dr. H. shall be Mentor. Mentor was so very, very good!--only a
little bit--_dull_," she said, pronouncing the last word with a wicked
accent, and lifting her hands with a whimsical gesture like a naughty
child who expects a correction.

Mary could not but laugh; and as she laughed, more color rose in her
waxen cheeks than for many days before.

Madame de Frontignac looked as triumphant as a child who has made its
mother laugh, and went on laying things out of her trunk into her
drawers with a zeal that was quite amusing to see.

"You see, _ma blanche_, I have left all Madame's clothes at
Philadelphia, and brought only those that belong to Virginie,--no
_tromperie_, no feathers, no gauzes, no diamonds,--only white dresses,
and my straw hat _en bergère_, I brought one string of pearls that was
my mother's; but pearls, you know, belong to the sea-nymphs. I will trim
my hat with seaweed and buttercups together, and we will go out on
the beach to-night and get some gold and silver shells to dress _mon
miroir_."

"Oh, I have ever so many now!" said Mary, running into her room, and
coming back with a little bag.

They both sat on the bed together, and began pouring them out,--Madame
de Frontignac showering childish exclamations of delight.

Suddenly Mary put her hand to her heart as if she had been struck with
something; and Madame de Frontignac heard her say, in a low voice of
sudden pain, "Oh, dear!"

"What is it, _mimi?_" she said, looking up quickly.

"Nothing," said Mary, turning her head.

Madame de Frontignac looked down, and saw among the sea-treasures a
necklace of Venetian shells, that she knew never grew on the shores of
Newport. She held it up.

"Ah, I see," she said. "He gave you this. Ah, _ma pauvrette_" she said,
clasping Mary in her arms, "thy sorrow meets thee everywhere! May I be a
comfort to thee!--just a little one!"

"Dear, dear friend!" said Mary, weeping. "I know not how it is.
Sometimes I think this sorrow is all gone; but then, for a moment, it
comes back again. But I am at peace; it is all right, all right; I would
not have it otherwise. But, oh, if he could have spoken one word to me
before! He gave me this," she added, "when he came home from his first
voyage to the Mediterranean. I did not know it was in this bag. I had
looked for it everywhere."

"Sister Agatha would have told you to make a rosary of it," said Madame
de Frontignac; "but you pray without a rosary. It is all one," she
added; "there will be a prayer for every shell, though you do not count
them. But come, _ma chère_, get your bonnet, and let us go out on the
beach."

That evening, before going to bed, Mrs. Scudder came into Mary's room.
Her manner was grave and tender; her eyes had tears in them; and
although her usual habits were not caressing, she came to Mary and put
her arms around her and kissed her. It was an unusual manner, and Mary's
gentle eyes seemed to ask the reason of it.

"My daughter," said her mother, "I have just had a long and very
interesting talk with our dear good friend, the Doctor; ah, Mary, very
few people know how good he is!"

"True, mother," said Mary, warmly; "he is the best, the noblest, and yet
the humblest man in the world."

"You love him very much, do you not?" said her mother.

"Very dearly," said Mary.

"Mary, he has asked me, this evening, if you would be willing to be his
wife."

"His _wife_, mother?" said Mary, in the tone of one confused with a new
and strange thought.

"Yes, daughter; I have long seen that he was preparing to make you this
proposal."

"You have, mother?"

"Yes, daughter; have you never thought of it?"

"Never, mother."

There was a long pause,--Mary standing, just as she had been
interrupted, in her night toilette, with her long, light hair streaming
down over her white dress, and the comb held mechanically in her hand.
She sat down after a moment, and, clasping her hands over her knees,
fixed her eyes intently on the floor; and there fell between the two a
silence so profound, that the tickings of the clock in the next room
seemed to knock upon the door. Mrs. Scudder sat with anxious eyes
watching that silent face, pale as sculptured marble.

"Well, Mary," she said at last.

A deep sigh was the only answer. The violent throbbings of her heart
could be seen undulating the long hair as the moaning sea tosses the
rockweed.

"My daughter," again said Mrs. Scudder.

Mary gave a great sigh, like that of a sleeper awakening from a dream,
and, looking at her mother, said,--

"Do you suppose he really _loves_ me, mother?"

"Indeed he does, Mary, as much as man ever loved woman!"

"Does he indeed?" said Mary, relapsing into thoughtfulness.

"And you love him, do you not?" said her mother.

"Oh, yes, I love him."

"You love him better than any man in the world, don't you?"

"Oh, mother, mother! yes!" said Mary, throwing herself passionately
forward, and bursting into sobs; "yes, there is no one else now that I
love better,--no one!--no one!"

"My darling! my daughter!" said Mrs. Scudder, coming and taking her in
her arms.

"Oh, mother, mother!" she said, sobbing distressfully, "let me cry, just
for a little,--oh, mother, mother, mother!"

What was there hidden under that despairing wail?--It was the parting of
the last strand of the cord of youthful hope.

Mrs. Scudder soothed and caressed her daughter, but maintained still in
her breast a tender pertinacity of purpose, such as mothers will, who
think they are conducting a child through some natural sorrow into a
happier state.

Mary was not one, either, to yield long to emotion of any kind. Her
rigid education had taught her to look upon all such outbursts as a
species of weakness, and she struggled for composure, and soon seemed
entirety calm.

"If he really loves me, mother, it would give him great pain, if I
refused," said Mary, thoughtfully.

"Certainly it would; and, Mary, you have allowed him to act as a very
near friend for a long time; and it is quite natural that he should have
hopes that you loved him."

"I do love him, mother,--better than anybody in the world except you. Do
you think that will do?"

"Will do?" said her mother; "I don't understand you."

"Why, is that loving enough to marry? I shall love him more, perhaps,
after,--shall I, mother?"

"Certainly you will; every one does."

"I wish he did not want to marry me, mother," said Mary, after a pause.
"I liked it a great deal better as we were before."

"All girls feel so, Mary, at first; it is very natural."

"Is that the way you felt about father, mother?"

Mrs. Scudder's heart smote her when she thought of her own early
love,--that great love that asked no questions,--that had no doubts,
no fears, no hesitations,--nothing but one great, outsweeping impulse,
which swallowed her life in that of another. She was silent; and after a
moment, she said,--

"I was of a different disposition from you, Mary. I was of a strong,
wilful, positive nature. I either liked or disliked with all my might.
And besides, Mary, there never was a man like your father."

The matron uttered this first article in the great confession of woman's
faith with the most unconscious simplicity.

"Well, mother, I will do whatever is my duty. I want to be guided. If
I can make that good man happy, and help him to do some good in the
world--After all, life is short, and the great thing is to do for
others."

"I am sure, Mary, if you could have heard how he spoke, you would be
sure you could make him happy. He had not spoken before, because he felt
so unworthy of such a blessing; he said I was to tell you that he
should love and honor you all the same, whether you could be his wife
or not,--but that nothing this side of heaven would be so blessed a
gift,--that it would make up for every trial that could possibly come
upon him. And you know, Mary, he has a great many discouragements
and trials;--people don't appreciate him; his efforts to do good are
misunderstood and misconstrued; they look down on him, and despise him,
and tell all sorts of evil things about him; and sometimes he gets quite
discouraged."

"Yes, mother, I will marry him," said Mary;--"yes, I will."

"My darling daughter!" said Mrs. Scudder,--"this has been the hope of my
life!"

"Has it, mother?" said Mary, with a faint smile; "I shall make you
happier, then?"

"Yes, dear, you will. And think what a prospect of usefulness opens
before you! You can take a position, as his wife, which will enable you
to do even more good than you do now; and you will have the happiness
of seeing, everyday, how much you comfort the hearts and encourage the
hands of God's dear people."

"Mother, I ought to be very glad I can do it," said Mary; "and I trust I
am. God orders all things for the best."

"Well, my child, sleep to-night, and to-morrow we will talk more about
it."



CHAPTER XXVII.

SURPRISES.

Mrs. Scudder kissed her daughter, and left her. After a moment's
thought, Mary gathered the long silky folds of hair around her head, and
knotted them for the night. Then leaning forward on her toilet-table,
she folded her hands together, and stood regarding the reflection of
herself in the mirror.

Nothing is capable of more ghostly effect than such a silent, lonely
contemplation of that mysterious image of ourselves which seems to look
out of an infinite depth in the mirror, as if it were our own soul
beckoning to us visibly from unknown regions. Those eyes look into our
own with an expression sometimes vaguely sad and inquiring. The face
wears weird and tremulous lights and shadows; it asks us mysterious
questions, and troubles us with the suggestions of our relations to some
dim unknown. The sad, blue eyes that gazed into Mary's had that look
of calm initiation, of melancholy comprehension, peculiar to eyes made
clairvoyant by "great and critical" sorrow. They seemed to say to her,
"Fulfil thy mission; life is made for sacrifice; the flower must fall
before fruit can perfect itself." A vague shuddering of mystery gave
intensity to her reverie. It seemed as if those mirror-depths were
another world; she heard the far-off dashing of sea-green waves; she
felt a yearning impulse towards that dear soul gone out into the
infinite unknown.

Her word just passed had in her eyes all the sacred force of the most
solemnly attested vow; and she felt as if that vow had shut some till
then open door between her and him; she had a kind of shadowy sense of a
throbbing and yearning nature that seemed to call on her,--that seemed
surging towards her with an imperative, protesting force that shook her
heart to its depths.

Perhaps it is so, that souls, once intimately related, have ever after
this a strange power of affecting each other,--a power that neither
absence nor death can annul. How else can we interpret those mysterious
hours in which the power of departed love seems to overshadow us, making
our souls vital with such longings, with such wild throbbings, with such
unutterable sighings, that a little more might burst the mortal bond? Is
it not deep calling unto deep? the free soul singing outside the cage to
her mate beating against the bars within?

Mary even, for a moment, fancied that a voice called her name, and
started, shivering. Then the habits of her positive and sensible
education returned at once, and she came out of her reverie as one
breaks from a dream, and lifted all these sad thoughts with one heavy
sigh from her breast; and opening her Bible, she read: "They that trust
in the Lord shall be as Mount Zion, which cannot be removed, but abideth
forever. As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the Lord is
round about his people from henceforth, even forever."

Then she kneeled by her bedside, and offered her whole life a sacrifice
to the loving God who had offered his life a sacrifice for her. She
prayed for grace to be true to her promise,--to be faithful to the new
relation she had accepted. She prayed that all vain regrets for the past
might be taken away, and that her soul might vibrate without discord in
unison with the will of Eternal Love. So praying, she rose calm,
and with that clearness of spirit which follows an act of uttermost
self-sacrifice; and so calmly she laid down and slept, with her two
hands crossed upon her breast, her head slightly turned on the pillow,
her cheek pale as marble, and her long dark lashes lying drooping, with
a sweet expression, as if under that mystic veil of sleep the soul were
seeing things forbidden to the waking eye. Only the gentlest heaving
of the quiet breast told that the heavenly spirit within had not gone
whither it was hourly aspiring to go.

Meanwhile Mrs. Scudder had left Mary's room, and entered the Doctor's
study, holding a candle in her hand. The good man was sitting alone in
the dark, with his head bowed upon his Bible. When Mrs. Scudder entered,
he rose, and regarded her wistfully, but did not speak. He had something
just then in his heart for which he had no words; so he only looked as a
man does who hopes and fears for the answer of a decisive question.

Mrs. Scudder felt some of the natural reserve which becomes a matron
coming charged with a gift in which lies the whole sacredness of her own
existence, and which she puts from her hands with a jealous reverence.
She therefore measured the man with her woman's and mother's eye, and
said, with a little stateliness,--

"My dear Sir, I come to tell you the result of my conversation with
Mary."

She made a little pause,--and the Doctor stood before her as humbly as
if he had not weighed and measured the universe; because he knew,
that, though he might weigh the mountains in scales and the hills in a
balance, yet it was a far subtiler power which must possess him of one
small woman's heart. In fact, he felt to himself like a great, awkward,
clumsy, mountainous earthite asking of a white-robed angel to help him
up a ladder of cloud. He was perfectly sure for the moment, that he was
going to be refused; and he looked humbly firm,--he would take it like
a man. His large blue eyes, generally so misty in their calm, had a
resolute clearness, rather mournful than otherwise. Of course, no such
celestial experience was going to happen to him.

He cleared his throat, and said,--

"Well, Madam?"

Mrs. Scudder's womanly dignity was appeased; she reached out her hand,
cheerfully, and said,--

"_She has accepted_."

The Doctor drew his hand suddenly away, turned quickly round, and walked
to the window,--although, as it was ten o'clock at night and quite dark,
there was evidently nothing to be seen there. He stood there, quietly,
swallowing very hard, and raising his handkerchief several times to his
eyes. There was enough went on under the black coat just then to make
quite a little figure in a romance, if it had been uttered; but he
belonged to a class who _lived_ romance, but never spoke it. In a few
moments he returned to Mrs. Scudder, and said,--

"I trust, dear Madam, that this very dear friend may never have reason
to think me ungrateful for her wonderful goodness; and whatever sins
my evil heart may lead me into, I _hope_ I may never fall so low as to
forget the undeserved mercy of this hour. If ever I shrink from duty
or murmur at trials, while so sweet a friend is mine, I shall be vile
indeed."

The Doctor, in general, viewed himself on the discouraging side, and
had berated and snubbed himself all his life as a most flagitious and
evil-disposed individual,--a person to be narrowly watched, and capable
of breaking at any moment into the most flagrant iniquity; and therefore
it was that he received his good fortune in so different a spirit from
many of the lords of creation, in similar circumstances.

"I am sensible," he added, "that a poor minister, without much power of
eloquence, and commissioned of the Lord to speak unpopular truths, and
whose worldly condition, in consequence, is never likely to be very
prosperous,--that such an one could scarcely be deemed a suitable
partner for so very beautiful a young woman, who might expect proposals,
in a temporal point of view, of a much more advantageous nature; and I
am therefore the more struck and overpowered with this blessed result."

These last words caught in the Doctor's throat, as if he were
overpowered in very deed.

"In regard to _her_ happiness," said the Doctor, with a touch of awe in
his voice, "I would not have presumed to become the guardian of it, were
it not that I am persuaded it is assured by a Higher Power; for 'when
he giveth quietness, who then can make trouble?' (Job, xxxiv. 29.) But
I trust I may say no effort on my part shall be wanting to secure it."

Mrs. Scudder was a mother, and had come to that stage in life where
mothers always feel tears rising behind their smiles. She pressed the
Doctor's hand silently, and they parted for the night.

We know not how we can acquit ourselves to our friends of the great
world for the details of such an unfashionable courtship, so well as by
giving them, before they retire for the night, a dip into a more modish
view of things.

The Doctor was evidently green,--green in his faith, green in his
simplicity, green in his general belief of the divine in woman, green in
his particular humble faith in one small Puritan maiden, whom a knowing
fellow might at least have maneuvered so skilfully as to break up her
saintly superiority, discompose her, rout her ideas, and lead her up and
down a swamp of hopes and fears and conjectures, till she was wholly
bewildered and ready to take him at last--if he made up his mind to
have her at all--as a great bargain, for which she was to be sensibly
grateful.

Yes, the Doctor was green,--_immortally_ green, as a cedar of Lebanon,
which, waving its broad archangel wings over some fast-rooted eternal
old solitude, and seeing from its sublime height the vastness of the
universe, veils its kingly head with humility before God's infinite
majesty.

He has gone to bed now,--simple old soul!--first apologizing to Mrs.
Scudder for having kept her up to so dissipated and unparalleled an hour
as ten o'clock on his personal matters.

Meanwhile our Asmodeus shall transport us to a handsomely furnished
apartment in one of the most fashionable hotels of Philadelphia, where
Colonel Aaron Burr, just returned from his trip to the then aboriginal
wilds of Ohio, is seated before a table covered with maps, letters,
books, and papers. His keen eye runs over the addresses of the letters,
and he eagerly seizes one from Madame de Frontignac, and reads it; and
as no one but ourselves is looking at him now, his face has no need
to wear its habitual mask. First comes an expression of profound
astonishment; then of chagrin and mortification; then of deepening
concern; there were stops where the dark eyelashes flashed together, as
if to brush a tear out of the view of the keen-sighted eyes; and then
a red flush rose even to his forehead, and his delicate lips wore a
sarcastic smile. He laid down the letter, and made one or two turns
through the room.

The man had felt the dashing against his own of a strong, generous,
indignant woman's heart fully awakened, and speaking with that
impassioned vigor with which a French regiment charges in battle. There
were those picturesque, winged words, those condensed expressions, those
subtile piercings of meaning, and, above all, that simple pathos, for
which the French tongue has no superior; and for the moment the woman
had the victory; she shook his heart. But Burr resembled the marvel
with which chemists amuse themselves. His heart was a vase filled with
boiling passions,--while his _will_, a still, cold, unmelted lump of
ice, lay at the bottom.

Self-denial is not peculiar to Christians. He who goes downward often
puts forth as much force to kill a noble nature as another does to
annihilate a sinful one. There was something in this letter so keen, so
searching, so self-revealing, that it brought on one of those interior
crises in which a man is convulsed with the struggle of two natures, the
godlike and the demoniac, and from which he must pass out more wholly to
the dominion of the one or the other.

Nobody knew the true better than Burr. He _knew_ the godlike and the
pure; he had _felt_ its beauty and its force to the very depths of his
being, as the demoniac knew at once the fair Man of Nazareth; and even
now he felt the voice within that said, "What have I to do with thee?"
and the rending of a struggle of heavenly life with fast-coming eternal
death.

That letter had told him what he might be, and what he was. It was as if
his dead mother's hand had held up before him a glass in which he saw
himself white-robed and crowned, and so dazzling in purity that he
loathed his present self.

As he walked up and down the room perturbed, he sometimes wiped tears
from his eyes, and then set his teeth and compressed his lips. At last
his face grew calm and settled in its expression, his mouth wore a
sardonic smile; he came and took the letter, and, folding it leisurely,
laid it on the table, and put a heavy paperweight over it, as if to
hold it down and bury it. Then drawing to himself some maps of new
territories, he set himself vigorously to some columns of arithmetical
calculations on the margin; and thus he worked for an hour or two, till
his mind was as dry and his pulse as calm as a machine; then he drew the
inkstand towards him, and scribbled hastily the following letter to
his most confidential associate,--a letter which told no more of the
conflict that preceded it than do the dry sands and the civil gossip of
the sea-waves to-day of the storm and wreck of last week.

"Dear ------. _Nous voici_--once more in Philadelphia. Our schemes in
Ohio prosper. Frontignac remains there to superintend. He answers our
purpose _passablement_. On the whole, I don't see that we could do
better than retain him; he is, besides, a gentlemanly, agreeable person,
and wholly devoted to me,--a point certainly not to be overlooked.

"As to your railleries about the fair Madame, I must say, in justice
both to her and myself, that any grace with which she has been pleased
to honor me is not to be misconstrued. You are not to imagine any but
the most Platonic of _liaisons_. She is as high-strung as an Arabian
steed,--proud, heroic, romantic, and _French!_ and such must be
permitted to take their own time and way, which we in our _gaucherie_
can only humbly wonder at I have ever professed myself her abject slave,
ready to follow any whim, and obeying the slightest signal of the
jewelled hand. As that is her sacred pleasure, I have been inhabiting
the most abstract realms of heroic sentiment, living on the most diluted
moonshine, and spinning out elaborately all those charming and seraphic
distinctions between tweedle-dum and tweedle-dee with which these
ecstatic creatures delight themselves in certain stages of _affaires du
coeur_.

"The last development, on the part of my goddess, is a fit of celestial
anger, of the cause of which I am in the most innocent ignorance. She
writes me three pages of French sublimities, writing as only a French
woman can,--bids me an eternal adieu, and informs me she is going to
Newport.

"Of course the affair becomes stimulating. I am not to presume to dispute
her sentence, or doubt a lady's perfect sincerity in wishing never to see
me again; but yet I think I shall try to pacify the 'tantas in animis
coelestibus iras.'

"If a woman hates you, it is only her love turned wrong side out, and you
may turn it back with due care. The pretty creatures know how becoming a
_grande passion_ is, and take care to keep themselves in mind; a quarrel
serves their turn, when all else fails.

"To another point. I wish you to advertise S------, that his
insinuations in regard to me in the 'Aurora' have been observed, and
that I require that they be promptly retracted. He knows me well enough
to attend to this hint. I am in earnest when I speak; if the word does
nothing, the blow will come,--and if I strike once, no second blow will
be needed. Yet I do not wish to get him on my hands needlessly; a duel
and a love affair and hot weather, coming on together, might prove too
much even for me.--N.B. Thermometer stands at 85. I am resolved on
Newport next week.

"Yours ever,

"BURR.

"P.S. I forgot to say, that, oddly enough, my goddess has gone and
placed herself under the wing of the pretty Puritan I saw in Newport.
Fancy the _mélange_! Could anything be more piquant?--that cart-load of
goodness, the old Doctor, that sweet little saint, and Madame Faubourg
St. Germain shaken up together! Fancy her listening with well-bred
astonishment to a _critique_ on the doings of the unregenerate, or
flirting that little jewelled fan of hers in Mrs. Scudder's square pew
of a Sunday! Probably they will carry her to the weekly prayer-meeting,
which of course she will contrive some fine French subtilty for
admiring, and find _revissant_. I fancy I see it."

When Burr had finished this letter, he had actually written himself into
a sort of persuasion of its truth. When a finely constituted nature
wishes to go into baseness, it has first to bribe itself. Evil is never
embraced undisguised, as evil, but under some fiction which the mind
accepts and with which it has the singular power of blinding itself
in the face of daylight. The power of imposing on one's self is an
essential preliminary to imposing on others. The man first argues
himself down, and then he is ready to put the whole weight of his nature
to deceiving others. This letter ran so smoothly, so plausibly, that it
produced on the writer of it the effect of a work of fiction, which we
_know_ to be unreal, but _feel_ to be true. Long habits of this kind of
self-delusion in time produce a paralysis in the vital nerves of truth,
so that one becomes habitually unable to see things in their verity, and
realizes the awful words of Scripture,--"He feedeth on ashes; a deceived
heart hath turned him aside, that he cannot deliver his soul, nor say,
Is there not a lie in my right hand?"



CHAPTER XXVIII.

THE BETROTHED.

Between three and four the next morning, the robin in the nest above
Mary's window stretched out his left wing, opened one eye, and gave
a short and rather drowsy chirp, which broke up his night's rest and
restored him to the full consciousness that he was a bird with wings
and feathers, with a large apple-tree to live in, and all heaven for an
estate,--and so, on these fortunate premises, he broke into a gush
of singing, clear and loud, which Mary, without waking, heard in her
slumbers.

Scarcely conscious, she lay in that dim clairvoyant state, when the
half-sleep of the outward senses permits a delicious dewy clearness
of the soul, that perfect ethereal rest and freshness of faculties,
comparable only to what we imagine of the spiritual state,--season
of celestial enchantment, in which the heavy weight "of all this
unintelligible world" drops off, and the soul, divinely charmed, nestles
like a wind-tossed bird in the protecting bosom of the One All-Perfect,
All-Beautiful. What visions then come to the inner eye have often no
words corresponding in mortal vocabularies. The poet, the artist, and
the prophet in such hours become possessed of divine certainties which
all their lives they struggle with pencil or song or burning words to
make evident to their fellows. The world around wonders; but they are
unsatisfied, because they have seen the glory and know how inadequate
the copy.

And not merely to selectest spirits come these hours, but to those
humbler poets, ungifted with utterance, who are among men as fountains
sealed, whose song can be wrought out only by the harmony of deeds, the
patient, pathetic melodies of tender endurance, or the heroic chant of
undiscouraged labor. The poor slave-woman, last night parted from her
only boy, and weary with the cotton-picking,--the captive pining in his
cell,--the patient wife of the drunkard, saddened by a consciousness of
the growing vileness of one so dear to her once,--the delicate spirit
doomed to harsh and uncongenial surroundings,--all in such hours feel
the soothings of a celestial harmony, the tenderness of more than a
mother's love.

It is by such seasons as these, more often than by reasonings or
disputings, that doubts are resolved in the region of religious faith.
The All-Father treats us as the mother does her "infant crying in the
dark"; He does not reason with our fears, or demonstrate their fallacy,
but draws us silently to His bosom, and we are at peace. Nay, there have
been those, undoubtedly, who have known God falsely with the intellect,
yet felt Him truly with the heart,--and there be many, principally among
the unlettered little ones of Christ's flock, who positively know that
much that is dogmatically propounded to them of their Redeemer is cold,
barren, unsatisfying, and utterly false, who yet can give no account of
their certainties better than that of the inspired fisherman, "We know
Him, and have seen Him." It was in such hours as these that Mary's
deadly fears for the soul of her beloved had passed all away,--passed
out of her,--as if some warm, healing nature of tenderest vitality had
drawn out of her heart all pain and coldness, and warmed it with the
breath of an eternal summer.

So, while the purple shadows spread their gauzy veils inwoven with fire
along the sky, and the gloom of the sea broke out here and there into
lines of light, and thousands of birds were answering to each other from
apple-tree and meadow-grass and top of jagged rock, or trooping in bands
hither and thither, like angels on loving messages, Mary lay there with
the flickering light through the leaves fluttering over her face, and
the glow of dawn warming the snow-white draperies of the bed and giving
a tender rose-hue to the calm cheek. She lay half-conscious, smiling the
while, as one who sleeps while the heart waketh, and who hears in dreams
the voice of the One Eternally Beautiful and Beloved.

Mrs. Scudder entered her room, and, thinking that she still slept, stood
and looked down on her. She felt as one does who has parted with some
precious possession, a sudden sense of its value coming over her; she
queried in herself whether any living mortal were worthy of so perfect a
gift; and nothing but a remembrance of the Doctor's prostrate humility
at all reconciled her to the sacrifice she was making.

"Mary, dear!" she said, bending over her, with an unusual infusion of
emotion in her voice,--"darling child!"

The arms moved instinctively, even before the eyes unclosed, and drew
her mother down to her with a warm, clinging embrace. Love in Puritan
families was often like latent caloric,--an all-pervading force, that
affected no visible thermometer, shown chiefly by a noble silent
confidence, a ready helpfulness, but seldom outbreathed in caresses;
yet natures like Mary's always craved these outward demonstrations, and
leaned towards them as a trailing vine sways to the nearest support. It
was delightful for once fully to feel how much her mother loved her, as
well as to know it.

"Dear, precious mother! do you love me so very much?"

"I live and breathe in you, Mary!" said Mrs. Scudder,--giving vent to
herself in one of those trenchant shorthand expressions wherein positive
natures incline to sum up everything, if they must speak at all.

Mary held her mother silently to her breast, her heart shining through
her face with a quiet radiance.

"Do you feel happy this morning?" said Mrs. Scudder.

"Very, very, very happy, mother!"

"I am so glad to hear you say so!" said Mrs. Scudder,--who, to say the
truth, had entertained many doubts on her pillow the night before.

Mary began dressing herself in a state of calm exaltation. Every
trembling leaf on the tree, every sunbeam, was like a living smile of
God,--every fluttering breeze like His voice, full of encouragement and
hope.

"Mother, did you tell the Doctor what I said last night?"

"I did, my darling."

"Then, mother, I would like to see him a few moments alone."

"Well, Mary, he is in his study, at his morning devotions."

"That is just the time. I will go to him."

The Doctor was sitting by the window; and the honest-hearted, motherly
lilacs, abloom for the third time since our story began, were filling
the air with their sweetness.

Suddenly the door opened, and Mary entered, in her simple white
short-gown and skirt, her eyes calmly radiant, and her whole manner
having something serious and celestial. She came directly towards
him and put out both her little hands, with a smile half-childlike,
half-angelic; and the Doctor bowed his head and covered his face with
his hands.

"Dear friend," said Mary, kneeling and taking his hands, "if you want
me, I am come. Life is but a moment,--there is an eternal blessedness
just beyond us,--and for the little time between I will be all I can to
you, if you will only show me how."

And the Doctor----

No, young man,--the study-door closed just then, and no one heard those
words from a quaint old Oriental book which told that all the poetry of
that grand old soul had burst into flower, as the aloe blossoms once
in a hundred years. The feelings of that great heart might have fallen
unconsciously into phrases from that one love-poem of the Bible which
such men as he read so purely and devoutly, and which warm the icy
clearness of their intellection with the myrrh and spices of ardent
lands, where earthly and heavenly love meet and blend in one
indistinguishable horizon-line, like sea and sky.

"Who is she that looketh forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear
as the sun? My dove, my undefiled, is but one; she is the only one of
her mother. Thou art all fair, my love! there is no spot in thee!"

The Doctor might have said all this; we will not say he did, nor will
we say he did not; all we know is, that, when the breakfast-table was
ready, they came out cheerfully together. Madame de Frontignac stood in
a fresh white wrapper, with a few buttercups in her hair, waiting for
the breakfast. She was startled to see the Doctor entering all-radiant,
leading in Mary by the hand, and looking as if he thought she were some
dream-miracle which might dissolve under his eyes, unless he kept fast
hold of her.

The keen eyes shot their arrowy glance, which went at once to the heart
of the matter. Madame de Frontignac knew they were affianced, and
regarded Mary with attention.

The calm, sweet, elevated expression of her face struck her; it struck
her also that _that_ was not the light of any earthly love,--that it had
no thrill, no blush, no tremor, but only the calmness of a soul that
knows itself no more; and she sighed involuntarily.

She looked at the Doctor, and seemed to study attentively a face which
happiness made this morning as genial and attractive as it was generally
strong and fine.

There was little said at the breakfast-table; and yet the loud singing
of the birds, the brightness of the sunshine, the life and vigor of all
things, seemed to make up for the silence of those who were too well
pleased to speak.

"_Eh bien, ma chère_" said Madame, after breakfast, drawing Mary into
her little room,-"_c'est donc fini?_"

"Yes," said Mary, cheerfully.

"Thou art content?" said Madame, passing her arm around her. "Well,
then, I should be. But, Mary, it is like a marriage with the altar, like
taking the veil, is it not?"

"No," said Mary; "it is not taking the veil; it is beginning a cheerful,
reasonable life with a kind, noble friend, who will always love me
truly, and whom I hope to make as happy as he deserves."

"I think well of him, my little cat," said Madame, reflectively; but
she stopped something she was going to say, and kissed Mary's forehead.
After a moment's pause, she added, "One must have love or refuge,
Mary;--this is thy refuge, child; thou wilt have peace in it." She
sighed again. "_Enfin_," she said, resuming her gay tone, "what shall be
_la toilette de noces?_ Thou shalt have Virginia's pearls, my fair one,
and look like a sea-born Venus. _Tiens_, let me try them in thy hair."

And in a few moments she had Mary's long hair down, and was chattering
like a blackbird, wreathing the pearls in and out, and saying a thousand
pretty little nothings,--weaving grace and poetry upon the straight
thread of Puritan life.



CHAPTER XXIX.

BUSTLE IN THE PARISH.

The announcement of the definite engagement of two such bright
particular stars in the hemisphere of the Doctor's small parish excited
the interest that such events usually create among the faithful of the
flock.

There was a general rustle and flutter, as when a covey of wild pigeons
has been started; and all the little elves who rejoice in the name of
"says he" and "says I" and "do tell" and "have you heard" were speedily
flying through the consecrated air of the parish.

The fact was discussed by matrons and maidens, at the spinning-wheel,
in the green clothes-yard, and at the foamy wash-tub, out of which rose
weekly a new birth of freshness and beauty. Many a rustic Venus of the
foam, as she splashed her dimpled elbows in the rainbow-tinted froth,
talked of what should be done for the forthcoming solemnities, and
wondered what Mary would have on when she was married, and whether she
(the Venus) should get an invitation to the wedding, and whether Ethan
would go,--not, of course, that she cared in the least whether he did or
not.

Grave, elderly matrons talked about the prosperity of Zion, which
they imagined intimately connected with the event of their minister's
marriage; and descending from Zion, speculated on bed-quilts and
table-cloths, and rummaged their own clean, sweet-smelling stores,
fragrant with balm and rose-leaves, to lay out a bureau-cover, or a pair
of sheets, or a dozen napkins for the wedding outfit.

The solemnest of solemn quillings was resolved upon. Miss Prissy
declared that she fairly couldn't sleep nights with the responsibility
of the wedding-dresses on her mind, but yet she must give one day to
getting on that quilt.

The _grand monde_ also was in motion. Mrs. General Wilcox called in her
own particular carriage, bearing present of a Cashmere shawl for the
bride, with the General's best compliments,--also an oak-leaf pattern
for quilting, which had been sent her from England, and which was
authentically established to be that used on a petticoat belonging to
the Princess Royal. And Mrs. Major Seaforth came also, bearing a
scarf of wrought India muslin; and Mrs. Vernon sent a splendid China
punch-bowl. Indeed, to say the truth, the notables high and mighty of
Newport, whom the Doctor had so unceremoniously accused of building
their houses with blood and establishing their city with iniquity,
considering that nobody seemed to take his words to heart, and that they
were making money as fast as old Tyre, rather assumed the magnanimous,
and patted themselves on the shoulder for this opportunity to show the
Doctor that after all they were good fellows, though they did make money
at the expense of thirty _per cent_. on human life.

Simeon Brown was the only exception. He stood aloof, grim and sarcastic,
and informed some good middle-aged ladies who came to see if he would,
as they phrased it, "esteem it a privilege to add his mite" to the
Doctor's outfit, that he would give him a likely negro boy, if he wanted
him, and, if he was too conscientious to keep him, he might sell him at
a fair profit,--a happy stroke of humor which he was fond of relating
many years after.

The quilting was in those days considered the most solemn and important
recognition of a betrothal. And for the benefit of those not to the
manner born, a little preliminary instruction may be necessary.

The good wives of New England, impressed with that thrifty orthodoxy of
economy which forbids to waste the merest trifle, had a habit of saving
every scrap clipped out in the fashioning of household garments, and
these they cut into fanciful patterns and constructed of them rainbow
shapes and quaint traceries, the arrangement of which became one
of their few fine arts. Many a maiden, as she sorted and arranged
fluttering bits of green, yellow, red, and blue, felt rising in her
breast a passion for somewhat vague and unknown, which came out at
length in a new pattern of patchwork. Collections of these tiny
fragments were always ready to fill an hour when there was nothing else
to do; and as the maiden chatted with her beau, her busy flying needle
stitched together those pretty bits, which, little in themselves, were
destined, by gradual unions and accretions, to bring about at last
substantial beauty, warmth, and comfort,--emblems thus of that household
life which is to be brought to stability and beauty by reverent economy
in husbanding and tact in arranging the little useful and agreeable
morsels of daily existence.

When a wedding was forthcoming, there was a solemn review of the stores
of beauty and utility thus provided, and the patchwork-spread best
worthy of such distinction was chosen for the quilting. Thereto, duly
summoned, trooped all intimate female friends of the bride, old and
young; and the quilt being spread on a frame, and wadded with cotton,
each vied with the others in the delicacy of the quilting she could put
upon it. For the quilting also was a fine art, and had its delicacies
and nice points,--which grave elderly matrons discussed with judicious
care. The quilting generally began at an early hour in the afternoon,
and ended at dark with a great supper and general jubilee, at which that
ignorant and incapable sex which could not quilt was allowed to appear
and put in claims for consideration of another nature. It may, perhaps,
be surmised that this expected reinforcement was often alluded to by
the younger maidens, whose wickedly coquettish toilettes exhibited
suspicious marks of that willingness to get a chance to say "No" which
has been slanderously attributed to mischievous maidens.

In consideration of the tremendous responsibilities involved in this
quilting, the reader will not be surprised to learn, that, the evening
before, Miss Prissy made her appearance at the brown cottage, armed with
thimble, scissors, and pin-cushion, in order to relieve her mind by a
little preliminary confabulation.

"You see me, Miss Scudder, run 'most to death," she said; "but I thought
I would just run up to Miss Major Seaforth's, and see her best bed-room
quilt, 'cause I wanted to have all the ideas we possibly could, before I
decided on the pattern. Hers is in shells,--just common shells,--nothing
to be compared with Miss Wilcox's oak-leaves; and I suppose there isn't
the least doubt that Miss Wilcox's sister, in London, did get that from
a lady who had a cousin who was governess in the royal family; and I
just quilted a little bit to-day on an old piece of silk, and it comes
out beautiful; and so I thought I would just come and ask you if you did
not think it was best for us to have the oak-leaves."

"Well, certainly, Miss Prissy, if you think so," said Mrs. Scudder, who
was as pliant to the opinions of this wise woman of the parish as New
England matrons generally are to a reigning dress-maker and _factotum_.

Miss Prissy had the happy consciousness, always, that her early advent
under any roof was considered a matter of especial grace; and therefore
it was with rather a patronizing tone that she announced that she would
stay and spend the night with them.

"I knew," she added, "that your spare chamber was full, with that Madame
de ------, what do you call her?--if I was to die, I could not remember
the woman's name. Well, I thought I could curl in with you, Mary, 'most
anywhere."

"That's right, Miss Prissy," said Mary; "you shall be welcome to half my
bed any time."

"Well, I knew you would say so, Mary; I never saw the thing you
would not give away one half of, since you was that high," said Miss
Prissy,--illustrating her words by placing her hand about two feet from
the floor.

Just at this moment, Madame de Frontignac entered and asked Mary to come
into her room and give her advice as to a piece of embroidery. When she
was gone out, Miss Prissy looked after her and sunk her voice once more
to the confidential whisper which we before described.

"I have heard strange stories about that Frenchwoman," she said; "but as
she is here with you and Mary, I suppose there cannot be any truth in
them. Dear me! the world is so censorious about women! But then, you
know, we don't expect much from French women. I suppose she is a Roman
Catholic, and worships pictures and stone images; but then, after all,
she has got an immortal soul, and I can't help hoping Mary's influence
may be blest to her. They say, when she speaks French, she swears every
few minutes; and if that is the way she was brought up, may-be she isn't
accountable. I think we can't be too charitable for people that a'n't
privileged as we are. Miss Vernon's Polly told me she had seen her sew
Sundays,--sew Sabbath-day! She came into her room sudden, and she was
working on her embroidery there; and she never winked nor blushed, nor
offered to put it away, but sat there just as easy! Polly said she never
was so beat in all her life; she felt kind o' scared, every time she
thought of it. But now she has come here, who knows but she may be
converted?"

"Mary has not said much about her state of mind," said Mrs. Scudder;
"but something of deep interest has passed between them. Mary is such an
uncommon child, that I trust everything to her."

We will not dwell further on the particulars of this evening,--nor
describe how Madame de Frontignac reconnoitred Miss Prissy with keen,
amused eyes,--nor how Miss Prissy assured Mary, in the confidential
solitude of her chamber, that her fingers just itched to get hold of
that trimming on Madame de Frog--something's dress, because she was
pretty nigh sure she could make some just like it, for she never saw any
trimming she could not make.

The robin that lived in the apple-tree was fairly outgeneralled the next
morning; for Miss Prissy was up before him, tripping about the chamber
on the points of her toes, knocking down all the movable things in the
room, in her efforts to be still, so as not to wake Mary; and it was not
until she had finally upset the stand by the bed, with the candlestick,
snuffers, and Bible on it, that Mary opened her eyes.

"Miss Prissy! dear me! what is it you are doing?"

"Why, I am trying to be still, Mary, so as not to wake you up; and it
seems to me as if everything was possessed, to tumble down so. But it is
only half past three,--so you turn over and go to sleep."

"But, Miss Prissy," said Mary, sitting up in bed, "you are all dressed;
where are you going?"

"Well, to tell the truth, Mary, I am just one of those people that can't
sleep when they have got responsibility on their minds; and I have been
lying awake more than an hour here, thinking about that quilt. There is
a new way of getting it on to the frame that I want to try; 'cause, you
know, when we quilted Cerinthy Stebbins's, it _would_ trouble us in the
rolling; and I have got a new way that I want to try, and I mean just to
get it on to the frame before breakfast. I was in hopes I should get out
without waking any of you. I am in hopes I shall get by your mother's
door without waking her,--'cause I know she works hard and needs her
rest,--but that bed-room door squeaks like a cat, enough to raise the
dead!

"Mary," she added, with sudden energy, "if I had the least drop of
oil in a teacup, and a bit of quill, I'd stop that door making such a
noise." And Miss Prissy's eyes glowed with resolution.

"I don't know where you could find any at this time," said Mary.

"Well, never mind; I'll just go and open the door as slow and careful as
I can," said Miss Prissy, as she trotted out of the apartment.

The result of her carefulness was very soon announced to Mary by a
protracted sound resembling the mewing of a hoarse cat, accompanied by
sundry audible grunts from Miss Prissy, terminating in a grand finale
of clatter, occasioned by her knocking down all the pieces of the
quilting-frame that stood in the corner of the room, with a concussion
that roused everybody in the house.

"What is that?" called out Mrs. Scudder, from her bed-room.

She was answered by two streams of laughter,--one from Mary, sitting up
in bed, and the other from Miss Prissy, holding her sides, as she sat
dissolved in merriment on the sanded floor,

[To be continued.]



OLD PAPERS.

  As who, in idly searching o'er
  Some seldom-entered garret-shed,
  Might, with strange pity, touch the poor
  Moth-eaten garments of the dead,--

  Thus (to their wearer once allied)
  I lift these weeds of buried woe,--
  These relics of a self that died
  So sadly and so long ago!
  'Tis said that seven short years can change,
  Through nerve and bone, this knitted frame,
  Cellule by cellule waxing strange,
  Till not an atom is the same.

  By what more subtile, slow degrees
  Thus may the mind transmute its all,
  That calmly it should dwell on these,
  As on another's fate and fall!

  So far remote from joy or bale,
  Wherewith each dusky page is rife,
  I seem to read some piteous tale
  Of strange romance, but true to life.

  Too daring thoughts! too idle deeds!
  A soul that questioned, loved, and sinned!
  And hopes, that stand like last year's weeds,
  And shudder in the dead March wind!

  Grave of gone dreams!--could such convulse
  Youth's fevered trance?--The plot grows thick;--
  Was it this cold and even pulse
  That thrilled with life so fierce and quick?

  Well, I can smile at all this now,--
  But cannot smile when I recall
  The heart of faith, the open brow,
  The trust that once was all in all;--

  Nor when--Ah, faded, spectral sheet,
  Wraith of long-perished wrong and time,
  Forbear! the spirit starts to meet
  The resurrection of its crime!

  Starts,--from its human world shut out,--
  As some detected changeling elf,
  Doomed, with strange agony and doubt,
  To enter on his former self.

  Ill-omened leaves, still rust apart!
  No further!--'tis a page turned o'er,
  And the long dead and coffined heart
  Throbs into wretched life once more.



RIFLED GUNS.[1]


When, nearly fifty years ago, England was taught one of the bloodiest
lessons her history has to record, before the cotton-bale breastworks
of New Orleans, a lesson, too, which was only the demonstration of a
proposition laid down more than a hundred years ago by one of her own
philosophers,[2] who would have believed that she, aiming to be the
first military power in the world, would have left the first advantage
of that lesson to be gained by her rival, France?

When the troops that had defeated Napoleon stopped, baffled, before a
breast-work defended by raw militiamen; when, finding that the heads of
their columns melted away like wax in fire as they approached the
blaze of those hunters' rifles, they finally recoiled, terribly
defeated,--saved from total destruction, perhaps, only by the fact that
their enemy had not enough of a military organization to enable them to
pursue effectively; when, in brief, a battle with men who never before
had seen a skirmish of regular troops was turned into a slaughter almost
unparalleled for disproportioned losses in the history of civilized
warfare, the English loss being about twelve hundred, the American some
fifteen all told; one would have thought that such a demonstration of
the power of the rifle would have brought Robins's words to the memory
of England,--"will perhaps fall but little short of the wonderful
effects which histories relate to have been formerly produced by the
first inventors of fire-arms." What more astonishing disparity of
military power does the history of fire-arms record? twelve hundred to
fifteen! But this lesson, so terrible and so utterly ignored by English
pride, was simply that of the value of the rifle intelligently used.

They tell a story which makes a capital foot-note to the history of
the battle:--that General Jackson, having invited some of the English
officers to dine with him, had on the table a robin-pie which he
informed the guests contained twelve robins whose heads had all been
shot off by one of his marksmen, who, in shooting the twelve, used but
thirteen balls. The result of the battle must be mainly attributed to
the deadly marksmanship of the hunters who composed the American forces;
but the same men armed with muskets would not only not have shown the
same accuracy in firing, but they would not have felt the moral force
which a complete reliance on their weapons gave,--a certainty that they
held the life of any antagonist in their hands, as soon as enough of him
appeared to "draw a bead on." Put the same men in the open field where a
charge of bayonets was to be met, and they would doubtless have broken and
fled without crossing steel. Nor, on the other hand, could any musketry
have kept the English columns out of the cotton-bale breast-work;--they
had often in the Peninsula stormed stronger works than that,--without
faltering for artillery, musketry, or bayonet. But here they were
literally unable to reach the works; the fatal rifle-bullet drew a line at
which bravery and cowardice, nonchalant veterans and trembling boys, were
equalized in the dust.

[Footnote 1: _Instructions to Young Marksmen_ in all that relates to the
General Construction, Practical Manipulation, etc., etc., as exhibited
in the Improved American Rifle. By John Ratcliffe Chapman, C. E. New
York: D. Appleton &. Co. 1848.

_Rifle-Practice_. By Lieut.-Col. John Jacob, C. B., of the Bombay
Artillery. London: Smith, Elder, & Co. 1857.

_The Rifle; and how to use it_. Comprising a Description of that
Admirable Weapon, etc., etc. By Hans Busk, M.A. First Lieut. Victoria
Rifles. London: J. Routledge & Co. 1858.

_Report of the U. S. Commission on Rifles_. 1856.]

[Footnote 2: Robins {on Projectiles) said in 1748, "Whatever state shall
thoroughly comprehend the nature and advantages of rifle-pieces, and,
having facilitated and completed their construction, shall introduce
into their armies their general use, with a dexterity in the management
of them, will by this means acquire a superiority which will almost
equal anything that has been done at any time by the particular
excellence of any one kind of arms, and will perhaps fall but little
short of the wonderful effects which histories relate to have been
formerly produced by the first inventors of fire-arms." Words, we now
see, how prophetic!]

We remember once to have met an old hunter who was one of the volunteers
at Hattsburg, (another rifle battle, fought by militiamen mainly,) a man
who never spoiled his furs by shooting his game in the body, and who
carried into the battle his hunting-rifle. Being much questioned as to
his share in the day's deeds, he told us that he, with a body of men,
all volunteers, and mainly hunters like himself, was stationed at a ford
on the Saranac, where a British column attempted to cross. Their captain
ordered no one to fire until the enemy were half-way across; "and then,"
said he, "none of 'em ever got across, and not many of them that got
into the water got out again. They found out it wa'n't of any kind of
use to try to get across there, and after a while they give it up and
went farther down the river; and by-and-by an officer come and told
us to go to the other ford, and we went there, and so they didn't get
across there either." We were desirous of getting the estimate of an
expert as to the effect of such firing, and asked him directly how many
men he had killed. "I don't know," said he, modestly; "I rather guess I
killed one fellow, _certain_; but how many more I can't say. I was going
down to the river with another volunteer to get some water, and I heerd
a shot right across the river, and I peeked out of the bushes, and see
a red-coat sticking his head out of the bushes on the other side, and
looking down the river, as if he'd been firing at somebody on our side,
and pretty soon he stuck his head out agin, and took aim at something
in that way; and I thought, of course, it must be some of our folks. I
couldn't stand that, so I just drawed up and fired at him. He dropped
his gun, and pitched head-first into the water. I guess I hit him
amongst the waistcoat-buttons; but then, you know, if I hadn't shot
him, he might have killed somebody on our side." We put the question in
another form, asking how many shots he fired that day. "About sixteen,
I guess, or maybe twenty." "And how far off were the enemy?" "Well, I
should think about twenty rod." We suggested that he did not waste many
of his bullets; to which he replied, that "he didn't often miss a deer
at that distance."

But these were the exploits of fifty years ago; the weapon, the old
heavy-metalled, long-barrelled "Kentucky" rifle; and the missile, the
old round bullet, sent home with a linen patch. It is a form of the
rifled gun not got up by any board of ordnance or theoretic engineers,
but which, as is generally the case with excellent tools, was the result
of the trials and experience of a race of practical men, something which
had grown up to supply the needs of hunters; and with the improvements
which greater mechanical perfection in gun-making has effected, it
stands at this day the king of weapons, unapproached for accuracy by the
work of any nation beside our own, very little surpassed in its range by
any of the newly invented modifications of the rifle. The Kentucky[1]
[Footnote 1: The technical name for the long, heavy, small-calibred
rifle, in which the thickness of the metal outside the bore is about
equal to the diameter of the bore.] rifle is to American mechanism what
the chronometer is to English, a speciality in which rivalry by any
other nation is at this moment out of the question. An English board of
ordnance may make a series of experiments, and in a year or two
contrive an Enfield rifle, which, to men who know of nothing better,
is wonderful; but here we have the result of experiments of nearly a
hundred years, by generations whose daily subsistence depended on the
accuracy and excellence of their rifles, and who all experimented
on the value of an inch in the length of the barrel, an ounce in its
weight, or a grain in the weight of the ball. They tried all methods of
creasing, all variations of the spiral of the groove; every town had
its gunsmith, who experimented in almost every gun he made, and who was
generally one of the best shots and hunters in the neighborhood; and
often the hunter, despairing of getting a gun to suit him in any other
way, went to work himself, and wrought out a clumsy, but unerring gun,
in which, perhaps, was the germ of some of the latest improvements in
scientific gunnery. The different gun-makers had shooting-matches, at
which the excellence of the work of each was put to the severest tests,
and by which their reputations were established. The result is a rifle,
compared with which, as manufactured by a dozen rifle-makers in the
United States, the Minié, the Enfield, the Lancaster, or even the
Sharpe's, and more recent breech-loaders, are bungling muskets. The last
adopted form of missile, the sugar-loaf-shaped, of which the Minie,
Enfieid, Colonel Jacob's, and all the conical forms are partial
adaptations, has been, to our personal knowledge, in use among our
riflemen more than twenty years. In one of our earliest visits to that
most fascinating of _ateliers_ to most American youth, a gunsmith's
shop, a collection of "slugs" was shown to us, in which the varieties of
forms, ovate, conical, elliptical, and all nameless forms in which the
length is greater than the diameter, had been exhausted in the effort to
find that shape which would range farthest; and the shape (very nearly)
which Colonel (late General) Jacob alludes to, writing in 1854, in these
terms, "This shape, after hundreds of thousands of experiments,
proves to be quite perfect," had been adopted by this unorganized
ordnance-board, composed of hundreds of gun-makers, stimulated by the
most powerful incentives to exertion. The experiments by which they
arrived at their conclusion not only anticipated by years the trials
of the European experimenters, but far surpass, in laboriousness and
nicety, all the experiments of Hythe, Vincennes, and Jacobabad. The
resulting curve, which the longitudinal section of the perfect "slug"
shows, is as subtile and incapable of modification, without loss, as
that of the boomerang; no hair's thickness could be taken away or added
without injury to its range. Such a weapon and such a missile, in their
perfection, could never have come into existence except in answer to the
demand of a nation of hunters to whom a shade of greater accuracy is
the means of subsistence. No man who is not a first-rate shot can judge
justly of the value of a rifle; and one of our backwoodsmen would never
use any rifle but the Kentucky _of American manufacture_, if it were
given him. An Adirondack hunter would not thank the best English
rifle-maker for one of his guns any more warmly than a sea-captain in
want of a chronometer would thank his owners for a Swiss lepine watch.

The gun which we thus eulogize we shall describe, and compare the
results which its use shows with those shown by the other known
varieties of rifle, and this without any consideration of the powers of
American marksmen as compared with European. The world is full of fables
of shooting-exploits as absurd as those told of Robin Hood. Cooper tells
of Leatherstocking's driving the nail with unfailing aim at a hundred
paces,--a degree of skill no man out of romance has ever been _reported_
to possess amongst riflemen. We have seen the best marksmen the
continent holds attempt to drive the nail at fifty yards, and take
fifty balls to drive one nail. A story is current of a French rifleman
shooting an Arab chief a mile distant, which, if true, was only a chance
shot; for no human vision will serve the truest rifle ever made and the
steadiest nerves ever strung to perform such a feat with any certainty.
Lieutenant Busk informs us that Captain Minié "will undertake to hit a
man at a distance of 1420 yards three times out of five shots,"--a
feat Captain Minié or any other man will "undertake" many times before
accomplishing, for the simple reason, that, supposing the rifle
_perfect_, at _that_ distance a man is too small a mark to be found in
the sights of a rifle, except by the aid of the telescope.[1] [Footnote
1: A man, five feet ten inches high, at 1450 yards, will, in the
buck-sight of the Minie rifle, at fourteen inches from the eye, appear
1/53 of an inch in height and 1/185 in breadth of shoulders. If the
reader will look at these measures on a finely divided scale, he will
appreciate the absurdity of such a boast. A man at that distance could
hardly be found in the sights.] We could fill a page with marvellous
shots _quos nidi et quorum pars_, etc. We have seen a bird no larger
than a half-grown chicken killed off-hand at eighty rods (nearly
fourteen hundred feet); have known a deer to be killed at a good half
mile; have shot off the skull-cap of a duck at thirty rods; at twenty
rods have shot a loon through the head, putting the ball in at one eye
and out at the other, without breaking the skin;--but such shooting,
ordinarily, is a physical impossibility, as any experienced rifleman
knows. These were chance shots, or so nearly so that they could not be
repeated in a hundred shots. The impossibility lies in the marksman and
in human vision.

In comparing the effects of rifles, then, we shall suppose them, as in
government trials and long-range shooting-matches, to be fired from a
"dead rest,"--the only way in which the absolute power of a rifle can be
shown. First, for the gun itself. There are two laws of gunnery which
must be kept in sight in comparing the results of such trials:--1st,
that the shape and material of two missiles being the same, the heavier
will range the farther, because in proportion to its momentum it meets
less resistance from the atmosphere; 2d, that the less the recoil of the
gun, the greater will be the initial velocity of the ball, since the
motion lost in recoil is taken from the velocity of the ball. Of course,
then, the larger the bore of the rifle, the greater will be its range,
supposing always the best form of missile and a proportionate weight of
gun. As the result of these two laws, we see that of two guns throwing
the same weight and description of missile, the heavier will throw its
missile the farther; while of two guns of the same weight, that one
which throws the smaller missile will give it the greater initial
velocity,--supposing the gun free to recoil, as it must, fired from the
shoulder. But the smaller ball will yield the sooner to the resistance
of the atmosphere, owing to its greater proportional surface presented.
Suppose, then, two balls of different weights to be fired from guns of
the same weight;--the smaller ball will start with the higher rate of
speed, but will finally be overtaken and passed by the larger ball; and
the great problem of rifle-gauge is to ascertain that relation of weight
of gun to weight of projectile which will give the greatest velocity at
the longest range at which the object fired at can be seen distinctly
enough to give a reasonable chance of hitting it. This problem the maker
of the Kentucky rifle solves, by accepting, as a starting-point, the
greatest weight of gun which a man may reasonably be expected to
carry,--say, ten to twelve pounds,--and giving to that weight the
heaviest ball it will throw, without serious recoil,--for no matter what
the proportion, there will be _some_ recoil. This proportion of the
weight of gun to that of projectile, as found by experience, is about
five hundred to one; so that if a gun weigh ten pounds, the ball should
weigh about 19/500 of a pound. Of course, none of these gun-makers have
ever made a mathematical formula expressing this relation; but hundreds
of thousands of shots have pretty well determined it to be the most
effective for all hunting needs (and the best hunting-rifles are the
best for a rifle-corps, acting as sharp-shooters). By putting this
weight of ball into a conical form of good proportions, the calibre
of the gun may be made about ninety gauge. which, for a range of four
hundred yards, cannot be excelled in accuracy with that weight of gun.

But in a rifle the grooving is of the utmost importance; for velocity
without accuracy is useless. To determine the best kind of groove has
been, accordingly, the object of the most laborious investigations. The
ball requires an initial rotary motion sufficient to keep it "spinning"
up to its required range, and is found to gain in accuracy by increasing
this rotatory speed; but if the pitch of the grooves be too great,
the ball will refuse to follow them; but, being driven across them,
"strips,"--that is, the lead in the grooves is torn off, and the ball
goes out without rotation. The English gunsmiths have avoided the
dilemma by giving the requisite pitch and making the grooves very deep,
and even by having wings cast on the ball to keep it in the grooves,
expedients which increase the friction in the barrel and the resistance
of the air enormously.

The American gun-makers have solved the problem by adopting the "gaining
twist," in which the grooves start from the breech nearly parallel to
the axis of the barrel, and gradually increase the spiral, until, at the
muzzle, it has the pitch of one revolution in three to four; _the pitch
being greater as the bore is less_. This gives, as a result, safety from
stripping, and a rapid revolution at the exit, with comparatively little
friction and shallow groove-marks on the ball,--accomplishing what is
demanded of a rifled barrel, to a degree that no other combination of
groove and form of missile ever has.

English makers have experimented somewhat on the rifling of barrels, but
with no results which compare with those shown by the improved Kentucky.
English hunting-rifles, and _all_ military rifles, are made with
complete disregard of the law of relation between the weights of ball
and barrel. The former seems to be determined by dividing the weight of
ammunition a soldier may carry in his cartridge-box by the number of
charges he is required to have, and then the gun is made as light as
will stand the test of firing,--blunders all the way through; for we
never want a rifle-ball to range much farther than it is possible to hit
a single man with it; and a missile of the proper shape from a barrel of
sixty gauge will kill a man at a mile's distance, if it strike a vital
part. The consequence is, that the rifles are so light in proportion to
their load that the recoil seriously diminishes the force of the ball,
and entirely prevents accuracy of aim; and at the same time their
elastic metal springs so much under the pressure of the gas generated
by the explosion of the powder that anything like exactitude becomes
impossible.[1][Footnote 1: Experiments have shown, that, with a barrel
about the thickness of that of our "regulation rifles," the spring will
throw a ball nearly two feet from the aim in a range of six hundred
yards, if the barrel be firmly held in a machine.] This the English
gunsmiths do not seem to have learned, since their best authorities
recommend a gun of sixty-four gauge to have a barrel of four pounds
weight, and that is considered heavy,--while ours, of sixty gauge, would
weigh at least twice that. To get the best possible shooting, we find
not only weight of barrel requisite, but a thickness of the metal nearly
or quite equal to the diameter of the bore.

Mr. Whitworth, of Manchester, revived the old polygonal bore, and, by
a far more perfect boring of barrel than was ever before attained in
England, has succeeded in doing some very accurate shooting; but the
pitch of his grooves requisite to give sufficient rotation to his
polygonal missile to enable it to rotate to the end of its flight is so
great, that the friction and recoil are enormous, and the liability
to burst very great, Mr. Whitworth's missile is a twisted prism,
corresponding to the bore, of two and a half diameters, with a cone at
the front of one half the diameter. Such a gun, in a firing-machine,
with powder enough to overcome all the friction, and heavy enough to
counteract torsion and springing, would give very great accuracy, if
perfectly made, or as well made as American rifles generally; but no
maker in England, not even Mr. Whitworth, has attained _that_ point
yet; and even so made, they would never be available as service--or
hunting-guns.

The Lancaster rifle avoids grooves (nominally) altogether, and
substitutes an elliptical bore, twisted to Mr. Whitworth's pitch (twenty
inches). General Jacob says, very justly, of this gun: "The mode of
rifling is the _very worst possible. It is only the two-grooved rifle in
disguise_. Let the shoulders of the grooves of a two-grooved rifle be
removed, and you have the Lancaster rifle. But by the removal of
these shoulders, the friction, if the twist be considerable, becomes
enormous." To compare this twist with the rifled bore, one has only to
take a lead tube, made slightly elliptical in its cross-section, and,
fitting a plug to its ellipse, turn the plug round, and he will see that
the result is to enlarge the whole bore to the longest diameter of the
ellipse, which, if it were a gun-barrel, unelastic, would be equivalent
to bursting it. But this is exactly the action which the ball has on the
barrel, so that, to use General Jacob's words, "the heat developed by
the friction must be very great, and the tendency of the gun to burst
also very great." Lieutenant Busk--who seems, if we may judge from the
internal evidence of his book, to know little or nothing of good rifles
or rifle-practice, and to have no greater qualification for writing the
book than the reading of what has been written on the subject and an
acquaintance of great extent with gunsmiths--remarks, in reply to the
veteran of English riflemen: "Having given the matter the very closest
attention, I am enabled confidently to state that the whole of this
supposition [quoted above] is founded in error.... So far from the
friction being enormous, it is less than that generated in any other
kind of rifle. It is also utterly impossible for the bullet to act
destructively on the barrel in the way suggested." Such cool assurance,
in an unsupported contradiction of experience and the dictates of the
simplest mechanical common-sense, would seem to promise little real
value in the book, and promises no less than it really has.

The same objection which lies against the Lancaster rifle (?) applies
to the Whitworth in a less degree. If the reader, having tried the
lead-pipe experiment above, will next hammer the tube hexagonal and try
the plug again, he will find the same result; but if he will try it with
a round bore grooved, and with a plug fitting the grooves, he will see
that the pressure is against the wall of the groove, and acts at right
angles to the radius of the bore, having only a tendency to twist the
barrel in order to straighten the grooves,--a tendency which the barrel
meets in the direction of its greatest stability. We may see, then,
that, in theory at least, there is no way of rifling so secure as that
in which the walls of the grooves are parts of radii of the bore. They
should be numerous, that the hold of the lands (the projection left
between the grooves) may divide the friction and resistance as much as
possible, and so permit the grooves to be as shallow as may be. The
figure

[Illustration: ]

represents, on one side of the dotted line, three grooves, 1, 1, 1, cut
in this way, exaggerated to show more clearly their character. In the
Kentucky rifle this law is followed, except that, for convenience in
cutting, the grooves are made of the same width at the bottom and top,
as shown at 2, 2, 2, which is, for grooves of the depth of which they
are made, practically the same, as the dotted circle will show. Our
gun-makers use from six to ten grooves.

To sum up our conditions,--the model rifle will conform to the following
description:--Its weight will be from ten to twelve pounds; the length
of barrel not less than thirty inches,[1] and of calibre from ninety to
sixty gauge; six to ten freed grooves, about .005 inch deep, angular at
bottom and top, with the lands of the same width as the grooves; twist
increasing from six feet to three feet; barrel, of cast steel,[2] fitted
to the stock with a patent breech, with back action set lock, and open
or hunting and globe and peek sights. Mr. Chapman, whose book is the
most interesting and intelligent, by far, of all hitherto published,
recommends a straighter stock than those generally used by American
hunters. Here we differ;--the Swiss stock, crooking, on an average, two
inches more than ours, is preferable for quick shooting, though in a
_light_ rifle much crook in the stock will throw the muzzle up by the
recoil. With such a gun,--the best for hunting that the ingenuity and
skill of man have ever yet contrived and made,--one may depend on
his shot, if he have skill, as he cannot on the Minié, Enfield, or
Lancaster; and whether he be in the field against a foe, or in the
forest against the deer, he holds the life of man or deer in his power
at the range of rifle-sighting.

[Footnote 1: There is much difference of opinion amongst gun-makers as
to the length of barrel most desirable. We believe in a long barrel, for
the following reasons: 1st, a longer distance between sights is given,
and the back sight can be put farther from the eye, so that finer
sighting is possible; 2d, a long barrel is steadier in off-hand
shooting; 3d, it permits a slower powder to be used, so that the ball
starts more slowly and yet allows the full strength of the powder to be
used before it leaves the barrel, getting a high initial velocity with
little recoil, and without "upsetting" the ball, as we shall explain
farther on. The experiments of the United States government show that
the increasing of the length of the barrel from thirty-three to forty
inches (we speak from memory as to numbers) increased the initial
velocity fifty feet per second; but this will, in long ranges, be no
advantage, except with such a shape of missile as will maintain a high
speed.]

[Footnote 2: Hunters still dispute as to iron or steel; and we have used
iron barrels made by Amsden, of Saratoga Springs, which for accuracy and
wear were unexceptionable; though gunsmiths generally take less pains
with iron than steel barrels. But give us steel.]

Of all the variations of the rifle, for the sake of obtaining force of
penetration, nothing yet compares with the Accelerating Rifle, invented
some years since by a New York mechanic. In this the ball was started by
an ordinary charge, and at a certain distance down the barrel received
a new charge, by a side chamber, which produced an almost incredible
effect. An ellipsoidal missile of ninety gauge and several diameters
long, made of brass, was driven through thirty-six inches of oak and
twenty-four inches of green spruce timber, or fifty inches of the most
impenetrable of timbers. The same principle of acceleration has, it is
said, been most successfully applied in Boston by the use of a hollow
_tige_ or tube fixed at the bottom of the bore with the inside of which
the cap-fire communicates,--so that, when the gun is charged, part of
the powder falls into the _tige_, and the remainder into the barrel
outside of it. The ball being driven down until it rests on the top of
the _tige_, receives its first impulse from the small charge contained
in it,--after which, the fire, flashing back, communicates to the powder
outside the _tige_, producing an enormous accelerating effect. But it is
doubtful if the gun can be brought into actual service, from being so
difficult to clean.

It is questionable if any greater range in rifles will be found
desirable. With a good Kentucky rifle, we are even now obliged to use
telescope sights to avail ourselves of its full range and accuracy of
fire. The accelerating inventions may be made use of in artillery, for
throwing shells, and for siege trains, but promise nothing for small
arms.

Then, as the secondary point, comes the form of projectile, that in
which the greatest weight (and thence momentum) combines with least
resistance from the atmosphere. In the pursuit of this result every
experimenter since the fifteenth century has worked. Lautmann, writing
in 1729, recommends an elliptical missile, hollow behind, from a
notion that the hollow gathered the explosive force, Robins recommends
elongated balls; and they were used in many varieties of form. Theory
would assign, as the shape of highest rapidity, one like that which
would be made by the revolution of the waterline section of a fast
ship on its longitudinal axis; and supposing the force _to have been_
applied, this would doubtless be capable of the greatest speed; but the
rifle-missile must first be fitted to receive the action of the powder
in the most effective way. An ellipsoid cone would leave the air behind
it most smoothly, but it would not receive the pressure of the gas in a
line with its direction of motion; and so of the hollow butt; the gas,
acting and reacting in every way perpendicularly to the surface it acts
on, wastes its force in straining outwardly. The perfectly flat butt
would take as much forward impetus at the edge of the cone base, where
the soft lead would yield slightly. And so we find the best form to be
a base which receives the force of the powder in such a way that the
resultant of the forces acting on each point in the base would be
coincident with the axis of the missile. And this, in practice, was the
shape which the American experiments gave to the butt of the ball, the
condition in which it left the air being found of minor importance,
compared with its capacity of receiving the force of the powder. The
point of the cone was found objectionable in practice, and was gradually
brought to the curve of the now universally used sugar-loaf missile or
flat-ended picket shown in fig. 1.

[Illustration: Figure 1]

This picket has but a single point of bearing, and is driven down with
a greased linen patch, filling up the grooves entirely, and preventing
"leading" of the barrel, as well as keeping the picket firm in
the barrel. This is of vital importance; for no breech-loading or
loose-loading and expanding ball can ever fly so truly as a solid ball
whose position in the barrel is accurately fixed. A longitudinal missile
must rotate with its axis coincident with its line of flight as it
leaves the barrel, or else every rotation will throw the point into
wider circles, until finally it becomes more eccentric than a round
ball. It is a mistaken notion that a conical missile is more accurate in
flight than a round; on the contrary, hunters always prefer the ball for
_short shots_,--and a "slug," as the longer missile is called by them,
is well known to err more than a ball, if put down untruly.

[Illustration: Figure 2]

The improved Minié ball (fig. 2) was intended to obviate the danger of
the missile's turning in flight, by hollowing the butt, and so putting
the centre of gravity in front of the centre of resistance, so that
it flies like a heavy-headed arrow, while at the same time the powder
expands the hollow butt and fills the grooves, securing perfect rotation
with easy loading. But the hollow in the ball diminishes the gravity and
momentum; the liability of the lead to expand unequally, and so throw
the point of the missile out of line, makes a long bearing necessary,
producing enormous friction. This objection obtains equally with all
pickets having expanding butts, and is a sufficient reason for their
inferior accuracy to that of solid pickets fitted to the grooves at the
muzzle with a patch. General Jacob says,--"I have tried every expedient
I could think of as a substitute for the greased patch for rifle-balls,
but had always to return to this"; and every experienced rifleman will
agree with him. Yet both English and American (governmental) experiments
ignore the fact, that the expansible bullets increase friction
enormously; and the Enfield bullet (fig. 3) is as badly contrived as
possible, being round-pointed, expansible, and with very long bearings,
without the bands which in the French and American bullets reduce the
friction somewhat. The Harper's Ferry bullet (fig. 4) is better than
either the English or the French, and is as good as a loose-loading
bullet can be.

[Illustration: Figure 3]

[Illustration: Fig 4]

Besides all the objections we have urged against the bullet with long
bearings, another still remains of a serious nature. No missile that has
two points of bearing can be used with the gaining twist, as the change
in the direction of the ridges on the shot formed by the grooves will
necessarily tend to change the position of the axis of the shot; and
the gaining twist is the greatest improvement made since grooving was
successfully applied;--to reject it is to reject something indispensable
to the _best_ performance of the rifle. The flat-ended picket complies
with all the requisites laid down; and we will venture to say, that,
if any government will give it a thorough trial, side by side with any
loose-loading bullet, it will be found preferable to any other bullet,
despite the disadvantage of slow loading from using a patch and a
tight-fitting ball.

To make the statement conclusive, we give the results of the United
States experiments, and a statement of the European as compared with the
United States firing, and then the results of Kentucky rifle-firing.
With the new trial-rifle at Harper's Ferry, (a target 1 X 216 feet being
put up at two hundred yards,) with the American ball, (fig. 4,) the best
string of twenty-five shots averaged 3.2 inches vertical deviation, 2.4
in. horizontal deviation. At five hundred yards, the best string of
twenty-five shots averaged 10.8 inches vertical deviation, 14 in.
horizontal deviation. At one thousand yards, 26.4 vertical deviation,
16.8 horizontal deviation. In another trial with the new musket-rifle,
the mean deviation at two hundred yards was 4.4 vertical, 3.4
horizontal.

In a comparison of the power of French, English, and American rifles,
it was found that at two hundred yards the American gun averaged 4.8
vertical and 4.5 horizontal deviation. The Enfield rifle gave 7 in.
vertical, 11.3 horizontal; the French rifle _a tige_, 8 vertical, 7.6
horizontal. A Swiss rifle, at the same distance, gave 5.3 vertical and
4.3 horizontal deviation.

At five hundred yards, the following was the result:--

  American gun,       13.  in. vert. dev.   11.5   hor. dev.
  Enfield,  "         20.4       "          19.2      "
  Rifle _à tige_,     18.5       "          17.1      "

  At one thousand yards,--

  American gun,    31.5 in. vert. dev.    20.1   hor. dev.
  Enfield,  "       42        "           52.8      "
  Rifle_à tige_(874 yds.),47.2 "          37.4      "

The only detailed reports of General Jacob's practice are at one
thousand yards or over, at which his _shell_ averaged 31.2 in.
horizontal deviation, 55.2 in. vertical; not far from the range of the
Enfield. His bullet is fig. 5.

[Illustration: Fig 5.]

But long ranges test less fairly the _accuracy_ of a rifle than short
ones, because in long flights they are more subject to drift, of the
wind, etc. We shall compare the government reports of shooting at two
hundred yards with that of the Kentucky rifle at two hundred and twenty,
the usual trying distance. At that distance, the American gun gave

                       4.8 in. vert dev. and 4.5 hor. dev.
  Enfield,             7         "          11.3    "
  French _à tige_,     8         "           7.6    "
  Swiss,               5.3       "           4.3    "
  Kentucky, (according to Mr. Chapman,) 1.06 absolute deviation.

At 500 yards, the comparison stands,--

American, (government,) 13 in. vertical deviation, 11.5 in. horizontal.
(About 17 in. absolute.)

Kentucky, (550 yards,) 11 in. absolute deviation

We give cuts of two targets, of which we have duplicates in our
possession, made by rifles manufactured by Morgan James, of Utica, New
York, that the reader may appreciate the marvellous accuracy of this
weapon; the first was made by a rifle of 60 gauge, twenty-five shots
being fired, the average deviation being 1.4 in.; the second by a 90
gauge, the average being [Illustration]

[Illustration]

.8 in.; both at two hundred and twenty yards, and better than Mr.
Chapman's report. In the northern part of the State of New York, the
practice at shooting-matches is, at turkeys at one hundred rods, (five
hundred and fifty yards,) and a good marksman is expected to kill one
turkey, on an average, in three shots,--and this with a bullet weighing
from two hundred and forty to one hundred and sixty grains, while the
army bullet weighs five hundred and fifty-seven. The easily fatal range
of the bullet of two hundred and forty grains is a thousand yards; and
farther than that, no bullet can be relied on as against single men.

In breech-loading guns, much must be sacrificed, in point of accuracy,
to mere facility of loading; and here there seems room for doubt whether
a breech-loader offers any advantage compensating for its complication
of mechanism and the danger of its being disabled by accident in hurried
loading. No breech-loading gun is so trustworthy in its execution as a
muzzle-loader; for, in spite of all precautions, the bullets will go
out irregularly. We have cut out too many balls of Sharpe's rifle from
the target, which had entered sidewise, not to be certain on this point;
and we know of no other breech-loader so little likely to err in this
respect, when the ball is crowded down into the grooves, and the powder
poured on the ball,--as we always use it. The government reports on
breech-loaders are adverse to their adoption, mainly because they are so
likely to get out of working order and to get clogged. We have used one
of Sharpe's two years in hunting, and found it, with a round ball at
short shots, perfectly reliable; while with the belted picket perhaps
one shot in five or six would wander. Used with the cartridge, they
are much less reliable. They may be apt to clog, but we have used one
through a day's hunting, and found the oil on the slide at night: and we
are inclined to believe, that, when fitted with gas rings, they will
not clog, if used with good powder. The Maynard rifle is perfectly
unexceptionable in this respect, and an excellent gun, in its way. The
powder does not flash out any more than in a muzzle-loader. Of the other
kinds of breech-loaders we can say nothing from experience, and should
scarcely recommend using one for a hunting-gun. One who has used a
rifle of James, of Lewis (of Troy, New York), Amsden of Saratoga, (and
doubtless others in the West are equally famous in their sections,) will
hardly be willing to use the best breech-loader. There is no time saved,
when the important shot is lost; and the gun that is always true is the
only one for a rifleman, _if it take twice, the time to load_.

In the rifling of cannon, there seems to be no reason why the same rules
should not hold good as in small arms. The gaining twist seems more
important, from the greater tendency of the heavy balls to strip; and
there being less object in extreme lightness, the gun may be made a
large-sized Kentucky rifle on wheels; and there is less difficulty in
loading with the precision that the flat-ended picket requires. In the
cannon, even more than in the rifle for the line, there is no gain in
getting facility of loading at the expense of precision. If, by careful
loading, we hit the given mark twice as often as when we load in haste,
it is clear how much we gain. The breech-loader seems to be useless as a
cannon, because that in which it has the advantage, namely, rapidity of
loading, is useless in a field-piece, where, even now, artillery-men can
load faster than they can fire safely. Napoleon III. has made his rifled
cannon to load at the muzzle, and practical artillerists commend
his decision. The Armstrong gun, of which so much is expected, we
confidently predict, will prove a failure, when tried in field-practice
in the hurry of battle, if it is ever so tried. It is a breech-loader of
the clumsiest kind, taking twice as long to load as a common gun,
and very complicated. Its wonderful range is owing to its great
calibre,--sixty-four pounds; but even at that, it furnishes no results
proportionate to those given by the Napoleon cannon, or by our General
James's recent gun.

The great anticipations raised by the general introduction of the rifle,
and its greater range, of such a change in warfare as to make the
bayonet useless, seem to have met with disappointment in the recent
wars. No matter how perfect the gun, men, in the heat and excitement of
battle, will hardly be deliberate in aim, or effective enough in firing
to stop a charge of determined men; the bayonet, with the most of
mankind, will always be the queen of weapons in a pitched battle; only
for skirmishing, for sharp-shooting, and artillery, will the rifle equal
theoretical expectations. Men, not brought up from boyhood to such
constant use of the rifle as to make sure aim an act of instinct with
them, will never repel with certainty a charge of the bayonet by
rifle-balls. With men whose rifles come to an aim with the instinctive
accuracy with which a hawk strikes his prey, firing is equivalent to
hitting, and excitement only makes the aim surer and more prompt; but
such must have been hunters from youth; and no training of the army can
give this second nature. American volunteers are the only material,
outside the little districts of Switzerland and the Tyrol, who can ever
be trained to this point, because they are the only nation of hunters
beside the Swiss and Tyrolese. The English game-laws, which prevent the
common people from using fire-arms _ad libitum_, have done and are doing
more to injure the efficacy of the individual soldier than all their
militia-training can ever mend. In the hands of an English peasant,
"Brown Bess" is as good as a rifle; for he would only throw the ball of
either at random. Discipline is wonderful and wondrously effective; but,
in the first place, it won't make a man a ready and accurate shot, in
time of excitement; and, in the second place, it won't make his bayonet
a shield for a ball from the rifle of a man who has learned, by the
practice of years, not to throw away a ball or to fire at random;--it
couldn't carry the bravest men in Wellington's army over a cotton-bale
intrenchment, in the face of a double line of Kentucky rifles. It is
very well to sing,

"Riflemen, riflemen, riflemen, form!"

but where are the riflemen? Can Britannia stamp them out of the dust? or
has she a store of "dragon's teeth" to sow? God grant she may never have
to defend those English homes against the guns of Vincennes! but if
she must, it is on a comparatively undisciplined militia she must
depend;--and then she may remember, with bitter self-reproach, the
lesson of New Orleans.



A TRIP TO CUBA.

COMPANY AT THE HOTEL.--SERVANTS.--OUR DRIVE.--DON PEPE.

I do not mean to give portraits of the individuals at our hotel. My
chance acquaintance with them confers on me no right to appropriate
their several characteristics for my own convenience and the diversion
of the public. I will give only such general sketches as one may make of
a public body at a respectful distance, marking no features that fix or
offend.

Our company is almost entirely composed of two classes,--invalids and
men of business, with or without their families. The former are easily
recognizable by their sad eyes and pallid countenances; even the hectic
of disease does not deceive you,--it has no affinity to the rose of
health. There is the cough, too,--the cruel cough that would not be
left at the North, that breaks out through all the smothering by day,
and shakes the weak frame with uneasy rocking by night.

The men of business are apt to name their firm, when they introduce
themselves to you.

"My name is Norval, Sir,--Norval, Grampian, & Company. I suppose you
know the firm."

We do not, indeed; but we murmur, in return, that we have an uncle or a
cousin in business, who may, very likely, know it.

"What is your uncle's firm?" will be the next question.

"Philpots Brothers."

"Excellent people,--we have often done business with them. Happy to make
your acquaintance, Sir."

And so, the first preliminaries being established, and each party
assured of the other's solvency, we glide easily into a relation of chat
and kind little mutualities which causes the periods of contact to pass
smoothly enough.

We found among these some manly, straight-forward fellows, to whom one
would confide one's fortunes, or even one's widow and orphans, with
small fear of any flaw In their trustworthiness. Nor was the more
slippery class, we judged, without its representatives; but of this we
had only hints, not experience. There were various day-boarders, who
frequented only our table, and lodged elsewhere. A few of these were
decorous Spaniards, who did not stare, nor talk, nor gobble their
meals with unbecoming vivacity of appetite. They were obviously staid
business-men, differing widely in character from the street Spaniard,
whom I have already copiously described. Some were Germans, thinned by
the climate, and sharpened up to the true Yankee point of competition;
very little smack of Fatherland was left about them,--no song, no
sentimentality, not much quivering of the heart-strings at remembering
the old folks at home, whom some of them have not seen in twenty years,
and never will see again. To be sure, in such a hard life as theirs,
with no social surroundings, and grim death meeting them at every
corner, there is nothing for it but to be as hard and tough as one's
circumstances. But give me rather the German heart in the little old
German village, with the small earnings and spendings, the narrow sphere
of life and experience, and the great vintage of geniality which is laid
up from youth to age, and handed down with the old wine from father to
son. I don't like your cosmopolitan German any better than I do your
Englishman done to death with travel. I prize the home-flavor in all the
races that are capable of home. There are very many Germans scattered
throughout Cuba, in various departments of business. They are generally
successful, and make very good Yankees, in the technical acceptation
of the word. Their original soundness of constitution enables them to
resist the climate better than Americans, and though they lose flesh
and color, they rarely give that evidence of a disordered liver which
foreign residents in tropical countries are so apt to show.

The ladies at the hotel were all our own countrywomen, as we see them at
home and abroad. I have already spoken of their diligence in sewing, and
of their enthusiasm in shopping. Their other distinctive features are
too familiar to us to require illustration. Yet upon one trait I will
adventure. A group of them sat peaceably together, one day, when a
file of newspapers arrived, with full details of a horrible Washington
scandal, and the murder consequent upon it. Now I must say that no swarm
of bees ever settled upon a bed of roses more eagerly than our fair
sisters pounced upon the carrion of that foul and dreadful tale. It
flew from hand to hand and from mouth to mouth, as if it had been glad
tidings of great joy,--and the universal judgment upon it caused our
heart to shudder with the remembrance, that it had heard some one
somewhere propose that female offenders should be tried by a jury of
their own sex.

It was a real comfort, a few days later, to hear this sad subject
discussed by a circle of intelligent Englishwomen, with good sense and
good feeling, and with true appreciation of the twofold crime, the
domestic treason and the public assassination. In passing, I must say of
this English circle, that it is charming, and that the Britannic Consul
has the key of it in his pocket. Wherefore, if any of you, my friends,
would desire to know four of the most charming women in Havana, he is to
lay hold upon Mr. Consul Crawford, and compel him to be his friend.

Mr. Dana recounts his shopping in Havana, whereof the beginning and
ending were one dress, white and blue, which he commendably purchased
for his wife. But does Dana know what he had to be thankful for, in
getting off with one dress? Tell him, ye patient husbands, whose pockets
seem to be made like lemons, only to be squeezed! Tell him, ye insatiate
ones, who have new wants and new ideas every day! Dana's dress was,
probably, an _holan batista_, which he calls "_Bolan_";--it was, in
other words, a figured linen cambric. But you have bought those cambrics
by the piece, and also _piñas_, thin, gossamer fabrics, of all degrees
of color and beauty, sometimes with _pattern flounces_,--do you hear?
And you have bought Spanish table-cloths with red or blue edges, with
bull-fights on them, and balloon-ascensions, and platoons of soldiery in
review, and with bull-fighting and ballooning napkins to match. And you
have secured such bales of transparent white muslins, that one would
think you intended to furnish a whole troupe of ballet-girls with
saucer petticoats. Catalan lace you have got, to trim curtains, sheets,
pillow-cases, and kitchen-towels with. And as for your fans, we only
hope that the stories you tell about them are true, and that Kitty,
Julia, and Jemima at home are to divide them with you; for we shrewdly
suspect that you mean, after all, to keep them, and to have a fan for
every day in the year. Let a man reflect upon all this, added to the
inevitable three dollars and fifty cents _per diem_, with the frequent
refreshment of _volantes_ and ices at the Dominica, and then say whether
it pays to take a partner not of a frugal mind to Havana for the season.

I had intended to give some account of the servants at Mrs. Almy's;
but my gossip runs to such lengths that I must dismiss them with a few
words. Ramon, the porter, never leaves the vestibule; he watches there
all day, takes his meals there, plays cards there in the evening with
his fellow-servants, and at night spreads his cot there, and lies down
to sleep. He is white, as are most of the others. If I have occasion to
go into the kitchen at night, I find a cot there also, with no bed, and
a twisted sheet upon it, which, I am told, is the chrysalis of the cook.
Said cook is a free yellow, from Nassau, who has wrought in this
kitchen for many years past. Heat, hard work, and they say drink, have
altogether brought him to a bad pass. His legs are frightfully swollen,
and in a few days he leaves, unable to continue his function. Somebody
asks after his wife. "She has got a white husband now," he tells us,
with a dejected air. She might have waited a little,--he is to die soon.

Garcia is the kind waiter with the rather expressive face, who is never
weary of bringing us the rice and fried plantain, which form, after all,
the staple of our existence in Cuba. The waiters all do as well as they
can, considering the length of the table, and the extremely short staple
of the boarders' patience. As a general rule, they understand good
English better than bad Spanish; but comparative philology has obviously
been neglected among them.

Luis is a negro boy of twelve, fearfully black in the face and white
in the eye; his wool cropped to entire bareness. He is chiefly good at
dodging your orders,--disappears when anything is asked for, but does
not return with it.

Rosalia is the chambermaid, of whom I have already spoken, as dexterous
in sweeping the mosquitos from the nets,--her afternoon service. She
brings, too, the morning cup of coffee, and always says, "Good morning,
Sir; you want coffee?"--the only English she can speak. Her voice and
smile are particularly sweet, her person tall and well-formed, and her
face comely and modest. She is not altogether black,--about mahogany
color. I mention her modesty, because, so far as I saw, the good-looking
ones among the black women have an air of assumption, and almost of
impudence,--probably the result of flattery.

With all this array of very respectable "help," our hostess avers that
she has not a single person about her whom she can trust. Hence the
weary look about her eyes and brow, speaking of a load never laid down.
She attends to every detail of business herself, and is at work over her
books long after her boarders have retired to rest.

But the one of all the servants who interests us most is Alexander, Mrs.
Almy's own slave. He is, like Rosalia, of mahogany color, with a broad
forehead and intelligent eyes. His proud, impatient nature is little
suited to his position, and every day brings some new account of his
petulant outbreaks. To-day he quarrelled with the new cook, and drew a
knife upon him. Mrs. Almy threatens continually to sell him, and at this
the hearts of some of us grow very sick,--for she always says that his
spirit must be broken, that only the severest punishment will break it,
and that she cannot endure to send him to receive that punishment. What
that mysterious ordeal may be, we dare not question,--we who cannot help
him from it; we can only wish that he might draw that knife across his
own throat before he undergoes it. He is trying to buy his own freedom,
and has something saved towards it. He looks as if he would do good
service, with sufficient training. As it is, he probably knows no law,
save the two conflicting ones, of necessity and his own wild passions.
One of the sad thoughts we shall carry away from here will be, that
Alexander is to be sold and his spirit broken. Good Mrs. Almy, do have a
little patience with him! Enlighten his dark mind; let Christianity be
taught him, which will show him, even in his slave's estate, that he can
conquer his fellow-servant better than by drawing a knife upon him. Set
him free? Ah! that is past praying for; but, as he has the right to buy
himself, give him every chance of doing so, and we, your petitioners,
will pray for him, and for you, who need it, with that heavy brow of
care.

I have called the negroes of Nassau ugly, clumsy, and unserviceable. The
Cuban negroes make, so far, a very different impression upon me. One
sees among them considerable beauty of form, and their faces are more
expressive and better cut than those of the Nassau blacks. The women are
well-made, and particularly well-poised, standing perfectly straight
from top to toe, with no hitch or swing in their gait. Beauty of feature
is not so common among them; still, one meets with it here and there.
There is a massive sweep in the bust and arms of the women which is very
striking. Even in their faces, there is a certain weight of feature and
of darkness, which makes its own impression. The men have less grace
of movement, though powerful and athletic in their make. Those who are
employed at hard work, within-doors, wear very little clothing, being
stripped to the loins. One often has a glimpse of them, in passing the
open smithies and wheelwrights' shops. The greatest defect among the
men is the want of calf. The narrow boots of the postilions make this
particularly discernible. Such a set of spindle-shanks I never saw, not
even in Trumbull's famous Declaration of Independence, in which we have
the satisfaction of assuring ourselves that the fathers of our liberty
had two legs apiece, and crossed them in concert with the utmost
regularity. One might think, at first, that these narrow boots were as
uncomfortable to the _calesero_ as the Scottish instrument of torture of
that name; but his little swagger when he is down, and his freedom in
kicking when he is up, show that he has ample room in them.

Very jolly groups of Spanish artisans does one see in the open shops at
noon, gathered around a table. The board is chiefly adorned with earthen
jars of an ancient pattern filled with oil and wine, platters of bread
and sausage, and the ever fragrant onion is generally perceptible. The
personal qualities of these men are quite unknown to us; but they have
an air of good-fellowship which gives pleasure.

We hired a carriage this afternoon,--we and two others from Boston. We
had a four-wheeled barouche, with two horses, which costs two dollars an
hour; whereas a _volante_ can be hired only at eight dollars and a half
per whole afternoon,--no less time, no less money. As it holds but two,
or, at the utmost, three, this is paying rather dear for the glory of
showing one's self on the Paseo. The moment we were in the carriage, our
coachman nodded to us, and saying, "_A la tropa_," galloped off with us
in an unknown direction. We soon fell in with a line of other carriages,
and concluded that there was something to be seen somewhere, and that we
were going to see it. Nor were we mistaken; for in due time, ascending a
steep acclivity, we came upon "_la tropa_" and found some ten thousand
soldiers undergoing review, in their seersucker coats and Panama hats,
which, being very like the costume of an easy Wall-Street man in August,
had a very peaceful appearance on so military an occasion. The cavalry
and infantry had nearly concluded their evolutions when we arrived. The
troops were spread out on a vast plateau. The view was magnificent.
The coachman pointed to one immovable figure on horseback, and said,
"Concha." We found it was indeed the Captain-General; for as the
different bands passed, they all saluted him, and he returned their
courtesy. Unluckily, his back was towards us, and so remained until he
rode off in an opposite direction. He was mounted on a white horse, and
was dressed like the others. He seemed erect and well-made; but his
back, after all, was very like any one else's back. _Query_,--Did we
see Concha, or did we not? When all was over, the coachman carefully
descended the hill. He had come hither in haste, wishing to witness the
sport himself; but now he drove slowly, and indulged in every sort of
roundabout to spin out his time and our money. We met with a friend
who, on our complaint, expostulated with him, and said,--"Señor, these
gentlemen say that you drive them very slowly (_muy poco á poco_)." To
the which he,--"Señor, if gentlemen will hire a carriage by the
hour, and not by the afternoon, they must expect to get on very
softly."--_Mem_. A white driver is always addressed as _Señor_, and I
have occasionally heard such monologues as the following:--"Señor, why
do you drive me this way? Curse you, Señor! You don't know anything,
Señor! You are the greatest ass I ever encountered." The coachman takes
it all coolly enough; the "Señor" spares his dignity, and he keeps his
feelings to himself.

The writer of this has already spoken of various disappointments, in the
way of seeing things, incidental to the position of the sex in Cuba.
She came abroad prepared for microscopic, telescopic, and stereoscopic
investigation,--but, hedged in on all sides by custom and convenience,
she often observed only four very bare walls and two or three very
stupid people. What could she see? Prisons? No. Men, naked and filthy,
lying about, using very unedifying language, and totally unaccustomed to
the presence of lady-visitors. She invoked the memory of Mrs. Fry and
the example of Miss Dix. "Oh, they were saints, you know." "Only because
they went to prisons, which you won't let me do."--Bull-fight? No. "How
could you go back to Boston after seeing a bull-fight, eh?" "As if
married life were anything else, eh?" And so on.--Negro ball? "Not
exactly the place for a lady." "Miss Bremer went." "Very differently
behaved woman from you." "Yes, virtue with a nose, impregnable."

But there is something she can go to see,--at least, some one,--the
angelic man, Don Pepe, the wise, the gentle, the fearless, whom all the
good praise. Yes, she shall go to see Don Pepe; and one burning Sunday
noon she makes a pilgrimage through the scorching streets, and comes
where he may be inquired for, and is shown up a pair of stairs, at the
head of which stands the angelic man, mild and bland, with great, dark
eyes, and a gracious countenance. He ushers us into a room furnished
with nothing but books, and finds two chairs for us and one for himself,
not without research.

Now I will not pretend to say that Don Pepe occupied himself with me
after the first kind greeting, nor that, my presence occasioned him
either pleasure or surprise. My companion was a man after his own heart,
and, at first sight, the two mounted their humanitarian hobbies, and
rode them till they were tired. And when this came, I went away and said
nothing. Yet I knew that I had seen a remarkable man.

Don Pepe de la Luz is a Cuban by birth, and his age may number some
sixty years. He inherited wealth and its advantages, having received
somewhere a first-rate education, to which he copiously added in
subsequent years. He is a Liberal in politics and religion, a man of
great reason and of great heart. In affairs of state, however, he
meddles not, but contents himself with making statesmen. Like all wise
philanthropists, he sees the chief source of good to man in education,
and devotes his life, and, in a degree, his fortune, to this object. The
building in which we found him was a large school, or rather college,
founded by himself, and carried on in a great measure through his
efforts. This college is upon the same literary footing as the
University of Havana; and Don Pepe's graduates pass examinations and
receive diplomas in the last-named institution. He himself rarely leaves
its walls; and though he has house and wife elsewhere, and the great
world is everywhere open to him, he leads here a more congenial life of
ascetic seclusion, study, and simplicity.

  "Oh, noble instinct of good men, to stay and do their duty!
  This let us celebrate above all daring, wit, and beauty."

Don Pepe has been abroad as much as it profits a man to be,--but has not
lost his own soul there, as an American is apt to do. He has known the
best men in Europe and America. The best languages, he possesses them;
the best books, here they are, piled all about his room. The floor is
carpeted with them; there are cases all around the walls; and a large
parallelogramic arrangement in the middle of the room, stuck all
with books, as a pin-cushion with pins. True, there is not in their
arrangement that ornateness of order observable in Northern libraries;
dust even lies and blows about; and though he can find his favorites, we
should be much puzzled to find any volume where it ought to be. But it
looks as if the master were happy and undisturbed here, and as if the
housemaid and her hated broom were as far off as the snow and frost.

In person, Don Pepe is not above the middle height. He is a fairly
developed man, but looks thin and worn, and his shoulders have the stoop
of age, which scholars mostly anticipate. His face is much corrugated,
but it bears the traces of vivacious thought and emotion, not the
withering print of passion. Of his eyes I have already spoken; they are
wise, kind, and full of Southern fire.

Don Pepe has had some annoyances from the government,--probably in the
more sanguine period of his life. The experience of years has taught him
the secret of living peaceably with all men. He can be great and good
himself, without perpetually quarrelling with those who can be neither.
He spoke with warm interest of his scholars. "They have much capacity,"
he said; "but we want a little more of that _air_ you spoke of just now,
Doctor." That air was Liberty. Reader, have you ever been in a place
where her name was contraband? All such places are alike. Here, as in
Rome, men who have thoughts disguise them; and painful circumlocution
conveys the meaning of friend to friend. For treachery lies hid, like
the scorpion, under your pillow, and your most trusted companion will
betray your head, to save his own. I am told that this sub-treason
reached, in the days of Lopez, an incredible point. After every secret
meeting of those affected to the invaders, each conspirator ran to save
himself by denouncing all others. One Cuban, of large fortune and small
reputation, being implicated in these matters, brought General Concha
a list of all his confederates, which Concha burned before his face,
unread. Piteous, laughable spectacle! Better be monkeys than such men;
yet such work does Absolutism in government and religion make of the
noble human creature! God preserve us ever from tyrants, spies, and
Jesuits!

Don Pepe does not tell us this; but we have much pleasant talk with him
about books, about great men in Europe, and, lastly, about Prescott,
whom he knew and honored. We took leave of him with regret. He
accompanied us to the head of the stairs, and then said, "Ah! my dear
Madam, my liver will not suffer me to go down." "I am glad it is not
your heart," I rejoined, and we parted,--to meet again, in my thoughts,
and perhaps elsewhere, in the dim vista of the future.



BLONDEL.

  At the castle's outer door
  Stood Blondel, the Troubadour.
  Up the marble stairs the crowd,
  Pressing, talked and laughed aloud.
  Upward with the throng he went;
  With a heart of discontent,
  Timed his sullen instrument;
  Tried to sing of mirth and jest,
  As the knights around him pressed;
  But across his heart a pang
  Struck him wordless ere he sang.

  Then the guests and vassals roared,
  Sitting round the oaken board,
  "If thou canst not wake our mirth,
  Touch some softer rhyme of earth:
  Sing of knights in ladies' bowers,--
  Twine a lay of love and flowers."

  "Can I sing of love?" he said,--
  And a moment bowed his head,
  Then looked upward, out of space,
  With a strange light in his face.

  Said Blondel, the Troubadour,
  "When I hear the battle roar,
  And the trumpet-tones of war,
  Can I tinkle my guitar?"

  "But the war is o'er," said all;
  "Silent now the bugle's call.
  Love should be the warrior's dream,--
  Love alone the minstrel's theme.
  Sing us _Rose-leaves on a stream_."

  Said Blondel, "Not roses now,--
  Leafless thorns befit the brow.
  In this crowd my voice is weak,
  But ye force me now to speak.
  Know ye not King Richard groans
  Chained 'neath Austria's dungeon-stones?
  What care I to sing of aught
  Save what presses on my thought?
  Over laughter, song, and shout
  From these windows swelling out,
  Over passion's tender words
  Intonating through the chords,

  "Rings the prisoned monarch's lay,
  Through and through me, night and day;
  And the only strain I know
  Haunts my brain where'er I go,--
  Trumpet-tones that ring and ring
  Till I see my Richard king!

  "Gallants, hear my song of love,
  Deeper tones than courtiers move,--
  Hear my royal captive's sigh,--
  England, Home, and Liberty!"

  Then he struck his lute and sang,
  Till the shields and lances rang:
  How for Christ and Holy Land
  Fought the Lion Heart and Hand,--
  How the craft of Leopold
  Trapped him in a castle old,--
  How one balmy morn in May,
  Singing to beguile the day,
  In his tower, the minstrel heard
  Every note and every word,--
  How he answered back the song,
  "Let thy hope, my king, be strong!
  We will bring thee help ere long!"

  Still he sang,--"Who goes with me?
  Who is it wills King Richard free?
  He who bravely toils and dares,
  Pain and danger with me shares,--
  He whose heart is true and warm,
  Though the night perplex with storm
  Forest, plain, and dark morass,
  Hanging-rock and mountain-pass,
  And the thunder bursts ablaze,--
  Is the lover that I praise!"

  As the minstrel left the hall,
  Silent, sorrowing, sat they all.
  "Well they knew his banner-sign,
  The Lion-Heart of Palestine.
  Like a flame the song had swept
  O'er them;--then the warriors leapt
  Up from the feast with one accord,--
  Pledged around their knightly word,--
  From the castle-windows rang
  The last verse the minstrel sang,
  And from out the castle-door
  Followed they the Troubadour.



THE WONDERSMITH.

I.

GOLOSH STREET AND ITS PEOPLE.

A small lane, the name of which I have forgotten, or do not choose to
remember, slants suddenly off from Chatham Street, (before that headlong
thoroughfare reaches into the Park,) and retreats suddenly down towards
the East River, as if it were disgusted with the smell of old clothes,
and had determined to wash itself clean. This excellent intention it
has, however, evidently contributed towards the making of that imaginary
pavement mentioned in the old adage; for it is still emphatically a
dirty street. It has never been able to shake off the Hebraic taint of
filth which it inherits from the ancestral thoroughfare. It is slushy
and greasy, as if it were twin brother of the Roman Ghetto.

I like a dirty slum; not because I am naturally unclean,--I have not a
drop of Neapolitan blood in my veins,--but because I generally find a
certain sediment of philosophy precipitated in its gutters. A clean
street is terribly prosaic. There is no food for thought in carefully
swept pavements, barren kennels, and vulgarly spotless houses. But when
I go down a street which has been left so long to itself that it has
acquired a distinct outward character, I find plenty to think about. The
scraps of sodden letters lying in the ash-barrel have their meaning:
desperate appeals, perhaps, from Tom, the baker's assistant, to Amelia,
the daughter of the dry-goods retailer, who is always selling at a
sacrifice in consequence of the late fire. That may be Tom himself who
is now passing me in a white apron, and I look up at the windows of
the house (which does not, however, give any signs of a recent
conflagration) and almost hope to see Amelia wave a white
pocket-handkerchief. The bit of orange-peel lying on the sidewalk
inspires thought. Who will fall over it? who but the industrious mother
of six children, the eldest of which is only nine months old, all of
whom are dependent on her exertions for support? I see her slip and
tumble. I see the pale face convulsed with agony, and the vain struggle
to get up; the pitying crowd closing her off from all air; the anxious
young doctor who happened to be passing by; the manipulation of the
broken limb, the shake of the head, the moan of the victim, the litter
borne on men's shoulders, the gates of the New York Hospital unclosing,
the subscription taken up on the spot. There is some food for
speculation in that three-year-old, tattered child, masked with dirt,
who is throwing a brick at another three-year-old, tattered child,
masked with dirt. It is not difficult to perceive that he is destined to
lurk, as it were, through life. His bad, flat face--or, at least, what
can be seen of it--does not look as if it were made for the light of
day. The mire in which he wallows now is but a type of the moral mire in
which he will wallow hereafter. The feeble little hand lifted at this
instant to smite his companion, half in earnest, half in jest, will be
raised against his fellow-beings forevermore.

Golosh Street--as I will call this nameless lane before alluded to--is
an interesting locality. All the oddities of trade seem to have found
their way thither and made an eccentric mercantile settlement. There
is a bird-shop at one corner, wainscoted with little cages containing
linnets, waxwings, canaries, blackbirds, Mino-birds, with a hundred
other varieties, known only to naturalists. Immediately opposite is an
establishment where they sell nothing but ornaments made out of the
tinted leaves of autumn, varnished and gummed into various forms.
Farther down is a second-hand book-stall, which looks like a sentry-box
mangled out flat, and which is remarkable for not containing a
complete set of any work. There is a small chink between two
ordinary-sized houses, in which a little Frenchman makes and sells
artificial eyes, specimens of which, ranged on a black velvet cushion,
stare at you unwinkingly through the window as you pass, until you
shudder and hurry on, thinking how awful the world would be, if every
one went about without eyelids. There are junk-shops in Golosh Street
that seem to have got hold of all the old nails in the Ark and all the
old brass of Corinth. Madame Filomel, the fortune-teller, lives at No.
12 Golosh Street, second story front, pull the bell on the left-hand
side. Next door to Madame is the shop of Herr Hippe, commonly called the
Wondersmith.

Herr Hippe's shop is the largest in Golosh Street, and to all appearance
is furnished with the smallest stock. Beyond a few packing-cases, a
turner's lathe, and a shelf laden with dissected maps of Europe, the
interior of the shop is entirely unfurnished. The window, which is lofty
and wide, but much begrimed with dirt, contains the only pleasant object
in the place. This is a beautiful little miniature theatre,--that is
to say, the orchestra and stage. It is fitted with charmingly painted
scenery and all the appliances for scenic changes. There are tiny
traps, and delicately constructed "lifts," and real footlights fed with
burning-fluid, and in the orchestra sits a diminutive conductor before
his desk, surrounded by musical manikins, all provided with the smallest
of violoncellos, flutes, oboes, drums, and such like. There are
characters also on the stage. A Templar in a white cloak is dragging a
fainting female form to the parapet of a ruined bridge, while behind a
great black rock on the left one can see a man concealed, who, kneeling,
levels an arquebuse at the knight's heart. But the orchestra is silent;
the conductor never beats the time, the musicians never play a note. The
Templar never drags his victim an inch nearer to the bridge, the masked
avenger takes an eternal aim with his weapon. This repose appears
unnatural; for so admirably are the figures executed, that they seem
replete with life. One is almost led to believe, in looking on them,
that they are resting beneath some spell which hinders their motion. One
expects every moment to hear the loud explosion of the arquebuse,--to
see the blue smoke curling, the Templar falling,--to hear the orchestra
playing the requiem of the guilty.

Few people knew what Herr Hippe's business or trade really was. That he
worked at something was evident; else why the shop? Some people inclined
to the belief that he was an inventor, or mechanician. His workshop was
in the rear of the store, and into that sanctuary no one but himself had
admission. He arrived in Golosh Street eight or ten years ago, and one
fine morning, the neighbors, taking down their shutters, observed that
No. 13 had got a tenant. A tall, thin, sallow-faced man stood on a
ladder outside the shop-entrance, nailing up a large board, on which
"Herr Hippe, Wondersmith," was painted in black letters on a yellow
ground. The little theatre stood in the window, where it stood ever
after, and Herr Hippe was established.

But what was a Wondersmith? people asked each other. No one could reply.
Madame Filomel was consulted, but she looked grave, and said that it was
none of her business. Mr. Pippel, the bird-fancier, who was a German,
and ought to know best, thought it was the English for some singular
Teutonic profession; but his replies were so vague, that Golosh Street
was as unsatisfied as ever. Solon, the little humpback, who kept the
odd-volume book-stall at the lowest corner, could throw no light upon
it. And at length people had to come to the conclusion, that Herr Hippe
was either a coiner or a magician, and opinions were divided.


II.

A BOTTLEFUL OF SOULS.

It was a dull December evening. There was little trade doing in Golosh
Street, and the shutters were up at most of the shops. Hippe's store had
been closed at least an hour, and the Mino-birds and Bohemian waxwings
at Mr. Pippel's had their heads tucked under their wings in their first
sleep.

Herr Hippe sat in his parlor, which was lit by a pleasant wood-fire.
There were no candles in the room, and the flickering blaze played
fantastic tricks on the pale gray walls. It seemed the festival of
shadows. Processions of shapes, obscure and indistinct, passed across
the leaden-hued panels and vanished in the dusk corners. Every fresh
blaze flung up by the wayward logs created new images. Now it was a
funeral throng, with the bowed figures of mourners, the shrouded
coffin, the plumes that waved like extinguished torches; now a knightly
cavalcade with flags and lances, and weird horses, that rushed silently
along until they met the angle of the room, when they pranced through
the wall and vanished.

On a table close to where Herr Hippe sat was placed a large square
box of some dark wood, while over it was spread a casing of steel, so
elaborately wrought in an open arabesque pattern that it seemed like a
shining blue lace which was lightly stretched over its surface.

Herr Hippe lay luxuriously in his armchair, looking meditatively into
the fire. He was tall and thin, and his skin was of a dull saffron hue.
Long, straight hair,--sharply cut, regular features,--a long, thin
moustache, that curled like a dark asp around his mouth, the expression
of which was so bitter and cruel that it seemed to distil the venom
of the ideal serpent,--and a bony, muscular form, were the prominent
characteristics of the Wondersmith.

The profound silence that reigned in the chamber was broken by a
peculiar scratching at the panel of the door, like that which at the
French court was formerly substituted for the ordinary knock, when it
was necessary to demand admission to the royal apartments. Herr Hippe
started, raised his head, which vibrated on his long neck like the head
of a cobra when about to strike, and after a moment's silence uttered a
strange guttural sound. The door unclosed, and a squat, broad-shouldered
woman, with large, wild, Oriental eyes, entered softly.

"Ah! Filomel, you are come!" said the Wondersmith, sinking back in his
chair. "Where are the rest of them?"

"They will be here presently," answered Madame Filomel, seating herself
in an arm-chair much too narrow for a person of her proportions, and
over the sides of which she bulged like a pudding.

"Have you brought the souls?" asked the Wondersmith.

"They are here," said the fortune-teller, drawing a large pot-bellied
black bottle from under her cloak. "Ah! I have had such trouble with
them!"

"Are they of the right brand,--wild, tearing, dark, devilish fellows? We
want no essence of milk and honey, you know. None but souls bitter as
hemlock or scorching as lightning will suit our purpose."

"You will see, you will see, Grand Duke of Egypt! They are ethereal
demons, every one of them. They are the pick of a thousand births. Do
you think that I, old midwife that I am, don't know the squall of the
demon child from that of the angel child, the very moment they are
delivered? Ask a musician, how he knows, even in the dark, a note struck
by Thalberg from one struck by Listz!"

"I long to test them," cried the Wondersmith, rubbing his hands
joyfully. "I long to see how the little devils will behave when I give
them their shapes. Ah! it will be a proud day for us when we let them
loose upon the cursed Christian children! Through the length and breadth
of the land they will go; wherever our wandering people set foot, and
wherever they are, the children of the Christians shall die. Then we,
the despised Bohemians, the gypsies, as they call us, will be once more
lords of the earth, as we were in the days when the accursed things
called cities did not exist, and men lived in the free woods and
hunted the game of the forest. Toys indeed! Ay, ay, we will give the
little dears toys! toys that all day will sleep calmly in their boxes,
seemingly stiff and wooden and without life,--but at night, when the
souls enter them, will arise and surround the cots of the sleeping
children, and pierce their hearts with their keen, envenomed blades!
Toys indeed! oh, yes! I will sell them toys!"

And the Wondersmith laughed horribly, while the snaky moustache on his
upper lip writhed as if it had truly a serpent's power and could sting.

"Have you got your first batch, Herr Hippe?" asked Madame Filomel. "Are
they all ready?"

"Oh, ay! they are ready," answered the Wondersmith with gusto, opening,
as he spoke, the box covered with the blue steel lace-work; "they are
here."

The box contained a quantity of exquisitely carved wooden manikins of
both sexes, painted with great dexterity so as to present a miniature
resemblance to Nature. They were, in fact, nothing more than admirable
specimens of those toys which children delight in placing in various
positions on the table,--in regiments, or sitting at meals, or grouped
under the stiff green trees which always accompany them in the boxes in
which they are sold at the toy-shops.

The peculiarity, however, about the manikins of Herr Hippe was not alone
the artistic truth with which the limbs and the features were gifted;
but on the countenance of each little puppet the carver's art had
wrought an expression of wickedness that was appalling. Every tiny face
had its special stamp of ferocity. The lips were thin and brimful of
malice; the small black bead-like eyes glittered with the fire of a
universal hate. There was not one of the manikins, male or female, that
did not hold in his or her hand some miniature weapon. The little men,
scowling like demons, clasped in their wooden fingers swords delicate as
a housewife's needle. The women, whose countenances expressed treachery
and cruelty, clutched infinitesimal daggers, with which they seemed
about to take some terrible vengeance.

"Good!" said Madame Filomel, taking one of the manikins out of the box
and examining it attentively; "you work well, Duke Balthazar! These
little ones are of the right stamp; they look as if they had mischief in
them. Ah! here come our brothers."

At this moment the same scratching that preceded the entrance of Madame
Filomel was heard at the door, and Herr Hippe replied with a hoarse,
guttural cry. The next moment two men entered. The first was a small man
with very brilliant eyes. He was wrapt in a long shabby cloak, and wore
a strange nondescript species of cap on his head, such a cap as one
sees only in the low billiard-rooms in Paris. His companion was tall,
long-limbed, and slender; and his dress, although of the ordinary cut,
either from the disposition of colors, or from the careless, graceful
attitudes of the wearer, assumed a certain air of picturesqueness. Both
the men possessed the same marked Oriental type of countenance which
distinguished the Wondersmith and Madame Filomel. True gypsies they
seemed, who would not have been out of place telling fortunes, or
stealing chickens in the green lanes of England, or wandering with their
wild music and their sleight-of-hand tricks through Bohemian villages.

"Welcome, brothers!" said the Wondersmith; "you are in time. Sister
Filomel has brought the souls, and we are about to test them. Monsieur
Kerplonne, take off your cloak. Brother Oaksmith, take a chair. I
promise you some amusement this evening; so make yourselves comfortable.
Here is something to aid you."

And while the Frenchman Kerplonne, and his tall companion, Oaksmith,
were obeying Hippe's invitation, he reached over to a little closet let
into the wall, and took thence a squat bottle and some glasses, which he
placed on the table.

"Drink, brothers!" he said; "it is not Christian blood, but good stout
wine of Oporto. It goes right to the heart, and warms one like the
sunshine of the South."

"It is good," said Kerplonne, smacking his lips with enthusiasm.

"Why don't you keep brandy? Hang wine!" cried Oaksmith, after having
swallowed two bumpers in rapid succession.

"Bah! Brandy has been the ruin of our race. It has made us sots and
thieves. It shall never cross my threshold," cried the Wondersmith, with
a sombre indignation.

"A little of it is not bad, though, Duke," said the fortune-teller. "It
consoles us for our misfortunes; it gives us the crowns we once wore; it
restores to us the power we once wielded; it carries us back, as if by
magic, to that land of the sun from which fate has driven us; it darkens
the memory of all the evils that we have for centuries suffered."

"It is a devil; may it be cursed!" cried Herr Hippe, passionately. "It
is a demon that stole from me my son, the finest youth in all Courland.
Yes! my son, the son of the Waywode Balthazar, Grand Duke of Lower
Egypt, died raving in a gutter, with an empty brandy-bottle in his
hands. Were it not that the plant is a sacred one to our race, I would
curse the grape and the vine that bore it."

This outburst was delivered with such energy that the three gypsies
kept silence. Oaksmith helped himself to another glass of Port, and the
fortune-teller rocked to and fro in her chair, too much overawed by
the Wondersmith's vehemence of manner to reply. The little Frenchman,
Kerplonne, took no part in the discussion, but seemed lost in admiration
of the manikins, which he took from the box in which they lay, handling
them with the greatest care. After the silence had lasted for about a
minute, Herr Hippe broke it with the sudden question,--

"How does your eye get on, Kerplonne?"

"Excellently, Duke. It is finished. I have it here." And the little
Frenchman put his hand into his breeches-pocket and pulled out a large
artificial human eye. Its great size was the only thing in this eye that
would lead any one to suspect its artificiality. It was at least twice
the size of life; but there was a fearful speculative light in its iris,
which seemed to expand and contract like the eye of a living being, that
rendered it a horrible staring paradox. It looked like the naked eye of
the Cyclops, torn from his forehead, and still burning with wrath and
the desire for vengeance.

The little Frenchman laughed pleasantly as he held the eye in his hand,
and gazed down on that huge dark pupil, that stared back at him, it
seemed, with an air of defiance and mistrust.

"It is a devil of an eye," said the little man, wiping the enamelled
surface with an old silk pocket-handkerchief; "it reads like a demon. My
niece--the unhappy one--has a wretch of a lover, and I have a long
time feared that she would run away with him. I could not read her
correspondence, for she kept her writing-desk closely locked. But I
asked her yesterday to keep this eye in some very safe place for me. She
put it, as I knew she would, into her desk, and by its aid I read every
one of her letters. She was to run away next Monday, the ungrateful! but
she will find herself disappointed."

And the little man laughed heartily at the success of his stratagem, and
polished and fondled the great eye until that optic seemed to grow sore
with rubbing.

"And you have been at work, too, I see, Herr Hippe. Your manikins are
excellent. But where are the souls?"

"In that bottle," answered the Wondersmith, pointing to the pot-bellied
black bottle that Madame Filomel had brought with her. "Yes, Monsieur
Kerplonne," he continued, "my manikins are well made. I invoked the aid
of Abigor, the demon of soldiery, and he inspired me. The little fellows
will be famous assassins when they are animated. We will try them
to-night."

"Good!" cried Kerplonne, rubbing his hands joyously. "It is close upon
New Year's Day. We will fabricate millions of the little murderers
by New Year's Eve, and sell them in large quantities; and when the
households are all asleep, and the Christian children are waiting for
Santa Claus to come, the small ones will troop from their boxes and the
Christian children will die. It is famous! Health to Abigor!"

"Let us try them at once," said Oaksmith. "Is your daughter, Zonéla, in
bed, Herr Hippe? Are we secure from intrusion?"

"No one is stirring about the house," replied the Wondersmith, gloomily.

Filomel leaned over to Oaksmith, and said, in an undertone,--

"Why do you mention his daughter? You know he does not like to have her
spoken about."

"I will take care that we are not disturbed," said Kerplonne, rising. "I
will put my eye outside the door, to watch."

He went to the door and placed his great eye upon the floor with tender
care. As he did so, a dark form, unseen by him or his second vision,
glided along the passage noiselessly and was lost in the darkness.

"Now for it!'" exclaimed Madame Filomel, taking up her fat black bottle.
"Herr Hippe, prepare your manikins!"

The Wondersmith took the little dolls out, one by one, and set them upon
the table. Such an array of villanous countenances was never seen. An
army of Italian bravos, seen through the wrong end of a telescope, or a
hand of prisoners at the galleys in Liliput, will give some faint idea
of the appearance they presented. While Madame Filomel uncorked the
black bottle, Herr Hippe covered the dolls over with a species of linen
tent, which he took also from the box. This done, the fortune-teller
held the mouth of the bottle to the door of the tent, gathering the
loose cloth closely round the glass neck. Immediately, tiny noises
were heard inside the tent. Madame Filomel removed the bottle, and the
Wondersmith lifted the covering in which he had enveloped his little
people.

A wonderful transformation had taken place. Wooden and inflexible no
longer, the crowd of manikins were now in full motion. The beadlike eyes
turned, glittering, on all sides; the thin, wicked lips quivered with
bad passions; the tiny hands sheathed and unsheathed the little swords
and daggers. Episodes, common to life, were taking place in every
direction. Here two martial manikins paid court to a pretty sly-faced
female, who smiled on each alternately, but gave her hand to be kissed
to a third manikin, an ugly little scoundrel, who crouched behind her
back. There a pair of friendly dolls walked arm in arm, apparently on
the best terms, while, all the time, one was watching his opportunity to
stab the other in the back.

"I think they'll do," said the Wondersmith, chuckling, as he watched
these various incidents. "Treacherous, cruel, bloodthirsty. All goes
marvellously well. But stay! I will put the grand test to them."

So saying, he drew a gold dollar from his pocket, and let it fall on the
table in the very midst of the throng of manikins. It had hardly touched
the table, when there was a pause on all sides. Every head was turned
towards the dollar. Then about twenty of the little creatures rushed
towards the glittering coin. One, fleeter than the rest, leaped upon it,
and drew his sword. The entire crowd of little people had now gathered
round this new centre of attraction. Men and women struggled and shoved
to get nearer to the piece of gold. Hardly had the first Liliputian
mounted upon the treasure, when a hundred blades flashed back a defiant
answer to his, and a dozen men, sword in hand, leaped upon the yellow
platform and drove him off at the sword's point. Then commenced a
general battle. The miniature faces were convulsed with rage and
avarice. Each furious doll tried to plunge dagger or sword into his or
her neighbor, and the women seemed possessed by a thousand devils.

"They will break themselves into atoms," cried Filomel, as she
watched with eagerness this savage _mélée_. "You had better gather them
up, Herr Hippe. I will exhaust my bottle and suck all the souls back
from them."

"Oh, they are perfect devils! they are magnificent little demons!" cried
the Frenchman, with enthusiasm. "Hippe, you are a wonderful man. Brother
Oaksmith, you have no such man as Hippe among your English gypsies."

"Not exactly," answered Oaksmith, rather sullenly, "not exactly. But
we have men there who can make a twelve-year-old horse look like a
four-year-old,--and who can take you and Herr Hippe up with one hand,
and throw you over their shoulders."

"The good God forbid!" said the little Frenchman. "I do not love such
play. It is incommodious."

While Oaksmith and Kerplonne were talking, the Wondersmith had placed
the linen tent over the struggling dolls, and Madame Filomel, who had
been performing some mysterious manipulations with her black bottle, put
the mouth once more to the door of the tent. In an instant the confused
murmur within ceased. Madame Filomel corked the bottle quickly. The
Wondersmith withdrew the tent, and, lo! the furious dolls were once
more wooden-jointed and inflexible; and the old sinister look was again
frozen on their faces.

"They must have blood, though," said Herr Hippe, as he gathered them up
and put them into their box. "Mr. Pippel, the bird-fancier, is asleep. I
have a key that opens his door. We will let them loose among the birds;
it will be rare fun."

"Magnificent!" cried Kerplonne. "Let us go on the instant. But first let
me gather up my eye."

The Frenchman pocketed his eye, after having given it a polish with the
silk handkerchief; Herr Hippe extinguished the lamp; Oaksmith took a
last bumper of Port; and the four gypsies departed for Mr. Pippel's,
carrying the box of manikins with them.



III.

SOLON.

The shadow that glided along the dark corridor, at the moment that
Monsieur Kerplonne deposited his sentinel eye outside the door of the
Wondersmith's apartment, sped swiftly through the passage and ascended
the stairs to the attic. Here the shadow stopped at the entrance to one
of the chambers and knocked at the door. There was no reply.

"Zonéla, are you asleep?" said the shadow, softly.

"Oh, Solon, is it you?" replied a sweet low voice from within. "I
thought it was Herr Hippe. Come in."

The shadow opened the door and entered. There were neither candles nor
lamp in the room; but through the projecting window, which was open,
there came the faint gleams of the starlight, by which one could
distinguish a female figure seated on a low stool in the middle of the
floor.

"Has he left you without light again, Zonéla?" asked the shadow, closing
the door of the apartment. "I have brought my little lantern with me,
though."

"Thank you, Solon," answered she called Zonéla; "you are a good fellow.
He never gives me any light of an evening, but bids me go to bed. I like
to sit sometimes and look at the moon and the stars,--the stars more
than all; for they seem all the time to look right back into my face,
very sadly, as if they would say, 'We see you, and pity you, and would
help you, if we could.' But it is so mournful to be always looking at
such myriads of melancholy eyes! and I long so to read those nice books
that you lend me, Solon!"

By this time the shadow had lit the lantern and was a shadow no longer.
A large head, covered with a profusion of long blonde hair, which was
cut after that fashion known as a _l'enfants d'Edouard;_ a beautiful
pale face, lit with wide, blue, dreamy eyes; long arms and slender
hands, attenuated legs, and--an enormous hump;--such was Solon, the
shadow. As soon as the humpback had lit the lamp, Zonéla arose from
the low stool on which she had been seated, and took Solon's hand
affectionately in hers.

Zonéla was surely not of gypsy blood. That rich auburn hair, that looked
almost black in the lamp-light, that pale, transparent skin, tinged with
an under-glow of warm rich blood, the hazel eyes, large and soft as
those of a fawn, were never begotten of a Zingaro. Zonéla was seemingly
about sixteen; her figure, although somewhat thin and angular, was full
of the unconscious grace of youth. She was dressed in an old cotton
print, which had been once of an exceedingly boisterous pattern, but
was now a mere suggestion of former splendor; while round her head was
twisted, in fantastic fashion, a silk handkerchief of green ground
spotted with bright crimson. This strange headdress gave her an elfish
appearance.

"I have been out all day with the organ, and I am so tired, Solon!--not
sleepy, but weary, I mean. Poor Furbelow was sleepy, though, and he's
gone to bed."

"I'm weary, too, Zonéla;--not weary as you are, though, for I sit in my
little book-stall all day long, and do not drag round an organ and a
monkey and play old tunes for pennies,--but weary of myself, of life, of
the load that I carry on my shoulders"; and, as he said this, the poor
humpback glanced sideways, as if to call attention to his deformed
person.

"Well, but you ought not to be melancholy amidst your books, Solon.
Gracious! If I could only sit in the sun and read as you do, how happy
I should be! But it's very tiresome to trudge round all day with that
nasty organ, and look up at the houses, and know that you are annoying
the people inside; and then the boys play such bad tricks on poor
Furbelow, throwing him hot pennies to pick up, and burning his poor
little hands; and oh! sometimes, Solon, the men in the street make me
so afraid,--they speak to me and look at me so oddly!--I'd a great deal
rather sit in your book-stall and read."

"I have nothing but odd volumes in my stall," answered the humpback.
"Perhaps that's right, though; for, after all, I'm nothing but an odd
volume myself."

"Come, don't be melancholy, Solon. Sit down and tell me a story. I'll
bring Furbelow to listen."

So saying, she went to a dusk corner of the cheerless attic-room, and
returned with a little Brazilian monkey in her arms,--a poor, mild,
drowsy thing, that looked as if it had cried itself to sleep. She sat
down on her little stool, with Furbelow in her lap, and nodded her head
to Solon, as much as to say, "Go on; we are attentive."

"You want a story, do you?" said the humpback, with a mournful smile.
"Well, I'll tell you one. Only what will your father say, if he catches
me here?"

"Herr Hippe is not my father," cried Zonéla, indignantly. "He's a gypsy,
and I know I'm stolen; and I'd run away from him, if I only knew where
to run to. If I were his child, do you think that he would treat me
as he does? make me trudge round the city, all day long, with
a barrel-organ and a monkey,--though I love poor dear little
Furbelow,--and keep me up in a garret, and give me ever so little to
eat? I know I'm not his child, for he hates me."

"Listen to my story, Zonéla, and well talk of that afterwards. Let me
sit at your feet";--and, having coiled himself up at the little maiden's
feet, he commenced:--

"There once lived in a great city, just like this city of New York, a
poor little hunchback. He kept a second-hand book-stall, where he made
barely enough money to keep body and soul together. He was very sad at
times, because he knew scarce any one, and those that he did know did
not love him. He had passed a sickly, secluded youth. The children of
his neighborhood would not play with him, for he was not made like them;
and the people in the streets stared at him with pity, or scoffed at
him when he went by. Ah! Zonéla, how his poor heart was wrung with
bitterness when he beheld the procession of shapely men and fine women
that every day passed him by in the thoroughfares of the great city! How
he repined and cursed his fate as the torrent of fleet-footed firemen
dashed past him to the toll of the bells, magnificent in their
overflowing vitality and strength! But there was one consolation left
him,--one drop of honey in the jar of gall, so sweet that it ameliorated
all the bitterness of life. God had given him a deformed body, but his
mind was straight and healthy. So the poor hunchback shut himself into
the world of books, and was, if not happy, at least contented. He kept
company with courteous paladins, and romantic heroes, and beautiful
women; and this society was of such excellent breeding that it never so
much as once noticed his poor crooked back or his lame walk. The love
of books grew upon him with his years. He was remarked for his studious
habits; and when, one day, the obscure people that he called father and
mother--parents only in name--died, a compassionate book-vendor gave
him enough stock in trade to set up a little stall of his own. Here, in
his book-stall, he sat in the sun all day, waiting for the customers
that seldom came, and reading the fine deeds of the people of the
ancient time, or the beautiful thoughts of the poets that had warmed
millions of hearts before that hour, and still glowed for him with
undiminished fire. One day, when he was reading some book, that, small
as it was, was big enough to shut the whole world out from him, he heard
some music in the street. Looking up from his book, he saw a little
girl, with large eyes, playing an organ, while a monkey begged for alms
from a crowd of idlers who had nothing in their pockets but their hands.
The girl was playing, but she was also weeping. The merry notes of the
polka were ground out to a silent accompaniment of tears. She looked
very sad, this organ-girl, and her monkey seemed to have caught the
infection, for his large brown eyes were moist, as if he also wept. The
poor hunchback was struck with pity, and called the little girl over to
give her a penny,--not, dear Zonéla, because he wished to bestow alms,
but because he wanted to speak with her. She came, and they talked
together. She came the next day,--for it turned out that they were
neighbors,--and the next, and, in short, every day. They became friends.
They were both lonely and afflicted, with this difference, that she was
beautiful, and he--was a hunchback."

"Why, Solon," cried Zonéla, "that's the very way you and I met!"

"It was then," continued Solon, with a faint smile, "that life seemed to
have its music. A great harmony seemed to the poor cripple to fill the
world. The carts that took the flour-barrels from the wharves to the
store-houses seemed to emit joyous melodies from their wheels. The hum
of the great business-streets sounded like grand symphonies of triumph.
As one who has been travelling through a barren country without much
heed feels with singular force the sterility of the lands he has passed
through when he reaches the fertile plains that lie at the end of his
journey, so the humpback, after his vision had been freshened with this
blooming flower, remembered for the first time the misery of the life
that he had led. But he did not allow himself to dwell upon the past.
The present was so delightful that it occupied all his thoughts. Zonéla,
he was in love with the organ-girl."

"Oh, that's so nice!" said Zonéla, innocently,--pinching poor Furbelow,
as she spoke, in order to dispel a very evident snooze that was creeping
over him. "It's going to be a love-story."

"Ah! but, Zonéla, he did not know whether she loved him in return. You
forget that he was deformed."

"But," answered the girl, gravely, "he was good."

A light like the flash of an aurora illuminated Solon's face for an
instant. He put out his hand suddenly, as if to take Zonéla's and press
it to his heart; but an unaccountable timidity seemed to arrest the
impulse, and he only stroked Furbelow's head,--upon which that
individual opened one large brown eye to the extent of the eighth of an
inch, and, seeing that it was only Solon, instantly closed it again, and
resumed his dream of a city where there were no organs and all the
copper coin of the realm was iced.

"He hoped and feared," continued Solon, in a low, mournful voice; "but
at times he was very miserable, because he did not think it possible
that so much happiness was reserved for him as the love of this
beautiful, innocent girl. At night, when he was in bed, and all the
world was dreaming, he lay awake looking up at the old books that hung
against the walls, thinking how he could bring about the charming of her
heart. One night, when he was thinking of this, with his eyes fixed
upon the mouldy backs of the odd volumes that lay on their shelves, and
looked back at him wistfully, as if they would say,--'We also are like
you, and wait to be completed,'--it seemed as if he heard a rustle of
leaves. Then, one by one, the books came down from their places to the
floor, as if shifted by invisible hands, opened their worm-eaten covers,
and from between the pages of each the hunchback saw issue forth a
curious throng of little people that danced here and there through the
apartment. Each one of these little creatures was shaped so as to bear
resemblance to some one of the letters of the alphabet. One tall,
long-legged fellow seemed like the letter A; a burly fellow, with a big
head and a paunch, was the model of B; another leering little chap might
have passed for a Q; and so on through the whole. These fairies--for
fairies they were--climbed upon the hunchback's bed, and clustered thick
as bees upon his pillow. 'Come!' they cried to him, 'we will lead you
into fairy-land.' So saying, they seized his hand, and he suddenly found
himself in a beautiful country, where the light did not come from sun
or moon or stars, but floated round and over and in everything like the
atmosphere. On all sides he heard mysterious melodies sung by strangely
musical voices. None of the features of the landscape were definite;
yet when he looked on the vague harmonies of color that melted one into
another before his sight, he was filled with a sense of inexplicable
beauty. On every side of him fluttered radiant bodies which darted to
and fro through the illumined space. They were not birds, yet they flew
like birds; and as each one crossed the path of his vision, he felt a
strange delight flash through his brain, and straightway an interior
voice seemed to sing beneath the vaulted dome of his temples a verse
containing some beautiful thought. The little fairies were all this
time dancing and fluttering around him, perching on his head, on his
shoulders, or balancing themselves on his finger-tips. 'Where am I?' he
asked, at last, of his friends, the fairies. 'Ah! Solon,' he heard them
whisper, in tones that sounded like the distant tinkling of silver
bells, 'this land is nameless; but those whom we lead hither, who tread
its soil, and breathe its air, and gaze on its floating sparks of light,
are poets forevermore!' Having said this, they vanished, and with
them the beautiful indefinite land, and the flashing lights, and the
illumined air; and the hunchback found himself again in bed, with the
moonlight quivering on the floor, and the dusty books on their shelves,
grim and mouldy as ever."

"You have betrayed yourself. You called yourself Solon," cried Zonéla.
"Was it a dream?"

"I do not know," answered Solon; "but since that night I have been a
poet."

"A poet?" screamed the little organ-girl,--"a real poet, who makes
verses which every one reads and every one talks of?"

"The people call me a poet," answered Solon, with a sad smile. "They do
not know me by the name of Solon, for I write under an assumed title;
but they praise me, and repeat my songs. But, Zonéla, I can't sing this
load off of my back, can I?"

"Oh, bother the hump!" said Zonéla, jumping up suddenly. "You're a poet,
and that's enough, isn't it? I'm so glad you're a poet, Solon! You must
repeat all your best things to me, won't you?"

Solon nodded assent.

"You don't ask me," he said, "who was the little girl that the hunchback
loved."

Zonela's face flushed crimson. She turned suddenly away, and ran into a
dark corner of the room. In a moment she returned with an old hand-organ
in her arms.

"Play, Solon, play!" she cried. "I am so glad that I want to dance.
Furbelow, come and dance in honor of Solon the Poet."

It was her confession. Solon's eyes flamed, as if his brain had suddenly
ignited. He said nothing; but a triumphant smile broke over his
countenance. Zonela, the twilight of whose cheeks was still rosy with
the setting blush, caught the lazy Furbelow by his little paws; Solon
turned the crank of the organ, which wheezed out as merry a polka as
its asthma would allow, and the girl and the monkey commenced their
fantastic dance. They had taken but a few steps when the door suddenly
opened, and the tall figure of the Wondersmith appeared on the
threshold. His face was convulsed with rage, and the black snake that
quivered on his upper lip seemed to rear itself as if about to spring
upon the hunchback.



IV

THE MANIKINS AND THE MINOS.

The four gypsies left Herr Hippe's house cautiously, and directed their
steps towards Mr. Pippel's bird-shop. Golosh Street was asleep. Nothing
was stirring in that tenebrous slum, save a dog that savagely gnawed a
bone which lay on a dust-heap, tantalizing him with the flavor of food
without its substance. As the gypsies moved stealthily along in the
darkness, they had a sinister and murderous air that would not have
failed to attract the attention of the policeman of the quarter, if
that worthy had not at the moment been comfortably ensconced in the
neighboring "Rainbow" bar-room, listening to the improvisations of that
talented vocalist, Mr. Harrison, who was making impromptu verses on
every possible subject, to the accompaniment of a cithern which was
played by a sad little Italian in a large cloak, to whom the host of the
"Rainbow" gave so many toddies and a dollar for his nightly performance.

Mr. Pippel's shop was but a short distance from the Wondersmith's house.
A few moments, therefore, brought the gypsy party to the door, when, by
aid of a key which Herr Hippe produced, they silently slipped into the
entry. Here the Wondersmith took a dark-lantern from under his cloak,
removed the cap that shrouded the light, and led the way into the shop,
which was separated from the entry only by a glass door, that yielded,
like the outer one, to a key which Hippe took from his pocket. The four
gypsies now entered the shop and closed the door behind them.

It was a little world of birds. On every side, whether in large or small
cages, one beheld balls of various-colored feathers standing on one leg
and breathing peacefully. Love-birds, nestling shoulder to shoulder,
with their heads tucked under their wings and all their feathers puffed
out, so that they looked like globes of malachite; English bullfinches,
with ashen-colored backs, in which their black heads were buried, and
corselets of a rosy down; Java sparrows, fat and sleek and cleanly;
troupials, so glossy and splendid in plumage that they looked as if they
were dressed in the celebrated armor of the Black Prince, which was jet,
richly damascened with gold; a cock of the rock, gleaming, a ball of
tawny fire, like a setting sun; the Campanero of Brazil, white as snow,
with his dilatable tolling-tube hanging from his head, placid and
silent;--these, with a humbler crowd of linnets, canaries, robins,
mocking-birds, and phoebes, slumbered calmly in their little cages, that
were hung so thickly on the wall as not to leave an inch of it visible.

"Splendid little morsels, all of them!" exclaimed Monsieur Kerplonne.
"Ah we are going to have a rare beating!" "So Pippel does not sleep in
his shop," said the English gypsy, Oaksmith.

"No. The fellow lives somewhere up one of the avenues," answered Madame
Filomel. "He came, the other evening, to consult me about his fortune. I
did not tell him," she added, with a laugh, "that he was going to have
so distinguished a sporting party on his premises."

"Come," said the Wondersmith, producing the box of manikins, "get ready
with souls, Madame Filomel. I am impatient to see my little men letting
out lives for the first time."

Just at the moment that the Wondersmith uttered this sentence, the four
gypsies were startled by a hoarse voice issuing from a corner of the
room, and propounding in the most guttural tones the intemperate query
of "What'll you take?" This sottish invitation had scarce been given,
when a second extremely thick voice replied from an opposite corner,
in accents so rough that they seemed to issue from a throat torn and
furrowed by the liquid lava of many bar-rooms, "Brandy and water."

"Hollo! who's here?" muttered Herr Hippe, flashing the light of his
lantern round the shop.

Oaksmith turned up his coat-cuffs, as if to be ready for a fight; Madame
Filomel glided, or rather rolled, towards the door; while Kerplonne put
his hand into his pocket, as if to assure himself that his supernumerary
optic was all right.

"What'll you take?" croaked the voice in the corner, once more.

"Brandy and water," rapidly replied the second voice in the other
corner. And then, as if by a concerted movement, a series of bibular
invitations and acceptances were rolled backwards and forwards with a
volubility of utterance that threw Patter _versus_ Clatter into the
shade.

"What the Devil can it be?" muttered the Wondersmith, flashing his
lantern here and there. "Ah! it is those Minos."

So saying, he stopped under one of the wicker cages that hung high up
on the wall, and raised the lantern above his head, so as to throw the
light upon that particular cage. The hospitable individual who had
been extending all these hoarse invitations to partake of intoxicating
beverages was an inhabitant of the cage. It was a large Mino-bird, who
now stood perched on his cross-bar, with his yellowish orange bill
sloped slightly over his shoulder, and his white eye cocked knowingly
upon the Wondersmith. The respondent voice in the other corner came
from another Mino-bird, who sat in the dusk in a similar cage, also
attentively watching the Wondersmith. These Mino-birds, I may remark, in
passing, have a singular aptitude for acquiring phrases.

"What'll you take?" repeated the Mino, cocking his other eye upon Herr
Hippe.

"_Mon Dieu!_ what a bird!" exclaimed the little Frenchman. "He is, in
truth, polite."

"I don't know what I'll take," said Hippe, as if replying to the
Mino-bird; "but I know what you'll get, old fellow! Filomel, open the
cage-doors, and give me the bottle."

Filomel opened, one after another, the doors of the numberless little
cages, thereby arousing from slumber their feathered occupants, who
opened their beaks, and stretched their claws, and stared with great
surprise at the lantern and the midnight visitors.

By this time the Wondersmith had performed the mysterious manipulations
with the bottle, and the manikins were once more in full motion,
swarming out of their box, sword and dagger in hand, with their little
black eyes glittering fiercely, and their white teeth shining. The
little creatures seemed to scent their prey. The gypsies stood in
the centre of the shop, watching the proceedings eagerly, while the
Liliputians made in a body towards the wall and commenced climbing from
cage to cage. Then was heard a tremendous fluttering of wings, and
faint, despairing "quirks" echoed on all sides. In almost every cage
there was a fierce manikin thrusting his sword or dagger vigorously into
the body of some unhappy bird. It recalled the antique legend of the
battles of the Pygmies and the Cranes. The poor love-birds lay with
their emerald feathers dabbled in their hearts' blood, shoulder to
shoulder in death as in life. Canaries gasped at the bottom of their
cages, while the water in their little glass fountains ran red. The
bullfinches wore an unnatural crimson on their breasts. The mocking-bird
lay on his back, kicking spasmodically, in the last agonies, with a tiny
sword-thrust cleaving his melodious throat in twain, so that from the
instrument which used to gush with wondrous music only scarlet drops of
blood now trickled. The manikins were ruthless. Their faces were ten
times wickeder than ever, as they roamed from cage to cage, slaughtering
with a fury that seemed entirely unappeasable. Presently the feathery
rustlings became fewer and fainter, and the little pipings of despair
died away; and in every cage lay a poor murdered minstrel, with the song
that abode within him forever quenched;--in every cage but two, and
those two were high up on the wall; and in each glared a pair of wild,
white eyes; and an orange beak, tough as steel, pointed threateningly
down. With the needles which they grasped as swords all wet and warm
with blood, and their beadlike eyes flashing in the light of the
lantern, the Liliputian assassins swarmed up the cages in two separate
bodies, until they reached the wickets of the habitations in which the
Minos abode. Mino saw them coming,--had listened attentively to the
many death-struggles of his comrades, and had, in fact, smelt a rat.
Accordingly he was ready for the manikins. There he stood at the
barbican of his castle, with formidable beak couched like a lance. The
manikins made a gallant charge. "What'll you take?" was rattled out
by the Mino, in a deep bass, as with one plunge of his sharp bill he
scattered the ranks of the enemy, and sent three of them flying to the
floor, where they lay with broken limbs. But the manikins were brave
automata, and again they closed and charged the gallant Mino. Again the
wicked white eyes of the bird gleamed, and again the orange bill dealt
destruction. Everything seemed to be going on swimmingly for Mino, when
he found himself attacked in the rear by two treacherous manikins, who
had stolen upon him from behind, through the lattice-work of the cage.
Quick as lightning the Mino turned to repel this assault, but all too
late; two slender quivering threads of steel crossed in his poor body,
and he staggered into a corner of the cage. His white eyes closed, then
opened; a shiver passed over his body, beginning at his shoulder-tips
and dying off in the extreme tips of the wings; he gasped as if for air,
and then, with a convulsive shudder, which ruffled all his feathers,
croaked out feebly his little speech, "What'll you take?" Instantly
from the opposite corner came the old response, still feebler than the
question,--a mere gurgle, as it were, of "Brandy and water." Then all
was silent. The Mino-birds were dead.

"They spill blood like Christians," said the Wondersmith, gazing fondly
on the manikins. "They will be famous assassins."



V.

TIED UP.

Herr Hippe stood in the doorway, scowling. His eyes seemed to scorch the
poor hunchback, whose form, physically inferior, crouched before that
baneful, blazing glance, while his head, mentally brave, reared itself,
as if to redeem the cowardice of the frame to which it belonged. So the
attitude of the serpent: the body pliant, yielding, supple; but the
crest thrown aloft, erect, and threatening. As for Zonéla, she was
frozen in the attitude of motion;--a dancing nymph in colored marble;
agility stunned; elasticity petrified.

Furbelow, astonished at this sudden change, and catching, with all the
mysterious rapidity of instinct peculiar to the lower animals, at
the enigmatical character of the situation, turned his pleading,
melancholy eyes from one to another of the motionless three, as if
begging that his humble intellect (pardon me, naturalists, for the
use of this word "intellect" in the matter of a monkey!) should
be enlightened as speedily as possible. Not receiving the desired
information, he, after the manner of trained animals, returned to his
muttons; in other words, he conceived that this unusual entrance, and
consequent dramatic _tableau_, meant "shop." He therefore dropped
Zonéla's hand and pattered on his velvety little feet over towards the
grim figure of the Wondersmith, holding out his poor little paw for
the customary copper. He had but one idea drilled into him,--soulless
creature that he was,--and that was, alms, But I have seen creatures
that professed to have souls, and that would have been indignant, if
you had denied them immortality, who took to the soliciting of alms as
naturally as if beggary had been the original sin, and was regularly
born with them, and never baptized out of them. I will give these
Bandits of the Order of Charity this credit, however, that they knew
the best highways and the richest founts of benevolence,--unlike to
Furbelow, who, unreasoning and undiscriminating, begged from the first
person that was near. Furbelow, owing to this intellectual inferiority
to the before-mentioned Alsatians, frequently got more kicks than
coppers, and the present supplication which he indulged in towards the
Wondersmith was a terrible confirmation of the rule. The reply to the
extended pleading paw was what might be called a double-barrelled kick,
--a kick to be represented by the power of two when the foot touched the
object, multiplied by four when the entire leg formed an angle of 45°
with the spinal column. The long, nervous leg of the Wondersmith caught
the little creature in the centre of the body, doubled up his brown,
hairy form, till he looked like a fur driving-glove, and sent him
whizzing across the room into a far corner, where he dropped senseless
and flaccid.

This vengeance which Herr Hippe executed upon Furbelow seemed to have
operated as a sort of escape-valve, and he found voice. He hissed out
the question, "Who are you?" to the hunchback; and in listening to that
essence of sibillation, it really seemed as if it proceeded from the
serpent that curled upon his upper lip.

"Who are you? Deformed dog, who are you? What do you here?"

"My name is Solon," answered the fearless head of the hunchback, while
the frail, cowardly body shivered and trembled inch by inch into a
corner.

"So you come to visit my daughter in the night-time, when I am away?"
continued the Wondersmith, with a sneering tone that dropped from his
snake-wreathed mouth like poison. "You are a brave and gallant lover,
are you not? Where did you win that Order of the Curse of God that
decorates your shoulders? The women turn their heads and look after you
in the street, when you pass, do they not? lost in admiration of that
symmetrical figure, those graceful limbs, that neck pliant as the stem
that moors the lotus! Elegant, conquering, Christian cripple, what do
you here in my daughter's room?"

Can you imagine Jove, limitless in power and wrath, hurling from his
vast grasp mountain after mountain upon the struggling Enceladus,--and
picture the Titan sinking, sinking, deeper and deeper into the earth,
crushed and dying, with nothing visible through the superincumbent
masses of Pelion and Ossa, but a gigantic head and two flaming eyes,
that, despite the death which is creeping through each vein, still flash
back defiance to the divine enemy? Well, Solon and Herr Hippe presented
such a picture, seen through the wrong end of a telescope,--reduced in
proportion, but alike in action. Solon's feeble body seemed to sink into
utter annihilation beneath the horrible taunts that his enemy hurled at
him, while the large, brave brow and unconquered eyes still sent forth a
magnetic resistance.

Suddenly the poor hunchback felt his arm grasped. A thrill seemed to run
through his entire body. A warm atmosphere, invigorating and full of
delicious odor, surrounded him. It appeared as if invisible bandages
were twisted all about his limbs, giving him a strange strength. His
sinking legs straightened. His powerless arms were braced. Astonished,
he glanced round for an instant, and beheld Zonéla, with a world of love
burning in her large lambent eyes, wreathing her round white arms about
his humped shoulders. Then the poet knew the great sustaining power of
love. Solon reared himself boldly.

"Sneer at my poor form," he cried, in strong vibrating tones, flinging
out one long arm and one thin finger at the Wondersmith, as if he would
have impaled him like a beetle. "Humiliate me, if you can. I care not.
You are a wretch, and I am honest and pure. This girl is not your
daughter. You are like one of those demons in the fairy tales that held
beauty and purity locked in infernal spells. I do not fear you, Heir
Hippe. There are stories abroad about you in the neighborhood, and when
you pass, people say that they feel evil and blight hovering over their
thresholds. You persecute this girl. You are her tyrant. You hate her. I
am a cripple. Providence has cast this lump upon my shoulders. But that
is nothing. The camel, that is the salvation of the children of the
desert, has been given his hump in order that he might bear his human
burden better. This girl, who is homeless as the Arab, is my appointed
load in life, and, please God, I will carry her on this back, hunched
though it may be. I have come to see her, because I love her,--because
she loves me. You have no claim on her; so I will take her from you."

Quick as lightning, the Wondersmith had stridden a few paces, and
grasped the poor cripple, who was yet quivering with the departing
thunder of his passion. He seized him in his bony, muscular grasp, as
he would have seized a puppet, and held him at arm's length gasping
and powerless; while Zonéla, pale, breathless, entreating, sank
half-kneeling on the floor.

"Your skeleton will be interesting to science when you are dead, Mr.
Solon," hissed the Wondersmith. "But before I have the pleasure of
reducing you to an anatomy, which I will assuredly do, I wish to
compliment you on your power of penetration, or sources of information;
for I know not if you have derived your knowledge from your own mental
research or the efforts of others. You are perfectly correct in your
statement, that this charming young person, who day after day parades
the streets with a barrel-organ and a monkey,--the last unhappily
indisposed at present,--listening to the degrading jokes of ribald boys
and depraved men,--you are quite correct, Sir, in stating that she is
not my daughter. On the contrary, she is the daughter of an Hungarian
nobleman who had the misfortune to incur my displeasure. I had a son,
crooked spawn of a Christian!--a son, not like you, cankered, gnarled
stump of life that you are,--but a youth tall and fair and noble in
aspect, as became a child of one whose lineage makes Pharaoh modern,--a
youth whose foot in the dance was as swift and beautiful to look at as
the golden sandals of the sun when he dances upon the sea in summer.
This youth was virtuous and good; and being of good race, and dwelling
in a country where his rank, gypsy as he was, was recognized, he mixed
with the proudest of the land. One day he fell in with this accursed
Hungarian, a fierce drinker of that Devil's blood called brandy. My
child until that hour had avoided this bane of our race. Generous wine
he drank, because the soul of the sun our ancestor palpitated in its
purple waves. But brandy, which is fallen and accursed wine, as devils
are fallen and accursed angels, had never crossed his lips, until in an
evil hour he was seduced by this Christian hog, and from that day forth
his life was one fiery debauch, which set only in the black waves of
death. I vowed vengeance on the destroyer of my child, and I kept my
word. I have destroyed _his_ child,--not compassed her death, but
blighted her life, steeped her in misery and poverty, and now, thanks to
the thousand devils, I have discovered a new torture for her heart. She
thought to solace her life with a love-episode! Sweet little epicure
that she was! She shall have her little crooked lover, shan't she?
Oh, yes! She shall have him, cold and stark and livid, with that great,
black, heavy hunch, which no back, however broad, can bear, Death,
sitting between his shoulders!"

There was something so awful and demoniac in this entire speech and the
manner in which it was delivered, that it petrified Zonéla into a mere
inanimate figure, whose eyes seemed unalterably fixed on the fierce,
cruel face of the Wondersmith. As for Solon, he was paralyzed in the
grasp of his foe. He heard, but could not reply. His large eyes, dilated
with horror to far beyond their ordinary size, expressed unutterable
agony.

The last sentence had hardly been hissed out by the gypsy when he took
from his pocket a long, thin coil of whipcord, which he entangled in
a complicated mesh around the cripple's body. It was not the ordinary
binding of a prisoner. The slender lash passed and repassed in a
thousand intricate folds over the powerless limbs of the poor humpback.
When the operation was completed, he looked as if he had been sewed from
head to foot in some singularly ingenious species of network.

"Now, my pretty lop-sided little lover," laughed Herr Hippe, flinging
Solon over his shoulder, as a fisherman might fling a net-full of fish,
"we will proceed to put you into your little cage until your little
coffin is quite ready. Meanwhile we will lock up your darling
beggar-girl to mourn over your untimely end."

So saying, he stepped from the room with his captive, and securely
locked the door behind him.

When he had disappeared, the frozen Zonéla thawed, and with a shriek of
anguish flung herself on the inanimate body of Furbelow.



VI.

THE POISONING OF THE SWORDS.

It was New Year's Eve, and eleven o'clock at night. All over this great
land, and in every great city in the land, curly heads were lying on
white pillows, dreaming of the coming of the generous Santa Claus.
Innumerable stockings hung by countless bedsides. Visions of beautiful
toys, passing in splendid pageantry through myriads of dimly lit
dormitories, made millions of little hearts palpitate in sleep. Ah! what
heavenly toys those were that the children of this soil beheld, that
mystic night, in their dreams! Painted cars with orchestral wheels,
making music more delicious than the roll of planets. Agile men of
cylindrical figure, who sprang unexpectedly out of meek-looking boxes,
with a supernatural fierceness in their crimson cheeks and fur-whiskers.
Herds of marvellous sheep, with fleeces as impossible as the one that
Jason sailed after; animals entirely indifferent to grass and water and
"rot" and "ticks." Horses spotted with an astounding regularity, and
furnished with the most ingenious methods of locomotion. Slender
foreigners, attired in painfully short tunics, whose existence passed in
continually turning heels over head down a steep flight of steps, at
the bottom of which they lay in an exhausted condition with dislocated
limbs, until they were restored to their former elevation, when they
went at it again as if nothing had happened. Stately swans, that seemed
to have a touch of the ostrich in them; for they swam continually after
a piece of iron which was held before them, as if consumed with a
ferruginous hunger. Whole farm-yards of roosters, whose tails curled the
wrong way,--a slight defect, that was, however, amply atoned for by the
size and brilliancy of their scarlet combs, which, it would appear,
Providence had intended for pen-wipers. Pears, that, when applied to
youthful lips, gave forth sweet and inspiring sounds. Regiments of
soldiers, that performed neat, but limited evolutions on cross-jointed
contractile battle-fields. All these things, idealized, transfigured,
and illuminated by the powers and atmosphere and colored lamps of
Dreamland, did the millions of dear sleeping children behold, the night
of the New Year's Eve of which I speak.

It was on this night, when Time was preparing to shed his skin and come
out young and golden and glossy as ever,--when, in the vast chambers of
the universe, silent and infallible preparations were making for the
wonderful birth of the coming year,--when mystic dews were secreted
for his baptism, and mystic instruments were tuned in space to welcome
him,--it was at this holy and solemn hour that the Wondersmith and his
three gypsy companions sat in close conclave in the little parlor before
mentioned.

There was a fire roaring in the grate. On a table, nearly in the centre
of the room, stood a huge decanter of Port wine, that glowed in the
blaze which lit the chamber like a flask of crimson fire. On every side,
piled in heaps, inanimate, but scowling with the same old wondrous
scowl, lay myriads of the manikins, all clutching in their wooden hands
their tiny weapons. The Wondersmith held in one hand a small silver
bowl filled with a green, glutinous substance, which he was delicately
applying, with the aid of a camel's-hair brush, to the tips of tiny
swords and daggers. A horrible smile wandered over his sallow face,--a
smile as unwholesome in appearance as the sickly light that plays above
reeking graveyards.

"Let us drink great draughts, brothers," he cried, leaving off his
strange anointment for a while, to lift a great glass, filled with
sparkling liquor, to his lips. "Let us drink to our approaching triumph.
Let us drink to the great poison, Macousha. Subtle seed of Death,--swift
hurricane that sweeps away Life,--vast hammer that crushes brain and
heart and artery with its resistless weight,--I drink to it."

"It is a noble decoction, Duke Balthazar," said the old fortune-teller
and midwife, Madame Filomel, nodding in her chair as she swallowed her
wine in great gulps. "Where did you obtain it?"

"It is made," said the Wondersmith, swallowing another great goblet-full
of wine ere he replied, "in the wild woods of Guiana, in silence and
in mystery. But one tribe of Indians, the Macoushi Indians, know the
secret. It is simmered over fires built of strange woods, and the maker
of it dies in the making. The place, for a mile around the spot where
it is fabricated, is shunned as accursed. Devils hover over the pot in
which it stews; and the birds of the air, scenting the smallest breath
of its vapor from far away, drop to earth with paralyzed wings, cold and
dead."

"It kills, then, fast?" asked Kerplonne, the artificial eyemaker,--his
own eyes gleaming, under the influence of the wine, with a sinister
lustre, as if they had been fresh from the factory, and were yet
untarnished by use.

"Kills?" echoed the Wondersmith, derisively; "it is swifter than
thunderbolts, stronger than lightning. But you shall see it proved
before we let forth our army on the city accursed. You shall see a
wretch die, as if smitten by a falling fragment of the sun."

"What? Do you mean Solon?" asked Oaksmith and the fortune-teller
together.

"Ah! you mean the young man who makes the commerce with books?" echoed
Kerplonne. "It is well. His agonies will instruct us."

"Yes! Solon," answered Hippe, with a savage accent. "I hate him, and he
shall die this horrid death. Ah! how the little fellows will leap upon
him, when I bring him in, bound and helpless, and give their beautiful
wicked souls to them! How they will pierce him in ten thousand spots
with their poisoned weapons, until his skin turns blue and violet and
crimson, and his form swells with the venom,--until his hump is lost in
shapeless flesh! He hears what I say, every word of it. He is in the
closet next door, and is listening. How comfortable he feels! How
the sweat of terror rolls on his brow! How he tries to loosen his bonds,
and curses all earth and heaven when he finds that he cannot! Ho! ho!
Handsome lover of Zonéla, will she kiss you when you are livid and
swollen? Brothers, let us drink again,--drink always. Here, Oaksmith,
take these brushes,--and you, Filomel,--and finish the anointing of
these swords. This wine is grand. This poison is grand. It is fine to
have good wine to drink, and good poison to kill with; is it not?" and,
with flushed face and rolling eyes, the Wondersmith continued to drink
and use his brush alternately.

The others hastened to follow his example. It was a horrible scene:
those four wicked faces; those myriads of tiny faces, just as wicked;
the certain unearthly air that pervaded the apartment; the red,
unwholesome glare cast by the fire; the wild and reckless way in which
the weird company drank the red-illumined wine.

The anointing of the swords went on rapidly, and the wine went as
rapidly down the throats of the four poisoners. Their faces grew more
and more inflamed each instant; their eyes shone like rolling fireballs;
their hair was moist and dishevelled. The old fortune-teller rocked to
and fro in her chair, like those legless plaster figures that sway upon
convex loaded bottoms. All four began to mutter incoherent sentences,
and babble unintelligible wickednesses. Still the anointing of the
swords went on.

"I see the faces of millions of young corpses," babbled Herr Hippe,
gazing, with swimming eyes, into the silver bowl that contained the
Macousha poison,--"all young, all Christians,--and the little fellows
dancing, dancing, and stabbing, stabbing. Filomel, Filomel, I say!"

"Well, Grand Duke," snored the old woman, giving a violent lurch.

"Where's the bottle of souls?"

"In my right-hand pocket, Herr Hippe"; and she felt, so as to assure
herself that it was there. She half drew out the black bottle,
before described in this narrative, and let it slide again into her
pocket,--let it slide again, but it did not completely regain its former
place. Caught by some accident, it hung half out, swaying over the edge
of the pocket, as the fat midwife rolled backwards and forwards in her
drunken efforts at equilibrium.

"All right," said Herr Hippe, "perfectly right! Let's drink."

He reached out his hand for his glass, and, with a dull sigh, dropped on
the table, in the instantaneous slumber of intoxication. Oaksmith soon
fell back in his chair, breathing heavily. Kerplonne followed. And the
heavy, stertorous breathing of Filomel told that she slumbered also; but
still her chair retained its rocking motion, and still the bottle of
souls balanced itself on the edge of her pocket.



VII.

LET LOOSE.

Sure enough, Solon heard every word of the fiendish talk of the
Wondersmith. For how many days he had been shut up, bound in the
terrible net, in that dark closet, he did not know; but now he felt that
his last hour was come. His little strength was completely worn out in
efforts to disentangle himself. Once a day a door opened, and Herr Hippe
placed a crust of bread and a cup of water within his reach. On this
meagre fare he had subsisted. It was a hard life; but, bad as it was, it
was better than the horrible death that menaced him. His brain reeled
with terror at the prospect of it. Then, where was Zonéla? Why did she
not come to his rescue? But she was, perhaps, dead. The darkness, too,
appalled him. A faint light, when the moon was bright, came at night
through a chink far up in the wall; and the only other hole in the
chamber was an aperture through which, at some former time, a stove-pipe
had been passed. Even if he were free, there would have been small hope
of escape; but, laced as it were in a network of steel, what was to be
done? He groaned and writhed upon the floor, and tore at the boards with
his hands, which were free from the wrists down. All else was as solidly
laced up as an Indian papoose. Nothing but pride kept him from shrieking
aloud, when, on the night of New Year's Eve, be heard the fiendish Hippe
recite the programme of his murder.

While he was thus wailing and gnashing his teeth in darkness and
torture, he heard a faint noise above his head. Then something seemed to
leap from the ceiling and alight softly on the floor. He shuddered with
terror. Was it some new torture of the Wondersmith's invention? The next
moment, he felt some small animal crawling over his body, and a soft,
silky paw was pushed timidly across his face. His heart leaped with joy.

"It is Furbelow!" he cried. "Zonéla has sent him. He came through the
stove-pipe hole."

It was Furbelow, indeed, restored to life by Zonéla's care, and who had
come down a narrow tube, that no human being could have threaded,
to console the poor captive. The monkey nestled closely into the
hunchback's bosom, and as he did so, Solon felt something cold and hard
hanging from his neck. He touched it. It was sharp. By the dim light
that struggled through the aperture high up in the wall, he discovered
a knife, suspended by a bit of cord. Ah! how the blood came rushing
through the veins that crossed over and through his heart, when life and
liberty came to him in this bit of rusty steel! With his manacled hands
he loosened the heaven-sent weapon; a few cuts were rapidly made in the
cunning network of cord that enveloped his limbs, and in a few seconds
he was free!--cramped and faint with hunger, but free!--free to move,
to use the limbs that God had given him for his preservation,--free to
fight,--to die fighting, perhaps,--but still to die free. He ran to the
door. The bolt was a weak one, for the Wondersmith had calculated more
surely on his prison of cords than on any jail of stone,--and more; and
with a few efforts the door opened. He went cautiously out into the
darkness, with Furbelow perched on his shoulder, pressing his cold
muzzle against his cheek. He had made but a few steps when a trembling
hand was put into his, and in another moment Zonéla's palpitating heart
was pressed against his own. One long kiss, an embrace, a few whispered
words, and the hunchback and the girl stole softly towards the door of
the chamber in which the four gypsies slept. All seemed still; nothing
but the hard breathing of the sleepers, and the monotonous rocking of
Madame Filomel's chair broke the silence. Solon stooped down and put his
eye to the keyhole, through which a red bar of light streamed into the
entry. As he did so, his foot crushed some brittle substance that lay
just outside the door; at the same moment a howl of agony was heard to
issue from the room within. Solon started; nor did he know that at that
instant he had crushed into dust Monsieur Kerplonne's supernumerary eye,
and the owner, though wrapt in a drunken sleep, felt the pang quiver
through his brain.

While Solon peeped through the keyhole, all in the room was motionless.
He had not gazed, however, for many seconds, when the chair of the
fortune-teller gave a sudden lurch, and the black bottle, already
hanging half out of her wide pocket, slipped entirely from its
resting-place, and, falling heavily to the ground, shivered into
fragments.

Then took place an astonishing spectacle. The myriads of armed dolls,
that lay in piles about the room, became suddenly imbued with motion.
They stood up straight, their tiny limbs moved, their black eyes flashed
with wicked purposes, their thread-like swords gleamed as they waved
them to and fro. The villanous souls imprisoned in the bottle began
to work within them. Like the Liliputians, when they found the giant
Gulliver asleep, they scaled in swarms the burly sides of the four
sleeping gypsies. At every step they took, they drove their thin swords
and quivering daggers into the flesh of the drunken authors of their
being. To stab and kill was their mission, and they stabbed and killed
with incredible fury. They clustered on the Wondersmith's sallow cheeks
and sinewy throat, piercing every portion with their diminutive poisoned
blades. Filomel's fat carcass was alive with them. They blackened the
spare body of Monsieur Kerplonne. They covered Oaksmith's huge form like
a cluster of insects.

Overcome completely with the fumes of wine, these tiny wounds did not
for a few moments awaken the sleeping victims. But the swift and deadly
poison Macousha, with which the weapons had been so fiendishly anointed,
began to work. Herr Hippe, stung into sudden life, leaped to his feet,
with a dwarf army clinging to his clothes and his hands,--always
stabbing, stabbing, stabbing. For an instant, a look of stupid
bewilderment clouded his face; then the horrible truth burst upon him.
He gave a shriek like that which a horse utters when he finds himself
fettered and surrounded by fire,--a shriek that curdled the air for
miles and miles.

"Oaksmith! Kerplonne! Filomel! Awake! awake! We are lost! The souls have
got loose! We are dead! poisoned! Oh, accursed ones! Oh, demons, ye are
slaying me! Ah! fiends of Hell!"

Aroused by these frightful howls, the three gypsies sprang also to their
feet, to find themselves stung to death by the manikins. They raved,
they shrieked, they swore. They staggered round the chamber. Blinded in
the eyes by the ever-stabbing weapons,--with the poison already burning
in their veins like red-hot lead,--their forms swelling and discoloring
visibly every moment,--their howls and attitudes and furious gestures
made the scene look like a chamber in Hell.

Maddened beyond endurance, the Wondersmith, half-blind and choking with
the venom that had congested all the blood-vessels of his body, seized
dozens of the manikins and dashed them into the fire, trampling them
down with his feet.

"Ye shall die too, if I die," he cried, with a roar like that of a
tiger. "Ye shall burn, if I burn. I gave ye life,--I give ye death.
Down!--down!--burn!--flame! Fiends that ye are, to slay us! Help me,
brothers! Before we die, let us have our revenge!"

On this, the other gypsies, themselves maddened by approaching death,
began hurling manikins, by handfuls, into the fire. The little
creatures, being wooden of body, quickly caught the flames, and an awful
struggle for life took place in miniature in the grate. Some of them
escaped from between the bars and ran about the room, blazing, writhing
in agony, and igniting the curtains and other draperies that hung
around. Others fought and stabbed one another in the very core of the
fire, like combating salamanders. Meantime, the motions of the gypsies
grew more languid and slow, and their curses were uttered in choked
guttural tones. The faces of all four were spotted with red and green
and violet, like so many egg-plants. Their bodies were swollen to a
frightful size, and at last they dropped on the floor, like overripe
fruit shaken from the boughs by the winds of autumn.

The chamber was now a sheet of fire. The flames roared round and round,
as if seeking for escape, licking every projecting cornice and sill with
greedy tongues, as the serpent licks his prey before he swallows it. A
hot, putrid breath came through the keyhole and smote Solon and Zonéla
like a wind of death. They clasped each other's hands with a moan of
terror, and fled from the house.

The next morning, when the young Year was just unclosing its eyes, and
the happy children all over the great city were peeping from their beds
into the myriads of stockings hanging near by, the blue skies of heaven
shone through a black network of stone and charred rafters. These were
all that remained of the habitation of Herr Hippe, the Wondersmith.



ROBA DI ROMA

[Continued.]


CHAPTER IV.

Lent.

The gay confusion of Carnival is over, with its mad tossing of flowers
and _bonbons_, its showering of _confetti_, its brilliantly draped
balconies running over with happy faces, its barbaric races, its rows of
joyous _contadine_, its quaint masquerading, and all the glad folly of
its Saturnalia. For Saturnalia it is, in most respects just like the
_festa_ of the Ancient Romans, with its _Saturni septem dies_, its
uproar of "_Io Saturnalia!_" in the streets, and all its mad frolic. In
one point it materially differs, however; for on the ancient _festa_ no
criminal could be punished; but in modern times it is this gay occasion
that the government selects to execute (_giustiziare_) any poor wretch
who may have been condemned to death, so as to strike a wholesome terror
into the crowd. Truly, the ways of the Church are as wonderful as
they are infallible! But all is over now. The last _moccoletti_ are
extinguished, that flashed and danced like myriad fire-flies from window
and balcony and over the heads of the roaring tide of people that ebbed
and flowed in stormy streams of wild laughter through the streets. The
Corso has become sober and staid, and taken in its draperies. The fun is
finished. The masked balls, with their _belle maschere_, are over. The
theatres are all closed. Lent has come, bringing its season of sadness;
and the gay world of strangers is flocking down to Naples.

_Eh, Signore! Finito il nostro carnovale. Adesso è il carnovale dei
preti:_--"Our carnival is over, and that of the priests has come." All
the _frati_ are going round to every Roman family, high and low, from
the prince in his palace to the boy in the _caffe_, demanding "_una
santa elemosina,--un abbondante santa elemosina,--ma abbondante_,"--and
willingly pocketing any sum, from a half-_baiocco_ upwards. The parish
priest is now making his visits in every ward of the city, to register
the names of the Catholics in all the houses, so as to insure a
confession from each during this season of penance. And woe to any wight
who fails to do his duty!--he will soon be brought to his marrow-bones.
His name will be placarded in the church, and he will be punished
according to circumstances,--perhaps by a mortification to the pocket,
perhaps by the penance of the convent; and perhaps his fate will be
worse, if he be obstinate. So nobody is obstinate, and all go to
confession like good Christians, and confess what they please, for the
sake of peace, if not of absolution. The Francescani march more solemnly
up and down the alleys of their cabbage-garden, studiously with books in
their hands, which they pretend to read; now and then taking out their
snuff-stained bandanna and measuring it from corner to corner, in search
of a feasible spot for its appropriate function, and then rolling it
carefully into a little round ball and returning it to the place whence
it came. Whatever penance they do is not to Father Tiber or Santo
Acquedotto, excepting by internal ablutions,--the exterior things of
this world being ignored. There is no meat-eating now, save on certain
festivals, when a supply is laid in for the week. But opposites cure
opposites, (contrary to the homoeopathic rule,) and their _magro_ makes
them _grasso_. Two days of festival, however, there are in the little
church of San Patrizio and Isidoro, when the streets are covered with
sand, and sprigs of box and red and yellow hangings flaunt before the
portico, and scores of young boy-priests invade their garden, and,
tucking up their long skirts, run and scream among the cabbages;
for boydom is an irrepressible thing, even under the extinguisher of a
priest's black dress.

Daily you will hear the tinkle of a bell and the chant of alto
child-voices in the street, and, looking out, you will see two little
boys clad in some refuse of the Church's wardrobe, one of whom carries a
crucifix or a big black cross, while the other rings a bell and chants
as he loiters along; now stopping to chaff with other boys of a similar
age, nay, even at times laying down his cross to dispute or struggle
with them, and now renewing the appeal of the bell. This is to call
together the children of the parish to learn their Dottrina or
Catechism,--from which the Second Commandment is, however, carefully
expurgated, lest to their feeble minds the difference between bowing
down to graven images, or likenesses of things in the earth, and what
they do daily before the images and pictures of the Virgin and Saints
may not clearly appear. Indeed, let us cheerfully confess, in passing,
that, by a strange forgetfulness, this same Commandment is not
reestablished in its place even in the catechism for older persons,--of
course through inadvertence. However, it is of no consequence, as the
real number of Ten Commandments is made up by the division of the last
into two; so that there really are ten. And in a country where so many
pictures are painted and statues made, perhaps this Second Commandment
might be open to misconstruction, if not prohibited by the wise and holy
men of the Church. [A]

[Footnote A: This is a fact,--denied, of course, by some of the Roman
Catholics, in argument; for what will they not deny? But it is,
nevertheless, a fact. I have now before me a little Catechism, from
which the Second Commandment is omitted, and the Tenth divided into two;
and I have examined others in which the same omission is made. I cannot
say that all are in the same category; for the Catholic Church is
everything to everybody; but I can assert it of all I have seen,
and especially of _La Dottrina Xtiana, compilata per Ordine dell
Eminentissinto Cardinale_ GONZAGA MEMBRINI, _Vescovo di Ancona, per
l'Uso delict Citta e Diocesi_, published in 1830, which I mention
because it is a compilation of authority, made under the superintendence
of the Cardinal Bishop of Ancona,--and of the _Catechismo per i
Fanciulll, ad Uso delle Città e Diocesi di Cortona, Chiuso, Pienza,
Pistoia, Prato e Colle_, published in 1786, under the auspices and with
the approval of the bishops of all these cities and dioceses.]

Meantime the snow is gradually disappearing from Monte Gennaro and the
Sabine Mountains. Picnic parties are spreading their tables under the
Pamfili Doria pines, and drawing St. Peter's from the old wall near
by the ilex avenue,--or making excursions to Frascati, Tusculum, and
Albano,--or spending a day in wandering among the ruins of the Etruscan
city of Veii, lost to the world so long ago that even the site of it was
unknown to the Caesars,--or strolling by the shore at Ostia, or under
the magnificent _pineta_ at Castel Fusano, whose lofty trees repeat, as
in a dream, the sound of the blue Mediterranean that washes the coast at
half a mile distant. There is no lack of places that Time has shattered
and strewn with relics, leaving Nature to festoon her ruins and heal her
wounds with tenderest vines and flowers, where one may spend a charming
day and dream of the old times.

Spring--_prima vera_, the first true thing, as the Italians call it--has
come. The nightingales already begin to bubble into song under the
Ludovisi ilexes and in the Barberini Gardens. Daisies have snowed all
over the Campagna,--periwinkles star the grass,--crocuses and anemones
impurple the spaces between the rows of springing grain along the still
brown slopes. At every turn in the streets baskets-full of _mammole_,
the sweet-scented Parma violet, are offered you by little girls and
boys; and at the corner of the Condotti and Corso is a splendid show of
camelias, set into beds of double violets, and sold for a song. Now and
then one meets huge baskets filled with these delicious violets, on their
way to the confectioners and caffes, where they will be made into syrup;
for the Italians are very fond of this _bibite_, and prize it not only for
its flavor, but for its medicinal qualities. Violets seem to rain over the
villas in the spring,--acres are purple with them, and the air all around
is sweet with their fragrance. Every day, scores of carriages are driving
about the Borghese grounds, which are open to the public, and hundreds of
children are running about, plucking flowers and playing on the lovely
slopes and in the shadows of the noble trees, while their parents stroll
at a distance and wait for them in the shady avenues. At the Pamfili Doria
villa the English play their national game of cricket, on the flower-
enamelled green, which is covered with the most wondrous anemones; and
there is a _matinée_ of friends who come to chat and look on. This game is
rather "slow" at Rome, however, and does not rhyme with the Campagna. The
Italians lift their hands and wonder what there is in it to fascinate the
English; and the English in turn call them a lazy, stupid set, because
they do not admire it. But those who have seen _pallone_ will not,
perhaps, so much wonder at the Italians, nor condemn them for not playing
their own game, when they remember that the French have turned them out of
their only amphitheatre adapted for it, and left them only _pazienza_.

If one drives out at any of the gates, he will see that spring is come.
The hedges are putting forth their leaves, the almond-trees are in full
blossom, and in the vineyards the _contadini_ are setting cane-poles and
trimming the vines to run upon them. Here and there, along the slopes,
the rude old plough of the Georgics, dragged by great gray oxen, turns
up the rich loam, that "needs only to be tickled to laugh out in flowers
and grain." In the olive-orchards, the farmers are carefully pruning
away the decayed branches and loosening the soil about their old roots.
Here and there, the smoke of distant bonfires, burning heaps of useless
stubble, shows against the dreamy purple hills like the pillar of cloud
that led the Israelites. One smells the sharp odor of these fires
everywhere, and hears them crackle in the fields.

"Atque levem stipulam crepitantibus urere flammis."

On _festa_-days the way-side _osterias (con cucina)_ are crowded by
parties who come out to sit under the _frascati_ of vines and drink the
wine grown on the very spot, and regale themselves with a _frittata_
of eggs and chopped sausages, or a slice of _agnello_, and enjoy the
delicious air that breathes from the mountains. The old cardinals
descend from their gilded carriages, and, accompanied by one of their
household and followed by their ever-present lackeys in harlequin
liveries, totter along on foot with swollen ankles, lifting their broad
red hats to the passers-by who salute them, and pausing constantly in
their discourse to enforce a phrase or take a pinch of snuff. Files of
scholars from the Propaganda stream along, now and then, two by two,
their leading-strings swinging behind them, and in their ranks all
shades of physiognomy, from African and Egyptian to Irish and American.
Scholars, too, from the English College, and Germans, in red, go by in
companies. All the schools, too, will be out,--little boys, in black
hats, following the lead of their priest-master, (for all masters are
priests,) and orphan girls in white, convoyed by Sisters of Charity, and
the deaf and dumb with their masters. Scores of _ciocciari_, also, may
be seen in faded scarlets, with their wardrobes of wretched clothes, and
sometimes a basket with a baby in it, on their heads. The _contadini_,
who have been to Rome to be hired for the week to labor on the Campagna,
come tramping along too, one of them often mounted on a donkey, and
followed by a group carrying their tools with them; while hundreds of
the middle classes, husbands and wives with their children, and _paini_
and _paine_, with all their jewelry on, are out to take their _festa_
stroll, and to see and be seen.

Once in a while, the sadness of Lent is broken by a Church festival,
when all the fasters eat prodigiously and make up for their usual Lenten
fare. One of the principal days is that of the 19th of March, dedicated
to San Giuseppe, (the most ill-used of all the saints,) when the little
church in Capo le Case, dedicated to him, is hung with brilliant
draperies, and the pious flock thither in crowds to say their prayers.
The great curtain is swaying to and fro constantly as they come and go,
and a file of beggars is on the steps to relieve you of _baiocchi_.
Beside them stands a fellow who sells a print of the Angel appearing to
San Giuseppe in a dream, and warning him against the sin of jealousy.
Four curious lines beneath the print thus explain it:--

  "Qual sinistro pensier l'alma ti scuote?
  Se il sen fecondo di Maria tu vedi,
  Giuseppe, non temer; calmati, e credi
  Ch' opra è sol di colui che tutto puote."

Whether Joseph is satisfied or not with this explanation, it would be
difficult to determine from his expression. He looks rather haggard and
bored than persuaded, and certainly has not that cheerful acquiescence
of countenance which one is taught to expect.

During all Lent, a sort of bun, called _maritozze_, which is filled with
the edible kernels of the pine-cone, made light with oil, and thinly
crusted with sugar, is eaten by the faithful,--and a very good Catholic
"institution" it is. But in the festival days of San Giuseppe, gayly
ornamented booths are built at the corner of many of the streets,
especially near the church in Capo le Case, in the Borgo, and at San
Eustachio, which are adorned with great green branches as large as young
trees, and hung with red and gold draperies, where the "_Frittelle di
San Giuseppe_" are fried in huge caldrons of boiling oil and served out
to the common people. These _frittelle_, which are a sort of delicate
doughnut, made of flour mixed sometimes with rice, are eaten by all good
Catholics, though one need not be a Catholic to find them excellent
eating. In front of the principal booths are swung "_Sonetti_" in praise
of the Saint, of the cook, and of the doughnuts,--some of them declaring
that Mercury has already descended from Olympus at the command of the
gods to secure a large supply of the _frittelle_, and praying all
believers to make haste, or there would be no more left. The latter
alternative seems little probable, when one sees the quantity of
provision laid in by the vendors. Their prayer, however, is heeded by
all; and a gay scene enough it is,--especially at night, when the great
cups filled with lard are lighted, and the shadows dance on the crowd,
and the light flashes on the tinsel-covered festoons that sway with the
wind, and illuminates the great booth, while the smoke rises from the
great caldrons which flank it on either side, and the cooks, all in
white, ladle out the dripping _frittelle_ into large polished platters,
and laugh and joke, and laud their work, and shout at the top of their
lungs, "_Ecco le belle, ma belle frittelle_!" For weeks this frying
continues in the streets; but after the day of San Giuseppe, not only
the sacred _frittelle_ are made, but thousands of minute fishes,
fragments of cauliflower, _broccoli_, cabbage, and _carciofi_ go into
the hissing oil, and are heaped all "_dorati_" upon the platters and
vases. For all sorts of fries the Romans are justly celebrated. The
sweet olive-oil, which takes the place of our butter and lard, makes the
fry light, delicate, and of a beautiful golden color; and spread upon
the snowy tables of these booths, their odor is so appetizing and their
look so inviting, that I have often been tempted to join the crowds who
fill their plates and often their pocket-handkerchiefs (_con rispetto_)
with these golden fry, "_fritti dorati_," as they are called, and thus
do honor to the Saint, and comfort their stomachs with holy food, which
quells the devil of hunger within.[A]

[Footnote A: This festival of San Giuseppe, which takes place on the
19th of March, bears a curious resemblance to the _Liberalia_ of the
ancient Romans, a festival in honor of Bacchus, which was celebrated
every year on the 17th of March, when priests and priestesses, adorned
with garlands of ivy, carried through the city wine, honey, cakes, and
sweetmeats, together with a portable altar, in the middle of
which was a small fire-pan, (_foculus_,) in which, from time to time,
sacrifices were burnt. The altar has now become a booth, the _foculus_
a caldron, the sacrifices are of little fishes as well as of cakes,
and San Giuseppe has taken the place of Bacchus, Liber Pater; but the
festivals, despite these differences, have such grotesque points of
resemblance that the latter looks like the former, just as one's face is
still one's face, however distortedly reflected in the bowl of a spoon;
and, perhaps, if one remembers the third day of the Anthesteria, when
cooked vegetables were offered in honor of Bacchus, by putting it
together with the Liberalia, we shall easily get the modern _festa_ of
San Giuseppe.]

But not only at this time and at these booths are good _fritti_ to
be found. It is a favorite mode of cooking in Rome; and a mixed fry
(_fritta mista_) of bits of liver, brains, cauliflower, and _carciofi_
is a staple dish, always ready at every restaurant. At any _osteria con
cucina_ on the Campagna one is also sure of a good omelet and salad;
and, sitting under the vines, after a long walk, I have made as savory
a lunch on these two articles as ever I found in the most glittering
restaurant in the Palais Royal. If one add the background of exquisite
mountains, the middle distance of flowery slopes, where herds of
long-haired goats, sheep, and gray oxen are feeding among the skeletons
of broken aqueducts, ruined tombs, and shattered mediaeval towers, and
the foreground made up of picturesque groups of peasants, who lounge
about the door, and come and go, and men from the Campagna, on
horseback, with their dark, capacious cloak and long ironed staff, who
have come from counting their oxen and superintending the farming, and
_carrettieri_, stopping in their hooded wine-carts or ringing along the
road,--there is, perhaps, as much to charm the artist as is to be seen
while sipping beer or _eau gazeuse_ on the hot Parisian _asphalte_,
where the _grisette_ studiously shows her clean ankles, and the dandy
struts in his patent-leather boots.

One great _festa_ there is during Lent at the little town of
Grotta-Ferrata, about fourteen miles from Rome. It takes place on the
25th of March, and sometimes is very gay and picturesque, and always
charming to one who has eyes to see and has shed some of his national
prejudices. By eight o'clock in the morning open carriages begin to
stream out of the Porta San Giovanni, and in about two hours the old
castellated monastery may be seen at whose feet the little village of
Grotta-Ferrata stands. As we advance through noble elms and planetrees,
crowds of _contadini_ line the way, beggars scream from the banks,
donkeys bray, _carretti_ rattle along, until at last we arrive at a long
meadow which seems alive and crumbling with gayly dressed figures that
are moving to and fro as thick as ants upon an ant-hill. Here are
gathered peasants from all the country-villages within ten miles, all in
their festal costumes; along the lane which skirts the meadow and
leads through the great gate of the old fortress, donkeys are
crowded together, and keeping up a constant and outrageous concert;
_saltimbanci_, in harlequin suits, are making faces or haranguing from
a platform, and inviting everybody into their penny-show. From inside
their booths is heard the sound of the invariable pipes and drum, and
from the lifted curtain now and then peers forth a comic face, and then
disappears with a sudden scream and wild gesticulation. Meantime the
closely packed crowd moves slowly along in both directions, and on we go
through the archway into the great court-yard. Here, under the shadow
of the monastery, booths and benches stand in rows, arrayed with the
produce of the country-villages,--shoes, rude implements of husbandry,
the coarse woven fabrics of the _contadini_, hats with cockades and
rosettes, feather brooms and brushes, and household things, with here
and there the tawdry pinchbeck ware of a peddler of jewelry, and little
_quadretti_ of Madonna and saints. Extricating ourselves from the crowd,
we ascend by a stone stairway to the walk around the parapets of the
walls, and look down upon the scene. How gay it is! Around the fountain,
which is spilling in the centre of the court, a constantly varying group
is gathered, washing, drinking, and filling their flasks and vases.
Near by, a charlatan, mounted on a table, with a huge canvas behind him
painted all over with odd cabalistic figures, is screaming, in loud and
voluble tones, the virtues of his medicines and unguents, and his skill
in extracting teeth. One need never have a pang in tooth, ear, head, or
stomach, if one will but trust his wonderful promises. In one little
bottle he has the famous water which renews youth; in another, the
lotion which awakens love, or cures jealousy, or changes the fright into
the beauty. All the while he plays with his tame serpents, and chatters
as if his tongue went of itself, while the crowd of peasants below gape
at him, laugh with him, and buy from him. Listen to him, all who have
ears!

  Udite, udite, O rustici!
  Attenti, non fiatate!
  Io già suppongo e immagino
  Che al par di me sappiate
  Che io son quel gran medico
  Dottore Enciclopedico
  Chiamato Dulcamara,
  La cui virtu preclara
  E i portenti infiniti
  Son noti in tutto il mondo--_e in altri siti_.

  Benefattor degli uomini,
  Reparator dei mali,
  In pochi giorni io sgombrerò.
  Io spazzo gli spedali
  E la salute a vendere
  Per tutto il mondo io vo.
  Compratela, compratela,--
  Per poco io ve la do.

  È questo l'odontalgico,
  Mirabile liquore,
  De' topi e dei cimici
  Possente distruttore,
  I cui certificati
  Autentici, bollati,
  Toccar, vedere, e leggere,
  A ciaschedun farò.
  Per questo mio specifico
  Simpatico, prolifico,
  Un uom settuagenario
  E valetudinario
  Nonno di dieci bamboli
  Ancora diventò.

  O voi matrona rigide,
  Ringiovanir bramate?
  Le vostre rughe incomode
  Con esso cancellate.
  Volete, voi donzelle,
  Ben liscia aver la pelle?
  Voi giovani galanti,
  Per sempre avere amanti,
  Comprate il mio specifico,--
  Per poco io ve lo do.

  Ei move i paralitici,
  Spedisce gli apopletici,
  Gli asmatici, gli asfitici,
  Gli isterici, e disbetici;
  Guarisce timpanitidi
  E scrofoli e rachitidi;
  E fino il mal di fegato,
  Che in moda diventò.
  Comprate il mio specifico,--
  Per poco io ve lo do.

And so on and on and on. There is never an end of that voluble gabble.
Nothing is more amusing than the Italian _ciarlatano_, wherever you meet
him; but, like many other national characters, he is vanishing, and is
seen more and more rarely every year. Perhaps he has been promoted to an
office in the Church or government, and finds more pickings there than
at the fairs; and if not, perhaps he has sold out his profession and
good-will to his confessor, who has mounted, by means of it into a
gilded carriage, and wears silk stockings, whose color, for fear of
mistake, I will not mention.

But to return to the fair and our station on the parapets at
Grotta-Ferrata. Opposite us is a penthouse, (where nobody peaks and
pines,) whose jutting _fraschi_-covered eaves and posts are adorned with
gay draperies; and under the shadow of this is seated a motley set of
peasants at their lunch and dinner. Smoking plates come in and out of
the dark hole of a door that opens into kitchen and cellar, and the
_camerieri_ cry constantly, "_Vengo subito_" "_Eccomi quà_"--whether
they come or not. Big-bellied flasks of rich Grotta-Ferrata wine are
filled and emptied; and bargains are struck for cattle, donkeys, and
clothes; and healths are pledged and _brindisi_ are given. But there is
no riot and no quarrelling. If we lift our eyes from this swarm below,
we see the exquisite Campagna with its silent, purple distances
stretching off to Rome, and hear the rush of a wild torrent scolding in
the gorge below among the stones and olives.

But while we are lingering here, a crowd is pushing through into the
inner court, where mass is going on in the curious old church. One has
now to elbow his way to enter, and all around the door, even out into
the middle court, _contadini_ are kneeling. Besides this, the whole
place reeks intolerably with garlic, which, mixed with whiff of incense
from the church within and other unmentionable smells, makes such a
compound that only a brave nose can stand it. But stand it we must, if
we would see Domenichino's frescoes in the chapel within; and as they
are among the best products of his cold and clever talent, we gasp and
push on,--the most resolute alone getting through. Here in this old
monastery, as the story goes, he sought refuge from the fierce Salvator
Rosa, by whom his life was threatened, and here he painted his best
works, shaking in his shoes with fear. When we have examined these
frescoes, we have done the fair of Grotta-Ferrata; and those of us who
are wise and have brought with us a well-packed hamper stick in our hat
one of the red artificial roses which everybody wears, take a charming
drive to the Villa Conti, Muti, or Falconieri, and there, under the
ilexes, forget the garlic, finish the day with a picnic, and return to
Rome when the western sun is painting the Alban Hill.

And here, in passing, one word on the onions and garlic, whose odor
issues from the mouths of every Italian crowd, like the fumes from
the maw of Fridolin's dragon. Everybody eats them in Italy; the upper
classes show them to their dishes to give them a flavor, and the lower
use them not only as a flavor, but as a food. When only a formal
introduction of them is made to a dish, I confess that the result is
far from disagreeable; but that close, intimate, and absorbing relation
existing between them and the lowest classes is frightful. _Senza
complimenti_, it is "tolerable and not to be endured." When a poor man
can procure a raw onion and a hunch of black bread, he does not want a
dinner; and towards noon many and many a one may be seen sitting like
a king upon a door-step, or making a statuesque finish to a _palazzo
portone_, cheerfully munching this spare meal, and taking his siesta
after it, full-length upon the bare pavement, as calmly as if he were in
the perfumed chambers of the great,

  "Under the canopies of costly state,
  And lulled with sounds of sweetest melody."

And, indeed, so he is; for the canopy of the soft blue sky is above him,
and the plashing fountains lull him to his dreams. Nor is he without
ancient authority for his devotion to those twin saints, Cipolla and
Aglio. There is an "odor of sanctity" about them, turn up our noses
as we may. The Ancient Egyptians offered them as firstfruits upon the
altars of their gods, and employed them also in the services for the
dead; and such was their attachment to them, that the followers of Moses
hankered after them despite the manna, and longed for "the leeks and the
onions and the garlic which they did eat in Egypt freely." Nay, even the
fastidious Greeks not only used them as a charm against the Evil Eye,
but ate them with delight. And in the "Banquet" of Xenophon, Socrates
specially recommends them. On this occasion, several curious reasons
for their use are adduced, of which we who despise them should not be
ignorant. Niceratus says that they relish well with wine, citing Homer
in confirmation of his opinion; Callias affirms that they inspire
courage in battle; and Charmidas clenches the matter by declaring that
they are most useful in "deceiving a jealous wife, who, finding her
husband return with his breath smelling of onions, would be induced to
believe he had not saluted any one while from home." Despise them not,
therefore, O Saxon! for as "their offence is rank," their pedigree is
long, and they are sacred plants that "smell to heaven." Happily for
you, if these reasons do not persuade you against your will, there is a
certain specific against them,--_Eat them yourself_, and you will smell
them no longer.

The time of the church processions is now coming, and one good specimen
takes place on the 29th of March, from the Santa Maria in Via, which
may stand with little variations for all the others. These processions,
which are given by every church once a year, are in honor of the
Madonna, or some saint specially reverenced in the particular church.
They make the circuit of the parish limits, passing through all its
principal streets, and every window and balcony is decorated with yellow
and crimson hangings, and with crowds of dark eyes. The front of the
church, the steps, and the street leading to it, are spread with yellow
sand, over which are scattered sprigs of box. After the procession
has been organized in the church, they "come unto the yellow sands,"
preceded by a band of music, which plays rather jubilant, and what the
uncopious would call profane music, polkas and marches, and airs
from the operas. Next follow great lanterns of strung glass drops,
accompanied by soldiers; then an immense gonfalon representing the
Virgin at the Cross, which swings backwards and forwards, borne by the
_confraternità_ of the parish, with blue capes over their white dresses,
and all holding torches. Then follows a huge wooden cross, garlanded
with golden ivy-leaves, and also upheld by the _confraternità_, who
stagger under its weight. Next come two crucifixes, covered, as the body
of Christ always is during Lent and until Resurrection-Day, with cloth
of purple, (the color of passion,) and followed by the _frati_ of the
church in black, carrying candles and dolorously chanting a hymn. Then
comes the bishop in his mitre, his yellow stole upheld by two principal
priests, (the curate and subcurate,) and to him his acolytes waft
incense, as well as to the huge figure of the Madonna which follows.
This figure is of life-size, carved in wood, surrounded by gilt angels,
and so heavy that sixteen stout _facchini_, whose shabby trousers show
under their improvised costume, are required to bear it along. With this
the procession comes to its climax. Immediately after follow the guards,
and a great concourse of the populace closes the train.

As Holy Week approaches, pilgrims begin to flock to Rome with their
oil-cloth capes, their scallop-shell, their long staffs, their rosaries,
and their dirty hands held out constantly for "_una santa elemosina pel
povero pellegrino_." Let none of my fair friends imagine that she will
find a Romeo among them, or she will be most grievously disappointed.
There is something to touch your pity in their appearance, though not
the pity akin to love. They are, for the most part, old, shabby, and
soiled, and inveterate mendicants,--and though, some time or other,
some one or other may have known one of them for her true-love, "by his
cockle hat and staff, and his sandal shoon," that time has been long
forbye, unless they are wondrously disguised. Besides these pilgrims,
and often in company with them, bands of peasants, with their long
staffs, may be met on the road, making a pilgrimage to Rome for the Holy
Week, clad in splendid _ciocciari_ dresses, carrying their clothes on
their heads, and chanting a psalm as they go. Among these may be found
many a handsome youth and beautiful maid, whose faces will break into
the most charming of smiles as you salute them and wish them a happy
pilgrimage. And of all smiles, none is so sudden, open, and enchanting
as a Roman girl's; and breaking over their dark, passionate faces, black
eyes, and level brows, it seems like a burst of sunlight from behind a
cloud. There must be noble possibilities in any nation which, through
all its oppression and degradation, has preserved the childlike
frankness of the Italian smile. Still another indication of the approach
of Holy Week is the Easter egg, which now makes its appearance, and
warns us of the solemnities to come. Sometimes it is stained yellow,
purple, red, green, or striped with various colors; sometimes it is
crowned with paste-work, representing, in a most primitive way, a
hen,--her body being the egg, and her pastry-head adorned with a
disproportionately tall feather. These eggs are exposed for sale at
the corners of the streets and bought by everybody, and every sort of
ingenious device is resorted to, to attract customers and render them
attractive. This custom is probably derived from the East, where the egg
is the symbol of the primitive state of the world and of the creation
of things. The new year formerly began at the spring equinox, at about
Easter; and at that period of the renewal of Nature, a festival was
celebrated in the new moon of the month Phamenoth, in honor of Osiris,
when painted and gilded eggs were exchanged as presents, in reference to
the beginning of all things. The transference of the commencement of the
year to January deprived the Paschal egg of its significance. Formerly
in France, and still in Russia as in Italy, it had a religious
significance, and was never distributed until it had received a solemn
benediction. On Good Friday, a priest, with his robes and an attendant,
may be seen going into every door in the street to bless the house, the
inhabitants, and the eggs. The last, colored and arranged according to
the taste of the individual, are spread upon a table, which is decorated
with box, flowers, and whatever ornamental dishes the family possesses.
The priest is received with bows at the door, and when the benediction
is over he is rewarded with the gratuity of a _paul_ or a _scudo_,
according to the piety and purse of the proprietor; while into the
basket of his attendant is always dropped a _pagnotta_, a couple of
eggs, a _baiocco_, or some such trifle. [Footnote: Beside the blessing
of the eggs and house, it is the custom in some parts of Italy, (and I
have particularly observed it in Siena,) for the priest, at Easter, to
affix to the door of the chief _palazzi_ and villas a waxen cross, or
the letter M in wax, so as to guard the house from evil spirits. But
only the houses of the rich are thus protected; for the priests bestow
favors only "for a consideration," which the poor cannot so easily
give.]

It is on this day, too, that the customary Jew is converted, recants,
and is baptized; and there are not wanting evil tongues which declare
that there is a wonderful similarity in his physiognomy every year.
However this may be, there is no doubt that some one is annually dug out
of the Ghetto, which is the pit of Judaism here in Rome; and if he fall
back again, after receiving the temporal reward, and without waiting for
the spiritual, he probably finds it worth his while to do so, in view of
the zeal of the Church, and in remembrance of the fifteenth verse of the
twenty-third chapter of Matthew, if he ever reads that portion of the
Bible. It is in the great basaltic vase in the baptistery of St. John
Lateran, the same in which Rienzi bathed in 1347, before receiving the
insignia of knighthood, that the converted Jew, and any other infidel
who can be brought over, receives his baptism when he is taken into the
arms of the Church.

It is at this season, too, that the _pizzicarolo_ shops are gayly
dressed in the manner so graphically described by Hans Andersen in his
"Improvisatore." No wonder, that, to little Antonio, the interior of
one of these shops looked like a realization of Paradise; for they are
really splendid; and when glittering with candles and lamps at night,
the effect is very striking. Great sides of bacon and lard are ranged
endwise in regular bars all around the interior, and adorned with
stripes of various colors, mixed with golden spangles and flashing
tinsel; while over and under them, in reticulated work, are piled scores
upon scores of brown cheeses, in the form of pyramids, columns, towers,
with eggs set into their interstices. From the ceiling, and all around
the doorway, hang wreaths and necklaces of sausages, or groups of the
long gourd-like _cacio di cavallo_, twined about with box, or netted
wire baskets filled with Easter eggs, or great bunches of white candles
gathered together at the wicks. Seen through these, at the bottom of the
shop, is a picture of the Madonna, with scores of candles burning about
it, and gleaming upon the tinsel hangings and spangles with which it
is decorated. Underneath this, there is often represented an elaborate
_presepio_,--or, when this is not the case, the animals may be seen
mounted here and there on the cheeses. Candelabra of eggs, curiously
bound together, so as to resemble bunches of gigantic white grapes,
swung from the centre of the ceiling, and cups of colored glass, with a
taper in them, or red paper lanterns, and _terra-cotta_ lamps, of the
antique form, show here and there their little flames among the flitches
of bacon and cheeses; while, in the midst of all this splendor, the
figure of the _pizzicarolo_ moves to and fro, like a high-priest at a
ceremony. Nor is this illumination exclusive. The doors, often of the
full width of the shop, are thrown wide open, and the glory shines upon
all passers-by. It is the apotheosis of ham and cheese, at which only
the Hebraic nose, doing violence to its natural curve, turns up in
scorn; while true Christians crowd around it to wonder and admire, and
sometimes to venture in upon the almost enchanted ground. May it be long
before this pleasant custom dies out!

At last comes Holy Week, with its pilgrims that flock from every part
of the world. Every hotel and furnished apartment is crowded,--every
carriage is hired at double and treble its ordinary fare,--every door,
where a Papal ceremony is to take place, is besieged by figures in black
with black veils. The streets are filled with Germans, English, French,
Americans, all on the move, coming and going, and anxiously inquiring
about the _funzioni_, and when they are to take place, and where,--for
everything is kept in a charming condition of perfect uncertainty, from
the want of any public newspaper or journal, or other accurate means of
information. So everybody asks everybody, and everybody tells everybody,
until nobody knows anything, and everything is guesswork. But,
nevertheless, despite impatient words, and muttered curses, and all
kinds of awkward mistakes, the battle goes bravely on. There is terrible
fighting at the door of the Sistine Chapel, to hear the _Miserere_,
which is sure to be Baini's when it is said to be Allegri's, as well as
at the railing of the Chapel, where the washing of the feet takes place,
and at the supper-table, where twelve country-boors represent the
Apostolic company, and are waited on by the Pope, in a way that shows
how great a sham the whole thing is. The air is close to suffocation in
this last place. Men and women faint and are carried out. Some fall and
are trodden down. Sometimes, as at the table this year, some unfortunate
pays for her curiosity with her life. It is "Devil take the
hindmost!" and if any one is down, he is leaped over by men and women
indiscriminately, for there is no time to be lost. In the Chapel, when
once they are in, all want to get out. Shrieks are heard as the jammed
mass sways backward and forward,--veils and dresses are torn in the
struggle,--women are praying for help. Meantime the stupid Swiss keep to
their orders with a literalness which knows no parallel; and all this
time, the Pope, who has come in by a private door, is handing round beef
and mustard and bread and potatoes to the gormandizing Apostles, who put
into their pockets what their stomachs cannot hold, and improve their
opportunities in every way. At last, those who have been through the
fight return at nightfall, haggard and ghastly with fear, hunger, and
fatigue; and, after agreeing that they could never counsel any one to
such an attempt, set off the next morning to attack again some shut door
behind which a "function" is to take place.

All this, however, is done by the strangers. The Romans, on these high
festivals, do not go to Saint Peter's, but perform their religious
services at their parish churches, calmly and peacefully; for in Saint
Peter's all is a spectacle. "How shall I, a true son of the Holy
Church," asks Pasquin, "obtain admittance to her services?" And Marforio
answers, "Declare you are an Englishman, and swear you are a heretic."

The Piazza is crowded with carriages during all these days, and a
hackman will look at nothing under a _scudo_ for the smallest distance,
and, to your remonstrances, he shrugs his shoulders and says, "_Eh,
signore, bisogna vivere; adesso è la nostra settimana, e poi niente._
Next week I will take you anywhere for two _pauls_,--now for fifteen."
Meluccio, (the little old apple,) the aged boy in the Piazza San Pietro,
whose sole occupation it has been for years to open and shut the doors
of carriages--and hold out his hand for a _mezzo-baiocco_, is in great
glee. He runs backwards and forwards all day long,--hails carriages like
mad,--identifies to the bewildered coachmen their lost fares, whom he
never fails to remember,--points out to bewildered strangers the coach
they are hopelessly striving to identify, having entirely forgotten
coachman and carriage in the struggle they have gone through. He is
everywhere, screaming, laughing, and helping everybody. It is his high
festival as well as the Pope's, and grateful strangers drop into his
hand the frequent _baiocco_ or half-_paul_, and thank God and Meluccio
as they sink back in their carriages and cry, "_A casa_."

Finally comes Easter Sunday, the day of the Resurrection; and at twelve
on the Saturday previous all the bells are rung, and the crucifixes
uncovered, and the Pope, cardinals, and priests change their
mourning-vestments for those of rejoicing. Easter has come. You may know
it by the ringing bells, and the sound of trumpets in the street, and
the jar of long trains of cannon going down to the Piazza San Pietro, to
guard the place and join in the dance, in case of a row or rising
among the populace; for the right arm of the Church is the cannon, and
Christ's doctrines are always protected by the bayonet, and Peter's
successor "making broad his phylacteries," and his splendid _cortége_
"enlarging the borders of their garments" and going up to "the chief
seats in the synagogues" "in purple and fine linen" to make their "long
prayers," crave the protection of bristling arms and drawn swords.

By twelve o'clock Mass in Saint Peter's is over, and the Piazza is
crowded with people to see the Benediction,--and a grand and imposing
spectacle it is! Out over the great balcony stretches a huge white
awning, where priests and attendants are collected, and where the Pope
will soon be seen. Below, the Piazza is alive with moving masses. In the
centre are drawn up long lines of soldiery, with yellow and red pompons
and glittering helmets and bayonets. These are surrounded by crowds on
foot, and at the outer rim are packed carriages filled and overrun with
people mounted on the seats and boxes. There is a half-hour's waiting
while we can look about, a steady stream of carriages all the while
pouring in, and, if one could see it, stretching out a mile behind, and
adding thousands of impatient spectators to those already there. What a
sight it is!--above us the great dome of Saint Peter's, and below, the
grand embracing colonnade, and the vast space, in the centre of which
rises the solemn obelisk thronged with masses of living beings. Peasants
from the Campagna and the mountains are moving about everywhere.
Pilgrims in oil-cloth cape and with iron staff demand charity. On the
steps are rows of purple, blue, and brown umbrellas; for there the sun
blazes fiercely. Everywhere cross forth the white hoods of Sisters of
Charity, collected in groups, and showing, among the party-colored
dresses, like beds of chrysanthemums in a garden. One side of the
massive colonnade casts a grateful shadow over the crowd beneath, that
fill up the intervals of its columns; but elsewhere the sun burns down
and flashes everywhere. Mounted on the colonnade are masses of people
leaning over, beside the colossal statues. Through all the heat is heard
the constant plash of the two superb fountains, that wave to and fro
their veils of white spray. At last the clock strikes. In the far
balcony are seen the two great snowy peacock fans, and between them a
figure clad in white, that rises from a golden chair, and spreads his
great sleeves like wings as he raises his arms in benediction. That is
the Pope, Pius the Ninth. All is dead silence, and a musical voice,
sweet and penetrating, is heard chanting from the balcony;--the people
bend and kneel; with a cold, gray flash, all the bayonets gleam as the
soldiers drop to their knees, and rise to salute as the voice dies away,
and the two white wings are again waved;--then thunder the cannon,--the
bells dash and peal,--a few white papers, like huge snowflakes, drop
wavering from the balcony;--these are Indulgences, and there is an eager
struggle for them below;--then the Pope again rises, again gives his
benediction, waving to and fro his right hand, three fingers open, and
making the sign of the cross,--and the peacock fans retire, and he
between them is borne away,--and Lent is over.

As Lent is ushered in by the dancing lights of the _moccoletti_, so it
is ushered out by the splendid illumination of Saint Peter's, which is
one of the grandest spectacles in Rome. The first illumination is by
means of paper lanterns, distributed everywhere along the architectural
lines of the church, and from the steps beneath its portico to the cross
above its dome. These are lighted before sunset, and against the blaze
of the western light are for some time completely invisible; but as
twilight thickens, and the shadows deepen, and a gray pearly veil is
drawn over the sky, the distant basilica begins to glow against it with
a dull furnace-glow, as of a wondrous coal fanned by a constant wind;
looking not so much lighted from without as reddening from an interior
fire. Slowly this splendor grows, until the mighty building at last
stands outlined against the dying twilight as if etched there with
a fiery burin. As the sky darkens into intense blue behind it, the
material part of the basilica seems to vanish, until nothing is left to
the eye but a wondrous, magical, visionary structure of fire. This is
the silver illumination; watch it well, for it does not last long. At
the first hour of night, when the bells sound all over Rome, a sudden
change takes place. From the lofty cross a burst of flame is seen, and
instantly a flash of light whirls over the dome and drum, climbs the
smaller cupolas, descends like a rain of fire down the columns of the
_facade_, and before the great bell of Saint Peter's has ceased to toll
twelve peals, the golden illumination has succeeded to the silver. For
my own part, I prefer the first illumination; it is more delicate, airy,
and refined, though the second is more brilliant and dazzling. One is
like the Bride of the Church, the other like the Empress of the World.
In the second lighting, the Church becomes more material; the flames
are like jewels, and the dome seems a gigantic triple crown of Saint
Peter's. One effect, however, is very striking. The outline of fire,
which before was firm and motionless, now wavers and shakes as if it
would pass away, as the wind blows the flames back and forth from the
great cups by which it is lighted. From near and far the world looks
on,--from the Piazza beneath, where carriages drive to and fro in its
splendor, and the band plays and the bells toll,--from the windows and
_loggias_ of the city, wherever a view can be caught of this superb
spectacle,--and from the Campagna and mountain towns, where, far
away, alone and towering above everything, the dome is seen to blaze.
Everywhere are ejaculations of delight, and thousands of groups are
playing the game of "What is it like?" One says, it is like a hive
covered by a swarm of burning bees; others, that it is the enchanted
palace in the gardens of Gul in the depths of the Arabian nights,--like
a gigantic tiara set with wonderful diamonds, larger than those which
Sinbad found in the roc's valley,--like the palace of the fairies in the
dreams of childhood,--like the stately pleasure-dome of Kubla Khan in
Xanadu, and twenty other whimsical things. At nearly midnight, when
we go to bed, we take a last look at it. It is a ruin, like the
Colosseum,--great gaps of darkness are there, with broken rows of
splendor. The lights are gone on one side the dome,--they straggle
fitfully here and there down the other and over the _façade_, fading
even as we look. It is melancholy enough. It is a bankrupt heiress, an
old and wrinkled beauty, that tells strange tales of its former wealth
and charms, when the world was at its feet. It is the once mighty
Catholic Church, crumbling away with the passage of the night,--and when
morning and light come, it will be no more.

[To be continued.]



LA MALANOTTE.

One morning in Naples, in the spring of ----, I was practising over
some operas of Rossini with a musical friend. He had known the great
_maestro_ personally, and his intelligence on musical matters, his
numberless anecdotes and reminiscences, made him a charming companion;
he was a living, talking Scudo article, full of artistic _mots_ and
_ana_. We had just finished looking over the "Tancredi," and, as I sat
down to rest in an arm-chair near the window, he leaned back in the deep
window-embrasure, and looked down into the fine old garden below, from
which arose the delicious odor of orange and young grape blossoms.

"I was in Venice," he said, "when this opera was composed, in 1813. _Mon
Dieu_! how time flies! Rossini wrote it for one of the loveliest women
God ever made, Adelaïde Montresor. I knew her very well. She was the
wife of a French gentleman, a friend of mine, M. Montresor, at one time
very prosperous in fortune. Adelaide was a Veronese, of good family, and
had studied music only _en amateur_. Her maiden name was Malanotte. Oh,
yes, of course, you have heard of her. She was famous, poor child, in
her day, which was a short one."

The old gentleman sighed, and threw the end of his cigar out of the
window. I handed him another; for his age and charming conversation
entitled him to such indulgences. He remained silent a little
while, puffing away at his cigar until it was well lighted; then he
continued:--

"I think I'll tell you poor Adelaide's story. She was a delicious young
creature when Montresor married her,--scarcely more than a child. For
some years they lived delightfully; they had plenty of money, and were
very fond of each other. She had two charming little children; one was
my godson and namesake, Ettore. Montresor, her husband, was surely one
of the happiest of men.

"They were both musical. Montresor had a clever barytone voice, and
sang with sufficient grace and memory for an amateur. Adelaide was more
remarkable than her husband; she had genius more than culture, and sang
good old music with an unconscious creative grace. At their house we
used to get up 'Il Matrimonio Segreto,' _scenas_ from 'Don Giovanni,'
and many other passages from favorite operas; and Adelaide was always
our admired _prima donna_; for she, as Fétis says of genius, 'invented
forms, imposed them as types, and obliged us not only to acknowledge,
but to imitate them.'

"I had to go to Russia in 1805, and leave my home and friends for an
indefinite period of time. When I bade the Montresors good-bye,
I wondered what sorrow could touch them, they seemed so shielded by
prosperity from every accident; but some one has said very justly of
prosperity, that it is like glass,--it shines brightest just before
shivering. A year after I left, Montresor, who had foolishly entered
into some speculations, lost all his fortune. In a fortnight after the
event, Veronese society was electrified by the public announcement of
Madame Montresor's first appearance in public as an opera-singer. I
forget what her opening piece was. She wrote to me about it, telling
me that her _début_ was successful, but that she felt she needed more
preparation, and should devote the following year to studies necessary
to insure success in her profession. Her letters had no murmurs in
them about the lost fortune, no moans over the sacrifice of her social
position. She possessed true genius, and felt most happy in the exercise
of her music, even if it took sorrow, toil, and poverty to develop it.
Her whole thoughts were on the plan of studies laid down for her. Now
she could be an artist conscientiously. She had obtained the
rare advantage of lessons from some famous retired singer at
Milan,--Marchesi, I think,--and her letters were filled with learned
and enthusiastic details of her master's method, her manner of study,
regimen, and exercise,--enough to make ten Catalanis, I saucily wrote
back to her.

"Once in a while she would send me a notice of her success at some
concert or minor theatre. At last, in 1813, seven years after her
girlish _début_ at Verona, she received an engagement at Venice. At
that time I obtained _congé_ for a few months, and, on my home-journey,
stopped a few weeks at Venice, to see some relatives living there, and
my old friends, the Montresors. The seven-years' hard study and public
life had developed the pretty _petite_ girl-matron into a charming woman
and fine artist. She was as _naïve_ and frank as in her girlish days,
though not so playful,--more self-possessed, and completely engrossed
with her art. Her domestic life was gone; she lived and breathed only in
the atmosphere of her profession, and happily her husband sympathized
with her, and generously regarded her triumphs as his own. The first
morning I saw her, I was struck with her excited air; a deep crimson
spot was on each cheek, which made her eyes, formerly so soft in their
expression, painfully sharp in their brilliancy.

"'I sang for Rossini last night,' she said, in a quick tone, after our
first greeting was over; then continued, with her old, frank _naïveté_,
'I did not know he was in the theatre. I am so glad! for otherwise I
might not have done myself justice.'

"'He was pleased, of course,' I replied.

"'Yes; he was here this morning. He is a charming person,--so graceful
and complaisant! Montresor and I were delighted with him. He is to
compose an opera for me.'

"Her whole form seemed to dilate with pride. She walked up and down the
_salon_ with unconscious restlessness while she talked, went to a stand
of flowers, and, leaning her burning face over the fragrant blossoms,
drew in sharp, rapid breaths of their odors. She plucked off a white
tea-rose, and pressed its yellow core against her cheeks, as if she
fancied the fresh white color of the flower would cool them. Every look,
every movement, every expression that shot rapidly over her varying
face, as quickly as the ripples on water under the hot noonday sunlight,
spoke more plainly than words her intense longing. As I recall my
beautiful friend, so possessed as I saw her then with this intense
desire for the fame of a great artist, I think of two lines in a little
song I have heard you sing--

  "'To let the new life in, we know
  Desire must ope the portal.'

"And, surely, her earnest spirit was beating with feverish haste on that
portal of her future for her new life.

"Of course we did not meet so constantly, and therefore not so
familiarly as formerly. When we did meet, she was as frank and friendly
as ever; but she was always preoccupied. She was studying daily with the
great young _maestro_ himself, then just rising to the full zenith of
his fame, and her whole thoughts were filled with the music of the new
opera he was writing, which she called glorious.

"'So grand and heroic,' she said, with enthusiasm, one morning, when
describing it, 'and yet so original and fresh! The melodies are
graceful, and the accompaniments as sparkling as these diamonds in their
brilliancy.'

"At _caffès_, where silly young men murder reputations, it was said
that Rossini was madly in love with the beautiful _prima donna;_ and of
course he was; for he could not help being in love, in his way, with
every brilliant woman he met. Numberless stories were told of the
bewitching tyranny '_La Malanotte_,' as she was called, loved to
exercise over her distinguished admirer, which were interpreted by the
uncharitable as the caprice of a mistress in the first flush of her
loving power. I had to listen in silence to such stories, and feel
grateful that Montresor did not hear them also.

"'It is one of the penalties one always has to pay for a woman's fame,'
I said to myself, one day, as I sat sipping my chocolate, while I was
forced to overhear from a neighboring alcove an insolent young dandy
tell of various scenes, betraying passionate love on both sides, which
he had probably manufactured to make himself of consequence. One story
he told I felt sure was false, and yet I would rather it had been true
than the others; he declared he had been present at the theatre when it
had taken place, which had been the morning previous,--the morning after
the first representation of this famous opera. La Malanotte, he said,
was dissatisfied with her opening _cavatina_, and at rehearsal had
presented the _maestro_ with the MS. of that passage torn into fifty
atoms, declaring in a haughty tone that she would never sing it again.
This was too unlike Adelaïde to be true; but I tried to swallow my
vexation in silence, and with difficulty restrained myself from
insulting the addle-pated young puppy. I had heard her say she did not
like the passage so well as the rest of the opera, and felt sure
that the whole story had been founded on this simple expression of
disapprobation.

"I swallowed my chocolate, put on my hat, and sauntered leisurely along
to Montresor's apartments. It was late in the afternoon; the servant
admitted me, saying Madame was alone in the _salon_. The apartments were
several rooms _en suite;_ the music-room was divided from the _salon_ by
curtains. I entered the _salon_ unannounced; for the _valet de chambre_
was an old family-servant, and having known me for so many years
as _garçon de famille_, he let me proceed through the antechamber
unaccompanied. The heavy curtains over the music-room were dropped; but
as I entered, I heard a low murmur of voices coming from it. The thick
Turkey carpet which lay on the inlaid ivory floor of the _salon_ gave
back no sound of my footsteps. I did not think of committing any
indiscretion; I concluded that Adelaïde was busy studying; so I took up
a book and seated myself comfortably, feeling as well off there as at
home.

"Presently I heard a brilliant preluding passage on the piano, then
Adelaïde's glorious voice pronounced that stirring recitative, _'O
Patria.'_ This was the passage alluded to by the young dandies in
the _caffè_. I laid down my book, and leaned forward to listen. The
recitative over, then followed that delicious 'hymn of youth and love,'
as Scudo calls it, '_Tu che accendi_' followed by the 'Di _tanti
palpiti_.' Can you imagine the sensations produced by hearing for the
first time such a passage? If you can, pray do, for I cannot describe
them;--just fancy that intoxicating '_Ti revedrò_' soaring up, followed
by the glittering accompaniment,--and to hear it, as I did, just fresh
from its source, the aroma from this bright-beaded goblet of youth and
love! Heigho! Adelaïde repeated it again and again, and the _enivrement_
seemed as great in the music-room as in my brain and heart. Then the low
talking recommenced, and from some words that reached my ears I began
to think I might be committing an indiscretion; so I left the room as I
entered it, unannounced.

"That night I was at the theatre, and witnessed the wild, frantic
reception of this _cavatina_, and also saw the point Scudo alludes to,
which Adelaïde made that night for the first time, in the duo between
Tancredi and Argirio, '_Ah, se de' mali miei_,' in the passage at the
close of '_Ecco la tromba_,' at the repeat of '_Al campo_.' She looked
superbly, and, as that part of the duo ended, she advanced a step, drew
up her fine form to its full height, flashed her sword with a gesture of
inspiration, and exclaimed, in clear, musical diction, '_Il vivo lampo
di questa spada_.' The effect was electric. The duet could not proceed
for the cries and shouts of enthusiasm; the whole theatre rose in one
mass, and shouted aloud their ecstasy in one voice, as if they had but
one common ear and heart.

"The instant the cries lessened, Adelaïde gave the sign to Argirio,
and they took up the duo, '_Splenda terribile_,' before the orchestra,
equally electrified with the audience, were prepared for it, so that
Adelaïde's clear ringing '_Mi_' soared out like a mellow violoncello
note, and she sang the three following measures unaccompanied. The short
symphony which follows this little bit was not heard for the cries of
applause, which were silenced only by the grand finale, '_Se il ciel mi
guida_.'

"_Gran Dio!_ the bare memory of that night is a joy," said my friend,
walking rapidly up and down the room.

"I had to leave for my Russian home a few days after that, and saw
Adelaïde only once; it was the morning of my departure. Her _salon_ was
crowded, and she was leaning on her husband's arm, looking very proud
and happy. 'Who could have been in that music-room?' I asked myself,
while I looked at them; then in an instant I felt reproached at my
suspicions, as the thought flashed across my mind, that it might have
been her husband. What more likely? I bade her good-bye, and told her,
laughingly, as she gave me a cordial grasp of her hand, that I hoped to
renew our friendship in St. Petersburg.

"She never wrote to me after that. Marked differences in pursuits and
a continued separation will dissolve the outward bonds of the truest
friendships. Adelaïde's time was now completely occupied; it was one
round of brilliant success for the poor woman. 'Such triumphs! such
intoxication!' as Scudo says; but the glory was that of a shooting star.
In eight short years after that brilliant season at Venice, Adelaïde
Montresor, better known as 'La Malanotte,' the idol of the European
musical public, the short-lived infatuation and passion of the
celebrated Rossini, was a hopeless invalid, and worse, _presque folle_.

"I received the news, strange to say, one evening at the opera in St.
Petersburg, while I was listening to the music of 'Tancredi.' Two
gentlemen were talking behind me, and one was telling the other his
recollection of that brilliant scene I have just recounted. Then
followed the account of her illness; and I could not restrain myself, as
I had in the _caffe_ at Venice; for I had known Adelaïde as a girl, and
loved her as a brother. I presented myself, explaining the cause of my
interest in their conversation, and found the news was only too
true. The gentlemen had just come from Southern Europe, and knew the
Montresors personally. He said that her mind was gone, even more
hopelessly than her health. She lingered eleven years in this sad state,
and then, happily for herself, died."

"And Rossini," I asked,--"how did he take her illness?"

"Oh, three years after his Venetian infatuation, he was off here in
Naples, worshipping the Spanish beauty, a little _passée_ to be sure, of
La Colbrand. She, however, possessed more lasting attractions than mere
physical ones. She had amassed a large fortune in a variety of ways.
Rossini was not over-nice; he wanted money most of all things, and he
carried off La Colbrand from her _cher ami_, the Neapolitan director of
San Carlo, and married her. It was a regular elopement, as if of a young
miss from her papa. Do not look so shocked. Rossini could not help his
changeability. You women always throw away a real gem, and receive, nine
times out of ten, a mock one in return. But the fault lies not with us,
but with you; you almost invariably select the wrong person. Now such
men as Montresor and I knew how to return a real gem for Adelaïde's
heart-gift; but such men as Rossini have no real feelings in their
hearts."

"And you think she loved him?"

"I try to think otherwise, for I cannot bear to remember Adelaïde
Montresor as an unworthy woman; and when the unwelcome thought will
thrust itself in, I think of her youth, her beauty, her genius, and
the sudden blinding effect that rapid prosperity and brilliant success
produce on an enthusiastic, warm temperament--Good-morning; to-morrow
let me come again, and we will go over 'Tancredi,' and I will sing with
you the '_Ah, se de' mali miei_.'"

My friend left me alone. I sat by the window, watching the waving of the
tasselled branches of the acacia, and the purple fiery vapor that arose
from the overflowing Vesuvius; and I thought of Adelaïde Malanotte,
and wondered at the strange, fatal necessity attendant on genius, its
spiritual labor and pain. Like all things beautiful in Art, made by
human hands, it must proceed from toil of brain or heart. It takes
fierce heat to purify the gold, and welding beats are needed to mould
it into gracious shapes; the sharp chisel must cut into the marble,
to fashion by keen, driving blows the fair statue; the fine, piercing
instrument, "the little diamond-pointed ill," it is that traces the
forms of beauty on the hard onyx. There had been sorrow in the tale of
my friend, temptation at least, if not sinful yielding, labor and pain,
which had broken down the fair mind itself,--but it had all created a
gracious form for the memory to dwell on, an undying association with
the "Tancredi," as beautiful, instructive, and joy-giving as the "Divino
Amore" of Raphael, the exquisite onyx heads in the "Cabinet of Gems," or
that divine prelude the Englishman was at that moment pouring out from
his piano in a neighboring _palazzo_, in a flood of harmony as golden
and rich as the wine of Capri, every note of which, we know, had been a
life-drop wrung from the proud, breaking heart of Chopin, when he sat
alone, that solemn, stormy midnight, in the old convent-chamber at
Majorca. But the toil and suffering are forgotten in the enjoyment of
creation, and genius itself, when going down into the fiery baptism of
sorrow, or walking over the red-hot ploughshares of temptation, would
rather take all its suffering and peril than not be itself;--and well it
may; for it is making, what poor heart-broken Keats sung,

  "A thing of beauty--a joy forever."



THE PROFESSOR AT THE BREAKFAST-TABLE.

WHAT HE SAID, WHAT HE HEARD, AND WHAT HE SAW.

Iris, her Book.

  I pray thee by the soul of her that bore thee,
  By thine own sister's spirit I implore thee,
  Deal gently with the leaves that lie before thee!

  For Iris had no mother to infold her,
  Nor ever leaned upon a sister's shoulder,
  Telling the twilight thoughts that Nature told her.

  She had not learned the mystery of awaking
  Those chorded keys that soothe a sorrow's aching,
  Giving the dumb heart voice, that else were breaking.

  Yet lived, wrought, suffered. Lo, the pictured token!
  Why should her fleeting day-dreams fade unspoken,
  Like daffodils that die with sheaths unbroken?

  She knew not love, yet lived in maiden fancies,--
  Walked simply clad, a queen of high romances,
  And talked strange tongues with angels in her trances.

  Twin-souled she seemed, a twofold nature wearing,--
  Sometimes a flashing falcon in her daring,
  Then a poor mateless dove that droops despairing.

  Questioning all things: Why her Lord had sent her?
  What were these torturing gifts, and wherefore lent her?
  Scornful as spirit fallen, its own tormentor.

  And then all tears and anguish: Queen of Heaven,
  Sweet Saints, and Thou by mortal sorrows riven,
  Save me! oh, save me! Shall I die forgiven?

  And then--Ah, God! But nay, it little matters:
  Look at the wasted seeds that autumn scatters
  The myriad germs that Nature shapes and shatters!

  If she had--Well! She longed, and knew not wherefore.
  Had the world nothing she might live to care for?
  No second self to say her evening prayer for?

  She knew the marble shapes that set men dreaming,
  Yet with her shoulders bare and tresses streaming
  Showed not unlovely to her simple seeming.

  Vain? Let it be so! Nature was her teacher.
  What if a lonely and unsistered creature
  Loved her own harmless gift of pleasing feature,

  Saying, unsaddened,--This shall soon be faded,
  And double-hued the shining tresses braided,
  And all the sunlight of the morning shaded?

  --This her poor book is full of saddest follies
  Of tearful smiles and laughing melancholies,
  With summer roses twined and wintry hollies.

  In the strange crossing of uncertain chances,
  Somewhere, beneath some maiden's tear-dimmed glances
  May fall her little book of dreams and fancies.

  Sweet sister! Iris, who shall never name thee,
  Trembling for fear her open heart may shame thee,
  Speaks from this vision-haunted page to claim thee.

  Spare her, I pray thee! If the maid is sleeping,
  Peace with her! she has had her hour of weeping.
  No more! She leaves her memory in thy keeping.

These verses were written in the first leaves of the locked volume. As I
turned the pages, I hesitated for a moment. Is it quite fair to take
advantage of a generous, trusting impulse to read the unsunned depths of
a young girl's nature, which I can look through, as the balloon-voyagers
tell us they see from their hanging-baskets through the translucent
waters which the keenest eye of such as sail over them in ships might
strive to pierce in vain? Why has the child trusted _me_ with such
artless confessions,--self-revelations, which might be whispered by
trembling lips, under the veil of twilight, in sacred confessionals, but
which I cannot look at in the light of day without a feeling of wronging
a sacred confidence?

To all this the answer seemed plain enough after a little thought.
She did not know how fearfully she had disclosed herself; she was too
profoundly innocent. Her soul was no more ashamed than the fair shapes
that walked in Eden without a thought of over-liberal loveliness. Having
nobody to tell her story to,--having, as she said in her verses, no
musical instrument to laugh and cry with her,--nothing, in short, but
the language of pen and pencil,--all the veinings of her nature were
impressed on these pages, as those of a fresh leaf are transferred
to the blank sheets which inclose it. It was the same thing which I
remember seeing beautifully shown in a child of some four or five years
we had one day at our boarding-house. This child was a deaf mute. But
its soul had the inner sense that answers to hearing, and the shaping
capacity which through natural organs realizes itself in words. Only
it had to talk with its face alone; and such speaking eyes, such rapid
alternations of feeling and shifting expressions of thought as flitted
over its face, I have never seen in any other human countenance.

I wonder if something of spiritual _transparency_ is not typified in
the golden-_blonde_ organization. There are a great many little
creatures,--many small fishes, for instance,--that are literally
transparent, with the exception of some of the internal organs. The
heart can be seen beating as if in a case of clouded crystal. The
central nervous column with its sheath runs as a dark stripe through
the whole length of the diaphanous muscles of the body. Other little
creatures are so darkened with pigment that we can see only their
surface. Conspirators and poisoners are painted with black, beady eyes
and swarthy hue; Judas, in Leonardo's picture, is the model of them all.

However this may be, I should say there never had been a book like this
of Iris,--so full of the heart's silent language, so transparent that
the heart itself could be seen beating through it. I should say there
never could have been such a book, but for one recollection, which is
not peculiar to myself, but is shared by a certain number of my former
townsmen. If you think I overcolor this matter of the young girl's book,
hear this, which there are others, as I just said, besides myself, will
tell you is strictly true.



_The Book of the Three Maiden Sisters_.

In the town called Cantabridge, now a city, water-veined and
gas-windpiped, in the street running down to the Bridge, beyond which
dwelt Sally, told of in a book of a friend of mine, was of old a house
inhabited by three maidens. They left no near kinsfolk, I believe; if
they did, I have no ill to speak of them; for they lived and died in
all good report and maidenly credit. The house they lived in was of the
small, gambrel-roofed cottage pattern, after the shape of Esquires'
houses, but after the size of the dwellings of handicraftsmen. The lower
story was fitted up as a shop. Specially was it provided with one of
those half-doors now so rarely met with, which are to whole doors as
spencers worn by old folk are to coats. They speak of limited commerce
united with a social or observing disposition on the part of the
shopkeeper,--allowing, as they do, talk with passers-by, yet keeping off
such as have not the excuse of business to cross the threshold. On the
door-posts, at either side, above the half-door, hung certain perennial
articles of merchandise, of which my memory still has hanging among its
faded photographs a kind of netted scarf and some pairs of thick woollen
stockings. More articles, but not very many, were stored inside; and
there was one drawer, containing children's books, out of which I once
was treated to a minute quarto ornamented with handsome cuts. This was
the only purchase I ever _knew_ to be made at the shop kept by the three
maiden ladies, though it is probable there were others. So long as I
remember the shop, the same scarf and, I should say, the same stockings
hung on the door-posts.--[You think I am exaggerating again, and that
shopkeepers would not keep the same article exposed for years. Come to
me, the Professor, and I will take you in five minutes to a shop in this
city where I will show you an article hanging now in the very place
where more than _thirty years ago_ I myself inquired the price of it of
the present head of the establishment.]

The three maidens were of comely presence, and one of them had
had claims to be considered a Beauty. When I saw them in the old
meeting-house on Sundays, as they rustled in through the aisles in silks
and satins, not gay, but more than decent, as I remember them, I thought
of My Lady Bountiful in the history of "Little King Pippin," and of the
Madame Blaize of Goldsmith (who, by the way, may have taken the hint of
it from a pleasant poem, "Monsieur de la Palisse," attributed to De la
Monnoye, in the collection of French songs before me). There was some
story of an old romance in which the Beauty had played her part. Perhaps
they all had had lovers; for, as I said, they were shapely and seemly
personages, as I remember them; but their lives were out of the flower
and in the berry at the time of my first recollections.

One after another they all three dropped away, objects of kindly
attention to the good people round, leaving little or almost nothing,
and nobody to inherit it. Not absolutely nothing, of course. There must
have been a few old dresses,--perhaps some bits of furniture, a Bible,
and the spectacles the good old souls read it through, and little
keepsakes, such as make us cry to look at, when we find them in old
drawers;--such relics there must have been. But there was more. There
was a manuscript of some hundred pages, closely written, in which the
poor things had chronicled for many years the incidents of their daily
life. After their death it was passed round somewhat freely, and fell
into my hands. How I have cried and laughed and colored over it! There
was nothing in it to be ashamed of, perhaps there was nothing in it to
laugh at, but such a picture of the mode of being of poor simple good
old women I do believe was never drawn before. And there were all the
smallest incidents recorded, such as do really make up humble life, but
which die out of all mere literary memoirs, as the houses where the
Egyptians or the Athenians lived crumble and leave only their temples
standing. I know, for instance, that on a given day of a certain year,
a kindly woman, herself a poor widow, now, I trust, not without special
mercies in heaven for her good deeds,--for I read her name on a proper
tablet in the churchyard a week ago,--sent a fractional pudding from her
own table to the Maiden Sisters, who, I fear, from the warmth and detail
of their description, were fasting, or at least on short allowance,
about that time. I know who sent them the segment of melon, which in her
riotous fancy one of them compared to those huge barges to which we give
the ungracious name of mudscows. But why should I illustrate further
what it seems almost a breach of confidence to speak of? Some kind
friend, who could challenge a nearer interest than the curious strangers
into whose hands the book might fall, at last claimed it, and I was glad
that it should be henceforth sealed to common eyes. I learned from it
that every good and, alas! every evil act we do may slumber unforgotten
even in some earthly record. I got a new lesson in that humanity which
our sharp race finds it so hard to learn. The poor widow, fighting
hard to feed and clothe and educate her children, had not forgotten the
poorer ancient maidens. I remembered it the other day, as I stood by her
place of rest, and I felt sure that it was remembered elsewhere. I know
there are prettier words than _pudding_, but I can't help it,--the
pudding went upon the record, I feel sure, with the mite which was cast
into the treasury by that other poor widow whose deed the world shall
remember forever, and with the coats and garments which the good women
cried over, when Tabitha, called by interpretation Dorcas, lay dead in
the upper chamber, with her charitable needlework strewed around her.

       *       *       *       *       *

----Such was the Book of the Maiden Sisters. You will believe me more
readily now when I tell you that I found the soul of Iris in the one
that lay open before me. Sometimes it was a poem that held it, sometimes
a drawing,--angel, arabesque, caricature, or a mere hieroglyphic
symbol of which I could make nothing. A rag of cloud on one page, as I
remember, with a streak of red zigzagging out of it across the paper as
naturally as a crack runs through a China bowl. On the next page a dead
bird,--some little favorite, I suppose; for it was worked out with a
special love, and I saw on the leaf that sign with which once or twice
in my life I have had a letter sealed,--a round spot where the paper is
slightly corrugated, and, if there is writing there, the letters are
somewhat faint and blurred. Most of the pages were surrounded with
emblematic traceries. It was strange to me at first to see how often she
introduced those homelier wild-flowers which we call _weeds_,--for it
seemed there was none of them too humble for her to love, and none too
little cared for by Nature to be without its beauty for her artist eye
and pencil. By the side of the garden-flowers,--of Spring's curled
darlings, the hyacinths, of rosebuds, dear to sketching maidens, of
flower-de-luces and morning-glories,--nay, oftener than these, and more
tenderly caressed by the colored brush that rendered them,--were those
common growths that fling themselves to be crushed under our feet and
our wheels, making themselves so cheap in this perpetual martyrdom that
we forget each of them is a ray of the Divine beauty.

Yellow japanned buttercups and star-disked dandelions,--just as we see
them lying in the grass, like sparks that have leaped from the kindling
sun of summer; the profuse daisy-like flower which whitens the fields,
to the great disgust of liberal shepherds, yet seems fair to loving
eyes, with its button-like mound of gold set round with milk-white rays;
the tall-stemmed succory, setting its pale blue flowers aflame, one
after another, sparingly, as the lights are kindled in the candelabra of
decaying palaces when the heirs of dethroned monarchs are dying out; the
red and white clovers; the broad, flat leaves of the plantain,--"the
white man's foot," as the Indians called it,--the wiry, jointed stems of
that iron creeping plant which we call "knot-_grass_" and which loves
its life so dearly that it is next to impossible to murder it with a
hoe, as it clings to the cracks of the pavement;--all these plants, and
many more, she wove into her fanciful garlands and borders.--On one of
the pages were some musical notes. I touched them from curiosity on a
piano belonging to one of our boarders. Strange! There are passages that
I have heard before, plaintive, full of some hidden meaning, as if
they were gasping for words to interpret them. She must have heard the
strains that have so excited my curiosity, coming from my neighbor's
chamber. The illuminated border she had traced round the page that held
these notes took the place of the words they seemed to be aching for.
Above, a long, monotonous sweep of waves, leaden-hued, anxious and jaded
and sullen, if you can imagine such an expression in water. On one side
an Alpine _needle_, as it were, of black basalt, girdled with snow. On
the other a threaded waterfall. The red morning-tint that shone in
the drops had something fearful,--one would say the cliff was
bleeding;--perhaps she did not mean it. Below, a stretch of sand, and
a solitary bird of prey, with his wings spread over some unseen
object.--And on the very next page a procession wound along, after the
fashion of that on the title-page of Fuller's "Holy War," in which I
recognized without difficulty every boarder at our table in all the
glory of the most resplendent caricature,--three only excepted,--the
Little Gentleman, myself, and one other.

I confess I did expect to see something that would remind me of the
girl's little deformed neighbor, if not portraits of him.--There is
a left arm again, though;--no,--that is from the "Fighting
Gladiator,"--the "_Jeune Héros combatiant_" of the Louvre;--there is the
broad ring of the shield. From a cast, doubtless. [The separate casts
of the "Gladiator's" arm look immense; but in its place the limb looks
light, almost slender,--such is the perfection of that miraculous
marble. I never felt as if I touched the life of the old Greeks until I
looked on that statue.]--Here is something very odd, to be sure. An Eden
of all the humped and crooked creatures! What could have been in her
head when she worked out such a fantasy? She has contrived to give them
all beauty or dignity or melancholy grace. A Bactrian camel lying under
a palm. A dromedary flashing up the sands,--spray of the dry ocean
sailed by the "ship of the desert." A herd of buffaloes, uncouth,
shaggy-maned, heavy in the forehand, light in the hind-quarter. [The
buffalo is the _lion_ of the ruminants.] And there is a Norman horse,
with his huge, rough collar, echoing, as it were, the natural form of
the other beast. And here are twisted serpents; and stately swans, with
answering curves in their bowed necks, as if they had snake's blood
under their white feathers; and grave, high-shouldered herons, standing
on one foot like cripples, and looking at life round them with the cold
stare of monumental effigies.--A very odd page indeed! Not a creature in
it without a curve or a twist, and not one of them a mean figure to look
at. You can make your own comment; I am fanciful, you know. I believe
she is trying to idealize what we vulgarly call deformity, which she
strives to look at in the light of one of Nature's eccentric curves,
belonging to her system of beauty, as the hyperbola and parabola belong
to the conic sections, though we cannot see them as symmetrical and
entire figures, like the circle and ellipse. At any rate, I cannot help
referring this paradise of twisted spines to some idea floating in
her head connected with her friend whom Nature has warped in the
moulding.--That is nothing to another transcendental fancy of mine. I
believe her soul thinks itself in his little crooked body at times,--if
it does not really get freed or half freed from her own. Did you ever
see a case of catalepsy? You know what I mean,--transient loss of sense,
will, and motion; body and limbs taking any position in which they are
put, as if they belonged to a lay-figure. She had been talking with him
and listening to him one day when the boarders moved from the table
nearly all at once. But she sat as before, her cheek resting on her
hand, her amber eyes wide open and still. I went to her,--she was
breathing as usual, and her heart was beating naturally enough,--but she
did not answer. I bent her arm; it was as plastic as softened wax, and
kept the place I gave it.--This will never do, though,--and I sprinkled
a few drops of water on her forehead. She started and looked round.--I
have been in a dream,--she said;--I feel as if all my strength were in
this arm;--give me your hand!--She took my right hand in her left, which
looked soft and white enough, but--Good Heaven! I believe she will crack
my bones! All the nervous power in her body must have flashed through
those muscles; as when a crazy lady snaps her iron window-bars,--she who
could hardly glove herself when in her common health. Iris turned pale,
and the tears came to her eyes;--she saw she had given pain. Then she
trembled, and might have fallen but for me;--the poor little soul
had been in one of those trances that belong to the spiritual pathology
of higher natures, mostly those of women.

To come back to this wondrous book of Iris. Two pages faced each other
which I took for symbolical expressions of two states of mind. On the
left hand, a bright blue sky washed over the page, specked with a single
bird. No trace of earth, but still the winged creature seemed to be
soaring upward and upward. Facing it, one of those black dungeons such
as Piranesi alone of all men has pictured. I am sure she must have
seen those awful prisons of his, out of which the Opium-Eater got his
nightmare vision, described by another as "cemeteries of departed
greatness, where monstrous and forbidden things are crawling and twining
their slimy convolutions among mouldering bones, broken sculpture, and
mutilated inscriptions." Such a black dungeon faced the page that held
the blue sky and the single bird; at the bottom of it something was
coiled,--what, and whether meant for dead or alive, my eyes could not
make out.

I told you the young girl's soul was in this book. As I turned over the
last leaves I could not help starting. There were all sorts of faces
among the arabesques which laughed and scowled in the borders that ran
round the pages. They had mostly the outline of childish or womanly or
manly beauty, without very distinct individuality. But at last it seemed
to me that some of them were taking on a look not wholly unfamiliar to
me; there were features that did not seem new.--Can it be so? Was there
ever such innocence in a creature so full of life? She tells her heart's
secrets as a three-years-old child betrays itself without need of being
questioned! This was no common miss, such as are turned out in scores
from the young-lady-factories, with parchments warranting them
accomplished and virtuous,--in case anybody should question the fact. I
began to understand her;--and what is so charming as to read the secret
of a real _femme incomprise_?-for such there are, though they are not
the ones who think themselves uncomprehended women.

Poets are never young, in one sense. Their delicate ear hears the
far-off whispers of eternity, which coarser souls must travel towards
for scores of years before their dull sense is touched by them. A
moment's insight is sometimes worth a life's experience. I have
frequently seen children, long exercised by pain and exhaustion, whose
features had a strange look of advanced age. Too often one meets such in
our charitable institutions. Their faces are saddened and wrinkled, as
if their few summers were three-score years and ten.

And so, many youthful poets have written as if their hearts were old
before their time; their pensive morning twilight has been as cool
and saddening as that of evening in more common lives. The profound
melancholy of those lines of Shelley,

  "I could lie down like a tired child
  And weep away the life of care
  Which I have borne and yet must bear,"

came from a heart, as he says, "too soon grown old,"--at _twenty-six
years_, as dull people count time, even when they talk of poets.

I know enough to be prepared for an exceptional nature, only this gift
of the hand in rendering every thought in form and color, as well as in
words, gives a richness to this young girl's alphabet of feeling and
imagery that takes me by surprise. And then besides, and most of all, I
am puzzled at her sudden and seemingly easy confidence in me. Perhaps I
owe it to my ------ Well, no matter! How one must love the editor who
first calls him the _venerable_ So-and-So!

--I locked the book and sighed as I laid it down. The world is always
ready to receive talent with open arms. Very often it does not know what
to do with genius. Talent is a docile creature. It bows its head meekly
while the world slips the collar over it. It backs into the shafts like
a lamb. It draws its load cheerfully, and is patient of the bit and
of the whip. But genius is always impatient of its harness; its wild
blood makes it hard to train.

Talent seems, at first, in one sense, higher than genius,--namely, that
it is more uniformly and absolutely submitted to the will, and therefore
more distinctly human in its character. Genius, on the other hand, is
much more like those instincts which govern the admirable movements of
the lower creatures, and therefore seems to have something of the
lower or animal character. A goose flies by a chart which the Royal
Geographical Society could not mend. A poet, like the goose, sails
without visible landmarks to unexplored regions of truth, which
philosophy has yet to lay down on its atlas. The philosopher gets his
track by observation; the poet trusts to his inner sense, and makes the
straighter and swifter line.

And yet, to look at it in another light, is not even the lowest instinct
more truly divine than any voluntary human act done by the suggestion
of reason? What is a bee's architecture but an _un_obstructed divine
thought?--what is a builder's approximative rule but an obstructed
thought of the Creator, a mutilated and imperfect copy of some absolute
rule Divine Wisdom has established, transmitted through a human soul as
an image through clouded glass?

Talent is a very common family-trait; genius belongs rather to
individuals;--just as you find one giant or one dwarf in a family, but
rarely a whole brood of either. Talent is often to be envied, and genius
very commonly to be pitied. It stands twice the chance of the other of
dying in a hospital, in jail, in debt, in bad repute. It is a perpetual
insult to mediocrity; its every word is a trespass against somebody's
vested ideas,--blasphemy against somebody's _O'm_, or intangible private
truth.

----What is the use of my weighing out antitheses in this way, like a
rhetorical grocer?--You know twenty men of talent, who are making their
way in the world; you may, perhaps, know one man of genius, and very
likely do not want to know any more. For a divine instinct, such as
drives the goose southward and the poet heavenward, is a hard thing to
manage, and proves too strong for many whom it possesses. It must have
been a terrible thing to have a friend like Chatterton or Burns. And
here is a being who certainly has more than talent, at once poet and
artist in tendency, if not yet fairly developed,--a woman, too;--and
genius grafted on womanhood is like to overgrow it and break its stem,
as you may see a grafted fruit-tree spreading over the stock which
cannot keep pace with its evolution.

I think now you know something of this young person. She wants nothing
but an atmosphere to expand in. Now and then one meets with a nature
for which our hard, practical New England life is obviously utterly
incompetent. It comes up, as a Southern seed, dropped by accident in one
of our gardens, finds itself trying to grow and blow into flower among
the homely roots and the hardy shrubs that surround it. There is no
question that certain persons who are born among us find themselves many
degrees too far north. Tropical by organization, they cannot fight for
life with our eastern and northwestern breezes without losing the
color and fragrance into which their lives would have blossomed in
the latitude of myrtles and oranges. Strange effects are produced by
suffering any living thing to be developed under conditions such as
Nature had not intended for it. A French physiologist confined some
tadpoles under water in the dark, removed from the natural stimulus of
light, they did not develop legs and arms at the proper period of their
growth, and so become frogs; they swelled and spread into gigantic
tadpoles. I have seen a hundred colossal _human_ tadpoles,--overgrown
_larvae_ or embryos; nay, I am afraid we Protestants should look on a
considerable proportion of the Holy Father's one hundred and thirty-nine
millions as spiritual _larvae_, sculling about in the dark by the aid
of their caudal extremities, instead of standing on their legs, and
breathing by gills, instead of taking the free air of heaven into the
lungs made to receive it. Of course _we_ never try to keep young souls
in the tadpole state, for fear they should get a pair or two of legs
by-and-by and jump out of the pool where they have been bred and fed!
Never! Never. Never?

Now to go back to our plant. You may know, that, for the earlier stages
of development of almost any vegetable, you only want warmth, air,
light, and water. But by-and-by, if it is to have special complex
principles as a part of its organization, they must be supplied by
the soil;--your pears will crack, if the root of the tree gets no
iron,--your asparagus-bed wants salt as much as you do. Just at the
period of adolescence, the mind often suddenly begins to come into
flower and to set its fruit. Then it is that many young natures, having
exhausted the spiritual soil round them of all it contains of the
elements they demand, wither away, undeveloped and uncolored, unless
they are transplanted.

Pray for these dear young souls! This is the second _natural_
birth;--for I do not speak of those peculiar religious experiences which
form the point of transition in many lives between the consciousness of
a general relation to the Divine nature and a special personal
relation. The litany should count a prayer for them in the list of its
supplications; masses should be said for them as for souls in purgatory;
all good Christians should remember them as they remember those in peril
through travel or sickness or in warfare.

I would transport this child to Rome at once, if I had my will. She
should ripen under an Italian sun. She should walk under the frescoed
vaults of palaces, until her colors deepened to those of Venetian
beauties, and her forms were perfected into rivalry with the Greek
marbles, and the east wind was out of her soul. Has she not exhausted
this lean soil of the elements her growing nature requires?

I do not know. The magnolia grows and comes into full flower on Cape
Ann, many degrees out of its proper region. I was riding once along that
delicious road between the hills and the sea, when we passed a thicket
where there seemed to be a chance for finding it. In five minutes I had
fallen on the trees in full blossom, and filled my arms with the sweet,
resplendent flowers. I could not believe I was in our cold, northern
Essex, which, in the dreary season when I pass its slate-colored,
unpainted farmhouses, and huge, square, windy, 'squire-built "mansions,"
looks as brown and unvegetating as an old rug with its patterns all
trodden out and the colored fringe worn from all its border.

If the magnolia can bloom in northern New England, why should not a poet
or a painter come to his full growth here just as well? Yes, but if
the gorgeous tree-flower is rare, and only as if by a freak of Nature
springs up in a single spot among the beeches and alders, is there not
as much reason to think the perfumed flower of imaginative genius will
find it hard to be born and harder to spread its leaves in the clear,
cold atmosphere of our ultra-temperate zone of humanity?

Take the poet. On the one hand, I believe that a person with the
poetical faculty finds material everywhere. The grandest objects of
sense and thought are common to all climates and civilizations. The
sky, the woods, the waters, the storms, life, death, love, the hope and
vision of eternity,--these are images that write themselves in poetry in
every soul which has anything of the divine gift.

On the other hand, there is such a thing as a lean, impoverished life,
in distinction from a rich and suggestive one. Which our common New
England life might be considered, I will not decide. But there are some
things I think the poet missed in our western Eden. I trust it is not
unpatriotic to mention them in this point of view, as they come before
us in so many other aspects.

There is no sufficient flavor of humanity in the soil out of which we
grow. At Cantabridge, near the sea, I have once or twice picked up an
Indian arrowhead in a fresh furrow. At Canoe Meadow, in the Berkshire
Mountains, I have found Indian arrowheads. So everywhere Indian
arrowheads. Whether a hundred or a thousand years old, who knows?
who cares? There is no history to the red race,--there is hardly
an individual in it;--a few instincts on legs and holding a
tomahawk,--there is the Indian of all time. The story of one red ant is
the story of all red ants. So, the poet, in trying to wing his way
back through the life that has kindled, flitted, and faded along our
watercourses and on our southern hillsides for unknown generations,
finds nothing to breathe; he "meets

  A vast vacuity! all unawares,
  Fluttering his pennons vain, plumb down he drops
  Ten thousand fathom deep."

But think of the Old World,--that part of it which is the seat of
ancient civilization! The stakes of the Britons' stockades are still
standing in the bed of the Thames. The ploughman turns up an old Saxon's
bones, and beneath them is a tessellated pavement of the time of
the Caesars. In Italy, the works of mediaeval Art seem to be of
yesterday,--Rome, under her kings, is but an intruding new-comer, as
we contemplate her in the shadow of the Cyclopean walls of Fiesole or
Volterra. It makes a man human to live on these old humanized soils.
He cannot help marching in step with his kind in the rear of such a
procession. They say a dead man's hand cures swellings, if laid on them.
There is nothing like the dead cold hand of the Past to take down our
tumid egotism and lead us into the solemn flow of the life of our race.
Rousseau came out of one of his sad self-torturing fits, as he cast his
eye on the arches of the old Roman aqueduct, the Pont du Gard.

I am far from denying that there is an attraction in a thriving railroad
village. The new "dépôt," the smartly-painted pine houses, the spacious
brick hotel, the white meeting-house, and the row of youthful and leggy
trees before it, _are_ exhilarating. They speak of progress, and the
time when there shall be a city, with a His Honor the Mayor, in the
place of their trim but transient architectural growths. Pardon me, if
I prefer the pyramids. They seem to me crystals formed from a stronger
solution of humanity than the steeple of the new meeting-house. I may be
wrong, but the Tiber has a voice for me, as it whispers to the piers of
the Pons Aelius, even more full of meaning than my well-beloved Charles
eddying round the piles of West Boston Bridge.

Then, again, we Yankees are a kind of gypsies,--a mechanical and
migratory race. A poet wants a home. He can dispense with an apple-parer
and a reaping-machine. I feel this more for others than for myself, for
the home of my birth and childhood has been as yet exempted from the
change which has invaded almost everything around it.

----Pardon me a short digression. To what small things our memory and
our affections attach themselves! I remember, when I was a child, that
one of the girls planted some Star-of-Bethlehem bulbs in the southwest
corner of our front-yard. Well, I left the paternal roof and wandered in
other lands, and learned to think in the words of strange people.
But after many years, as I looked on the little front-yard again, it
occurred to me that there used to be some Stars-of-Bethlehem in the
southwest corner. The grass was tall there, and the blade of the plant
is very much like grass, only thicker and glossier. Even as Tully
parted the briers and brambles when he hunted for the sphere-containing
cylinder that marked the grave of Archimedes, so did I comb the grass
with my fingers for my monumental memorial-flower. Nature had stored my
keepsake tenderly in her bosom; the glossy, faintly streaked blades were
there; they are there still, though they never flower, darkened as they
are by the shade of the elms and rooted in the matted turf.

Our hearts are held down to our homes by innumerable fibres, trivial
as that I have just recalled; but Gulliver was fixed to the soil, you
remember, by pinning his head a hair at a time. Even a stone with a
white band crossing it, belonging to the pavement of the back-yard,
insisted on becoming one of the talismans of memory. This
intussusception of the ideas of inanimate objects, and their faithful
storing away among the sentiments, are curiously prefigured in the
material structure of the thinking centre itself. In the very core of
the brain, in the part where Des Cartes placed the soul, is a small
mineral deposit, consisting, as I have seen it in the microscope, of
grape-like masses of crystalline matter.

But the plants that come up every year in the same place, like the
Stars-of-Bethlehem, of all the lesser objects, give me the liveliest
home-feeling. Close to our ancient gambrel-roofed house is the dwelling
of pleasant old Neighbor Walrus. I remember the sweet honeysuckle that I
saw in flower against the wall of his house a few months ago, as long
as I remember the sky and stars. That clump of peonies, butting their
purple heads through the soil every spring in just the same circle, and
by-and-by unpacking their hard balls of buds in flowers big enough
to make a double handful of leaves, has come up in just that place,
Neighbor Walrus tells me, for more years than I have passed on this
planet. It is a rare privilege in our nomadic state to find the home of
one's childhood and its immediate neighborhood thus unchanged. Many born
poets, I am afraid, flower poorly in song, or not at all, because they
have been too often transplanted.

Then a good many of our race are very hard and unimaginative;--their
voices have nothing caressing; their movements are as of machinery,
without elasticity or oil. I wish it were fair to print a letter a young
girl, about the age of our Iris, wrote a short time since. "I am *** ***
***," she says, and tells her whole name outright. Ah!--said I, when I
read that first frank declaration,--you are one of the right sort!--She
was. A winged creature among close-clipped barn-door fowl. How tired the
poor girl was of the dull life about her,--the old woman's "skeleton hand"
at the window opposite, drawing her curtains,--"Ma'am----_shooing_ away
the hens,"--the vacuous country eyes staring at her as only country eyes
can stare,--a routine of mechanical duties,--and the soul's half-
articulated cry for sympathy, without an answer! Yes,--pray for her, and
for all such! Faith often cures their longings; but it is so hard to give
a soul to heaven that has not first been trained in the fullest and
sweetest human affections! Too often they fling their hearts away on
unworthy objects. Too often they pine in a secret discontent, which
spreads its leaden cloud over the morning of their youth. The immeasurable
distance between one of these delicate natures and the average youths
among whom is like to be her only choice makes one's heart ache. How many
women are born too finely organized in sense and soul for the highway they
must walk with feet unshod! Life is adjusted to the wants of the stronger
sex. There are plenty of torrents to be crossed in its journey; but their
stepping-stones are measured by the stride of man, and not of woman.

Women are more subject than men to _atrophy of the heart_. So says the
great medical authority, Laennec. Incurable cases of this kind used
to find their hospitals in convents. We have the disease in New
England,--but not the hospitals. I don't like to think of it. I will not
believe our young Iris is going to die out in this way. Providence will
find her some great happiness, or affliction, or duty,--and which would
be best for her, I cannot tell. One thing is sure: the interest she
takes in her little neighbor is getting to be more engrossing than ever.
Something is the matter with him, and she knows it, and I think worries
herself about it. I wonder sometimes how so fragile and distorted a
frame has kept the fiery spirit that inhabits it so long its tenant. He
accounts for it in his own way.

The air of the Old World is good for nothing,--he said, one day.--Used
up, Sir,--breathed over and over again. You must come to this side, Sir,
for an atmosphere fit to breathe nowadays. Did not old Josselyn say that
a breath of New England's air is better than a sup of Old England's ale?
I ought to have died when I was a boy, Sir; but I couldn't die in this
Boston air,--and I think I shall have to go to New York one of these
days, when it's time for me to drop this bundle,--or to New Orleans,
where they have the yellow fever,--or to Philadelphia, where they have
so many doctors.

This was some time ago; but of late he has seemed, as I have before
said, to be ailing. An experienced eye, such as I think I may call mine,
can tell commonly whether a man is going to die, or not, long before he
or his friends are alarmed about him. I don't like it.

Iris has told me that the Scottish gift of second-sight runs in her
family, and that she is afraid she has it. Those who are so endowed
look upon a well man and see a shroud wrapt about him. According to the
degree to which it covers him, his death will be near or more remote. It
is an awful faculty; but science gives one too much like it. Luckily
for our friends, most of us who have the scientific second-sight school
ourselves not to betray our knowledge by word or look.

Day by day, as the Little Gentleman comes to the table, it seems to me
that the shadow of some approaching change falls darker and darker over
his countenance. Nature is struggling with something, and I am afraid
she is under in the wrestling-match. You do not care much, perhaps, for
my particular conjectures as to the nature of his difficulty. I should
say, however, from the sudden flushes to which he is subject, and
certain other marks which, as an expert, I know how to interpret, that
his heart was in trouble; but then he presses his hand to the _right_
side, as if there were the centre of his uneasiness.

When I say difficulty about the heart, I do not mean any of those
sentimental maladies of that organ which figure more largely in romances
than on the returns which furnish our Bills of Mortality. I mean some
actual change in the organ itself, which may carry him off by slow and
painful degrees, or strike him down with one huge pang and only time
for a single shriek,--as when the shot broke through the brave Captain
Nolan's breast, at the head of the Light Brigade at Balaklava, and with
a loud cry he dropped dead from his saddle.

I thought it only fair to say something of what I apprehended to
some who were entitled to be warned. The landlady's face fell when I
mentioned my fears.

Poor man!--she said.--And will leave the best room empty! Hasn't he got
any sisters or nieces or anybody to see to his things, if he should be
took away? Such a sight of cases, full of everything! Never thought
of his failin' so suddin. A complication of diseases, she expected.
Liver-complaint one of 'em?

After this first involuntary expression of the too natural selfish
feelings, (which we must not judge very harshly, unless we happen to
be poor widows ourselves, with children to keep filled, covered, and
taught,--rents high,--beef eighteen to twenty cents per pound,)--after
this first squeak of selfishness, followed by a brief movement of
curiosity, so invariable in mature females, as to the nature of the
complaint which threatens the life of a friend or any person who may
happen to be mentioned as ill,--the worthy soul's better feelings
struggled up to the surface, and she grieved for the doomed invalid,
until a tear or two came forth and found their way down a channel worn
for them since the early days of her widowhood.

Oh, this dreadful, dreadful business of being the prophet of evil! Of
all the trials which those who take charge of others' health and lives
have to undergo, this is the most painful. It is all so plain to the
practised eye!--and there is the poor wife, the doting mother, who has
never suspected anything, or at least has clung always to the hope which
you are just going to wrench away from her!--I must tell Iris that I
think her poor friend is in a precarious state. She seems nearer to him
than anybody.

I did tell her. Whatever emotion it produced, she kept a still face,
except, perhaps, a little trembling of the lip.--Could I be certain that
there was any mortal complaint?--Why, no, I could not be certain; but it
looked alarming to me.--He shall have some of my life,--she said.

I suppose this to have been a fancy of hers, of a kind of magnetic power
she could give out;--at any rate, I cannot help thinking she _wills_ her
strength away from herself, for she has lost vigor and color from that
day. I have sometimes thought he gained the force she lost; but this may
have been a whim, very probably.

One day she came suddenly to me, looking deadly pale. Her lips moved,
as if she were speaking; but I could not hear a word. Her hair looked
strangely, as if lifting itself, and her eyes were full of wild light.
She sunk upon a chair, and I thought was falling into one of her
trances. Something had frozen her blood with fear; I thought, from
what she said, half audibly, that she believed she had seen a shrouded
figure.

That night, at about eleven o'clock, I was sent for to see the Little
Gentleman, who was taken suddenly ill. Bridget, the servant, went before
me with a light. The doors were both unfastened, and I found myself
ushered, without hindrance, into the dim light of the mysterious
apartment I had so longed to enter.

I found these stanzas in the young girl's book, among many others. I
give them as characterizing the tone of her sadder moments.


  UNDER THE VIOLETS.

  Her hands are cold; her face is white;
  No more her pulses come and go;
  Her eyes are shut to life and light;--
  Fold the white vesture, snow on snow.
  And lay her where the violets blow.

  But not beneath a graven stone,
  To plead for tears with alien eyes:
  A slender cross of wood alone
  Shall say, that here a maiden lies
  In peace beneath the peaceful skies.

  And gray old trees of hugest limb
  Shall wheel their circling shadows round
  To make the scorching sunlight dim
  That drinks the greenness from the ground,
  And drop their dead leaves on her mound.

  When o'er their boughs the squirrels run,
  And through their leaves the robins call,
  And, ripening in the autumn sun,
  The acorns and the chestnuts fall,
  Doubt not that she will heed them all.

  For her the morning choir shall sing
  Its matins from the branches high,
  And every minstrel-voice of spring,
  That trills beneath the April sky,
  Shall greet her with its earliest cry.

  When, turning round their dial-track,
  Eastward the lengthening shadows pass,
  Her little mourners, clad in black,
  The crickets, sliding through the grass,
  Shall pipe for her an evening mass.

  At last the rootlets of the trees
  Shall find the prison where she lies,
  And bear the buried dust they seize
  In leaves and blossoms to the skies.
  So may the soul that warmed it rise!

  If any, born of kindlier blood,
  Should ask, What maiden lies below?
  Say only this: A tender bud,
  That tried to blossom in the snow,
  Lies withered where the violets blow.



REVIEWS AND LITERARY NOTICES.

_The Collier-folio Shakespeare._ Is it an imposture?

When the Lady Bab of "High Life below Stairs," having laid the
forgetfulness which causes her tardy appearance at the elegant
entertainment given in Mr. Lovel's servant's hall to the fascination of
her favorite author, "Shikspur," is asked, "Who wrote Shikspur?" she
replies, with that promptness which shows complete mastery of a subject,
"Ben Jonson." In later days, another lady has, with greater prolixity,
it is true, but hardly less confidence, and, it must be confessed, equal
reason, answered to the same query, "Francis Bacon." This question must,
then, be regarded as still open to discussion; but, assuming, for the
nonce, that the Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies in a certain folio
volume published at London in 1623 were written by William Shakespeare,
gentleman, sometime actor at the Black Friars Theatre and a principal
proprietor therein, we apply ourselves to the brief examination of
another, somewhat related to it, and at least as complicated:--the
question as to the authorship of certain marginal manuscript readings in
a copy of a later folio edition of the same works,--that published in
1632,--which readings Mr. Payne Collier discovered and brought before
the world with all the weight of his reputation and influence in favor
of their authority and value. We write for those who are somewhat
interested in this subject, and must assume that our readers are not
entirely without information upon it; but it is desirable, if not
necessary, that in the beginning we should call to mind the following
dates and circumstances.

According to Mr. Collier's account, this folio was bought by him "in the
spring of 1849," of Mr. Thomas Rodd, an antiquarian bookseller, well
known in London. For a year and more he hardly looked at it; but his
attention being directed particularly to it as he was packing it away to
be taken into the country, he found that "there was hardly a page which
did not represent, _in a handwriting of the time_, some emendations in
the pointing or in the text." He then subjected it to "a most careful
scrutiny," and became convinced of the great value of its manuscript
readings. He talked about it to his literary friends, and took it to a
meeting of the Council of the Shakespeare Society, and to two or three
meetings of the Society of Antiquaries, as we know by the reports of
those meetings in the London "Times." He wrote letters in the summer
of 1852 to the London "Athenaeum," setting forth the character of the
volume, and giving some of its most noteworthy changes of Shakespeare's
text. He published, at last, in 1853, his volume of "Notes and
Emendations to the Text of Shakespeare's Plays from _Early Manuscript
Corrections_ in a Copy of the Folio of 1632," etc.; and in 1854,
he published an edition of Shakespeare, in the text of which these
manuscript readings were embodied. In 1856, he added to a Shakespearian
volume a "List of all the Emendations" in his folio, remarking in the
preface to the book, (p. lxxix.,) that he had "_often gone over_ the
thousands of marks of all kinds in its [the folio's] margins," and
that, for the purpose of making the list in question, he had "recently
_reëxamined every line and letter_ of the folio." He had previously
printed for private circulation a few fac-simile copies of eighteen
corrected passages in the folio; and with the volume last mentioned, his
publications, and, we believe, all others,--of which more anon,--upon
the subject, ceased. Mr. Collier, it should be borne in mind, has been
for forty years a professed student of Elizabethan literature, and is a
man of hitherto unquestioned honor.

But he is now upon trial. Certain officers of the British Museum, among
them men of high professional reputation and personal standing, men who
occupy, and who confess that they occupy, "a judicial position" on such
questions, charge, after careful investigation, that a great fraud has
been committed in this folio; that its marginal readings, instead of
being as old as they seem, and as Mr. Collier has asserted them to be,
are modern fabrications, and that, consequently, Mr. Collier is either
an impostor or a dupe. The charge is not a new one. The weight that
it carries, and the impression that it has produced, are owing to the
position of the men who make it, and the evidence which they have
published in its support. It was made, however, six years ago,--but
vaguely. For, although there was on every side a disposition to welcome
with all heartiness the manuscript readings, the antiquity and value of
which Mr. Collier had so positively announced, the poetic sense of the
world recoiled from the mass of them when they appeared; and although a
few, a very few, of the readings peculiar to this folio were accepted
by Shakespearian editors and commentators, they were opposed as a whole
with determination, and in one or two instances with unbecoming heat, by
Mr. Collier's fellow-laborers. Prominent among these was Mr. Singer, a
man of moderate capacity and undisciplined powers, but extensive reading
in early English literature,--known, too, for the bitterness with
which he habitually wrote. In opposing Mr. Collier's folio, he did not
hesitate to insinuate broadly that he believed it to be an imposition.
But as he based his suspicion solely upon the very numerous coincidences
between the marginal readings in that volume and the conjectural
readings of the editors and critics of the last century,--coincidences
which, however, affect the character of a very large proportion of
the noticeable changes in the folio,--he failed to accomplish his
conservative purpose at the expense of Mr. Collier's reputation. But
although this insinuation of the spurious character Of the writing in
Mr. Collier's folio fell to the ground, such antiquity as would give
its readings the consequence due to their having been introduced by a
contemporary of Shakespeare was shown not to pertain to them, in the
course of two articles which appeared in "Putnam's Magazine" for October
and November, 1853, and which, it may be as well to say, were from the
same hand that writes this reference to them. They effected this by
exhibiting the corrector's ignorance of the meaning of words in common
use twenty years after Shakespeare's death, and his introduction of
stage directions which could not have been complied with until half a
century after that event, and which were at variance with the very text
itself to which they were applied. That the argument which they embodied
was conclusive has been admitted by all the English editors and
commentators, including even Mr. Collier himself. But this conclusion
only brought down the date of these marginal readings to a period
somewhat later than the Restoration of the British Monarchy, and it
did not put in question the good faith either of their author or their
discoverer.

The attack now made upon them is directed solely against their
genuineness, and is based altogether upon external, or, we may properly
say, physical evidence. The accusers are Mr. N.E.S.A. Hamilton, an
assistant in the Manuscript Department of the British Museum, (whose
chief, Sir Frederick Madden, the Keeper of that Department, is
understood to support him,) and Mr. Nevil Story Maskelyne, Keeper of
the Mineraloglcal Department. Of the alphabetical Mr. Hamilton we know
something. He is one of the ablest palaeographists of his years in
England, and the possessor of a pair of eyes of such microscopic
powers that he can decipher manuscript which to ordinary sight seems
obliterated by time, or even fire: a man of worth, too, as we hear, and
one who has borne himself in this affair with mingled confidence and
modesty. He says, that, of the corrections originally made on the
margins of this folio, the number which have been wholly or partially
"obliterated.....with a penknife or the employment of chymical agency"
"are almost as numerous as those suffered to remain"; that, of the
corrections allowed to stand, many have been "tampered with, touched
up, or painted over, a modern character being dexterously altered, by
touches of the pen, into a more antique form"; and that the margins are
"covered with an infinite number of faint pencil-marks, in obedience to
which the supposed old corrector has made his emendations"; and that
these pencilled memorandums "have not even the pretence of antiquity in
character or spelling, but are written in a bold hand of the present
century"; and with regard to the incongruities of spelling, he
especially mentions the instances, "'body,' 'offals,' in pencil,
'bodie,' 'offals,' in ink."

Mr. Maskelyne, having examined many of the margins of the folio with the
microscope, confirms entirely the evidence of Mr. Hamilton's eyes. He
found the pencilled memorandums "plentifully distributed down the
margins," and "the particles of plumbago in the hollows of the paper" in
every instance that he has examined. He found, also, that what seems
to be ink is not ink, but "a paint, removable, with the exception of a
slight stain, by mere water,"--which "paint, formed perhaps of sepia,"
would enable an impostor, it need hardly be observed, to simulate ink
faded by time; and in several cases in which "the ink word, in a quaint,
antique-looking writing, and the pencil word, in a modern-looking hand,
occupy the same ground, and are one over the other," the pencil-marks
being obscured or obliterated, Mr. Maskelyne found, on washing off the
ink, that at first "the pencil-marks became much plainer than before,
and even when as much of the ink-stain as possible was removed, the
pencil still runs through the ink line in unbroken, even continuity."
These points established, Mr. Maskelyne's conclusion, that in the
examples which he tested "the pencil underlies the ink, that is to say,
was antecedent to it in its date," is unavoidable. But does it follow
upon this conclusion that the manuscript changes in the readings of this
folio are of spurious and modern date,--made, for instance, within the
last fifty years, and with the intention of deceiving the world as to
their age? Perhaps; but, for reasons which we are about to give, we
venture to think, not certainly.

First, however, as to the very delicate and unpleasant position in which
Mr. Collier is placed by these discoveries. For, although the age of the
manuscript readings of his folio must be fixed by that of the pencilled
memorandums over which they are written, the question as to whether he
has not been uncandid or unwise enough to suppress an important part
of the truth in describing that volume is entirely independent of this
problem in paleography. For these numberless partially erased pencilled
memorandums, to which Mr. Collier has made no allusion whatever, must
have been written upon the margins of that folio either before Mr.
Collier bought it, in the spring of 1849, or since. If before, is it
possible that he could have subjected it to "a most careful scrutiny" in
1850, that he could have studied it for three years for the purpose of
preparing his "Notes and Emendations,"--an octavo volume of five hundred
pages,--which appeared in 1853, and that after having, for various
purposes, "often gone over the thousands of marks _of all kinds_" on
its margins, he could again, after the lapse of three years more, have
"reëxamined every line and letter" on those margins for the purpose of
making the list of the readings which he published in 1856, without
having discovered, in the course of all this close scrutiny, extending
through so many years, the pencil-marks which at once became visible
when the volume went to the British Museum? And if these pencil-marks,
that underlie the simulated ink corrections, were made after the spring
of 1849----! Here is a dilemma, either horn of which has a very ugly
look.

But out of this trial we hope, nay, we confidently believe, that Mr.
Collier will come unscathed. We hope it for the sake of the profession
of literature,--for the sake of one who has been honorably known among
men of letters for almost half a century, and who has borne into the
vale of years a hitherto untarnished name. We believe it, because a
contrary supposition would be entirely at variance with Mr. Collier's
conduct about this folio ever since his first announcement of its
discovery. It is true, that, in the course of the controversy which the
publication of his "Notes and Emendations" inevitably brought upon him,
Mr. Collier has not always shown that delicacy and consideration for
candid opponents which he could have afforded to show, and which would
have sat so gracefully upon him. It is true, that, in noticing, and,
in his enthusiastic partiality, much exaggerating, the admissions of a
volume in which, as he must have seen, he was first defended against Mr.
Singer's repeated insinuations of forgery, [Footnote: See _Shakespeare's
Scholar_, p. 71.] and in availing himself again and again of those not
always discreet admissions, he was uncourteous enough not to mention the
name even of the work in question, not to say that of its author. It
is true, that, on the appearance of an edition of Shakespeare's Works
edited by the author of that volume, he hastened to accuse him publicly
of misrepresentation, unwarily admitting at the same time that he did so
upon a mere glance at the book, and before he had even "cut it open,"
and, in his haste, causing his accusation to recoil upon his own
head.[1] [Footnote 1: See the London _Athenaeum_, of Nov. 20th, 1858,
and Jan. 8th, 1859.] It is true, that, when, in his recent edition of
Shakespeare's Works,[2] [Footnote 2: London, 1858, Vol. II, p. 181.]
he abandoned one of the readings of his folio, ("she discourses, she
_craves_," Merry Wives, I. 3,) which the same opponent had been the
first to show not only untenable, but fatal to the authority and
antiquity of the readings of that volume, he requited that opponent's
defence of him by attributing his defeat on this point to an English
editor, who only quoted the passage in question from "Shakespeare's
Scholar," and with special mention of its authorship and its
importance,[3] [Footnote 3: Rimbault's Edition of Overbury's Works,
London, 1856, p. 50.]

Under the present circumstances, it may be well to let the reader see
for himself exactly what Mr. Collier's course was in this little affair.
Dr. Rimbault's note, published in 1856, is as follows:--

(-----"_her wrie little finger bewraies carving_, etc.) The passage in
the text sufficiently shows that _carving_ was a sign of intelligence
made with the little finger, as the glass was raised to the mouth. See
the prefatory letter to Mr. R. G. White's _Shakespeare's Scholar_,
8vo., New York, 1854, p. xxxiii. Mr. Hunter (_New Illustrations of
Shakespeare_, i. 215), Mr. Dyce (_A Few Notes on Shakespeare_, 1853, p.
18), and Mr. Mitford (_Cursory Notes on Beaumont and Fletcher_, etc.,
1856, p. 40), were unacquainted with this valuable illustration of a
Shakespearian word given by Overbury."

And yet Mr. Collier, with this note before him, as it will be seen,
could write as follows:--

"The Rev. Mr. Dyce ('Few Notes,' p. 18) and the Rev. Mr. Hunter ('New
Illustrations,' i. p. 215) both adduce quotations [as to 'carves'], but
they have missed the most apposite, _pointed out by Dr. Rimbault_ in his
edition of Sir Thomas Overbury's Works, 8vo., 1856, p. 50."

The reader cannot estimate more lightly than we do the credit which Mr.
Collier thought of consequence enough for him to do an unhandsome, not
to say dishonorable, act to deprive an opponent of it. By referring to
White's edition of Shakespeare, Vol. II. p. lx., another instance may be
found of the same discourtesy on the part of Mr. Collier to Chalmers,
with regard to a matter yet more trifling.] and that he thereby
subjected himself self to open rebuke in his own country;[4] [Footnote
4: See Dyce's _Strictures_ etc., 1859, p. 28.] and he found, we suppose,
his justification for this course in his seniority and his opponent's
place of nativity. It is true, also, that, in the recently published
edition of Shakespeare's Works, just alluded to, he has vengefully
revived, in its worst form, the animosity which disgraced the pages of
the editors and commentators of the last century, and has attacked the
most eminent of critical English scholars, the Rev. Alexander Dyce,
throughout that edition, bitterly and incessantly,[5] [Footnote 5: See
the edition _passim_.] and also unfairly and upon forced occasion,
as Mr. Dyce has conclusively shown, in a volume,[6] [Footnote 6:
_Strictures on Collier's Shakespeare_, London, 1859.] the appearance of
which from the pen of a man of Mr. Dyce's character and position we yet
cannot but deplore, great as the provocation was. Mr. Collier has done
these things, which would not be tolerated among such men of letters in
America as are also gentlemen; and he has also made statements about his
folio which have been proved to be so inaccurate that it is clear that
his memory is not to be trusted on that matter; but, in spite of all
this, we neither will nor can believe, that, in his testimony as to the
manner in which he became possessed of this celebrated volume, or in his
description of its peculiarities, he has, with the intention to deceive,
either suppressed the true or asserted the false. Since his first
announcement of the discovery of the manuscript readings in that volume,
he has had no concealments about it; he has shown it freely to the very
persons who would be most likely to detect a literary imposition; he has
told all, and more than all, that he could have been expected to tell
about it; he has left no stone unturned in his endeavor to trace its
history; and, after finally putting all of its manuscript readings upon
record, and confessing frankly that he had been in error with regard
to some of them, and that there are many of them which are
"innovations,--changes which had crept in from time to time, [upon
the stage,] to make sense out of difficult passages, but which do not
represent the authentic text of Shakespeare," he gives the volume away
to the Duke of Devonshire, the owner of one of the most celebrated
dramatic libraries in England, on whose shelves he knew it would be
almost as subject to close examination as on those of the British
Museum. This is not the conduct of a literary forger in regard to the
enduring witness of his forgery; and we may be sure, that, unless
practice has made him reckless, and he is the very Merdle of Elizabethan
scholarship, Mr. Collier has been in this matter as loyal as he has
seemed to be.

But is the charge of forgery made out? It would seem that it is,--that
the discovery of pencilled memorandums in a modern hand and in modern
spelling, over which the readings in ink are written in an antique hand
and antique spelling, leaves no doubt upon the question. Yet, assuming
all that is charged at the British Museum to be established, we venture
to withhold our assent from the conclusion of forgery against all the
readings in question until the evidence in the case has been more
thoroughly sifted. Our reasons we must state briefly; and they can as
well be appreciated from a brief as a detailed statement.

And first, as to the "modern-looking hand" of the pencil-marks over
which the "antique-looking writing" in ink is found. All the writing
of even the early part of the seventeenth century was not done in the
quaint, and, to us, strange and elaborate-seeming hand, sometimes called
old chancery hand, specimens of which may be seen on the fac-simile
published with Mr. Collier's "Notes and Emendations." This
modern-looking hand, in which the pencil-marks appear, we venture to say
may be that of a writer who lived long before the date (1632) of the
volume on which his traces have been discovered, In support of this
supposition, we might produce hundreds of instances within our reach.
We must confine ourselves to one; and that, though somewhat more modern
than others that we could produce, shall be from a volume easily
accessible and well known to all Shakespearian scholars, and which
naturally came before us in connection with our present subject. In
Malone's "Inquiry, etc., into the Ireland Shakespeare Forgeries"
(London: 8vo. 1796) are two fac-similes (Plate III.) of parts of
letters from Shakespeare's friend, the Earl of Southampton. From the
superscription to one of them, written in 1621 to the Lord-Keeper
Williams, and preserved among the Harleian MSS., we give in fac-simile
the following words:--

[Illustration: script text which reads "the right honorable"]

We select these words only because they happen to contain six of
the letters most characteristic of the antique chancery hand of the
seventeenth century,--_t_, _h_, _e_, _r_, _g_, and _b_,--within a space
suited to the columns for which we write. The words themselves need none
of ours added to them to set forth their modern look. They might have
been written yesterday. The further to enforce our point, we add a
fac-simile of some writing of forty years' later date. It is in a copy
in our possession of Simon Lennard's translation of Charron "De la
Sagesse," which (the translation) was not published until 1658. On an
original fly-leaf, and evidently after the book had been subjected to
some years' hard usage, an early possessor of the volume has entered his
week's washing-account, in a hand of which the words following the date
afford a fair specimen.

[Illustration: script text which is illegible]

Probably not many readers of the "Atlantic" can decipher the whole of
this, although it is very neat, clear, and elegant. It is "Cloathes: 1.
shirt"; [Footnote: This memorandum is characteristic. In full it is as
follows:--

"Sept: the 9th: Cloathes: 1. Shirt: 3: bands: 8 handkecheirfs: 4
neckcloaths: 7: pa: cuffs: 1. bootes tops: 1 cap: an old towell: a
Napkin."

The writer was evidently young, poor, and a dandy. His youth is shown
by his wearing neckcloths, which were a new and youthful fashion at
the date of this memorandum; his dandyism, by the number of his
handkerchiefs, (a luxury in those days,) and of his cuffs, which answer
to our wristbands, and by his lace boot-tops; his poverty, by his
wearing three bands, four neckcloths, and seven pair of cuffs (probably
one a day for the week) to one shirt. His having, in respect to the last
garment, was probably like Poins'] and if the reader [Footnote: "one
for superfluity and one other for use." The cap was probably that which
he wore when he laid aside his wig. His hose, of colored silk, probably
made only "semi-occasional" visits to the laundress.]

will examine the fac-simile in Mr. Collier's "Notes and Emendations," he
will find that it is even older in appearance than the marginal readings
there given. Clearly, then, if the pencil memorandums on the margins of
the Collier folio had been made by a person who wrote as the Earl of
Southampton (born in 1573) did in the first quarter of the seventeenth
century, and the ink readings were made to conform to them by a person
who wrote as the profaner of Charron's "Wisdome" with his washing-bill
did in the third quarter of that century, the pencilled guide would
be "modern-looking," and the reading in ink written over it
"antique-looking," although the former might have been half a century
older than the latter. And that both pencil and ink readings are by the
same hand remains to be proved. The presumption in our own mind is, that
they are not. The margins of this folio, on the evidence of all who have
examined it, Mr. Collier included, are full of proofs that there were
many doubts and conjectures in the mind of its corrector, (shown by
erasures, reinsertions, and change of manuscript readings,) before the
work on it was abandoned; and is it not quite probable that some person
who was or had been connected with the theatre made memoranda of such
changes in the text as his memory suggested to him, and that these were
passed upon (it is in evidence that some of them wore rejected) by the
person who had undertaken to prepare the text for a new edition, or
the performance of the plays by a new company? That even all the ink
readings are by the same hand has not yet been established; and that
the writing in pencil and that in ink are by one person is yet more
uncertain. It is, in our opinion, more than doubtful. To assume it is to
beg the question.

Next, as to the suspicious circumstance, that the pencil spelling is in
some places modern, while that of the ink reading is old; as "body" in
pencil, and "bodie" in ink. We wonder that such a fact was noticed by
a man of Mr. Hamilton's knowledge; for it can be easily set aside; or
rather, it need not be regarded, because there is nothing suspicious
about it. For the spelling of the seventeenth century, like its syntax
and its pronunciation, was irregular; and the fatal error of those
who attempt to imitate it is that they always use double consonants,
superfluous final e-s, and _ie_ for _y_. And even supposing that these
pencilled words and the words in ink were written by the same person,
the fact that the word, when written in pencil, is spelled with a _y_ or
a single _l_, when written in ink with _ie_ or double _l_, is of not the
least consequence. This will be made clear to those who do not already
know it, by the following instances (the like of which might be produced
by tens of thousands,) from "Euphues his England," ed. 1597, which
happened to lie on our table when we read Mr. Hamilton's first letter.
"For that _Honnie_ taken excessiuelie, cloyeth the stomacke though it be
_Honny_." (Sig. Aa3.) In this instance, "honey," spelled first in the
old way, as to the last vowel sound, on its repetition, in the same
sentence, is spelled in what is called the new way; but in the example
which follows, the word "folly," which appears first as a catchword
at the bottom of the page in modern spelling, is found in the ancient
spelling on the turning of the leaf: "Things that are commonlie knowne
it were foll_y_ foll_ie_ to repeate." (Sig. Aa.) English scholars may
smile at the citation of passages to establish such a point; but we are
writing for those who are too wise to read old books, and who have their
English study done, as the Turk would have had his dancing, by others
for them. And besides, Mr. Hamilton has shown that even an English
professor of antiquarian literature can forget the point, or at least
not see its bearing on the subject in hand.

The modern-looking hand and the modern spelling of the pencilled
memorandums do not, then, compel the conclusion that there has been
forgery, even although they underlie the antique-looking hand and the
old spelling; but let us see if there is not other evidence to be taken
into consideration. We have before us the privately-printed fac-similes
of the eighteen passages in Mr. Collier's folio, above referred to.
Perhaps they may help us to judge if the corrector's work is like that
of a forger. From the first we take these four lines [_Tempest_, Act I,
  Sc. 2];--"Lend thy hand
  And plueke my Magick garment from me: So [Sidenote: _Lay it downe._]
  Lye there my Art: wipe thou thine eyes, have comfort,
  The direfull spectacle," etc.

In those lines, the corrector, beside supplying the stage direction _Lay
it downe_, has added a comma after "hand," substituted a period for the
colon after "Art," and a capital for a small _w_ in "wipe." Would
a forger do such minute and needless work as this, and do it so
carelessly, too, as this one did? for, to make the colon a period, he
merely strikes his pen lightly through the upper point; and, to make the
small _w_ a capital, he merely lengthens its lines upward.

In the passage from "The Taming of the Shrew," we see, what Mr. Collier
himself notices in his "Notes and Emendations," that the prefix to the
tinker's speeches, which in the folios is invariably _Beg._ [Beggar],
is changed to _Sly;_ and this is done in every instance. We have not
counted _Sly's_ speeches; but they are numerous enough to force the
unanswerable question, With what possible purpose could this task
have been undertaken by a forger? for the change adds nothing to our
knowledge of the interlocutors, and produces no variation in the
reading.

In a passage given from "The Winter's Tale," Act IV. Sc. 3, we find
these lines:--

  "_Pol._ This is the pettiest Low-borne Lasse, that ever,
  Ran on the greene-sord: Nothing she do's _or seemes,_"--

where "seems" is changed to "says," by striking out all but the first
and last letters, and writing _ay_ in the margin. In a passage given
from "Troilus and Cressida," Act V. Sc. 2, we have this line:--

  "Good traders in the flesh, set this in your painted cloathes,"--

where the _a_ in the last word is struck out. In a speech of the Moor's,
given from "Othello," Act IV. Sc. 1, we notice this sentence:--

  "It is not words that shakes me thus, (pish)."

where the final _s_ is struck from "shakes." This is strange work for a
forger of antique readings, a man who is supposed to be detected at his
work by writing "bodie" in ink, when his pencil memorandum was "body."
For, in these instances, he has _modernized the text_, and, except in
the first, that is _all_ that he has done. If he had wished his text to
look old, he would have left the last _e_ in "seemes," and read "sayes";
he would not have been at the trouble of striking out the _a_ in
"painted cloathes;" [Footnote: See As You Like It, in the folio of 1623,
p. 196, col. 2, "I answer you right painted _cloath_," and Henry VIII.,
_Idem_, p. 224, col. 2, "They that beare the _Cloath_ of Honour ouer
her."] and he would have left the _s_ in "shakes," which superfluity is
one of the most marked and best-known characteristics of English books
published before the middle of the seventeenth century. Instances of
this kind, in which a forger would have defeated his own purpose to gain
nothing, must be countless upon the nine hundred and odd pages of the
Collier folio, of which the eighteen fac-similes, from which we have
quoted, do not give us as much as would fill a single page of the
original.

Again, we find the author of these manuscript readings scrupulously
leaving a mark of the antiquity of his work, which we must regard as a
mark of its genuineness. (For a man can blow hot and blow cold, though
satyrs have not sense enough to see the right and the reason of it.) In
a passage given from "Timon of Athens," Act IV. Sc. 2, the first line is

  "Who _wou_ld be so mock'd with glory, or to live."

Here, by a misprint both in the first and second folio, there is a
syllable too much for rhythm; and the corrector properly abbreviates
"Who would" into one syllable; but he does it, not by striking out all
of "would" but the _d_, as a forger of modern days inevitably would
have done: he scrupulously leaves the _l_, which was pronounced in
Shakespeare's time, and for many years after; though this, we believe,
was never remarked until the appearance of a work very recently
published in this country!

To revert to some of the aimless work of this supposed forger. There are
many passages in the Collier folio, some of a few lines, others of many,
which are entirely stricken out; and of these there is not one that we
have noticed which it could possibly have been intended to represent as
spurious. What was a forger to gain by this? It could but serve to throw
discredit on his work. And again, in these erased passages, and on
erasures for new readings, the verbal and literal changes are still
made, and made, too, in points of not the slightest moment as to the
text, and which, in fact, produce no change in it, Take this instance,
in a passage given from "Hamlet," Act V. Sc. 2:--

  "_Hora_. Now cracks a Noble heart:
  Good night sweet Prience," etc.

Here "sweet Prience" is struck out, and "be blest" substituted in the
margin; but, previously to this change, the first e had been struck out
in "Prience,"--a change of no more consequence than if the capital N
in "Noble" had been changed to a small one. What, too, did the forger
propose to gain by putting, at great pains to himself, commas, in
passages like this, from "Timon of Athens," Act IV. Sc. 2:--

  "To have his pompe, and all state comprehends,
  But onely painted like his varnisht Friends"?

where he inserts a comma after "painted," properly enough, but
without at all changing the sense of the passage, or facilitating our
comprehension of it in the slightest degree.

But enough, although we leave much unsaid. For we think that our readers
can hardly fail to conclude with us, that proof far stronger and more
complete than the discovery of modern-looking pencil-marks under
antique-looking words in ink is required to prove Mr. Collier's folio a
fabrication of the present day. This external physical evidence is, to
say the least, far from conclusive, even on its own grounds; and the
internal moral evidence, ever the higher and the weightier in such
questions, is all against it. The forgery may be proved hereafter; but
it has not been proved yet. The character of the ink is not clearly
established in all the readings which have thus far been submitted to
experiment, as Mr. Maskelyne admits; and that question is still to be
determined. We await with interest the appearance of a pamphlet upon the
subject, which is now in preparation at the British Museum. Meantime,
upon this brief examination of the subject in a light as new to us as
to our readers, we venture to repeat the opinion which we have before
expressed, that many, if not all, of the corrections in this folio were
made in the third quarter of the seventeenth century. The dropping of
superfluous e-s, (as in "sayes,") and a-s, (as in "cloath,") and s-s,
(as in "shakes,") points to as late a date as that; and the retention
of the _l_ in the abbreviation of "would" indicates a period before the
reign of William and Mary. We conjecture, that, possibly, some of the
readings are spurious, and were added by a person who found the volume
with many ancient corrections, and seized the opportunity to obtain the
authority of age and the support of those corrections for others of
later date. This, however, is but a conjecture, and upon a point of
little consequence. Indeed, the chief importance of this investigation
at the British Museum, to all the world but Mr. Collier, is, that,
whether the pencil-marks, which the corrector chose in some cases to
follow, in others to disregard, prove to be ancient or modern, the
corrections are now deprived of all pretence to authority, and thrown
upon their own merits; which is just the position in which all candid
people desire to see them.



_The Exploits and Triumphs in Europe of Paul Morphy, the Chess
Champion_; including an Historical Account of Clubs, Biographical
Sketches of Famous Players, and Various Information and Anecdote
relating to the Noble Game of Chess. By Paul Morphy's late Secretary.
New York: D. Appleton & Co. 12mo. pp. 203.

The American Chess Congress, at New York, in October, 1857, by
the wide-spread interest which it awakened, revealed what was not very
generally suspected,--that the game of chess is played and studied in
the New World more generally, and on the present occasion, we may say
more thoroughly and successfully, than in the Old. This interest in
chess the subsequent career of Paul Morphy, the prime hero of that grand
encounter, has greatly widened and deepened; and to all who had the
chess-fever before his advent, or who have caught it since, this book
will be welcome. It fulfils all the promises of its title-page, and
tells the story of Paul Morphy's modestly achieved victories at home and
abroad with authority and intimate knowledge. Chess-players, and all who
take even an incidental interest in Mr. Morphy's adventures abroad,
will be glad to find here a particular account of his engagements with
Harrwitz, Anderssen, and especially of the match which he did not play
with Mr. Stanton, and why he did not play it. The whole of the Stanton
affair is recounted with much minuteness of date and circumstance, and a
production of all the letters which passed upon the subject; and we must
say, that upon the facts, (about which there appears to be no room for
dispute,) aside from any color given to them by the writer's manner of
stating them, the case has a very bad aspect for the English champion.
How much better would Mr. Stanton now be standing before his brother
chess-players, and, so much attention has the affair attracted, before
the world, had he been fairly beaten, like Professor Anderssen! His
reputation as a chess-player would have suffered no diminution by such
a result of an encounter with Mr. Morphy; that would only have shown,
that, well as Stanton played, Morphy played better,--as to which the
world is as well satisfied now as then it would have been. And as to
his reputation as a man,--what need to say a word about it? This
chess-flurry has been fraught with good lessons by example. The
frankness, the entire candor, and simple manliness of Professor
Anderssen, who went from Breslau to Paris for the purpose of meeting
Mr. Morphy and there contending for the belt of the chess-ring, and who
played his games as if he and his opponent were two brothers, playing
for a chance half-hour's amusement, is charming, and has won him regard
the world over. Such generosity is truly noble, and it appears yet
nobler by contrast with the endeavors of Harrwitz to worry and tire his
opponent into defeat, and his final contrivance to avoid a confession
that he was beaten. Mr. Stanton's conduct is a warning that cannot be
entirely lost upon men not utterly depraved, who are tempted into
petty duplicity to serve petty ends; and in the midst of all, how Paul
Morphy's modesty, dignity of carriage, generosity, and entire honesty of
purpose shine out and make us proud to call him countryman!

Mr. Morphy, in the speeches which he has been compelled to make
since his return from Europe, has spoken lightly of chess, as a mere
amusement. It became him to do so; and yet chess would seem to have its
value as a discipline upon natures amenable to discipline. We--that is,
the present writer, not all the contributors to the "Atlantic"--sat by
the side of Mr. Morphy when he won from Mr. Paulsen the decisive game at
the Chess Tournament in New York,--that game in which all the others
of that encounter culminated. The game was evidently approaching its
termination. Mr. Paulsen, who generally thinks out to its last result
his every move, deliberated half an hour and moved, and then, with a
slight flush upon his face, sat quietly awaiting the consequences.
Morphy, pale, collected, yet with a look of restrained--though entirely
restrained--nervousness, looked steadily at the board for about one
minute, after which his hand opened very far back, so that the knuckles
were much the lowest part of it, poised over a piece for a second or
two, and then swooped quickly down and moved it somewhat decidedly,
which is his usual way of moving. He remained looking intently upon
the board, which Paulsen studied for a few minutes, equally absorbed.
Looking up at last, the latter quietly said to his opponent,--"I don't
see how I can prevent the mate." Paul Morphy smiled, waved his hand
deprecatingly, and the tournament was won. The checkmate was about five
moves off, if we remember rightly. Restraint of this kind seems to be
imposed by a thorough study of this noble game, and its moral discipline
is quite as valuable as the sharpening of the intellectual faculties
which it accompanies.

But even those who have a sincere admiration of Mr. Morphy, and have a
sufficient knowledge of chess to appreciate his absolute mastery of the
game, must be unpleasantly affected by the public and extravagant manner
in which he has been lionized since his return from Europe. It was well
that the chess-players of New York should present him with a chessboard
so splendid that he can never use it; well that the cleverest men in
Boston should have him to dine with them; but what need of such blatant
publicity? what justification for such interminable and such miserable
speeches as were made at him in Gotham? Why did not one compliment in
each town suffice? and why must he be persecuted with watches and run
down by crowds? Why, except because some people are allowed to pamper
their silly vanity by means of other people's silly curiosity? Good
sense and good taste revolted at these exhibitions; but good sense and
good taste are undemonstrative, while folly and vulgarity are bold and
carry the day. In all such matters, we of this country allow ourselves
to be misrepresented by a comparatively few impudent people, with their
own ends to serve. This book is somewhat open to like objections. Its
title is too pretentious; its style is braggart, and tainted with the
vulgarity of an English flash reporter; and yet this is tempered by a
certain constraint, as if the writer could not but occasionally think
how ill such a style was suited to his subject. The portrait
is wretched, and a certain likeness to Mr. Morphy adds to its
offensiveness.



_Summer Pictures_. From Copenhagen to Venice. By HENRY M. FIELD, Author
of "The Irish Confederates and the Rebellion of 1798." New York:
Sheldon, Blakeman & Co. Boston: Gould & Lincoln. 1859.

The unpretending title to this neat volume expresses the modest purpose
of the writer. Escaping from care and responsibility, he has made
a rapid tour through parts of Europe, some of which are rarely
frequented;--from London to Normandy; thence to Paris, Holland, Denmark;
through the Baltic to Berlin, Dresden, Prague, and Vienna; thence to the
Adriatic, Venice, Milan, and so round again to Paris.

To see all this with new eyes, and to present the world with a perfectly
fresh book of "Travels in Europe," requires a rare man and a rare
audacity; and we congratulate Mr. Field that he has not attempted the
doubtful task. But, in his rapid run, he has gathered a flower here, a
specimen there, a bit of history, a sight of a man, a pebble from the
Baltic, a moss from Venice, a sigh from the heart of Italy, a word of
hope and happiness from the domestic life of France. He has seen the
cloud rising in Italy, and ventures to hope, almost against possibility.
He has seen the firesides and _homes_ of France, and assures us that in
Paris, too, exist honest and warm and pure hearts, and generous and holy
souls, and that all France is not a den in which liars and charlatans
only struggle and tear one another. Mr. Field looks at things with
somewhat of a professional eye, and draws what encouragement he can for
the future of the Protestant religion. His facts and speculations will
thus interest a large and valuable class of readers, while to some few
of another class a certain suspicion of prosiness will be distasteful.
The volume is well prepared, and we are sure that the manly, generous
sentiments of the writer will be welcomed by a large number of personal
friends, and by a discriminating public.



_Adam Bede_. By GEORGE ELLIOT, Author of "Scenes of Clerical Life." New
York: Harper & Brothers. 12mo. pp. 496.

As Nature will have it, Great Unknowns are out of the question in any
other branch of the world's business than the writing of books. If,
through sponsorial neglect or cruelty, the name of our butcher or baker
or candlestick-maker happens to be John, with the further and congenial
addition of Smith, JOHN SMITH it is on sign-board, pass book, and at the
top, and sometimes at the bottom, of the monthly bills, in living and
familiar characters. But in the matter of authorship, the world is yet
far short of the Scriptural standard; in a variety of instances it has
found itself unable to know men by their works; and, in deference to
this short-sightedness of their fellows, merchants and lawyers and
doctors have their cards, and clergymen, at least once in every
twelvemonth, make the personal circuit of their congregations, so that
no sheep shall wander into darkness through ignorance of the shepherd.
We believe that no pursuit should be marked by greater frankness and
fairness than the literary. It is a question, at least, of kindness; and
it is not kind to set good people on an uneasy edge of curiosity; it is
not kind to bring down upon the care-bowed heads of editors storms of
communications, couched in terms of angry disputation; it is not kind to
establish a perennial root of bitterness, to give an unhealthy flavor to
the literary waters of unborn generations, as "Junius" did, and Scott
would have done, had he been able.

"Adam Bede" is remarkable, not less for the unaffected Saxon style which
upholds the graceful fabric of the narrative, and for the naturalness of
its scenes and characters, so that the reader at once feels happy and
at home among them, than for the general perception of those universal
springs of action which control all society, the patient unfolding of
those traits of humanity with which commonplace writers get out of
temper and rudely dispense. The place and the people are of the
simplest, and the language is of the simplest; and what happens from day
to day, and from year to year, in the period of the action, might happen
in any little village where the sun shines.

We do not know where to look, in the whole range of contemporary
fictitious literature, for pictures in which the sober and the brilliant
tones of Nature blend with more exquisite harmony than in those which
are set in every chapter of "Adam Bede." Still life--the harvest-field,
the polished kitchens, the dairies with a concentrated cool smell of all
that is nourishing and sweet, the green, the porches that have vines
about them and are pleasant late in the afternoon, and deep woods
thrilling with birds--all these were never more vividly, and yet
tenderly depicted. The characters are drawn with a free and impartial
hand, and one of them is a creation for immortality. Mrs. Poyser is
a woman with an incorrigible tongue, set firmly in opposition to the
mandates of a heart the overflows of whose sympathy and love keep the
circle of her influence in a state of continual irrigation. Her epigrams
are aromatic, and she is strong in simile, but never ventures beyond her
own depth into that of her author.



_The Poetical Works of Edgar A. Poe._ With an Original Memoir. Redfield,
New York.

This pocket edition of the Poetical Works of Edgar A. Poe is illustrated
with a very much idealized portrait of the author. The poems are
introduced by an original memoir, which, without eulogy or anathema,
gives a clear and succinct account of that singular and wayward genius.
The copies of verses are many in number, and most of them are chiefly
remarkable for their art, rather than for their power of awakening
either pleasing or profound emotion. It is one poem alone which makes an
edition of these works emphatically called for. That poem, it is nearly
superfluous to mention, is "The Raven," and truly it is unforgetable.
In this weird and wonderful creation, art holds equal dominion with
feeling. The form not only never yields to the sweep of the thought, but
that thought, touching and fearful as is its tone, is made to turn and
double fantastically, almost playfully, in many of the lines. The croak
of the raven is taken up and moulded into rhyme by a nimble, if not a
mocking spirit; and, fascinating as is the rhythmic movement of the
verse, it appears like the dancing of the daughter of Herodias. This
looks incongruous; and so do the words of the fool which Shakspeare has
intermingled with the agonies and imprecations of Lear. In the tragedy,
this is held to be a consummate stroke of art, and certainly the reader
is grateful for the relief. Had Poe a similar design? Closely analyzed,
this song seems the very ecstasy of fancy; as if the haunting apparition
inspired the poet more than it appalled the man. We can call to mind no
one who has ever played with an inexplicable horror more daintily or
more impressively; and, whether premeditated or spontaneous, it is
an epitome of the life of the writer, for the marked traits of his
character are there, and almost the prevailing expression of his . . . .

       *       *       *       *       *

It becomes the sad duty of the editors of the "ATLANTIC" to record the
death of its founder, MR. M.D. PHILLIPS. It indicates no ordinary force
of character, that a man, dying at the age of forty-six, should have
worked himself, solely by his own talents and integrity, to the head
of one of the largest publishing-houses of the country. But it was
not merely by strength and tenacity of purpose, and by clearness of
judgment, that Mr. Phillips was distinguished. He had also a generous
ambition, and aims which transcended the sphere of self and the limits
of merely commercial success. Showing, as he did, a rare courage (and
that of the best kind, for it was a courage based upon experience and
qualified by discretion) in beginning the publication of the "Atlantic"
during the very storm and stress of the financial revulsion of 1857, it
was by no means as a mere business speculation that he undertook
what seemed a doubtful enterprise. His wish and hope were, that the
"Atlantic" should represent what was best in American thought and
letters; and while he had no doubt of ultimate pecuniary profit, his
chief motive was the praiseworthy ambition to associate his name with
an undertaking which should result in some good to letters and some
progress in ideas and principles which were dear to him.

We speak of him as we saw him. He would not have wished a garrulous
eulogy or a cumbrous epitaph. A character whose outline was simple
and bold, and which was marked by certain leading and high qualities,
demands few words, if only they be sincere. It is less painful to say
that good word for the dead, which it is the instinct of human nature to
offer, when we can say, as of Mr. Phillips, that his mind was strong and
clear, that it was tenacious of experience, and therefore both rapid and
safe in decision, that he was courageous and constant, and acted under
the inspiration of desires and motives which he can carry with him into
the new sphere to which he has passed.



RECENT AMERICAN PUBLICATIONS.

Memoirs of Vidocq, the Principal Agent of the French Police. Written
by Himself, and Translated from the Original French expressly for
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