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Title: Narrative and Miscellaneous Papers
Author: De Quincey, Thomas, 1785-1859
Language: English
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By Thomas De Quincey.

Contents Of Volume I.

   The Household Wreck
   The Spanish Nun
   Flight Of A Tartar Tribe

Contents Of Volume II.

   System Of The Heavens As Revealed By Lord Rosse's Telescopes
   Modern Superstition
   Coleridge And Opium-Eating
   Temperance Movement
   On War
   The Last Days Of Immanuel Kant



'To be weak,' we need not the great archangel's voice to tell us, '_is
to be miserable_.' All weakness is suffering and humiliation, no matter
for its mode or its subject. Beyond all other weakness, therefore, and
by a sad prerogative, as more miserable than what is most miserable
in all, that capital weakness of man which regards the _tenure_ of his
enjoyments and his power to protect, even for a moment, the crown of
flowers--flowers, at the best, how frail and few!--which sometimes
settles upon his haughty brow. There is no end, there never will be
an end, of the lamentations which ascend from earth and the rebellious
heart of her children, upon this huge opprobrium of human pride--the
everlasting mutabilities of all which man can grasp by his power or
by his aspirations, the fragility of all which he inherits, and the
hollowness visible amid the very raptures of enjoyment to every eye
which looks for a moment underneath the draperies of the shadowy
_present_, the hollowness, the blank treachery of hollowness, upon which
all the pomps and vanities of life ultimately repose. This trite but
unwearying theme, this impassioned common-place of humanity, is the
subject in every age of variation without end, from the poet,
the rhetorician, the fabulist, the moralist, the divine, and the
philosopher. All, amidst the sad vanity of their sighs and groans, labor
to put on record and to establish this monotonous complaint, which needs
not other record or evidence than those very sighs and groans. What is
life? Darkness and formless vacancy for a beginning, or something beyond
all beginning--then next a dim lotos of human consciousness, finding
itself afloat upon the bosom of waters without a shore--then a few sunny
smiles and many tears--a little love and infinite strife--whisperings
from paradise and fierce mockeries from the anarchy of chaos--dust and
ashes--and once more darkness circling round, as if from the beginning,
and in this way rounding or making an island of our fantastic
existence,--_that_ is human life; _that_ the inevitable amount of man's
laughter and his tears--of what he suffers and he does--of his motions
this way and that way--to the right or to the left--backwards
or forwards--of all his seeming realities and all his absolute
negations--his shadowy pomps and his pompous shadows--of whatsoever he
thinks, finds, makes or mars, creates or animates, loves, hates, or in
dread hope anticipates;--so it is, so it has been, so it will be, for
ever and ever.

Yet in the lowest deep there still yawns a lower deep; and in the vast
halls of man's frailty, there are separate and more gloomy chambers of
a frailty more exquisite and consummate. We account it frailty that
threescore years and ten make the upshot of man's pleasurable existence,
and that, far before that time is reached, his beauty and his power
have fallen among weeds and forgetfulness. But there is a frailty, by
comparison with which this ordinary flux of the human race seems to have
a vast duration. Cases there are, and those not rare, in which a
single week, a day, an hour sweeps away all vestiges and landmarks of
a memorable felicity; in which the ruin travels faster than the flying
showers upon the mountain-side, faster 'than a musician scatters
sounds;' in which 'it was' and 'it is not' are words of the self-same
tongue, in the self-same minute; in which the sun that at noon beheld
all sound and prosperous, long before its setting hour looks out upon
a total wreck, and sometimes upon the total abolition of any fugitive
memorial that there ever had been a vessel to be wrecked, or a wreck to
be obliterated.

These cases, though here spoken of rhetorically, are of daily
occurrence; and, though they may seem few by comparison with the
infinite millions of the species, they are many indeed, if they be
reckoned absolutely for themselves; and throughout the limits of a whole
nation, not a day passes over us but many families are robbed of their
heads, or even swallowed up in ruin themselves, or their course turned
out of the sunny beams into a dark wilderness. Shipwrecks and nightly
conflagrations are sometimes, and especially among some nations,
wholesale calamities; battles yet more so; earthquakes, the famine, the
pestilence, though rarer, are visitations yet wider in their desolation.
Sickness and commercial ill-luck, if narrower, are more frequent
scourges. And most of all, or with most darkness in its train, comes the
sickness of the brain--lunacy--which, visiting nearly one thousand in
every million, must, in every populous nation, make many ruins in each
particular day. 'Babylon in ruins,' says a great author, 'is not so sad
a sight as a human soul overthrown by lunacy.' But there is a sadder
even than _that_,--the sight of a family-ruin wrought by crime is even
more appalling. Forgery, breaches of trust, embezzlement, of private
or public funds--(a crime sadly on the increase since the example of
Fauntleroy, and the suggestion of its great feasibility first made by
him)--these enormities, followed too often, and countersigned for their
final result to the future happiness of families, by the appalling
catastrophe of suicide, must naturally, in every wealthy nation,
or wherever property and the modes of property are much developed,
constitute the vast majority of all that come under the review of public
justice. Any of these is sufficient to make shipwreck of all peace and
comfort for a family; and often, indeed, it happens that the desolation
is accomplished within the course of one revolving sun; often the
whole dire catastrophe, together with its total consequences, is both
accomplished and made known to those whom it chiefly concerns within one
and the same hour. The mighty Juggernaut of social life, moving onwards
with its everlasting thunders, pauses not for a moment to spare--to
pity--to look aside, but rushes forward for ever, impassive as the
marble in the quarry--caring not for whom it destroys, for the how
many, or for the results, direct and indirect, whether many or few.
The increasing grandeur and magnitude of the social system, the more it
multiplies and extends its victims, the more it conceals them; and for
the very same reason: just as in the Roman amphitheatres, when they grew
to the magnitude of mighty cities, (in some instances accommodating
four hundred thousand spectators, in many a fifth part of that amount,)
births and deaths became ordinary events, which, in a small modern
theatre, are rare and memorable; and exactly as these prodigious
accidents multiplied, _pari passu_, they were disregarded and easily
concealed: for curiosity was no longer excited; the sensation attached
to them was little or none.

From these terrific tragedies, which, like monsoons or tornadoes,
accomplish the work of years in an hour, not merely an impressive lesson
is derived, sometimes, perhaps, a warning, but also (and this is of
universal application) some consolation. Whatever may have been the
misfortunes or the sorrows of a man's life, he is still privileged to
regard himself and his friends as amongst the fortunate by comparison,
in so far as he has escaped these wholesale storms, either as an actor
in producing them, or a contributor to their violence--or even more
innocently, (though oftentimes not less miserably)--as a participator in
the instant ruin, or in the long arrears of suffering which they entail.

The following story falls within the class of hasty tragedies, and
sudden desolations here described. The reader is assured that every
incident is strictly true: nothing, in that respect, has been altered;
nor, indeed, anywhere except in the conversations, of which, though
the results and general outline are known, the separate details have
necessarily been lost under the agitating circumstances which produced
them. It has been judged right and delicate to conceal the name of the
great city, and therefore of the nation in which these events occurred,
chiefly out of consideration for the descendants of one person concerned
in the narrative: otherwise, it might not have been requisite: for it
is proper to mention, that every person directly a party to the case has
been long laid in the grave: all of them, with one solitary exception,
upwards of fifty years.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was early spring in the year 17--; the day was the 6th of April; and
the weather, which had been of a wintry fierceness for the preceding six
or seven weeks--cold indeed beyond anything known for many years,
gloomy for ever, and broken by continual storms--was now by a Swedish
transformation all at once bright, genial, heavenly. So sudden and so
early a prelusion of summer, it was generally feared, could not last.
But that only made every body the more eager to lose no hour of an
enjoyment that might prove so fleeting. It seemed as if the whole
population of the place, a population among the most numerous in
Christendom, had been composed of hybernating animals suddenly awakened
by the balmy sunshine from their long winter's torpor. Through every
hour of the golden morning the streets were resonant with female parties
of young and old, the timid and the bold, nay, even of the most delicate
valetudinarians, now first tempted to lay aside their wintry clothing
together with their fireside habits, whilst the whole rural environs of
our vast city, the woodlands, and the interminable meadows began daily
to re-echo the glad voices of the young and jovial awaking once again,
like the birds and the flowers, and universal nature, to the luxurious
happiness of this most delightful season.

Happiness do I say? Yes, happiness; happiness to me above all others.
For I also in those days was among the young and the gay; I was healthy;
I was strong; I was prosperous in a worldly sense! I owed no man a
shilling; feared no man's face; shunned no man's presence. I held a
respectable station in society; I was myself, let me venture to say it,
respected generally for my personal qualities, apart from any advantages
I might draw from fortune or inheritance; I had reason to think myself
popular amongst the very slender circle of my acquaintance; and finally,
which perhaps was the crowning grace to all these elements of happiness,
I suffered not from the presence of _ennui_, nor ever feared to suffer:
for my temperament was constitutionally ardent; I had a powerful
animal sensibility; and I knew the one great secret for maintaining its
equipoise, viz., by powerful daily exercise; and thus I lived in
the light and presence, or, (if I should not be suspected of seeking
rhetorical expressions, I would say,) in one eternal solstice of
unclouded hope.

These, you will say, were blessings; these were golden elements of
felicity. They were so; and yet, with the single exception of my
healthy frame and firm animal organization, I feel that I have mentioned
hitherto nothing but what by comparison might be thought of a vulgar
quality. All the other advantages that I have enumerated, had they been
yet wanting, might have been acquired; had they been forfeited, might
have been reconquered; had they been even irretrievably lost, might, by
a philosophic effort, have been dispensed with; compensations might have
been found for any of them, many equivalents, or if not, consolations at
least, for their absence. But now it remains to speak of other blessings
too mighty to be valued, not merely as transcending in rank and dignity
all other constituents of happiness, but for a reason far sadder than
that--because, once lost, they were incapable of restoration, and
because not to be dispensed with; blessings in which 'either we must
live or have no life:' lights to the darkness of our paths and to the
infirmity of our steps--which, once extinguished, never more on this
side the gates of Paradise can any man hope to see re-illumined for
himself. Amongst these I may mention an intellect, whether powerful or
not in itself, at any rate most elaborately cultivated; and, to say the
truth, I had little other business before me in this life than to pursue
this lofty and delightful task. I may add, as a blessing, not in the
same _positive_ sense as that which I have just mentioned, because not
of a nature to contribute so hourly to the employment of the thoughts,
but yet in this sense equal, that the absence of either would have been
an equal affliction,--namely, a conscience void of all offence. It
was little indeed that I, drawn by no necessities of situation into
temptations of that nature, had done no injury to any man. That was
fortunate; but I could not much value myself upon what was so much an
accident of my situation. Something, however, I might pretend to beyond
this _negative_ merit; for I had originally a benign nature; and, as I
advanced in years and thoughtfulness, the gratitude which possessed me
for my own exceeding happiness led me to do that by principle and system
which I had already done upon blind impulse; and thus upon a double
argument I was incapable of turning away from the prayer of the
afflicted, whatever had been the sacrifice to myself. Hardly, perhaps,
could it have been said in a sufficient sense at that time that I was
a religious man: yet, undoubtedly, I had all the foundations within me
upon which religion might hereafter have grown. My heart overflowed with
thankfulness to Providence: I had a natural tone of unaffected piety;
and thus far, at least, I might have been called a religious man, that
in the simplicity of truth I could have exclaimed,

  'O, Abner, I fear God, and I fear none beside.'

But wherefore seek to delay ascending by a natural climax to that final
consummation and perfect crown of my felicity--that almighty blessing
which ratified their value to all the rest? Wherefore, oh! wherefore
do I shrink in miserable weakness from--what? Is it from reviving,
from calling up again into fierce and insufferable light the images and
features of a long-buried happiness? That would be a natural shrinking
and a reasonable weakness. But how escape from reviving, whether I give
it utterance or not, that which is for ever vividly before me? What need
to call into artificial light that which, whether sleeping or waking, by
night or by day, for eight-and-thirty years has seemed by its miserable
splendor to scorch my brain? Wherefore shrink from giving language,
simple vocal utterance, to that burden of anguish which by so long an
endurance has lost no atom of its weight, nor can gain any most surely
by the loudest publication? Need there can be none, after this, to say
that the priceless blessing, which I have left to the final place in
this ascending review, was the companion of my life--my darling and
youthful wife. Oh! dovelike woman! fated in an hour the most
defenceless to meet with the ravening vulture,--lamb fallen amongst
wolves,--trembling--fluttering fawn, whose path was inevitably to be
crossed by the bloody tiger;--angel, whose most innocent heart fitted
thee for too early a flight from this impure planet; if indeed it were a
necessity that thou shouldst find no rest for thy footing except amidst
thy native heavens, if indeed to leave what was not worthy of thee were
a destiny not to be evaded--a summons not to be put by,--yet why, why,
again and again I demand--why was it also necessary that this, thy
departure, so full of wo to me, should also to thyself be heralded by
the pangs of martyrdom? Sainted love, if, like the ancient children
of the Hebrews, like Meshech and Abednego, thou wert called by divine
command, whilst yet almost a child, to walk, and to walk alone, through
the fiery furnace,--wherefore then couldst not thou, like that Meshech
and that Abednego, walk unsinged by the dreadful torment, and come forth
unharmed? Why, if the sacrifice were to be total, was it necessary to
reach it by so dire a struggle? and if the cup, the bitter cup, of final
separation from those that were the light of thy eyes and the pulse
of thy heart might not be put aside,--yet wherefore was it that thou
mightest not drink it up in the natural peace which belongs to a sinless

But these are murmurings, you will say, rebellious murmurings against
the proclamations of God. Not so: I have long since submitted myself,
resigned myself, nay, even reconciled myself, perhaps, to the great
wreck of my life, in so far as it was the will of God, and according to
the weakness of my imperfect nature. But my wrath still rises, like a
towering flame, against all the earthly instruments of this ruin; I am
still at times as unresigned as ever to this tragedy, in so far as it
was the work of human malice. Vengeance, as a mission for _me_, as
a task for _my_ hands in particular, is no longer possible; the
thunderbolts of retribution have been long since launched by other
hands; and yet still it happens that at times I do--I must--I shall
perhaps to the hour of death, rise in maniac fury, and seek, in the
very impotence of vindictive madness, groping as it were in blindness of
heart, for that tiger from hell-gates that tore away my darling from my
heart. Let me pause, and interrupt this painful strain, to say a word
or two upon what she was--and how far worthy of a love more honorable
to her (that was possible) and deeper (but that was not possible) than
mine. When first I saw her, she--my Agnes--was merely a child, not much
(if anything) above sixteen. But, as in perfect womanhood she retained
a most childlike expression of countenance, so even then in absolute
childhood she put forward the blossoms and the dignity of a woman. Never
yet did my eye light upon creature that was born of woman, nor could it
enter my heart to conceive one, possessing a figure more matchless in
its proportions, more statuesque, and more deliberately and advisedly to
be characterized by no adequate word but the word _magnificent_, (a word
too often and lightly abused.) In reality, speaking of women, I have
seen many beautiful figures, but hardly one except Agnes that could,
without hyperbole, be styled truly and memorably magnificent. Though
in the first order of tall women, yet, being full in person, and with a
symmetry that was absolutely faultless, she seemed to the random sight
as little above the ordinary height. Possibly from the dignity of her
person, assisted by the dignity of her movements, a stranger would
have been disposed to call her at a distance a woman of _commanding_
presence; but never, after he had approached near enough to behold her
face. Every thought of artifice, of practised effect, or of haughty
pretension, fled before the childlike innocence, the sweet feminine
timidity, and the more than cherub loveliness of that countenance, which
yet in its lineaments was noble, whilst its expression was purely gentle
and confiding. A shade of pensiveness there was about her; but _that_
was in her manners, scarcely ever in her features; and the exquisite
fairness of her complexion, enriched by the very sweetest and most
delicate bloom that ever I have beheld, should rather have allied it
to a tone of cheerfulness. Looking at this noble creature, as I first
looked at her, when yet upon the early threshold of womanhood

  'With household motions light and free,
  And steps of virgin liberty'

you might have supposed her some Hebe or young Aurora of the dawn. When
you saw only her superb figure, and its promise of womanly development,
with the measured dignity of her step, you might for a moment have
fancied her some imperial Medea of the Athenian stage--some Volumnia
from Rome,

  'Or ruling bandit's wife amidst the Grecian isles.'

 But catch one glance from her angelic countenance--and then combining
the face and the person, you would have dismissed all such fancies, and
have pronounced her a Pandora or an Eve, expressly accomplished and held
forth by nature as an exemplary model or ideal pattern for the future
female sex:--

  'A perfect woman, nobly plann'd,
  To warm, to comfort, to command:
  And yet a spirit too, and bright
  With something of an angel light.'

To this superb young woman, such as I have here sketched her, I
surrendered my heart for ever, almost from my first opportunity of
seeing her: for so natural and without disguise was her character, and
so winning the simplicity of her manners, due in part to her own native
dignity of mind, and in part to the deep solitude in which she had been
reared, that little penetration was required to put me in possession of
all her thoughts; and to win her love, not very much more than to let
her see, as see she could not avoid, in connection with that chivalrous
homage which at any rate was due to her sex and her sexual perfections,
a love for herself on my part, which was in its nature as exalted a
passion and as profoundly rooted as any merely human affection can ever
yet have been.

On the seventeenth birthday of Agnes we were married. Oh! calendar of
everlasting months--months that, like the mighty rivers, shall flow on
for ever, immortal as thou, Nile, or Danube, Euphrates, or St. Lawrence!
and ye, summer and winter, day and night, wherefore do you bring round
continually your signs, and seasons, and revolving hours, that still
point and barb the anguish of local recollections, telling me of this
and that celestial morning that never shall return, and of too blessed
expectations, travelling like yourselves through a heavenly zodiac of
changes, till at once and for ever they sank into the grave! Often do I
think of seeking for some quiet cell either in the Tropics or in
Arctic latitudes, where the changes of the year, and the external signs
corresponding to them, express themselves by no features like those in
which the same seasons are invested under our temperate climes: so that,
if knowing, we cannot at least feel the identity of their revolutions.
We were married, I have said, on the birthday--the seventeenth
birthday--of Agnes; and pretty nearly on her eighteenth it was that she
placed me at the summit of my happiness, whilst for herself she
thus completed the circle of her relations to this life's duties,
by presenting me with a son. Of this child, knowing how wearisome to
strangers is the fond exultation of parents, I shall simply say, that
he inherited his mother's beauty; the same touching loveliness and
innocence of expression, the same chiselled nose, mouth, and chin,
the same exquisite auburn hair. In many other features, not of person
merely, but also of mind and manners, as they gradually began to open
before me, this child deepened my love to him by recalling the image of
his mother; and what other image was there that I so much wished to
keep before me, whether waking or asleep? At the time to which I am now
coming but too rapidly, this child, still our only one, and unusually
premature, was within four months of completing his third year;
consequently Agnes was at that time in her twenty-first year; and I may
here add, with respect to myself, that I was in my twenty-sixth.

But, before I come to that period of wo, let me say one word on the
temper of mind which so fluent and serene a current of prosperity may
be thought to have generated. Too common a course I know it is, when
the stream of life flows with absolute tranquillity, and ruffled by no
menace of a breeze--the azure overhead never dimmed by a passing cloud,
that in such circumstances the blood stagnates: life, from excess and
plethora of sweets, becomes insipid: the spirit of action droops: and
it is oftentimes found at such seasons that slight annoyances and
molestations, or even misfortunes in a lower key, are not wholly
undesirable, as means of stimulating the lazy energies, and disturbing a
slumber which is, or soon will be, morbid in its character. I have known
myself cases not a few, where, by the very nicest gradations, and by
steps too silent and insensible for daily notice, the utmost harmony and
reciprocal love had shaded down into fretfulness and petulance, purely
from too easy a life, and because all nobler agitations that might have
ruffled the sensations occasionally, and all distresses even on the
narrowest scale that might have re-awakened the solicitudes of love, by
opening necessities for sympathy, for counsel, or for mutual aid, had
been shut out by foresight too elaborate, or by prosperity too cloying.
But all this, had it otherwise been possible with my particular mind,
and at my early age, was utterly precluded by one remarkable peculiarity
in my temper. Whether it were that I derived from nature some jealousy
and suspicion of all happiness which seems too perfect and unalloyed--[a
spirit of restless distrust, which in ancient times often led men to
throw valuable gems into the sea, in the hope of thus propitiating the
dire deity of misfortune, by voluntarily breaking the fearful chain of
prosperity, and led some of them to weep and groan when the gems
thus sacrificed were afterwards brought back to their hand by simple
fishermen, who had recovered them in the intestines of fishes--a
portentous omen, which was interpreted into a sorrowful indication
that the deity thus answered the propitiatory appeal, and made solemn
proclamation that he had rejected it]--whether, I say, it were this
spirit of jealousy awaked in me by too steady and too profound a
felicity--or whether it were that great overthrows and calamities have
some mysterious power to send forward a dim misgiving of their advancing
footsteps, and really and indeed,

  'That in to-day already walks to-morrow;'

or whether it were partly, as I have already put the case in my first
supposition, a natural instinct of distrust, but irritated and enlivened
by a particular shock of superstitious alarm; which, or whether any of
these causes it were that kept me apprehensive, and on the watch for
disastrous change, I will not here undertake to determine. Too certain
it is that I was so. I never ridded myself of an over-mastering and
brooding sense, shadowy and vague, a dim abiding feeling (that sometimes
was and sometimes was not exalted into a conscious presentiment) of
some great calamity travelling towards me; not perhaps immediately
impending--perhaps even at a great distance; but already--dating from
some secret hour--already in motion upon some remote line of approach.
This feeling I could not assuage by sharing it with Agnes. No motive
could be strong enough for persuading me to communicate so gloomy a
thought with one who, considering her extreme healthiness, was but too
remarkably prone to pensive, if not to sorrowful, contemplations. And
thus the obligation which I felt to silence and reserve, strengthened
the morbid impression I had received; whilst the remarkable incident
I have adverted to served powerfully to rivet the superstitious chain
which was continually gathering round me. The incident was this--and
before I repeat it, let me pledge my word of honor, that I report to you
the bare facts of the case, without exaggeration, and in the simplicity
of truth:--There was at that time resident in the great city, which
is the scene of my narrative, a woman, from some part of Hungary, who
pretended to the gift of looking into futurity. She had made herself
known advantageously in several of the greatest cities of Europe, under
the designation of the Hungarian Prophetess; and very extraordinary
instances were cited amongst the highest circles of her success in the
art which she professed. So ample were the pecuniary tributes which
she levied upon the hopes and the fears, or the simple curiosity of
the aristocracy, that she was thus able to display not unfrequently
a disinterestedness and a generosity, which seemed native to her
disposition, amongst the humbler classes of her applicants; for she
rejected no addresses that were made to her, provided only they were
not expressed in levity or scorn, but with sincerity, and in a spirit of
confiding respect. It happened, on one occasion, when a nursery-servant
of ours was waiting in her anteroom for the purpose of taking her turn
in consulting the prophetess professionally, that she had witnessed a
scene of consternation and unaffected maternal grief in this Hungarian
lady upon the sudden seizure of her son, a child of four or five years
old, by a spasmodic inflammation of the throat (since called croup)
peculiar to children, and in those days not very well understood by
medical men. The poor Hungarian, who had lived chiefly in warm, or
at least not damp, climates, and had never so much as heard of this
complaint, was almost wild with alarm at the rapid increase of the
symptoms which attend the paroxysms, and especially of that loud and
distressing sound which marks the impeded respiration. Great, therefore,
was her joy and gratitude on finding from our servant that she had
herself been in attendance more than once upon cases of the same nature,
but very much more violent,--and that, consequently, she was well
qualified to suggest and to superintend all the measures of instant
necessity, such as the hot-bath, the peculiar medicines, &c., which are
almost sure of success when applied in an early stage. Staying to give
her assistance until a considerable improvement had taken place in the
child, our servant then hurried home to her mistress. Agnes, it may
be imagined, dispatched her back with such further and more precise
directions as in a very short time availed to re-establish the child in
convalescence. These practical services, and the messages of maternal
sympathy repeatedly conveyed from Agnes, had completely won the heart of
the grateful Hungarian, and she announced her intention of calling with
her little boy, to make her personal acknowledgments for the kindness
which had been shown to her. She did so, and we were as much impressed
by the sultana-like style of her Oriental beauty, as she, on her part,
was touched and captivated by the youthful loveliness of my angelic
wife. After sitting for above an hour, during which time she talked with
a simplicity and good feeling that struck us as remarkable in a person
professing an art usually connected with so much of conscious fraud, she
rose to take her leave. I must mention that she had previously had our
little boy sitting on her knee, and had at intervals thrown a hasty
glance upon the palms of his hands. On parting, Agnes, with her usual
frankness, held out her hand. The Hungarian took it with an air of sad
solemnity, pressed it fervently, and said:--'Lady, it is my part in
this life to look behind the curtain of fate; and oftentimes I see such
sights in futurity--some near, some far off--as willingly I would _not_
see. For you, young and charming lady, looking like that angel which you
are, no destiny can be equal to your deserts. Yet sometimes, true it
is, God sees not as man sees; and he ordains, after his unfathomable
counsels, to the heavenly-minded a portion in heaven, and to the
children whom he loves a rest and a haven not built with hands.
Something that I have seen dimly warns me to look no farther. Yet, if
you desire it, I will do my office, and I will read for you with truth
the lines of fate as they are written upon your hands.' Agnes was a
little startled, or even shocked, by this solemn address; but, in a
minute or so, a mixed feeling--one half of which was curiosity, and
the other half a light-hearted mockery of her own mysterious awe in
the presence of what she had been taught to view as either fraud or
insanity--prompted her playfully to insist upon the fullest application
of the Hungarian's art to her own case; nay, she would have the hands
of our little Francis read and interpreted as well as her own, and
she desired to hear the full professional judgment delivered without
suppression or softening of its harshest awards. She laughed whilst she
said all this; but she also trembled a little. The Hungarian first
took the hand of our young child, and perused it with a long and steady
scrutiny. She said nothing, but sighed heavily as she resigned it. She
then took the hand of Agnes--looked bewildered and aghast--then gazed
piteously from Agnes to her child--and at last, bursting into tears,
began to move steadily out of the room. I followed her hastily, and
remonstrated upon this conduct, by pointing her attention to the obvious
truth--that these mysterious suppressions and insinuations, which
left all shadowy and indistinct, were far more alarming than the most
definite denunciations. Her answer yet rings in my ear:--'Why should I
make myself odious to you and to your innocent wife? Messenger of evil
I am, and have been to many; but evil I will not prophecy to her. Watch
and pray! Much may be done by effectual prayer. Human means, fleshly
arms, are vain. There is an enemy in the house of life,' [here she
quitted her palmistry for the language of astrology;] 'there is a
frightful danger at hand, both for your wife and your child. Already
on that dark ocean, over which we are all sailing, I can see dimly the
point at which the enemy's course shall cross your wife's. There is
but little interval remaining--not many hours. All is finished; all
is accomplished; and already he is almost up with the darlings of your
heart. Be vigilant, be vigilant, and yet look not to yourself, but to
Heaven, for deliverance.'

This woman was not an impostor: she spoke and uttered her oracles
under a wild sense of possession by some superior being, and of mystic
compulsion to say what she would have willingly left unsaid; and never
yet, before or since, have I seen the light of sadness settle with so
solemn an expression into human eyes as when she dropped my wife's
hand, and refused to deliver that burden of prophetic wo with which she
believed herself to be inspired.

The prophetess departed; and what mood of mind did she leave behind her
in Agnes and myself? Naturally there was a little drooping of spirits
at first; the solemnity and the heart-felt sincerity of fear and grief
which marked her demeanor, made it impossible, at the moment when we
were just fresh from their natural influences, that we should recoil
into our ordinary spirits. But with the inevitable elasticity of youth
and youthful gaiety we soon did so; we could not attempt to persuade
ourselves that there had been any conscious fraud or any attempt at
scenical effect in the Hungarian's conduct. She had no motive for
deceiving us; she had refused all offerings of money, and her whole
visit had evidently been made under an overflow of the most grateful
feelings for the attentions shown to her child. We acquitted her,
therefore, of sinister intentions; and with our feelings of jealousy,
feelings in which we had been educated, towards everything that tended
to superstition, we soon agreed to think her some gentle maniac or sad
enthusiast, suffering under some form of morbid melancholy. Forty-eight
hours, with two nights' sleep, sufficed to restore the wonted
equilibrium of our spirits; and that interval brought us onwards to
the 6th of April--the day on which, as I have already said, my story
properly commences.

 On that day, on that lovely 6th of April, such as I have described it,
that 6th of April, about nine o'clock in the morning, we were seated at
breakfast near the open window--we, that is, Agnes, myself, and little
Francis; the freshness of morning spirits rested upon us; the golden
light of the morning sun illuminated the room; incense was floating
through the air from the gorgeous flowers within and without the house;
there in youthful happiness we sat gathered together, a family of
love, and there we never sat again. Never again were we three gathered
together, nor ever shall be, so long as the sun and its golden
light--the morning and the evening--the earth and its flowers endure.

Often have I occupied myself in recalling every circumstance the most
trivial of this the final morning of what merits to be called my life.
Eleven o'clock, I remember, was striking when Agnes came into my study,
and said that she would go into the city, (for we lived in a quite rural
suburb,) that she would execute some trifling commissions which she
had received from a friend in the country, and would be at home again
between one and two for a stroll which we had agreed to take in the
neighboring meadows. About twenty minutes after this she again came into
my study dressed for going abroad; for such was my admiration of her,
that I had a fancy--fancy it must have been, and yet still I felt it to
be real--that under every change she looked best; if she put on a shawl,
then a shawl became the most feminine of ornaments; if she laid
aside her shawl and her bonnet, then how nymph-like she seemed in her
undisguised and unadorned beauty! Full-dress seemed for the time to be
best, as bringing forward into relief the splendor of her person, and
allowing the exposure of her arms; a simple morning-dress, again, seemed
better still, as fitted to call out the childlike innocence of her face,
by confining the attention to that. But all these are feelings of fond
and blind affection, hanging with rapture over the object of something
too like idolatry. God knows, if that be a sin, I was but too profound
a sinner; yet sin it never was, sin it could not be, to adore a beauty
such as thine, my Agnes. Neither was it her beauty by itself, and that
only, which I sought at such times to admire; there was a peculiar
sort of double relation in which she stood at moments of pleasurable
expectation and excitement, since our little Francis had become of an
age to join our party, which made some aspects of her character trebly
interesting. She was a wife--and wife to one whom she looked up to
as her superior in understanding and in knowledge of the world, whom,
therefore, she leaned to for protection. On the other hand, she was also
a mother. Whilst, therefore, to her child she supported the matronly
part of guide, and the air of an experienced person; to me she wore,
ingenuously and without disguise, the part of a child herself, with all
the giddy hopes and unchastised imaginings of that buoyant age. This
double character, one aspect of which looks towards her husband and one
to her children, sits most gracefully upon many a young wife whose heart
is pure and innocent; and the collision between the two separate parts
imposed by duty on the one hand, by extreme youth on the other, the
one telling her that she is a responsible head of a family and the
depository of her husband's honor in its tenderest and most vital
interests, the other telling her, through the liveliest language of
animal sensibility, and through the very pulses of her blood, that she
is herself a child; this collision gives an inexpressible charm to
the whole demeanor of many a young married woman, making her other
fascinations more touching to her husband, and deepening the admiration
she excites; and the more so, as it is a collision which cannot exist
except among the very innocent. Years, at any rate, will irresistibly
remove this peculiar charm, and gradually replace it by the graces
of the matronly character. But in Agnes this change had not yet been
effected, partly from nature, and partly from the extreme seclusion of
her life. Hitherto she still retained the unaffected expression of her
childlike nature; and so lovely in my eyes was this perfect exhibition
of natural feminine character, that she rarely or never went out alone
upon any little errand to town which might require her to rely upon her
own good sense and courage, that she did not previously come to exhibit
herself before me. Partly this was desired by me in that lover-like
feeling of admiration already explained, which leads one to court the
sight of a beloved object under every change of dress, and under all
effects of novelty. Partly it was the interest I took in that exhibition
of sweet timidity, and almost childish apprehensiveness, half disguised
or imperfectly acknowledged by herself, which (in the way I have just
explained) so touchingly contrasted with (and for that very reason so
touchingly drew forth) her matronly character. But I hear some objector
say at this point, ought not this very timidity, founded (as in part
at least it was) upon inexperience and conscious inability to face the
dangers of the world, to have suggested reasons for not leaving her to
her own protection? And does it not argue, on my part, an arrogant or
too blind a confidence in the durability of my happiness, as though
charmed against assaults, and liable to no shocks of sudden revolution?
I reply that, from the very constitution of society, and the tone of
manners in the city which we inhabited, there seemed to be a moral
impossibility that any dangers of consequence should meet her in the
course of those brief absences from my protection, which only
were possible; that even to herself any dangers, of a nature to be
anticipated under the known circumstances of the case, seemed almost
imaginary; that even _she_ acknowledged a propriety in being trained, by
slight and brief separations from my guardianship, to face more boldly
those cases of longer separation and of more absolute consignment to her
own resources which circumstances might arise to create necessarily, and
perhaps abruptly. And it is evident that, had she been the wife of any
man engaged in the duties of a profession, she might have been summoned
from the very first, and without the possibility of any such gradual
training, to the necessity of relying almost singly upon her own courage
and discretion. For the other question, whether I did not depend too
blindly and presumptuously upon my good luck in not at least affording
her my protection so long as nothing occurred to make it impossible? I
may reply, most truly, that all my feelings ran naturally in the very
opposite channel. So far from confiding too much in my luck, in the
present instance I was engaged in a task of writing upon some points
of business which could not admit of further delay; but now, and at all
times, I had a secret aversion to seeing so gentle a creature thrown
even for an hour upon her own resources, though in situations which
scarcely seemed to admit of any occasion for taxing those resources;
and often I have felt anger towards myself for what appeared to be an
irrational or effeminate timidity, and have struggled with my own mind
upon occasions like the present, when I knew that I could not have
acknowledged my tremors to a friend without something like shame, and
a fear to excite his ridicule. No; if in anything I ran into excess,
it was in this very point of anxiety as to all that regarded my wife's
security. Her good sense, her prudence, her courage, (for courage she
had in the midst of her timidity,) her dignity of manner, the more
impressive from the childlike character of her countenance, all should
have combined to reassure me, and yet they did not. I was still anxious
for her safety to an irrational extent; and to sum up the whole in a
most weighty line of Shakspeare, I lived under the constant presence of
a feeling which only that great observer of human nature (so far as I
am aware) has ever noticed, viz., that merely the excess of my happiness
made me jealous of its ability to last, and in that extent less capable
of enjoying it; that in fact the prelibation of my tears, as a homage to
its fragility, was drawn forth by my very sense that my felicity was too
exquisite; or, in the words of the great master

  'I wept to have' [absolutely, by anticipation, shed tears in
  possessing] 'what I so feared to lose.'

Thus end my explanations, and I now pursue my narrative: Agnes, as
I have said, came into my room again before leaving the house--we
conversed for five minutes--we parted--she went out--her last words
being that she would return at half-past one o'clock; and not long
after that time, if ever mimic bells--bells of rejoicing, or bells of
mourning, are heard in desert spaces of the air, and (as some have said)
in unreal worlds, that mock our own, and repeat, for ridicule, the vain
and unprofitable motions of man, then too surely, about this hour, began
to toll the funeral knell of my earthly happiness--its final hour had

       *       *       *       *       *

One o'clock had arrived; fifteen minutes after, I strolled into the
garden, and began to look over the little garden-gate in expectation of
every moment descrying Agnes in the distance. Half an hour passed,
and for ten minutes more I was tolerably quiet. From this time till
half-past two I became constantly more agitated--_agitated,_ perhaps, is
too strong a word--but I was restless and anxious beyond what I should
have chosen to acknowledge. Still I kept arguing, What is half an hour?
what is an hour? A thousand things might have occurred to cause that
delay, without needing to suppose any accident; or, if an accident, why
not a very trifling one? She may have slightly hurt her foot--she
may have slightly sprained her ankle. 'Oh, doubtless,' I exclaimed to
myself, 'it will be a mere trifle, or perhaps nothing at all.' But I
remember that, even whilst I was saying this, I took my hat and walked
with nervous haste into the little quiet lane upon which our garden-gate
opened. The lane led by a few turnings, and after a course of about five
hundred yards, into a broad high-road, which even at that day had begun
to assume the character of a street, and allowed an unobstructed
range of view in the direction of the city for at least a mile. Here
I stationed myself, for the air was so clear that I could distinguish
dress and figure to a much greater distance than usual. Even on such a
day, however, the remote distance was hazy and indistinct, and at any
other season I should have been diverted with the various mistakes
I made. From occasional combinations of color, modified by light and
shade, and of course powerfully assisted by the creative state of the
eye under this nervous apprehensiveness, I continued to shape into
images of Agnes forms without end, that upon nearer approach presented
the most grotesque contrasts to her impressive appearance. But I
had ceased even to comprehend the ludicrous; my agitation was now so
overruling and engrossing that I lost even my intellectual sense of it;
and now first I understood practically and feelingly the anguish of hope
alternating with disappointment, as it may be supposed to act upon the
poor shipwrecked seaman, alone and upon a desolate coast, straining his
sight for ever to the fickle element which has betrayed him, but
which only can deliver him, and with his eyes still tracing in the far

  'Ships, dim-discover'd, dropping from the clouds,'--

which a brief interval of suspense still for ever disperses into hollow
pageants of air or vapor. One deception melted away only to be succeeded
by another; still I fancied that at last to a certainty I could descry
the tall figure of Agnes, her gipsy hat, and even the peculiar elegance
of her walk. Often I went so far as to laugh at myself, and even to tax
my recent fears with unmanliness and effeminacy, on recollecting the
audible throbbings of my heart, and the nervous palpitations which had
besieged me; but these symptoms, whether effeminate or not, began to
come back tumultuously under the gloomy doubts that succeeded almost
before I had uttered this self-reproach. Still I found myself mocked
and deluded with false hopes; yet still I renewed my quick walk, and the
intensity of my watch for that radiant form that was fated never more to
be seen returning from the cruel city.

It was nearly half-past three, and therefore close upon two hours
beyond the time fixed by Agnes for her return, when I became absolutely
incapable of supporting the further torture of suspense, and I suddenly
took the resolution of returning home and concerting with my female
servants some energetic measures, though _what_ I could hardly say, on
behalf of their mistress. On entering the garden-gate I met our little
child Francis, who unconsciously inflicted a pang upon me which he
neither could have meditated nor have understood. I passed him at his
play, perhaps even unaware of his presence, but he recalled me to that
perception by crying aloud that he had just seen his mamma.

'When--where?' I asked convulsively.

'Up stairs in her bedroom,' was his instantaneous answer.

His manner was such as forbade me to suppose that he could be joking;
and, as it was barely possible (though, for reasons well known to me,
in the highest degree improbable) that Agnes might have returned by a
by-path, which, leading through a dangerous and disreputable suburb,
would not have coincided at any one point with the public road where I
had been keeping my station. I sprang forward into the house, up stairs,
and in rapid succession into every room where it was likely that she
might be found; but everywhere there was a dead silence, disturbed only
by myself, for, in my growing confusion of thought, I believe that
I rang the bell violently in every room I entered. No such summons,
however, was needed, for the servants, two of whom at the least were
most faithful creatures, and devotedly attached to their young mistress,
stood ready of themselves to come and make inquiries of me as soon as
they became aware of the alarming fact, that I had returned without her.

Until this moment, though having some private reasons for surprise that
she should have failed to come into the house for a minute or two at the
hour prefixed, in order to make some promised domestic arrangements for
the day, they had taken it for granted that she must have met with me at
some distance from home--and that either the extreme beauty of the
day had beguiled her of all petty household recollections, or (as a
conjecture more in harmony with past experiences) that my impatience
and solicitations had persuaded her to lay aside her own plans for the
moment at the risk of some little domestic inconvenience. Now, however,
in a single instant vanished _every_ mode of accounting for their
mistress's absence; and the consternation of our looks communicated
contagiously, by the most unerring of all languages, from each to the
other what thoughts were uppermost in our panic-stricken hearts. If
to any person it should seem that our alarm was disproportioned to the
occasion, and not justified at least by anything as yet made known to
us, let that person consider the weight due to the two following facts:
First, that from the recency of our settlement in this neighborhood, and
from the extreme seclusion of my wife's previous life at a vast distance
from the metropolis, she had positively no friends on her list of
visitors who resided in this great capital; secondly, and far above
all beside, let him remember the awful denunciations, so unexpectedly
tallying with this alarming and mysterious absence, of the Hungarian
prophetess; these had been slighted--almost dismissed from our thoughts;
but now in sudden reaction they came back upon us with a frightful power
to lacerate and to sting--the shadowy outline of a spiritual agency,
such as that which could at all predict the events, combining in one
mysterious effect, with the shadowy outline of those very predictions.
The power, that could have predicted, was as dim and as hard to grasp as
was the precise nature of the evil that had been predicted.

An icy terror froze my blood at this moment when I looked at the
significant glances, too easily understood by me, that were exchanged
between the servants. My mouth had been for the last two hours growing
more and more parched, so that at present, from mere want of moisture,
I could not separate my lips to speak. One of the women saw the vain
efforts I was making, and hastily brought me a glass of water. With the
first recovery of speech, I asked them what little Francis had meant by
saying that he had seen his mother in her bedroom. Their reply was, that
they were as much at a loss to discover his meaning as I was; that he
had made the same assertion to them, and with so much earnestness, that
they had, all in succession, gone up stairs to look for her, and
with the fullest expectation of finding her. This was a mystery which
remained such to the very last; there was no doubt whatsoever that the
child believed himself to have seen his mother; that he could not have
seen her in her human bodily presence, there is as little doubt as there
is, alas! that in this world he never _did_ see her again. The poor
child constantly adhered to his story, and with a circumstantiality
far beyond all power of invention that could be presumed in an
artless infant. Every attempt at puzzling him or entangling him in
contradictions by means of cross-examination was but labor thrown away;
though indeed, it is true enough that for those attempts, as will soon
be seen, there was but a brief interval allowed.

Not dwelling upon this subject at present, I turned to Hannah--a woman
who held the nominal office of cook in our little establishment, but
whose real duties had been much more about her mistress's person--and
with a searching look of appeal I asked her whether, in this moment of
trial, when (as she might see) I was not so perfectly master of myself
as perhaps always to depend upon seeing what was best to be done, she
would consent to accompany me into the city, and take upon herself those
obvious considerations of policy or prudence which might but too easily
escape my mind, darkened, and likely to be darkened, as to its power of
discernment by the hurricane of affliction now too probably at hand. She
answered my appeal with the fervor I expected from what I had already
known of her character. She was a woman of a strong, fiery, perhaps I
might say of heroic mind, supported by a courage that was absolutely
indomitable, and by a strength of bodily frame very unusual in a woman,
and beyond the promise even of her person. She had suffered as deep a
wrench in her own affections as a human being can suffer; she had
lost her one sole child, a fair-haired boy of most striking beauty and
interesting disposition, at the age of seventeen, and by the worst
of all possible fates; he lived (as we did at that time) in a large
commercial city overflowing with profligacy, and with temptations of
every order; he had been led astray; culpable he had been, but by very
much the least culpable of the set into which accident had thrown him,
as regarded acts and probable intentions; and as regarded palliations
from childish years, from total inexperience, or any other alleviating
circumstances that could be urged, having everything to plead--and of
all his accomplices the only one who had anything to plead. Interest,
however, he had little or none; and whilst some hoary villains of the
party, who happened to be more powerfully befriended, were finally
allowed to escape with a punishment little more than nominal, he and two
others were selected as sacrifices to the offended laws. They suffered
capitally. All three behaved well; but the poor boy in particular, with
a courage, a resignation, and a meekness, so distinguished and beyond
his years as to attract the admiration and the liveliest sympathy of
the public universally. If strangers could feel in that way, if the
mere hardened executioner could be melted at the final scene,--it may be
judged to what a fierce and terrific height would ascend the affliction
of a doating mother, constitutionally too fervid in her affections.
I have heard an official person declare, that the spectacle of her
desolation and frantic anguish was the most frightful thing he had ever
witnessed, and so harrowing to the feelings, that all who could by their
rank venture upon such an irregularity, absented themselves during the
critical period from the office which corresponded with the government;
for, as I have said, the affair took place in a large provincial city,
at a great distance from the capital. All who knew this woman, or who
were witnesses to the alteration which one fortnight had wrought in her
person as well as her demeanor, fancied it impossible that she could
continue to live; or that, if she did, it must be through the giving way
of her reason. They proved, however, to be mistaken; or, at least, if
(as some thought) her reason did suffer in some degree, this result
showed itself in the inequality of her temper, in moody fits of
abstraction, and the morbid energy of her manner at times under the
absence of all adequate external excitement, rather than in any positive
and apparent hallucinations of thought. The charm which had mainly
carried off the instant danger to her faculties, was doubtless the
intense sympathy which she met with. And in these offices of consolation
my wife stood foremost. For, and that was fortunate, she had found
herself able, without violence to her own sincerest opinions in the
case, to offer precisely that form of sympathy which was most soothing
to the angry irritation of the poor mother; not only had she shown a
_direct_ interest in the boy, and not a mere interest of _reflection_
from that which she took in the mother, and had expressed it by visits
to his dungeon, and by every sort of attention to his comforts which
his case called for, or the prison regulations allowed; not only had
she wept with the distracted woman as if for a brother of her own; but,
which went farther than all the rest in softening the mother's heart,
she had loudly and indignantly proclaimed her belief in the boy's
innocence, and in the same tone her sense of the crying injustice
committed as to the selection of the victims, and the proportion of the
punishment awarded. Others, in the language of a great poet,

  'Had pitied _her,_ and not her grief;'

they had either not been able to see, or, from carelessness, had
neglected to see, any peculiar wrong done to her in the matter which
occasioned her grief,--but had simply felt compassion for her as for one
summoned, in a regular course of providential and human dispensation,
to face an affliction, heavy in itself, but not heavy from any special
defect of equity. Consequently their very sympathy, being so much
built upon the assumption that an only child had offended to the extent
implied in his sentence, oftentimes clothed itself in expressions which
she felt to be not consolations but insults, and, in fact, so many
justifications of those whom it relieved her overcharged heart to regard
as the very worst of enemies. Agnes, on the other hand, took the very
same view of the case as herself; and, though otherwise the gentlest
of all gentle creatures, yet here, from the generous fervor of her
reverence for justice, and her abhorrence of oppression, she gave
herself no trouble to moderate the energy of her language: nor did I,
on my part, feeling that substantially she was in the right, think it of
importance to dispute about the exact degrees of the wrong done or the
indignation due to it. In this way it happened naturally enough that
at one and the same time, though little contemplating either of these
results, Agnes had done a prodigious service to the poor desolate mother
by breaking the force of her misery, as well as by arming the active
agencies of indignation against the depressing ones of solitary grief,
and for herself had won a most grateful and devoted friend, who would
have gone through fire and water to serve her, and was thenceforwards
most anxious for some opportunity to testify how deep had been her
sense of the goodness shown to her by her benign young mistress, and
how incapable of suffering abatement by time. It remains to add, which
I have slightly noticed before, that this woman was of unusual personal
strength: her bodily frame matched with her intellectual: and I notice
this _now_ with the more emphasis, because I am coming rapidly upon
ground where it will be seen that this one qualification was of more
summary importance to us--did us more 'yeoman's service' at a crisis
the most awful--than other qualities of greater name and pretension.
_Hannah_ was this woman's Christian name; and her name and her memory
are to me amongst the most hallowed of my earthly recollections.

One of her two fellow-servants, known technically amongst us as the
'parlor maid,' was also, but not equally, attached to her mistress; and
merely because her nature, less powerfully formed and endowed, did not
allow her to entertain or to comprehend any service equally fervid of
passion or of impassioned action. She, however, was good, affectionate,
and worthy to be trusted. But a third there was, a nursery maid, and
therefore more naturally and more immediately standing within the
confidence of her mistress--her I could not trust: her I suspected. But
of that hereafter. Meantime, Hannah, she upon whom I leaned as upon a
staff in all which respected her mistress, ran up stairs, after I had
spoken and received her answer, in order hastily to dress and prepare
herself for going out along with me to the city. I did not ask her to
be quick in her movements: I knew there was no need: and, whilst she was
absent, I took up, in one of my fretful movements of nervousness, a book
which was lying upon a side-table: the book fell open of itself at a
particular page; and in that, perhaps, there was nothing extraordinary,
for it was a little portable edition of _Paradise Lost_; and the page
was one which I must naturally have turned to many a time: for to Agnes
I had read all the great masters of literature, especially those of
modern times; so that few people knew the high classics more familiarly:
and as to the passage in question, from its divine beauty I had read it
aloud to her, perhaps, on fifty separate occasions. All this I mention
to take away any appearance of a vulgar attempt to create omens;
but still, in the very act of confessing the simple truth, and thus
weakening the marvellous character of the anecdote, I must notice it as
a strange instance of the '_Sortes Miltonianæ_,'--that precisely at such
a moment as this I should find thrown in my way, should feel tempted
to take up, and should open, a volume containing such a passage as the
following: and observe, moreover, that although the volume, _once being
taken up_, would naturally open where it had been most frequently
read, there were, however, many passages which had been read _as_
frequently--or more so. The particular passage upon which I opened
at this moment was that most beautiful one in which the fatal morning
separation is described between Adam and his bride--that separation so
pregnant with wo, which eventually proved the occasion of the mortal
transgression--the last scene between our first parents at which both
were innocent and both were happy--although the superior intellect
already felt, and, in the slight altercation preceding this separation,
had already expressed a dim misgiving of some coming change: these are
the words, and in depth of pathos they have rarely been approached:--

  'Oft he to her his charge of quick return
  Repeated; she to him as oft engag'd
  To be returned by noon amid the bow'r,
  And all things in best order to invite
  Noon-tide repast, or afternoon's repose.
  Oh much deceived, much failing, hapless Eve!
  Of thy presumed return, event perverse!
  Thou never from that hour in Paradise
  Found'st either sweet repast, or sound repose.'

'_My_ Eve!' I exclaimed, 'partner in _my_ paradise, where art thou?
_Much failing_ thou wilt not be found, nor _much deceived_; innocent in
any case thou art; but, alas! too surely by this time _hapless_, and the
victim of some diabolic wickedness.' Thus I murmured to myself; thus I
ejaculated; thus I apostrophized my Agnes; then again came a stormier
mood. I could not sit still; I could not stand in quiet; I threw the
book from me with violence against the wall; I began to hurry backwards
and forwards in a short uneasy walk, when suddenly a sound, a step; it
was the sound of the garden-gate opening, followed by a hasty tread.
Whose tread? Not for a moment could it be fancied the oread step which
belonged to that daughter of the hills--my wife, my Agnes; no, it was
the dull massy tread of a man: and immediately there came a loud blow
upon the door, and in the next moment, the bell having been found, a
furious peal of ringing. Oh coward heart! not for a lease of immortality
could I have gone forwards myself. My breath failed me; an interval
came in which respiration seemed to be stifled--the blood to halt in its
current; and then and there I recognised in myself the force and living
truth of that Scriptural description of a heart consciously beset by
evil without escape: 'Susannah _sighed_.' Yes, a long, long sigh--a
deep, deep sigh--that is, the natural language by which the over-charged
heart utters forth the wo that else would break it. I sighed--oh how
profoundly! But that did not give me power to move. Who will go to the
door? I whispered audibly. Who is at the door? was the inaudible whisper
of my heart. Then might be seen the characteristic differences of the
three women. That one, whom I suspected, I heard raising an upper window
to look out and reconnoitre. The affectionate Rachael, on the other
hand, ran eagerly down stairs; but Hannah, half dressed, even her
bosom exposed, passed her like a storm; and before I heard any sound of
opening a door, I saw from the spot where I stood the door already wide
open, and a man in the costume of a policeman. All that he said I could
not hear; but this I heard--that I was wanted at the police office, and
had better come off without delay. He seemed then to get a glimpse of
me, and to make an effort towards coming nearer; but I slunk away, and
left to Hannah the task of drawing from him any circumstances which he
might know. But apparently there was not much to tell, or rather, said
I, there is too much, the _much_ absorbs the _many_; some one mighty
evil transcends and quells all particulars. At length the door was
closed, and the man was gone. Hannah crept slowly along the passage, and
looked in hesitatingly. Her very movements and stealthy pace testified
that she had heard nothing which, even by comparison, she could think
good news. 'Tell me not now, Hannah,' I said; 'wait till we are in the
open air.' She went up stairs again. How short seemed the time till she
descended! how I longed for further respite! 'Hannah!' I said at length
when we were fairly moving upon the road, 'Hannah! I am too sure you
have nothing good to tell. But now tell me the worst, and let that be in
the fewest words possible.'

'Sir,' she said, 'we had better wait until we reach the office; for
really I could not understand the man. He says that my mistress is
detained upon some charge; but _what_, I could not at all make out. He
was a man that knew something of you, Sir, I believe, and he wished to
be civil, and kept saying, "Oh! I dare say it will turn out nothing
at all, many such charges are made idly and carelessly, and some
maliciously." "But what charges?" I cried, and then he wanted to speak
privately to you. But I told him that of all persons he must not speak
to you, if he had anything painful to tell; for that you were too much
disturbed already, and had been for some hours, out of anxiety and
terror about my mistress, to bear much more. So, when he heard that, he
was less willing to speak freely than before. He might prove wrong, he
said; he might give offence; things might turn out far otherwise than
according to first appearances; for his part, he could not believe
anything amiss of so sweet a lady. And after all, it would be better to
wait till we reached the office.'

Thus much then was clear--Agnes was under some accusation. This was
already worse than the worst I had anticipated. 'And then,' said I,
thinking aloud to Hannah, 'one of two things is apparent to me; either
the accusation is one of pure hellish malice, without a color of
probability or the shadow of a foundation, and that way, alas! I am
driven in my fears by that Hungarian woman's prophecy; or, which but for
my desponding heart I should be more inclined to think, the charge
has grown out of my poor wife's rustic ignorance as to the usages then
recently established by law with regard to the kind of money that could
be legally tendered. This, however, was a suggestion that did not tend
to alleviate my anxiety; and my nervousness had mounted to a painful,
almost to a disabling degree, by the time we reached the office. Already
on our road thither some parties had passed us who were conversing with
eagerness upon the case: so much we collected from the many and ardent
expressions about 'the lady's beauty,' though the rest of such words as
we could catch were ill calculated to relieve my suspense. This,
then, at least, was certain--that my poor timid Agnes had already been
exhibited before a tumultuous crowd; that her name and reputation had
gone forth as a subject of discussion for the public; and that the
domestic seclusion and privacy within which it was her matronly
privilege to move had already undergone a rude violation.

The office, and all the purlieus of the office, were occupied by a dense
crowd. That, perhaps, was always the case, more or less, at this time
of day; but at present the crowd was manifestly possessed by a more than
ordinary interest; and there was a unity in this possessing interest;
all were talking on the same subject, the case in which Agnes had so
recently appeared in some character or other; and by this time it became
but too certain in the character of an accused person. Pity was the
prevailing sentiment amongst the mob; but the opinions varied much as to
the probable criminality of the prisoner. I made my way into the office.
The presiding magistrates had all retired for the afternoon, and would
not reassemble until eight o'clock in the evening. Some clerks only
or officers of the court remained, who were too much harassed by
applications for various forms and papers connected with the routine of
public business, and by other official duties which required signatures
or attestations, to find much leisure for answering individual
questions. Some, however, listened with a marked air of attention to my
earnest request for the circumstantial details of the case, but finally
referred me to a vast folio volume, in which were entered all the
charges, of whatever nature, involving any serious tendency--in fact,
all that exceeded a misdemeanor--in the regular chronological succession
according to which they came before the magistrate. Here, in this vast
calendar of guilt and misery, amidst the _aliases_ or cant designations
of ruffians, prostitutes, felons, stood the description, at full length,
Christian and surnames all properly registered, of my Agnes--of her
whose very name had always sounded to my ears like the very echo of
mountain innocence, purity, and pastoral simplicity. Here in another
column stood the name and residence of her accuser. I shall call him
_Barratt_, for that was amongst his names, and a name by which he had at
one period of his infamous life been known to the public, though not his
principal name, or the one which he had thought fit to assume at
this era. James Barratt, then, as I shall here call him, was a
haberdasher--keeping a large and conspicuous shop in a very crowded and
what was then considered a fashionable part of the city. The charge was
plain and short. Did I live to read it? It accused Agnes M---- of having
on that morning secreted in her muff, and feloniously carried away, a
valuable piece of Mechlin lace, the property of James Barratt. And the
result of the first examination was thus communicated in a separate
column, written in red ink--'Remanded to the second day after to-morrow
for final examination.' Everything in this sin-polluted register was
in manuscript; but at night the records of each day were regularly
transferred to a printed journal, enlarged by comments and explanatory
descriptions from some one of the clerks, whose province it was to
furnish this intelligence to the public journals. On that same night,
therefore, would go forth to the world such an account of the case, and
such a description of my wife's person, as would inevitably summon
to the next exhibition of her misery, as by special invitation and
advertisement, the whole world of this vast metropolis--the idle, the
curious, the brutal, the hardened amateur in spectacles of wo, and the
benign philanthropist who frequents such scenes with the purpose of
carrying alleviation to their afflictions. All alike, whatever might
be their motives or the spirit of their actions, would rush (as to
some grand festival of curiosity and sentimental luxury) to this public
martyrdom of my innocent wife.

Meantime, what was the first thing to be done? Manifestly, to see Agnes:
her account of the affair might suggest the steps to be taken. Prudence,
therefore, at any rate, prescribed this course; and my heart would not
have tolerated any other. I applied, therefore, at once, for information
as to the proper mode of effecting this purpose without delay. What
was my horror at learning that, by a recent regulation of all the
police-offices, under the direction of the public minister who presided
over that department of the national administration, no person could be
admitted to an interview with any accused party during the progress of
the official examinations; or, in fact, until the final committal of
the prisoner for trial. This rule was supposed to be attended by great
public advantages, and had rarely been relaxed--never, indeed, without a
special interposition of the police minister authorizing its suspension.
But was the exclusion absolute and universal? Might not, at least,
a female servant, simply as the bearer of such articles as were
indispensable to female delicacy and comfort, have access to her
mistress? No; the exclusion was total and unconditional. To argue the
point was manifestly idle; the subordinate officers had no discretion in
the matter; nor, in fact, had any other official person, whatever were
his rank, except the supreme one; and to him I neither had any obvious
means of introduction, nor (in case of obtaining such an introduction)
any chance of success; for the spirit of the rule, I foresaw it would be
answered, applied with especial force to cases like the present.

Mere human feelings of pity, sympathy with my too visible agitation,
superadded to something of perhaps reverence for the blighting misery
that was now opening its artillery upon me--for misery has a privilege,
and everywhere is felt to be a holy thing--had combined to procure for
me some attention and some indulgence hitherto. Answers had been given
with precision, explanations made at length, and anxiety shown
to satisfy my inquiries. But this could not last; the inexorable
necessities of public business coming back in a torrent upon the
official people after this momentary interruption, forbade them to
indulge any further consideration for an individual case, and I saw that
I must not stay any longer. I was rapidly coming to be regarded as a
hinderance to the movement of public affairs; and the recollection
that I might again have occasion for some appeal to these men in their
official characters, admonished me not to abuse my privilege of the
moment. After returning thanks, therefore, for the disposition shown to
oblige me, I retired.

Slowly did I and Hannah retrace our steps. Hannah sustained, in the tone
of her spirits, by the extremity of her anger, a mood of feeling which
I did not share. Indignation was to her in the stead of consolation and
hope. I, for my part, could not seek even a momentary shelter from my
tempestuous affliction in that temper of mind. The man who could accuse
my Agnes, and accuse her of such a crime, I felt to be a monster; and
in my thoughts he was already doomed to a bloody atonement (atonement!
alas! what atonement!) whenever the time arrived that _her_ cause would
not be prejudiced, or the current of public feeling made to turn in his
favor by investing him with the semblance of an injured or suffering
person. So much was settled in my thoughts with the stern serenity of a
decree issuing from a judgment-seat. But that gave no relief, no shadow
of relief, to the misery which was now consuming me. Here was an end, in
one hour, to the happiness of a life. In one hour it had given way, root
and branch--had melted like so much frost-work, or a pageant of vapory
exhalations. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, and yet for ever
and ever, I comprehended the total ruin of my situation. The case, as
others might think, was yet in suspense; and there was room enough for
very rational hopes, especially where there was an absolute certainty of
innocence. Total freedom from all doubt on that point seemed to justify
almost more than hopes. This might be said, and most people would have
been more or less consoled by it. I was not. I felt as certain, as
irredeemably, as hopelessly certain of the final results as though I
had seen the record in the books of Heaven. 'Hope nothing,' I said to
myself; 'think not of hope in this world, but think only how best to
walk steadily, and not to reel like a creature wanting discourse of
reason, or incapable of religious hopes under the burden which it has
pleased God to impose, and which in this life cannot be shaken off. The
countenance of man is made to look upward and to the skies. Thither also
point henceforwards your heart and your thoughts. Never again let your
thoughts travel earthwards. Settle them on the heavens, to which your
Agnes is already summoned. The call is clear, and not to be mistaken.
Little in _her_ fate now depends upon you, or upon anything that man
can do. Look, therefore, to yourself; see that you make not shipwreck
of your heavenly freight because your earthly freight is lost; and miss
not, by any acts of wild and presumptuous despair, that final reunion
with your Agnes, which can only be descried through vistas that open
through the heavens.'

Such were the thoughts, thoughts often made audible, which came
spontaneously like oracles from afar, as I strode homewards with Hannah
by my side. Her, meantime, I seemed to hear; for at times I seemed and
I intended to answer her. But answer her I did not; for not ten words of
all that she said did I really and consciously hear. How I went through
that night is more entirely a blank in my memory, more entirely a
chapter of chaos and the confusion of chaos, than any other passage
the most impressive in my life. If I even slumbered for a moment, as at
intervals I did sometimes, though never sitting down, but standing
or pacing about throughout the night, and if in this way I attained a
momentary respite from self-consciousness, no sooner had I reached this
enviable state of oblivion, than some internal sting of irritation
_as_ rapidly dispersed the whole fickle fabric of sleep; and as if the
momentary trance--this fugitive beguilement of my wo--had been conceded
by a demon's subtle malice only with the purpose of barbing the pang,
by thus forcing it into a stronger relief through the insidious peace
preceding it. It is a well known and most familiar experience to all
the sons and daughters of affliction, that under no circumstances is the
piercing, lancinating torment of a recent calamity felt so keenly as in
the first moments of awaking in the morning from the night's slumbers.
Just at the very instant when the clouds of sleep, and the whole
fantastic illusions of dreaminess are dispersing, just as the
realities of life are re-assuming their steadfast forms--re-shaping
themselves--and settling anew into those fixed relations which they are
to preserve throughout the waking hours; in that particular crisis of
transition from the unreal to the real, the wo which besieges the brain
and the life-springs at the heart rushes in afresh amongst the other
crowd of realities, and has at the moment of restoration literally the
force and liveliness of a new birth--the very same pang, and no whit
feebler, as that which belonged to it when it was first made known. From
the total hush of oblivion which had buried it and sealed it up, as it
were, during the sleeping hours, it starts into sudden life on our
first awaking, and is to all intents and purposes a new and not an
old affliction--one which brings with it the old original shock which
attended its first annunciation.

That night--that first night of separation from my wife--_how_ it
passed, I know not; I know only _that_ it passed, I being in our common
bed-chamber, that holiest of all temples that are consecrated to human
attachments, whenever the heart is pure of man and woman, and the love
is strong--I being in that bedchamber, once the temple now the sepulchre
of our happiness,--I there, and my wife--my innocent wife--in a dungeon.
As the morning light began to break, somebody knocked at the door; it
was Hannah: she took my hand--misery levels all feeble distinctions of
station, sex, age--she noticed my excessive feverishness, and gravely
remonstrated with me upon the necessity there was that I should maintain
as much health as possible for the sake of 'others,' if not for myself.
She then brought me some tea, which refreshed me greatly; for I
had tasted nothing at all beyond a little water since the preceding
morning's breakfast. This refreshment seemed to relax and thaw the stiff
frozen state of cheerless, rayless despair in which I had passed the
night; I became susceptible of consolation--that consolation which lies
involved in kindness and gentleness of manner--if not susceptible more
than before of any positive hope. I sat down; and, having no witnesses
to my weakness but this kind and faithful woman, I wept, and I found a
relief in tears; and she, with the ready sympathy of woman, wept along
with me. All at once she ventured upon the circumstances (so far as she
had been able to collect them from the reports of those who had been
present at the examination) of our calamity. There was little indeed
either to excite or to gratify any interest or curiosity separate from
the _personal_ interest inevitably connected with a case to which there
were two such parties as a brutal, sensual, degraded ruffian, on one
side in character of accuser, and on the other as defendant, a meek
angel of a woman, timid and fainting from the horrors of her situation,
and under the licentious gaze of the crowd--yet, at the same time, bold
in conscious innocence, and in the very teeth of the suspicions which
beset her, winning the good opinion, as well as the good wishes of all
who saw her. There had been at this first examination little for her to
say beyond the assigning her name, age, and place of abode; and here
it was fortunate that her own excellent good sense concurred with
her perfect integrity and intuitive hatred of all indirect or crooked
courses in prompting her to an undisguised statement of the simple
truth, without a momentary hesitation or attempt either at evasion or
suppression. With equally good intentions in similar situations many a
woman has seriously injured her cause by slight evasions of the entire
truth, where nevertheless her only purpose has been the natural and
ingenuous one of seeking to save the reputation untainted of a name
which she felt to have been confided to her keeping. The purpose was an
honorable one, but erroneously pursued. Agnes fell into no such error.
She answered calmly, simply, and truly, to every question put by the
magistrates; and beyond _that_ there was little opportunity for her to
speak; the whole business of this preliminary examination being confined
to the deposition of the accuser as to the circumstances under which he
alleged the act of felonious appropriation to have taken place. These
circumstances were perfectly uninteresting, considered in themselves;
but amongst them was one which to us had the most shocking interest,
from the absolute proof thus furnished of a deep-laid plot against
Agnes. But for this one circumstance there would have been a possibility
that the whole had originated in error--error growing out of and
acting upon a nature originally suspicious, and confirmed perhaps by
an unfortunate experience. And in proportion as that was possible, the
chances increased that the accuser might, as the examinations advanced,
and the winning character of the accused party began to develop itself,
begin to see his error, and to retract his own over-hasty suspicions.
But now we saw at a glance that for this hope there was no countenance
whatever, since one solitary circumstance sufficed to establish a
conspiracy. The deposition bore--that the lace had been secreted and
afterwards detected in a muff; now it was a fact as well known to both
of us as the fact of Agnes having gone out at all--that she had laid
aside her winter's dress for the first time on this genial sunny day.
Muff she had not at the time, nor could have had appropriately from the
style of her costume in other respects. What was the effect upon us of
this remarkable discovery! Of course there died at once the hope of any
abandonment by the prosecutor of his purpose; because here was proof of
a predetermined plot. This hope died at once; but then, as it was one
which never had presented itself to my mind, I lost nothing by which I
had ever been solaced. On the other hand, it will be obvious that a new
hope at the same time arose to take its place, viz., the reasonable one
that by this single detection, if once established, we might raise a
strong presumption of conspiracy, and moreover that, as a leading fact
or clue, it might serve to guide us in detecting others. Hannah
was sanguine in this expectation; and for a moment her hopes were
contagiously exciting to mine. But the hideous despondency which in
my mind had settled upon the whole affair from the very first, the
superstitious presentiment I had of a total blight brooding over the
entire harvest of my life and its promises, (tracing itself originally,
I am almost ashamed to own, up to that prediction of the Hungarian
woman)--denied me steady light, anything--all in short but a wandering
ray of hope. It was right, of course, nay, indispensable, that the
circumstance of the muff should be strongly insisted upon at the
next examination, pressed against the prosecutor, and sifted to the
uttermost. An able lawyer would turn this to a triumphant account; and
it would be admirable as a means of pre-engaging the good opinion as
well as the sympathies of the public in behalf of the prisoner. But,
for its final effect--my conviction remained, not to be shaken, that all
would be useless; that our doom had gone forth, and was irrevocable.

Let me not linger too much over those sad times. Morning came on as
usual; for it is strange, but true, that to the very wretched it seems
wonderful that times and seasons should keep their appointed courses
in the midst of such mighty overthrows, and such interruption to the
courses of their own wonted happiness and their habitual expectations.
Why should morning and night, why should all movements in the natural
world be so regular, whilst in the moral world all is so irregular
and anomalous? Yet the sun and the moon rise and set as usual upon the
mightiest revolutions of empire and of worldly fortune that this planet
ever beholds; and it is sometimes even a comfort to know that this will
be the case. A great criminal, sentenced to an agonizing punishment,
has derived a fortitude and a consolation from recollecting that the
day would run its inevitable course--that a day after all was _but_
a day--that the mighty wheel of alternate light and darkness must and
would revolve--and that the evening star would rise as usual, and shine
with its untroubled lustre upon the dust and ashes of what _had_ indeed
suffered, and so recently, the most bitter pangs, but would then have
ceased to suffer. 'La Journée,' said Damien,

  'La journée sera dure, mais elle se passera.'

'----_Se passera_:' yes, that is true, I whispered to myself; my day
also, my season of trial will be hard to bear; but that also will have
an end; that also '_se passera_.' Thus I talked or thought so long as I
thought at all; for the hour was now rapidly approaching, when thinking
in any shape would for some time be at an end for me.

That day, as the morning advanced, I went again, accompanied by Hannah,
to the police court and to the prison--a vast, ancient, in parts
ruinous, and most gloomy pile of building. In those days the
administration of justice was, if not more corrupt, certainly in its
inferior departments by far more careless than it is at present, and
liable to thousands of interruptions and mal-practices, supporting
themselves upon old traditionary usages which required at least half
a century, and the shattering everywhere given to old systems by the
French Revolution, together with the universal energy of mind applied
to those subjects over the whole length and breadth of Christendom, to
approach with any effectual reforms. Knowing this, and having myself had
direct personal cognisance of various cases in which bribery had been
applied with success, I was not without considerable hope that perhaps
Hannah and myself might avail ourselves of this irregular passport
through the gates of the prison. And, had the new regulation been of
somewhat longer standing, there is little doubt that I should have been
found right; unfortunately, as yet it had all the freshness of newborn
vigor, and kept itself in remembrance by the singular irritation it
excited. Besides this, it was a pet novelty of one particular minister,
new to the possession of power, anxious to distinguish himself, proud
of his creative functions within the range of his office, and very
sensitively jealous on the point of opposition to his mandates. Vain,
therefore, on this day were all my efforts to corrupt the jailers; and,
in fact, anticipating a time when I might have occasion to corrupt some
of them for a more important purpose and on a larger scale, I did not
think it prudent to proclaim my character beforehand as one who tampered
with such means, and thus to arm against myself those jealousies in
official people, which it was so peculiarly important that I should keep

All that day, however, I lingered about the avenues and vast courts
in the precincts of the prison, and near one particular wing of the
building, which had been pointed out to me by a jailer as the section
allotted to those who were in the situation of Agnes; that is, waiting
their final commitment for trial. The building generally he could
indicate with certainty, but he professed himself unable to indicate
the particular part of it which 'the young woman brought in on the day
previous' would be likely to occupy; consequently he could not point
out the window from which her cell (her '_cell_!' what a word!) would be
lighted. 'But, master,' he went on to say, 'I would advise nobody to try
that game.' He looked with an air so significant, and at the same time
used a gesture so indicative of private understanding, that I at
once apprehended his meaning, and assured him that he had altogether
misconstrued my drift; that, as to attempts at escape, or at any mode of
communicating with the prisoner from the outside, I trusted all _that_
was perfectly needless; and that at any rate in my eyes it was perfectly
hopeless. 'Well, master,' he replied, 'that's neither here nor there.
You've come down handsomely, that I _will_ say; and where a gentleman
acts like a gentleman, and behaves himself as such, I'm not the man to
go and split upon him for a word. To be sure it's quite nat'ral that a
gentleman--put case that a young woman is his fancy woman--it's nothing
but nat'ral that he should want to get her out of such an old rat-hole
as this, where many's the fine-timbered creature, both he and she, that
has lain to rot, and has never got out of the old trap at all, first
or last'----'How so?' I interrupted him; 'surely they don't detain the
corpses of prisoners?' 'Ay, but mind you--put case that he or that she
should die in this rat-trap before sentence is past, why then the prison
counts them as its own children, and buries them in its own chapel--that
old stack of pigeon-holes that you see up yonder to the right hand.' So
then, after all, thought I, if my poor Agnes should, in her desolation
and solitary confinement to these wretched walls, find her frail
strength give way--should the moral horrors of her situation work their
natural effect upon her health, and she should chance to die within this
dungeon, here within this same dungeon will she lie to the resurrection,
and in that case her prison-doors have already closed upon her for
ever. The man, who perhaps had some rough kindness in his nature,
though tainted by the mercenary feelings too inevitably belonging to
his situation, seemed to guess at the character of my ruminations by the
change of my countenance, for he expressed some pity for my being 'in
so much trouble;' and it seemed to increase his respect for me that this
trouble should be directed to the case of a woman, for he appeared
to have a manly sense of the peculiar appeal made to the honor and
gallantry of man, by the mere general fact of the feebleness and the
dependence of woman. I looked at him more attentively in consequence of
the feeling tone in which he now spoke, and was surprised that I had not
more particularly noticed him before; he was a fine looking, youngish
man, with a bold Robin-hood style of figure and appearance; and, morally
speaking, he was absolutely transfigured to my eyes by the effect worked
upon him for the moment, through the simple calling up of his better
nature. However, he recurred to his cautions about the peril in a legal
sense of tampering with the windows, bolts, and bars of the old decaying
prison; which, in fact, precisely according to the degree in which its
absolute power over its prisoners was annually growing less and less,
grew more and more jealous of its own reputation, and punished the
attempts to break loose with the more severity, in exact proportion as
they were the more tempting by the chances of success. I persisted in
disowning any schemes of the sort, and especially upon the ground of
their hopelessness. But this, on the other hand, was a ground that in
his inner thoughts he treated with scorn; and I could easily see that,
with a little skilful management of opportunity, I might, upon occasion,
draw from him all the secrets he knew as to the special points of
infirmity in this old ruinous building. For the present, and until it
should certainly appear that there was some use to be derived from
this species of knowledge, I forbore to raise superfluous suspicions
by availing myself further of his communicative disposition. Taking,
however, the precaution of securing his name, together with his
particular office and designation in the prison, I parted from him as
if to go home, but in fact to resume my sad roamings up and down the
precincts of the jail.

What made these precincts much larger than otherwise they would have
been, was the circumstance that, by a usage derived from older days,
both criminal prisoners and those who were prisoners for debt, equally
fell under the custody of this huge caravanserai for the indifferent
reception of crime, of misdemeanor, and of misfortune. And those who
came under the two first titles, were lodged here through all stages of
their connection with public justice; alike when mere objects of vague
suspicion to the police, when under examination upon a specific charge,
when fully committed for trial, when convicted and under sentence,
awaiting the execution of that sentence, and, in a large proportion of
cases, even through their final stage of punishment, when it happened
to be of any nature compatible with in-door confinement. Hence it arose
that the number of those who haunted the prison gates, with or without
a title to admission, was enormous; all the relatives, or more properly
the acquaintances and connections of the criminal population within
the prison, being swelled by all the families of needy debtors who came
daily, either to offer the consolation of their society, or to diminish
their common expenditure by uniting their slender establishments. One
of the rules applied to the management of this vast multitude that were
every day candidates for admission was, that to save the endless trouble
as well as risk, perhaps, of opening and shutting the main gates
to every successive arrival, periodic intervals were fixed for the
admission by wholesale; and as these periods came round every two hours,
it would happen at many parts of the day that vast crowds accumulated
waiting for the next opening of the gate. These crowds were assembled
in two or three large outer courts, in which also were many stalls and
booths, kept there upon some local privilege of ancient inheritance,
or upon some other plea made good by gifts or bribes--some by Jews
and others by Christians, perhaps equally Jewish. Superadded to these
stationary elements of this miscellaneous population, were others drawn
thither by pure motives of curiosity, so that altogether an almost
permanent mob was gathered together in these courts; and amid this mob
it was,--from I know not what definite motive, partly because I thought
it probable that amongst these people I should hear the cause of Agnes
peculiarly the subject of conversation; and so, in fact, it did really
happen,--but partly, and even more, I believe, because I now awfully
began to shrink from solitude. Tumult I must have, and distraction of
thought. Amid this mob, I say, it was that I passed two days. Feverish I
had been from the first--and from bad to worse, in such a case, was, at
any rate, a natural progress; but, perhaps, also amongst this crowd of
the poor, the abjectly wretched, the ill-fed, the desponding, and the
dissolute, there might be very naturally a larger body of contagion
lurking than according to their mere numerical expectations. There was
at that season a very extensive depopulation going on in some quarters
of this great metropolis, and in other cities of the same empire, by
means of a very malignant typhus. This fever is supposed to be the
peculiar product of jails; and though it had not as yet been felt as
a scourge and devastator of this particular jail, or at least the
consequent mortality had been hitherto kept down to a moderate amount,
yet it was highly probable that a certain quantity of contagion, much
beyond the proportion of other popular assemblages less uniformly
wretched in their composition, was here to be found all day long; and
doubtless my excited state, and irritable habit of body, had offered
a peculiar predisposition that favored the rapid development of this
contagion. However this might be, the result was, that on the evening
of the second day which I spent in haunting the purlieus of the prison,
(consequently the night preceding the second public examination of
Agnes,) I was attacked by ardent fever in such unmitigated fury, that
before morning I had lost all command of my intellectual faculties. For
some weeks I became a pitiable maniac, and in every sense the wreck of
my former self; and seven entire weeks, together with the better half of
an eighth week, had passed over my head whilst I lay unconscious of time
and its dreadful freight of events, excepting in so far as my disordered
brain, by its fantastic coinages, created endless mimicries and
mockeries of these events--less substantial, but oftentimes less
afflicting, or less agitating. It would have been well for me had my
destiny decided that I was not to be recalled to this world of wo. But
I had no such happiness in store. I recovered, and through twenty and
eight years my groans have recorded the sorrow I feel that I did.

       *       *       *       *       *

I shall not rehearse circumstantially, and point by point, the sad
unfolding, as it proceeded through successive revelations to me, of all
which had happened during my state of physical incapacity. When I first
became aware that my wandering senses had returned to me, and knew, by
the cessation of all throbbings, and the unutterable pains that had
so long possessed my brain, that I was now returning from the gates of
death, a sad confusion assailed me as to some indefinite cloud of evil
that had been hovering over me at the time when I first fell into a
state of insensibility. For a time I struggled vainly to recover the
lost connection of my thoughts, and I endeavored ineffectually to
address myself to sleep. I opened my eyes, but found the glare of light
painful beyond measure. Strength, however, it seemed to me that I had,
and more than enough, to raise myself out of bed. I made the attempt,
but fell back, almost giddy with the effort. At the sound of the
disturbance which I had thus made, a woman whom I did not know came from
behind a curtain, and spoke to me. Shrinking from any communication
with a stranger, especially one whose discretion I could not estimate in
making discoveries to me with the requisite caution, I asked her simply
what o'clock it was.

'Eleven in the forenoon,' she replied.

'And what day of the month?'

'The second,' was her brief answer.

I felt almost a sense of shame in adding--; 'The second! but of what

'Of June,' was the startling rejoinder.

On the 8th of April I had fallen ill, and it was now actually the 2d
of June. Oh! sickening calculation! revolting register of hours! for in
that same moment which brought back this one recollection, perhaps by
steadying my brain, rushed back in a torrent all the other dreadful
remembrances of the period, and now the more so, because, though the
event was still uncertain as regarded my knowledge, it must have become
dreadfully certain as regarded the facts of the case, and the happiness
of all who were concerned. Alas! one little circumstance too painfully
assured me that this event had not been a happy one. Had Agnes been
restored to her liberty and her home, where would she have been
found but watching at my bed-side? That too certainly I knew, and the
inference was too bitter to support.

On this same day, some hours afterwards, upon Hannah's return from the
city, I received from her, and heard with perfect calmness, the whole
sum of evil which awaited me. Little Francis--she took up her tale at
that point--'was with God:' so she expressed herself. He had died of the
same fever which had attacked me--had died and been buried nearly
five weeks before. Too probably he had caught the infection from me.
Almost--such are the caprices of human feeling--almost I could have
rejoiced that this young memorial of my vanished happiness had vanished
also. It gave me a pang, nevertheless, that the grave should thus have
closed upon him before I had seen his fair little face again. But I
steeled my heart to hear worse things than this. Next she went on to
inform me that already, on the first or second day of our calamity, she
had taken upon herself, without waiting for authority, on observing the
rapid approaches of illness in me, and arguing the state of helplessness
which would follow, to write off at once a summons in the most urgent
terms to the brother of my wife. This gentleman, whom I shall call
Pierpoint, was a high-spirited, generous young man as I have ever known.
When I say that he was a sportsman, that at one season of the year he
did little else than pursue his darling amusement of fox-hunting, for
which indeed he had almost a maniacal passion--saying this, I shall
already have prejudged him in the opinions of many, who fancy all such
persons the slaves of corporeal enjoyments. But, with submission, the
truth lies the other way. According to my experience, people of these
habits have their bodies more than usually under their command, as being
subdued by severe exercise; and their minds, neither better nor worse on
an average than those of their neighbors, are more available from being
so much more rarely clogged by morbid habits in that uneasy yoke-fellow
of the intellectual part--the body. He at all events was a man to
justify in his own person this way of thinking; for he was a man not
only of sound, but even of bold and energetic intellect, and in all
moral respects one whom any man might feel proud to call his friend.
This young man, Pierpoint, without delay obeyed the summons; and on
being made acquainted with what had already passed, the first step he
took was to call upon Barratt, and without further question than what
might ascertain his identity, he proceeded to inflict upon him a severe
horsewhipping. A worse step on his sister's account he could not have
taken. Previously to this the popular feeling had run strongly against
Barratt, but now its unity was broken. A new element was introduced
into the question: Democratic feelings were armed against this outrage;
gentlemen and nobles, it was said, thought themselves not amenable
to justice; and again, the majesty of the law was offended at this
intrusion upon an affair already under solemn course of adjudication.
Everything, however, passes away under the healing hand of time, and
this also faded from the public mind. People remembered also that he
was a brother, and in that character, at any rate, had a right to some
allowances for his intemperance; and what quickened the oblivion of the
affair was, which in itself was sufficiently strange, that Barratt did
not revive the case in the public mind by seeking legal reparation for
his injuries. It was, however, still matter of regret that Pierpoint
should have indulged himself in this movement of passion, since
undoubtedly it broke and disturbed the else uniform stream of public
indignation, by investing the original aggressor with something like the
character of an injured person; and therefore with some set-off to plead
against his own wantonness of malice;--his malice might now assume the
nobler aspect of revenge.

Thus far, in reporting the circumstances, Hannah had dallied--thus far
I had rejoiced that she dallied, with the main burden of the wo; but now
there remained nothing to dally with any longer--and she rushed along in
her narrative, hurrying to tell--I hurrying to hear. A second, a third
examination had ensued, then a final committal--all this within a week.
By that time all the world was agitated with the case; literally not
the city only, vast as that city was, but the nation was convulsed and
divided into parties upon the question, Whether the prosecution were one
of mere malice or not? The very government of the land was reported to
be equally interested, and almost equally divided in opinion. In this
state of public feeling came the trial. Image to yourself, oh reader,
whosoever you are, the intensity of the excitement which by that time
had arisen in all people to be spectators of the scene--then image to
yourself the effect of all this, a perfect consciousness that in
herself as a centre was settled the whole mighty interest of
the exhibition--that interest again of so dubious and mixed a
character--sympathy in some with mere misfortune--sympathy in others
with female frailty and guilt, not perhaps founded upon an absolute
unwavering belief in her innocence, even amongst those who were most
loud and positive as partisans in affirming it,--and then remember that
all this hideous scenical display and notoriety settled upon one whose
very nature, constitutionally timid, recoiled with the triple agony of
womanly shame--of matronly dignity--of insulted innocence, from every
mode and shape of public display. Combine all these circumstances and
elements of the case, and you may faintly enter into the situation of my
poor Agnes. Perhaps the best way to express it at once is by recurring
to the case of a young female Christian martyr, in the early ages of
Christianity, exposed in the bloody amphitheatre of Rome or Verona, to
'fight with wild beasts,' as it was expressed in mockery--she to fight
the lamb to fight with lions! But in reality the young martyr _had_
a fight to maintain, and a fight (in contempt of that cruel mockery)
fiercer than the fiercest of her persecutors could have faced
perhaps--the combat with the instincts of her own shrinking, trembling,
fainting nature. Such a fight had my Agnes to maintain; and at that time
there was a large party of gentlemen in whom the gentlemanly instinct
was predominant, and who felt so powerfully the cruel indignities of her
situation, that they made a public appeal in her behalf. One thing, and
a strong one, which they said, was this:--'We all talk and move in this
case as if, because the question appears doubtful to some people, and
the accused party to some people wears a doubtful character, it would
follow that she therefore had in reality a mixed character composed in
joint proportions of the best and the worst that is imputed to her. But
let us not forget that this mixed character belongs not to her, but
to the infirmity of our human judgments--_they_ are mixed--_they_ are
dubious--but she is not--she is, or she is not, guilty--there is no
middle case--and let us consider for a single moment, that if this young
lady (as many among us heartily believe) _is_ innocent, then and upon
that supposition let us consider how cruel we should all think the
public exposure which aggravates the other injuries (as in that case
they must be thought) to which her situation exposes her.' They went on
to make some suggestions for the officers of the court in preparing
the arrangements for the trial, and some also for the guidance of
the audience, which showed the same generous anxiety for sparing the
feelings of the prisoner. If these did not wholly succeed in repressing
the open avowal of coarse and brutal curiosity amongst the intensely
vulgar, at least they availed to diffuse amongst the neutral and
indifferent part of the public a sentiment of respect and forbearance
which, emanating from high quarters, had a very extensive influence upon
most of what met the eye or the ear of my poor wife. She, on the day of
trial, was supported by her brother; and by that time she needed support
indeed. I was reported to be dying; her little son was dead; neither had
she been allowed to see him. Perhaps these things, by weaning her from
all further care about life, might have found their natural effect in
making her indifferent to the course of the trial, or even to its issue.
And so, perhaps, in the main, they did. But at times some lingering
sense of outraged dignity, some fitful gleams of old sympathies,
'the hectic of a moment,' came back upon her, and prevailed over the
deadening stupor of her grief. Then she shone for a moment into a starry
light--sweet and woful to remember. Then----but why linger? I hurry to
the close: she was pronounced guilty; whether by a jury or a bench of
judges, I do not say--having determined, from the beginning, to give no
hint of the land in which all these events happened; neither is that of
the slightest consequence. Guilty she was pronounced: but sentence at
that time was deferred. Ask me not, I beseech you, about the muff
or other circumstances inconsistent with the hostile evidence. These
circumstances had the testimony, you will observe, of my own servants
only; nay, as it turned out, of one servant exclusively: _that_
naturally diminished their value. And, on the other side, evidence was
arrayed, perjury was suborned, that would have wrecked a wilderness of
simple truth trusting to its own unaided forces. What followed? Did this
judgment of the court settle the opinion of the public? Opinion of
the public! Did it settle the winds? Did it settle the motion of the
Atlantic? Wilder, fiercer, and louder grew the cry against the wretched
accuser: mighty had been the power over the vast audience of the
dignity, the affliction, the perfect simplicity, and the Madonna beauty
of the prisoner. That beauty so childlike, and at the same time so
saintly, made, besides, so touching in its pathos by means of the
abandonment--the careless abandonment and the infinite desolation of her
air and manner--would of itself, and without further aid, have made many
converts. Much more was done by the simplicity of her statements, and
the indifference with which she neglected to improve any strong points
in her own favor--the indifference, as every heart perceived, of
despairing grief. Then came the manners on the hostile side--the haggard
consciousness of guilt, the drooping tone, the bravado and fierce strut
which sought to dissemble all this. Not one amongst all the witnesses,
assembled on that side, had (by all agreement) the bold natural tone of
conscious uprightness. Hence it could not be surprising that the storm
of popular opinion made itself heard with a louder and a louder sound.
The government itself began to be disturbed; the ministers of the
sovereign were agitated; and, had no menaces been thrown out, it was
generally understood that they would have given way to the popular
voice, now continually more distinct and clamorous. In the midst of all
this tumult, obscure murmurs began to arise that Barratt had practised
the same or similar villanies in former instances. One case in
particular was beginning to be whispered about, which at once threw
a light upon the whole affair: it was the case of a young and very
beautiful married woman, who had been on the very brink of a catastrophe
such as had befallen my own wife, when some seasonable interference, of
what nature was not known, had critically delivered her. This case
arose 'like a little cloud no bigger than a man's hand,' then spread and
threatened to burst in tempest upon the public mind, when all at once,
more suddenly even than it had arisen, it was hushed up, or in some way
disappeared. But a trifling circumstance made it possible to trace
this case:--in after times, when means offered, but unfortunately no
particular purpose of good, nor any purpose, in fact, beyond that of
curiosity, it _was_ traced; and enough was soon ascertained to have
blown to fragments any possible conspiracy emanating from this Barratt,
had that been of any further importance. However, in spite of all that
money or art could effect, a sullen growl continued to be heard amongst
the populace of villanies many and profound that had been effected or
attempted by this Barratt; and accordingly, much in the same way as
was many years afterwards practised in London, when a hosier had caused
several young people to be prosecuted to death for passing forged
bank-notes, the wrath of the people showed itself in marking the shop
for vengeance upon any favorable occasion offering through fire or
riots, and in the mean time in deserting it. These things had been going
on for some time when I awoke from my long delirium; but the effect they
had produced upon a weak and obstinate and haughty government, or at
least upon the weak and obstinate and haughty member of the government
who presided in the police administration, was, to confirm and rivet the
line of conduct which had been made the object of popular denunciation.
More energetically, more scornfully, to express that determination of
flying in the face of public opinion and censure, four days before my
awakening, Agnes had been brought up to receive her sentence. On
that same day (nay, it was said in that same hour,) petitions, very
numerously signed, and various petitions from different ranks, different
ages, different sexes, were carried up to the throne, praying, upon
manifold grounds, but all noticing the extreme doubtfulness of the
case, for an unconditional pardon. By whose advice or influence, it was
guessed easily, though never exactly ascertained, these petitions were
unanimously, almost contemptuously rejected. And to express the contempt
of public opinion as powerfully as possible, Agnes was sentenced by the
court, reassembled in full pomp, order, and ceremonial costume, to a
punishment the severest that the laws allowed--viz. hard labor for ten
years. The people raged more than ever; threats public and private
were conveyed to the ears of the minister chiefly concerned in the
responsibility, and who had indeed, by empty and ostentatious talking,
assumed that responsibility to himself in a way that was perfectly

Thus stood matters when I awoke to consciousness: and this was the
fatal journal of the interval--interval so long as measured by my fierce
calendar of delirium--so brief measured by the huge circuit of
events which it embraced, and their mightiness for evil. Wrath, wrath
immeasurable, unimaginable, unmitigable, burned at my heart like
a cancer. The worst had come. And the thing which kills a man for
action--the living in two climates at once--a torrid and a frigid
zone--of hope and fear--that was past. Weak--suppose I were for the
moment: I felt that a day or two might bring back my strength. No
miserable tremors of hope _now_ shook my nerves: if they shook from that
inevitable rocking of the waters that follows a storm, so much might
be pardoned to the infirmity of a nature that could not lay aside its
fleshly necessities, nor altogether forego its homage to 'these frail
elements,' but which by inspiration already lived within a region
where no voices were heard but the spiritual voices of transcendent

  'Wrongs unrevenged, and insults unredress'd.'

Six days from that time I was well--well and strong. I rose from bed; I
bathed; I dressed; dressed as if I were a bridegroom. And that _was_ in
fact a great day in my life. I was to see Agnes. Oh! yes: permission had
been obtained from the lordly minister that I should see my wife. Is it
possible? Can such condescensions exist? Yes: solicitations from
ladies, eloquent notes wet with ducal tears, these had won from the
thrice-radiant secretary, redolent of roseate attar, a countersign to
some order or other, by which I--yes I--under license of a fop, and
supervision of a jailer--was to see and for a time to converse with my
own wife.

The hour appointed for the first day's interview was eight o'clock
in the evening. On the outside of the jail all was summer light and
animation. The sports of children in the streets of mighty cities are
but sad, and too painfully recall the circumstances of freedom and
breezy nature that are not there. But still the pomp of glorious summer,
and the presence, 'not to be put by,' of the everlasting light, that
is either always present, or always dawning--these potent elements
impregnate the very city life, and the dim reflex of nature which is
found at the bottom of well-like streets, with more solemn powers to
move and to soothe in summer. I struck upon the prison gates, the first
among multitudes waiting to strike. Not because we struck, but because
the hour had sounded, suddenly the gate opened; and in we streamed. I,
as a visitor for the first time, was immediately distinguished by the
jailers, whose glance of the eye is fatally unerring. 'Who was it that I
wanted?' At the name a stir of emotion was manifest, even there: the dry
bones stirred and moved: the passions outside had long ago passed to the
interior of this gloomy prison: and not a man but had his hypothesis on
the case; not a man but had almost fought with some comrade (many had
literally fought) about the merits of their several opinions.

If any man had expected a scene at this reunion, he would have been
disappointed. Exhaustion, and the ravages of sorrow, had left to dear
Agnes so little power of animation or of action, that her emotions were
rather to be guessed at, both for kind and for degree, than directly
to have been perceived. She was in fact a sick patient, far gone in an
illness that should properly have confined her to bed; and was as much
past the power of replying to my frenzied exclamations, as a dying
victim of fever of entering upon a strife of argument. In bed, however,
she was not. When the door opened she was discovered sitting at a table
placed against the opposite wall, her head pillowed upon her arms, and
these resting upon the table. Her beautiful long auburn hair had escaped
from its confinement, and was floating over the table and her own
person. She took no notice of the disturbance made by our entrance, did
not turn, did not raise her head, nor make an effort to do so, nor by
any sign whatever intimate that she was conscious of our presence, until
the turnkey in a respectful tone announced me. Upon that a low groan, or
rather a feeble moan, showed that she had become aware of my presence,
and relieved me from all apprehension of causing too sudden a shock by
taking her in my arms. The turnkey had now retired; we were alone. I
knelt by her side, threw my arms about her, and pressed her to my heart.
She drooped her head upon my shoulder, and lay for some time like one
who slumbered; but, alas! not as she had used to slumber. Her breathing,
which had been like that of sinless infancy, was now frightfully short
and quick; she seemed not properly to breathe, but to gasp. This,
thought I, may be sudden agitation, and in that case she will gradually
recover; half an hour will restore her. Wo is me! she did _not_ recover;
and internally I said--she never _will_ recover. The arrows have gone
too deep for a frame so exquisite in its sensibility, and already her
hours are numbered.

At this first visit I said nothing to her about the past; _that_, and
the whole extent to which our communications should go, I left rather
to her own choice. At the second visit, however, upon some word or other
arising which furnished an occasion for touching on this hateful topic,
I pressed her, contrary to my own previous intention, for as full an
account of the fatal event as she could without a distressing effort
communicate. To my surprise she was silent--gloomily--almost it might
have seemed obstinately silent. A horrid thought came into my mind;
could it, might it have been possible that my noble-minded wife, such
she had ever seemed to me, was open to temptations of this nature? Could
it have been that in some moment of infirmity, when her better angel was
away from her side, she had yielded to a sudden impulse of frailty,
such as a second moment for consideration would have resisted, but which
unhappily had been followed by no such opportunity of retrieval? I
had heard of such things. Cases there were in our own times (and not
confined to one nation), when irregular impulses of this sort were known
to have haunted and besieged natures not otherwise ignoble and base.
I ran over some of the names amongst those which were taxed with this
propensity. More than one were the names of people in a technical sense
held noble. That, nor any other consideration abated my horror. Better,
I said, better, (because more compatible with elevation of mind,) better
to have committed some bloody act--some murderous act. Dreadful was the
panic I underwent. God pardon the wrong I did; and even now I pray
to him--as though the past thing were a future thing and capable
of change--that he would forbid her for ever to know what was the
derogatory thought I had admitted. I sometimes think, by recollecting a
momentary blush that suffused her marble countenance,--I think--I fear
that she might have read what was fighting in my mind. Yet that would
admit of another explanation. If she did read the very worst, meek
saint! she suffered no complaint or sense of that injury to escape her.
It might, however, be that perception, or it might be that fear which
roused her to an effort that otherwise had seemed too revolting to
undertake. She now rehearsed the whole steps of the affair from first to
last; but the only material addition, which her narrative made to that
which the trial itself had involved, was the following:--On two separate
occasions previous to the last and fatal one, when she had happened to
walk unaccompanied by me in the city, the monster Barratt had met her
in the street. He had probably--and this was, indeed, subsequently
ascertained--at first, and for some time afterwards, mistaken her rank,
and had addressed some proposals to her, which, from the suppressed
tone of his speaking, or from her own terror and surprise, she had not
clearly understood; but enough had reached her alarmed ear to satisfy
her that they were of a nature in the last degree licentious and
insulting. Terrified and shocked rather than indignant, for she too
easily presumed the man to be a maniac, she hurried homewards; and was
rejoiced, on first venturing to look round when close to her own gate,
to perceive that the man was not following. There, however, she was
mistaken; for either on this occasion, or on some other, he had traced
her homewards. The last of these rencontres had occurred just three
months before the fatal 6th of April; and if, in any one instance, Agnes
had departed from the strict line of her duty as a wife, or had shown
a defect of judgment, it was at this point--in not having frankly and
fully reported the circumstances to me. On the last of these occasions
I had met her at the garden-gate, and had particularly remarked that she
seemed agitated; and now, at recalling these incidents, Agnes reminded
me that I had noticed that circumstance to herself, and that she had
answered me faithfully as to the main fact. It was true she had done so;
for she had said that she had just met a lunatic who had alarmed her
by fixing his attention upon herself, and speaking to her in a ruffian
manner; and it was also true that she did sincerely regard him in that
light. This led me at the time to construe the whole affair into a
casual collision with some poor maniac escaping from his keepers, and of
no future moment, having passed by without present consequences. But had
she, instead of thus reporting her own erroneous impression, reported
the entire circumstances of the case, I should have given them a
very different interpretation. Affection for me, and fear to throw me
needlessly into a quarrel with a man of apparently brutal and violent
nature--these considerations, as too often they do with the most upright
wives, had operated to check Agnes in the perfect sincerity of her
communications. She had told nothing _but_ the truth--only, and fatally
it turned out for us both, she had not told the _whole_ truth. The very
suppression, to which she had reconciled herself, under the belief that
thus she was providing for my safety and her own consequent happiness,
had been the indirect occasion of ruin to both. It was impossible to
show displeasure under such circumstances, or under any circumstances,
to one whose self-reproaches were at any rate too bitter; but certainly,
as a general rule, every conscientious woman should resolve to consider
her husband's honor in the first case, and far before all other regards
whatsoever; to make this the first, the second, the third law of her
conduct, and his personal safety but the fourth or fifth. Yet women,
and especially when the interests of children are at stake upon their
husbands' safety, rarely indeed are able to take this Roman view of
their duties.

To return to the narrative. Agnes had not, nor could have, the most
remote suspicion of this Barratt's connection with the shop which he had
not accidentally entered; and the sudden appearance of this wretch it
was, at the very moment of finding herself charged with so vile and
degrading an offence, that contributed most of all to rob her of her
natural firmness, by suddenly revealing to her terrified heart the depth
of the conspiracy which thus yawned like a gulf below her. And not only
had this sudden horror, upon discovering a guilty design in what before
had seemed accident, and links uniting remote incidents which else
seemed casual and disconnected, greatly disturbed and confused her
manner, which confusion again had become more intense upon her own
consciousness that she _was_ confused, and that her manner was greatly
to her disadvantage; but--which was the worst effect of all, because the
rest could not operate against her, except upon those who were present
to witness it, whereas this was noted down and recorded--so utterly
did her confusion strip her of all presence of mind, that she did not
consciously notice (and consequently could not protest against at
the moment when it was most important to do so, and most natural) the
important circumstance of the muff. This capital objection, therefore,
though dwelt upon and improved to the utmost at the trial, was looked
upon by the judges as an after-thought; and merely because it had not
been seized upon by herself, and urged in the first moments of her
almost incapacitating terror on finding this amongst the circumstances
of the charge against her--as if an ingenuous nature, in the very act of
recoiling with horror from a criminal charge the most degrading, and in
the very instant of discovering, with a perfect rapture of alarm, the
too plausible appearance of probability amongst the circumstances, would
be likely to pause, and with attorney-like dexterity, to pick out the
particular circumstance that might admit of being _proved_ to be false,
when the conscience proclaimed, though in despondence for the result,
that all the circumstances were, as to the use made of them, one tissue
of falsehoods. Agnes, who had made a powerful effort in speaking of the
case at all, found her calmness increase as she advanced; and she now
told me, that in reality there were two discoveries which she made in
the same instant, and not one only, which had disarmed her firmness and
ordinary presence of mind. One I have mentioned--the fact of Barratt,
the proprietor of the shop, being the same person who had in former
instances persecuted her in the street; but the other was even more
alarming--it has been said already that it was _not_ a pure matter of
accident that she had visited this particular shop. In reality, that
nursery-maid, of whom some mention has been made above, and in terms
expressing the suspicion with which even then I regarded her, had
persuaded her into going thither by some representations which Agnes
had already ascertained to be altogether unwarranted. Other presumptions
against this girl's fidelity crowded dimly upon my wife's mind at the
very moment of finding her eyes thus suddenly opened. And it was not
five minutes after her first examination, and in fact five minutes
after it had ceased to be of use to her, that she remembered another
circumstance which now, when combined with the sequel, told its own
tale,--the muff had been missed some little time before the 6th of
April. Search had been made for it; but, the particular occasion which
required it having passed off, this search was laid aside for the
present, in the expectation that it would soon reappear in some corner
of the house before it was wanted: then came the sunny day, which made
it no longer useful, and would perhaps have dismissed it entirely from
the recollection of all parties, until it was now brought back in this
memorable way. The name of my wife was embroidered within, upon the
lining, and it thus became a serviceable link to the hellish cabal
against her. Upon reviewing the circumstances from first to last, upon
recalling the manner of the girl at the time when the muff was missed,
and upon combining the whole with her recent deception, by which she had
misled her poor mistress into visiting this shop, Agnes began to see the
entire truth as to this servant's wicked collusion with Barratt, though,
perhaps, it might be too much to suppose her aware of the unhappy result
to which her collusion tended. All this she saw at a glance when it was
too late, for her first examination was over. This girl, I must add, had
left our house during my illness, and she had afterwards a melancholy

One thing surprised me in all this. Barratt's purpose must manifestly
have been to create merely a terror in my poor wife's mind, and to stop
short of any legal consequences, in order to profit of that panic and
confusion for extorting compliances with his hideous pretensions. It
perplexed me, therefore, that he did not appear to have pursued this
manifestly his primary purpose, the other being merely a mask to conceal
his true ends, and also (as he fancied) a means for effecting them. In
this, however, I had soon occasion to find that I was deceived. He had,
but without the knowledge of Agnes, taken such steps as were then open
to him, for making overtures to her with regard to the terms upon which
he would agree to defeat the charge against her by failing to appear.
But the law had travelled too fast for him, and too determinately; so
that, by the time he supposed terror to have operated sufficiently in
favor of his views, it had already become unsafe to venture upon such
explicit proposals as he would otherwise have tried. His own safety was
now at stake, and would have been compromised by any open or written
avowal of the motives on which he had been all along acting. In fact, at
this time he was foiled by the agent in whom he confided; but much
more he had been confounded upon another point--the prodigious interest
manifested by the public. Thus it seems--that, whilst he meditated only
a snare for my poor Agnes, he had prepared one for himself; and finally,
to evade the suspicions which began to arise powerfully as to his true
motives, and thus to stave off his own ruin, had found himself in a
manner obliged to go forward and consummate the ruin of another.

       *       *       *       *       *

The state of Agnes, as to health and bodily strength, was now becoming
such that I was forcibly warned--whatsoever I meditated doing, to do
quickly. There was this urgent reason for alarm: once conveyed into
that region of the prison in which sentences like hers were executed, it
became hopeless that I could communicate with her again. All intercourse
whatsoever, and with whomsoever, was then placed under the most rigorous
interdict; and the alarming circumstance was, that this transfer was
governed by no settled rules, but might take place at any hour, and
would certainly be precipitated by the slightest violence on my part,
the slightest indiscretion, or the slightest argument for suspicion.
Hard indeed was the part I had to play, for it was indispensable that
I should appear calm and tranquil, in order to disarm suspicions around
me, whilst continually contemplating the possibility that I myself might
be summoned to extremities which I could not so much as trust myself to
name or distinctly to conceive. But thus stood the case: the Government,
it was understood, angered by the public opposition, resolute for the
triumph of what they called 'principle,' had settled finally that the
sentence should be carried into execution. Now that she, that my Agnes,
being the frail wreck that she had become, could have stood one week of
this sentence practically and literally enforced--was a mere chimera. A
few hours probably of the experiment would have settled that question
by dismissing her to the death she longed for; but because the suffering
would be short, was I to stand by and to witness the degradation--the
pollution--attempted to be fastened upon her. What! to know that her
beautiful tresses would be shorn ignominiously--a felon's dress forced
upon her--a vile taskmaster with authority to----; blistered be the
tongue that could go on to utter, in connection with her innocent name,
the vile dishonors which were to settle upon her person! I, however, and
her brother had taken such resolutions that this result was one barely
possible; and yet I sickened (yes, literally I many times experienced
the effect of physical sickness) at contemplating our own utter childish
helplessness, and recollecting that every night during our seclusion
from the prison the last irreversible step might be taken--and in the
morning we might find a solitary cell, and the angel form that had
illuminated it gone where we could not follow, and leaving behind her
the certainty that we should see her no more. Every night, at the hour
of locking up, _she_, at least, manifestly had a fear that she saw
us for the last time; she put her arms feebly about my neck, sobbed
convulsively, and, I believe, guessed--but, if really so, did not much
reprove or quarrel with the desperate purposes which I struggled with in
regard to her own life. One thing was quite evident--that to the peace
of her latter days, now hurrying to their close, it was indispensable
that she should pass them undivided from me; and possibly, as was
afterwards alleged, when it became easy to allege any thing, some
relenting did take place in high quarters at this time; for upon some
medical reports made just now, a most seasonable indulgence was granted,
viz. that Hannah was permitted to attend her mistress constantly; and
it was also felt as a great alleviation of the horrors belonging to this
prison, that candles were now allowed throughout the nights. But I was
warned privately that these indulgences were with no consent from
the police minister; and that circumstances might soon withdraw the
momentary intercession by which we profited. With this knowledge, we
could not linger in our preparations; we had resolved upon accomplishing
an escape for Agnes, at whatever risk or price; the main difficulty was
her own extreme feebleness, which might forbid her to co-operate with us
in any degree at the critical moment; and the main danger was--delay. We
pushed forward, therefore, in our attempts with prodigious energy, and I
for my part with an energy like that of insanity.

       *       *       *       *       *

The first attempt we made was upon the fidelity to his trust of the
chief jailer. He was a coarse, vulgar man, brutal in his manners, but
with vestiges of generosity in his character--though damaged a good deal
by his daily associates. Him we invited to a meeting at a tavern in
the neighborhood of the prison, disguising our names as too certain to
betray our objects, and baiting our invitation with some hints which
we had ascertained were likely to prove temptations under his immediate
circumstances. He had a graceless young son whom he was most anxious to
wean from his dissolute connections, and to steady, by placing him in
some office of no great responsibility. Upon this knowledge we framed
the terms of our invitation.

These proved to be effectual, as regarded our immediate object of
obtaining an interview of persuasion. The night was wet; and at seven
o'clock, the hour fixed for the interview, we were seated in readiness,
much perplexed to know whether he would take any notice of our
invitation. We had waited three quarters of an hour, when we heard a
heavy lumbering step ascending the stair. The door was thrown open
to its widest extent, and in the centre of the door-way stood a short
stout-built man, and the very broadest I ever beheld--staring at us with
bold inquiring eyes. His salutation was something to this effect.

'What the hell do you gay fellows want with me? What the blazes is this
humbugging letter about? My son, and be hanged! What do you know of my

Upon this overture we ventured to request that he would come in and
suffer us to shut the door, which we also locked. Next we produced the
official paper nominating his son to a small place in the customs,--not
yielding much, it was true, in the way of salary, but fortunately, and
in accordance with the known wishes of the father, unburdened with any
dangerous trust.

'Well, I suppose I must say thank ye: but what comes next? What am I to
do to pay the damages?' We informed him that for this particular little
service we asked no return.

'No, no,' said he, 'that'll not go down: that cat'll not jump. I'm
not green enough for that. So, say away--what's the damage?' We then
explained that we had certainly a favor and a great one to ask: ['Ay,
I'll be bound you have,' was his parenthesis:] but that for this we were
prepared to offer a separate remuneration; repeating that with respect
to the little place procured for his son, it had not cost us anything,
and therefore we did really and sincerely decline to receive anything
in return; satisfied that, by this little offering, we had procured
the opportunity of this present interview. At this point we withdrew a
covering from the table upon which we had previously arranged a heap of
gold coins, amounting in value to twelve hundred English guineas: this
being the entire sum which circumstances allowed us to raise on so
sudden a warning: for some landed property that we both had was so
settled and limited, that we could not convert it into money either
by way of sale, loan, or mortgage. This sum, stating to him its exact
amount, we offered to his acceptance, upon the single condition that he
would look aside, or wink hard, or (in whatever way he chose to express
it) would make, or suffer to be made, such facilities for our liberating
a female prisoner as we would point out. He mused: full five minutes he
sat deliberating without opening his lips. At length he shocked us by
saying, in a firm, decisive tone, that left us little hope of altering
his resolution,--'No: gentlemen, it's a very fair offer, and a good deal
of money for a single prisoner. I think I can guess at the person. It's
a fair offer--fair enough. But, bless your heart! if I were to do the
thing you want--why perhaps another case might be overlooked: but this
prisoner, no: there's too much depending. No, they would turn me out of
my place. Now the place is worth more to me in the long run than what
you offer: though you bid fair enough, if it were only for my time in
it. But look here: in case I can get my son to come into harness, I'm
expecting to get the office for him after I've retired. So I can't do
it. But I'll tell you what: you've been kind to my son: and therefore
I'll not say a word about it. You're safe for me. And so good-night
to you.' Saying which, and standing no further question, he walked
resolutely out of the room and down stairs.

Two days we mourned over this failure, and scarcely knew which way
to turn for another ray of hope;--on the third morning we received
intelligence that this very jailer had been attacked by the fever,
which, after long desolating the city, had at length made its way into
the prison. In a very few days the jailer was lying without hope of
recovery: and of necessity another person was appointed to fill his
station for the present. This person I had seen, and I liked him less
by much than the one he succeeded: he had an Italian appearance, and he
wore an air of Italian subtlety and dissimulation. I was surprised to
find, on proposing the same service to him, and on the same terms, that
he made no objection whatever, but closed instantly with my offers. In
prudence, however, I had made this change in the articles: a sum equal
to two hundred English guineas, or one-sixth part of the whole money, he
was to receive beforehand as a retaining fee; but the remainder was to
be paid only to himself, or to anybody of his appointing, at the very
moment of our finding the prison gates thrown open to us. He spoke
fairly enough, and seemed to meditate no treachery; nor was there any
obvious or known interest to serve by treachery; and yet I doubted him

The night came: it was chosen as a gala night, one of two nights
throughout the year in which the prisoners were allowed to celebrate a
great national event: and in those days of relaxed prison management
the utmost license was allowed to the rejoicing. This indulgence was
extended to prisoners of all classes, though, of course, under more
restrictions with regard to the criminal class. Ten o'clock came--the
hour at which we had been instructed to hold ourselves in readiness.
We had been long prepared. Agnes had been dressed by Hannah in such a
costume externally (a man's hat and cloak, &c.) that, from her height,
she might easily have passed amongst a mob of masquerading figures in
the debtors' halls and galleries for a young stripling. Pierpoint and
myself were also to a certain degree disguised; so far, at least, that
we should not have been recognized at any hurried glance by those of the
prison officers who had become acquainted with our persons. We were all
more or less disguised about the face; and in that age when masks were
commonly used at all hours by people of a certain rank, there would have
been nothing suspicious in any possible costume of the kind in a night
like this, if we could succeed in passing for friends of debtors.

I am impatient of these details, and I hasten over the ground. One
entire hour passed away, and no jailer appeared. We began to despond
heavily; and Agnes, poor thing! was now the most agitated of us all.
At length eleven struck in the harsh tones of the prison-clock. A
few minutes after, we heard the sound of bolts drawing, and bars
unfastening. The jailer entered--drunk, and much disposed to be
insolent. I thought it advisable to give him another bribe, and he
resumed the fawning insinuation of his manner. He now directed us, by
passages which he pointed out, to gain the other side of the prison.
There we were to mix with the debtors and their mob of friends, and
to await his joining us, which in that crowd he could do without much
suspicion. He wished us to traverse the passages separately; but this
was impossible, for it was necessary that one of us should support Agnes
on each side. I previously persuaded her to take a small quantity
of brandy, which we rejoiced to see had given her, at this moment of
starting, a most seasonable strength and animation. The gloomy passages
were more than usually empty, for all the turnkeys were employed in a
vigilant custody of the gates, and examination of the parties going out.
So the jailer had told us, and the news alarmed us. We came at length to
a turning which brought us in sight of a strong iron gate, that divided
the two main quarters of the prison. For this we had not been prepared.
The man, however, opened the gate without a word spoken, only putting
out his hand for a fee; and in my joy, perhaps, I gave him one
imprudently large. After passing this gate, the distant uproar of the
debtors guided us to the scene of their merriment; and when there, such
was the tumult and the vast multitude assembled, that we now hoped in
good earnest to accomplish our purpose without accident. Just at this
moment the jailer appeared in the distance; he seemed looking towards
us, and at length one of our party could distinguish that he was
beckoning to us. We went forward, and found him in some agitation, real
or counterfeit. He muttered a word or two quite unintelligible about the
man at the wicket, told us we must wait a while, and he would then see
what could be done for us. We were beginning to demur, and to express
the suspicions which now too seriously arose, when he, seeing, or
affecting to see some object of alarm, pushed us with a hurried movement
into a cell opening upon the part of the gallery at which we were now
standing. Not knowing whether we really might not be retreating from
some danger, we could do no otherwise than comply with his signals; but
we were troubled at finding ourselves immediately locked in from the
outside, and thus apparently all our motions had only sufficed to
exchange one prison for another.

We were now completely in the dark, and found, by a hard breathing from
one corner of the little dormitory, that it was not unoccupied. Having
taken care to provide ourselves separately with means for striking a
light, we soon had more than one torch burning. The brilliant light
falling upon the eyes of a man who lay stretched on the iron bedstead,
woke him. It proved to be my friend the under-jailer, Ratcliffe, but
no longer holding any office in the prison. He sprang up, and a rapid
explanation took place. He had become a prisoner for debt; and on this
evening, after having caroused through the day with some friends
from the country, had retired at an early hour to sleep away
his intoxication. I on my part thought it prudent to intrust him
unreservedly with our situation and purposes, not omitting our gloomy
suspicions. Ratcliffe looked, with a pity that won my love, upon the
poor wasted Agnes. He had seen her on her first entrance into the
prison, had spoken to her, and therefore knew _from_ what she had
fallen, _to_ what. Even then he had felt for her; how much more at this
time, when he beheld, by the fierce light of the torches, her wo-worn

'Who was it,' he asked eagerly, 'you made the bargain with? Manasseh?'

'The same.'

'Then I can tell you this--not a greater villain walks the earth. He is
a Jew from Portugal; he has betrayed many a man, and will many another,
unless he gets his own neck stretched, which might happen, if I told all
I know.'

'But what was it probable that this man meditated? Or how could it
profit him to betray us?'

'That's more than I can tell. He wants to get your money, and that he
doesn't know how to bring about without doing his part. But that's what
he never _will_ do, take my word for it. That would cut him out of all
chance for the head-jailer's place.' He mused a little, and then told us
that he could himself put us outside the prison walls, and _would_ do it
without fee or reward. 'But we must be quiet, or that devil will bethink
him of me. I'll wager something he thought that I was out merry-making
like the rest; and if he should chance to light upon the truth, he'll be
back in no time.' Ratcliffe then removed an old fire-grate, at the back
of which was an iron plate, that swung round into a similar fire-place
in the contiguous cell. From that, by a removal of a few slight
obstacles, we passed, by a long avenue, into the chapel. Then he left
us, whilst he went out alone to reconnoitre his ground. Agnes was now
in so pitiable a condition of weakness, as we stood on the very brink of
our final effort, that we placed her in a pew, where she could rest as
upon a sofa. Previously we had stood upon graves, and with monuments
more or less conspicuous all around us: some raised by friends to
the memory of friends--some by subscriptions in the prison--some by
children, who had risen into prosperity, to the memory of a father,
brother, or other relative, who had died in captivity. I was grieved
that these sad memorials should meet the eye of my wife at this moment
of awe and terrific anxiety. Pierpoint and I were well armed, and all
of us determined not to suffer a recapture, now that we were free of the
crowds that made resistance hopeless. This Agnes easily perceived;
and _that_, by suggesting a bloody arbitration, did not lessen her
agitation. I hoped therefore, that, by placing her in the pew, I might
at least liberate her for the moment from the besetting memorials of
sorrow and calamity. But, as if in the very teeth of my purpose, one of
the large columns which supported the roof of the chapel, had its basis
and lower part of the shaft in this very pew. On the side of it, and
just facing her as she lay reclining on the cushions, appeared a
mural tablet, with a bas-relief in white marble, to the memory of two
children, twins, who had lived and died at the same time, and in
this prison--children who had never breathed another air than that of
captivity, their parents having passed many years within these walls,
under confinement for debt. The sculptures were not remarkable, being a
trite, but not the less affecting, representation of angels descending
to receive the infants; but the hallowed words of the inscription,
distinct and legible--'Suffer little children to come unto me, and
forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of God'--met her eye,
and, by the thoughts they awakened, made me fear that she would become
unequal to the exertions which yet awaited her. At this moment Ratcliffe
returned, and informed us that all was right; and that, from the ruinous
state of all the buildings which surrounded the chapel, no difficulty
remained for us, who were, in fact, beyond the strong part of the
prison, excepting at a single door, which we should be obliged to break
down. But had we any means arranged for pursuing our flight, and turning
this escape to account when out of confinement? All that, I assured him,
was provided for long ago. We proceeded, and soon reached the door. We
had one crow-bar amongst us, but beyond that had no better weapons
than the loose stones found about some new-made graves in the chapel.
Ratcliffe and Pierpoint, both powerful men, applied themselves by turns
to the door, whilst Hannah and I supported Agnes. The door did not
yield, being of enormous strength; but the wall did, and a large mass
of stone-work fell outwards, twisting the door aside; so that, by
afterwards working with our hands, we removed stones many enough to
admit of our egress. Unfortunately this aperture was high above the
ground, and it was necessary to climb over a huge heap of loose rubbish
in order to profit by it. My brother-in-law passed first in order to
receive my wife, quite helpless at surmounting the obstacle by her own
efforts, out of my arms. He had gone through the opening, and, turning
round so as to face me, he naturally could see something that I did
_not_ see. 'Look behind!' he called out rapidly. I did so, and saw the
murderous villain Manasseh with his arm uplifted, and in the act of
cutting at my wife, nearly insensible as she was, with a cutlass. The
blow was not for me, but for her, as the fugitive prisoner; and the law
would have borne him out in the act. I saw, I comprehended the whole. I
groped, as far as I could without letting my wife drop, for my pistols;
but all that I could do would have been unavailing, and too late--she
would have been murdered in my arms. But--and that was what none of us
saw--neither I, nor Pierpoint, nor the hound Manasseh--one person stood
back in the shade; one person had seen, but had not uttered a word
on seeing Manasseh advancing through the shades; one person only
had forecast the exact succession of all that was coming; me she saw
embarrassed and my hands preoccupied--Pierpoint and Ratcliffe useless
by position--and the gleam of the dog's eye directed her to his aim. The
crow-bar was leaning against the shattered wall. This she had silently
seized. One blow knocked up the sword; a second laid the villain
prostrate. At this moment appeared another of the turnkeys advancing
from the rear, for the noise of our assault upon the door had drawn
attention in the interior of the prison, from which, however, no great
number of assistants could on this dangerous night venture to absent
themselves. What followed for the next few minutes hurried onwards,
incident crowding upon incident, like the motions of a dream:--Manasseh,
lying on the ground, yelled out, 'The bell! the bell!' to him who
followed. The man understood, and made for the belfry-door attached
to the chapel; upon which Pierpoint drew a pistol, and sent the bullet
whizzing past his ear so truly, that fear made the man obedient to the
counter-orders of Pierpoint for the moment. He paused and awaited the
issue. In a moment had all cleared the wall, traversed the waste ground
beyond it, lifted Agnes over the low railing, shaken hands with our
benefactor Ratcliffe, and pushed onwards as rapidly as we were able
to the little dark lane, a quarter of a mile distant, where had stood
waiting for the last two hours a chaise-and-four.

[Ratcliffe, before my story closes, I will pursue to the last of my
acquaintance with him, according to the just claims of his services. He
had privately whispered to me, as we went along, that he could speak to
the innocence of that lady, pointing to my wife, better than anybody.
He was the person whom (as then holding an office in the prison) Barratt
had attempted to employ as agent in conveying any messages that he found
it safe to send--obscurely hinting the terms on which he would desist
from prosecution. Ratcliffe had at first undertaken the negotiation from
mere levity of character. But when the story and the public interest
spread, and after himself becoming deeply struck by the prisoner's
affliction, beauty, and reputed innocence, he had pursued it only as a
means of entrapping Barratt into such written communications and such
private confessions of the truth as might have served Agnes effectually.
He wanted the art, however, to disguise his purposes: Barratt came to
suspect him violently, and feared his evidence so far, even for those
imperfect and merely oral overtures which he had really sent through
Ratcliffe--that on the very day of the trial, he, as was believed,
though by another nominally, contrived that Ratcliffe should be arrested
for debt; and, after harassing him with intricate forms of business, had
finally caused him to be conveyed to prison. Ratcliffe was thus involved
in his own troubles at the time; and afterwards supposed that, without
written documents to support his evidence, he could not be of much
service to the re-establisment of my wife's reputation. Six months after
his services in the night-escape from the prison, I saw him, and pressed
him to take the money so justly forfeited to him by Manasseh's perfidy.
He would, however, be persuaded to take no more than paid his debts. A
second and a third time his debts were paid by myself and Pierpoint.
But the same habits of intemperance and dissolute pleasure which led him
into these debts, finally ruined his constitution; and he died, though
otherwise of a fine generous manly nature, a martyr to dissipation at
the early age of twenty-nine. With respect to his prison confinement, it
was so frequently recurring in his life, and was alleviated by so many
indulgences, that he scarcely viewed it as a hardship: having once been
an officer of the prison, and having thus formed connections with the
whole official establishment, and done services to many of them, and
being of so convivial a turn, he was, even as a prisoner, treated with
distinction, and considered as a privileged son of the house.]

It was just striking twelve o'clock as we entered the lane where the
carriage was drawn up. Rain, about the profoundest I had ever witnessed,
was falling. Though near to midsummer, the night had been unusually dark
to begin with, and from the increasing rain had become much more so. We
could see nothing; and at first we feared that some mistake had occurred
as to the station of the carriage--in which case we might have sought
for it vainly through the intricate labyrinth of the streets in
that quarter. I first descried it by the light of a torch, reflected
powerfully from the large eyes of the leaders. All was ready.
Horse-keepers were at the horses' heads. The postilions were mounted;
each door had the steps let down: Agnes was lifted in: Hannah and I
followed: Pierpoint mounted his horse; and at the word--Oh! how strange
a word!--'_All's right_,' the horses sprang off like leopards, a manner
ill-suited to the slippery pavement of a narrow street. At that moment,
but we valued it little indeed, we heard the prison-bell ringing out
loud and clear. Thrice within the first three minutes we had to pull up
suddenly, on the brink of formidable accidents, from the dangerous
speed we maintained, and which, nevertheless, the driver had orders to
maintain, as essential to our plan. All the stoppages and hinderances
of every kind along the road had been anticipated previously, and met by
contrivance, of one kind or other; and Pierpoint was constantly a
little ahead of us to attend to anything that had been neglected. The
consequence of these arrangements was--that no person along the road
could possibly have assisted to trace us by any thing in our appearance:
for we passed all objects at too flying a pace, and through darkness too
profound, to allow of any one feature in our equipage being distinctly
noticed. Ten miles out of town, a space which we traversed in forty-four
minutes, a second relay of horses was ready; but we carried on the same
postilions throughout. Six miles ahead of this distance we had a second
relay; and with this set of horses, after pushing two miles further
along the road, we crossed by a miserable lane five miles long, scarcely
even a bridge road, into another of the great roads from the capital;
and by thus crossing the country, we came back upon the city at a point
far distant from that at which we left it. We had performed a distance
of forty-two miles in three hours, and lost a fourth hour upon the
wretched five miles of cross-road. It was, therefore, four o'clock, and
broad daylight, when we drew near the suburbs of the city; but a most
happy accident now favored us; a fog the most intense now prevailed;
nobody could see an object six feet distant; we alighted in an
uninhabited new-built street, plunged into the fog, thus confounding our
traces to any observer. We then stepped into a hackney-coach which had
been stationed at a little distance. Thence, according to our plan, we
drove to a miserable quarter of the town, whither the poor only and the
wretched resorted; mounted a gloomy dirty staircase, and, befriended by
the fog, still growing thicker and thicker, and by the early hour of the
morning, reached a house previously hired, which, if shocking to the eye
and the imagination from its squalid appearance and its gloom, still
was a home--a sanctuary--an asylum from treachery, from captivity, from
persecution. Here Pierpoint for the present quitted us: and once more
Agnes, Hannah, and I, the shattered members of a shattered family, were
thus gathered together in a house of our own.

Yes: once again, daughter of the hills, thou sleptst as heretofore in my
encircling arms; but not again in that peace which crowned thy innocence
in those days, and should have crowned it now. Through the whole of our
flying journey, in some circumstances at its outset strikingly recalling
to me that blessed one which followed our marriage, Agnes slept away
unconscious of our movements. She slept through all that day and the
following night; and I watched over her with as much jealousy of all
that might disturb her, as a mother watches over her new-born baby; for
I hoped, I fancied, that a long--long rest, a rest, a halcyon calm, a
deep, deep Sabbath of security, might prove healing and medicinal. I
thought wrong; her breathing became more disturbed, and sleep was now
haunted by dreams; all of us, indeed, were agitated by dreams; the past
pursued me, and the present, for high rewards had been advertised by
Government to those who traced us; and though for the moment we were
secure, because we never went abroad, and could not have been naturally
sought in such a neighborhood, still that very circumstance would
eventually operate against us. At length, every night I dreamed of
our insecurity under a thousand forms; but more often by far my dreams
turned upon our wrongs; wrath moved me rather than fear. Every night,
for the greater part, I lay painfully and elaborately involved, by deep
sense of wrong,

  '--in long orations, which I pleaded
  Before unjust tribunals.'
  [Footnote: From a MS. poem of a great living Poet.]

And for poor Agnes, her also did the remembrance of mighty wrongs occupy
through vast worlds of sleep in the same way--though colored by
that tenderness which belonged to her gentler nature. One dream in
particular--a dream of sublime circumstances--she repeated to me so
movingly, with a pathos so thrilling, that by some profound sympathy
it transplanted itself to my own sleep, settled itself there, and is to
this hour a part of the fixed dream scenery which revolves at intervals
through my sleeping life. This it was:--She would hear a trumpet
sound--though perhaps as having been the prelude to the solemn entry of
the judges at a town which she had once visited in her childhood; other
preparations would follow, and at last all the solemnities of a great
trial would shape themselves and fall into settled images. The audience
was assembled, the judges were arrayed, the court was set. The prisoner
was cited. Inquest was made, witnesses were called; and false witnesses
came tumultuously to the bar. Then again a trumpet was heard, but the
trumpet of a mighty archangel; and then would roll away thick clouds and
vapors. Again the audience, but another audience, was assembled; again
the tribunal was established; again the court was set; but a tribunal
and a court--how different to her! _That_ had been composed of men
seeking indeed for truth, but themselves erring and fallible creatures;
the witnesses had been full of lies, the judges of darkness. But
here was a court composed of heavenly witnesses--here was a righteous
tribunal--and then at last a judge that could not be deceived. The judge
smote with his eye a person who sought to hide himself in the crowd;
the guilty man stepped forward; the poor prisoner was called up to the
presence of the mighty judge; suddenly the voice of a little child was
heard ascending before her. Then the trumpet sounded once again; and
then there were new heavens and a new earth; and her tears and
her agitation (for she had seen her little Francis) awoke the poor
palpitating dreamer.

       *       *       *       *       *

Two months passed on: nothing could possibly be done materially to raise
the standard of those wretched accommodations which the house
offered. The dilapidated walls, the mouldering plaster, the blackened
mantel-pieces, the stained and polluted wainscots--what could be
attempted to hide or to repair all this by those who durst not venture
abroad? Yet whatever could be done, Hannah did; and, in the mean time,
very soon indeed my Agnes ceased to see or to be offended by these
objects. First of all her sight went from her; and nothing which
appealed to that sense could ever more offend her. It is to me the one
only consolation I have, that my presence and that of Hannah, with such
innocent frauds as we concerted together, made her latter days pass in
a heavenly calm, by persuading her that our security was absolute,
and that all search after us had ceased, under a belief on the part of
Government that we had gained the shelter of a foreign land. All this
was a delusion; but it was a delusion--blessed be Heaven! which
lasted exactly as long as her life, and was just commensurate with its
necessity. I hurry over the final circumstances.

There was fortunately now, even for me, no fear that the hand of any
policeman or emissary of justice could effectually disturb the latter
days of my wife; for, besides pistols always lying loaded in an inner
room, there happened to be a long narrow passage on entering the house,
which, by means of a blunderbuss, I could have swept effectually, and
cleared many times over; and I know what to do in a last extremity.
Just two months it was, to a day, since we had entered the house; and
it happened that the medical attendant upon Agnes, who awakened no
suspicion by his visits, had prescribed some opiate or anodyne which had
not come; being dark early, for it was now September, I had ventured out
to fetch it. In this I conceived there could be no danger. On my return
I saw a man examining the fastenings of the door. He made no opposition
to my entrance, nor seemed much to observe it--but I was disturbed. Two
hours after, both Hannah and I heard a noise about the door, and voices
in low conversation. It is remarkable that Agnes heard this also--so
quick had grown her hearing. She was agitated, but was easily calmed;
and at ten o'clock we were all in bed. The hand of Agnes was in mine;
so only she felt herself in security. She had been restless for an hour,
and talking at intervals in sleep. Once she certainly wakened, for she
pressed her lips to mine. Two minutes after, I heard something in
her breathing which did not please me. I rose hastily--brought a
light--raised her head--two long, long gentle sighs, that scarcely moved
the lips, were all that could be perceived. At that moment, at that very
moment, Hannah called out to me that the door was surrounded. 'Open it!'
I said; six men entered; Agnes it was they sought; I pointed to the bed;
they advanced, gazed, and walked away in silence.

After this I wandered about, caring little for life or its affairs, and
roused only at times to think of vengeance upon all who had contributed
to lay waste my happiness. In this pursuit, however, I was confounded
as much by my own thoughts as by the difficulties of accomplishing my
purpose. To assault and murder either of the two principal agents in
this tragedy, what would it be, what other effect could it have, than to
invest them with the character of injured and suffering people, and thus
to attract a pity or a forgiveness at least to their persons which never
otherwise could have illustrated their deaths? I remembered, indeed, the
words of a sea-captain who had taken such vengeance as had offered at
the moment upon his bitter enemy and persecutor (a young passenger on
board his ship), who had informed against him at the Custom-house on his
arrival in port, and had thus effected the confiscation of his ship,
and the ruin of the captain's family. The vengeance, and it was all
that circumstances allowed, consisted in coming behind the young man
clandestinely and pushing him into the deep waters of the dock, when,
being unable to swim, he perished by drowning. 'And the like,' said the
captain, when musing on his trivial vengeance, 'and the like happens
to many an honest sailor.' Yes, thought I, the captain was right. The
momentary shock of a pistol-bullet--what is it? Perhaps it may save
the wretch after all from the pangs of some lingering disease; and then
again I shall have the character of a murderer, if known to have shot
him; he will with many people have no such character, but at worst the
character of a man too harsh (they will say), and possibly mistaken in
protecting his property. And then, if not known as the man who shot
him, where is the shadow even of vengeance? Strange it seemed to me, and
passing strange, that I should be the person to urge arguments in behalf
of letting this man escape. For at one time I had as certainly, as
inexorably, doomed him as ever I took any resolution in my life. But the
fact is, and I began to see it upon closer view, it is not easy by any
means to take an adequate vengeance for any injury beyond a very trivial
standard; and that with common magnanimity one does not care to avenge.
Whilst I was in this mood of mind, still debating with myself whether
I should or should not contaminate my hands with the blood of this
monster, and still unable to shut my eyes upon one fact, viz. that my
buried Agnes could above all things have urged me to abstain from such
acts of violence, too evidently useless, listlessly and scarcely knowing
what I was in quest of, I strayed by accident into a church where a
venerable old man was preaching at the very moment I entered; he was
either delivering as a text, or repeating in the course of his sermon,
these words--'Vengeance is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord.' By
some accident also he fixed his eyes upon me at the moment; and
this concurrence with the subject then occupying my thoughts so much
impressed me, that I determined very seriously to review my half-formed
purposes of revenge; and well it was that I did so: for in that same
week an explosion of popular fury brought the life of this wretched
Barratt to a shocking termination, pretty much resembling the fate of
the De Witts in Holland. And the consequences to me were such, and so
full of all the consolation and indemnification which this world could
give me, that I have often shuddered since then at the narrow escape
I had had from myself intercepting this remarkable retribution. The
villain had again been attempting to play off the same hellish scheme
with a beautiful young rustic which had succeeded in the case of my
ill-fated Agnes. But the young woman in this instance had a high, and,
in fact, termagant spirit. Rustic as she was, she had been warned of the
character of the man; everybody, in fact, was familiar with the recent
tragedy. Either her lover or her brother happened to be waiting for
her outside the window. He saw in part the very tricks in the act of
perpetration by which some article or other, meant to be claimed as
stolen property, was conveyed into a parcel she had incautiously laid
down. He heard the charge against her made by Barratt, and seconded by
his creatures--heard her appeal--sprang to her aid--dragged the ruffian
into the street, when in less time than the tale could be told, and
before the police (though tolerably alert) could effectually interpose
for his rescue, the mob had so used or so abused the opportunity they
had long wished for, that he remained the mere disfigured wreck of what
had once been a man, rather than a creature with any resemblance to
humanity. I myself heard the uproar at a distance, and the shouts and
yells of savage exultation; they were sounds I shall never forget,
though I did not at that time know them for what they were, or
understood their meaning. The result, however, to me was something
beyond this, and worthy to have been purchased with my heart's blood.
Barratt still breathed; spite of his mutilations he could speak; he was
rational. One only thing he demanded--it was that his dying confession
might be taken. Two magistrates and a clergyman attended. He gave a
list of those whom he had trepanned, and had failed to trepan, by his
artifices and threats, into the sacrifice of their honor. He expired
before the record was closed, but not before he had placed my wife's
name in the latter list as the one whose injuries in his dying moments
most appalled him. This confession on the following day went into the
hands of the hostile minister, and my revenge was perfect.


Why is it that _Adventures_ are so generally repulsive to people of
meditative minds? It is for the same reason that any other want of law,
that any other anarchy is repulsive. Floating passively from action to
action, as helplessly as a withered leaf surrendered to the breath
of winds, the human spirit (out of which comes all grandeur of human
motions) is exhibited in mere _Adventures_, as either entirely laid
asleep, or as acting only by lower organs that regulate the _means_,
whilst the _ends_ are derived from alien sources, and are imperiously
predetermined. It is a case of exception, however, when even amongst
such adventures the agent reacts upon his own difficulties and
necessities by a temper of extraordinary courage, and a mind of
premature decision. Further strength arises to such an exception, if the
very moulding accidents of the life, if the very external coercions are
themselves unusually romantic. They may thus gain a separate interest of
their own. And, lastly, the whole is locked into validity of interest,
even for the psychological philosopher, by complete authentication
of its truth. In the case now brought before him, the reader must not
doubt; for no memoir exists, or personal biography, that is so trebly
authenticated by proofs and attestations direct and collateral. From the
archives of the Royal Marine at Seville, from the autobiography or the
heroine, from contemporary chronicles, and from several official sources
scattered in and out of Spain, some of them ecclesiastical, the
amplest proofs have been drawn, and may yet be greatly extended, of the
extraordinary events here recorded. M. de Ferrer, a Spaniard of much
research, and originally incredulous as to the facts, published about
seventeen years ago a selection from the leading documents, accompanied
by his _palinode_ as to their accuracy. His materials have been since
used for the basis of more than one narrative, not inaccurate, in
French, German and Spanish journals of high authority. It is seldom the
case that French writers err by prolixity. They _have_ done so in this
case. The present narrative, which contains no sentence derived from any
foreign one, has the great advantage of close compression; my own pages,
after equating the size, being as 1 to 3 of the shortest continental
form. In the mode of narration, I am vain enough to flatter myself
that the reader will find little reason to hesitate between us. Mine
at least, weary nobody; which is more than can be always said for the
continental versions.

On a night in the year 1592, (but which night is a secret liable to 365
answers,) a Spanish '_son of somebody_,' [Footnote: _i.e._ 'Hidalgo']
in the fortified town of St. Sebastian, received the disagreeable
intelligence from a nurse, that his wife had just presented him with a
daughter. No present that the poor misjudging lady could possibly have
made him was so entirely useless for any purpose of his. He had three
daughters already, which happened to be more by 2+1 than _his_ reckoning
assumed as a reasonable allowance of daughters. A supernumerary son
might have been stowed away; but daughters in excess were the very
nuisance of Spain. He did, therefore, what in such cases every proud
and lazy Spanish gentleman was apt to do--he wrapped the new little
daughter, odious to his paternal eyes, in a pocket handkerchief; and
then, wrapping up his own throat with a good deal more care, off he
bolted to the neighboring convent of St. Sebastian, not merely of that
city, but also (amongst several convents) the one dedicated to that
saint. It is well that in this quarrelsome world we quarrel furiously
about tastes; since agreeing too closely about the objects to be
liked and appropriated would breed much more fighting than is bred by
disagreeing. That little human tadpole, which the old toad of a father
would not suffer to stay ten minutes in his house, proved as welcome at
the nunnery of St. Sebastian as she was odious elsewhere. The superior
of the convent was aunt, by the mother's side, to the new-born stranger.
She, therefore, kissed and blessed the little lady. The poor nuns, who
were never to have any babies of their own, and were languishing for
some amusement, perfectly doated on this prospect of a wee pet. The
superior thanked the hidalgo for his very splendid present. The nuns
thanked him each and all; until the old crocodile actually began to
cry and whimper sentimentally at what he now perceived to be excess of
munificence in himself. Munificence, indeed, he remarked, was his foible
next after parental tenderness.

What a luxury it is sometimes to a cynic that there go two words to a
bargain. In the convent of St. Sebastian all was gratitude; gratitude
(as aforesaid) to the hidalgo from all the convent for his present,
until at last the hidalgo began to express gratitude to _them_ for their
gratitude to _him_. Then came a rolling fire of thanks to St. Sebastian;
from the superior, for sending a future saint; from the nuns, for
sending such a love of a plaything; and, finally, from papa, for sending
such substantial board and well-bolted lodgings, 'from which,' said the
malicious old fellow, 'my pussy will never find her way out to a thorny
and dangerous world.' Won't she? I suspect, son of somebody, that the
next time you see 'pussy,' which may happen to be also the last,
will not be in a convent of any kind. At present, whilst this general
rendering of thanks was going on, one person only took no part in them.
That person was 'pussy,' whose little figure lay quietly stretched out
in the arms of a smiling young nun, with eyes nearly shut, yet peering
a little at the candles. Pussy said nothing. It's of no great use to
say much, when all the world is against you. But if St. Sebastian had
enabled her to speak out the whole truth, pussy _would_ have said: 'So,
Mr. Hidalgo, you have been engaging lodgings for me; lodgings for life.
Wait a little. We'll try that question, when my claws are grown a little

Disappointment, therefore, was gathering ahead. But for the present
there was nothing of the kind. That noble old crocodile, papa, was not
in the least disappointed as regarded _his_ expectation of having
no anxiety to waste, and no money to pay, on account of his youngest
daughter. He insisted on his right to forget her; and in a week _had_
forgotten her, never to think of her again but once. The lady superior,
as regarded _her_ demands, was equally content, and through a course of
several years; for, as often as she asked pussy if she would be a
saint, pussy replied that she would, if saints were allowed plenty of
sweetmeats. But least of all were the nuns disappointed. Everything that
they had fancied possible in a human plaything fell short of what pussy
realized in racketing, racing, and eternal plots against the peace of
the elder nuns. No fox ever kept a hen-roost in such alarm as pussy kept
the dormitory of the senior sisters; whilst the younger ladies were
run off their legs by the eternal wiles, and had their chapel gravity
discomposed, even in chapel, by the eternal antics of this privileged
little kitten.

The kitten had long ago received a baptismal name, which was Kitty; this
is Catharine, or Kate, or _Hispanice_ Catalina. It was a good name, as
it recalled her original name of pussy. And, by the way, she had also an
ancient and honorable surname, viz., _De Erauso_, which is to this day a
name rooted in Biscay. Her father, the _hidalgo_, was a military officer
in the Spanish service, and had little care whether his kitten should
turn out a wolf or a lamb, having made over the fee simple of his own
interest in the little Kate to St. Sebastian, 'to have and to hold,'
so long as Kate should keep her hold of this present life. Kate had
no apparent intention to let slip that hold, for she was blooming as
a rose-bush in June, tall and strong as a young cedar. Yet,
notwithstanding this robust health and the strength of the convent
walls, the time was drawing near when St. Sebastian's lease in Kate
must, in legal phrase, 'determine;' and any _chateaux en Espagne_,
that the Saint might have built on the cloisteral fidelity of his pet
Catalina, must suddenly give way in one hour, like many other vanities
in our own days of Spanish bonds and promises. After reaching her tenth
year, Catalina became thoughtful, and not very docile. At times she
was even headstrong and turbulent, so that the gentle sisterhood of St.
Sebastian, who had no other pet or plaything in the world, began to weep
in secret--fearing that they might have been rearing by mistake some
future tigress--for as to infancy, _that_, you know, is playful and
innocent even in the cubs of a tigress. But _there_ the ladies were
going too far. Catalina was impetuous and aspiring, but not cruel. She
was gentle, if people would let her be so. But woe to those that
took liberties with _her_! A female servant of the convent, in some
authority, one day, in passing up the aisle to matins, _wilfully_ gave
Kate a push; and in return, Kate, who never left her debts in arrear,
gave the servant for a keepsake a look which that servant carried with
her in fearful remembrance to her grave. It seemed as if Kate had tropic
blood in her veins, that continually called her away to the tropics. It
was all the fault of that 'blue rejoicing sky,' of those purple Biscayan
mountains, of that tumultuous ocean, which she beheld daily from the
nunnery gardens. Or, if only half of it was _their_ fault, the other
half lay in those golden tales, streaming upwards even into the
sanctuaries of convents, like morning mists touched by earliest
sunlight, of kingdoms overshadowing a new world which had been founded
by her kinsmen with the simple aid of a horse and a lance. The reader is
to remember that this is no romance, or at least no fiction, that he
is reading; and it is proper to remind the reader of real romances in
Ariosto or our own Spenser, that such martial ladies as the _Marfisa_,
or _Bradamant_ of the first, and _Britomart_ of the other, were really
not the improbabilities that modern society imagines. Many a stout man,
as you will soon see, found that Kate, with a sabre in hand, and well
mounted, was but too serious a fact.

The day is come--the evening is come--when our poor Kate, that had for
fifteen years been so tenderly rocked in the arms of St. Sebastian and
his daughters, and that henceforth shall hardly find a breathing space
between eternal storms, must see her peaceful cell, must see the holy
chapel, for the last time. It was at vespers, it was during the chanting
of the vesper service, that she finally read the secret signal for her
departure, which long she had been looking for. It happened that her
aunt, the Lady Principal, had forgotten her breviary. As this was in
a private 'scrutoire, she did not choose to send a servant for it, but
gave the key to her niece. The niece, on opening the 'scrutoire, saw,
with that rapidity of eye-glance for the one thing needed in any great
emergency, which ever attended her through life, that _now_ was the
moment for an attempt which, if neglected, might never return. There lay
the total keys, in one massive _trousseau_, of that fortress impregnable
even to armies from without. Saint Sebastian! do you see what your
pet is going to do? And do it she will, as sure as your name is St.
Sebastian. Kate went back to her aunt with the breviary and the key; but
taking good care to leave that awful door, on whose hinge revolved her
whole life, unlocked. Delivering the two articles to the Superior, she
complained of a headache--[Ah, Kate! what did you know of headaches,
except now and then afterwards from a stray bullet, or so?]--upon which
her aunt, kissing her forehead, dismissed her to bed. Now, then, through
three-fourths of an hour Kate will have free elbow-room for unanchoring
her boat, for unshipping her oars, and for pulling ahead right out of
St. Sebastian's cove into the main ocean of life.

Catalina, the reader is to understand, does not belong to the class of
persons in whom chiefly I pretend to an interest. But everywhere one
loves energy and indomitable courage. I, for my part, admire not, by
preference, anything that points to this world. It is the child of
reverie and profounder sensibility who turns _away_ from the world as
hateful and insufficient, that engages _my_ interest: whereas Catalina
was the very model of the class fitted for facing this world, and who
express their love to it by fighting with it and kicking it from year to
year. But, always, what is best in its kind one admires, even though the
kind be disagreeable. Kate's advantages for her _role_ in this life lay
in four things, viz., in a well-built person, and a particularly strong
wrist; 2d, in a heart that nothing could appal; 3d, in a sagacious head,
never drawn aside from the _hoc age_ [from the instant question of life]
by any weakness of imagination; 4th, in a tolerably thick skin--not
literally, for she was fair and blooming, and decidedly handsome, having
such a skin as became a young woman of family in northernmost Spain.
But her sensibilities were obtuse as regarded _some_ modes of delicacy,
_some_ modes of equity, _some_ modes of the world's opinion, and
_all_ modes whatever of personal hardship. Lay a stress on that word
_some_--for, as to delicacy, she never lost sight of the kind which
peculiarly concerns her sex. Long afterwards she told the Pope himself,
when confessing without disguise her sad and infinite wanderings to the
paternal old man (and I feel convinced of her veracity), that in this
respect, even then, at middle age, she was as pure as is a child. And,
as to equity, it was only that she substituted the equity of camps for
the polished (but often more iniquitous) equity of courts and towns. As
to the third item--the world's opinion--I don't know that you need lay
a stress on _some_; for, generally speaking, _all_ that the world did,
said, or thought, was alike contemptible in her eyes, in which, perhaps,
she was not so _very_ far wrong. I must add, though at the cost of
interrupting the story by two or three more sentences, that Catalina had
also a fifth advantage, which sounds humbly, but is really of use in a
world, where even to fold and seal a letter adroitly is not the least
of accomplishments. She was a _handy_ girl. She could turn her hand to
anything, of which I will give you two memorable instances. Was there
ever a girl in this world but herself that cheated and snapped her
fingers at that awful Inquisition, which brooded over the convents of
Spain, that did this without collusion from outside, trusting to nobody,
but to herself, and what? to one needle, two hanks of thread, and a very
inferior pair of scissors? For, that the scissors were bad, though Kate
does not say so in her memoirs, I knew by an _a priori_ argument, viz.,
because _all_ scissors were bad in the year 1607. Now, say all decent
logicians, from a universal to a particular _valet consequentia_, _all_
scissors were bad: _ergo_, _some_ scissors were bad. The second instance
of her handiness will surprise you even more:--She once stood upon a
scaffold, under sentence of death--[but, understand, on the evidence
of false witnesses]. Jack Ketch was absolutely tying the knot under her
ear, and the shameful man of ropes fumbled so deplorably, that Kate (who
by much nautical experience had learned from another sort of 'Jack'
how a knot _should_ be tied in this world,) lost all patience with the
contemptible artist, told him she was ashamed of him, took the rope out
of his hand, and tied the knot irreproachably herself. The crowd saluted
her with a festal roll, long and loud, of _vivas_; and this word _viva_
of good augury--but stop; let me not anticipate.

From this sketch of Catalina's character, the reader is prepared to
understand the decision of her present proceeding. She had no time to
lose: the twilight favored her; but she must get under hiding before
pursuit commenced. Consequently she lost not one of her forty-five
minutes in picking and choosing. No _shilly-shally_ in Kate. She saw
with the eyeball of an eagle what was indispensable. Some little money
perhaps to pay the first toll-bar of life: so, out of four shillings in
Aunty's purse, she took one. You can't say _that_ was exorbitant. Which
of us wouldn't subscribe a shilling for poor Katy to put into the first
trouser pockets that ever she will wear? I remember even yet, as a
personal experience, that when first arrayed, at four years old, in
nankeen trousers, though still so far retaining hermaphrodite relations
of dress as to wear a petticoat above my trousers, all my female friends
(because they pitied me, as one that had suffered from years of ague)
filled my pockets with half-crowns, of which I can render no account at
this day. But what were my poor pretensions by the side of Kate's? Kate
was a fine blooming girl of fifteen, with no touch of ague, and, before
the next sun rises, Kate shall draw on her first trousers, and made by
her own hand; and, that she may do so, of all the valuables in Aunty's
repository she takes nothing beside the shilling, _quantum sufficit_ of
thread, one stout needle, and (as I told you before, if you would please
to remember things) one bad pair of scissors. Now she was ready; ready
to cast off St. Sebastian's towing-rope; ready to cut and run for port
anywhere. The finishing touch of her preparations was to pick out the
proper keys: even there she showed the same discretion. She did do no
gratuitous mischief. She did not take the wine-cellar key, which would
have irritated the good father confessor; she took those keys only that
belonged to _her_, if ever keys did; for they were the keys that locked
her out from her natural birthright of liberty. 'Show me,' says the
Romish Casuist, 'her right in law to let herself out of that nunnery.'
'Show us,' we reply, '_your_ right to lock her in.'

Right or wrong, however, in strict casuistry, Kate was resolved to let
herself out; and _did_ so; and, for fear any man should creep in whilst
vespers lasted, and steal the kitchen grate, she locked her old friends
_in_. Then she sought a shelter. The air was not cold. She hurried into
a chestnut wood, and upon withered leaves slept till dawn. Spanish diet
and youth leaves the digestion undisordered, and the slumbers light.
When the lark rose, up rose Catalina. No time to lose, for she was still
in the dress of a nun, and liable to be arrested by any man in Spain.
With her _armed_ finger, [aye, by the way, I forgot the thimble; but
Kate did _not_]--she set to work upon her amply-embroidered petticoat.
She turned it wrong side out; and with the magic that only female hands
possess, she had soon sketched and finished a dashing pair of Wellington
trousers. All other changes were made according to the materials she
possessed, and quite sufficiently to disguise the two main perils--her
sex, and her monastic dedication. What was she to do next. Speaking of
Wellington trousers would remind _us_, but could hardly remind _her_,
of Vittoria, where she dimly had heard of some maternal relative.
To Vittoria, therefore, she bent her course; and, like the Duke of
Wellington, but arriving more than two centuries earlier, [though _he_
too is an early riser,] she gained a great victory at that place. She
had made a two days' march, baggage far in the rear, and no provisions
but wild berries; she depended for anything better, as light-heartedly
as the Duke, upon attacking, sword in hand, storming her dear friend's
entrenchments, and effecting a lodgment in his breakfast-room, should he
happen to have one. This amiable relative, an elderly man, had but
one foible, or perhaps one virtue in this world; but _that_ he had in
perfection,--it was pedantry. On that hint Catalina spoke: she knew
by heart, from the services of the convent, a few Latin phrases.
Latin!--Oh, but _that_ was charming; and in one so young! The grave Don
owned the soft impeachment; relented at once, and clasped the hopeful
young gentleman in the Wellington trousers to his _uncular_ and rather
angular breast. In this house the yarn of life was of a mingled quality.
The table was good, but that was exactly what Kate cared little about.
The amusement was of the worst kind. It consisted chiefly in conjugating
Latin verbs, especially such as were obstinately irregular. To show
him a withered frost-bitten verb, that wanted its preterite, wanted its
supines, wanted, in fact, everything in this world, fruits or blossoms,
that make a verb desirable, was to earn the Don's gratitude for life.
All day long he was marching and countermarching his favorite
brigades of verbs--verbs frequentative, verbs inceptive, verbs
desiderative--horse, foot, and artillery; changing front, advancing from
the rear, throwing out skirmishing parties, until Kate, not given to
faint, must have thought of such a resource, as once in her life she had
thought so seasonably of a vesper headache. This was really worse than
St. Sebastian's. It reminds one of a French gayety in Thiebault or
some such author, who describes a rustic party, under equal despair, as
employing themselves in conjugating the verb _s'ennuyer,--Je m'ennuie,
tu t'ennuies, il s'ennuit; nous nous ennuyons_, &c.; thence to
the imperfect--_Je m'ennuyois, tu t'ennuyois_, &c.; thence to the
imperative--_Qu'il s'ennuye_, &c.; and so on through the whole
melancholy conjugation. Now, you know, when the time comes that, _nous
nous ennuyons_, the best course is, to part. Kate saw _that_; and she
walked off from the Don's [of whose amorous passion for defective
verbs one would have wished to know the catastrophe], and took from his
mantel-piece rather move silver than she had levied on her aunt. But the
Don also was a relative; and really he owed her a small cheque on his
banker for turning out on his field-days. A man, if he _is_ a kinsman,
has no right to bore one _gratis_.

From Vittoria, Kate was guided by a carrier to Valladolid. Luckily, as
it seemed at first, but it made little difference in the end, here, at
Valladolid, were the King and his Court. Consequently, there was plenty
of regiments and plenty of regimental bands. Attracted by one of these,
Catalina was quietly listening to the music, when some street
ruffians, in derision of the gay colors and the form of her forest-made
costume--[rascals! one would like to have seen what sort of trousers
_they_ would have made with no better scissors!]--began to pelt her with
stones. Ah, my friends, of the genus _blackguard_, you little know who
it is that you are selecting for experiments. This is the one creature
of fifteen in all Spain, be the other male or female, whom nature, and
temper, and provocation have qualified for taking the conceit out of
you. This she very soon did, laying open a head or two with a sharp
stone, and letting out rather too little than too much of bad
Valladolid blood. But mark the constant villany of this world.
Certain Alguazils--very like some other Alguazils that I know nearer
home--having stood by quietly to see the friendless stranger insulted
and assaulted, now felt it their duty to apprehend the poor nun for
murderous violence: and had there been such a thing as a treadmill in
Valladolid, Kate was booked for a place on it without further inquiry.
Luckily, injustice does not _always_ prosper. A gallant young cavalier,
who had witnessed from his windows the whole affair, had seen the
provocation, and admired Catalina's behavior--equally patient at first
and bold at last--hastened into the street, pursued the officers, forced
them to release their prisoner, upon stating the circumstances of the
case, and instantly offered Catalina a situation amongst his retinue.
He was a man of birth and fortune; and the place offered, that of
an honorary page, not being at all degrading even to a 'daughter of
somebody,' was cheerfully accepted. Here Catalina spent a happy month.
She was now splendidly dressed in dark blue velvet, by a tailor that
did not work within the gloom of a chestnut forest. She and the young
cavalier, Don Francisco de Cardenas, were mutually pleased, and had
mutual confidence. All went well--when one evening, but, luckily, not
until the sun had been set so long as to make all things indistinct, who
should march into the ante-chamber of the cavalier but that sublime of
crocodiles, _Papa_, that we lost sight of fifteen years ago, and shall
never see again after this night. He had his crocodile tears all ready
for use, in working order, like a good industrious fire-engine. It was
absolutely to Catalina herself that he advanced; whom, for many reasons,
he could not be supposed to recognise--lapse of years, male attire,
twilight, were all against him. Still, she might have the family
countenance; and Kate thought he looked with a suspicious scrutiny into
her face, as he inquired for the young Don. To avert her own face, to
announce him to Don Francisco, to wish him on the shores of that ancient
river for crocodiles, the Nile, furnished but one moment's work to the
active Catalina. She lingered, however, as her place entitled her to
do, at the door of the audience chamber. She guessed already, but in a
moment she _heard_ from papa's lips what was the nature of his errand.
His daughter Catharine, he informed the Don, had eloped from the
convent of St. Sebastian, a place rich in delight. Then he laid open the
unparalleled ingratitude of such a step. Oh, the unseen treasure that
had been spent upon that girl! Oh, the untold sums of money that he had
sunk in that unhappy speculation! The nights of sleeplessness suffered
during her infancy! The fifteen years of solicitude thrown away in
schemes for her improvement! It would have moved the heart of a stone.
The _hidalgo_ wept copiously at his own pathos. And to such a height
of grandeur had he carried his Spanish sense of the sublime, that he
disdained to mention the pocket-handkerchief which he had left at St.
Sebastian's fifteen years ago, by way of envelope for 'pussy,' and
which, to the best of pussy's knowledge, was the one sole memorandum
of papa ever heard of at St. Sebastian's. Pussy, however, saw no use in
revising and correcting the text of papa's remembrances. She showed her
usual prudence, and her usual incomparable decision. It did not appear,
as yet, that she would be reclaimed, or was at all suspected for the
fugitive by her father. For it is an instance of that singular fatality
which pursued Catalina through life, that, to her own astonishment, (as
she now collected from her father's conference,) nobody had traced her
to Valladolid, nor had her father's visit any connection with suspicious
travelling in that direction. The case was quite different. Strangely
enough, her street row had thrown her into the one sole household in all
Spain that had an official connection with St. Sebastian's. That convent
had been founded by the young cavalier's family; and, according to the
usage of Spain, the young man (as present representative of his house)
was the responsible protector of the establishment. It was not to
the Don, as harborer of his daughter, but to the Don, as _ex officio_
visitor of the convent, that the hidalgo was appealing. Probably Kate
might have staid safely some time longer. Yet, again, this would but
have multiplied the clues for tracing her; and, finally, she would
too probably have been discovered; after which, with all his youthful
generosity, the poor Don could not have protected her. Too terrific was
the vengeance that awaited an abettor of any fugitive nun; but, above
all, if such a crime were perpetrated by an official mandatory of the
church. Yet, again, so far it was the more hazardous course to abscond,
that it almost revealed her to the young Don as the missing daughter.
Still, if it really _had_ that effect, nothing at present obliged him to
pursue her, as might have been the case a few weeks later. Kate
argued (I dare say) rightly, as she always did. Her prudence whispered
eternally, that safety there was none for her, until she had laid the
Atlantic between herself and St. Sebastian's. Life was to be for _her_
a Bay of Biscay; and it was odds but she had first embarked upon this
billowy life from the literal Bay of Biscay. Chance ordered otherwise.
Or, as a Frenchman says with eloquent ingenuity, in connection with this
story, 'Chance is but the _pseudonyme_ of God for those particular cases
which he does not subscribe openly with his own sign manual.' She crept
up stairs to her bed-room. Simple are the travelling preparations of
those that, possessing nothing, have no imperials to pack. She had
Juvenal's qualification for carolling gaily through a forest full of
robbers; for she had nothing to lose but a change of linen, that rode
easily enough under her left arm, leaving the right free for answering
any questions of impertinent customers. As she crept down stairs, she
heard the Crocodile still weeping forth his sorrows to the pensive ear
of twilight, and to the sympathetic Don Francisco. Now, it would not
have been filial or lady-like for Kate to do what I am going to suggest;
but what a pity that some gay brother page had not been there to
turn aside into the room, armed with a roasted potato, and, taking a
sportsman's aim, to have lodged it in the Crocodile's abominable mouth.
Yet, what an anachronism! There _were_ no roasted potatoes in Spain
at that date, and very few in England. But anger drives a man to say

Catalina had seen her last of friends and enemies in Valladolid. Short
was her time there; but she had improved it so far as to make a few of
both. There was an eye or two in Valladolid that would have glared with
malice upon her, had she been seen by _all_ eyes in that city, as she
tripped through the streets in the dusk; and eyes there were that would
have softened into tears, had they seen the desolate condition of the
child, or in vision had seen the struggles that were before her. But
what's the use of wasting tears upon our Kate? Wait till to-morrow
morning at sunrise, and see if she is particularly in need of pity.
What now should a young lady do--I propose it as a subject for a prize
essay--that finds herself in Valladolid at nighfall, having no letters
of introduction, not aware of any reason great or small for preferring
any street in general, except so far as she knows of some reason for
avoiding one or two streets in particular? The great problem I have
stated, Kate investigated as she went along; and she solved it with
the accuracy with which she ever applied to _practical_ exigencies. Her
conclusion was--that the best door to knock at in such a case was the
door where there was no need to knock at all, as being unfastened, and
open to all comers. For she argued that within such a door there would
be nothing to steal, so that, at least, you could not be mistaken in the
ark for a thief. Then, as to stealing from _her_, they might do that if
they could.

Upon these principles, which hostile critics will in vain endeavor to
undermine, she laid her hand upon what seemed a rude stable door. Such
it proved. There was an empty cart inside, certainly there was, but you
couldn't take _that_ away in your pocket; and there were five loads of
straw, but then of those a lady could take no more than her _reticule_
would carry, which perhaps was allowed by the courtesy of Spain. So Kate
was right as to the difficulty of being challenged for a thief. Closing
the door as gently as she had opened it, she dropped her person, dressed
as she was, upon the nearest heap of straw. Some ten feet further were
lying two muleteers, honest and happy enough, as compared with the lords
of the bed-chamber then in Valladolid: but still gross men, carnally
deaf from eating garlic and onions, and other horrible substances.
Accordingly, they never heard her, nor were aware, until dawn, that such
a blooming person existed. But she was aware of _them_, and of their
conversation. They were talking of an expedition for America, on the
point of sailing under Don Ferdinand de Cordova. It was to sail from
some Andalusian port. That was the very thing for _her_. At daylight she
woke, and jumped up, needing no more toilet than the birds that already
were singing in the gardens, or than the two muleteers, who, good,
honest fellows, saluted the handsome boy kindly--thinking no ill at his
making free with _their_ straw, though no leave had been asked.

With these philo-garlic men Kate took her departure. The morning was
divine: and leaving Valladolid with the transports that befitted such
a golden dawn, feeling also already, in the very obscurity of her exit,
the pledge of her escape; she cared no longer for the Crocodile, or
for St. Sebastian, or (in the way of fear) for the protector of St.
Sebastian, though of _him_ she thought with some tenderness; so deep is
the remembrance of kindness mixed with justice. Andalusia she reached
rather slowly; but many months before she was sixteen years old, and
quite in time for the expedition. St. Lucar being the port of rendezvous
for the Peruvian expedition, thither she went. All comers were welcome
on board the fleet; much more a fine young fellow like Kate. She was at
once engaged as a mate; and _her_ ship, in particular, after doubling
Cape Horn without loss, made the coast of Peru. Paita was the port of
her destination. Very near to this port they were, when a storm threw
them upon a coral reef. There was little hope of the ship from the
first, for she was unmanageable, and was not expected to hold together
for twenty-four hours. In this condition, with death before their faces,
mark what Kate did; and please to remember it for her benefit, when
she does any other little thing that angers you. The crew lowered the
long-boat. Vainly the captain protested against this disloyal desertion
of a king's ship, which might yet perhaps be run on shore, so as to save
the stores. All the crew, to a man, deserted the captain. You may say
_that_ literally; for the single exception was _not_ a man, being our
bold-hearted Kate. She was the only sailor that refused to leave her
captain, or the king of Spain's ship. The rest pulled away for the
shore, and with fair hopes of reaching it. But one half-hour told
another tale: just about that time came a broad sheet of lightning,
which, through the darkness of evening, revealed the boat in the very
act of mounting like a horse upon an inner reef, instantly filling,
and throwing out the crew, every man of whom disappeared amongst
the breakers. The night which succeeded was gloomy for both the
representatives of his Catholic Majesty. It cannot be denied by the
greatest of philosophers, that the muleteer's stable at Valladolid was
worth twenty such ships, though the stable was _not_ insured against
fire, and the ship _was_ insured against the sea and the wind by some
fellow that thought very little of his engagements. But what's the
use of sitting down to cry? That was never any trick of Catalina's. By
daybreak, she was at work with an axe in her hand. I knew it, before
ever I came to this place, in her memoirs. I felt, as sure as if I had
read it, that when day broke, we should find Kate hard at work. Thimble
or axe, trousers or raft, all one to _her_.

The Captain, though true to his duty, seems to have desponded. He gave
no help towards the raft. Signs were speaking, however, pretty loudly
that he must do something; for notice to quit was now served pretty
liberally. Kate's raft was ready; and she encouraged the captain to
think that it would give both of them something to hold by in swimming,
if not even carry double. At this moment, when all was waiting for
a start, and the ship herself was waiting for a final lurch, to say
_Good-bye_ to the King of Spain, Kate went and did a thing which some
misjudging people will object to. She knew of a box laden with gold
coins, reputed to be the King of Spain's, and meant for contingencies in
the voyage out. This she smashed open with her axe, and took a sum
equal to one hundred guineas English; which, having well secured in a
pillow-case, she then lashed firmly to the raft. Now this, you know,
though not _flotsam_, because it would not float, was certainly, by
maritime law, '_jetsom_.' It would be the idlest of scruples to fancy
that the sea or a shark had a better right to it than a philosopher, or
a splendid girl who showed herself capable of writing a very fair 8vo,
to say nothing of her decapitating in battle several of the king's
enemies, and recovering the king's banner. No sane moralist would
hesitate to do the same thing under the same circumstances, on board an
English vessel, though the First Lord of the Admiralty should be looking
on. The raft was now thrown into the sea. Kate jumped after it, and then
entreated the captain to follow her. He attempted it; but, wanting her
youthful agility, he struck his head against a spar, and sank like lead,
giving notice below that his ship was coming. Kate mounted the raft,
and was gradually washed ashore, but so exhausted, as to have lost all
recollection. She lay for hours until the warmth of the sun revived her.
On sitting up, she saw a desolate shore stretching both ways--nothing to
eat, nothing to drink, but fortunately the raft and the money had been
thrown near her; none of the lashings having given way--only what is the
use of a guinea amongst tangle and sea-gulls? The money she distributed
amongst her pockets, and soon found strength to rise and march
forward. But which _was_ forward? and which backward? She knew by the
conversation of the sailors that Paita must be in the neighborhood; and
Paita, being a port, could not be in the inside of Peru, but, of course,
somewhere on its outside--and the outside of a maritime land must be the
shore; so that, if she kept the shore, and went far enough, she could
not fail of hitting her foot against Paita at last, in the very darkest
night, provided only she could first find out which was _up_ and which
was _down_; else she might walk her shoes off, and find herself six
thousand miles in the wrong. Here was an awkward case, all for want of a
guide-post. Still, when one thinks of Kate's prosperous horoscope, that
after so long a voyage, _she_ only, out of the total crew, was thrown
on the American shore, with one hundred and five pounds in her purse of
clear gain on the voyage, a conviction arises that she _could_ not guess
wrongly. She might have tossed up, having coins in her pocket, _heads
or tails_? but this kind of sortilege was then coming to be thought
irreligious in Christendom, as a Jewish and a Heathen mode of
questioning the dark future. She simply guessed, therefore; and very
soon a thing happened which, though adding nothing to strengthen her
guess as a true one, did much to sweeten it if it should prove a false
one. On turning a point of the shore, she came upon a barrel of biscuit
washed ashore from the ship. Biscuit is about the best thing I know,
but it is the soonest spoiled; and one would like to hear counsel on one
puzzling point, why it is that a touch of water utterly ruins it, taking
its life, and leaving a _caput mortuum_ corpse! Upon this _caput_ Kate
breakfasted, though _her_ case was worse than mine; for any water that
ever plagued _me_ was always fresh; now _hers_ was a present from the
Pacific ocean. She, that was always prudent, packed up some of the
Catholic king's biscuit, as she had previously packed up far too little
of his gold. But in such cases a most delicate question occurs, pressing
equally on medicine and algebra. It is this: if you pack up too much,
then, by this extra burthen of salt provisions, you may retard for days
your arrival at fresh provisions; on the other hand, if you pack up too
little, you may never arrive at all. Catalina hit the _juste milieu;_
and about twilight on the second day, she found herself entering Paita,
without having had to swim any river in her walk.

The first thing, in such a case of distress, which a young lady does,
even if she happens to be a young gentleman, is to beautify her dress.
Kate always attended to _that_, as we know, having overlooked her in the
chestnut wood. The man she sent for was not properly a tailor, but one
who employed tailors, he himself furnishing the materials. His name was
Urquiza, a fact of very little importance to us in 1847, if it had stood
only at the head and foot of Kate's little account. But unhappily for
Kate's _début_ on this vast American stage, the case was otherwise. Mr.
Urquiza had the misfortune (equally common in the old world and the
new) of being a knave; and also a showy specious knave. Kate, who
had prospered under sea allowances of biscuit and hardship, was now
expanding in proportions. With very little vanity or consciousness on
that head, she now displayed a really fine person; and, when drest
anew in the way that became a young officer in the Spanish service, she
looked [Footnote: _'She looked,' etc_. If ever the reader should visit
Aix-la-Chapelle, he will probably feel interest enough in the poor, wild
impassioned girl, to look out for a picture of her in that city, and the
only one known _certainly_ to be authentic. It is in the collection of
Mr. Sempeller. For some time it was supposed that the best (if not the
only) portrait of her lurked somewhere in Italy. Since the discovery
of the picture at Aix-la-Chapelle, that notion has been abandoned. But
there is great reason to believe that, both in Madrid and Rome, many
portraits of her must have been painted to meet the intense interest
which arose in her history subsequently amongst all the men of rank,
military or ecclesiastical, whether in Italy or Spain. The date of these
would range between sixteen and twenty-two years from, the period which
we have now reached (1608.)] the representative picture of a Spanish
_caballador_. It is strange that such an appearance, and such a rank,
should have suggested to Urquiza the presumptuous idea of wishing that
Kate might become his clerk. He _did_, however wish it; for Kate wrote
a beautiful hand; and a stranger thing is, that Kate accepted his
proposal. This might arise from the difficulty of moving in those days
to any distance in Peru. The ship had been merely bringing stores to
the station of Paita; and no corps of the royal armies was readily to be
reached, whilst something must be done at once for a livelihood. Urquiza
had two mercantile establishments, one at Trujillo, to which he repaired
in person, on Kate's agreeing to undertake the management of the other
in Paita. Like the sensible girl, that we have always found her, she
demanded specific instructions for her guidance in duties so new.
Certainly she was in a fair way for seeing life. Telling her beads at
St. Sebastian's, manoeuvreing irregular verbs at Vittoria, acting as
gentleman-usher at Valladolid, serving his Spanish Majesty round Cape
Horn, fighting with storms and sharks off the coast of Peru, and now
commencing as book-keeper or _commis_ to a draper at Paita, does she not
justify the character that I myself gave her, just before dismissing
her from St. Sebastian's, of being a 'handy' girl? Mr. Urquiza's
instructions were short, easy to be understood, but rather comic; and
yet, which is odd, they led to tragic results. There were two debtors of
the shop, (_many_, it is to be hoped, but two meriting his affectionate
notice,) with respect to whom he left the most opposite directions. The
one was a very handsome lady; and the rule as to _her_ was, that she was
to have credit unlimited, strictly unlimited. That was plain. The other
customer, favored by Mr. Urquiza's valedictory thoughts, was a young
man, cousin to the handsome lady, and bearing the name of Reyes. This
youth occupied in Mr. Urquiza's estimate the same hyperbolical rank as
the handsome lady, but on the opposite side of the equation. The rule
as to _him_ was--that he was to have _no_ credit; strictly none. In this
case, also, Kate saw no difficulty; and when she came to know Mr. Reyes
a little, she found the path of pleasure coinciding with the path of
duty. Mr. Urquiza could not be more precise in laying down the rule
than Kate was in enforcing it. But in the other case a scruple arose.
_Unlimited_ might be a word, not of Spanish law, but of Spanish
rhetoric; such as '_Live a thousand years_,' which even annuity offices
hear, and perhaps utter, without a pang. Kate, therefore, wrote to
Trujillo, expressing her honest fears, and desiring to have more
definite instructions. These were positive. If the lady chose to send
for the entire shop, her account was to be debited instantly with
_that_. She had, however, as yet, not sent for the shop, but she
began to manifest strong signs of sending for the shop _man_. Upon the
blooming young Biscayan had her roving eye settled; and she was in a
course of making up her mind to take Kate for a sweetheart. Poor Kate
saw this with a heavy heart. And, at the same time that she had a
prospect of a tender friend more than she wanted, she had become certain
of an extra enemy that she wanted quite as little. What she had done to
offend Mr. Reyes, Kate could not guess, except as to the matter of the
credit; but then, in that, she only executed her instructions. Still Mr.
Reyes was of opinion that there were two ways of executing orders: but
the main offence was unintentional on Kate's part. Reyes, though as yet
she did not know it, had himself been a candidate for the situation of
clerk; and intended probably to keep the equation precisely as it was
with respect to the allowance of credit, only to change places with
the handsome lady--keeping _her_ on the negative side, himself on the
affirmative--an arrangement that you know could have made no sort of
pecuniary difference to Urquiza.

Thus stood matters, when a party of strolling players strolled into
Paita. Kate, as a Spaniard, being one held of the Paita aristocracy, was
expected to attend. She did so; and there also was the malignant Reyes.
He came and seated himself purposely so as to shut out Kate from all
view of the stage. She, who had nothing of the bully in her nature, and
was a gentle creature when her wild Biscayan blood had not been kindled
by insult, courteously requested him to move a little; upon which Reyes
remarked that it was not in his power to oblige the clerk as to that,
but that he _could_ oblige him by cutting his throat. The tiger that
slept in Catalina wakened at once. She seized him, and would have
executed vengeance on the spot, but that a party of young men interposed
to part them. The next day, when Kate (always ready to forget and
forgive) was thinking no more of the row, Reyes passed; by spitting at
the window, and other gestures insulting to Kate, again he roused
her Spanish blood. Out she rushed, sword in hand--a duel began in the
street, and very soon Kate's sword had passed into the heart of Reyes.
Now that the mischief was done, the police were, as usual, all alive
for the pleasure of avenging it. Kate found herself suddenly in a strong
prison, and with small hopes of leaving it, except for execution.
The relations of the dead man were potent in Paita, and clamorous for
justice, so that the _corregidor_, in a case where he saw a very poor
chance of being corrupted by bribes, felt it his duty to be sublimely
incorruptible. The reader knows, however, that, amongst the relatives
of the deceased bully, was that handsome lady, who differed as much from
her cousin in her sentiments as to Kate, as she did in the extent of her
credit with Mr. Urquiza. To _her_ Kate wrote a note; and, using one
of the Spanish King's gold coins for bribing the jailor, got it safely
delivered. That, perhaps, was unnecessary; for the lady had been already
on the alert, and had summoned Urquiza from Trujillo. By some means, not
very luminously stated, and by paying proper fees in proper quarters,
Kate was smuggled out of the prison at nightfall, and smuggled into a
pretty house in the suburbs. Had she known exactly the footing she
stood on as to the law, she would have been decided. As it was, she
was uneasy, and jealous of mischief abroad; and, before supper, she
understood it all. Urquiza briefly informed his clerk, that it would
be requisite for him to marry the handsome lady. But why? Because, said
Urquiza, after talking for hours with the _corregidor_, who was infamous
for obstinacy, he had found it impossible to make him 'hear reason,' and
release the prisoner, until this compromise of marriage was suggested.
But how could public justice be pacified for the clerk's unfortunate
homicide of Reyes, by a female cousin of the deceased man engaging to
love, honor, and obey the clerk for life? Kate could not see her way
through this logic. 'Nonsense, my friend,' said Urquiza, 'you don't
comprehend. As it stands, the affair is a murder, and hanging the
penalty. But, if you marry into the murdered man's house, then it
becomes a little family murder, all quiet and comfortable amongst
ourselves. What has the _corregidor_ to do with that? or the public
either? Now, let me introduce the bride.' Supper entered at that moment,
and the bride immediately after. The thoughtfulness of Kate was narrowly
observed, and even alluded to, but politely ascribed to the natural
anxieties of a prisoner, and the very imperfect state of liberation
even yet from prison _surveillance_. Kate had, indeed, never been in so
trying a situation before. The anxieties of the farewell night at St.
Sebastian were nothing to this; because, even if she had failed _then_,
a failure might not have been always irreparable. It was but to watch
and wait. But now, at this supper table, she was not more alive to the
nature of the peril than she was to the fact, that if, before the night
closed, she did not by some means escape from it, she never _would_
escape with life. The deception as to her sex, though resting on no
motive that pointed to these people, or at all concerned them, would be
resented as if it had. The lady would resent the case as a mockery;
and Urquiza would lose his opportunity of delivering himself from an
imperious mistress. According to the usages of the times and country,
Kate knew that in twelve hours she would be assassinated.

People of infirmer resolution would have lingered at the supper table,
for the sake of putting off the evil moment of final crisis. Not so
Kate. She had revolved the case on all its sides in a few minutes, and
had formed her resolution. This done, she was as ready for the trial at
one moment as another; and, when the lady suggested that the hardships
of a prison must have made repose desirable, Kate assented, and
instantly rose. A sort of procession formed, for the purpose of doing
honor to the interesting guest, and escorting him in pomp to his
bedroom. Kate viewed it much in the same light as the procession to
which for some days she had been expecting an invitation from the
_corregidor_. Far ahead ran the servant-woman as a sort of outrider.
Then came Urquiza, like a Pasha of two tails, who granted two sorts of
credit, viz. unlimited and none at all, bearing two wax-lights, one
in each hand, and wanting only cymbals and kettle-drums to express
emphatically the pathos of his Castilian strut. Next came the bride, a
little in advance of the clerk, but still turning obliquely towards him,
and smiling graciously into his face. Lastly, bringing up the rear,
came the prisoner--our Kate--the nun, the page, the mate, the clerk, the
homicide, the convict; and, for this day only, by particular desire, the
bridegroom elect.

It was Kate's fixed opinion, that, if for a moment she entered any
bedroom having obviously no outlet, her fate would be that of an ox once
driven within the shambles. Outside, the bullock might make some defence
with his horns; but once in, with no space for turning, he is muffled
and gagged. She carried her eye, therefore, like a hawk's, steady,
though restless, for vigilant examination of every angle she turned.
Before she entered any bedroom, she was resolved to reconnoiter it
from the doorway, and, in case of necessity, show fight at once, before
entering--as the best chance, after all, where all chances were bad.
Everything ends; and at last the procession reached the bedroom door,
the outrider having filed off to the rear. One glance sufficed to
satisfy Kate that windows there were none, and, therefore, no outlet
for escape. Treachery appeared even in _that_; and Kate, though
unfortunately without arms, was now fixed for resistance. Mr. Urquiza
entered first--'Sound the trumpets! Beat the drums!' There were, as we
know already, no windows; but a slight interruption to Mr. Urquiza's
pompous tread showed that there were steps downwards into the room.
Those, thought Kate, will suit me even better. She had watched the
unlocking of the bedroom door--she had lost nothing--she had marked that
the key was left in the lock. At this moment, the beautiful lady, as
one acquainted with the details of the house, turning with the air of
a gracious monitress, held out her fair hand to guide Kate in careful
descent of the steps. This had the air of taking out Kate to dance; and
Kate, at that same moment, answering to it by the gesture of a modern
waltzer, threw her arm behind the lady's waist, hurled her headlong down
the steps right against Mr. Urquiza, draper and haberdasher; and
then, with the speed of lightning, throwing the door _home_ within its
architrave, doubly locked the creditor and debtor into the rat-trap
which they had prepared for herself.

The affrighted out-rider fled with horror: she already knew that the
clerk had committed one homicide; a second would cost him still less
thought; and thus it happened that egress was left easy. But, when out
and free once more in the bright starry night, which way should Kate
turn? The whole city would prove but a rat-trap for her, as bad as
Mr. Urquiza's, if she was not off before morning. At a glance she
comprehended that the sea was her only chance. To the port she fled. All
was silent. Watchmen there were none. She jumped into a boat. To use
the oars was dangerous, for she had no means of muffling them. But she
contrived to hoist a sail, pushed off with a boat-hook, and was soon
stretching across the water for the mouth of the harbor before a breeze
light but favorable. Having cleared the difficulties of exit she lay
down, and unintentionally fell asleep. When she awoke the sun had been
up three or four hours; all was right otherwise; but had she not served
as a sailor, Kate would have trembled upon finding that, during her long
sleep of perhaps seven or eight hours, she had lost sight of land; by
what distance she could only guess; and in what direction, was to some
degree doubtful. All this, however, seemed a great advantage to the bold
girl, throwing her thoughts back on the enemies she had left behind.
The disadvantage was--having no breakfast, not even damaged biscuit; and
some anxiety naturally arose as to ulterior prospects a little beyond
the horizon of breakfast. But who's afraid? As sailors whistle for a
wind, Catalina really had but to whistle for anything with energy, and
it was sure to come. Like Caesar to the pilot of Dyrrhachium, she might
have said, for the comfort of her poor timorous boat, (though destined
soon to perish,) '_Catalinam vehis, et fortunas ejus_.' Meantime, being
very doubtful as to the best course for sailing, and content if her
course did but lie offshore, she 'carried on,' as sailors say, under
easy sail, going, in fact, just whither and just how the Pacific breezes
suggested in the gentlest of whispers. _All right behind_, was Kate's
opinion; and, what was better, very soon she might say, _all right
ahead:_ for some hour or two before sunset, when dinner was for once
becoming, even to Kate, the most interesting of subjects for meditation,
suddenly a large ship began to swell upon the brilliant atmosphere.
In those latitudes, and in those years, any ship was pretty sure to
be Spanish: sixty years later the odds were in favor of its being an
English buccaneer; which would have given a new direction to Kate's
energy. Kate continued to make signals with a handkerchief whiter
than the crocodile's of Ann. Dom. 1592, else it would hardly have been
noticed. Perhaps, after all, it would not, but that the ship's course
carried her very nearly across Kate's. The stranger lay-to for her. It
was dark by the time Kate steered herself under the ship's quarter;
and _then_ was seen an instance of this girl's eternal wakefulness.
Something was painted on the stern of her boat, she could not see
_what;_ but she judged that it would express some connection with the
port that she had just quitted. Now it was her wish to break the chain
of traces connecting her with such a scamp as Urquiza; since else,
through his commercial correspondence, he might disperse over Peru a
portrait of herself by no means flattering. How should she accomplish
this? It was dark; and she stood, as you may see an Etonian do at times,
rocking her little boat from side to side, until it had taken in
water as much as might be agreeable. Too much it proved for the boat's
constitution, and the boat perished of dropsy--Kate declining to tap it.
She got a ducking herself; but what cared she? Up the ship's side she
went, as gaily as ever, in those years when she was called pussy, she
had raced after the nuns of St. Sebastian; jumped upon deck, and told
the first lieutenant, when he questioned her about her adventures, quite
as much truth as any man, under the rank of admiral, had a right to

This ship was full of recruits for the Spanish army, and bound to
Concepcion. Even in that destiny was an iteration, or repeating memorial
of the significance that ran through Catalina's most casual adventures.
She had enlisted amongst the soldiers; and, on reaching port, the
very first person who came off from shore was a dashing young military
officer, whom at once by his name and rank, (though she had never
consciously seen him,) she identified as her own brother. He was
splendidly situated in the service, being the Governor-General's
secretary, besides his rank as a cavalry officer; and, his errand on
board being to inspect the recruits, naturally, on reading in the roll
one of them described as a Biscayan, the ardent young man came up with
high-bred courtesy to Catalina, took the young recruit's hand with
kindness, feeling that to be a compatriot at so great a distance was
to be a sort of relative, and asked with emotion after old boyish
remembrances. There was a scriptural pathos in what followed, as if it
were some scene of domestic re-union, opening itself from patriarchal
ages. The young officer was the eldest son of the house, and had left
Spain when Catalina was only three years old. But, singularly enough,
Catalina it was, the little wild cat that he yet remembered seeing at
St. Sebastian's, upon whom his earliest inquiries settled. 'Did the
recruit know his family, the De Erausos?' O yes, every body knew _them_.
'Did the recruit know little Catalina?' Catalina smiled, as she replied
that she did; and gave such an animated description of the little fiery
wretch, as made the officer's eye flash with gratified tenderness, and
with certainty that the recruit was no counterfeit Biscayan. Indeed, you
know, if Kate couldn't give a good description of 'Pussy,' who could?
The issue of the interview was--that the officer insisted on Kate's
making a home of his quarters. He did other services for his unknown
sister. He placed her as a trooper in his own regiment, and favored
her in many a way that is open to one having authority. But the person,
after all, that did most to serve our Kate, was Kate. War was then
raging with Indians, both from Chili and Peru. Kate had always done her
duty in action; but at length, in the decisive battle of Puren, there
was an opening for doing something more. Havoc had been made of her own
squadron: most of the officers were killed, and the standard was carried
off. Kate gathered around her a small party--galloped after the Indian
column that was carrying away the trophy--charged--saw all her own party
killed--but (in spite of wounds on her face and shoulder) succeeded in
bearing away the recovered standard. She rode up to the general and his
staff; she dismounted; she rendered up her prize; and fainted away, much
less from the blinding blood, than from the tears of joy which dimmed
her eyes, as the general, waving his sword in admiration over her head,
pronounced our Kate on the spot an _Alferez_, [Footnote: _Alferez_.
This rank in the Spanish army is, or was, on a level with the modern
_sous-lieutenant_ of France.] or standard-bearer, with a commission from
the King of Spain and the Indies. Bonny Kate! Noble Kate! I would
there were not two centuries laid between us, so that I might have the
pleasure of kissing thy fair hand.

Kate had the good sense to see the danger of revealing her sex, or her
relationship, even to her own brother. The grasp of the Church never
relaxed, never 'prescribed,' unless freely and by choice. The nun, if
discovered, would have been taken out of the horse-barracks, or the
dragoon-saddle. She had the firmness, therefore, for many years, to
resist the sisterly impulses that sometimes suggested such a confidence.
For years, and those years the most important of her life--the years
that developed her character--she lived undetected as a brilliant
cavalry officer under her brother's patronage. And the bitterest grief
in poor Kate's whole life, was the tragical (and, were it not fully
attested, one might say the ultra-scenical,) event that dissolved their
long connection. Let me spend a word of apology on poor Kate's errors.
We all commit many; both you and I, reader. No, stop; that's not civil.
You, reader, I know, are a saint; I am _not_, though very near it. I
_do_ err at long intervals; and then I think with indulgence of the many
circumstances that plead for this poor girl. The Spanish armies of that
day inherited, from the days of Cortez and Pizarro, shining remembrances
of martial prowess, and the very worst of ethics. To think little of
bloodshed, to quarrel, to fight, to gamble, to plunder, belonged to the
very atmosphere of a camp, to its indolence, to its ancient traditions.
In your own defence, you were obliged to do such things. Besides
all these grounds of evil, the Spanish army had just there an extra
demoralization from a war with savages--faithless and bloody. Do not
think, I beseech you, too much, reader, of killing a man. That word
'_kill_' is sprinkled over every page of Kate's own autobiography. It
ought not to be read by the light of these days. Yet, how if a man that
she killed were----? Hush! It was sad; but is better hurried over in a
few words. Years after this period, a young officer one day dining with
Kate, entreated her to become his second in a duel. Such things were
every-day affairs. However, Kate had reasons for declining the service,
and did so. But the officer, as he was sullenly departing, said--that,
if he were killed, (as he thought he _should_ be,) his death would lie
at Kate's door. I do not take _his_ view of the case, and am not moved
by his rhetoric or his logic. Kate _was_, and relented. The duel was
fixed for eleven at night, under the walls of a monastery. Unhappily the
night proved unusually dark, so that the two principals had to tie white
handkerchiefs round their elbows, in order to descry each other. In the
confusion they wounded each other mortally. Upon that, according to a
usage not peculiar to Spaniards, but extending (as doubtless the reader
knows) for a century longer to our own countrymen, the two seconds were
obliged in honor to do something towards avenging their principals. Kate
had her usual fatal luck. Her sword passed sheer through the body of her
opponent: this unknown opponent falling dead, had just breath left
to cry out, 'Ah, villain, you have killed me,' in a voice of horrific
reproach; and the voice was the voice of her brother!

The monks of the monastery, under whose silent shadows this murderous
duel had taken place, roused by the clashing of swords and the angry
shouts of combatants, issued out with torches to find one only of the
four officers surviving. Every convent and altar had a right of asylum
for a short period. According to the custom, the monks carried Kate,
insensible with anguish of mind, to the sanctuary of their chapel. There
for some days they detained her; but then, having furnished her with a
horse and some provisions, they turned her adrift. Which way should the
unhappy fugitive turn? In blindness of heart she turned towards the sea.
It was the sea that had brought her to Peru; it was the sea that would
perhaps carry her away. It was the sea that had first showed her this
land and its golden hopes; it was the sea that ought to hide from her
its fearful remembrances. The sea it was that had twice spared her life
in extremities; the sea it was that might now if it chose, take back the
bauble that it had spared in vain.


Three days our poor heroine followed the coast. Her horse was then
almost unable to move; and on _his_ account, she turned inland to
a thicket for grass and shelter. As she drew near to it, a voice
challenged--'_Who goes there_?' Kate answered, '_Spain_.' '_What
people_?' '_A friend_.' It was two soldiers, deserters, and almost
starving. Kate shared her provisions with these men: and, on hearing
their plan, which was to go over the Cordilleras, she agreed to join the
party. _Their_ object was the wild one of seeking the river _Dorado_,
whose waters rolled along golden sands, and whose pebbles were emeralds.
_Hers_ was to throw herself upon a line the least liable to pursuit, and
the readiest for a new chapter of life in which oblivion might be found
for the past. After a few days of incessant climbing and fatigue, they
found themselves in the regions of perpetual snow. Summer would come as
vainly to this kingdom of frost as to the grave of her brother. No
fire, but the fire of human blood in youthful veins, could ever be kept
burning in these aerial solitudes. Fuel was rarely to be found, and
kindling a secret hardly known except to Indians. However, our Kate can
do everything, and she's the girl, if ever girl _did_ such a thing, or
ever girl did _not_ such a thing, that I back at any odds for crossing
the Cordilleras. I would bet you something now, reader, if I thought
you would deposit your stakes by return of post, (as they play at chess
through the post-office,) that Kate does the trick, that she gets down
to the other side; that the soldiers do _not_: and that the horse, if
preserved at all, is preserved in a way that will leave him very little
to boast of.

The party had gathered wild berries and esculent roots at the foot of
the mountains, and the horse was of very great use in carrying them. But
this larder was soon emptied. There was nothing then to carry; so that
the horse's value, as a beast of burthen, fell cent per cent. In fact,
very soon he could not carry himself, and it became easy to calculate
when he would reach the bottom on the wrong side the Cordilleras. He
took three steps back for one upwards. A council of war being held, the
small army resolved to slaughter their horse. He, though a member of the
expedition, had no vote, and if he had the votes would have stood three
to one--majority, two against him. He was cut into quarters; which
surprises me; for, unless _one_ quarter was considered his own share,
it reminds one too much of this amongst the many _facetiæ_ of English
midshipmen, who ask (on any one of their number looking sulky) 'if it is
his intention to marry and retire from the service upon a superannuation
of £4 4s. 4 1/2d. a year, paid quarterly by way of bothering the
purser.' The purser can't do it with the help of farthings. And
as respects aliquot parts, four shares among three persons are as
incommensurable as a guinea is against any attempt at giving change
in half-crowns. However, this was all the preservation that the horse
found. No saltpetre or sugar could be had: but the frost was antiseptic.
And the horse was preserved in as useful a sense as ever apricots were
preserved or strawberries.

On a fire, painfully devised out of broom and withered leaves, a
horse-steak was dressed, for drink, snow as allowed _a discretion_. This
ought to have revived the party, and Kate, perhaps, it _did_. But the
poor deserters were thinly clad, and they had not the boiling heart of
Catalina. More and more they drooped. Kate did her best to cheer them.
But the march was nearly at an end for _them_, and they were going
in one half hour to receive their last billet. Yet, before this
consummation, they have a strange spectacle to see; such as few places
could show, but the upper chambers of the Cordilleras. They had reached
a billowy scene of rocky masses, large and small, looking shockingly
black on their perpendicular sides as they rose out of the vast snowy
expanse. Upon the highest of these, that was accessible, Kate mounted
to look around her, and she saw--oh, rapture at such an hour!--a man
sitting on a shelf of rock with a gun by his side. She shouted with joy
to her comrades, and ran down to communicate the joyful news. Here was
a sportsman, watching, perhaps, for an eagle; and now they would have
relief. One man's cheek kindled with the hectic of sudden joy, and he
rose eagerly to march. The other was fast sinking under the fatal sleep
that frost sends before herself as her merciful minister of death; but
hearing in his dream the tidings of relief, and assisted by his friends,
he also staggeringly arose. It could not be three minutes' walk, Kate
thought, to the station of the sportsman. That thought supported them
all. Under Kate's guidance, who had taken a sailor's glance at the
bearings, they soon unthreaded the labyrinth of rocks so far as to bring
the man within view. He had not left his resting-place; their steps on
the soundless snow, naturally, he could not hear; and, as their road
brought them upon him from the rear, still less could he see them. Kate
hailed him; but so keenly was he absorbed in some speculation, or in the
object of his watching, that he took no notice of them, not even moving
his head. Kate began to think there would be another man to rouse from
sleep. Coming close behind him, she touched his shoulder, and said, 'My
friend, are you sleeping?' Yes, he _was_ sleeping; sleeping the sleep
from which there is no awaking; and the slight touch of Kate having
disturbed the equilibrium of the corpse, down it rolled on the snow:
the frozen body rang like a hollow iron cylinder; the face uppermost and
blue with mould, mouth open, teeth ghastly and bleaching in the frost,
and a frightful grin upon the lips. This dreadful spectacle finished the
struggles of the weaker man, who sank and died at once. The other made
an effort with so much spirit, that, in Kate's opinion, horror had acted
upon him beneficially as a stimulant. But it was not really so. It was
a spasm of morbid strength; a collapse succeeded; his blood began to
freeze; he sat down in spite of Kate, and _he_ also died without further
struggle. Gone are the poor suffering deserters; stretched and bleaching
upon the snow; and insulted discipline is avenged. Great kings have long
arms; and sycophants are ever at hand for the errand of the potent. What
had frost and snow to do with the quarrel? Yet _they_ made themselves
sycophantic servants of the King of Spain; and _they_ dogged his
deserters up to the summit of the Cordilleras, more surely than any
Spanish bloodhound, or any Spanish tirailleur's bullet.

Now is our Kate standing alone on the summits of the Andes, in solitude
that is shocking, for she is alone with her own afflicted conscience.
Twice before she had stood in solitude as deep upon the wild--wild
waters of the Pacific; but her conscience had been then untroubled. Now,
is there nobody left that can help; her horse is dead--the soldiers are
dead. There is nobody that she can speak to except God; and very soon
you will find that she _does_ speak to him; for already on these vast
aerial deserts He has been whispering to _her_. The condition of Kate is
exactly that of Coleridge's '_Ancient Mariner_.' But possibly, reader,
you may be amongst the many careless readers that have never fully
understood what that condition was. Suffer me to enlighten you, else you
ruin the story of the mariner; and by losing all its pathos, lose half
the jewels of its beauty.

There are three readers of the 'Ancient Mariner.' The first is gross
enough to fancy all the imagery of the mariner's visions delivered by
the poet for actual facts of experience; which being impossible, the
whole pulverizes, for that reader, into a baseless fairy tale. The
second reader is wiser than _that_; he knows that the imagery is _not_
baseless; it is the imagery of febrile delirium; really seen, but not
seen as an external reality. The mariner had caught the pestilential
fever, which carried off all his mates; he only had survived--the
delirium had vanished; but the visions that had haunted the delirium
remained. 'Yes,' says the third reader, 'they remained; naturally they
did, being scorched by fever into his brain; but how did they happen to
remain on his belief as gospel truths? The delirium had vanished:
why had not the painted scenery of the delirium vanished, except as
visionary memorials of a sorrow that was cancelled? Why was it that
craziness settled upon this mariner's brain, driving him, as if he were
a Cain, or another Wandering Jew, to 'pass like night--from land
to land;' and, at uncertain intervals, wrenching him until he made
rehearsal of his errors, even at the hard price of 'holding children
from their play, and old men from the chimney corner?' [Footnote: The
beautiful words of Sir Philip Sidney, in his '_Defense of Poesie_.']
That craziness, as the _third reader_ deciphers, rose out of a deeper
soil than any bodily affection. It had its root in penitential sorrow.
Oh, bitter is the sorrow to a conscientious heart, when, too late, it
discovers the depth of a love that has been trampled under foot! This
mariner had slain the creature that, on all the earth, loved him best.
In the darkness of his cruel superstition he had done it, to save his
human brothers from a fancied inconvenience; and yet, by that very act
of cruelty, he had himself called destruction upon their heads. The
Nemesis that followed punished _him_ through _them_--him, that wronged,
through those that wrongfully he sought to benefit. That spirit who
watches over the sanctities of love is a strong angel--is a jealous
angel; and this angel it was

  'That lov'd the bird, that lov'd the man,
  That shot him with his bow.'

He it was that followed the cruel archer into silent and slumbering

  'Nine fathom deep he had follow'd him
  Through the realms of mist and snow.'

This jealous angel it was that pursued the man into noon-day darkness,
and the vision of dying oceans, into delirium, and finally, (when
recovered from disease) into an unsettled mind.

Such, also, had been the offence of Kate; such, also was the punishment
that now is dogging her steps. She, like the mariner, had slain the one
sole creature that loved her upon the whole wide earth; she, like the
mariner, for this offence, had been hunted into frost and snow--very
soon will be hunted into delirium; and from _that_ (if she escapes with
life) will be hunted into the trouble of a heart that cannot rest.
There was the excuse of one darkness for _her_; there was the excuse of
another darkness for the mariner. But, with all the excuses that earth,
and the darkness of earth, can furnish, bitter it would be for you or
me, reader, through every hour of life, waking or dreaming, to look back
upon one fatal moment when we had pierced the heart that would have died
for us. In this only the darkness had been merciful to Kate--that it had
hidden for ever from her victim the hand that slew him. But now in such
utter solitude, her thoughts ran back to their earliest interview. She
remembered with anguish, how, on first touching the shores of America,
almost the very first word that met her ear had been from _him_, the
brother whom she had killed, about the 'Pussy' of times long past; how
the gallant young man had hung upon her words, as in her native Basque
she described her own mischievous little self, of twelve years back; how
his color went and came, whilst his loving memory of the little sister
was revived by her own descriptive traits, giving back, as in a mirror,
the fawn-like grace, the squirrel-like restlessness, that once had
kindled his own delighted laughter; how he would take no denial, but
showed on the spot, that, simply to have touched--to have kissed--to
have played with the little wild thing, that glorified, by her
innocence, the gloom of St. Sebastian's cloisters, gave a _right_ to his
hospitality; how, through _him_ only, she had found a welcome in camps;
how, through _him_, she had found the avenue to honor and distinction.
And yet this brother, so loving and generous, it was that she had
dismissed from life. She paused; she turned round, as if looking back
for his grave; she saw the dreadful wildernesses of snow which already
she had traversed.

Silent they were at this season, even as in the panting heats of noon,
the Zaarrahs of the torrid zone are oftentimes silent. Dreadful was the
silence; it was the nearest thing to the silence of the grave. Graves
were at the foot of the Andes, _that_ she knew too well; graves were at
the summit of the Andes, _that_ she saw too well. And, as she gazed, a
sudden thought flashed upon her, when her eyes settled upon the corpses
of the poor deserters--could she, like _them_, have been all this while
unconsciously executing judgment upon herself? Running from a wrath that
was doubtful, into the very jaws of a wrath that was inexorable? Flying
in panic--and behold! there was no man that pursued? For the first time
in her life, Kate trembled. _Not_ for the first time, Kate wept. Far
less for the first time was it, that Kate bent her knee--that Kate
clasped her hands--that Kate prayed. But it _was_ the first time that
she prayed as _they_ pray, for whom no more hope is left but in prayer.

Here let me pause a moment for the sake of making somebody angry. A
Frenchman, who sadly misjudges Kate, looking at her through a Parisian
opera-glass, gives it as _his_ opinion--that, because Kate first
_records_ her prayer on this occasion, therefore, now first of all she
prayed. _I_ think not so. _I_ love this Kate, blood-stained as she is;
and I could not love a woman that never bent her knee in thankfulness or
in supplication. However, we have all a right to our own little opinion;
and it is not you, '_mon cher_,' you Frenchman, that I am angry with,
but somebody else that stands behind you. You, Frenchman, and your
compatriots, I love oftentimes for your festal gaiety of heart; and I
quarrel only with your levity and that eternal worldliness that freezes
too fiercely--that absolutely blisters with its frost--like the upper
air of the Andes. _You_ speak of Kate only as too readily you speak of
all women; the instinct of a natural scepticism being to scoff at all
hidden depths of truth. Else you are civil enough to Kate; and your
'_homage_' (such as it may happen to be) is always at the service of a
woman on the shortest notice. But behind _you_, I see a worse fellow;
a gloomy fanatic; a religious sycophant that seeks to propitiate his
circle by bitterness against the offences that are most unlike his own.
And against him, I must say one word for Kate to the too hasty reader.
This villain, whom I mark for a shot if he does not get out of the
way, opens his fire on our Kate under shelter of a lie. For there is a
standing lie in the very constitution of civil society, a _necessity_
of error, misleading us as to the proportions of crime. Mere necessity
obliges man to create many acts into felonies, and to punish them as the
heaviest offences, which his better sense teaches him secretly to regard
as perhaps among the lightest. Those poor deserters, for instance, were
they necessarily without excuse? They might have been oppressively used;
but in critical times of war, no matter for the individual palliations,
the deserter from his colors _must_ be shot: there is no help for it:
as in extremities of general famine, we shoot the man (alas! we are
_obliged_ to shoot him) that is found robbing the common stores in order
to feed his own perishing children, though the offence is hardly visible
in the sight of God. Only blockheads adjust their scale of guilt to
the scale of human punishments. Now, our wicked friend the fanatic, who
calumniates Kate, abuses the advantage which, for such a purpose, he
derives from the exaggerated social estimate of all violence. Personal
security being so main an object of social union, we are obliged to
frown upon all modes of violence as hostile to the central principle
of that union. We are _obliged_ to rate it, according to the universal
results towards which it tends, and scarcely at all, according to the
special condition of circumstances, in which it may originate. Hence
a horror arises for that class of offences, which is (philosophically
speaking) exaggerated; and by daily use, the ethics of a police-office
translate themselves, insensibly, into the ethics even of religious
people. But I tell that sycophantish fanatic--not this only, viz., that
he abuses unfairly, against Kate, the advantage which he has from the
_inevitably_ distorted bias of society; but also, I tell him this second
little thing, viz., that upon turning away the glass from that one
obvious aspect of Kate's character, her too fiery disposition to
vindicate all rights by violence, and viewing her in relation
to _general_ religious capacities, she was a thousand times more
promisingly endowed than himself. It is impossible to be noble in many
things, without having many points of contact with true religion. If you
deny _that_ you it is that calumniate religion. Kate _was_ noble in many
things. Her worst errors never took a shape of self-interest or deceit.
She was brave, she was generous, she was forgiving, she bore no malice,
she was full of truth--qualities that God loves either in man or woman.
She hated sycophants and dissemblers. _I_ hate them; and more than ever
at this moment on her behalf. I wish she were but here--to give a punch
on the head to that fellow who traduces her. And, coming round again
to the occasion from which this short digression has started, viz., the
question raised by the Frenchman--whether Kate were a person likely to
_pray_ under other circumstances than those of extreme danger? I offer
it as _my_ opinion that she was. Violent people are not always such from
choice, but perhaps from situation. And, though the circumstances of
Kate's position allowed her little means for realizing her own wishes,
it is certain that those wishes pointed continually to peace and an
unworldly happiness, if _that_ were possible. The stormy clouds that
enveloped her in camps, opened overhead at intervals--showing her a far
distant blue serene. She yearned, at many times, for the rest which is
not in camps or armies; and it is certain, that she ever combined with
any plans or day-dreams of tranquillity, as their most essential ally,
some aid derived from that dovelike religion which, at St. Sebastian's,
as an infant and through girlhood, she had been taught so profoundly to

Now, let us rise from this discussion of Kate against libellers, as Kate
herself is rising from prayer, and consider, in conjunction with _her_,
the character and promise of that dreadful ground which lies immediately
before her. What is to be thought of it? I could wish we had a
theodolite here, and a spirit-level, and other instruments, for settling
some important questions. Yet no: on consideration, if one _had_ a wish
allowed by that kind fairy, without whose assistance it would be quite
impossible to send, even for the spirit-level, nobody would throw away
the wish upon things so paltry. I would not put the fairy upon any such
errand: I would order the good creature to bring no spirit-level, but a
stiff glass of spirits for Kate--a palanquin, and relays of fifty stout
bearers--all drunk, in order that they might not feel the cold. The
main interest at this moment, and the main difficulty--indeed, the 'open
question' of the case--was, to ascertain whether the ascent were yet
accomplished or not; and when would the descent commence? or had it,
perhaps, long commenced? The character of the ground, in those immediate
successions that could be connected by the eye, decided nothing; for the
undulations of the level had been so continual for miles, as to perplex
any eye but an engineer's, in attempting to judge whether, upon the
whole, the tendency were upwards or downwards. Possibly it was yet
neither way; it is, indeed, probable, that Kate had been for some time
travelling along a series of terraces, that traversed the whole breadth
of the topmost area at that point of crossing the Cordilleras, and which
perhaps, but not certainly, compensated any casual tendencies downwards
by corresponding reascents. Then came the question--how long would these
terraces yet continue? and had the ascending parts _really_ balanced
the descending?--upon _that_ seemed to rest the final chance for Kate.
Because, unless she very soon reached a lower level, and a warmer
atmosphere, mere weariness would oblige her to lie down, under a
fierceness of cold, that would not suffer her to rise after once losing
the warmth of motion; or, inversely, if she even continued in motion,
mere extremity of cold would, of itself, speedily absorb the little
surplus energy for moving, which yet remained unexhausted by weariness.

At this stage of her progress, and whilst the agonizing question seemed
yet as indeterminate as ever, Kate's struggle with despair, which had
been greatly soothed by the fervor of her prayer, revolved upon her in
deadlier blackness. All turned, she saw, upon a race against time, and
the arrears of the road; and she, poor thing! how little qualified could
_she_ be, in such a condition, for a race of any kind; and against two
such obstinate brutes as time and space! This hour of the progress,
this noontide of Kate's struggle, must have been the very crisis of
the whole. Despair was rapidly tending to ratify itself. Hope, in any
degree, would be a cordial for sustaining her efforts. But to flounder
along a dreadful chaos of snow-drifts, or snow-chasms, towards a point
of rock, which, being turned, should expose only another interminable
succession of the same character--might _that_ be endured by ebbing
spirits, by stiffening limbs, by the ghastly darkness that was now
beginning to gather upon the inner eye? And, if once despair became
triumphant, all the little arrear of physical strength would collapse at

Oh! verdure of human fields, cottages of men and women, (that now
suddenly seemed all brothers and sisters,) cottages with children around
them at play, that are so far below--oh! summer and spring, flowers
and blossoms, to which, as to _his_ symbols, God has given the gorgeous
privilege of rehearsing for ever upon earth his most mysterious
perfection--Life, and the resurrections of Life--is it indeed true, that
poor Kate must never see you more? Mutteringly she put that question
to herself. But strange are the caprices of ebb and flow in the deep
fountains of human sensibilities. At this very moment, when the utter
incapacitation of despair was gathering fast at Kate's heart, a sudden
lightening shot far into her spirit, a reflux almost supernatural, from
the earliest effects of her prayer. A thought had struck her all at
once, and this thought prompted her immediately to turn round. Perhaps
it was in some blind yearning after the only memorials of life in this
frightful region, that she fixed her eye upon a point of hilly ground by
which she identified the spot near which the three corpses were lying.
The silence seemed deeper than ever. Neither was there any phantom
memorial of life for the eye or for the ear, nor wing of bird, nor echo,
nor green leaf, nor creeping thing, that moved or stirred, upon the
soundless waste. Oh, what a relief to this burthen of silence would be a
human groan! Here seemed a motive for still darker despair. And yet, at
that very moment, a pulse of joy began to thaw the ice at her heart. It
struck her, as she reviewed the ground, that undoubtedly it had been for
some time slowly descending. Her senses were much dulled by suffering;
but this thought it was, suggested by a sudden apprehension of a
continued descending movement, which had caused her to turn round.
Sight had confirmed the suggestion first derived from her own steps. The
distance attained was now sufficient to establish the tendency. Oh, yes,
yes, to a certainty she had been descending for some time. Frightful was
the spasm of joy which whispered that the worst was over. It was as when
the shadow of midnight, that murderers had relied on, is passing away
from your beleagured shelter, and dawn will soon be manifest. It was
as when a flood, that all day long has raved against the walls of your
house, has ceased (you suddenly think) to rise; yes! measured by a
golden plummet, it _is_ sinking beyond a doubt, and the darlings of
your household are saved. Kate faced round in agitation to her proper
direction. She saw, what previously, in her stunning confusion, she had
_not_ seen, that, hardly two stones' throw in advance, lay a mass
of rock, split as into a gateway. Through that opening it now became
probable that the road was lying. Hurrying forward, she passed within
the natural gates. Gates of paradise they were. Ah, what a vista
did that gateway expose before her dazzled eye? what a revelation of
heavenly promise? Full two miles long, stretched a long narrow glen,
everywhere descending, and in many parts rapidly. All was now placed
beyond a doubt. She _was_ descending--for hours, perhaps, _had_ been
descending insensibly, the mighty staircase. Yes, Kate is leaving behind
her the kingdom of frost and the victories of death. Two miles farther
there may be rest, if there is not shelter. And very soon, as the crest
of her new-born happiness, she distinguished at the other end of that
rocky vista, a pavilion-shaped mass of dark green foliage--a belt of
trees, such as we see in the lovely parks of England, but islanded by
a screen (though not everywhere occupied by the usurpations) of a thick
bushy undergrowth. Oh, verdure of dark olive foliage, offered suddenly
to fainting eyes, as if by some winged patriarchal herald of wrath
relenting--solitary Arab's tent, rising with saintly signals of peace,
in the dreadful desert, must Kate indeed die even yet, whilst she
sees but cannot reach you? Outpost on the frontier of man's dominions,
standing within life, but looking out upon everlasting death, wilt thou
hold up the anguish of thy mocking invitation, only to betray? Never,
perhaps, in this world was the line so exquisitely grazed, that parts
salvation and ruin. As the dove to her dove-cot from the swooping
hawk--as the Christian pinnace to Christian batteries, from the bloody
Mahometan corsair, so flew--so tried to fly towards the anchoring
thickets, that, alas! could not weigh their anchors and make sail to
meet her--the poor exhausted Kate from the vengeance of pursuing frost.

And she reached them; staggering, fainting, reeling, she entered beneath
the canopy of umbrageous trees. But, as oftentimes, the Hebrew fugitive
to a city of refuge, flying for his life before the avenger of blood,
was pressed so hotly that, on entering the archway of what seemed to
_him_ the heavenly city-gate, as he kneeled in deep thankfulness to kiss
its holy merciful shadow, he could not rise again, but sank instantly
with infant weakness into sleep--sometimes to wake no more; so sank, so
collapsed upon the ground, without power to choose her couch, and with
little prospect of ever rising again to her feet, the martial nun. She
lay as luck had ordered it, with her head screened by the undergrowth
of bushes, from any gales that might arise; she lay exactly as she sank,
with her eyes up to heaven; and thus it was that the nun saw, before
falling asleep, the two sights that upon earth are fittest for the
closing eyes of a nun, whether destined to open again, or to close for
ever. She saw the interlacing of boughs overhead forming a dome, that
seemed like the dome of a cathedral. She saw through the fretwork of the
foliage, another dome, far beyond, the dome of an evening sky, the dome
of some heavenly cathedral, not built with hands. She saw upon this
upper dome the vesper lights, all alive with pathetic grandeur of
coloring from a sunset that had just been rolling down like a chorus.
She had not, till now, consciously observed the time of day; whether it
were morning, or whether it were afternoon, in her confusion she had not
distinctly known. But now she whispered to herself--'_It is evening_:'
and what lurked half unconsciously in these words might be--'The sun,
that rejoices, has finished his daily toil; man, that labors, has
finished _his_; I, that suffer, have finished mine.' That might be what
she thought, but what she _said_ was--'It is evening; and the hour is
come when the _Angelus_ is sounding through St. Sebastian.' What made
her think of St. Sebastian, so far away in depths of space and time? Her
brain was wandering, now that her feet were _not_; and, because her eyes
had descended from the heavenly to the earthly dome, _that_ made
her think of earthly cathedrals, and of cathedral choirs, and of St.
Sebastian's chapel, with its silvery bells that carried the _Angelus_
far into mountain recesses. Perhaps, as her wanderings increased, she
thought herself back in childhood; became 'pussy' once again; fancied
that all since then was a frightful dream; that she was not upon the
dreadful Andes, but still kneeling in the holy chapel at vespers; still
innocent as then; loved as then she had been loved; and that all men
were liars, who said her hand was ever stained with blood. Little enough
is mentioned of the delusions which possessed her; but that little gives
a key to the impulse which her palpitating heart obeyed, and which her
rambling brain for ever reproduced in multiplying mirrors. Restlessness
kept her in waking dreams for a brief half hour. But then, fever and
delirium would wait no longer; the killing exhaustion would no longer be
refused; the fever, the delirium, and the exhaustion, swept in together
with power like an army with banners; and the nun ceased through the
gathering twilight any more to watch the cathedrals of earth, or the
more solemn cathedrals that rose in the heavens above.

All night long she slept in her verdurous St. Bernard's hospice without
awaking, and whether she would _ever_ awake seemed to depend upon
an accident. The slumber that towered above her brain was like that
fluctuating silvery column which stands in scientific tubes sinking,
rising, deepening, lightening, contracting, expanding; or like the mist
that sits, through sultry afternoons, upon the river of the American
St. Peter, sometimes rarefying for minutes into sunny gauze, sometimes
condensing for hours into palls of funeral darkness. You fancy that,
after twelve hours of _any_ sleep, she must have been refreshed; better
at least than she was last night. Ah! but sleep is not always sent upon
missions of refreshment. Sleep is sometimes the secret chamber in which
death arranges his machinery. Sleep is sometimes that deep mysterious
atmosphere, in which the human spirit is slowly unsettling its wings for
flight from earthly tenements. It is now eight o'clock in the morning;
and, to all appearance, if Kate should receive no aid before noon, when
next the sun is departing to his rest, Kate will be departing to hers;
when next the sun is holding out his golden Christian signal to man,
that the hour is come for letting his anger go down, Kate will be
sleeping away for ever into the arms of brotherly forgiveness.

What is wanted just now for Kate, supposing Kate herself to be wanted
by this world, is, that this world would be kind enough to send her a
little brandy before it is too late. The simple truth was, and a truth
which I have known to take place in more ladies than Kate, who died
or did _not_ die, accordingly, as they had or had not an adviser like
myself, capable of giving so sound an opinion, that the jewelly star of
life had descended too far down the arch towards setting, for any chance
of re-ascending by _spontaneous_ effort. The fire was still burning
in secret, but needed to be rekindled by potent artificial breath. It
lingered, and _might_ linger, but would never culminate again without
some stimulus from earthly vineyards. [Footnote: Though not exactly in
the same circumstances as Kate, or sleeping, _à la belle étoile_, on
a declivity of the Andes, I have known (or heard circumstantially
reported) the cases of many ladies besides Kate, who were in precisely
the same critical danger of perishing for want of a little brandy.
A dessert spoonful or two would have saved them. Avaunt! you wicked
'Temperance' medallist! repent as fast as ever you can, or, perhaps the
next time we hear of you, _anasarca_ and _hydro-thorax_ will be running
after you to punish your shocking excesses in water. Seriously, the
case is one of constant recurrence, and constantly ending fatally from
_unseasonable_ and pedantic rigor of temperance. The fact is, that the
medical profession composes the most generous and liberal body of
men amongst us; taken generally, by much the most enlightened; but
professionally, the most timid. Want of boldness in the administration
of opium, &c., though they can be bold enough with mercury, is their
besetting infirmity. And from this infirmity females suffer most.
One instance I need hardly mention, the fatal case of an august lady,
mourned by nations, with respect to whom it was, and is, the belief of
multitudes to this hour (well able to judge), that she would have been
saved by a glass of brandy; and her attendant, who shot himself, came to
think so too late--too late for _her_, and too late for himself. Amongst
many cases of the same nature, which personally I have been acquainted
with, twenty years ago, a man, illustrious for his intellectual
accomplishments, mentioned to me that his own wife, during her first or
second confinement, was suddenly reported to him, by one of her female
attendants, (who slipped away unobserved by the medical people,) as
undoubtedly sinking fast. He hurried to her chamber, and _saw_ that it
was so. The presiding medical authority, however, was inexorable. 'Oh,
by no means,' shaking his ambrosial wig, 'any stimulant at this
crisis would be fatal.' But no authority could overrule the concurrent
testimony of all symptoms, and of all unprofessional opinions. By some
pious falsehood my friend smuggled the doctor out of the room, and
immediately smuggled a glass of brandy into the poor lady's lips. She
recovered with magical power. The doctor is now dead, and went to his
grave under the delusive persuasion--that not any vile glass of brandy,
but the stern refusal of all brandy, was the thing that saved his
collapsing patient. The patient herself, who might naturally know
something of the matter, was of a different opinion. She sided with the
factious body around her bed, (comprehending all beside the doctor,) who
felt sure that death was rapidly approaching, _barring_ that brandy.
The same result in the same appalling crisis, I have known repeatedly
produced by twenty-five drops of laudanum. An obstinate man will
say--'Oh, never listen to a non-medical man like this writer. Consult in
such a case your medical adviser.' You will, will you? Then let me tell
you, that you are missing the very logic of all I have been saying for
the improvement of blockheads, which is--that you should consult any man
_but_ a medical man, since no other man has any obstinate prejudice of
professional timidity. N. B.--I prescribe for Kate _gratis_, because
she, poor thing! has so little to give. But from other ladies, who may
have the happiness to benefit by my advice, I expect a fee--not so large
a one considering the service--a flowering plant, suppose the _second_
best in their collection. I know it would be of no use to ask for the
_very_ best, (which else I could wish to do,) because that would only be
leading them into little fibs. I don't insist on a _Yucca gloriosa_, or
a _Magnolia speciosissima_, (I hope there _is_ such a plant)--a rose or
a violet will do. I am sure there is such a plant as that. And if they
settle their debts justly, I shall very soon be master of the prettiest
little conservatory in England. For, treat it not as a jest, reader;
no case of timid practice is so fatally frequent.] Kate was ever lucky,
though ever unfortunate; and the world, being of my opinion that Kate
was worth saving, made up its mind about half-past eight o'clock in the
morning to save her. Just at that time, when the night was over, and its
sufferings were hidden--in one of those intermitting gleams that for
a moment or two lightened the clouds of her slumber, Kate's dull ear
caught a sound that for years had spoken a familiar language to _her_.
What was it? It was the sound, though muffled and deadened, like the
ear that heard it, of horsemen advancing. Interpreted by the tumultuous
dreams of Kate, was it the cavalry of Spain, at whose head so often she
had charged the bloody Indian scalpers? Was it, according to the legend
of ancient days, cavalry that had been sown by her brother's blood,
cavalry that rose from the ground on an inquest of retribution, and were
racing up the Andes to seize her? Her dreams that had opened sullenly to
the sound waited for no answer, but closed again into pompous darkness.
Happily, the horsemen had caught the glimpse of some bright ornament,
clasp, or aiguillette, on Kate's dress. They were hunters and foresters
from below; servants in the household of a beneficent lady; and in some
pursuit of flying game had wandered beyond their ordinary limits. Struck
by the sudden scintillation from Kate's dress played upon by the morning
sun, they rode up to the thicket. Great was their surprise, great their
pity, to see a young officer in uniform stretched within the bushes upon
the ground, and perhaps dying. Borderers from childhood on this dreadful
frontier, sacred to winter and death, they understood the case at once.
They dismounted: and with the tenderness of women, raising the poor
frozen cornet in their arms, washed her temples with brandy, whilst one,
at intervals, suffered a few drops to trickle within her lips. As the
restoration of a warm bed was now most likely to be successful, they
lifted the helpless stranger upon a horse, walking on each side with
supporting arms. Once again our Kate is in the saddle; once again a
Spanish Caballador. But Kate's bridle-hand is deadly cold. And her
spurs, that she had never unfastened since leaving the monastic asylum,
hung as idle as the flapping sail that fills unsteadily with the breeze
upon a stranded ship.

This procession had some miles to go, and over difficult ground; but at
length it reached the forest-like park and the chateau of the wealthy
proprietress. Kate was still half-frozen and speechless, except at
intervals. Heavens! can this corpse-like, languishing young woman, be
the Kate that once, in her radiant girlhood, rode with a handful of
comrades into a column of two thousand enemies, that saw her comrades
die, that persisted when all were dead, that tore from the heart of
all resistance the banner of her native Spain? Chance and change have
'written strange defeatures in her face.' Much is changed; but some
things are not changed: there is still kindness that overflows with
pity: there is still helplessness that asks for this pity without a
voice: she is now received by a Senora, not less kind than that maternal
aunt, who, on the night of her birth, first welcomed her to a loving
home; and she, the heroine of Spain, is herself as helpless now as that
little lady who, then at ten minutes of age, was kissed and blessed by
all the household of St. Sebastian.

Let us suppose Kate placed in a warm bed. Let us suppose her in a few
hours recovering steady consciousness; in a few days recovering some
power of self-support; in a fortnight able to seek the gay saloon,
where the Senora was sitting alone, and rendering thanks, with that
deep sincerity which ever characterized our wild-hearted Kate, for the
critical services received from that lady and her establishment.

This lady, a widow, was what the French call a _métisse_, the Spaniards
a _mestizza_; that is, the daughter of a genuine Spaniard, and an Indian
mother. I shall call her simply a _creole_, [Footnote: 'Creole.'--At
that time the infusion of negro or African blood was small.
Consequently none of the negro hideousness was diffused. After these
intercomplexities had arisen between all complications of descent from
three original strands, European, American, African, the distinctions
of social consideration founded on them bred names so many, that a
court calendar was necessary to keep you from blundering. As yet,
the varieties were few. Meantime, the word _creole_ has always been
misapplied in our English colonies to a person (though of strictly
European blood,) simply because _born_ in the West Indies. In this
English use, it expresses the same difference as the Romans indicated by
_Hispanus_ and _Hispanicus_. The first meant a person of Spanish blood,
a native of Spain; the second, a Roman born in Spain. So of _Germanus_
and _Germanicus_, _Italus_ and _Italicus_, _Anglus_ and _Anglicus_, &c.;
an important distinction, on which see Casaubon _apud Scriptores.
Hist. Augustan._] which will indicate her want of pure Spanish blood
sufficiently to explain her deference for those who had it. She was a
kind, liberal woman; rich rather more than needed where there were no
opera boxes to rent--a widow about fifty years old in the wicked world's
account, some forty-four in her own; and happy, above all, in the
possession of a most lovely daughter, whom even the wicked world did
not accuse of more than sixteen years. This daughter, Juana, was--But
stop--let her open the door of the saloon in which the Senora and the
cornet are conversing, and speak for herself. She did so, after an hour
had passed; which length of time, to _her_ that never had any business
whatever in her innocent life, seemed sufficient to settle the business
of the old world and the new. Had Pietro Diaz (as Catalina now called
herself) been really a Peter, and not a sham Peter, what a vision of
loveliness would have rushed upon his sensibilities as the door
opened! Do not expect me to describe her, for which, however, there are
materials extant, sleeping in archives, where they have slept for two
hundred and twenty years. It is enough that she is reported to
have united the stately tread of Andalusian women with the innocent
voluptuousness of Peruvian eyes. As to her complexion and figure, be it
known that Juana's father was a gentleman from Grenada, having in his
veins the grandest blood of all this earth, blood of Goths and Vandals,
tainted (for which Heaven be thanked!) twice over with blood of
Arabs--once through Moors, once through Jews; [Footnote: It is well
known, that the very reason why the Spanish of all nations became the
most gloomily jealous of a Jewish cross in the pedigree, was because,
until the vigilance of the Church rose into ferocity, in no nation was
such a cross so common. The hatred of fear is ever the deepest. And men
hated the Jewish taint, as once in Jerusalem they hated the leprosy,
because even whilst they raved against it, the secret proofs of it might
be detected amongst their own kindred, even as in the Temple, whilst
once a king rose in mutiny against the priesthood, (2 Chron. xxvi
16-20,) suddenly the leprosy that dethroned him, blazed out upon his
forehead.] whilst from her grandmother, Juana drew the deep subtle
melancholy and the beautiful contours of limb which belong to the Indian
race--a race destined silently and slowly to fade from the earth. No
awkwardness was or could be in this antelope, when gliding with forest
grace into the room--no town-bred shame--nothing but the unaffected
pleasure of one who wishes to speak a fervent welcome, but knows not if
she ought--the astonishment of a Miranda, bred in utter solitude, when
first beholding a princely Ferdinand--and just so much reserve as to
remind you, that if Catalina thought fit to dissemble her sex, she
did _not_. And consider, reader, if you look back and are a great
arithmetician, that whilst the Senora had only fifty per cent of Spanish
blood, Juana had seventy-five; so that her Indian melancholy after all
was swallowed up for the present by her Vandal, by her Arab, by her
Spanish fire.

Catalina, seared as she was by the world, has left it evident in her
memoirs that she was touched more than she wished to be by this
innocent child. Juana formed a brief lull for Catalina in her too stormy
existence. And if for _her_ in this life the sweet reality of a sister
had been possible, here was the sister she would have chosen. On the
other hand, what might Juana think of the cornet? To have been thrown
upon the kind hospitalities of her native home, to have been rescued
by her mother's servants from that fearful death which, lying but a few
miles off, had filled her nursery with traditionary tragedies,--_that_
was sufficient to create an interest in the stranger. But his bold
martial demeanor, his yet youthful style of beauty, his frank manners,
his animated conversation that reported a hundred contests with
suffering and peril, wakened for the first time her admiration. Men she
had never seen before, except menial servants, or a casual priest. But
here was a gentleman, young like herself, that rode in the cavalry of
Spain--that carried the banner of the only potentate whom Peruvians knew
of--the King of the Spains and the Indies--that had doubled Cape Horn,
that had crossed the Andes, that had suffered shipwreck, that had rocked
upon fifty storms, and had wrestled for life through fifty battles.

The reader knows all that followed. The sisterly love which Catalina
did really feel for this young mountaineer was inevitably misconstrued.
Embarrassed, but not able, from sincere affection, or almost in bare
propriety, to refuse such expressions of feeling as corresponded to the
artless and involuntary kindnesses of the ingenuous Juana, one day the
cornet was surprised by mamma in the act of encircling her daughter's
waist with his martial arm, although waltzing was premature by at least
two centuries in Peru. She taxed him instantly with dishonorably abusing
her confidence. The cornet made but a bad defence. He muttered something
about '_fraternal affection_,' about 'esteem,' and a great deal of
metaphysical words that are destined to remain untranslated in their
original Spanish. The good Senora, though she could boast only of
forty-four years' experience, was not altogether to be '_had_' in that
fashion--she was as learned as if she had been fifty, and she brought
matters to a speedy crisis. 'You are a Spaniard,' she said, 'a
gentleman, therefore; _remember_ that you are a gentleman. This very
night, if your intentions are not serious, quit my house. Go to Tucuman;
you shall command my horses and servants; but stay no longer to increase
the sorrow that already you will have left behind you. My daughter loves
you. That is sorrow enough, if you are trifling with us. But, if not,
and you also love _her_, and can be happy in our solitary mode of life,
stay with us--stay for ever. Marry Juana with my free consent. I ask not
for wealth. Mine is sufficient for you both.' The cornet protested
that the honor was one never contemplated by _him_--that it was too
great--that--. But, of course, reader, you know that 'gammon' flourishes
in Peru, amongst the silver mines, as well as in some more boreal lands
that produce little better than copper and tin. 'Tin,' however, has its
uses. The delighted Senora overruled all objections, great and small;
and she confirmed Juana's notion that the business of two worlds could
be transacted in an hour, by settling her daughter's future happiness in
exactly twenty minutes. The poor, weak Catalina, not acting now in any
spirit of recklessness, grieving sincerely for the gulf that was opening
before her, and yet shrinking effeminately from the momentary shock
that would be inflicted by a firm adherence to her duty, clinging to the
anodyne of a short delay, allowed herself to be installed as the
lover of Juana. Considerations of convenience, however, postponed the
marriage. It was requisite to make various purchases; and for this, it
was requisite to visit Tucuman, where, also, the marriage ceremony could
be performed with more circumstantial splendor. To Tucuman, therefore,
after some weeks' interval, the whole party repaired. And at Tucuman it
was that the tragical events arose, which, whilst interrupting such a
mockery for ever, left the poor Juana still happily deceived, and never
believing for a moment that hers was a rejected or a deluded heart.

One reporter of Mr. De Ferrer's narrative forgets his usual generosity,
when he says that the Senora's gift of her daughter to the Alferez was
not quite so disinterested as it seemed to be. Certainly it was not so
disinterested as European ignorance might fancy it: but it was quite as
much so as it ought to have been, in balancing the interests of a child.
Very true it is--that, being a genuine Spaniard, who was still a rare
creature in so vast a world as Peru, being a Spartan amongst Helots, an
Englishman amongst Savages, an Alferez would in those days have been
a natural noble. His alliance created honor for his wife and for his
descendants. Something, therefore, the cornet would add to the family
consideration. But, instead of selfishness, it argued just regard for
her daughter's interest to build upon this, as some sort of equipoise to
the wealth which her daughter would bring.

Spaniard, however, as he was, our Alferez on reaching Tucuman found no
Spaniards to mix with, but instead twelve Portuguese.

Catalina remembered the Spanish proverb--'Subtract from a Spaniard all
his good qualities, and the remainder makes a pretty fair Portuguese;'
but, as there was nobody else to gamble with, she entered freely into
their society. Very soon she suspected that there was foul play:
all modes of doctoring dice had been made familiar to _her_ by the
experience of camps. She watched; and, by the time she had lost her
final coin, she was satisfied that she had been plundered. In her first
anger she would have been glad to switch the whole dozen across the
eyes; but, as twelve to one were too great odds, she determined on
limiting her vengeance to the immediate culprit. Him she followed into
the street; and coming near enough to distinguish his profile reflected
on a wall, she continued to keep him in view from a short distance. The
light-hearted young cavalier whistled, as he went, an old Portuguese
ballad of romance; and in a quarter of an hour came up to an house, the
front door of which he began to open with a pass-key. This operation
was the signal for Catalina that the hour of vengeance had struck;
and, stepping hastily up, she tapped the Portuguese on the shoulder,
saying--'Senor, you are a robber!' The Portuguese turned coolly round,
and, seeing his gaming antagonist, replied--'Possibly, Sir; but I have
no particular fancy for being told so,' at the same time drawing his
sword. Catalina had not designed to take any advantage; and the touching
him on the shoulder, with the interchange of speeches, and the known
character of Kate, sufficiently imply it. But it is too probable in such
cases, that the party whose intention has been regularly settled from
the first, will, and must have an advantage unconsciously over a man
so abruptly thrown on his defence. However this might be, they had not
fought a minute before Catalina passed her sword through her opponent's
body; and without a groan or a sigh, the Portuguese cavalier fell dead
at his own door. Kate searched the street with her ears, and (as far as
the indistinctness of night allowed) with her eyes. All was profoundly
silent; and she was satisfied that no human figure was in motion. What
should be done with the body? A glance at the door of the house settled
_that_: Fernando had himself opened it at the very moment when
he received the summons to turn round. She dragged the corpse in,
therefore, to the foot of the staircase, put the key by the dead man's
side, and then issuing softly into the street, drew the door close with
as little noise as possible. Catalina again paused to listen and to
watch, went home to the hospitable Senora's house, retired to bed, fell
asleep, and early the next morning was awakened by the Corregidor and
four alguazils.

The lawlessness of all that followed strikingly exposes the frightful
state of criminal justice at that time, wherever Spanish law prevailed.
No evidence appeared to connect Catalina in any way with the death of
Fernando Acosta. The Portuguese gamblers, besides that perhaps they
thought lightly of such an accident, might have reasons of their own for
drawing off public attention from their pursuits in Tucuman: not one
of these men came forward openly; else the circumstances at the gaming
table, and the departure of Catalina so closely on the heels of her
opponent, would have suggested reasonable grounds for detaining her
until some further light should be obtained. As it was, her imprisonment
rested upon no colorable ground whatever, unless the magistrate had
received some anonymous information, which, however, he never alleged.
One comfort there was, meantime, in Spanish injustice: it did not
loiter. Full gallop it went over the ground: one week often sufficed
for informations--for trial--for execution; and the only bad consequence
was, that a second or a third week sometimes exposed the disagreeable
fact that everything had been 'premature;' a solemn sacrifice had
been made to offended justice, in which all was right except as to the
victim; it was the wrong man; and _that_ gave extra trouble; for then
all was to do over again, another man to be executed, and, possibly,
still to be caught.

Justice moved at her usual Spanish rate in the present case. Kate was
obliged to rise instantly; not suffered to speak to anybody in the
house, though, in going out, a door opened, and she saw the young Juana
looking out with saddest Indian expression. In one day the trial was all
finished. Catalina said (which was true) that she hardly knew Acosta;
and that people of her rank were used to attack their enemies face to
face, not by murderous surprises. The magistrates were impressed with
Catalina's answers (yet answered to _what_?) Things were beginning to
look well, when all was suddenly upset by two witnesses, whom the reader
(who is a sort of accomplice after the fact, having been privately let
into the truths of the case, and having concealed his knowledge), will
know at once to be false witnesses, but whom the old Spanish buzwigs
doated on as models of all that could be looked for in the best. Both
were very ill-looking fellows, as it was their duty to be. And the first
deposed as follows:--That through his quarter of Tucuman, the fact was
notorious of Acosta's wife being the object of a criminal pursuit on the
part of the Alferez (Catalina): that, _doubtless_, the injured husband
had surprised the prisoner, which, of course, had led to the murder,
to the staircase, to the key--to everything, in short, that could be
wished; no--stop! what am I saying?--to everything that ought to be
abominated. Finally--for he had now settled the main question--that
he had a friend who would take up the case where he himself, from
short-sightedness, was obliged to lay it down.' This friend, the Pythias
of this short-sighted Damon started up in a frenzy of virtue at this
summons, and, rushing to the front of the alguazils, said, 'That since
his friend had proved sufficiently the fact of the Alferez having been
lurking in the house, and having murdered a man, all that rested upon
_him_ to show was, how that murderer got out of the house; which he
could do satisfactorily; for there was a balcony running along the
windows on the second floor, one of which windows he himself, lurking
in a corner of the street, saw the Alferez throw up, and from the said
balcony take a flying leap into the said street.' Evidence like this was
conclusive; no defence was listened to, nor indeed had the prisoner
any to produce. The Alferez could deny neither the staircase nor the
balcony: the street is there to this day, like the bricks in Jack Cade's
Chimney, testifying all that may be required; and, as to our friend who
saw the leap, there he was; nobody could deny _him_. The prisoner might
indeed have suggested that she never heard of Acosta's wife, nor had
the existence of such a wife been ripened even into a suspicion. But
the bench were satisfied; chopping logic was of no use; and sentence was
pronounced--that on the eighth day from the day of arrest, the Alferez
should be executed in the public square.

It was not amongst the weaknesses of Catalina--who had so often
inflicted death, and, by her own journal, thought so lightly of
inflicting it (if not under cowardly advantages)--to shrink from facing
death in her own person. Many incidents in her career show the coolness
and even gaiety with which, in any case where death was apparently
inevitable, she would have gone to meet it. But in this case she _had_
a temptation for escaping it, which was probably in her power. She had
only to reveal the secret of her sex, and the ridiculous witnesses,
beyond whose testimony there was nothing at all against her, must at
once be covered with derision. Catalina had some liking for fun; and a
main inducement to this course was, that it would enable her to say to
the judges, 'Now you see what old fools you've made of yourselves;
every woman and child in Peru will soon be laughing at you.' I must
acknowledge my own weakness; this last temptation I could _not_ have
withstood; flesh is weak, and fun is strong. But Catalina _did_. On
consideration she fancied, that although the particular motive for
murdering Acosta would be dismissed with laughter, still this might not
clear her of the murder, which on some _other_ motive she might have
committed. But supposing that she were cleared altogether, what most of
all she feared was, that the publication of her sex would throw a reflex
light upon many past transactions in her life--would instantly find
its way to Spain--and would probably soon bring her within the tender
attentions of the Inquisition. She kept firm to the resolution of not
saving her life by this discovery. And so far as her fate lay in her own
hands, she would (as the reader will perceive from a little incident at
the scaffold) have perished to a certainty. But even at this point, how
strange a case! A woman _falsely_ accused of an act which she really
_did_ commit! And falsely accused of a true offence upon a motive that
was impossible!

As the sun set upon the seventh day, when the hours were numbered
for the prisoner, there filed into her cell four persons in religious
habits. They came on the charitable mission of preparing the poor
convict for death. Catalina, however, watching all things narrowly,
remarked something earnest and significant in the eye of the leader, as
of one who had some secret communication to make. She contrived to clasp
this man's hands, as if in the energy of internal struggles, and _he_
contrived to slip into hers the very smallest of billets from poor
Juana. It contained, for indeed it _could_ contain, only these three
words--'Do not confess. J.' This one caution, so simple and so brief,
was a talisman. It did not refer to any confession of the crime; _that_
would have been assuming what Juana was neither entitled nor disposed
to assume, but, in the technical sense of the Church, to the act of
devotional confession. Catalina found a single moment for a glance at
it--understood the whole--resolutely refused to confess, as a person
unsettled in her religious opinions, that needed spiritual instructions,
and the four monks withdrew to make their report. The principal judge,
upon hearing of the prisoner's impenitence, granted another day. At the
end of _that_, no change having occurred either in the prisoner's
mind, or in the circumstances, he issued his warrant for the execution.
Accordingly, as the sun went down, the sad procession formed within the
prison. Into the great square of Tucuman it moved, where the scaffold
had been built, and the whole city had assembled for the spectacle.
Catalina steadily ascended the ladder of the scaffold; even then she
resolved not to benefit by revealing her sex; even then it was that she
expressed her scorn for the lubberly executioner's mode of tying a knot;
did it herself in a 'ship-shape,' orthodox manner; received in return
the enthusiastic plaudits of the crowd, and so far ran the risk of
precipitating her fate; for the timid magistrates, fearing a rescue from
the impetuous mob, angrily ordered the executioner to finish the scene.
The clatter of a galloping horse, however, at this instant forced them
to pause. The crowd opened a road for the agitated horseman, who was
the bearer of an order from the President of La Plata to suspend the
execution until two prisoners could be examined. The whole was the
work of the Senora and her daughter. The elder lady, having gathered
informations against the witnesses, had pursued them to La Plata. There,
by her influence with the Governor, they were arrested; recognised as
old malefactors; and in their terror had partly confessed their perjury.
Catalina was removed to La Plata; solemnly acquitted; and, by the advice
of the President, for the present the connection with the Senora's
family was postponed indefinitely.

Now was the last adventure approaching that ever Catalina should see in
the new world. Some fine sights she may yet see in Europe, but nothing
after this (_which she has recorded_) in America. Europe, if it had
ever heard of her name (which very shortly it _shall_), Kings, Pope,
Cardinals, if they were but aware of her existence (which in six months
they _shall_ be), would thirst for an introduction to our Catalina.
You hardly thought now, reader, that she was such a great person, or
anybody's pet but yours and mine. Bless you, Sir, she would scorn to
look at _us_. I tell you, royalties are languishing to see her, or soon
_will_ be. But how can this come to pass, if she is to continue in her
present obscurity? Certainly it cannot without some great _peripetteia_
or vertiginous whirl of fortune; which, therefore, you shall now behold
taking place in one turn of her next adventure. _That_ shall let in
a light, _that_ shall throw back a Claude Lorraine gleam over all
the past, able to make Kings, that would have cared not for her under
Peruvian daylight, come to glorify her setting beams.

The Senora--and, observe, whatever kindness she does to Catalina speaks
secretly from two hearts, her own and Juana's--had, by the advice of
Mr. President Mendonia, given sufficient money for Catalina's travelling
expenses. So far well. But Mr. M. chose to add a little codicil to this
bequest of the Senora's, never suggested by her or by her daughter.
'Pray,' said this inquisitive President, who surely might have found
business enough in La Plata, 'Pray, Senor Pietro Diaz, did you ever live
at Concepcion? And were you ever acquainted there with Senor Miguel de
Erauso? That man, Sir, was my friend.' What a pity that on this occasion
Catalina could not venture to be candid! What a capital speech it
would have made to say--'_Friend_ were you? I think you could hardly
be _that_, with seven hundred miles between you. But that man was _my_
friend also; and, secondly, my brother. True it is I killed him. But if
you happen to know that this was by pure mistake in the dark, what
an old rogue you must be to throw _that_ in my teeth, which is the
affliction of my life!' Again, however, as so often in the same
circumstances, Catalina thought that it would cause more ruin than it
could heal to be candid; and, indeed, if she were really _P. Diaz, Esq.
_, how came she to be brother to the late Mr. Erauso? On consideration,
also, if she could not tell _all_, merely to have professed a fraternal
connection which never was avowed by either whilst living together,
would not have brightened the reputation of Catalina, which too surely
required a scouring. Still, from my kindness for poor Kate, I feel
uncharitably towards the president for advising Senor Pietro 'to travel
for his health.' What had _he_ to do with people's health? However, Mr.
Peter, as he had pocketed the Senora's money, thought it right to pocket
also the advice that accompanied its payment. That he might be in a
condition to do so, he went off to buy a horse. He was in luck to-day.
For beside money and advice, he obtained, at a low rate, a horse both
beautiful and serviceable for a journey. To Paz it was, a city of
prosperous name, that the cornet first moved. But Paz did not fulfil the
promise of its name. For it laid the grounds of a feud that drove our
Kate out of America.

Her first adventure was a bagatelle, and fitter for a jest-book than a
history; yet it proved no jest either, since it led to the tragedy that
followed. Riding into Paz, our gallant standard-bearer and her bonny
black horse drew all eyes, _comme de raison_, upon their separate
charms. This was inevitable amongst the indolent population of a Spanish
town; and Kate was used to it. But, having recently had a little too
much of the public attention, she felt nervous on remarking two soldiers
eyeing the handsome horse and the handsome rider, with an attention that
seemed too solemn for mere _aesthetics_. However, Kate was not the kind
of person to let anything dwell on her spirits, especially if it
took the shape of impudence; and, whistling gaily, she was riding
forward--when, who should cross her path but the Alcalde! Ah! Alcalde,
you see a person now that has a mission against you, though quite
unknown to herself. He looked so sternly, that Kate asked if his worship
had any commands. 'These men,' said the Alcalde, 'these two soldiers,
say that this horse is stolen.' To one who had so narrowly and so lately
escaped the balcony witness and his friend, it was really no laughing
matter to hear of new affidavits in preparation. Kate was nervous, but
never disconcerted. In a moment she had twitched off a saddle-cloth on
which she sat; and throwing it over the horse's head, so as to cover up
all between the ears and the mouth, she replied, 'that she had bought
and paid for the horse at La Plata. But now, your worship, if this horse
has really been stolen from these men, they must know well of which eye
it is blind; for it _can_ be only in the right eye or the left.' One
of the soldiers cried out instantly, that it was the left eye; but
the other said, 'No, no, you forget, it's the right.' Kate maliciously
called attention to this little schism. But the men said, 'Ah, _that_
was nothing--they were hurried; but now, on recollecting themselves,
they were agreed that it was the left eye.' Did they stand to that? 'Oh
yes, positive they were, left eye, left.'

Upon which our Kate, twitching off the horse-cloth, said gaily to the
magistrate, 'Now, Sir, please to observe that this horse has nothing
the matter with either eye.' And in fact it _was_ so. Then his worship
ordered his alguazils to apprehend the two witnesses, who posted off to
bread and water, with other reversionary advantages, whilst Kate rode in
quest of the best dinner that Paz could furnish.

This Alcalde's acquaintance, however, was not destined to drop here.
Something had appeared in the young _caballero's_ bearing, which made
it painful to have addressed him with harshness, or for a moment to
have entertained such a charge against such a person. He despatched his
cousin, therefore, Don Antonio Calderon, to offer his apologies, and at
the same time to request that the stranger, whose rank and quality he
regretted not to have known, would do him the honor to come and dine
with him. This explanation, and the fact that Don Antonio had already
proclaimed his own position as cousin to the magistrate and nephew
to the Bishop of Cuzco, obliged Catalina to say, after thanking the
gentlemen for their obliging attentions, 'I myself hold the rank of
Alferez in the service of his Catholic Majesty. I am a native of Biscay,
and I am now repairing to Cuzco on private business.' 'To Cuzco!'
exclaimed Don Antonio, 'how very fortunate! My cousin is a Basque like
you; and, like you, he starts for Cuzco to-morrow morning; so that, if
it is agreeable to you, Senor Alferez, we will travel together.' It was
settled that they should. To travel--amongst 'balcony witnesses,' and
anglers for 'blind horses'--not merely with a just man, but with the
very abstract idea and riding allegory of justice, was too delightful to
the storm-wearied cornet; and he cheerfully accompanied Don Antonio
to the house of the magistrate, called Don Pedro de Chavarria.
Distinguished was his reception; the Alcalde personally renewed his
regrets for the ridiculous scene of the two scampish oculists, and
presented him to his wife, a splendid Andalusian beauty, to whom he had
been married about a year.

This lady there is a reason for describing; and the French reporter
of Catalina's memoirs dwells upon the theme. She united, he says,
the sweetness of the German lady with the energy of the Arabian, a
combination hard to judge of. As to her feet, he adds, I say nothing;
for she had scarcely any at all. '_Je ne parle point de ses pieds, elle
n'en avait presque pas_.' 'Poor lady!' says a compassionate rustic: 'no
feet! What a shocking thing that so fine a woman should have been so
sadly mutilated!' Oh, my dear rustic, you're quite in the wrong box. The
Frenchman means this as the very highest compliment. Beautiful, however,
she must have been; and a Cinderella, I hope, not a Cinderellula,
considering that she had the inimitable walk and step of the
Andalusians, which cannot be accomplished without something of a
proportionate basis to stand upon.

The reason which there is (as I have said) for describing this lady,
arises out of her relation to the tragic events which followed. She,
by her criminal levity, was the cause of all. And I must here warn the
moralizing blunderer of two errors that he is too likely to make: 1st,
That he is invited to read some extract from a licentious amour, as if
for its own interest; 2d, Or on account of Donna Catalina's memoirs,
with a view to relieve their too martial character. I have the pleasure
to assure him of his being so utterly in the darkness of error, that any
possible change he can make in his opinions, right or left, must be
for the better: he cannot stir, but he will mend, which is a delightful
thought for the moral and blundering mind. As to the first point,
what little glimpse he obtains of a licentious amour is, as a court
of justice will sometimes show him such a glimpse, simply to make
intelligible the subsequent facts which depend upon it. Secondly, As to
the conceit, that Catalina wished to embellish her memoirs, understand
that no such practice then existed; certainly not in Spanish literature.
Her memoirs are electrifying by their facts; else, in the manner of
telling these facts, they are systematically dry.

Don Antonio Calderon was a handsome, accomplished cavalier. And in the
course of dinner, Catalina was led to judge, from the behavior to each
other of this gentleman and the lady, the Alcalde's beautiful wife,
that they had an improper understanding. This also she inferred from the
furtive language of their eyes. Her wonder was, that the Alcalde should
be so blind; though upon that point she saw reason in a day or two
to change her opinion. Some people see everything by affecting to see
nothing. The whole affair, however, was nothing at all to _her_, and
she would have dismissed it from her thoughts altogether, but for what
happened on the journey.

From the miserable roads, eight hours a day of travelling was found
quite enough for man and beast; the product of which eight hours was
from ten to twelve leagues. On the last day but one of the journey, the
travelling party, which was precisely the original dinner party, reached
a little town ten leagues short of Cuzco. The Corregidor of this place
was a friend of the Alcalde; and through _his_ influence the party
obtained better accommodations than those which they had usually had in
a hovel calling itself a _venta_, or in the sheltered corner of a
barn. The Alcalde was to sleep at the Corregidor's house; the two young
cavaliers, Calderon and our Kate, had sleeping rooms at the public
_locanda_; but for the lady was reserved a little pleasure-house in an
enclosed garden. This was a plaything of a house; but the season
being summer, and the house surrounded with tropical flowers, the lady
preferred it (in spite of its loneliness) to the damp mansion of the
official grandee, who, in her humble opinion, was quite as fusty as his
mansion, and his mansion not much less so than himself.

After dining gaily together at the _locanda_, and possibly taking a
'rise' out of his worship the Corregidor, as a repeating echo of Don
Quixote, (then growing popular in Spanish America,) the young man
who was no young officer, and the young officer who was no young man,
lounged down together to the little pavilion in the flower-garden, with
the purpose of paying their respects to the presiding belle. They were
graciously received, and had the honor of meeting there his Mustiness
the Alcalde, and his Fustiness the Corregidor; whose conversation was
surely improving, but not equally brilliant. How they got on under the
weight of two such muffs, has been a mystery for two centuries. But they
_did_ to a certainty, for the party did not break up till eleven. _Tea
and turn out_ you could not call it; for there was the _turn out_ in
rigor, but not the _tea_. One thing, however, Catalina by mere accident
had an opportunity of observing, and observed with pain. The two
official gentlemen had gone down the steps into the garden. Catalina,
having forgot her hat, went back into the little vestibule to look for
it. There stood the lady and Don Antonio, exchanging a few final
words (they _were_ final) and a few final signs. Amongst the last
Kate observed distinctly this, and distinctly she understood it. First
drawing Calderon's attention to the gesture, as one of significant
pantomime, by raising her forefinger, the lady snuffed out one of the
candles. The young man answered it by a look of intelligence, and all
three passed down the steps together. The lady was disposed to take the
cool air, and accompanied them to the garden-gate; but, in passing down
the walk, Catalina noticed a second ill-omened sign that all was not
right. Two glaring eyes she distinguished amongst the shrubs for a
moment, and a rustling immediately after. 'What's that?' said the lady,
and Don Antonio answered carelessly, 'A bird flying out of the bushes.'

Catalina, as usual, had read everything. Not a wrinkle or a rustle was
lost upon _her_. And, therefore, when she reached the _locanda_, knowing
to an iota all that was coming, she did not retire to bed, but paced
before the house. She had not long to wait: in fifteen minutes the door
opened softly, and out stepped Calderon. Kate walked forward, and faced
him immediately; telling him laughingly that it was not good for his
health to go abroad on this night. The young man showed some impatience;
upon which, very seriously, Kate acquainted him with her suspicions, and
with the certainty that the Alcalde was not so blind as he had seemed.
Calderon thanked her for the information; would be upon his guard; but,
to prevent further expostulation, he wheeled round instantly into the
darkness. Catalina was too well convinced, however, of the mischief on
foot, to leave him thus. She followed rapidly, and passed silently
into the garden, almost at the same time with Calderon. Both took
their stations behind trees; Calderon watching nothing but the burning
candles, Catalina watching circumstances to direct her movements.
The candles burned brightly in the little pavilion. Presently one was
extinguished. Upon this, Calderon pressed forward to the steps, hastily
ascended them, and passed into the vestibule. Catalina followed on his
traces. What succeeded was all one scene of continued, dreadful dumb
show; different passions of panic, or deadly struggle, or hellish malice
absolutely suffocated all articulate words.

In a moment a gurgling sound was heard, as of a wild beast attempting
vainly to yell over some creature that it was strangling. Next came a
tumbling out at the door of one black mass, which heaved and parted at
intervals into two figures, which closed, which parted again, which at
last fell down the steps together. Then appeared a figure in white. It
was the unhappy Andalusian; and she seeing the outline of Catalina's
person, ran up to her, unable to utter one syllable. Pitying the agony
of her horror, Catalina took her within her own cloak, and carried her
out at the garden gate. Calderon had by this time died; and the maniacal
Alcalde had risen up to pursue his wife. But Kate, foreseeing what he
would do, had stepped silently within the shadow of the garden wall.
Looking down the road to the town, and seeing nobody moving, the maniac,
for some purpose, went back to the house. This moment Kate used to
recover the _locanda_ with the lady still panting in horror. What was
to be done? To think of concealment in this little place was out of the
question. The Alcalde was a man of local power, and it was certain that
he would kill his wife on the spot. Kate's generosity would not allow
her to have any collusion with this murderous purpose. At Cuzco, the
principal convent was ruled by a near relative of the Andalusian;
and there she would find shelter. Kate, therefore, saddled her horse
rapidly, placed the lady behind, and rode off in the darkness. About
five miles out of the town their road was crossed by a torrent, over
which they could not hit the bridge. 'Forward!' cried the lady; and Kate
repeating the word to the horse, the docile creature leaped down into
the water. They were all sinking at first; but having its head free,
the horse swam clear of all obstacles through the midnight darkness, and
scrambled out on the opposite bank. The two riders were dripping from
the shoulders downward. But, seeing a light twinkling from a cottage
window, Kate rode up; obtained a little refreshment, and the benefit of
a fire, from a poor laboring man. From this man she also bought a warm
mantle for the lady, who, besides her torrent bath, was dressed in a
light evening robe, so that but for the horseman's cloak of Kate she
would have perished. But there was no time to lose. They had already
lost two hours from the consequences of their cold bath. Cuzco was
still eighteen miles distant; and the Alcalde's shrewdness would at once
divine this to be his wife's mark. They remounted: very soon the silent
night echoed the hoofs of a pursuing rider; and now commenced the most
frantic race, in which each party rode as if the whole game of life were
staked upon the issue. The pace was killing: and Kate has delivered it
as her opinion, in the memoirs which she wrote, that the Alcalde was the
better mounted. This may be doubted. And certainly Kate had ridden too
many years in the Spanish cavalry to have any fear of his worship's
horsemanship; but it was a prodigious disadvantage that _her_ horse had
to carry double; while the horse ridden by her opponent was one of those
belonging to the murdered Don Antonio, and known to Kate as a powerful
animal. At length they had come within three miles at Cuzco. The road
after this descended the whole way to the city, and in some places
rapidly, so as to require a cool rider. Suddenly a deep trench appeared
traversing the whole extent of a broad heath. It was useless to evade
it. To have hesitated was to be lost. Kate saw the necessity of clearing
it, but doubted much whether her poor exhausted horse, after twenty-one
miles of work so severe, had strength for the effort. Kate's maxim,
however, which never yet had failed, both figuratively for life, and
literally for the saddle, was--to ride at everything that showed a front
of resistance. She did so now. Having come upon the trench rather too
suddenly, she wheeled round for the advantage of coming down upon it
more determinately, rode resolutely at it, and gained the opposite bank.
The hind feet of her horse were sinking back from the rottenness of
the ground; but the strong supporting bridle-hand of Kate carried him
forward; and in ten minutes more they would be in Cuzco. This being
seen by the vicious Alcalde, who had built great hopes on the trench,
he unslung his carbine, pulled up, and fired after the bonny black
horse and its bonny fair riders. But this manoeuvre would have lost
his worship any bet that he might have had depending on this admirable
steeple-chase. Had I been stakeholder, what a pleasure it would have
been, in fifteen minutes from this very vicious shot, to pay into
Kate's hands every shilling of the deposits. I would have listened to
no nonsense about referees or protests. The bullets, says Kate, whistled
round the poor clinging lady _en croupe_--luckily none struck her;
but one wounded the horse. And that settled the odds. Kate now planted
herself well in her stirrups to enter Cuzco, almost dangerously a
winner; for the horse was so maddened by the wound, and the road so
steep, that he went like blazes; and it really became difficult for
Kate to guide him with any precision through narrow episcopal paths.
Henceforwards the wounded horse required Kate's continued attention; and
yet, in the mere luxury of strife, it was impossible for Kate to avoid
turning a little in her saddle to see the Alcalde's performance on
this tight rope of the trench. His worship's horsemanship being perhaps
rather rusty, and he not perfectly acquainted with his horse, it
would have been agreeable to compromise the case by riding round, or
dismounting. But all _that_ was impossible. The job must be done. And I
am happy to report, for the reader's satisfaction, the sequel--so far
as Kate could attend the performance. Gathering himself up for mischief,
the Alcalde took a sweep, as if ploughing out the line of some vast
encampment, or tracing the _pomærium_ for some future Rome; then, like
thunder and lightning, with arms flying aloft in the air, down he came
upon the trembling trench.

But the horse refused the leap; and, as the only compromise that _his_
unlearned brain could suggest, he threw his worship right over his ears,
lodging him safely in a sand-heap that rose with clouds of dust and
screams of birds into the morning air. Kate had now no time to send back
her compliments in a musical halloo. The Alcalde missed breaking his
neck on this occasion very narrowly; but his neck was of no use to him
in twenty minutes more, as the reader will soon find. Kate rode right
onwards; and, coming in with a lady behind her, horse bloody, and pace
such as no hounds could have lived with, she ought to have made a great
sensation in Cuzco. But, unhappily, the people were all in bed.

The steeple-chase into Cuzco had been a fine headlong thing, considering
the torrent, the trench, the wounded horse, the lovely lady, with her
agonizing fears, mounted behind Kate, together with the meek dove-like
dawn: but the finale crowded together the quickest succession of changes
that out of a melodrama can ever have been witnessed. Kate reached the
convent in safety; carried into the cloisters, and delivered like a
parcel the fair Andalusian. But to rouse the servants caused delay; and
on returning to the street through the broad gateway of the convent,
whom should she face but the Alcalde! How he escaped the trench, who can
tell? He had no time to write memoirs; his horse was too illiterate. But
he _had_ escaped; temper not at all improved by that adventure, and now
raised to a hell of malignity by seeing that he had lost his prey. In
the morning light he now saw how to use his sword. He attacked Kate with
fury. Both were exhausted; and Kate, besides that she had no personal
quarrel with the Alcalde, having now accomplished her sole object
in saving the lady, would have been glad of a truce. She could with
difficulty wield her sword: and the Alcalde had so far the advantage,
that he wounded Kate severely. That roused her ancient blood. She turned
on him now with determination. At that moment in rode two servants of
the Alcalde, who took part with their master. These odds strengthened
Kate's resolution, but weakened her chances. Just then, however, rode
in, and ranged himself on Kate's side, the servant of the murdered Don
Calderon. In an instant, Kate had pushed her sword through the Alcalde,
who died upon the spot. In an instant the servant of Calderon had fled.
In an instant the Alguazils had come up. They and the servants of the
Alcalde pressed furiously on Kate, who now again was fighting for life.
Against such odds, she was rapidly losing ground; when, in an instant,
on the opposite side of the street, the great gates of the Episcopal
palace rolled open. Thither it was that Calderon's servant had fled. The
bishop and his attendants hurried across. 'Senor Caballador,' said
the bishop, 'in the name of the Virgin, I enjoin you to surrender your
sword.' 'My lord,' said Kate, 'I dare not do it with so many enemies
about me.' 'But I,' replied the bishop, 'become answerable to the law
for your safe keeping.' Upon which, with filial reverence, all parties
dropped their swords. Kate being severely wounded, the bishop led her
into his palace. In an instant came the catastrophe; Kate's discovery
could no longer be delayed; the blood flowed too rapidly; the wound was
in her bosom. She requested a private interview with the bishop; all was
known in a moment; for surgeons and attendants were summoned hastily,
and Kate had fainted. The good bishop pitied her, and had her attended
in his palace; then removed to a convent; then to a second at Lima; and,
after many months had passed, his report to the Spanish Government at
home of all the particulars, drew from the King of Spain and from the
Pope an order that the Nun should be transferred to Spain.

Yes, at length the warrior lady, the blooming cornet, this nun that is
so martial, this dragoon that is so lovely, must visit again the home
of her childhood, which now for seventeen years she has not seen. All
Spain, Portugal, Italy, rang with her adventures. Spain, from north to
south, was frantic with desire to behold her fiery child, whose girlish
romance, whose patriotic heroism electrified the national imagination.
The King of Spain must kiss his _faithful_ daughter, that would not
suffer his banner to see dishonor. The Pope must kiss his _wandering_
daughter, that henceforwards will be a lamb travelling back into the
Christian fold. Potentates so great as these, when _they_ speak words
of love, do not speak in vain. All was forgiven; the sacrilege, the
bloodshed, the flight and the scorn of St. Peter's keys; the pardons
were made out, were signed, were sealed, and the chanceries of earth
were satisfied.

Ah! what a day of sorrow and of joy was _that_ one day, in the first
week of November, 1624, when the returning Kate drew near to the shore
of Andalusia--when, descending into the ship's barge, she was rowed to
the piers of Cadiz by bargemen in the royal liveries--when she saw every
ship, street, house, convent, church, crowded, like a day of judgment,
with human faces, with men, with women, with children, all bending
the lights of their flashing and their loving eyes upon herself. Forty
myriads of people had gathered in Cadiz alone. All Andalusia had turned
out to receive her. Ah! what joy, if she had not looked back to the
Andes, to their dreadful summits, and their more dreadful feet. Ah! what
sorrow, if she had not been forced by music, and endless banners, and
triumphant clamors, to turn away from the Andes to the joyous shore
which she approached!

Upon this shore stood, ready to receive her, in front of all this mighty
crowd, the Prime Minister of Spain, the same Conde Olivarez, who but
one year before had been so haughty and so defying to our haughty and
defying Duke of Buckingham. But a year ago the Prince of Wales was in
Spain, and he also was welcomed with triumph and great joy, but not with
the hundredth part of that enthusiasm which now met the returning nun.
And Olivarez, that had spoken so roughly to the English Duke, to
_her_ 'was sweet as summer.' [Footnote: Griffith in Shakspeare, when
vindicating, in that immortal scene with Queen Catherine, Cardinal
Wolsey.] Through endless crowds of festive compatriots he conducted
her to the King. The King folded her in his arms, and could never be
satisfied with listening to her. He sent for her continually to his
presence--he delighted in her conversation, so new, so natural, so
spirited--he settled a pension upon her at that time, of unprecedented
amount, in the case of a subaltern officer; and by _his_ desire, because
the year 1625 was a year of jubilee, she departed in a few months
from Madrid to Rome. She went through Barcelona; there and everywhere
welcomed as the lady whom the King delighted to honor. She travelled to
Rome, and all doors flew open to receive her. She was presented to his
Holiness, with letters from his most Catholic majesty. But letters there
needed none. The Pope admired her as much as all before had done. He
caused her to recite all her adventures; and what he loved most in her
account, was the sincere and sorrowing spirit in which she described
herself as neither better nor worse than she had been. Neither proud
was Kate, nor sycophantishly and falsely humble. Urban VIII. it was
that then filled the chair of St. Peter. He did not neglect to raise
his daughter's thoughts from earthly things--he pointed her eyes to the
clouds that were above the dome of St. Peter's cathedral--he told her
what the cathedral had told her in the gorgeous clouds of the Andes
and the vesper lights, how sweet a thing, how divine a thing it was for
Christ's sake to forgive all injuries, and how he trusted that no more
she would think of bloodshed. He also said two words to her in Latin,
which, if I had time to repeat a Spanish bishop's remark to Kate some
time afterwards upon those two mysterious words, with Kate's most
natural and ingenuous answer to the Bishop upon what she supposed to
be their meaning, would make the reader smile not less than they made
myself. You know that Kate _did_ understand a little Latin, which,
probably, had not been much improved by riding in the Light Dragoons. I
must find time, however, whether the press and the compositors are in a
fury or not, to mention that the Pope, in his farewell audience to his
dear daughter, whom he was to see no more, gave her a general license
to wear henceforth in all countries--even _in partibus Infidelium_--a
cavalry officer's dress--boots, spurs, sabre, and sabretache; in fact,
anything that she and the Horse Guards might agree upon. Consequently,
reader, remember for your life never to say one word, nor suffer any
tailor to say one word, against those Wellington trousers made in the
chestnut forest; for, understand that the Papal indulgence, as to this
point, runs backwards as well as forwards; it is equally shocking and
heretical to murmur against trousers in the forgotten rear or against
trousers yet to come.

From Rome, Kate returned to Spain. She even went to St. Sebastian's--to
the city, but--whether it was that her heart failed her or not--never
to the convent. She roamed up and down; everywhere she was
welcome--everywhere an honored guest; but everywhere restless. The poor
and humble never ceased from their admiration of her; and amongst the
rich and aristocratic of Spain, with the King at their head, Kate found
especial love from two classes of men. The Cardinals and Bishops all
doated upon her--as their daughter that was returning. The military men
all doated upon her--as their sister that was retiring.

Some time or other, when I am allowed more elbow-room, I will tell you
why it is that I myself love this Kate. Now, at this moment, when it
is necessary for me to close, if I allow you one question before laying
down my pen--if I say, 'Come now, be quick, ask anything you _have_
to ask, for, in one minute, I am going to write _Finis_, after which
(unless the Queen wished it) I could not add a syllable'--twenty to
one, I guess what your question will be. You will ask me, What became of
Kate? What was her end?

Ah, reader! but, if I answer that question, you will say I have _not_
answered it. If I tell you that secret, you will say that the secret
is still hidden. Yet, because I have promised, and because you will be
angry if I do not, let me do my best; and bad is the best. After ten
years of restlessness in Spain, with thoughts always turning back to the
Andes, Kate heard of an expedition on the point of sailing to Spanish
America. All soldiers knew _her_, so that she had information of
everything that stirred in camps. Men of the highest military rank were
going out with the expedition; but they all loved Kate as a sister, and
were delighted to hear that she would join their mess on board ship.
This ship, with others, sailed, whither finally bound, I really forget.
But, on reaching America, all the expedition touched at _Vera Cruz_.
Thither a great crowd of the military went on shore. The leading
officers made a separate party for the same purpose. Their intention
was, to have a gay happy dinner, after their long confinement to a ship,
at the chief hotel; and happy in perfection it could not be, unless Kate
would consent to join it. She, that was ever kind to brother soldiers,
agreed to do so. She descended into the boat along with them, and in
twenty minutes the boat touched the shore. All the bevy of gay laughing
officers, junior and senior, like schoolboys escaping from school,
jumped on shore, and walked hastily, as their time was limited, up to
the hotel. Arriving there, all turned round in eagerness, saying, 'Where
is our dear Kate?' Ah, yes, my dear Kate, at that solemn moment, where,
indeed, were _you_? She had _certainly_ taken her seat in the boat: that
was sure. Nobody, in the general confusion, was certain of having seen
her on coming ashore. The sea was searched for her--the forests were
ransacked. The sea made no answer--the forests gave up no sign. I have
a conjecture of my own; but her brother soldiers were lost in sorrow and
confusion, and could never arrive even at a conjecture.

That happened two hundred and fourteen years ago! Here is the brief sum
of all:--This nun sailed from Spain to Peru, and she found no rest for
the sole of her foot. This nun sailed back from Peru to Spain, and she
found no rest for the agitations of her heart. This nun sailed again
from Spain to America, and she found--the rest which all of us find. But
where it was, could never be made known to the father of Spanish camps,
that sat in Madrid; nor to Kate's spiritual father, that sat in Rome.
Known it is to the great Father that once whispered to Kate on the
Andes; but else it has been a secret for two centuries; and to man it
remains a secret for ever and ever!


There is no great event in modern history, or perhaps it may be said
more broadly, none in all history, from its earliest records, less
generally known, or more striking to the imagination, than the flight
eastwards of a principal Tartar nation across the boundless _steppes_
of Asia in the latter half of the last century. The _terminus a quo_ of
this flight, and the _terminus ad quem_, are equally magnificent; the
mightiest of Christian thrones being the one, the mightiest of Pagan the
other. And the grandeur of these two terminal objects, is harmoniously
supported by the romantic circumstances of the flight. In the abruptness
of its commencement, and the fierce velocity of its execution, we read
an expression of the wild barbaric character of the agents. In the
unity of purpose connecting this myriad of wills, and in the blind but
unerring aim at a mark so remote, there is something which recalls to
the mind those Almighty instincts that propel the migrations of the
swallow, or the life-withering marches of the locust. Then again, in the
gloomy vengeance of Russia and her vast artillery, which hung upon the
rear and the skirts of the fugitive vassals, we are reminded of Miltonic
images--such, for instance, as that of the solitary hand pursuing
through desert spaces and through ancient chaos a rebellious host, and
overtaking with volleying thunders those who believed themselves already
within the security of darkness and of distance.

We shall have occasion farther on to compare this event with other great
national catastrophes as to the magnitude of the suffering. But it may
also challenge a comparison with similar events under another relation,
viz., as to its dramatic capabilities. Few cases, perhaps, in romance or
history, can sustain a close collation with this as to the complexity
of its separate interests. The great outline of the enterprise, taken
in connection with the operative motives, hidden or avowed, and the
religious sanctions under which it was pursued, give to the case a
triple character: 1st, That of a conspiracy, with as close a unity
in the incidents, and as much of a personal interest in the moving
characters, with fine dramatic contrasts, as belongs to Venice
Preserved, or to the Fiesco of Schiller. 2dly, That of a great military
expedition offering the same romantic features of vast distances to
be traversed, vast reverses to be sustained, untried routes, enemies
obscurely ascertained, and hardships too vaguely prefigured, which mark
the Egyptian expedition of Cambyses--the anabasis of the younger Cyrus,
and the subsequent retreat of the ten thousand to the Black Sea--the
Parthian expeditions of the Romans, especially those of Crassus and
Julian--or (as more disastrous than any of them, and in point of space
as well as in amount of forces, more extensive,) the Russian anabasis
and katabasis of Napoleon. 3dly, That of a religious Exodus, authorized
by an oracle venerated throughout many nations of Asia, an Exodus,
therefore, in so far resembling the great Scriptural Exodus of the
Israelites, under Moses and Joshua, as well as in the very peculiar
distinction of carrying along with them their entire families, women,
children, slaves, their herds of cattle and of sheep, their horses and
their camels.

This triple character of the enterprise naturally invests it with a more
comprehensive interest. But the dramatic interest, which we ascribed to
it, or its fitness for a stage representation, depends partly upon the
marked variety and the strength of the personal agencies concerned, and
partly upon the succession of scenical situations. Even the _steppes_,
the camels, the tents, the snowy and the sandy deserts, are not beyond
the scale of our modern representative powers, as often called into
action in the theatres both of Paris and London; and the series of
situations unfolded, beginning with the general conflagration on the
Wolga--passing thence to the disastrous scenes of the flight (as it
literally was in its commencement)--to the Tartar siege of the Russian
fortress Koulagina--the bloody engagement with the Cossacks in the
mountain passes at Ouchim--the surprisal by the Bashkirs and the
advanced posts of the Russian army at Torgau--the private conspiracy at
this point against the Khan--the long succession of running fights--the
parting massacres at the lake of Tengis under the eyes of the
Chinese--and finally, the tragical retribution to Zebek-Dorchi at the
hunting-lodge of the Chinese emperor;--all these situations communicate
a _scenical_ animation to the wild romance, if treated dramatically;
whilst a higher and a philosophic interest belongs to it as a case of
authentic history, commemorating a great revolution for good and for
evil, in the fortunes of a whole people--a people semi-barbarous, but
simple-hearted, and of ancient descent.

On the 2lst of January, 1761, the young Prince Oubacha assumed the
sceptre of the Kalmucks upon the death of his father. Some part of
the power attached to this dignity he had already wielded since his
fourteenth year, in quality of Vice-Khan, by the express appointment,
and with the avowed support of the Russian Government. He was now
about eighteen years of age, amiable in his personal character, and not
without titles to respect in his public character as a sovereign prince.
In times more peaceable, and amongst a people more entirely civilized,
or more humanized by religion, it is even probable that he might have
discharged his high duties with considerable distinction. But his
lot was thrown upon stormy times, and a most difficult crisis amongst
tribes, whose native ferocity was exasperated by debasing forms of
superstition, and by a nationality as well as an inflated conceit of
their own merit absolutely unparalleled, whilst the circumstances of
their hard and trying position under the jealous _surveillance_ of an
irresistible lord paramount, in the person of the Russian Czar, gave a
fiercer edge to the natural unamiableness of the Kalmuck disposition,
and irritated its gloomier qualities into action under the restless
impulses of suspicion and permanent distrust. No prince could hope for
a cordial allegiance from his subjects, or a peaceful reign under the
circumstances of the case; for the dilemma in which a Kalmuck ruler
stood at present was of this nature; _wanting_ the sanction and
support of the Czar, he was inevitably too weak from without to command
confidence from his subjects, or resistance to his competitors: on the
other hand, _with_ this kind of support, and deriving his title in any
degree from the favor of the Imperial Court, he became almost in that
extent an object of hatred at home, and within the whole compass of his
own territory. He was at once an object of hatred for the past, being a
living monument of national independence, ignominiously surrendered, and
an object of jealousy for the future, as one who had already advertised
himself to be a fitting tool for the ultimate purposes (whatsoever those
might prove to be) of the Russian Court. Coming himself to the Kalmuck
sceptre under the heaviest weight of prejudice from the unfortunate
circumstances of his position, it might have been expected that Oubacha
would have been pre-eminently an object of detestation; for besides his
known dependence upon the Cabinet of St. Petersburg, the direct line
of succession had been set aside, and the principle of inheritance
violently suspended, in favor of his own father, so recently as nineteen
years before the era of his own accession, consequently within the
lively remembrance of the existing generation. He therefore, almost
equally with his father, stood within the full current of the national
prejudices, and might have anticipated the most pointed hostility. But
it was not so: such are the caprices in human affairs, that he was even,
in a moderate sense, popular,--a benefit which wore the more cheering
aspect, and the promises of permanence, inasmuch as he owed it
exclusively to his personal qualities of kindness and affability, as
well as to the beneficence of his government. On the other hand, to
balance this unlooked-for prosperity at the outset of his reign, he met
with a rival in popular favor--almost a competitor--in the person of
Zebek-Dorchi, a prince with considerable pretensions to the throne, and,
perhaps it might be said, with equal pretensions. Zebek-Dorchi was
a direct descendant of the same royal house as himself, through a
different branch. On public grounds, his claim stood, perhaps, on
a footing equally good with that of Oubacha, whilst his personal
qualities, even in those aspects which seemed to a philosophical
observer most odious and repulsive, promised the most effectual aid to
the dark purposes of an intriguer or a conspirator, and were generally
fitted to win a popular support precisely in those points where
_Oubacha_ was most defective. He was much superior in external
appearance to his rival on the throne, and so far better qualified
to win the good opinion of a semi-barbarous people; whilst his
dark intellectual qualities of Machiavelian dissimulation, profound
hypocrisy, and perfidy which knew no touch of remorse, were admirably
calculated to sustain any ground which he might win from the
simple-hearted people with whom he had to deal--and from the frank
carelessness of his unconscious competitor.

At the very outset of his treacherous career, Zebek-Dorchi was sagacious
enough to perceive that nothing could be gained by open declaration of
hostility to the reigning prince: the choice had been a deliberate act
on the part of Russia, and Elizabeth Petrowna was not the person to
recall her own favors with levity or upon slight grounds. Openly,
therefore, to have declared his enmity towards his relative on the
throne, could have had no effect but that of arming suspicions against
his own ulterior purposes in a quarter where it was most essential to
his interest that, for the present, all suspicion should be hoodwinked.
Accordingly, after much meditation, the course he took for opening his
snares was this:--He raised a rumor that his own life was in danger from
the plots of several _Saissang_, (that is, Kalmuck nobles,) who were
leagued together, under an oath to assassinate him; and immediately
after, assuming a well-counterfeited alarm, he fled to Tcherkask,
followed by sixty-five tents. From this place he kept up a
correspondence with the Imperial Court; and, by way of soliciting his
cause more effectually, he soon repaired in person to St. Petersburg.
Once admitted to personal conferences with the Cabinet, he found no
difficulty in winning over the Russian counsels to a concurrence with
some of his political views, and thus covertly introducing the point of
that wedge which was finally to accomplish his purposes. In particular,
he persuaded the Russian Government to make a very important alteration
in the constitution of the Kalmuck State Council, which in effect
reorganized the whole political condition of the state, and disturbed
the balance of power as previously adjusted. Of this Council--in the
Kalmuck language called _Sarga_--there were eight members, called
_Sargatchi;_ and hitherto it had been the custom that these eight
members should be entirely subordinate to the Khan; holding, in fact,
the ministerial character of secretaries and assistants, but in no
respect ranking as co-ordinate authorities. That had produced some
inconveniences in former reigns; and it was easy for Zebek-Dorchi to
point the jealousy of the Russian Court to others more serious which
might arise in future circumstances of war or other contingencies.
It was resolved, therefore, to place the Sargatchi henceforward on
a footing of perfect independence, and therefore (as regarded
responsibility) on a footing of equality with the Khan. Their
independence, however, had respect only to their own sovereign; for
towards Russia they were placed in a new attitude of direct duty and
accountability, by the creation in their favor of small pensions (300
roubles a year), which, however, to a Kalmuck of that day were more
considerable than might be supposed, and had a further value as marks
of honorary distinction emanating from a great Empress. Thus far the
purposes of Zebek-Dorchi were served effectually for the moment:
but, apparently, it was only for the moment; since, in the further
development of his plots, this very dependency upon Russian influence
would be the most serious obstacle in his way. There was, however,
another point carried which outweighed all inferior considerations, as
it gave him a power of setting aside discretionally whatsoever should
arise to disturb his plots: he was himself appointed President and
Controller of the _Sargatchi_. The Russian Court had been aware of his
high pretensions by birth, and hoped by this promotion to satisfy the
ambition which, in some degree, was acknowledged to be a reasonable
passion for any man occupying his situation.

Having thus completely blindfolded the Cabinet of Russia, Zebek-Dorchi
proceeded in his new character to fulfil his political mission with
the Khan of the Kalmucks. So artfully did he prepare the road for his
favorable reception at the court of this Prince, that he was at once
and universally welcomed as a public benefactor. The pensions of the
counsellors were so much additional wealth poured into the Tartar
exchequer; as to the ties of dependency thus created, experience had
not yet enlightened these simple tribes as to that result. And that he
himself should be the chief of these mercenary counsellors, was so far
from being charged upon Zebek as any offence or any ground of suspicion,
that his relative the Khan returned him hearty thanks for his services,
under the belief that he could have accepted this appointment only with
a view to keep out other and more unwelcome pretenders, who would not
have had the same motives of consanguinity or friendship for executing
its duties in a spirit of kindness to the Kalmucks. The first use which
he made of his new functions about the Khan's person was to attack the
Court of Russia, by a romantic villany not easy to be credited, for
those very acts of interference with the council which he himself had
prompted. This was a dangerous step: but it was indispensable to
his further advance upon the gloomy path which he had traced out for
himself. A triple vengeance was what he meditated--1, Upon the Russian
Cabinet for having undervalued his own pretensions to the throne--2,
upon his amiable rival for having supplanted him--and 3, upon all those
of the nobility who had manifested their sense of his weakness by their
neglect, or their sense of his perfidious character by their suspicions.
Here was a colossal outline of wickedness; and by one in his situation,
feeble (as it might seem) for the accomplishment of its humblest parts,
how was the total edifice to be reared in its comprehensive grandeur?
He, a worm as he was, could he venture to assail the mighty behemoth of
Muscovy, the potentate who counted three hundred languages around the
footsteps of his throne, and from whose 'lion ramp' recoiled alike
'baptized and infidel'--Christendom on the one side, strong by her
intellect and her organization, and the `Barbaric East' on the other,
with her unnumbered numbers? The match was a monstrous one; but in its
very monstrosity there lay this germ of encouragement, that it could not
be suspected. The very hopelessness of the scheme grounded his hope, and
he resolved to execute a vengeance which should involve as it were,
in the unity of a well-laid tragic fable, all whom he judged to be his
enemies. That vengeance lay in detaching from the Russian empire the
whole Kalmuck nation, and breaking up that system of intercourse which
had thus far been beneficial to both. This last was a consideration
which moved him but little. True it was that Russia to the Kalmucks had
secured lands and extensive pasturage; true it was that the Kalmucks
reciprocally to Russia had furnished a powerful cavalry. But the latter
loss would be part of his triumph, and the former might be more than
compensated in other climates under other sovereigns. Here was a scheme
which, in its final accomplishment, would avenge him bitterly on the
Czarina, and in the course of its accomplishment might furnish him
with ample occasions for removing his other enemies. It may be readily
supposed indeed that he, who could deliberately raise his eyes to the
Russian autocrat as an antagonist in single duel with himself, was not
likely to feel much anxiety about Kalmuck enemies of whatever rank. He
took his resolution, therefore, sternly and irrevocably to effect this
astonishing translation of an ancient people across the pathless
deserts of Central Asia, intersected continually by rapid rivers, rarely
furnished with bridges, and of which the fords were known only to those
who might think it for their interest to conceal them, through many
nations inhospitable or hostile; frost and snow around them, (from the
necessity of commencing their flight in the winter,) famine in their
front, and the sabre, or even the artillery of an offended and mighty
empress, hanging upon their rear for thousands of miles. But what was
to be their final mark, the port of shelter after so fearful a course
of wandering? Two things were evident: it must be some power at a great
distance from Russia, so as to make return even in that view hopeless;
and it must be a power of sufficient rank to ensure them protection from
any hostile efforts on the part of the Czarina for reclaiming them, or
for chastising their revolt. Both conditions were united obviously in
the person of Kien Long, the reigning Emperor of China, who was farther
recommended to them by his respect for the head of their religion. To
China, therefore, and as their first rendezvous to the shadow of the
great Chinese Wall, it was settled by Zebek that they should direct
their flight.

Next came the question of time; _when_ should the flight commence:--and
finally, the more delicate question as to the choice of accomplices.
To extend the knowledge of the conspiracy too far, was to insure
its betrayal to the Russian Government. Yet at some stage of the
preparations it was evident that a very extensive confidence must be
made, because in no other way could the mass of the Kalmuck population
be persuaded to furnish their families with the requisite equipments
for so long a migration. This critical step, however, it was resolved to
defer up to the latest possible moment, and, at all events, to make no
general communication on the subject until the time of departure should
be definitely settled. In the meantime, Zebek admitted only three
persons to his confidence; of whom Oubacha, the reigning prince, was
almost necessarily one; but him, from his yielding and somewhat feeble
character, he viewed rather in the light of a tool than as one of his
active accomplices. Those whom (if anybody) he admitted to an unreserved
participation in his counsels, were two only, the great _Lama_ among the
Kalmucks, and his own father-in-law, Erempel, a ruling prince of some
tribe in the neighborhood of the Caspian sea, recommended to his favor
not so much by any strength of talent corresponding to the occasion, as
by his blind devotion to himself, and his passionate anxiety to promote
the elevation of his daughter and his son-in-law to the throne of a
sovereign prince. A titular prince Zebek already was: but this dignity,
without the substantial accompaniment of a sceptre, seemed but an empty
sound to both of these ambitious rivals. The other accomplice, whose
name was Loosang-Dchaltzan, and whose rank was that of Lama, or Kalmuck
pontiff, was a person of far more distinguished pretensions; he had
something of the same gloomy and terrific pride which marked the
character of Zebek himself, manifesting also the same energy,
accompanied by the same unfaltering cruelty, and a natural facility
of dissimulation even more profound. It was by this man that the other
question was settled as to the time for giving effect to their designs.
His own pontifical character had suggested to him, that in order to
strengthen their influence with the vast mob of simple-minded men whom
they were to lead into a howling wilderness, after persuading them to
lay desolate their own ancient hearths, it was indispensable that they
should be able, in cases of extremity, to plead the express sanction of
God for their entire enterprise. This could only be done by addressing
themselves to the great head of their religion, the Dalai-Lama of Tibet.
Him they easily persuaded to countenance their schemes: and an oracle
was delivered solemnly at Tibet, to the effect that no ultimate
prosperity would attend this great Exodus unless it were pursued through
the years of the _tiger_ and the _hare_. Now, the Kalmuck custom is to
distinguish their years by attaching to each a denomination taken from
one of twelve animals, the exact order of succession being absolutely
fixed, so that the cycle revolves of course through a period of a
dozen years. Consequently, if the approaching year of the _tiger_ were
suffered to escape them, in that case the expedition must be delayed for
twelve years more, within which period, even were no other unfavorable
changes to arise, it was pretty well foreseen that the Russian
Government would take the most effectual means for bridling their
vagrant propensities by a ring fence of forts or military posts; to say
nothing of the still readier plan for securing their fidelity (a plan
already talked of in all quarters), by exacting a large body of hostages
selected from the families of the most influential nobles. On these
cogent considerations, it was solemnly determined that this terrific
experiment should be made in the next year of the _tiger_, which
happened to fall upon the Christian year 1771. With respect to the
month, there was, unhappily for the Kalmucks, even less latitude
allowed to their choice than with respect to the year. It was absolutely
necessary, or it was thought so, that the different divisions of the
nation, which pastured their flocks on both banks of the Wolga, should
have the means of effecting an instantaneous junction; because the
danger of being intercepted by flying columns of the Imperial armies was
precisely the greatest at the outset. Now, from the want of bridges, or
sufficient river craft for transporting so vast a body of men, the sole
means which could be depended upon (especially where so many women,
children, and camels were concerned,) was _ice_: and this, in a state
of sufficient firmness, could not be absolutely counted upon before the
month of January. Hence it happened that this astonishing Exodus of a
whole nation, before so much as a whisper of the design had begun to
circulate amongst those whom it most interested, before it was even
suspected that any man's wishes pointed in that direction, had been
definitively appointed for January of the year 1771. And almost up
to the Christmas of 1770, the poor simple Kalmuck herdsmen and their
families were going nightly to their peaceful beds without even dreaming
that the _fiat_ had already gone forth from their rulers which consigned
those quiet abodes, together with the peace and comfort which reigned
within them, to a withering desolation, now close at hand.

Meantime war raged on a great scale between Russia and the Sultan.
And, until the time arrived for throwing off their vassalage, it was
necessary that Oubacha should contribute his usual contingent of martial
aid. Nay, it had unfortunately become prudent that he should contribute
much more than his usual aid. Human experience gives ample evidence
that in some mysterious and unaccountable way no great design is ever
agitated, no matter how few or how faithful may be the participators,
but that some presentiment--some dim misgiving--is kindled amongst
those whom it is chiefly important to blind. And, however it might have
happened, certain it is, that already, when as yet no syllable of the
conspiracy had been breathed to any man whose very existence was
not staked upon its concealment, nevertheless, some vague and uneasy
jealousy had arisen in the Russian Cabinet as to the future schemes of
the Kalmuck Khan: and very probable it is--that, but for the war then
raging, and the consequent prudence of conciliating a very important
vassal, or, at least, of abstaining from what would powerfully alienate
him, even at that moment such measures would have been adopted as
must for ever have intercepted the Kalmuck schemes. Slight as were the
jealousies of the Imperial Court, they had not escaped the Machiavelian
eyes of Zebek and the Lama. And under their guidance, Oubacha, bending
to the circumstances of the moment, and meeting the jealousy of the
Russian Court with a policy corresponding to their own, strove by
unusual zeal to efface the Czarina's unfavorable impressions. He
enlarged the scale of his contributions; and _that_ so prodigiously,
that he absolutely carried to head-quarters a force of 35,000 cavalry
fully equipped; some go further, and rate the amount beyond 40,000: but
the smaller estimate is, at all events, _within_ the truth.

With this magnificent array of cavalry, heavy as well as light, the Khan
went into the field under great expectations; and these he more than
realized. Having the good fortune to be concerned with so ill-organized
and disorderly a description of force as that which at all times
composed the bulk of a Turkish army, he carried victory along with
his banners; gained many partial successes; and at last, in a pitched
battle, overthrew the Turkish force opposed to him with a loss of 5000
men left upon the field.

These splendid achievements seemed likely to operate in various ways
against the impending revolt. Oubacha had now a strong motive, in the
martial glory acquired, for continuing his connection with the empire
in whose service he had won it, and by whom only it could be fully
appreciated. He was now a great marshal of a great empire, one of the
Paladins around the imperial throne; in China he would be nobody,
or (worse than that) a mendicant-alien, prostrate at the feet,
and soliciting the precarious alms of a prince with whom he had no
connection. Besides, it might reasonably be expected that the Czarina,
grateful for the really efficient aid given by the Tartar prince, would
confer upon him such eminent rewards as might be sufficient to anchor
his hopes upon Russia, and to wean him from every possible seduction.
These were the obvious suggestions of prudence and good sense to every
man who stood neutral in the case. But they were disappointed. The
Czarina knew her obligations to the Khan, but she did not acknowledge
them. Wherefore? That is a mystery, perhaps never to be explained. So
it was, however. The Khan went unhonored; no _ukase_ ever proclaimed his
merits; and, perhaps, had he even been abundantly recompensed by
Russia, there were others who would have defeated these tendencies
to reconciliation. Erempel, Zebek, and Loosang the Lama, were pledged
life-deep to prevent any accommodation; and their efforts were
unfortunately seconded by those of their deadliest enemies. In the
Russian Court there were at that time some great nobles pre-occupied
with feelings of hatred and blind malice towards the Kalmucks, quite as
strong as any which the Kalmucks could harbor towards Russia, and not,
perhaps, so well-founded. Just as much as the Kalmucks hated the Russian
yoke, their galling assumption of authority, the marked air of disdain,
as towards a nation of ugly, stupid, and filthy barbarians, which too
generally marked the Russian bearing and language; but above all, the
insolent contempt, or even outrages which the Russian governors or great
military commandants tolerated in their followers towards the
barbarous religion and superstitious mummeries of the Kalmuck
priesthood--precisely in that extent did the ferocity of the Russian
resentment, and their wrath at seeing the trampled worm turn or attempt
a feeble retaliation, re-act upon the unfortunate Kalmucks. At this
crisis it is probable that envy and wounded pride, upon witnessing
the splendid victories of Oubacha and Momotbacha over the Turks and
Bashkirs, contributed strength to the Russian irritation. And it must
have been through the intrigues of those nobles about her person, who
chiefly smarted under these feelings, that the Czarina could ever
have lent herself to the unwise and ungrateful policy pursued at this
critical period towards the Kalmuck Khan. That Czarina was no longer
Elizabeth Petrowna, it was Catharine the Second; a princess who did not
often err so injuriously (injuriously for herself as much as for
others) in the measures of her government. She had soon ample reason
for repenting of her false policy. Meantime, how much it must have
co-operated with the other motives previously acting upon Oubacha in
sustaining his determination to revolt; and how powerfully it must have
assisted the efforts of all the Tartar chieftains in preparing the minds
of their people to feel the necessity of this difficult enterprise, by
arming their pride and their suspicions against the Russian Government,
through the keenness of their sympathy with the wrongs of their insulted
prince, may be readily imagined. It is a fact, and it has been
confessed by candid Russians themselves, when treating of this great
dismemberment, that the conduct of the Russian Cabinet throughout the
period of suspense, and during the crisis of hesitation in the Kalmuck
Council, was exactly such as was most desirable for the purposes of
the conspirators; it was such, in fact, as to set the seal to all their
machinations, by supplying distinct evidences and official vouchers for
what could otherwise have been at the most matters of doubtful suspicion
and indirect presumption.

Nevertheless, in the face of all these arguments, and even allowing
their weight so far as not at all to deny the injustice or the impolicy
of the Imperial Ministers, it is contended by many persons who have
reviewed the affair with a command of all the documents bearing on the
case, more especially the letters or minutes of Council subsequently
discovered, in the handwriting of Zebek-Dorchi, and the important
evidence of the Russian captive Weseloff, who was carried off by the
Kalmucks in their flight, that beyond all doubt Oubacha was powerless
for any purpose of impeding, or even of delaying the revolt. He himself,
indeed, was under religious obligations of the most terrific solemnity
never to flinch from the enterprise, or even to slacken in his zeal;
for Zebek-Dorchi, distrusting the firmness of his resolution under any
unusual pressure of alarm or difficulty, had, in the very earliest
stage of the conspiracy, availed himself of the Khan's well known
superstition, to engage him, by means of previous concert with the
priests and their head the Lama, in some dark and mysterious rites of
consecration, terminating in oaths under such terrific sanctions as no
Kalmuck would have courage to violate. As far, therefore, as regarded
the personal share of the Khan in what was to come, Zebek was entirely
at his ease: he knew him to be so deeply pledged by religious terrors to
the prosecution of the conspiracy, that no honors within the Czarina's
gift could have possibly shaken his adhesion: and then, as to threats
from the same quarter, he knew him to be sealed against those fears
by others of a gloomier character, and better adapted to his peculiar
temperament. For Oubacha was a brave man, as respected all bodily
enemies or the dangers of human warfare, but was as sensitive and timid
as the most superstitious of old women in facing the frowns of a priest,
or under the vague anticipations of ghostly retributions. But had it
been otherwise, and had there been any reason to apprehend an unsteady
demeanor on the part of this Prince at the approach of the critical
moment, such were the changes already effected in the state of their
domestic politics amongst the Tartars by the undermining arts of
Zebek-Dorchi, and his ally the Lama, that very little importance would
have attached to that doubt. All power was now effectually lodged in
the hands of Zebek-Dorchi. He was the true and absolute wielder of
the Kalmuck sceptre: all measures of importance were submitted to his
discretion; and nothing was finally resolved but under his dictation.
This result he had brought about in a year or two by means sufficiently
simple; first of all, by availing himself of the prejudice in his favor,
so largely diffused amongst the lowest of the Kalmucks, that his own
title to the throne, in quality of great-grandson in a direct line from
Ajouka, the most illustrious of all the Kalmuck Khans, stood upon a
better basis than that of Oubacha, who derived from a collateral branch:
secondly, with respect to that sole advantage which Oubacha possessed
above himself in the ratification of his title, by improving this
difference between their situations to the disadvantage of his
competitor, as one who had not scrupled to accept that triumph from an
alien power at the price of his independence, which he himself (as
he would have it understood) disdained to court: thirdly, by his own
talents and address, coupled with the ferocious energy of his moral
character: fourthly--and perhaps in an equal degree--by the criminal
facility and good-nature of Oubacha: finally, (which is remarkable
enough, as illustrating the character of the man,) by that very
new modelling of the Sarga or Privy Council, which he had used as a
principal topic of abuse and malicious insinuation against the Russian
Government, whilst in reality he first had suggested the alteration to
the Empress, and he chiefly appropriated the political advantages which
it was fitted to yield. For, as he was himself appointed the chief of
the Sargatchi, and as the pensions of the inferior Sargatchi passed
through his hands, whilst in effect they owed their appointments to his
nomination, it may be easily supposed that whatever power existed in the
state capable of controlling the Khan, being held by the Sarga under its
new organization, and this body being completely under his influence,
the final result was to throw all the functions of the state, whether
nominally in the Prince or in the council, substantially into the hands
of this one man: whilst, at the same time, from the strict league which
he maintained with the Lama, all the thunders of the spiritual power
were always ready to come in aid of the magistrate, or to supply his
incapacity in cases which he could not reach.

But the time was now rapidly approaching for the mighty experiment. The
day was drawing near on which the signal was to be given for raising
the standard of revolt, and by a combined movement on both sides of the
Wolga for spreading the smoke of one vast conflagration, that should
wrap in a common blaze their own huts and the stately cities of their
enemies, over the breadth and length of those great provinces in which
their flocks were dispersed. The year of the _tiger_ was now within one
little month of its commencement; the fifth morning of that year was
fixed for the fatal day, when the fortunes and happiness of a whole
nation were to be put upon the hazard of a dicer's throw; and as yet
that nation was in profound ignorance of the whole plan. The Khan, such
was the kindness of his nature, could not bring himself to make the
revelation so urgently required. It was clear, however, that this could
not be delayed; and Zebek-Dorchi took the task willingly upon himself.
But where or how should this notification be made, so as to exclude
Russian hearers? After some deliberation, the following plan was
adopted:--Couriers, it was contrived, should arrive in furious haste,
one upon the heels of another, reporting a sudden inroad of the
Kirghises and Bashkirs upon the Kalmuck lands, at a point distant
about one hundred and twenty miles. Thither all the Kalmuck families,
according to immemorial custom, were required to send a separate
representative; and there, accordingly, within three days, all appeared.
The distance, the solitary ground appointed for the rendezvous, the
rapidity of the march, all tended to make it almost certain that no
Russian could be present. Zebek-Dorchi then came forward. He did
not waste many words upon rhetoric. He unfurled an immense sheet of
parchment, visible from the outermost distance at which any of this vast
crowd could stand; the total number amounted to eighty thousand; all
saw, and many heard. They were told of the oppressions of Russia; of her
pride and haughty disdain, evidenced towards them by a thousand acts; of
her contempt for their religion; of her determination to reduce them to
absolute slavery; of the preliminary measures she had already taken by
erecting forts upon many of the great rivers of their neighborhood;
of the ulterior intentions she thus announced to circumscribe their
pastoral lands, until they would all be obliged to renounce their
flocks, and to collect in towns like Sarepta, there to pursue mechanical
and servile trades of shoemaker, tailor, and weaver, such as the
freeborn Tartar had always disdained. 'Then again,' said the subtle
prince, 'she increases her military levies upon our population every
year; we pour out our blood as young men in her defence, or more often
in support of her insolent aggressions; and as old men, we reap nothing
from our sufferings, nor benefit by our survivorship where so many
are sacrificed.' At this point of his harangue, Zebek produced several
papers, (forged, as it is generally believed, by himself and the Lama,)
containing projects of the Russian court for a general transfer of the
eldest sons, taken _en masse_ from the greatest Kalmuck families, to
the Imperial court. 'Now let this be once accomplished,' he argued,
'and there is an end of all useful resistance from that day forwards.
Petitions we might make, or even remonstrances; as men of words, we
might play a bold part; but for deeds, for that sort of language by
which our ancestors were used to speak; holding us by such a chain,
Russia would make a jest of our wishes,--knowing full well that we
should not dare to make any effectual movement.'

Having thus sufficiently roused the angry passions of his vast audience,
and having alarmed their fears by this pretended scheme against their
first-born, (an artifice which was indispensable to his purpose, because
it met beforehand _every_ form of amendment to his proposal coming from
the more moderate nobles, who would not otherwise have failed to
insist upon trying the effect of bold addresses to the Empress, before
resorting to any desperate extremity,) Zebek-Dorchi opened his scheme of
revolt, and, if so, of instant revolt; since any preparations reported
at St. Petersburg would be a signal for the armies of Russia to cross
into such positions from all parts of Asia, as would effectually
intercept their march. It is remarkable, however, that, with all his
audacity and his reliance upon the momentary excitement of the Kalmucks,
the subtle prince did not venture, at this stage of his seduction, to
make so startling a proposal as that of a flight to China. All that he
held out for the present was a rapid march to the Temba or some other
great river, which they were to cross, and to take up a strong position
on the further bank, from which, as from a post of conscious security,
they could hold a bolder language to the Czarina, and one which would
have a better chance of winning a favorable audience.

These things, in the irritated condition of the simple Tartars, passed
by acclamation; and all returned homewards, to push forward with the
most furious speed the preparations for their awful undertaking. Rapid
and energetic these of necessity were; and in that degree they became
noticeable and manifest to the Russians who happened to be intermingled
with the different hordes, either on commercial errands, or as agents
officially from the Russian Government, some in a financial, others in a
diplomatic character.

Amongst these last (indeed at the head of them) was a Russian of some
distinction, by name Kichinskoi, a man memorable for his vanity, and
memorable also as one of the many victims to the Tartar revolution. This
Kichinskoi had been sent by the Empress as her envoy to overlook the
conduct of the Kalmucks; he was styled the _Grand Pristaw_, or Great
Commissioner, and was universally known amongst the Tartar tribes
by this title. His mixed character of ambassador and of political
_surveillant_, combined with the dependent state of the Kalmucks, gave
him a real weight in the Tartar councils, and might have given him a
far greater, had not his outrageous self-conceit, and his arrogant
confidence in his own authority, as due chiefly to his personal
qualities for command, led him into such harsh displays of power, and
menaces so odious to the Tartar pride, as very soon made him an object
of their profoundest malice. He had publicly insulted the Khan; and upon
making a communication to him to the effect that some reports began to
circulate, and even to reach the Empress, of a design in agitation to
fly from the Imperial dominions, he had ventured to say,--'But this you
dare not attempt; I laugh at such rumors; yes, Khan, I laugh at them to
the Empress; for you are a chained bear, and that you know.' The Khan
turned away on his heel with marked disdain; and the Pristaw, foaming
at the mouth, continued to utter, amongst those of the Khan's attendants
who staid behind, to catch his real sentiments in a moment of unguarded
passion, all that the blindest frenzy of rage could suggest to the most
presumptuous of fools. It was now ascertained that suspicions _had_
arisen; but at the same time it was ascertained that the Pristaw spoke
no more than the truth in representing himself to have discredited these
suspicions. The fact was, that the mere infatuation of vanity made
him believe that nothing could go on undetected by his all-piercing
sagacity, and that no rebellion could prosper when rebuked by his
commanding presence. The Tartars, therefore, pursued their preparations,
confiding in the obstinate blindness of the Grand Pristaw as in their
perfect safeguard; and such it proved--to his own ruin, as well as that
of myriads beside.

Christmas arrived; and, a little before that time, courier upon courier
came dropping in, one upon the very heels of another, to St. Petersburg,
assuring the Czarina that beyond all doubt the Kalmucks were in the
very crisis of departure. These despatches came from the Governor of
Astrachan, and copies were instantly forwarded to Kichinskoi. Now, it
happened that between this governor--a Russian named Beketoff--and the
Pristaw had been an ancient feud. The very name of Beketoff inflamed
his resentment; and no sooner did he see that hated name attached to
the despatch, than he felt himself confirmed in his former views with
tenfold bigotry, and wrote instantly, in terms of the most pointed
ridicule, against the new alarmist, pledging his own head upon the
visionariness of his alarms. Beketoff, however, was not to be put down
by a few hard words, or by ridicule: he persisted in his statements: the
Russian Ministry were confounded by the obstinacy of the disputants; and
some were beginning even to treat the Governor of Astrachan as a bore,
and as the dupe of his own nervous terrors, when the memorable day
arrived, the fatal 5th of January, which for ever terminated the
dispute, and put a seal upon the earthly hopes and fortunes of
unnumbered myriads. The Governor of Astrachan was the first to hear the
news. Stung by the mixed furies of jealousy, of triumphant vengeance,
and of anxious ambition, he sprang into his sledge, and, at the rate of
three hundred miles a day, pursued his route to St. Petersburg, rushed
into the Imperial presence,--announced the total realization of his
worst predictions,--and upon the confirmation of this intelligence
by subsequent despatches from many different posts on the Wolga, he
received an imperial commission to seize the person of his deluded
enemy, and to keep him in strict captivity. These orders were eagerly
fulfilled, and the unfortunate Kichinskoi soon afterwards expired of
grief and mortification in the gloomy solitude of a dungeon; a victim
to his own immeasurable vanity, and the blinding self-delusions of a
presumption that refused all warning.

The Governor of Astrachan had been but too faithful a prophet. Perhaps
even _he_ was surprised at the suddenness with which the verification
followed his reports. Precisely on the 5th of January, the day so
solemnly appointed under religious sanctions by the Lama, the Kalmucks
on the east bank of the Wolga were seen at the earliest dawn of day
assembling by troops and squadrons, and in the tumultuous movement of
some great morning of battle. Tens of thousands continued moving off the
ground at every half-hour's interval. Women and children, to the amount
of two hundred thousand and upwards, were placed upon wagons, or upon
camels, and drew off by masses of twenty thousand at once--placed under
suitable escorts, and continually swelled in numbers by other outlying
bodies of the horde who kept falling in at various distances upon the
first and second day's march. From sixty to eighty thousand of those
who were the best mounted stayed behind the rest of the tribes,
with purposes of devastation and plunder more violent than prudence
justified, or the amiable character of the Khan could be supposed to
approve. But in this, as in other instances, he was completely overruled
by the malignant counsels of Zebek-Dorchi. The first tempest of
the desolating fury of the Tartars discharged itself upon their own
habitations. But this, as cutting off all infirm looking backward from
the hardships of their march, had been thought so necessary a measure by
all the chieftains, that even Oubacha himself was the first to authorize
the act by his own example. He seized a torch previously prepared with
materials the most durable as well as combustible, and steadily applied
it to the timbers of his own palace. Nothing was saved from the general
wreck except the portable part of the domestic utensils, and that part
of the woodwork which could be applied to the manufacture of the
long Tartar lances. This chapter in their memorable day's work being
finished, and the whole of their villages throughout a district of ten
thousand square miles in one simultaneous blaze, the Tartars waited for
further orders.

These, it was intended, should have taken a character of valedictory
vengeance, and thus have left behind to the Czarina a dreadful
commentary upon the main motives of their flight. It was the purpose
of Zebek-Dorchi that all the Russian towns, churches, and buildings of
every description, should be given up to pillage and destruction, and
such treatment applied to the defenceless inhabitants as might naturally
be expected from a fierce people already infuriated by the spectacle
of their own outrages, and by the bloody retaliations which they must
necessarily have provoked. This part of the tragedy, however, was
happily intercepted by a providential disappointment at the very
crisis of departure. It has been mentioned already that the motive for
selecting the depth of winter as the season of flight (which otherwise
was obviously the very worst possible) had been the impossibility of
effecting a junction sufficiently rapid with the tribes on the west of
the Wolga, in the absence of bridges, unless by a natural bridge of ice.
For this one advantage the Kalmuck leaders had consented to aggravate
by a thousandfold the calamities inevitable to a rapid flight over
boundless tracts of country with women, children, and herds of
cattle--for this one single advantage; and yet, after all, it was lost.
The reason never has been explained satisfactorily, but the fact was
such. Some have said that the signals were not properly concerted
for marking the moment of absolute departure; that is, for signifying
whether the settled intention of the Eastern Kalmucks might not have
been suddenly interrupted by adverse intelligence. Others have supposed
that the ice might not be equally strong on both sides of the river,
and might even be generally insecure for the treading of heavy and
heavily-laden animals such as camels. But the prevailing notion is, that
some accidental movements on the 3d and 4th of January of Russian troops
in the neighborhood of the Western Kalmucks, though really having no
reference to them or their plans, had been construed into certain
signs that all was discovered; and that the prudence of the Western
chieftains, who, from situation, had never been exposed to those
intrigues by which Zebek-Dorchi had practised upon the pride of the
Eastern tribes, now stepped in to save their people from ruin. Be the
cause what it might, it is certain that the Western Kalmucks were
in some way prevented from forming the intended junction with their
brethren of the opposite bank; and the result was, that at least one
hundred thousand of these Tartars were left behind in Russia. This
accident it was which saved their Russian neighbors universally from
the desolation which else awaited them. One general massacre and
conflagration would assuredly have surprised them, to the utter
extermination of their property, their houses, and themselves, had it
not been for this disappointment. But the Eastern chieftains did not
dare to put to hazard the safety of their brethren under the first
impulse of the Czarina's vengeance for so dreadful a tragedy; for
as they were well aware of too many circumstances by which she might
discover the concurrence of the Western people in the general scheme of
revolt, they justly feared that she would thence infer their concurrence
also in the bloody events which marked its outset.

Little did the Western Kalmucks guess what reasons they also had for
gratitude on account of an interposition so unexpected, and which at
the moment they so generally deplored. Could they but have witnessed the
thousandth part of the sufferings which overtook their Eastern brethren
in the first month of their sad flight, they would have blessed Heaven
for their own narrow escape; and yet these sufferings of the first month
were but a prelude or foretaste comparatively slight of those which
afterwards succeeded.

For now began to unroll the most awful series of calamities, and the
most extensive, which is anywhere recorded to have visited the sons and
daughters of men. It is possible that the sudden inroads of destroying
nations, such as the Huns, or the Avars, or the Mongol Tartars, may have
inflicted misery as extensive; but there the misery and the desolation
would be sudden--like the flight of volleying lightning. Those who were
spared at first would generally be spared to the end; those who perished
would perish instantly. It is possible that the French retreat from
Moscow may have made some nearer approach to this calamity in duration,
though still a feeble and miniature approach; for the French sufferings
did not commence in good earnest until about one month from the time of
leaving Moscow; and though it is true that afterwards the vials of wrath
were emptied upon the devoted army for six or seven weeks in succession,
yet what is that to this Kalmuck tragedy, which lasted for more than as
many months? But the main feature of horror, by which the Tartar march
was distinguished from the French, lies in the accompaniment of women
[Footnote: Singular it is, and not generally known, that Grecian women
accompanied the _Anabasis_ of the younger Cyrus and the subsequent
Retreat of the Ten Thousand. Xenophon affirms that there were 'many'
women in the Greek army--pollai aesun etairai en tosratenaeazi; and in
a late stage of that trying expedition it is evident that women were
amongst the survivors.] and children. There were both, it is true, with
the French army, but so few as to bear no visible proportion to the
total numbers concerned. The French, in short, were merely an army--a
host of professional destroyers, whose regular trade was bloodshed, and
whose regular element was danger and suffering. But the Tartars were a
nation carrying along with them more than two hundred and fifty thousand
women and children, utterly unequal, for the most part, to any contest
with the calamities before them. The Children of Israel were in the same
circumstances as to the accompaniment of their families; but they were
released from the pursuit of their enemies in a very early stage of
their flight; and their subsequent residence in the Desert was not a
march, but a continued halt, and under a continued interposition of
Heaven for their comfortable support. Earthquakes, again, however
comprehensive in their ravages, are shocks of a moment's duration. A
much nearer approach made to the wide range and the long duration of the
Kalmuck tragedy may have been in a pestilence such as that which visited
Athens in the Peloponnesian war, or London in the reign of Charles II.
There also the martyrs were counted by myriads, and the period of the
desolation was counted by months. But, after all, the total amount
of destruction was on a smaller scale; and there was this feature of
alleviation to the _conscious_ pressure of the calamity--that the misery
was withdrawn from public notice into private chambers and hospitals.
The siege of Jerusalem by Vespasian and his son, taken in its entire
circumstances, comes nearest of all--for breadth and depth of suffering,
for duration, for the exasperation of the suffering from without by
internal feuds, and, finally, for that last most appalling expression of
the furnace-heat of the anguish in its power to extinguish the natural
affections even of maternal love. But, after all, each case had
circumstances of romantic misery peculiar to itself--circumstances
without precedent, and (wherever human nature is ennobled by
Christianity) it may be confidently hoped--never to be repeated.

The first point to be reached, before any hope of repose could be
encouraged, was the river Jaik. This was not above three hundred miles
from the main point of departure on the Wolga; and if the march thither
was to be a forced one, and a severe one, it was alleged on the other
hand that the suffering would be the more brief and transient; one
summary exertion, not to be repeated, and all was achieved. Forced
the march was, and severe beyond example: there the forewarning
proved correct; but the promised rest proved a mere phantom of the
wilderness--a visionary rainbow, which fled before their hope-sick eyes,
across these interminable solitudes, for seven months of hardship and
calamity, without a pause. These sufferings, by their very nature, and
the circumstances under which they arose, were (like the scenery of the
_Steppes_) somewhat monotonous in their coloring and external features:
what variety, however, there was, will be most naturally exhibited
by tracing historically the successive stages of the general misery,
exactly as it unfolded itself under the double agency of weakness still
increasing from within, and hostile pressure from without. Viewed in
this manner, under the real order of development, it is remarkable that
these sufferings of the Tartars, though under the moulding hands of
accident, arrange themselves almost with a scenical propriety. They seem
combined, as with the skill of an artist; the intensity of the misery
advancing regularly with the advances of the march, and the stages of
the calamity corresponding to the stages of the route; so that, upon
raising the curtain which veils the great catastrophe, we behold one
vast climax of anguish, towering upwards by regular gradations, as if
constructed artificially for picturesque effect:--a result which might
not have been surprising, had it been reasonable to anticipate the same
rate of speed, and even an accelerated rate, as prevailing through the
later stages of the expedition. But it seemed, on the contrary, most
reasonable to calculate upon a continual decrement in the rate of motion
according to the increasing distance from the head-quarters of
the pursuing enemy. This calculation, however, was defeated by the
extraordinary circumstance, that the Russian armies did not begin
to close in very fiercely upon the Kalmucks until after they had
accomplished a distance of full two thousand miles; one thousand miles
further on the assaults became even more tumultuous and murderous; and
already the great shadows of the Chinese Wall were dimly descried, when
the frenzy and _acharnement_ of the pursuers, and the bloody desperation
of the miserable fugitives had reached its uttermost extremity. Let us
briefly rehearse the main stages of the misery, and trace the ascending
steps of the tragedy, according to the great divisions of the route
marked out by the central rivers of Asia.

The first stage, we have already said, was from the Wolga to the Jaik;
the distance about three hundred miles; the time allowed seven days.
For the first week, therefore, the rate of marching averaged about
forty-three English miles a day. The weather was cold, but bracing;
and, at a more moderate pace, this part of the journey might have been
accomplished without much distress by a people as hardy as the Kalmucks:
as it was, the cattle suffered greatly from overdriving: milk began to
fail even for the children: the sheep perished by wholesale: and the
children themselves were saved only by the innumerable camels.

The Cossacks, who dwelt upon the banks of the Jaik, were the first among
the subjects of Russia to come into collision with the Kalmucks. Great
was their surprise at the suddenness of the irruption, and great also
their consternation: for, according to their settled custom, by far the
greater part of their number was absent during the winter months at the
fisheries upon the Caspian. Some who were liable to surprise at the most
exposed points, fled in crowds to the fortress of Koulagina, which was
immediately invested, and summoned by Oubacha. He had, however, in his
train only a few light pieces of artillery; and the Russian commandant
at Koulagina, being aware of the hurried circumstances in which the
Khan was placed, and that he stood upon the very edge, as it were, of
a renewed flight, felt encouraged by these considerations to a more
obstinate resistance than might else have been advisable, with an enemy
so little disposed to observe the usages of civilized warfare. The
period of his anxiety was not long: on the fifth day of the siege, he
descried from the walls a succession of Tartar couriers, mounted upon
fleet Bactrian camels, crossing the vast plains around the fortress at a
furious pace, and riding into the Kalmuck encampment at various points.
Great agitation appeared immediately to follow; orders were soon after
despatched in all directions: and it became speedily known that upon a
distant flank of the Kalmuck movement a bloody and exterminating battle
had been fought the day before, in which one entire tribe of the Khan's
dependents, numbering not less than nine thousand fighting men, had
perished to the last man. This was the _ouloss_, or clan, called
_Feka-Zechorr_, between whom and the Cossacks there was a feud of
ancient standing. In selecting, therefore, the points of attack, on
occasion of the present hasty inroad, the Cossack chiefs were naturally
eager so to direct their efforts as to combine with the service of the
Empress some gratification to their own party hatreds; more especially
as the present was likely to be their final opportunity for revenge if
the Kalmuck evasion should prosper. Having, therefore, concentrated as
large a body of Cossack cavalry as circumstances allowed, they attacked
the hostile _ouloss_ with a precipitation which denied to it all means
for communicating with Oubacha; for the necessity of commanding an ample
range of pasturage, to meet the necessities of their vast flocks and
herds, had separated this _ouloss_ from the Khan's head-quarters by an
interval of eighty miles: and thus it was, and not from oversight, that
it came to be thrown entirely upon its own resources. These had proved
insufficient; retreat, from the exhausted state of their horses and
camels, no less than from the prodigious encumbrances of their live
stock, was absolutely out of the question: quarter was disdained on the
one side, and would not have been granted on the other; and thus it had
happened that the setting sun of that one day (the 13th from the first
opening of the revolt) threw his parting rays upon the final agonies of
an ancient _ouloss_, stretched upon a bloody field, who on that day's
dawning had held and styled themselves an independent nation.

Universal consternation was diffused through the wide borders of the
Khan's encampment by this disastrous intelligence; not so much on
account of the numbers slain, or the total extinction of a powerful
ally, as because the position of the Cossack force was likely to put to
hazard the future advances of the Kalmucks, or at least to retard, and
hold them in check, until the heavier columns of the Russian army should
arrive upon their flanks. The siege of Koulagina was instantly raised;
and that signal, so fatal to the happiness of the women and their
children, once again resounded through the tents--the signal for flight,
and this time for a flight more rapid than ever. About one hundred and
fifty miles ahead of their present position, there arose a tract of
hilly country, forming a sort of margin to the vast, sea-like expanse
of champaign savannas, steppes, and occasionally of sandy deserts, which
stretched away on each side of this margin both eastwards and westwards.
Pretty nearly in the centre of this hilly range, lay a narrow defile,
through which passed the nearest and the most practicable route to the
river Torgai (the further bank of which river offered the next great
station of security for a general halt.) It was the more essential to
gain this pass before the Cossacks, inasmuch as not only would the
delay in forcing the pass give time to the Russian pursuing columns for
combining their attacks and for bringing up their artillery, but also
because (even if all enemies in pursuit were thrown out of the question)
it was held by those best acquainted with the difficult and obscure
geography of these pathless steppes--that the loss of this one narrow
strait amongst the hills would have the effect of throwing them (as
their only alternative in a case where so wide a sweep of pasturage was
required) upon a circuit of at least five hundred miles extra; besides
that, after all, this circuitous route would carry them to the Torgai at
a point ill fitted for the passage of their heavy baggage. The defile
in the hills, therefore, it was resolved to gain; and yet, unless they
moved upon it with the velocity of light cavalry, there was little
chance but it would be found pre-occupied by the Cossacks. They, it is
true, had suffered greatly in the recent sanguinary action with their
enemies; but the excitement of victory, and the intense sympathy with
their unexampled triumph, had again swelled their ranks--and would
probably act with the force of a vortex to draw in their simple
countrymen from the Caspian. The question, therefore, of pre-occupation
was reduced to a race. The Cossacks were marching upon an oblique line
not above fifty miles longer than that which led to the same point from
the Kalmuck head-quarters before Koulagina: and therefore without the
most furious haste on the part of the Kalmucks, there was not a chance
for them, burdened and 'trashed' [Footnote: _'Trashed'_--This is an
expressive word used by Beaumont and Fletcher in their Bonduca, etc., to
describe the case of a person retarded and embarrassed in flight, or in
pursuit, by some encumbrance, whether thing or person, too valuable to
be left behind.] as they were, to anticipate so agile a light cavalry as
the Cossacks in seizing this important pass.

Dreadful were the feelings of the poor women on hearing this exposition
of the case. For they easily understood that too capital an interest
(the _summa rerum_) was now at stake to allow of any regard to
minor interests, or what would be considered such in their present
circumstances. The dreadful week already passed,--their inauguration in
misery,--was yet fresh in their remembrance. The scars of suffering were
impressed not only upon their memories, but upon their very persons and
the persons of their children. And they knew that where no speed had
much chance of meeting the cravings of the chieftains, no test would
be accepted, short of absolute exhaustion, that as much had been
accomplished as could be accomplished. Weseloff, the Russian captive,
has recorded the silent wretchedness with which the women and elder boys
assisted in drawing the tent-ropes. On the 5th of January all had been
animation, and the joyousness of indefinite expectation: now, on the
contrary, a brief but bitter experience had taught them to take an
amended calculation of what it was that lay before them.

One whole day and far into the succeeding night had the renewed flight
continued: the sufferings had been greater than before: for the cold had
been more intense: and many perished out of the living creatures through
every class, except only the camels--whose powers of endurance seemed
equally adapted to cold and heat. The second morning, however, brought
an alleviation to the distress. Snow had begun to fall: and though not
deep at present, it was easily foreseen that it soon would be so; and
that, as a halt would in that case become unavoidable, no plan could
be better than that of staying where they were: especially as the same
cause would check the advance of the Cossacks. Here then was the last
interval of comfort which gleamed upon the unhappy nation during their
whole migration. For ten days the snow continued to fall with little
intermission. At the end of that time keen bright frosty weather
succeeded: the drifting had ceased: in three days the smooth expanse
became firm enough to support the treading of the camels, and the flight
was recommenced. But during the halt much domestic comfort had been
enjoyed: and for the last time universal plenty. The cows and oxen had
perished in such vast numbers on the previous marches, that an order was
now issued to turn what remained to account by slaughtering the whole,
and salting whatever part should be found to exceed the immediate
consumption. This measure led to a scene of general banqueting and even
of festivity amongst all who were not incapacitated for joyous emotions
by distress of mind, by grief for the unhappy experience of the few last
days, and by anxiety for the too gloomy future. Seventy thousand persons
of all ages had already perished; exclusively of the many thousand
allies who had been cut down by the Cossack sabre. And the losses in
reversion were likely to be many more. For rumors began now to arrive
from all quarters, by the mounted couriers whom the Khan had despatched
to the rear and to each flank as well as in advance, that large masses
of the Imperial troops were converging from all parts of Central Asia
to the fords of the river Torgai as the most convenient point for
intercepting the flying tribes: and it was already well known that a
powerful division was close in their rear, and was retarded only by
the numerous artillery which had been judged necessary to support their
operations. New motives were thus daily arising for quickening the
motions of the wretched Kalmucks, and for exhausting those who were
previously but too much exhausted.

It was not until the 2d day of February that the Khan's advanced guard
came in sight of Ouchim, the defile among the hills of Moulgaldchares,
in which they anticipated so bloody an opposition from the Cossacks. A
pretty large body of these light cavalry had, in fact, pre-occupied the
pass by some hours; but the Khan having too great advantages, namely,
a strong body of infantry, who had been conveyed by sections of five on
about two hundred camels, and some pieces of light artillery which
he had not yet been forced to abandon, soon began to make a serious
impression upon this unsupported detachment; and they would probably at
any rate have retired; but at the very moment when they were making some
dispositions in that view, Zebek-Dorchi appeared upon their rear with
a body of trained riflemen, who had distinguished themselves in the war
with Turkey. These men had contrived to crawl unobserved over the cliffs
which skirted the ravine, availing themselves of the dry beds of the
summer torrents, and other inequalities of the ground, to conceal their
movement. Disorder and trepidation ensued instantly in the Cossack
files; the Khan, who had been waiting with the _elite_ of his heavy
cavalry, charged furiously upon them; total overthrow followed to the
Cossacks, and a slaughter such as in some measure avenged the
recent bloody extermination of their allies, the ancient _ouloss_ of
Feka-Zechorr. The slight horses of the Cossacks were unable to support
the weight of heavy Polish dragoons and a body of trained _cameleers_
(that is, cuirassiers mounted on camels); hardy they were, but
not strong, nor a match for their antagonists in weight; and their
extraordinary efforts through the last few days to gain their present
position, had greatly diminished their powers for effecting an escape.
Very few, in fact, _did_ escape; and the bloody day of Ouchim became as
memorable amongst the Cossacks as that which, about twenty days before,
had signalized the complete annihilation of the Faka-Zechorr. [Footnote:
There was another _ouloss_ equally strong with that of _Feka-Zechorr_,
viz., that of Erketunn, under the government of Assarcho and Machi, whom
some obligations of treaty or other hidden motives drew into the general
conspiracy of revolt. But fortunately the two chieftains found means
to assure the Governor of Astrachan, on the first outbreak of the
insurrection, that their real wishes were for maintaining the old
connection with Russia. The Cossacks, therefore, to whom the pursuit
was intrusted, had instructions to act cautiously and according to
circumstances on coming up with them. The result was, through the
prudent management of Assarcho, that the clan, without compromising
their pride or independence, made such moderate submissions as satisfied
the Cossacks; and eventually both chiefs and people received from the
Czarina the rewards and honors of exemplary fidelity.]

The road was now open to the river Igritch, and as yet even far beyond
it to the Torgau; but how long this state of things would continue, was
every day more doubtful. Certain intelligence was now received that a
large Russian army, well appointed in every arm, was advancing upon the
Torgau, under the command of General Traubenberg. This officer was to be
joined on his route by ten thousand Bashkirs, and pretty nearly the
same amount of Kirghises--both hereditary enemies of the Kalmucks--both
exasperated to a point of madness by the bloody trophies which Oubacha
and Momotbacha had, in late years, won from such of their compatriots as
served under the Sultan. The Czarina's yoke these wild nations bore with
submissive patience, but not the hands by which it had been imposed;
and, accordingly, catching with eagerness at the present occasion
offered to their vengeance, they sent an assurance to the Czarina of
their perfect obedience to her commands, and at the same time a message
significantly declaring in what spirit they meant to execute them, viz.,
'That they would not trouble her Majesty with prisoners.'

Here then arose, as before with the Cossacks, a race for the Kalmucks
with the regular armies of Russia, and concurrently with nations as
fierce and semi-humanized as themselves, besides that they were stung
into threefold activity by the furies of mortified pride and military
abasement, under the eyes of the Turkish Sultan. The forces, and more
especially the artillery, of Russia, were far too overwhelming to permit
the thought of a regular opposition in pitched battles, even with a less
dilapidated state of their resources than they could reasonably expect
at the period of their arrival on the Torgau. In their speed lay their
only hope--in strength of foot, as before, and not in strength of arm.
Onward, therefore, the Kalmucks pressed, marking the lines of their
wide-extending march over the sad solitudes of the steppes by a
never-ending chain of corpses. The old and the young, the sick man on
his couch, the mother with her baby--all were left behind. Sights such
as these, with the many rueful aggravations incident to the helpless
condition of infancy--of disease and of female weakness abandoned to
the wolves amidst a howling wilderness, continued to track their course
through a space of full two thousand miles; for so much at the least,
it was likely to prove, including the circuits to which they were often
compelled by rivers or hostile tribes, from the point of starting on the
Wolga until they could reach their destined halting-ground on the
east bank of the Torgau. For the first seven weeks of this march their
sufferings had been embittered by the excessive severity of the cold;
and every night--so long as wood was to be had for fires, either from
the lading of the camels, or from the desperate sacrifice of their
baggage-wagons, or (as occasionally happened) from the forests which
skirted the banks of the many rivers which crossed their path--no
spectacle was more frequent than that of a circle, composed of men,
women, and children, gathered by hundreds round a central fire, all dead
and stiff at the return of morning light. Myriads were left behind from
pure exhaustion of whom none had a chance, under the combined evils
which beset them, of surviving through the next twenty-four hours.
Frost, however, and snow at length ceased to persecute; the vast extent
of the march at length brought them into more genial latitudes, and the
unusual duration of the march was gradually bringing them into the
more genial seasons of the year: Two thousand miles had at least been
traversed; February, March, April were gone; the balmy month of May had
opened; vernal sights and sounds came from every side to comfort the
heart-weary travellers; and at last, in the latter end of May, they
crossed the Torgau, and took up a position where they hoped to find
liberty to repose themselves for many weeks in comfort as well as in
security, and to draw such supplies from the fertile neighborhood as
might restore their shattered forces to a condition for executing, with
less of wreck and ruin, the large remainder of the journey.

Yes; it was true that two thousand miles of wandering had been
completed, but in a period of nearly five months, and with the terrific
sacrifice of at least two hundred and fifty thousand souls, to say
nothing of herds and flocks past all reckoning. These had all perished:
ox, cow, horse, mule, ass, sheep, or goat, not one survived--only the
camels. These arid and adust creatures, looking like the mummies of some
antediluvian animals, without the affections or sensibilities of flesh
and blood--these only still erected their speaking eyes to the eastern
heavens, and had to all appearance come out from this long tempest
of trial unscathed and unharmed. The Khan, knowing how much he was
individually answerable for the misery which had been sustained, must
have wept tears even more bitter than those of Xerxes when he threw his
eyes over the myriads whom he had assembled: for the tears of Xerxes
were unmingled with compunction. Whatever amends were in his power
he resolved to make by sacrifices to the general good of all personal
regards; and accordingly, even at this point of their advance, he once
more deliberately brought under review the whole question of the revolt.
The question was formally debated before the Council, whether, even at
this point, they should untread their steps, and, throwing themselves
upon the Czarina's mercy, return to their old allegiance? In that
case, Oubacha professed himself willing to become the scapegoat for the
general transgression. This, he argued, was no fantastic scheme, but
even easy of accomplishment; for the unlimited and sacred power of the
Khan, so well known to the Empress, made it absolutely iniquitous to
attribute any separate responsibility to the people--upon the Khan
rested the guilt, upon the Khan would descend the Imperial vengeance.
This proposal was applauded for its generosity, but was energetically
opposed by Zebek-Dorchi. Were they to lose the whole journey of two
thousand miles? Was their misery to perish without fruit; true it was
that they had yet reached only the half-way house; but, in that respect,
the motives were evenly balanced for retreat or for advance. Either way
they would have pretty nearly the same distance to traverse, but
with this difference--that, forwards, their rout lay through lands
comparatively fertile--backwards, through a blasted wilderness, rich
only in memorials of their sorrow, and hideous to Kalmuck eyes by the
trophies of their calamity. Besides, though the Empress might accept
an excuse for the past, would she the less forbear to suspect for the
future? The Czarina's _pardon_ they might obtain, but could they
ever hope to recover her _confidence_? Doubtless there would now be a
standing presumption against them, an immortal ground of jealousy; and
a jealous government would be but another name for a harsh one. Finally,
whatever motives there ever had been for the revolt surely remained
unimpaired by anything that had occurred. In reality the revolt was,
after all, no revolt, but (strictly speaking) a return to their old
allegiance, since, not above one hundred and fifty years ago (viz., in
the year 1616,) their ancestors had revolted from the Emperor of China.
They had now tried both governments; and for them China was the land of
promise, and Russia the house of bondage.

Spite, however, of all that Zebek could say or do, the yearning of the
people was strongly in behalf of the Khan's proposal; the pardon of
their prince, they persuaded themselves, would be readily conceded by
the Empress; and there is little doubt that they would at this time have
thrown themselves gladly upon the Imperial mercy; when suddenly all was
defeated by the arrival of two envoys from Traubenberg. This general had
reached the fortress of Orsk, after a very painful march, on the 12th of
April; thence he set forwards towards Oriembourg, which he reached
upon the 1st of June, having been joined on his route at various times
through the month of May by the Kirghises and a corps of ten thousand
Bashkirs. From Oriembourg he sent forward his official offer to
the Khan, which were harsh and peremptory, holding out no specific
stipulations as to pardon or impunity, and exacting unconditional
submission as the preliminary price of any cessation from military
operations. The personal character of Traubenberg, which was anything
but energetic, and the condition of his army, disorganized in a great
measure by the length and severity of the march, made it probable that,
with a little time for negotiation, a more conciliatory tone would have
been assumed. But, unhappily for all parties, sinister events occurred
in the meantime, such as effectually put an end to every hope of the

The two envoys sent forward by Traubenberg had reported to this
officer that a distance of only ten days' march lay between his own
head-quarters and those of the Khan. Upon this fact transpiring, the
Kirghises, by their prince Nourali, and the Bashkirs, entreated the
Russian general to advance without delay. Once having placed his cannon
in position, so as to command the Kalmuck camp, the fate of the rebel
Khan and his people would be in his own hands; and they would themselves
form his advanced guard. Traubenberg, however, _why_ has not been
certainly explained, refused to march, grounding his refusal upon the
condition of his army, and their absolute need of refreshment. Long
and fierce was the altercation; but at length, seeing no chance of
prevailing, and dreading above all other events the escape of their
detested enemy, the ferocious Bashkirs went off in a body by forced
marches. In six days they reached the Torgau, crossed by swimming their
horses, and fell upon the Kalmucks, who were dispersed for many a league
in search of food or provender for their camels. The first day's action
was one vast succession of independent skirmishes, diffused over a field
of thirty to forty miles in extent; one party often breaking up into
three or four, and again (according to the accidents of ground) three or
four blending into one; flight and pursuit, rescue and total overthrow,
going on simultaneously, under all varieties of form, in all quarters of
the plain. The Bashkirs had found themselves obliged, by the scattered
state of the Kalmucks, to split up into innumerable sections; and thus,
for some hours, it had been impossible for the most practised eye to
collect the general tendency of the day's fortune. Both the Khan and
Zebek-Dorchi were at one moment made prisoners, and more than once in
imminent danger of being cut down; but at length Zebek succeeded in
rallying a strong column of infantry, which, with the support of the
camel-corps on each flank, compelled the Bashkirs to retreat. Clouds,
however, of these wild cavalry continued to arrive through the next two
days and nights, followed or accompanied by the Kirghises. These being
viewed as the advanced parties of Traubenberg's army, the Kalmuck
chieftains saw no hope of safety but in flight; and in this way it
happened that a retreat, which had so recently been brought to a
pause, was resumed at the very moment when the unhappy fugitives were
anticipating a deep repose without further molestation, the whole summer

It seemed as though every variety of wretchedness were predestined to
the Kalmucks; and as if their sufferings were incomplete unless they
were rounded and matured by all that the most dreadful agencies of
summer's heat could superadd to those of frost and winter. To this
sequel of their story we shall immediately revert, after first noticing
a little romantic episode which occurred at this point between Oubacha
and his unprincipled cousin Zebek-Dorchi.

There was at the time of the Kalmuck flight from the Wolga, a Russian
gentleman of some rank at the court of the Khan, whom, for political
reasons, it was thought necessary to carry along with them as a captive.
For some weeks his confinement had been very strict, and in one or
two instances cruel. But, as the increasing distance was continually
diminishing the chances of escape, and perhaps, also, as the misery of
the guards gradually withdrew their attention from all minor interests
to their own personal sufferings, the vigilance of the custody grew
more and more relaxed; until at length, upon a petition to the Khan, Mr.
Weseloff was formally restored to liberty; and it was understood that
he might use his liberty in whatever way he chose, even for returning
to Russia, if that should be his wish. Accordingly, he was making active
preparations for his journey to St. Petersburg, when it occurred to
Zebek-Dorchi that, not improbably, in some of the battles which were
then anticipated with Traubenberg, it might happen to them to lose some
prisoner of rank, in which case the Russian Weseloff would be a pledge
in their hands for negotiating an exchange. Upon this plea, to his own
severe affliction, the Russian was detained until the further pleasure
of the Khan. The Khan's name, indeed, was used through the whole affair,
but, as it seemed, with so little concurrence on his part, that, when
Weseloff in a private audience humbly remonstrated upon the injustice
done him, and the cruelty of thus sporting with his feelings by setting
him at liberty, and, as it were, tempting him into dreams of home
and restored happiness only for the purpose of blighting them, the
good-natured prince disclaimed all participation in the affair, and went
so far in proving his sincerity as even to give him permission to effect
his escape; and, as a ready means of commencing it without raising
suspicion, the Khan mentioned to Mr. Weseloff that he had just then
received a message from the Hetman of the Bashkirs, soliciting a
private interview on the banks of the Torgau at a spot pointed out; that
interview was arranged for the coming night; and Mr. Weseloff might
go in the Khan's _suite_, which on either side was not to exceed three
persons. Weseloff was a prudent man, acquainted with the world, and
he read treachery in the very outline of this scheme, as stated by the
Khan--treachery against the Khan's person. He mused a little, and then
communicated so much of his suspicions to the Khan as might put him on
his guard; but, upon further consideration, he begged leave to decline
the honor of accompanying the Khan. The fact was, that three Kalmucks,
who had strong motives for returning to their countrymen on the west
bank of the Wolga, guessing the intentions of Weseloff, had offered to
join him in his escape. These men the Khan would probably find himself
obliged to countenance in their project; so that it became a point
of honor with Weseloff to conceal their intentions, and therefore to
accomplish the evasion from the camp, (of which the first steps only
would be hazardous,) without risking the notice of the Khan.

The district in which they were now encamped abounded, through many
hundred miles, with wild horses of a docile and beautiful breed. Each
of the four fugitives had caught from seven to ten of these spirited
creatures in the course of the last few days; this raised no suspicion;
for the rest of the Kalmucks had been making the same sort of provision
against the coming toils of their remaining route to China. These horses
were secured by halters, and hidden about dusk in the thickets which
lined the margin of the river. To these thickets, about ten at night,
the four fugitives repaired; they took a circuitous path, which drew
them as little as possible within danger of challenge from any of the
outposts or of the patrols which had been established on the quarters
where the Bashkirs lay; and in three quarters of an hour they reached
the rendezvous. The moon had now risen, the horses were unfastened, and
they were in the act of mounting, when the deep silence of the woods
was disturbed by a violent uproar, and the clashing of arms. Weseloff
fancied that he heard the voice of the Khan shouting for assistance.
He remembered the communication made by that prince in the morning; and
requesting his companions to support him, he rode off in the direction
of the sound. A very short distance brought him to an open glade in the
wood, where he beheld four men contending with a party of at least
nine or ten. Two of the four were dismounted at the very instant of
Weseloff's arrival; one of these he recognized almost certainly as the
Khan, who was fighting hand to hand, but at great disadvantage, with two
of the adverse horsemen. Seeing that no time was to be lost, Weseloff
fired, and brought down one of the two. His companions discharged their
carbines at the same moment, and then all rushed simultaneously into
the little open area. The thundering sound of about thirty horses, all
rushing at once into a narrow space, gave the impression that a whole
troop of cavalry was coming down upon the assailants; who, accordingly,
wheeled about and fled with one impulse. Weseloff advanced to the
dismounted cavalier, who, as he expected, proved to be the Khan. The
man whom Weseloff had shot was lying dead; and both were shocked, though
Weseloff at least was not surprised, on stooping down and scrutinizing
his features, to recognize a well known confidential servant of
Zebek-Dorchi. Nothing was said by either party. The Khan rode off,
escorted by Weseloff and his companions, and for some time a dead
silence prevailed. The situation of Weseloff was delicate and critical;
to leave the Khan at this point was probably to cancel their recent
services; for he might be again crossed on his path, and again attacked
by the very party from whom he had just been delivered. Yet, on the
other hand, to return to the camp was to endanger the chances of
accomplishing the escape. The Khan also was apparently revolving
all this in his mind, for at length he broke silence, and said--'I
comprehend your situation; and, under other circumstances, I might feel
it my duty to detain your companions. But it would ill become me to do
so after the important service you have just rendered me. Let us turn a
little to the left. There, where you see the watchfire, is an outpost.
Attend me so far. I am then safe. You may turn and pursue your
enterprise; for the circumstances under which you will appear, as my
escort, are sufficient to shield you from all suspicion for the present.
I regret having no better means at my disposal for testifying my
gratitude. But tell me, before we part, was it accident only which led
you to my rescue? Or had you acquired any knowledge of the plot by which
I was decoyed into this snare?' Weseloff answered very candidly that
mere accident had brought him to the spot at which he heard the
uproar, but that _having_ heard it, and connecting it with the Khan's
communication of the morning, he had then designedly gone after the
sound in a way which he certainly should not have done at so critical
a moment, unless in the expectation of finding the Khan assaulted by
assassins. A few minutes after they reached the outpost at which it
became safe to leave the Tartar chieftain; and immediately the four
fugitives commenced a flight which is perhaps without a parallel in the
annals of travelling. Each of them led six or seven horses besides the
one he rode; and by shifting from one to the other (like the ancient
_Desultors_ of the Roman circus,) so as never to burden the same horse
for more than half an hour at a time, they continued to advance at
the rate of two hundred miles in the twenty-four hours for three days
consecutively. After that time, considering themselves beyond pursuit,
they proceeded less rapidly; though still with a velocity which
staggered the belief of Weseloff's friends in after years. He was,
however, a man of high principle, and always adhered firmly to the
details of his printed report. One of the circumstances there stated is,
that they continued to pursue the route by which the Kalmucks had
fled, never for an instant finding any difficulty in tracing it by the
skeletons and other memorials of their calamities. In particular, he
mentions vast heaps of money as part of the valuable property which
it had been necessary to sacrifice. These heaps were found lying still
untouched in the deserts. From these, Weseloff and his companions took
as much as they could conveniently carry; and this it was, with the
price of their beautiful horses, which they afterwards sold at one of
the Russian military settlements for about £15 a-piece, which eventually
enabled them to pursue their journey in Russia. This journey, as
regarded Weseloff in particular, was closed by a tragical catastrophe.
He was at that time young, and the only child of a doating mother. Her
affliction under the violent abduction of her son had been excessive,
and probably had undermined her constitution. Still she had supported
it. Weseloff, giving way to the natural impulses of his filial
affection, had imprudently posted through Russia, to his mother's
house without warning of his approach. He rushed precipitately into her
presense; and she, who had stood the shocks of sorrow, was found unequal
to the shock of joy too sudden and too acute. She died upon the spot.

We now revert to the final scenes of the Kalmuck flight. These it would
be useless to pursue circumstantially through the whole two thousand
miles of suffering which remained; for the character of that suffering
was even more monotonous than on the former half of the flight, but
also more severe. Its main elements were excessive heat, with the
accompaniments of famine and thirst, but aggravated at every step by
the murderous attacks of their cruel enemies, the Bashkirs and the

These people, 'more fell than anguish, hunger, or the sea,' stuck to the
unhappy Kalmucks like a swarm of enraged hornets. And very often whilst
_they_ were attacking them in the rear, their advanced parties and
flanks were attacked with almost equal fury by the people of the country
which they were traversing; and with good reason, since the law of
self-preservation had now obliged the fugitive Tartars to plunder
provisions, and to forage wherever they passed. In this respect their
condition was a constant oscillation of wretchedness; for, sometimes,
pressed by grinding famine, they took a circuit of perhaps a hundred
miles, in order to strike into a land rich in the comforts of life; but
in such a land they were sure to find a crowded population, of which
every arm was raised in unrelenting hostility, with all the advantages
of local knowledge, and with constant preoccupation of all the
defensible positions, mountain passes, or bridges. Sometimes, again,
wearied out with this mode of suffering, they took a circuit of
perhaps a hundred miles, in order to strike into a land with few or
no inhabitants. But in such a land they were sure to meet absolute
starvation. Then, again, whether with or without this plague of
starvation, whether with or without this plague of hostility in front,
whatever might he the 'fierce varieties' of their misery in this
respect, no rest ever came to their unhappy rear; _post equitem sedet
atra cura_; it was a torment like the undying worm of conscience. And,
upon the whole, it presented a spectacle altogether unprecedented in the
history of mankind. Private and personal malignity is not unfrequently
immortal; but rare indeed is it to find the same pertinacity of malice
in a nation. And what embittered the interest was, that the malice was
reciprocal. Thus far the parties met upon equal terms; but that
equality only sharpened the sense of their dire inequality as to other
circumstances. The Bashkirs were ready to fight 'from morn to dewy eve.'
The Kalmucks, on the contrary, were always obliged to run; was it _from_
their enemies, as creatures whom they feared? No; but _towards_ their
friends--towards that final haven of China--as what was hourly implored
by their wives, and the tears of their children. But though they fled
unwillingly, too often they fled in vain--being unwillingly recalled.
There lay the torment. Every day the Bashkirs fell upon them; every day
the same unprofitable battle was renewed; as a matter of course, the
Kalmucks recalled part of their advanced guard to fight them; every day
the battle raged for hours, and uniformly with the same result. For, no
sooner did the Bashkirs find themselves too heavily pressed, and that
the Kalmuck march had been retarded by some hours, than they retired
into the boundless deserts where all pursuit was hopeless. But if the
Kalmucks resolved to press forward, regardless of their enemies, in that
case their attacks became so fierce and overwhelming, that the general
safety seemed likely to be brought into question; nor could any
effectual remedy be applied to the case, even for each separate day,
except by a most embarrassing halt, and by countermarches, that, to men
in their circumstances, were almost worse than death. It will not
be surprising, that the irritation of such a systematic persecution,
superadded to a previous and hereditary hatred, and accompanied by the
stinging consciousness of utter impotence as regarded all effectual
vengeance, should gradually have inflamed the Kalmuck animosity into the
wildest expression of downright madness and frenzy. Indeed, long before
the frontiers of China were approached, the hostility of both sides had
assumed the appearance much more of a warfare amongst wild beasts than
amongst creatures acknowledging the restraints of reason or the claims
of a common nature. The spectacle became too atrocious; it was that of a
host of lunatics pursued by a host of fiends.

On a fine morning in early autumn of the year 1771, Kien Long, the
Emperor of China, was pursuing his amusements in a wild frontier
district lying on the outside of the Great Wall. For many hundred square
leagues the country was desolate of inhabitants, but rich in woods of
ancient growth, and overrun with game of every description. In a
central spot of this solitary region, the Emperor had built a gorgeous
hunting-lodge, to which he resorted annually for recreation and relief
from the cares of government. Led onwards in pursuit of game, he had
rambled to a distance of two hundred miles or more from this lodge,
followed at a little distance by a sufficient military escort, and every
night pitching his tent in a different situation, until at length he
had arrived on the very margin of the vast central deserts of Asia.
[Footnote: All the circumstances are learned from a long state paper
upon the subject of this Kalmuck migration, drawn up in the Chinese
language by the Emperor himself. Parts of this paper have been
translated by the Jesuit missionaries. The Emperor states the whole
motives of his conduct and the chief incidents at great length.] Here he
was standing, by accident, at an opening of his pavilion, enjoying
the morning sunshine, when suddenly to the westward there arose a vast
cloudy vapor, which by degrees expanded, mounted, and seemed to be
slowly diffusing itself over the whole face of the heavens. By-and-by
this vast sheet of mist began to thicken towards the horizon, and to
roll forward in billowy volumes. The Emperor's suite assembled from all
quarters. The silver trumpets were sounded in the rear, and from all the
glades and forest avenues began to trot forward towards the pavilion the
yagers, half cavalry, half huntsmen, who composed the Imperial escort.
Conjecture was on the stretch to divine the cause of this phenomenon,
and the interest continually increased, in proportion as simple
curiosity gradually deepened into the anxiety of uncertain danger. At
first it had been imagined that some vast troops of deer, or other wild
animals of the chase, had been disturbed in their forest haunts by the
Emperor's movements, or possibly by wild beasts prowling for prey, and
might be fetching a compass by way of re-entering the forest grounds
at some remoter points secure from molestation. But this conjecture was
dissipated by the slow increase of the cloud, and the steadiness of its
motion. In the course of two hours the vast phenomenon had advanced to a
point which was judged to be within five miles of the spectators, though
all calculations of distance were difficult, and often fallacious, when
applied to the endless expanses of the Tartar deserts. Through the next
hour, during which the gentle morning breeze had a little freshened,
the dusty vapor had developed itself far and wide into the appearance
of huge aerial draperies, hanging in mighty volumes from the sky to the
earth; and at particular points, where the eddies of the breeze acted
upon the pendulous skirts of these aerial curtains rents were perceived,
sometimes taking the form of regular arches, portals, and windows,
through which began dimly to gleam the heads of camels 'indorsed'
[Footnote: _Camels 'indorsed;'_--'And elephants indorsed with towers.'
MILTON in _Paradise Regained_.] with human beings--and at intervals the
moving of men and horses, in tumultuous array--and then, through other
openings or vistas, at far distant points, the flashing of polished
arms. But sometimes, as the wind slackened or died away, all those
openings, of whatever form, in the cloudy pall, would slowly close, and
for a time the whole pageant was shut up from view; although the growing
din, the clamors, the shrieks and groans, ascending from infuriated
myriads, reported, in a language not to be misunderstood, what was going
on behind the cloudy screen.

It was in fact the Kalmuck host, now in the last extremities of their
exhaustion, and very fast approaching to that final stage of privation
and intense misery, beyond which few or none could have lived, but also,
happily for themselves, fast approaching (in a literal sense) that final
stage of their long pilgrimage, at which they would meet hospitality on
a scale of royal magnificence, and full protection from their enemies.
These enemies, however, as yet still were hanging on their rear as
fiercely as ever, though this day was destined to be the last of their
hideous persecution. The Khan had, in fact, sent forward couriers with
all the requisite statements and petitions, addressed to the Emperor
of China. These had been duly received, and preparations made in
consequence to welcome the Kalmucks with the most paternal benevolence.
But as these couriers had been despatched from the Torgau at the moment
of arrival thither, and before the advance of Traubenberg had made
it necessary for the Khan to order a hasty renewal of the flight, the
Emperor had not looked for their arrival on their frontier until full
three months after the present time. The Khan had indeed expressly
notified his intention to pass the summer heats on the banks of the
Torgau, and to recommence his retreat about the beginning of September.
The subsequent change of plan being unknown to Kien Long, left him for
some time in doubt as to the true interpretation to be put upon this
mighty apparition in the desert; but at length the savage clamors of
hostile fury, and the clangor of weapons, unveiled to the Emperor the
true nature of those unexpected calamities which had so prematurely
precipitated the Kalmuck measure.

Apprehending the real state of affairs, the Emperor instantly perceived
that the first act of his fatherly care for these erring children (as
he esteemed them) now returning to their ancient obedience, must be--to
deliver them from their pursuers. And this was less difficult than
might have been supposed. Not many miles in the rear was a body of well
appointed cavalry, with a strong detachment of artillery, who always
attended the Emperor's motions. These were hastily summoned. Meantime it
occurred to the train of courtiers that some danger might arise to the
Emperor's person from the proximity of a lawless enemy; and accordingly
he was induced to retire a little to the rear. It soon appeared,
however, to those who watched the vapory shroud in the desert, that
its motion was not such as would argue the direction of the march to
be exactly upon the pavilion, but rather in a diagonal line, making an
angle of full forty-five degrees with that line in which the Imperial
_cortège_ had been standing, and therefore with a distance continually
increasing. Those who knew the country judged that the Kalmucks were
making for a large fresh-water lake about seven or eight miles distant;
they were right; and to that point the Imperial cavalry was ordered up;
and it was precisely in that spot, and about three hours after and at
noon-day on the 8th of September, that the great Exodus of the Kalmuck
Tartars was brought to a final close, and with a scene of such memorable
and hellish fury, as formed an appropriate winding-up to an expedition
in all its parts and details so awfully disastrous. The Emperor was not
personally present, or at least he saw whatever he _did_ see from too
great a distance to discriminate its individual features; but he records
in his written memorial the report made to him of this scene by some of
his own officers.

The lake of Tengis, near the frightful desert of Kobi, lay in a hollow
amongst hills of a moderate height, ranging generally from two to three
thousand feet high. About eleven o'clock in the forenoon, the Chinese
cavalry reached the summit of a road which led through a cradle-like dip
in the mountains right down upon the margin of the lake. From this pass,
elevated about two thousand feet above the level of the water, they
continued to descend, by a very winding and difficult road, for an hour
and a half; and during the whole of this descent they were compelled to
be inactive spectators of the fiendish spectacle below. The Kalmucks,
reduced by this time from about six hundred thousand souls to two
hundred thousand, and after enduring for two months and a half the
miseries we have previously described--outrageous heat, famine, and the
destroying scimitar of the Kirghises and the Bashkirs, had for the last
ten days been traversing a hideous desert, where no vestiges were seen
of vegetation, and no drop of water could be found. Camels and men were
already so overladen, that it was a mere impossibility that they
should carry a tolerable sufficiency for the passage of this frightful
wilderness. On the eighth day the wretched daily allowance, which had
been continually diminishing, failed entirely; and thus for two days
of insupportable fatigue, the horrors of thirst had been carried to the
fiercest extremity. Upon this last morning, at the sight of the hills
and the forest scenery, which announced to those who acted as guides
the neighborhood of the lake of Tengis, all the people rushed along with
maddening eagerness to the anticipated solace. The day grew hotter
and hotter, the people more and more exhausted, and gradually, in the
general rush forwards to the lake, all discipline and command were
lost--all attempts to preserve a rear-guard were neglected--the wild
Bashkirs rode in amongst the encumbered people, and slaughtered them by
wholesale, and almost without resistance. Screams and tumultuous shouts
proclaimed the progress of the massacre; but none heeded--none halted;
all alike, pauper or noble, continued to rush on with maniacal haste to
the waters--all with faces blackened by the heat preying upon the liver,
and with tongue drooping from the mouth. The cruel Bashkir was affected
by the same misery, and manifested the same symptoms of his misery as
the wretched Kalmuck; the murderer was oftentimes in the same frantic
misery as his murdered victim--many indeed (an ordinary effect of
thirst) in both nations had become lunatic--and in this state, whilst
mere multitude and condensation of bodies alone opposed any check to the
destroying scimitar and the trampling hoof, the lake was reached; and
to that the whole vast body of enemies rushed, and together continued
to rush, forgetful of all things at that moment but of one almighty
instinct. This absorption of the thoughts in one maddening appetite
lasted for a single minute; but in the next arose the final scene of
parting vengeance. Far and wide the waters of the solitary lake were
instantly dyed red with blood and gore; here rode a party of savage
Bashkirs, hewing off heads as fast as the swathes fall before the
mower's scythe; there stood unarmed Kalmucks in a death-grapple with
their detested foes, both up to the middle in water, and oftentimes both
sinking together below the surface, from weakness, or from struggles,
and perishing in each other's arms. Did the Bashkirs at any point
collect into a cluster for the sake of giving impetus to the assault?
Thither were the camels driven in fiercely by those who rode them,
generally women or boys; and even these quiet creatures were forced into
a share in this carnival of murder, by trampling down as many as they
could strike prostrate with the lash of their fore-legs. Every moment
the water grew more polluted: and yet every moment fresh myriads came up
to the lake and rushed in, not able to resist their frantic thirst, and
swallowing large draughts of water, visibly contaminated with the blood
of their slaughtered compatriots. Wheresoever the lake was shallow
enough to allow of men raising their heads above the water, there for
scores of acres were to be seen all forms of ghastly fear, of agonizing
struggle, of spasm, of convulsion, of mortal conflict, death, and the
fear of death--revenge, and the lunacy of revenge--hatred, and the
frenzy of hatred--until the neutral spectators, of whom there were not
a few, now descending the eastern side of the lake, at length averted
their eyes in horror. This horror, which seemed incapable of further
addition, was, however, increased by an unexpected incident. The
Bashkirs, beginning to perceive here and there the approach of the
Chinese cavalry, felt it prudent--wheresoever they were sufficiently at
leisure from the passions of the murderous scene--to gather into bodies.
This was noticed by the governor of a small Chinese fort, built upon an
eminence above the lake; and immediately he threw in a broadside,
which spread havoc amongst the Bashkir tribe. As often as the Bashkirs
collected into 'globes' and 'turms' as their only means of meeting
the long line of descending Chinese cavalry--so often did the Chinese
governor of the fort pour in his exterminating broadside; until at
length the lake at the lower end, became one vast seething cauldron of
human bloodshed and carnage. The Chinese cavalry had reached the foot
of the hills: the Bashkirs, attentive to their movements, had formed;
skirmishes had been fought: and, with a quick sense that the contest
was henceforwards rapidly becoming hopeless, the Bashkirs and Kirghises
began to retire. The pursuit was not as vigorous as the Kalmuck hatred
would have desired. But, at the same time, the very gloomiest hatred
could not but find, in their own dreadful experience of the Asiatic
deserts, and in the certainty that these wretched Bashkirs had to repeat
that same experience a second time, for thousands of miles, as the price
exacted by a retributary Providence for their vindictive cruelty--not
the very gloomiest of the Kalmucks, or the least reflecting, but found
in all this a retaliatory chastisement more complete and absolute
than any which their swords and lances could have obtained, or human
vengeance could have devised.

Here ends the tale of the Kalmuck wanderings in the Desert; for any
subsequent marches which awaited them, were neither long nor painful.
Every possible alleviation and refreshment for their exhausted
bodies had been already provided by Kien Long with the most princely
munificence; and lands of great fertility were immediately assigned to
them in ample extent along the river Ily, not very far from the point
at which they had first emerged from the wilderness of Kobi. But the
beneficent attention of the Chinese Emperor may be best stated in
his own words, as translated into French by one of the Jesuit
missionaries:--"La nation des Torgotes (_savoir les Kalmuques_) arriva à
Ily, toute _delabree_, n'ayant ni de quoi vivre, ni de quoi se vêtir. Je
l'avais prévu; et j'avais ordonné de faire en tout genre les provisions
nécessaires pour pouvoir les secourir promptement; c'est ce qui a été
exécuté. On a fait la division des terres; et on a assigné à chaque
famille une portion suffisante pour pouvoir servir à son entretien, soit
en la cultivant, soit en y nourissant des bestiaux. On a donne a chaque
particulier des étoffes pour l'habiller, des grains pour se nourrir
pendant l'espace d'une année, des ustensiles pour le ménage et d'autres
choses nécessaires: et outre cela plusieurs onces d'argent, pour
se pourvoir de ce qu'on aurait pu oublier. On a désigné des lieux
particuliers, fertiles en pâturages; et on leur a donné des boeufs,
moutons, &c. pour qu'ils pussent dans la suite travailler par euxmêmes a
leur entretien et à leur bienêtre."

These are the words of the Emperor himself, speaking in his own person
of his own paternal cares; but another Chinese, treating the same
subject, records the munificence of this prince in terms which proclaim
still more forcibly the disinterested generosity which prompted, and the
delicate considerateness which conducted this extensive bounty. He
has been speaking of the Kalmucks, and he goes on thus:--"Lorsqu'ils
arrivèrent sur nos frontières (au nombre de plusieurs centaines de
mille), quoique la fatigue extrême, la faim, la soif, et toutes les
autres incommodités inséparables d'une très-longue et très pénible route
en eussent fait périr presque autant, ils étaient réduits a la dernière
misère: ils manquaient de tout. Il" (viz. l'Empereur, Kien Long) "leur
fit préparer des logemens conformes a leur manière de vivre; il leur fit
distribuer des aliments et des habits; il leur fit donner des boeufs,
des moutons, et des ustensiles, pour les mettre en état de former des
troupeaux et de cultiver la terre, _et tout cela à ses propres frais_,
qui se sont montés à des sommes immenses, sans compter l'argent qu'il
a donné à chaque chef-de-famille, pour pourvoir à la subsistance de sa
femme et de ses enfans."

Thus, after their memorable year of misery, the Kalmucks were replaced
in territorial possessions, and in comfort equal perhaps, or even
superior, to that which they had enjoyed in Russia, and with superior
political advantages. But, if equal or superior, their condition was no
longer the same; if not in degree, their social prosperity had altered
in quality; for instead of being a purely pastoral and vagrant people,
they were now in circumstances which obliged them to become essentially
dependent upon agriculture; and thus far raised in social rank, that by
the natural course of their habits and the necessities of life they were
effectually reclaimed from roving, and from the savage customs connected
with so unsettled a life. They gained also in political privileges,
chiefly through the immunity from military service which their new
relations enabled them to obtain. These were circumstances of advantage
and gain. But one great disadvantage there was, amply to overbalance
all other possible gain; the chances were lost or were removed to an
incalculable distance for their conversion to Christianity, without
which in these times there is no absolute advance possible on the path
of true civilization.

One word remains to be said upon the _personal_ interests concerned in
this great drama. The catastrophe in this respect was remarkable and
complete. Oubacha, with all his goodness and incapacity of suspecting,
had, since the mysterious affair on the banks of the Torgau, felt his
mind alienated from his cousin; he revolted from the man that would have
murdered him; and he had displayed his caution so visibly as to provoke
a reaction in the bearing of Zebek-Dorchi, and a displeasure which all
his dissimulation could not hide. This had produced a feud, which, by
keeping them aloof, had probably saved the life of Oubacha; for the
friendship of Zebek-Dorchi was more fatal than his open enmity. After
the settlement on the Ily this feud continued to advance, until it came
under the notice of the Emperor, on occasion of a visit which all the
Tartar chieftains made to his Majesty at his hunting-lodge in 1772. The
Emperor informed himself accurately of all the particulars connected
with the transaction--of all the rights and claims put forward--and
of the way in which they would severally affect the interests of the
Kalmuck people. The consequence was, that he adopted the cause of
Oubacha, and repressed the pretensions of Zebek-Dorchi, who, on his
part, so deeply resented this discountenance to his ambitious projects,
that in conjunction with other chiefs he had the presumption even to
weave nets of treason against the Emperor himself. Plots were laid--were
detected--were baffled--counterplots were constructed upon the same
basis, and with the benefit of the opportunities thus offered.

Finally, Zebek-Dorchi was invited to the imperial lodge, together with
all his accomplices; and under the skilful management of the Chinese
nobles in the Emperor's establishment, the murderous artifices of these
Tartar chieftains were made to recoil upon themselves; and the whole
of them perished by assassination at a great imperial banquet. For the
Chinese morality is exactly of that kind which approves in everything
the _lex talionis:_--

  ----'lex nec justior ulla est (as _they_ think)
  Quam necis artifices arte perire sua.'

So perished Zebek-Dorchi, the author and originator of the great Tartar
_Exodus_. Oubacha, meantime, and his people, were gradually recovering
from the effects of their misery, and repairing their losses. Peace
and prosperity, under the gentle rule of a fatherly lord paramount,
re-dawned upon the tribes; their household _lares_, after so harsh a
translation to distant climates, found again a happy reinstatement in
what had in fact been their primitive abodes; they found themselves
settled in quiet sylvan scenes, rich in all the luxuries of life, and
endowed with the perfect loveliness of Arcadian beauty. But from the
hills of this favored land and even from the level grounds as they
approach its western border, they still look out upon that fearful
wilderness which once beheld a nation in agony--the utter extirpation of
nearly half a million from amongst its numbers, and, for the remainder,
a storm of misery so fierce, that in the end (as happened also at Athens
during the Peloponnesian war from a different form of misery) very many
lost their memory; all records of their past life were wiped out as
with a sponge--utterly erased and cancelled; and many others lost their
reason; some in a gentle form of pensive melancholy, some in a more
restless form of feverish delirium and nervous agitation, and others in
the fixed forms of tempestuous mania, raving frenzy, or moping idiocy.
Two great commemorative monuments arose in after years to mark the depth
and permanence of the awe--the sacred and reverential grief with which
all persons looked back upon the dread calamities attached to the year
of the Tiger--all who had either personally shared in those calamities,
and had themselves drunk from that cup of sorrow, or who had effectually
been made witnesses to their results, and associated with their
relief; two great monuments, we say; first of all, one in the religious
solemnity, enjoined by the Dalai Lama, called in the Tartar language a
_Romanang_, that is, a national commemoration, with music the most rich
and solemn, of all the souls who departed to the rest of Paradise from
the afflictions of the Desert: this took place about six years after the
arrival in China. Secondly, another more durable and more commensurate
to the scale of the calamity and to the grandeur of this national
Exodus, in the mighty columns of granite and brass, erected by the
Emperor Kien Long, near the banks of the Ily: these columns stand upon
the very margin of the _steppes_; and they bear a short but emphatic
inscription [Footnote: This inscription has been slightly altered in one
or two phrases, and particularly in adapting to the Christian era the
Emperor's expressions for the year of the original Exodus from China and
the retrogressive Exodus from Russia. With respect to the designation
adopted for the Russian Emperor, either it is built upon some confusion
between him and the Byzantine Caesars, as though the former, being
of the same religion with the latter (and occupying in part the same
longitudes, though in different latitudes) might be considered as
his modern successor; or else it refers simply to the Greek form of
Christianity professed by the Russian Emperor and Church.] to the
following effect:--

By the Will of God Here, upon the Brink of these Deserts, Which from
this Point begin and stretch away Pathless, treeless, waterless, For
thousands of miles--and along the margins of many mighty Nations, Rested
from their labors and from great afflictions Under the shadow of the
Chinese Wall, And by the favor of KIEN LONG, God's Lieutenant upon
Earth, The ancient Children of the Wilderness--the Torgote Tartars
Flying before the wrath of the Grecian Czar, Wandering Sheep who had
strayed away from the Celestial Empire in the year 1616, But are now
mercifully gathered again, after infinite sorrow, Into the fold of their
forgiving Shepherd. Hallowed be the spot for ever, and Hallowed be the
day--September 8, 1771! Amen.




[Footnote: Thoughts on Some Important Points relating to the System of
the World. By J. P. Nichol, LL.D., Professor of Astronomy in the
University of Glasgow. William Tait, Edinburgh. 1846.]

Some years ago, some person or other, [in fact I believe it was myself,]
published a paper from the German of Kant, on a very interesting
question, viz., the age of our own little Earth. Those who have never
seen that paper, a class of unfortunate people whom I suspect to form
_rather_ the majority in our present perverse generation, will be likely
to misconceive its object. Kant's purpose was, not to ascertain how many
years the Earth had lived: a million of years, more or less, made very
little difference to _him_. What he wished to settle was no such barren
conundrum. For, had there even been any means of coercing the Earth into
an honest answer, on such a delicate point, which the Sicilian canon,
Recupero, fancied that there was; [Footnote: _Recupero_. See Brydone's
Travels, some sixty or seventy years ago. The canon, being a beneficed
clergyman in the Papal church, was naturally an infidel. He wished
exceedingly to refute Moses: and he fancied that he really had done so
by means of some collusive assistance from the layers of lava on Mount
Etna. But there survives, at this day, very little to remind us of the
canon, except an unpleasant guffaw that rises, at times, in solitary
valleys of Etna.] but which, in my own opinion, there neither is, nor
ought to be,--(since a man deserves to be cudgelled who could put such
improper questions to a _lady_ planet,)--still what would it amount
to? What good would it do us to have a certificate of our dear little
mother's birth and baptism? Other people--people in Jupiter, or
the Uranians--may amuse themselves with her pretended foibles or
infirmities: it is quite safe to do so at _their_ distance; and, in
a female planet like Venus, it might be natural, (though, strictly
speaking, not quite correct,) to scatter abroad malicious insinuations,
as though our excellent little mamma had begun to wear false hair, or
had lost some of her front teeth. But all this, we men of sense know
to be gammon. Our mother Tellus, beyond all doubt, is a lovely little
thing. I am satisfied that she is very much admired throughout the Solar
System: and, in clear seasons, when she is seen to advantage, with her
bonny wee pet of a Moon tripping round her like a lamb, I should be
thankful to any gentleman who will mention where he has happened to
observe--either he or his telescope--will he only have the goodness
to say, in what part of the heavens he has discovered a more elegant
turn-out. I wish to make no personal reflections. I name no names. Only
this I say, that, though some people have the gift of seeing things that
other people never could see, and though some other people, or other
some people are born with a silver spoon in their mouths, so that,
generally, their geese count for swans, yet, after all, swans or geese,
it would be a pleasure to me, and really a curiosity, to see the planet
that could fancy herself entitled to sneeze at our Earth. And then, if
she (viz., our Earth,) keeps but one Moon, even _that_ (you know) is
an advantage as regards some people that keep none. There are people,
pretty well known to you and me, that can't make it convenient to keep
even one Moon. And so I come to my moral; which is this, that, to all
appearance, it is mere justice; but, supposing it were not, still it is
_our_ duty, (as children of the Earth,) right or wrong, to stand up for
our bonny young mamma, if she _is_ young; or for our dear old mother, if
she _is_ old; whether young or old, to take her part against all comers;
and to argue through thick and thin, which (sober or not) I always
attempt to do, that she is the most respectable member of the Copernican

Meantime, what Kant understood by being old, is something that still
remains to be explained. If one stumbled, in the steppes of Tartary,
on the grave of a Megalonyx, and, after long study, had deciphered from
some pre-Adamite heiro-pothooks, the following epitaph:--'_Hic jacet_
a Megalonyx, or _Hic jacet_ a Mammoth, (as the case might be,) who
departed this life, to the grief of his numerous acquaintance in the
seventeen thousandth year of his age,'--of course, one would be sorry
for him; because it must be disagreeable at _any_ age to be torn away
from life, and from all one's little megalonychal comforts; that's not
pleasant, you know, even if one _is_ seventeen thousand years old. But
it would make all the difference possible in your grief, whether the
record indicated a premature death, that he had been cut off, in fact,
whilst just stepping into life, or had kicked the bucket when full
of honors, and been followed to the grave by a train of weeping
grandchildren. He had died 'in his teens,' that's past denying. But
still we must know to what stage of life in a man, had corresponded
seventeen thousand years in a Mammoth. Now exactly this was what Kant
desired to know about our planet. Let her have lived any number of
years that you suggest, (shall we say if you please, that she is in her
billionth year?) still that tells us nothing about the _period_ of life,
the _stage_, which she may be supposed to have reached. Is she a child,
in fact, or is she an adult? And, _if_ an adult, and that you gave a
ball to the Solar System, is she that kind of person, that you would
introduce to a waltzing partner, some fiery young gentlemen like Mars,
or would you rather suggest to her the sort of partnership which takes
place at a whist-table? On this, as on so many other questions, Kant was
perfectly sensible that people, of the finest understandings, may and
do take the most opposite views. Some think that our planet is in that
stage of her life, which corresponds to the playful period of twelve
or thirteen in a spirited girl. Such a girl, were it not that she is
checked by a sweet natural sense of feminine grace, you might call a
romp; but not a hoyden, observe; no horse-play; oh, no, nothing of that
sort. And these people fancy that earthquakes, volcanoes, and all such
little _escapades_ will be over, they will, in lawyer's phrase, 'cease
and determine,' as soon as our Earth reaches the age of maidenly
bashfulness. Poor thing! It's quite natural, you know, in a healthy
growing girl. A little overflow of vivacity, a _pirouette_ more or less,
what harm should _that_ do to any of us? Nobody takes more delight than
I in the fawn-like sportiveness of an innocent girl, at this period of
life: even a shade of _espièglerie_ does not annoy me. But still my own
impressions incline me rather to represent the Earth as a fine noble
young woman, full of the pride which is so becoming to her sex, and well
able to take her own part, in case that, at any solitary point of
the heavens, she should come across one of those vulgar fussy Comets,
disposed to be rude and take improper liberties. These Comets, by the
way, are public nuisances, very much like the mounted messengers of
butchers in great cities, who are always at full gallop, and moving upon
such an infinity of angles to human shinbones, that the final purpose of
such boys (one of whom lately had the audacity nearly to ride down the
Duke of Wellington) seems to be--not the translation of mutton, which
would certainly find its way into human mouths even if riding boys were
not,--but the improved geometry of transcendental curves. They ought to
be numbered, ought these boys, and to wear badges--X 10, &c. And exactly
the same evil, asking therefore by implication for exactly the same
remedy, affects the Comets. A respectable planet is known everywhere,
and responsible for any mischief that he does. But if a cry should
arise, 'Stop that wretch, who was rude to the Earth: who is he?' twenty
voices will answer, perhaps, 'It's Encke's Comet; he is always doing
mischief;' well, what can you say? it _may_ be Encke's, it may be some
other man's Comet; there are so many abroad and on so many roads, that
you might as well ask upon a night of fog, such fog as may be opened
with an oyster knife, whose cab that was (whose, viz., out of 27,000 in
London) that floored you into the kennel.

These are constructive ideas upon the Earth's stage of evolution, which
Kant was aware of, and which will always find toleration, even where
they do not find patronage. But others there are, a class whom I
perfectly abominate, that place our Earth in the category of decaying
women, nay of decayed women, going, going, and all but gone. 'Hair like
arctic snows, failure of vital heat, palsy that shakes the head as in
the porcelain toys on our mantel-pieces, asthma that shakes the whole
fabric--these they absolutely fancy themselves to _see_. They absolutely
_hear_ the tellurian lungs wheezing, panting, crying, 'Bellows to mend!'
periodically as the Earth approaches her aphelion.

But suddenly at this point a demur arises upon the total question.
Kant's very problem explodes, bursts, as poison in Venetian wine-glass
of old shivered the glass into fragments. For is there, after all, any
stationary meaning in the question? Perhaps in reality the Earth is both
young and old. Young? If she is not young at present, perhaps she _will_
be so in future. Old? if she is not old at this moment, perhaps she
_has_ been old, and has a fair chance of becoming so again. In fact,
she is a Phoenix that is known to have secret processes for rebuilding
herself out of her own ashes. Little doubt there is but she has
seen many a birthday, many a funeral night, and many a morning of
resurrection. Where now the mightiest of oceans rolls in pacific beauty,
once were anchored continents and boundless forests. Where the south
pole now shuts her frozen gates inhospitably against the intrusions
of flesh, once were probably accumulated the ribs of empires; man's
imperial forehead, woman's roseate lips, gleamed upon ten thousand
hills; and there were innumerable contributions to antarctic journals
almost as good (but not quite) as our own. Even within our domestic
limits, even where little England, in her south-eastern quarter now
devolves so quietly to the sea her sweet pastoral rivulets, once
came roaring down, in pomp of waters, a regal Ganges [Footnote:
_'Ganges:'_--Dr. Nichol calls it by this name for the purpose of
expressing its grandeur; and certainly in breadth, in diffusion at all
times, but especially in the rainy season, the Ganges is the cock of
the walk in our British orient. Else, as regards the body of water
discharged, the absolute payments made into the sea's exchequer, and the
majesty of column riding downwards from the Himalaya, I believe that,
since Sir Alexander Burnes's measurements, the Indus ranks foremost by
a long chalk.], that drained some hyperbolical continent, some Quinbus
Flestrin of Asiatic proportions, long since gone to the dogs. All things
pass away. Generations wax old as does a garment: but eternally God
says:--'Come again, ye children of men.' Wildernesses of fruit, and
worlds of flowers, are annually gathered in solitary South America to
ancestral graves: yet still the Pomona of Earth, yet still the Flora of
Earth, does not become superannuated, but blossoms in everlasting youth.
Not otherwise by secular periods, known to us geologically as facts,
though obscure as durations, _Tellus_ herself, the planet, as a whole,
is for ever working by golden balances of change and compensation,
of ruin and restoration. She recasts her glorious habitations in
decomposing them; she lies down for death, which perhaps a thousand
times she has suffered; she rises for a new birth, which perhaps for
the thousandth time has glorified her disc. Hers is the wedding garment,
hers is the shroud, that eternally is being woven in the loom. And God
imposes upon her the awful necessity of working for ever at her
own grave, yet of listening for ever to his far-off trumpet of

If this account of the matter be just, and were it not treasonable
to insinuate the possibility of an error against so great a swell as
Immanuel Kant, one would be inclined to fancy that Mr. Kant had
really been dozing a little on this occasion; or, agreeably to his own
illustration elsewhere, that he had realized the pleasant picture of one
learned doctor trying to milk a he-goat, whilst another doctor, equally
learned, holds the milk-pail below. [Footnote: Kant applied this
illustration to the case where one worshipful scholar proposes some
impossible problem, (as the squaring of the circle, or the perpetual
motion,) which another worshipful scholar sits down to solve. The
reference was of course to Virgil's line,--'Atque idem jungat vulpes, et
_mulgeat hircos_.'] And there is apparently this two-edged embarrassment
pressing upon the case--that, if our dear excellent mother the Earth
could be persuaded to tell us her exact age in Julian years, still
_that_ would leave us all as much in the dark as ever: since, if the
answer were, 'Why, children, at my next birth-day I shall count a matter
of some million centuries,' we should still be at a loss to _value_ her
age: would it mean that she was a mere chicken, or that she was 'getting
up in years?' On the other hand, if (declining to state any odious
circumstantialities,) she were to reply,--'No matter, children, for my
precise years, which are disagreeable remembrances; I confess generally
to being a lady of a certain age,'--here, in the inverse order,
given the _valuation_ of the age, we should yet be at a loss for the
_absolute_ years numerically: would a 'certain age,' mean that 'mamma'
was a million, be the same more or less, or perhaps not much above
seventy thousand?

Every way, you see, reader, there are difficulties. But two things
used to strike me, as unaccountably overlooked by Kant; who, to say the
truth, was profound--yet at no time very agile--in the character of his
understanding. First, what age now might we take our brother and
sister planets to be? For _that_ determination as to a point in _their_
constitution, will do something to illustrate our own. We are as good
as they, I hope, any day: perhaps in a growl, one might modestly
insinuate--_better_. It's not at all likely that there can be any
great disproportion of age amongst children of the same household: and
therefore, since Kant always countenanced the idea that Jupiter had
not quite finished the upholstery of his extensive premises, as a
comfortable residence for a man, Jupiter having, in fact, a fine family
of mammoths, but no family at all of 'humans,' (as brother Jonathan
calls them,) Kant was bound, _ex analogo_, to hold that any little
precedency in the trade of living, on the part of our own mother Earth,
could not count for much in the long run. At Newmarket, or Doncaster,
the start is seldom mathematically true: trifling advantages will
survive all human trials after abstract equity; and the logic of this
case argues, that any few thousands of years by which Tellus may have
got ahead of Jupiter, such as the having finished her Roman Empire,
finished her Crusades, and finished her French Revolution, virtually
amounts to little or nothing; indicates no higher proportion to the
total scale upon which she has to run, than the few tickings of a watch
by which one horse at the start for the Leger is in advance of another.
When checked in our chronology by each other, it transpires that, in
effect, we are but executing the nice manoeuvre of a start; and that the
small matter of six thousand years, by which we may have advanced
our own position beyond some of our planetary rivals, is but the
outstretched neck of an uneasy horse at Doncaster. This is _one_ of the
data overlooked by Kant; and the less excusably overlooked, because
it was his own peculiar doctrine,--that uncle Jupiter ought to be
considered a greenhorn. Jupiter may be a younger brother of our mamma;
but, if he is a brother at all, he cannot be so very wide of our own
chronology; and therefore the first _datum_ overlooked by Kant was--the
analogy of our whole planetary system. A second datum, as it always
occurred to myself, might reasonably enough be derived from the
intellectual vigor of us men. If our mother could, with any show of
reason, be considered an old decayed lady, snoring stentorously in
her arm-chair, there would naturally be some _aroma_ of phthisis, or
apoplexy, beginning to form about _us_, that are her children. But _is_
there? If ever Dr. Johnson said a true word, it was when he replied to
the Scottish judge Burnett, so well known to the world as Lord Monboddo.
The judge, a learned man, but obstinate as a mule in certain prejudices,
had said plaintively, querulously, piteously,--'Ah, Doctor, we are poor
creatures, we men of the eighteenth century, by comparison with our
forefathers!' 'Oh, no, my Lord,' said Johnson, 'we are quite as strong
as our ancestors, and a great deal wiser.' Yes; our kick is, at least,
as dangerous, and our logic does three times as much execution. This
would be a complex topic to treat effectively; and I wish merely to
indicate the opening which it offers for a most decisive order of
arguments in such a controversy. If the Earth were on her last legs, we
her children could not be very strong or healthy. Whereas, if there were
less pedantry amongst us, less malice, less falsehood, and less darkness
of prejudice, easy it would be to show, that in almost every mode of
intellectual power, we are more than a match for the most conceited
of elder generations, and that in some modes we have energies or arts
absolutely and exclusively our own. Amongst a thousand indications of
strength and budding youth, I will mention two:--Is it likely, is
it plausible, that our Earth should just begin to find out effective
methods of traversing land and sea, when she had a summons to leave
both? Is it not, on the contrary, a clear presumption that the great
career of earthly nations is but on the point of opening, that life
is but just beginning to kindle, when the great obstacles to effectual
locomotion, and therefore to extensive human intercourse, are first of
all beginning to give way? Secondly, I ask peremptorily,--Does it
stand with good sense, is it reasonable that Earth is waning, science
drooping, man looking downward, precisely in that epoch when, first of
all, man's eye is arming itself for looking effectively into the mighty
depths of space? A new era for the human intellect, upon a path that
lies amongst its most aspiring, is promised, is inaugurated, by Lord
Rosse's almost awful telescope.

What is it then that Lord Rosse has accomplished? If a man were aiming
at dazzling by effects of rhetoric, he might reply: He has accomplished
that which once the condition of the telescope not only refused its
permission to hope for, but expressly bade man to despair of. What is it
that Lord Rosse has revealed? Answer: he has revealed more by far than
he found. The theatre to which he has introduced us, is _immeasurably_
beyond the old one which he found. To say that he found, in the visible
universe, a little wooden theatre of Thespis, a _tréteau_ or shed of
vagrants, and that he presented us, at a price of toil and of _anxiety_
that cannot be measured, with a Roman colosseum,--_that_ is to say
nothing. It is to undertake the measurement of the tropics with the
pocket-tape of an upholsterer. Columbus, when he introduced the Old
World to the New, after all that can be said in his praise, did in
fact only introduce the majority to the minority; but Lord Rosse has
introduced the minority to the majority. There are two worlds, one
called Ante-Rosse, and the other Post-Rosse; and, if it should come to
voting, the latter would shockingly outvote the other. Augustus Cæsar
made it his boast when dying, that he had found the city of Rome built
of brick, and that he left it built of marble: _lateritiam invenit,
marmoream reliquit_. Lord Rosse may say, even if to-day he should die,
'I found God's universe represented for human convenience, even after
all the sublime discoveries of Herschel, upon a globe or spherical chart
having a radius of one hundred and fifty feet; and I left it sketched
upon a similar chart, keeping exactly the same scale of proportions, but
now elongating its radius into one thousand feet.' The reader of course
understands that this expression, founded on absolute calculations of
Dr. Nichol, is simply meant to exhibit the _relative_ dimensions of the
_mundus Ante-Rosseanus_ and the _mundus Post-Rosseanus;_ for as to
the _absolute_ dimensions, when stated in miles, leagues or any units
familiar to the human experience, they are too stunning and confounding.
If, again, they are stated in larger units, as for instance diameters of
the earth's orbit, the unit itself that should facilitate the grasping
of the result, and which really _is_ more manageable numerically,
becomes itself elusive of the mental grasp: it comes in as an
interpreter; and (as in some other cases) the interpreter is hardest to
be understood of the two. If, finally, TIME be assumed as the exponent
of the dreadful magnitudes, time combining itself with motion, as in the
flight of cannon-balls or the flight of swallows, the sublimity
becomes greater; but horror seizes upon the reflecting intellect, and
incredulity upon the irreflective. Even a railroad generation, that
_should_ have faith in the miracles of velocity, lifts up its hands with
an '_Incredulus odi_!' we know that Dr. Nichol speaks the truth; but he
_seems_ to speak falsehood. And the ignorant by-stander prays that the
doctor may have grace given him and time for repentance; whilst his
more liberal companion reproves his want of charity, observing that
travellers into far countries have always had a license for lying, as
a sort of tax or fine levied for remunerating their own risks; and
that great astronomers, as necessarily far travellers into space, are
entitled to a double per centage of the same Munchausen privilege.

Great is the mystery of Space, greater is the mystery of Time; either
mystery grows upon man, as man himself grows; and either seems to be a
function of the godlike which is in man. In reality the depths and the
heights which are in man, the depths by which he searches, the heights
by which he aspires, are but projected and made objective externally in
the three dimensions of space which are outside of him. He trembles at
the abyss into which his bodily eyes look down, or look up; not knowing
that abyss to be, not always consciously suspecting it to be, but by an
instinct written in his prophetic heart feeling it to be, boding it to
be, fearing it to be, and sometimes hoping it to be, the mirror to a
mightier abyss that will one day be expanded in himself. Even as to
the sense of space, which is the lesser mystery than time, I know not
whether the reader has remarked that it is one which swells upon man
with the expansion of his mind, and that it is probably peculiar to the
mind of man. An infant of a year old, or oftentimes even older, takes no
notice of a sound, however loud, which is a quarter of a mile removed,
or even in a distant chamber. And brutes, even of the most enlarged
capacities, seem not to have any commerce with distance: distance is
probably not revealed to them except by a _presence_, viz., by some
shadow of their own animality, which, if perceived at all, is perceived
as a thing _present_ to their organs. An animal desire, or a deep
animal hostility, may render sensible a distance which else would not be
sensible; but not render it sensible _as_ a distance. Hence perhaps is
explained, and not out of any self-oblivion from higher enthusiasm, a
fact that often has occurred, of deer, or hares, or foxes, and the
pack of hounds in pursuit, chaser and chased, all going headlong over a
precipice together. Depth or height does not readily manifest itself to
_them_; so that any _strong_ motive is sufficient to overpower the sense
of it. Man only has a natural function for expanding on an illimitable
sensorium, the illimitable growths of space. Man, coming to the
precipice, reads his danger; the brute perishes: man is saved; and the
horse is saved by his rider.

But, if this sounds in the ear of some a doubtful refinement, the doubt
applies only to the lowest degrees of space. For the highest, it is
certain that brutes have no perception. To man is as much reserved
the prerogative of perceiving space in its higher extensions, as of
geometrically constructing the relations of space. And the brute is no
more capable of apprehending abysses through his eye, than he can build
upwards or can analyze downwards the ærial synthesis of Geometry. Such,
therefore, as is space for the grandeur of man's perceptions, such as is
space for the benefit of man's towering mathematic speculations, such is
the nature of our debt to Lord Rosse--as being the philosopher who has
most pushed back the frontiers of our conquests upon this _exclusive_
inheritance of man. We have all heard of a king that, sitting on the
sea-shore, bade the waves, as they began to lave his feet, upon their
allegiance to retire. _That_ was said not vainly or presumptuously,
but in reproof of sycophantic courtiers. Now, however, we see in good
earnest another man, wielding another kind of sceptre, and sitting upon
the shores of infinity, that says to the ice which had frozen up our
progress,--'Melt thou before my breath!' that says to the rebellious
_nebulæ_,--'Submit, and burst into blazing worlds!' that says to the
gates of darkness,--'Roll back, ye barriers, and no longer hide from us
the infinities of God!'

  'Come, and I will show you what is beautiful.'

From the days of infancy still lingers in my ears this opening of
a prose hymn by a lady, then very celebrated, viz., the late Mrs.
Barbauld. The hymn began by enticing some solitary infant into some
silent garden, I believe, or some forest lawn; and the opening words
were, 'Come, and I will show you what is beautiful!' Well, and what
beside? There is nothing beside; oh, disappointed and therefore enraged
reader; positively this is the sum-total of what I can recall from the
wreck of years; and certainly it is not much. Even of Sappho, though
time has made mere ducks and drakes of her lyrics, we have rather more
spared to us than this. And yet this trifle, simple as you think it,
this shred of a fragment, if the reader will believe me, still
echoes with luxurious sweetness in my ears, from some unaccountable
hide-and-seek of fugitive childish memories; just as a marine shell,
if applied steadily to the ear, awakens (according to the fine image
of Landor [Footnote: 'Of Landor,' viz., in his 'Gebir;' but also of
Wordsworth in 'The Excursion.' And I must tell the reader, that a
contest raged at one time as to the _original property_ in this image,
not much less keen than that between Neptune and Minerva, for the
chancellorship of Athens.]) the great vision of the sea; places the

              'In the sun's palace-porch,
  And murmurs as the ocean murmurs there.'

Now, on some moonless night, in some fitting condition of the
atmosphere, if Lord Rosse would permit the reader and myself to walk
into the front drawing-room of his telescope, then, in Mrs. Barbauld's
words, slightly varied, I might say to him,--Come, and I will show you
what is sublime! In fact, what I am going to lay before him, from Dr.
Nichol's work, is, or at least _would_ be, (when translated into Hebrew
grandeur by the mighty telescope,) a step above even that object which
some four-and-twenty years ago in the British Museum struck me as simply
the sublimest sight which in this sight-seeing world I had seen. It was
the Memnon's head, then recently brought from Egypt. I looked at it, as
the reader must suppose, in order to understand the depth which I have
here ascribed to the impression, not as a human but as a symbolic
head; and what it symbolized to me were: 1. The peace which passeth all
understanding. 2. The eternity which baffles and confounds all faculty
of computation; the eternity which _had_ been, the eternity which _was_
to be. 3. The diffusive love, not such as rises and falls upon waves of
life and mortality, not such as sinks and swells by undulations of time,
but a procession--an emanation from some mystery of endless dawn. You
durst not call it a smile that radiated from the lips; the radiation was
too awful to clothe itself in adumbrations or memorials of flesh.

In _that mode_ of sublimity, perhaps, I still adhere to my first
opinion, that nothing so great was ever beheld. The atmosphere for
_this_, for the Memnon, was the breathlessness which belongs to a
saintly trance; the holy thing seemed to live by silence. But there _is_
a picture, the pendant of the Memnon, there _is_ a dreadful cartoon,
from the gallery which has begun to open upon Lord Rosse's telescope,
where the appropriate atmosphere for investing it must be drawn from
another silence, from the frost and from the eternities of death. It
is the famous _nebula_ in the constellation of Orion; famous for the
unexampled defiance with which it resisted all approaches from the most
potent of former telescopes; famous for its frightful magnitude and for
the frightful depth to which it is sunk in the abysses of the heavenly
wilderness; famous just now for the submission with which it has begun
to render up its secrets to the all-conquering telescope; and famous
in all time coming for the horror of the regal phantasma which it has
perfected to eyes of flesh. Had Milton's 'incestuous mother,' with her
fleshless son, and with the warrior angel, his father, that led the
rebellions of heaven, been suddenly unmasked by Lord Rosse's instrument,
in these dreadful distances before which, simply as expressions of
resistance, the mind of man shudders and recoils, there would have been
nothing more appalling in the exposure; in fact, it would have been
essentially the same exposure: the same expression of power in the
detestable phantom, the same rebellion in the attitude, the same pomp of
malice in the features to a universe seasoned for its assaults.

The reader must look to Dr. Nichol's book, at page 51, for the picture
of this abominable apparition. But then, in order to see what _I_ see,
the obedient reader must do what I tell him to do. Let him therefore
view the wretch upside down. If he neglects that simple direction, of
course I don't answer for anything that follows: without any fault of
mine, my description will be unintelligible. This inversion being made,
the following is the dreadful creature that will then reveal itself.

_Description of the Nebula in Orion, as forced to show out by Lord
Rosse._--You see a head thrown back, and raising its face, (or eyes, if
eyes it had,) in the very anguish of hatred, to some unknown heavens.
What _should_ be its skull wears what _might_ be an Assyrian tiara, only
ending behind in a floating train. This head rests upon a beautifully
developed neck and throat. All power being given to the awful enemy, he
is beautiful where he pleases, in order to point and envenom his ghostly
ugliness. The mouth, in that stage of the apocalypse which Sir John
Herschel was able to arrest in his eighteen-inch mirror, is amply
developed. Brutalities unspeakable sit upon the upper lip, which is
confluent with a snout; for separate nostrils there are none. Were it
not for this one defect of nostrils; and, even in spite of this defect,
(since, in so mysterious a mixture of the angelic and the brutal, we may
suppose the sense of odor to work by some compensatory organ,) one is
reminded by the phantom's attitude of a passage, ever memorable, in
Milton: that passage, I mean, where Death first becomes aware, soon
after the original trespass, of his own future empire over man. The
'meagre shadow' even smiles (for the first time and the last) on
apprehending his own abominable bliss, by apprehending from afar the
savor 'of mortal change on earth.'

  ----'Such a scent,' (he says,) 'I draw
  Of carnage, prey innumerable.'

As illustrating the attitude of the phantom in Orion, let the reader
allow me to quote the tremendous passage:--

  'So saying, with delight he snuff'd the smell
  Of mortal change on earth. As when a flock
  Of ravenous fowl, though many a league remote,
  Against the day of battle, to a field,
  Where armies lie encamp'd, come flying, lured
  With scent of living carcasses design'd
  For death, the following day, in bloody fight;
  So scented the grim feature,

[Footnote: 'So scented the grim feature,' [_feature_ is the old word for
_form or outline that is shadowy_; and also for form (shadowy or not)
which abstracts from the _matter_.] By the way, I have never seen it
noticed, that Milton was indebted for the hint of this immortal passage
to a superb line-and-a-half, in Lucan's Pharsalia.]

               and upturn'd
  His nostril wide into the murky air,
  Sagacious of his quarry from so far.'

But the lower lip, which is drawn inwards with the curve of a conch
shell,--oh what a convolute of cruelty and revenge is _there_!
Cruelty!--to whom? Revenge!--for what? Ask not, whisper not. Look
upwards to other mysteries. In the very region of his temples, driving
itself downwards into his cruel brain, and breaking the continuity of
his diadem, is a horrid chasm, a ravine, a shaft, that many centuries
would not traverse; and it is serrated on its posterior wall with a
harrow that perhaps is partly hidden. From the anterior wall of this
chasm rise, in vertical directions, two processes; one perpendicular,
and rigid as a horn, the other streaming forward before some portentous
breath. What these could be, seemed doubtful; but now, when further
examinations by Sir John Herschel, at the Cape of Good Hope, have filled
up the scattered outline with a rich umbrageous growth, one is inclined
to regard them as the plumes of a sultan. Dressed he is, therefore, as
well as armed. And finally comes Lord Rosse, that glorifies him with
the jewellery [Footnote: _The jewellery of Stars_. And one thing is
very remarkable, viz., that not only the stars justify this name of
jewellery, as usual, by the life of their splendor, but also, in this
case, by their arrangement. No jeweller could have set, or disposed with
more art, the magnificent quadrille of stars which is placed immediately
below the upright plume. There is also another, a truncated quadrille,
wanting only the left hand star (or you might call it a bisected
lozenge) placed on the diadem, but obliquely placed as regards the curve
of that diadem. Two or three other arrangements are striking, though
not equally so, both from their regularity and from their repeating each
other, as the forms in a kaleidoscope.] of stars: he is now a vision 'to
dream of, not to tell:' he is ready for the worship of those that
are tormented in sleep: and the stages of his solemn uncovering by
astronomy, first by Sir W. Herschel, secondly, by his son, and finally
by Lord Rosse, is like the reversing of some heavenly doom, like
the raising of the seals that had been sealed by the angel, in the
Revelations. But the reader naturally asks, How does all this concern
Lord Rosse's telescope on the one side, or general astronomy on the
other? This _nebula_, he will say, seems a bad kind of fellow by your
account; and of course it will not break my heart to hear, that he has
had the conceit taken out of him. But in what way can _that_ affect the
pretensions of this new instrument; or, if it did, how can the character
of the instrument affect the general condition of a science? Besides, is
not the science a growth from very ancient times? With great respect for
the Earl of Rosse, is it conceivable that he, or any man, by one hour's
working the tackle of his new instrument, can have carried any stunning
revolutionary effect into the heart of a section so ancient in our
mathematical physics? But the reader is to consider, that the ruins made
by Lord Rosse, are in _sidereal_ astronomy, which is almost wholly a
growth of modern times; and the particular part of it demolished by the
new telescope, is almost exclusively the creation of the two Herschels,
father and son. Laplace, it is true, adopted their views; and he
transferred them to the particular service of our own planetary system.
But he gave to them no new sanction, except what arises from showing
that they would account for the appearances, as they present themselves
to our experience at this day. That was a _negative_ confirmation; by
which I mean, that, had their views failed in the hands of Laplace,
then they were proved to be false; but, _not_ failing, they were not
therefore proved to be true. It was like proving a gun; if the charge is
insufficient, or if, in trying the strength of cast iron, timber, ropes,
&c., the strain is not up to the rigor of the demand, you go away with
perhaps a favorable impression as to the promises of the article; it has
stood a moderate trial; it has stood all the trial that offered, which
is always something; but you are still obliged to feel that, when the
ultimate test is applied, smash may go the whole concern. Lord Rosse
applied an ultimate test; and smash went the whole concern. Really I
must have laughed, though all the world had been angry, when the shrieks
and yells of expiring systems began to reverberate all the way from the
belt of Orion; and positively at the very first broadside delivered from
this huge four-decker of a telescope.

But what was it then that went to wreck? That is a thing more easy to
ask than to answer. At least, for my own part, I complain that some
vagueness hangs over all the accounts of the nebular hypothesis.
However, in this place a brief sketch will suffice.

Herschel the elder, having greatly improved the telescope, began to
observe with special attention a class of remarkable phenomena in the
starry world hitherto unstudied, viz.: milky spots in various stages of
diffusion. The nature of these appearances soon cleared itself up thus
far, that generally they were found to be starry worlds, separated from
ours by inconceivable distances, and in that way concealing at first
their real nature. The whitish gleam was the mask conferred by the
enormity of their remotion. This being so, it might have been supposed
that, as was the faintness of these cloudy spots or _nebulæ_, such was
the distance. But _that_ did not follow: for in the treasury of nature
it turned out that there were other resources for modifying the powers
of distance, for muffling and unmuffling the voice of stars. Suppose
a world at the distance _x_, which distance is so great as to make the
manifestation of that world weak, milky, nebular. Now let the secret
power that wields these awful orbs, push this world back to a double
distance! _that_ should naturally make it paler and more dilute than
ever: and yet by _compression_, by deeper centralization, this effect
shall be defeated; by forcing into far closer neighborhood the stars
which compose this world, again it shall gleam out brighter when at 2_x_
than when at _x_. At this point of compression, let the great moulding
power a second time push it back; and a second time it will grow faint.
But once more let this world be tortured into closer compression, again
let the screw be put upon it, and once again it shall shake off the
oppression of distance as the dew-drops are shaken from a lion's mane.
And thus in fact the mysterious architect plays at hide-and-seek with
his worlds. 'I will hide it,' he says, 'and it shall be found again by
man; I will withdraw it into distances that shall seem fabulous, and
again it shall apparel itself in glorious light; a third time I will
plunge it into aboriginal darkness, and upon the vision of man a third
time it shall rise with a new epiphany.'

But, says the objector, there is no such world; there is no world that
has thus been driven back, and depressed from one deep to a lower
deep. Granted: but the same effect, an illustration of the same law,
is produced equally, whether you take four worlds, all of the same
magnitude, and plunge them _simultaneously_ into four different abysses,
sinking by graduated distances one below another, or take one world and
plunge it to the same distances _successively_. So in Geology, when men
talk of substances in different stages, or of transitional states, they
do not mean that they have watched the same individual _stratum_ or
_phenomenon_, exhibiting states removed from each other by depths of
many thousand years; how could they? but they have seen one stage in
the case A, another stage in the case B. They take, for instance, three
objects, the same (to use the technical language of logic) generically,
though numerically different, under separate circumstances, or in
different stages of advance. They are one object for logic, they are
three for human convenience. So again it might seem impossible to give
the history of a rose tree from infancy to age: how could the same rose
tree, at the same time, be young and old? Yet by taking the different
developments of its flowers, even as they hang on the same tree, from
the earliest bud to the full-blown rose, you may in effect pursue this
vegetable growth through all its stages: you have before you the bony
blushing little rose-bud, and the respectable 'mediæval' full-blown

This point settled, let it now be remarked, that Herschel's resources
enabled him to unmask many of these _nebulæ_: stars they were, and stars
he forced them to own themselves. Why should any decent world wear
an _alias_? There was nothing, you know, to be ashamed of in being an
honest cluster of stars. Indeed, they seemed to be sensible of this
themselves, and they now yielded to the force of Herschel's arguments so
far as to show themselves in the new character of _nebulæ_ spangled with
stars; these are the _stellar nebulæ_; quite as much as you could expect
in so short a time: Rome was not built in a day: and one must have
some respect to stellar feelings. It was noticed, however, that where a
bright haze, and not a weak milk-and-water haze, had revealed itself
to the telescope, this, arising from a case of _compression_, (as
previously explained,) required very little increase of telescopic power
to force him into a fuller confession. He made a clean breast of it.
But at length came a dreadful anomaly. A 'nebula' in the constellation
_Andromeda_ turned restive: another in _Orion_, I grieve to say it,
still more so. I confine myself to the latter. A very low power sufficed
to bring him to a slight confession, which in fact amounted to nothing;
the very highest would not persuade him to show a star. 'Just one,'
said some coaxing person; 'we'll be satisfied with only one.' But no:
he would _not_. He was hardened, 'he wouldn't _split_.' And Herschel
was thus led, after waiting as long as flesh and blood _could_ wait,
to infer two classes of _nebulæ_; one that were stars; and another
that were _not_ stars, nor ever were meant to be stars. Yet _that_ was
premature: he found at last, that, though not raised to the peerage of
stars, finally they would be so: they were the matter of stars; and by
gradual condensation would become suns, whose atmosphere, by a similar
process of condensing, would become planets, capable of brilliant
literati and philosophers, in several volumes octavo. So stood the case
for a long time; it was settled to the satisfaction of Europe that there
were two classes of _nebulæ_, one that _were_ worlds, one that were
_not_, but only the pabulum of future worlds. Silence arose. A voice was
heard, 'Let there be Lord Rosse!' and immediately his telescope walked
into Orion; destroyed the supposed matter of stars; but, in return,
created immeasurable worlds.

As a hint for apprehending the delicacy and difficulty of the process in
sidereal astronomy, let the inexperienced reader figure to himself these
separate cases of perplexity: 1st, A perplexity where the dilemma arises
from the collision between magnitude and distance:--is the size less, or
the distance greater? 2dly, Where the dilemma arises between motions, a
motion in ourselves doubtfully confounded with a motion in some external
body; or, 3dly, Where it arises between possible positions of an object:
is it a real proximity that we see between two stars, or simply an
apparent proximity from lying in the same visual line, though in far
other depths of space? As regards the first dilemma, we may suppose two
laws, A and B, absolutely in contradiction, laid down at starting: A,
that all fixed stars are precisely at the same _distance_; in this case
every difference in the apparent magnitude will indicate a corresponding
difference in the real magnitude, and will measure that difference. B,
that all the fixed stars are precisely of the same _magnitude_; in which
case, every variety in the size will indicate a corresponding difference
in the distance, and will measure that difference. Nor could we imagine
any exception to these inferences from A or from B, whichever of the two
were assumed, unless through optical laws that might not equally affect
objects under different circumstances; I mean, for instance, that might
suffer a disturbance as applied under hypoth. B, to different depths in
space, or under hypoth. A, to different arrangements of structure in the
star. But thirdly, it is certain, that neither A nor B is the abiding
law: and next it becomes an object by science and by instruments to
distinguish more readily and more certainly between the cases where
the distance has degraded the size, and the cases where the size being
_really_ less, has caused an exaggeration of the distance: or again,
where the size being really less, yet co-operating with a distance
really greater, may degrade the estimate, (though travelling in a right
direction,) below the truth; or again where the size being really less,
yet counteracted by a distance also less, may equally disturb the truth
of human measurements, and so on.

A second large order of equivocating appearances will arise,--not as to
magnitude, but as to motion. If it could be a safe assumption, that
the system to which our planet is attached were absolutely fixed and
motionless, except as regards its own _internal_ relations of movement,
then every change outside of us, every motion that the registers of
astronomy had established, would be objective and not subjective. It
would be safe to pronounce at once that it was a motion in the object
contemplated, _not_ in the subject contemplating. Or, reversely, if it
were safe to assume as a universal law, that no motion was possible in
the starry heavens, then every change of relations in space, between
ourselves and them, would indicate and would measure a progress, or
regress, on the part of our solar system, in certain known directions.
But now, because it is not safe to rest in either assumption, the range
of possibilities for which science has to provide, is enlarged; the
immediate difficulties are multiplied; but with the result (as in the
former case) of reversionally expanding the powers, and consequently the
facilities, lodged both in the science and in the arts ministerial
to the science. Thus, in the constellation _Cygnus_, there is a star
gradually changing its relation to our system, whose distance from
ourselves (as Dr. Nichol tells us) is ascertained to be about six
hundred and seventy thousand times our own distance from the sun: that
is, neglecting minute accuracy, about six hundred and seventy thousand
stages of one hundred million miles each. This point being known, it
falls within the _arts_ of astronomy to translate this apparent angular
motion into miles; and presuming this change of relation to be not in
the star, but really in ourselves, we may deduce the velocity of our
course, we may enter into our _log_ daily the rate at which our whole
solar system is running. Bessel, it seems, the eminent astronomer who
died lately, computed this velocity to be such (viz., three times that
of our own earth in its proper orbit) as would carry us to the star in
forty-one thousand years. But, in the mean time, the astronomer is to
hold in reserve some small share of his attention, some trifle of a
side-glance, now and then, to the possibility of an error, after all, in
the main assumption: he must watch the indications, if any such should
arise, that not ourselves, but the star in _Cygnus_, is the real party
concerned, in drifting at this shocking rate, with no prospect of coming
to an anchorage. [Footnote: It is worth adding at this point, whilst the
reader remembers without effort the numbers, viz., forty-one thousand
years, for the time, (the space being our own distance from the sun
repeated six hundred and seventy thousand times,) what would be the
time required for reaching, in the _body_, that distance to which Lord
Rosse's six feet mirror has so recently extended our _vision_. The time
would be, as Dr. Nichol computes, about two hundred and fifty millions
of years, supposing that our rate of travelling was about three times
that of our earth in its orbit. Now, as the velocity is assumed to
be the same in both cases, the ratio between the distance (already so
tremendous) of Bessel's 61 _Cygni_, and that of Lord Rosse's farthest
frontier, is as forty-one thousand to two hundred and fifty millions.
This is a simple rule-of-three problem for a child. And the answer to
it will, perhaps, convey the simplest expression of the superhuman power
lodged in the new telescope:--as is the ratio of forty-one thousand to
two hundred and fifty million, so is the ratio of our own distance from
the sun multiplied by six hundred and seventy thousand, to the outermost
limit of Lord Rosse's sidereal vision.]

Another class, and a frequent one, of equivocal phenomena, phenomena
that are reconcilable indifferently with either of two assumptions,
though less plausibly reconciled with the one than with the other,
concerns the position of stars that seem connected with each other by
systematic relations, and which yet _may_ lie in very different depths
of space, being brought into seeming connection only by the human eye.
There have been, and there are, cases where two stars dissemble an
interconnection which they really _have_, and other cases where they
simulate an interconnection which they have not. All these cases of
simulation and dissimulation torment the astronomer by multiplying his
perplexities, and deepening the difficulty of escaping them. He cannot
get at the truth: in many cases, magnitude and distance are in collusion
with each other to deceive him: motion subjective is in collusion with
motion objective; duplex systems are in collusion with fraudulent stars,
having no real partnership whatever, but mimicking such a partnership by
means of the limitations or errors affecting the human eye, where it can
apply no other sense to aid or to correct itself. So that the business
of astronomy, in these days, is no sinecure, as the reader perceives.
And by another evidence, it is continually becoming less of a sinecure.
Formerly, one or two men,--Tycho, suppose, or, in a later age, Cassini
and Horrox, and Bradley, had observatories: one man, suppose, observed
the stars for all Christendom; and the rest of Europe observed _him_.
But now, up and down Europe, from the deep blue of Italian skies to the
cold frosty atmospheres of St. Petersburg and Glasgow, the stars are
conscious of being watched everywhere; and if all astronomers do not
publish their observations, all use them in their speculations. New and
brilliantly appointed observatories are rising in every latitude, or
risen; and none, by the way, of these new-born observatories, is
more interesting from the circumstances of its position, or more
_picturesque_ to a higher organ than the eye--viz., to the human
heart--than the New Observatory raised by the university of
Glasgow.[Footnote: It has been reported, ever since the autumn of 1845,
and the report is now, (August, 1846,) gathering strength, that some
railway potentate, having taken a fancy for the ancient college of
Glasgow, as a bauble to hang about his wife's neck, (no accounting for
tastes,) has offered, (or _will_ offer,) such a price, that the good
old academic lady in this her moss-grown antiquity, seriously thinks
of taking him at his word, packing up her traps, and being off. When a
spirit of galavanting comes across an aged lady, it is always difficult
to know where it will stop: so, in fact, you know, she may choose to
steam for Texas. But the present impression is, that she will
settle down by the side of what you may call her married or settled
daughter--the Observatory; which one would be glad to have confirmed,
as indicating that no purpose of pleasure-seeking had been working in
elderly minds, but the instinct of religious rest and aspiration. The
Observatory would thus remind one of those early Christian anchorites,
and self-exiled visionaries, that being led by almost a necessity of
nature to take up their residence in deserts, sometimes drew after
themselves the whole of their own neighborhood.]

The New Observatory of Glasgow is now, I believe, finished; and the
only fact connected with its history that was painful, as embodying and
recording that Vandal alienation from science, literature, and all their
interests, which has ever marked our too haughty and Caliph-Omar-like
British government, lay in the circumstance that the glasses of the
apparatus, the whole mounting of the establishment, in so far as it
was a scientific establishment, and even the workmen for putting up
the machinery, were imported from Bavaria. We, that once bade the world
stand aside when the question arose about glasses, or the graduation of
instruments, were now literally obliged to stand cap in hand, bowing to
Mr. Somebody, successor of Frauenhofer or Frauendevil, in Munich!
Who caused _that_, we should all be glad to know, if not the wicked
Treasury, that killed the hen that laid the golden eggs by taxing her
until her spine broke? It is to be hoped that, at this moment, and
specifically for this offence, some scores of Exchequer men, chancellors
and other rubbish, are in purgatory, and perhaps working, with
shirt-sleeves tucked up, in purgatorial glass-houses, with very small
allowances of beer, to defray the cost of perspiration. But why trouble
a festal remembrance with commemorations of crimes or criminals?
What makes the Glasgow Observatory so peculiarly interesting, is its
position, connected with and overlooking so vast a city, having more
than three hundred thousand inhabitants, (in spite of an American
sceptic,) nearly all children of toil; and a city, too, which, from the
necessities of its circumstances, draws so deeply upon that fountain of
misery and guilt which some ordinance, as ancient as 'our father Jacob,'
with his patriarchal well for Samaria, has bequeathed to manufacturing
towns,--to Ninevehs, to Babylons, to Tyres. How tarnished with eternal
canopies of smoke, and of sorrow; how dark with agitations of many
orders, is the mighty town below! How serene, how quiet, how lifted
above the confusion and the roar, how liberated from the strifes of
earth, is the solemn Observatory that crowns the grounds above! And
duly, at night, just when the toil of over-wrought Glasgow is mercifully
relaxing, then comes the summons to the laboring astronomer. _He_ speaks
not of the night, but of the day and the flaunting day-light, as the
hours 'in which no man can work.' And the least reflecting of men
must be impressed by the idea, that at wide intervals, but intervals
scattered over Europe, whilst 'all that mighty heart' is, by sleep,
resting from its labors, secret eyes are lifted up to heaven in
astronomical watch-towers; eyes that keep watch and ward over spaces
that make us dizzy to remember, eyes that register the promises of
comets, and disentangle the labyrinths of worlds.

Another feature of interest, connected with the Glasgow Observatory, is
personal, and founded on the intellectual characteristics of the present
professor, Dr. Nichol; in the deep meditative style of his mind seeking
for rest, yet placed in conflict for ever with the tumultuous necessity
in _him_ for travelling along the line of revolutionary thought, and
following it loyally, wearied or not, to its natural home.

In a sonnet of Milton, one of three connected with his own blindness,
he distinguishes between two classes of servants that minister to
the purposes of God. '_His_ state,' says he, meaning God's state, the
arrangement of his regular service, 'is kingly;' that is to say, it
resembles the mode of service established in the courts of kings;
and, in this, it resembles that service, that there are two classes of
ministers attending on his pleasure. For, as in the trains of kings
are some that run without resting, night or day, to carry the royal
messages, and also others--great lords in waiting--that move not from
the royal gates; so of the divine retinues, some are for action only,
some for contemplation. 'Thousands' there are that

  ----'at his bidding speed,
  And post o'er land and ocean without rest.'

Others, on the contrary, motionless as statues, that share not in the
agitations of their times, that tremble not in sympathy with the
storms around them, but that listen--that watch--that wait--for secret
indications to be fulfilled, or secret signs to be deciphered. And,
of this latter class, he adds-that they, not less than the others, are
accepted by God; or, as it is so exquisitely expressed in the closing

  '_They_ also serve, that only stand and wait.'

Something analogous to this one may see in the distributions of
literature and science. Many popularize and diffuse: some reap and
gather on their own account. Many translate, into languages fit for the
multitude, messages which they receive from human voices: some listen,
like Kubla Khan, far down in caverns or hanging over subterranean
rivers, for secret whispers that mingle and confuse themselves with the
general uproar of torrents, but which can be detected and kept apart
by the obstinate prophetic ear, which spells into words and ominous
sentences the distracted syllables of ærial voices. Dr. Nichol is one
of those who pass to and fro between these classes; and has the rare
function of keeping open their vital communications. As a popularizing
astronomer, he has done more for the benefit of his great science than
all the rest of Europe combined: and now, when he notices, without
murmur, the fact that his office of popular teacher is almost taken out
of his hands, (so many are they who have trained of late for the duty,)
that change has, in fact, been accomplished through knowledge, through
explanations, through suggestions, dispersed and prompted by himself.

For my own part, as one belonging to the laity, and not to the _clerus_,
in the science of astronomy, I could scarcely have presumed to report
minutely, or to sit in the character of dissector upon the separate
details of Dr. Nichol's works, either this, or those which have preceded
it, had there even been room left disposable for such a task. But in
this view it is sufficient to have made the general acknowledgment which
already _has_ been made, that Dr. Nichol's works, and his oral lectures
upon astronomy, are to be considered as the _fundus_ of the knowledge on
that science now working in this generation. More important it is, and
more in reconciliation with the tenor of my own ordinary studies, to
notice the philosophic spirit in which Dr. Nichol's works are framed;
the breadth of his views, the eternal tendency of his steps in advance,
or (if advance on that quarter, or at that point, happens to
be absolutely walled out for the present,) the vigor of the
_reconnoissances_ by which he examines the hostile intrenchments.
Another feature challenges notice. In reading astronomical works, there
arises (from old experience of what is usually most faulty) a wish
either for the naked severities of science, with a total abstinence from
all display of enthusiasm; or else, if the cravings of human sensibility
are to be met and gratified, that it shall be by an enthusiasm
unaffected and grand as its subject. Of that kind is the enthusiasm
of Dr. Nichol. The grandeurs of astronomy are such to him who has a
capacity for being grandly moved. They are none at all to him who has
not. To the mean they become meannesses. Space, for example, has no
grandeur to him who has no space in the theatre of his own brain. I know
writers who report the marvels of velocity, &c., in such a way that
they become insults to yourself. It is obvious that in _their_ way of
insisting on our earth's speed in her annual orbit, they do not seek
to exalt _her_, but to mortify _you_. And, besides, these fellows are
answerable for provoking people into fibs:--for I remember one day, that
reading a statement of this nature, about how many things the Earth
had done that we could never hope to do, and about the number of cannon
balls, harnessed as a _tandem_, which the Earth would fly past, without
leaving time to say, _How are you off for soap?_ in vexation of heart I
could not help exclaiming--'That's nothing: I've done a great deal more
myself;' though, when one turns it in one's mind, you know there must be
some inaccuracy _there_. How different is Dr. Nichol's enthusiasm from
this hypocritical and vulgar wonderment! It shows itself not merely in
reflecting the grandeurs of his theme, and by the sure test of detecting
and allying itself with all the indirect grandeurs that arrange
themselves from any distance, upon or about that centre, but by the
manifest promptness with which Dr. Nichol's enthusiasm awakens itself
upon _every_ road that leads to things elevating for man; or to things
promising for knowledge; or to things which, like dubious theories
or imperfect attempts at systematizing, though neutral as regards
knowledge, minister to what is greater than knowledge, viz., to
intellectual _power_, to the augmented power of handling your materials,
though with no more materials than before. In his geological and
cosmological inquiries, in his casual speculations, the same quality of
intellect betrays itself; the intellect that labors in sympathy with the
laboring _nisus_ of these gladiatorial times; that works (and sees the
necessity of working) the apparatus of many sciences towards a composite
result; the intellect that retires in one direction only to make head in
another; and that already is prefiguring the route beyond the barriers,
whilst yet the gates are locked.

There was a man in the last century, and an eminent man too, who used
to say, that whereas people in general pretended to admire astronomy as
being essentially sublime, he for _his_ part looked upon all that sort
of thing as a swindle; and, on the contrary, he regarded the solar
system as decidedly vulgar; because the planets were all of them so
infernally punctual, they kept time with such horrible precision,
that they forced him, whether he would or no, to think of nothing but
post-office clocks, mail-coaches, and book-keepers. Regularity may be
beautiful, but it excludes the sublime. What he wished for was something
like Lloyd's list.

_Comets_--due 3; arrived 1. _Mercury_, when last seen, appeared to be
distressed; but made no signals. _Pallas_ and _Vesta_, not heard of for
some time; supposed to have foundered. _Moon_, spoken last night through
a heavy bank of clouds; out sixteen days: all right.

Now this poor man's misfortune was, to have lived in the days of mere
planetary astronomy. At present, when our own little system, with all
its grandeurs, has dwindled by comparison to a subordinate province, if
any man is bold enough to say so, a poor shivering unit amongst myriads
that are brighter, we ought no longer to talk of astronomy, but of
_the astronomies_. There is the planetary, the cometary, the sidereal,
perhaps also others; as, for instance, even yet the nebular; because,
though Lord Rosse has smitten it with the son of Amram's rod, has
made it open, and cloven a path through it, yet other and more fearful
_nebulæ_ may loom in sight, (if further improvements should be effected
in the telescope,) that may puzzle even Lord Rosse. And when he tells
his _famulus_--'Fire a shot at that strange fellow, and make him show
his colors,' possibly the mighty stranger may disdain the summons. That
would be vexatious: we should all be incensed at _that_. But no matter.
What's a _nebula_, what's a world, more or less? In the spiritual
heavens are many mansions: in the starry heavens, that are now unfolding
and preparing to unfold before us, are many vacant areas upon which the
astronomer may pitch his secret pavilion. He may dedicate himself to the
service of the _Double Suns_; he has my license to devote his whole time
to the quadruple system of suns in _Lyra_. Swammerdam spent his life in
a ditch watching frogs and tadpoles; why may not an astronomer give
nine lives, if he had them, to the watching of that awful appearance
in _Hercules_, which pretends to some rights over our own unoffending
system? Why may he not mount guard with public approbation, for the
next fifty years, upon the zodiacal light, the interplanetary ether,
and other rarities, which the professional body of astronomers would
naturally keep (if they could) for their own private enjoyment? There
is no want of variety now, nor in fact of irregularity: for the most
exquisite clock-work, which from enormous distance _seems_ to go
wrong, virtually for us _does_ go wrong; so that our friend of the last
century, who complained of the solar system, would not need to do so any
longer. There are anomalies enough to keep him cheerful. There are now
even things to alarm us; for anything in the starry worlds that look
suspicious, anything that ought _not_ to be there, is, for all purposes
of frightening us, as good as a ghost.

But of all the novelties that excite my own interest in the expanding
astronomy of recent times, the most delightful and promising are
those charming little pyrotechnic planetoids,[Footnote: _'Pyrotechnic
Planetoids:'_--The reader will understand me as alluding to the periodic
shooting stars. It is now well known, that as, upon our own poor little
earthly ocean, we fall in with certain phenomena as we approach certain
latitudes; so also upon the great ocean navigated by our Earth, we
fall in with prodigious showers of these meteors at periods no longer
uncertain, but fixed as jail-deliveries. 'These remarkable showers of
meteors,' says Dr. Nichol, 'observed at different periods in August and
November, seem to demonstrate the fact, that, at these periods, we have
come in contact with two streams of such planetoids then intersecting
the earth's orbit.' If they intermit, it is only because they are
shifting their nodes, or points of intersection.] that variegate our
annual course. It always struck me as most disgusting, that, in going
round the sun, we must be passing continually over old roads, and yet
we had no means of establishing an acquaintance with them: they might
as well be new for every trip. Those chambers of ether, through which we
are tearing along night and day, (for _our_ train stops at no stations,)
doubtless, if we could put some mark upon them, must be old fellows
perfectly liable to recognition. I suppose, _they_ never have notice to
quit. And yet, for want of such a mark, though all our lives flying past
them and through them, we can never challenge them as known. The same
thing happens in the desert: one monotonous iteration of sand, sand,
sand, unless where some miserable fountain stagnates, forbids all
approach to familiarity: nothing is circumstantiated or differenced:
travel it for three generations, and you are no nearer to identification
of its parts: so that it amounts to travelling through an abstract idea.
For the desert, really I suspect the thing is hopeless: but, as regards
our planetary orbit, matters are mending: for the last six or seven
years I have heard of these fiery showers, but indeed I cannot say how
much earlier they were first noticed,[Footnote: Somewhere I have seen it
remarked, that if, on a public road, you meet a party of four women,
it is at least fifty to one that they are all laughing; whereas, if you
meet an equal party of my own unhappy sex, you may wager safely that
they are talking gravely, and that one of them is uttering the word
_money_. Hence it must be, viz, because our sisters are too much
occupied with the playful things of this earth, and our brothers with
its gravities, that neither party sufficiently watches the skies. And
_that_ accounts for a fact which often has struck myself, viz., that, in
cities, on bright moonless nights, when some brilliant skirmishings of
the Aurora are exhibiting, or even a luminous arch, which is a broad
ribbon of snowy light that spans the skies, positively unless I myself
say to people--'Eyes upwards!' not one in a hundred, male or female, but
fails to see the show, though it may be seen _gratis_, simply because
their eyes are too uniformly reading the earth. This downward direction
of the eyes, however, must have been worse in former ages: because else
it never _could_ have happened that, until Queen Anne's days, nobody
ever hinted in a book that there _was_ such a thing, or _could_ be such
a thing, as the Aurora Borealis; and in fact Halley had the credit of
discovering it.] as celebrating two annual festivals--one in August, one
in November. You are a little too late, reader, for seeing this year's
summer festival; but that's no reason why you should not engage a good
seat for the November meeting; which, if I recollect, is about the
9th, or the Lord Mayor's day, and on the whole better worth seeing.
For anything _we_ know, this may be a great day in the earth's earlier
history; she may have put forth her original rose on this day, or tried
her hand at a primitive specimen of wheat; or she may, in fact, have
survived some gunpowder plot about this time; so that the meteoric
appearance may be a kind congratulating _feu-de-joye_, on the
anniversary of the happy event. What it is that the 'cosmogony man' in
the 'Vicar of Wakefield' would have thought of such novelties, whether
he would have favored us with his usual opinion upon such topics, viz.,
that _anarchon ara kai ateleutaion to pan_, or have sported a new
one exclusively for this occasion, may be doubtful. What it is that
astronomers think, who are a kind of 'cosmogony men,' the reader may
learn from Dr. Nichol, Note B, (p. 139, 140.)

In taking leave of a book and a subject so well fitted to draw out
the highest mode of that grandeur, which _can_ connect itself with
the external, (a grandeur capable of drawing down a spiritual being to
earth, but not of raising an earthly being to heaven,) I would wish to
contribute my own brief word of homage to this grandeur by recalling
from a fading remembrance of twenty-five years back a short _bravura_
of John Paul Richter. I call it a _bravura_, as being intentionally a
passage of display and elaborate execution; and in this sense I may
call it partly 'my own,' that at twenty-five years' distance, (after one
single reading,) it would not have been possible for any man to report
a passage of this length without greatly disturbing [Footnote:
_'Disturbing;'_--neither perhaps should I much have sought to avoid
alterations if the original had been lying before me: for it takes the
shape of a dream; and this most brilliant of all German writers wanted
in that field the severe simplicity, that horror of the _too much_,
belonging to Grecian architecture, which is essential to the perfection
of a dream considered as a work of art. He was too elaborate, to
realize the grandeur of the shadowy.] the texture of the composition:
by altering, one makes it partly one's own; but it is right to mention,
that the sublime turn at the end belongs entirely to John Paul.

'God called up from dreams a man into the vestibule of heaven,
saying,--"Come thou hither, and see the glory of my house." And to the
servants that stood around his throne he said,--"Take him, and undress
him from his robes of flesh: cleanse his vision, and put a new breath
into his nostrils: only touch not with any change his human heart--the
heart that weeps and trembles." It was done; and, with a mighty angel
for his guide, the man stood ready for his infinite voyage; and from the
terraces of heaven, without sound or farewell, at once they wheeled away
into endless space. Sometimes with the solemn flight of angel wing they
fled through Zaarrahs of darkness, through wildernesses of death, that
divided the worlds of life: sometimes they swept over frontiers, that
were quickening under prophetic motions from God. Then, from a distance
that is counted only in heaven, light dawned for a time through a sleepy
film: by unutterable pace the light swept to _them_, they by unutterable
pace to the light: in a moment the rushing of planets was upon them: in
a moment the blazing of suns was around them. Then came eternities of
twilight, that revealed, but were not revealed. To the right hand and
to the left towered mighty constellations, that by self-repetitions and
answers from afar, that by counter-positions, built up triumphal gates,
whose architraves, whose archways--horizontal, upright--rested, rose--at
altitudes, by spans--that seemed ghostly from infinitude. Without
measure were the architraves, past number were the archways, beyond
memory the gates. Within were stairs that scaled the eternities above,
that descended to the eternities below: above was below, below was
above, to the man stripped of gravitating body: depth was swallowed up
in height insurmountable, height was swallowed up in depth unfathomable.
Suddenly as thus they rode from infinite to infinite, suddenly as thus
they tilted over abysmal worlds, a mighty cry arose--that systems
more mysterious, that worlds more billowy,--other heights, and other
depths,--were coming, were nearing, were at hand. Then the man sighed,
and stopped, shuddered and wept. His over-laden heart uttered itself in
tears; and he said,--"Angel, I will go no farther. For the spirit of man
aches with this infinity. Insufferable is the glory of God. Let me lie
down in the grave from the persecutions of the infinite; for end, I
see, there is none." And from all the listening stars that shone around
issued a choral voice, "The man speaks truly: end there is none, that
ever yet we heard of." "End is there none?" the angel solemnly demanded:
"Is there indeed no end? And is this the sorrow that kills you?" But no
voice answered, that he might answer himself. Then the angel threw up
his glorious hands to the heaven of heavens; saying, "End is there none
to the universe of God? Lo! also there is no Beginning."'

NOTE.--On throwing his eyes hastily over the preceding paper, the writer
becomes afraid that some readers may give such an interpretation to a
few playful expressions upon the age of our earth, &c., as to class him
with those who use geology, cosmology, &c., for purposes of attack,
or insinuation against the Scriptures. Upon this point, therefore, he
wishes to make a firm explanation of his own opinions, which, (whether
right or wrong,) will liberate him, once and for all, from any such

It is sometimes said, that the revealer of a true religion, does
not come amongst men for the sake of teaching truths in science, or
correcting errors in science. Most justly is this said: but often in
terms far too feeble. For generally these terms are such as to
imply, that, although no function of his mission, it was yet open to
him--although not pressing with the force of an obligation upon the
revealer, it was yet at his discretion--if not to correct other
men's errors, yet at least in his own person to speak with scientific
precision. I contend that it was _not_. I contend, that to have uttered
the truths of astronomy, of geology, &c., at the era of new-born
Christianity, was not only _below_ the purposes of a religion, but would
have been _against_ them. Even upon errors of a far more important class
than any errors in science can ever be,--superstitions, for instance,
that degraded the very idea of God; prejudices and false usages, that
laid waste human happiness, (such as slavery and many hundreds of other
abuses that might be mentioned,) the rule evidently acted upon by
the Founder of Christianity was this--Given the purification of the
fountain, once assumed that the fountains of truth are cleansed, all
these derivative currents of evil will cleanse themselves. And the only
exceptions, which I remember, to this rule, are two cases in which, from
the personal appeal made to his decision, Christ would have made himself
a party to wretched delusions, if he had not condescended to expose
their folly. But, as a general rule, the branches of error were
disregarded, and the roots only attacked. If, then, so lofty a station
was taken with regard even to such errors as had moral and spiritual
relations, how much more with regard to the comparative trifles, (as
in the ultimate relations of human nature they are,) of merely human
science! But, for my part, I go further, and assert, that upon three
reasons it was impossible for any messenger from God, (or offering
himself in that character,) for a moment to have descended into the
communication of truth merely scientific, or economic, or worldly.
And the reasons are these: _First_, Because it would have degraded his
mission, by lowering it to the base level of a collision with human
curiosity, or with petty and transitory interests. _Secondly_, Because
it would have ruined his mission; would utterly have prostrated the free
agency and the proper agency of that mission. He that, in those days,
should have proclaimed the true theory of the Solar System and the
heavenly forces, would have been shut up at once--as a lunatic likely
to become dangerous. But suppose him to have escaped _that_; still, as
a divine teacher, he has no liberty of caprice. He must stand to the
promises of his own acts. Uttering the first truth of a science, he
is pledged to the second: taking the main step, he is committed to all
which follow. He is thrown at once upon the endless controversies which
science in every stage provokes, and in none more than in the
earliest. Or, if he retires as from a scene of contest that he had not
anticipated, he retires as one confessing a human precipitance and
a human oversight, weaknesses, venial in others, but fatal to the
pretensions of a divine teacher. Starting besides from such pretensions,
he could not (as others might) have the privilege of selecting
arbitrarily or partially. If upon one science, then upon all,--if upon
science, then upon, art,--if upon art and science, then upon _every_
branch of social economy, upon _every_ organ of civilization, his
reformations and advances are equally due; due as to all, if due as to
any. To move in one direction, is constructively to undertake for all.
Without power to retreat, he has thus thrown the intellectual interests
of his followers into a channel utterly alien to the purposes of a
spiritual mission.

Thus far he has simply failed: but next comes a worse result; an evil,
not negative but positive. Because, _thirdly_, to apply the light of a
revelation for the benefit of a merely human science, which is virtually
done by so applying the illumination of an _inspired_ teacher, is--to
assault capitally the scheme of God's discipline and training for man.
To improve by _heavenly_ means, if but in one solitary science--to
lighten, if but in one solitary section, the condition of difficulty
which had been designed for the strengthening and training of human
faculties, is _pro tanto_ to disturb--to cancel--to contradict a
previous purpose of God, made known by silent indications from the
beginning of the world. Wherefore did God give to man the powers for
contending with scientific difficulties? Wherefore did he lay a secret
train of continual occasions, that should rise, by intervals, through
thousands of generations, for provoking and developing those activities
in man's intellect, if, after all, he is to send a messenger of his own,
more than human, to intercept and strangle all these great purposes?
When, therefore, the persecutors of Galileo, alleged that Jupiter, for
instance, could not move in the way alleged, because then the Bible
would have proclaimed it,--as they thus threw back upon God the burthen
of discovery, which he had thrown upon Galileo, why did they not,
by following out their own logic, throw upon the Bible the duty of
discovering the telescope, or discovering the satellites of Jupiter?
And, as no such discoveries were there, why did they not, by parity of
logic, and for mere consistency, deny the telescope as a fact, deny the
Jovian planets as facts? But this it is to mistake the very meaning and
purposes of a revelation. A revelation is not made for the purpose of
showing to idle men that which they may show to themselves, by faculties
already given to them, if only they will exert those faculties, but for
the purpose of showing _that_ which the moral darkness of man will
not, without supernatural light, allow him to perceive. With disdain,
therefore, must every considerate person regard the notion,--that God
could wilfully interfere with his own plans, by accrediting ambassadors
to reveal astronomy, or any other science, which he has commanded men
to cultivate _without_ revelation, by endowing them with all the natural
powers for doing so.

Even as regards astronomy, a science so nearly allying itself to
religion by the loftiness and by the purity of its contemplations,
Scripture is nowhere the _parent_ of any doctrine, nor so much as the
silent sanctioner of any doctrine. Scripture cannot become the author
of falsehood,--though it were as to a trifle, cannot become a party to
falsehood. And it is made impossible for Scripture to teach falsely, by
the simple fact that Scripture, on such subjects, will not condescend to
teach at all. The Bible adopts the erroneous language of men, (which at
any rate it must do, in order to make itself understood,) not by way
of sanctioning a theory, but by way of using a fact. The Bible _uses_
(postulates) the phenomena of day and night, of summer and winter, and
expresses them, in relation to their causes, as _men_ express them, men,
even, that are scientific astronomers. But the results, which are all
that concern Scripture, are equally true, whether accounted for by one
hypothesis which is philosophically just, or by another which is popular
and erring.

Now, on the other hand, in geology and cosmology, the case is still
stronger. _Here_ there is no opening for a compliance even with popular
language. _Here_, where there is no such stream of apparent phenomena
running counter (as in astronomy) to the real phenomena, neither is
there any popular language opposed to the scientific. The whole are
abstruse speculations, even as regards their objects, not dreamed of as
possibilities, either in their true aspects or their false aspects,
till modern times. The Scriptures, therefore, nowhere allude to such
sciences, either under the shape of histories, applied to processes
current and in movement, or under the shape of theories applied to
processes past and accomplished. The Mosaic cosmogony, indeed, gives the
succession of natural births; and that succession will doubtless be more
and more confirmed and illustrated as geology advances. But as to the
time, the duration, of this cosmogony, it is the idlest of notions that
the Scriptures either have or could have condescended to human curiosity
upon so awful a prologue to the drama of this world. Genesis would no
more have indulged so mean a passion with respect to the mysterious
inauguration of the world, than the Apocalypse with respect to its
mysterious close. 'Yet the six _days_ of Moses!' Days! But is any man
so little versed in biblical language as not to know that (except in the
merely historical parts of the Jewish records) every section of time
has a secret and separate acceptation in the Scriptures? Does an _æon_,
though a Grecian word, bear scripturally [either in Daniel or in Saint
John] any sense known to Grecian ears? Do the seventy _weeks_ of the
prophet mean weeks in the sense of human calendars? Already the Psalms,
(xc) already St. Peter, (2d Epist.) warn us of a peculiar sense
attached to the word _day_ in divine ears? And who of the innumerable
interpreters understands the twelve hundred and odd days in Daniel,
or his two thousand and odd days, to mean, by possibility, periods of
twenty-four hours? Surely the theme of Moses was as mystical, and
as much entitled to the benefit of mystical language, as that of the

The sum of the matter is this:--God, by a Hebrew prophet, is sublimely
described as _the Revealer_; and, in variation of his own expression,
the same prophet describes him as the Being 'that knoweth the darkness.'
Under no idea can the relations of God to man be more grandly expressed.
But of what is he the revealer? Not surely of those things which he has
enabled man to reveal for himself, and which he has commanded him so
to reveal, but of those things which, were it not through special
light from heaven, must eternally remain sealed up in the inaccessible
darkness. On this principle we should all laugh at a revealed cookery.
But essentially the same ridicule applies to a revealed astronomy, or a
revealed geology. As a fact, there _is_ no such astronomy or geology: as
a possibility, by the _a priori_ argument which I have used, (viz., that
a revelation on such fields, would contradict _other_ machineries of
providence,) there _can_ be no such astronomy or geology. Consequently
there _can_ be none such in the Bible. Consequently there _is_ none.
Consequently there can be no schism or feud upon _these_ subjects
between the Bible and the philosophies outside. Geology is a field left
open, with the amplest permission from above, to the widest and wildest
speculations of man.


It is said continually--that the age of miracles is past. We deny that
it is so in any sense which implies this age to differ from all other
generations of man except one. It is neither past, nor ought we to wish
it past. Superstition is no vice in the constitution of man: it is
not true that, in any philosophic view, _primus in orbe deos fecit
timor_--meaning by _fecit_ even so much as _raised into light_. As Burke
remarked, the _timor_ at least must be presumed to preexist, and must
be accounted for, if not the gods. If the fear created the gods, what
created the fear? Far more true, and more just to the grandeur of man,
it would have been to say--_Primus in orbe deos fecit sensus infiniti_.
Even in the lowest Caffre, more goes to the sense of a divine being than
simply his wrath or his power. Superstition, indeed, or the sympathy
with the invisible, is the great test of man's nature, as an earthly
combining with a celestial. In superstition lies the possibility
of religion. And though superstition is often injurious, degrading,
demoralizing, it is so, not as a form of corruption or degradation,
but as a form of non-development. The crab is harsh, and for itself
worthless. But it is the germinal form of innumerable finer fruits: not
apples only the most exquisite, and pears; the peach and the nectarine
are said to have radiated from this austere stock when cultured,
developed, and transferred to all varieties of climate. Superstition
will finally pass into pure forms of religion as man advances. It would
be matter of lamentation to hear that superstition had at all decayed
until man had made corresponding steps in the purification and
development of his intellect as applicable to religious faith. Let us
hope that this is not so. And, by way of judging, let us throw a hasty
eye over the modes of popular superstition. If these manifest their
vitality, it will prove that the popular intellect does not go along
with the bookish or the worldly (philosophic we cannot call it) in
pronouncing the miraculous extinct. The popular feeling is all in all.

This function of miraculous power, which is most widely diffused through
Pagan and Christian ages alike, but which has the least root in the
solemnities of the imagination, we may call the _Ovidian_. By way of
distinction, it may be so called; and with some justice, since Ovid in
his _Metamorphoses_ gave the first elaborate record of such a tendency
in human superstition. It is a movement of superstition under the
domination of human affections; a mode of spiritual awe which seeks
to reconcile itself with human tenderness or admiration; and which
represents supernatural power as expressing itself by a sympathy with
human distress or passion concurrently with human sympathies, and as
supporting that blended sympathy by a symbol incarnated with the fixed
agencies of nature. For instance, a pair of youthful lovers perish by a
double suicide originating in a fatal mistake, and a mistake operating
in each case through a noble self-oblivion. The tree under which their
meeting has been concerted, and which witnesses their tragedy, is
supposed ever afterwards to express the divine sympathy with this
catastrophe in the gloomy color of its fruit:--

  'At tu, quæ ramis (arbor!) miserabile corpus
  Nunc tegis unius, mox es tectura duorum,
  Signa tene cædis:--pullosque et luctibus aptos
  Semper habe fructus--gemini monumenta cruoris:'

Such is the dying adjuration of the lady to the tree. And the fruit
becomes from that time a monument of a double sympathy--sympathy from
man, sympathy from a dark power standing behind the agencies of nature,
and speaking through them. Meantime the object of this sympathy is
understood to be not the individual catastrophe, but the universal
case of unfortunate love exemplified in this particular romance. The
inimitable grace with which Ovid has delivered these early traditions
of human tenderness, blending with human superstition, is notorious; the
artfulness of the pervading connection, by which every tale in the long
succession is made to arise spontaneously out of that which precedes, is
absolutely unrivalled; and this it was, with his luxuriant gayety, which
procured for him a preference, even with Milton, a poet so opposite by
intellectual constitution. It is but reasonable, therefore, that this
function of the miraculous should bear the name of _Ovidian_. Pagan it
was in its birth; and to paganism its titles ultimately ascend. Yet we
know that in the transitional state through the centuries succeeding to
Christ, during which paganism and Christianity were slowly descending
and ascending, as if from two different strata of the atmosphere, the
two powers interchanged whatsoever they could. (See Conyer's Middleton;
and see Blount of our own days.) It marked the earthly nature of
paganism, that it could borrow little or nothing by organization: it
was fitted to no expansion. But the true faith, from its vast and
comprehensive adaptation to the nature of man, lent itself to many
corruptions--some deadly in their tendencies, some harmless. Amongst
these last was the Ovidian form of connecting the unseen powers moving
in nature with human sympathies of love or reverence. The legends of
this kind are universal and endless. No land, the most austere in its
Protestantism, but has adopted these superstitions: and everywhere by
those even who reject them they are entertained with some degree of
affectionate respect. That the ass, which in its very degradation still
retains an under-power of sublimity, [Footnote: '_An under-power of
sublimity_.'--Everybody knows that Homer compared the Telamonian Ajax,
in a moment of heroic endurance, to an ass. This, however, was only
under a momentary glance from a peculiar angle of the case. But the
Mahometan, too solemn, and also perhaps too stupid to catch the fanciful
colors of things, absolutely by choice, under the Bagdad Caliphate,
decorated a most favorite hero with the title of the _Ass_--which title
is repeated with veneration to this day. The wild ass is one of the few
animals which has the reputation of never flying from an enemy.] or of
sublime suggestion through its ancient connection with the wilderness,
with the Orient, with Jerusalem, should have been honored amongst
all animals, by the visible impression upon its back of Christian
symbols--seems reasonable even to the infantine understanding when made
acquainted with its meekness, its patience, its suffering life, and
its association with the founder of Christianity in one great triumphal
solemnity. The very man who brutally abuses it, and feels a hardhearted
contempt for its misery and its submission, has a semi-conscious feeling
that the same qualities were possibly those which recommended it to a
distinction, [Footnote: '_Which recommended it to a distinction_.'--It
might be objected that the Oriental ass was often a superb animal; that
it is spoken of prophetically as such; and that historically the Syrian
ass is made known to us as having been used in the prosperous ages
of Judea for the riding of princes. But this is no objection. Those
circumstances in the history of the ass were requisite to establish its
symbolic propriety in a great symbolic pageant of triumph. Whilst, on
the other hand, the individual animal, there is good reason to think,
was marked by all the qualities of the general race as a suffering and
unoffending tribe in the animal creation. The asses on which princes
rode were of a separate color, of a peculiar breed, and improved, like
the English racer, by continual care.] when all things were valued
upon a scale inverse to that of the world. Certain it is, that in all
Christian lands the legend about the ass is current amongst the rural
population. The haddock, again, amongst marine animals, is supposed,
throughout all maritime Europe, to be a privileged fish; even in austere
Scotland, every child can point out the impression of St. Peter's
thumb, by which from age to age it is distinguished from fishes having
otherwise an external resemblance. All domesticated cattle, having the
benefit of man's guardianship and care, are believed throughout England
and Germany to go down upon their knees at one particular moment of
Christmas eve, when the fields are covered with darkness, when no eye
looks down but that of God, and when the exact anniversary hour
revolves of the angelic song, once rolling over the fields and flocks
of Palestine. [Footnote: Mahometanism, which everywhere pillages
Christianity, cannot but have its own face at times glorified by its
stolen jewels. This solemn hour of jubilation, gathering even the brutal
natures into its fold, recalls accordingly the Mahometan legend (which
the reader may remember is one of those incorporated into Southey's
_Thalaba_) of a great hour revolving once in every year, during which
the gates of Paradise were thrown open to their utmost extent, and gales
of happiness issued forth upon the total family of man.] The Glastonbury
Thorn is a more local superstition; but at one time the legend was as
widely diffused as that of Loretto, with the angelic translation of
its sanctities: on Christmas morning, it was devoutly believed by all
Christendom, that this holy thorn put forth its annual blossoms. And
with respect to the aspen tree, which Mrs. Hemans very naturally mistook
for a Welsh legend, having first heard it in Denbighshire, the popular
faith is universal--that it shivers mystically in sympathy with the
horror of that mother tree in Palestine which was compelled to furnish
materials for the cross. Neither would it in this case be any objection,
if a passage were produced from Solinus or Theophrastus, implying that
the aspen tree had always shivered--for the tree might presumably be
penetrated by remote presentiments, as well as by remote remembrances.
In so vast a case the obscure sympathy should stretch, Janus-like, each
way. And an objection of the same kind to the rainbow, considered as
the sign or seal by which God attested his covenant in bar of all future
deluges, may be parried in something of the same way. It was not then
first created--true: but it was then first selected by preference,
amongst a multitude of natural signs as yet unappropriated, and then
first charged with the new function of a message and a ratification to
man. Pretty much the same theory, that is, the same way of accounting
for the natural existence without disturbing the supernatural functions,
may be applied to the great constellation of the other hemisphere,
called the Southern Cross. It is viewed popularly in South America, and
the southern parts of our northern hemisphere, as the great banner, or
gonfalon, held aloft by Heaven before the Spanish heralds of the true
faith in 1492. To that superstitious and ignorant race it costs not an
effort to suppose, that by some synchronizing miracle, the constellation
had been then specially called into existence at the very moment when
the first Christian procession, bearing a cross in their arms, solemnly
stepped on shore from the vessels of Christendom. We Protestants know
better: we understand the impossibility of supposing such a narrow and
local reference in orbs, so transcendently vast as those composing the
constellation--orbs removed from each other by such unvoyageable worlds
of space, and having, in fact, no real reference to each other more
than to any other heavenly bodies whatsoever. The unity of synthesis, by
which they are composed into one figure of a cross, we know to be a mere
accidental result from an arbitrary synthesis of human fancy. Take such
and such stars, compose them into letters, and they will spell such a
word. But still it was our own choice--a synthesis of our own fancy,
originally to combine them in this way. They might be divided from
each other, and otherwise combined. All this is true: and yet, as
the combination does spontaneously offer itself [Footnote: '_Does
spontaneously offer itself._'--Heber (Bishop of Calcutta) complains that
this constellation is not composed of stars answering his expectation in
point of magnitude. But he admits that the dark barren space around it
gives to this inferior magnitude a very advantageous relief.] to every
eye, as the glorious cross does really glitter for ever through the
silent hours of a vast hemisphere, even they who are not superstitious,
may willingly yield to the belief--that, as the rainbow was laid in
the very elements and necessities of nature, yet still bearing a
pre-dedication to a service which would not be called for until many
ages had passed, so also the mysterious cipher of man's imperishable
hopes may have been entwined and enwreathed with the starry heavens from
their earliest creation, as a prefiguration--as a silent heraldry of
hope through one period, and as a heraldry of gratitude through the

All these cases which we have been rehearsing, taking them in the
fullest literality, agree in this general point of union--they are all
silent incarnations of miraculous power--miracles, supposing them to
have been such originally, locked up and embodied in the regular
course of nature, just as we see lineaments of faces and of forms in
petrifactions, in variegated marbles, in spars, or in rocky strata,
which our fancy interprets as once having been real human existences;
but which are now confounded with the substance of a mineral product.
Even those who are most superstitious, therefore, look upon cases of
this order as occupying a midway station between the physical and the
hyperphysical, between the regular course of nature and the providential
interruption of that course. The stream of the miraculous is here
confluent with the stream of the natural. By such legends the credulous
man finds his superstition but little nursed; the incredulous finds his
philosophy but little revolted. Both alike will be willing to admit, for
instance, that the apparent act of reverential thanksgiving, in certain
birds, when drinking, is caused and supported by a physiological
arrangement; and yet, perhaps, both alike would bend so far to the
legendary faith as to allow a child to believe, and would perceive a
pure childlike beauty in believing, that the bird was thus rendering a
homage of deep thankfulness to the universal Father, who watches for
the safety of sparrows, and sends his rain upon the just and upon the
unjust. In short, the faith in this order of the physico-miraculous
is open alike to the sceptical and the non-sceptical: it is touched
superficially with the coloring of superstition, with its tenderness,
its humility, its thankfulness, its awe; but, on the other hand, it is
not therefore tainted with the coarseness, with the silliness, with the
credulity of superstition. Such a faith reposes upon the universal
signs diffused through nature, and blends with the mysterious of natural
grandeurs wherever found--with the mysterious of the starry heavens,
with the mysterious of music, and with that infinite form of the
mysterious for man's dimmest misgivings--

  'Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns.'

But, from this earliest note in the ascending scale of superstitious
faith, let us pass to a more alarming key. This first, which we have
styled (in equity as well as for distinction) the _Ovidian_, is too
ærial, too allegoric, almost to be susceptible of much terror. It is the
mere _fancy_, in a mood half-playful, half-tender, which submits to the
belief. It is the feeling, the sentiment, which creates the faith; not
the faith which creates the feeling. And thus far we see that modern
feeling and Christian feeling has been to the full as operative as any
that is peculiar to paganism; judging by the Romish _Legenda_, very
much more so. The Ovidian illustrations, under a false superstition, are
entitled to give the designation, as being the first, the earliest, but
not at all as the richest. Besides that, Ovid's illustrations emanated
often from himself individually, not from the popular mind of his
country; ours of the same classification uniformly repose on large
popular traditions from the whole of Christian antiquity. These again
are agencies of the supernatural which can never have a private or
personal application; they belong to all mankind and to all generations.
But the next in order are more solemn; they become terrific by becoming
personal. These comprehend all that vast body of the marvellous which is
expressed by the word _Ominous_. On this head, as dividing itself into
the ancient and modern, we will speak next.

Everybody is aware of the deep emphasis which the Pagans laid upon words
and upon names, under this aspect of the ominous. The name of several
places was formally changed by the Roman government, solely with a view
to that contagion of evil which was thought to lurk in the syllables,
if taken significantly. Thus, the town of Maleventum, (Ill-come, as one
might render it,) had its name changed by the Romans to Beneventum, (or
Welcome.) _Epidamnum_ again, the Grecian Calais, corresponding to the
Roman Dover of Brundusium, was a name that would have startled the
stoutest-hearted Roman 'from his propriety.' Had he suffered this name
to escape him inadvertently, his spirits would have forsaken him--he
would have pined away under a certainty of misfortune, like a poor
Negro of Koromantyn who is the victim of Obi.[Footnote: '_The victim
of Obi._'--It seems worthy of notice, that this magical fascination is
generally called Obi, and the magicians Obeah men, throughout Guinea,
Negroland, &c.; whilst the Hebrew or Syriac word for the rites
of necromancy, was _Ob_ or _Obh_, at least when ventriloquism was
concerned.] As a Greek word, which it was, the name imported no ill; but
for a Roman to say _Ibo Epidamnum_, was in effect saying, though in a
hybrid dialect, half-Greek half-Roman, 'I will go to ruin.' The name
was therefore changed to Dyrrachium; a substitution which quieted more
anxieties in Roman hearts than the erection of a light-house or the
deepening of the harbor mouth. A case equally strong, to take one out of
many hundreds that have come down to us, is reported by Livy. There was
an officer in a Roman legion, at some period of the Republic, who bore
the name either of Atrius Umber or Umbrius Ater: and this man being
ordered on some expedition, the soldiers refused to follow him. They
did right. We remember that Mr. Coleridge used facetiously to call
the well-known sister of Dr. Aikin, Mrs. Barbauld, 'that pleonasm of
nakedness'--the idea of nakedness being reduplicated and reverberated
in the _bare_ and the _bald_. This Atrius Umber might be called 'that
pleonasm of darkness;' and one might say to him, in the words of
Othello, 'What needs this iteration?' To serve under the Gloomy was
enough to darken the spirit of hope; but to serve under the Black Gloomy
was really rushing upon destruction. Yet it will be alleged that Captain
Death was a most favorite and heroic leader in the English navy; and
that in our own times, Admiral Coffin, though an American by birth, has
not been unpopular in the same service. This is true: and all that can
be said is, that these names were two-edged swords, which might be made
to tell against the enemy as well as against friends. And possibly the
Roman centurion might have turned his name to the same account, had he
possessed the great Dictator's presence of mind; for he, when landing in
Africa, having happened to stumble--an omen of the worst character, in
Roman estimation--took out its sting by following up his own oversight,
as if it had been intentional, falling to the ground, kissing it, and
ejaculating that in this way he appropriated the soil.

Omens of every class were certainly regarded, in ancient Rome, with a
reverence that can hardly be surpassed. But yet, with respect to these
omens derived from names, it is certain that our modern times have more
memorable examples on record. Out of a large number which occur to us,
we will cite two:--The present King of the French bore in his boyish
days a title which he would not have borne, but for an omen of bad
augury attached to his proper title. He was called the Duc de Chartres
before the Revolution, whereas his proper title was Duc de Valois. And
the origin of the change was this:--The Regent's father had been the
sole brother of Louis Quatorze. He married for his first wife our
English princess Henrietta, the sister of Charles II., (and through her
daughter, by the way, it is that the house of Savoy, _i.e._ of Sardinia,
has pretensions to the English throne.) This unhappy lady, it is too
well established, was poisoned. Voltaire, amongst many others, has
affected to doubt the fact; for which in his time there might be some
excuse. But since then better evidences have placed the matter beyond
all question. We now know both the fact, and the how, and the why. The
Duke, who probably was no party to the murder of his young wife, though
otherwise on bad terms with her, married for his second wife a coarse
German princess, homely in every sense, and a singular contrast to the
elegant creature whom he had lost. She was a daughter of the Bavarian
Elector; ill-tempered by her own confession, self-willed, and a plain
speaker to excess; but otherwise a woman of honest German principles.
Unhappy she was through a long life; unhappy through the monotony as
well as the malicious intrigues of the French court; and so much so,
that she did her best (though without effect) to prevent her Bavarian
niece from becoming dauphiness. She acquits her husband, however, in
the memoirs which she left behind, of any intentional share in her
unhappiness; she describes him constantly as a well-disposed prince.
But whether it were, that often walking in the dusk through the numerous
apartments of that vast mansion which her husband had so much enlarged,
naturally she turned her thoughts to the injured lady who had presided
there before herself; or whether it arose from the inevitable gloom
which broods continually over mighty palaces, so much is known for
certain, that one evening, in the twilight, she met, at a remote quarter
of the reception-rooms, something that she conceived to be a spectre.
What she fancied to have passed on that occasion, was never known except
to her nearest friends; and if she made any explanations in her memoirs,
the editor has thought fit to suppress them. She mentions only, that
in consequence of some ominous circumstances relating to the title of
_Valois_, which was the proper second title of the Orleans family, her
son, the Regent, had assumed in his boyhood that of Duc de Chartres. His
elder brother was dead, so that the superior title was open to him; but,
in consequence of those mysterious omens, whatever they might be, which
occasioned much whispering at the time, the great title of Valois was
laid aside for ever as of bad augury; nor has it ever been resumed
through a century and a half that have followed that mysterious warning;
nor will it be resumed unless the numerous children of the present
Orleans branch should find themselves distressed for ancient titles;
which is not likely, since they enjoy the honors of the elder house, and
are now the _children of France_ in a technical sense.

Here we have a great European case of state omens in the eldest of
Christian houses. The next which we shall cite is equally a state case,
and carries its public verification along with itself. In the spring of
1799, when Napoleon was lying before Acre, he became anxious for news
from Upper Egypt, whither he had despatched Dessaix in pursuit of a
distinguished Mameluke leader. This was in the middle of May. Not many
days after, a courier arrived with favorable despatches--favorable in
the main, but reporting one tragical occurrence on a small scale
that, to Napoleon, for a superstitious reason, outweighed the public
prosperity. A _djerme_, or Nile boat of the largest class, having on
board a large party of troops and of wounded men, together with most
of a regimental band, had run ashore at the village of Benouth. No
case could be more hopeless. The neighboring Arabs were of the Yambo
tribe--of all Arabs the most ferocious. These Arabs and the Fellahs
(whom, by the way, many of our countrymen are so ready to represent
as friendly to the French and hostile to ourselves,) had taken the
opportunity of attacking the vessel. The engagement was obstinate; but
at length the inevitable catastrophe could be delayed no longer. The
commander, an Italian named Morandi, was a brave man; any fate appeared
better than that which awaited him from an enemy so malignant. He set
fire to the powder magazine; the vessel blew up; Morandi perished in
the Nile; and all of less nerve, who had previously reached the shore in
safety, were put to death to the very last man, with cruelties the
most detestable, by their inhuman enemies. For all this Napoleon cared
little; but one solitary fact there was in the report which struck him
with consternation. This ill-fated _djerme_--what was it called? It was
called _L'Italie_; and in the name of the vessel Napoleon read an augury
of the fate which had befallen the Italian territory. Considered as a
dependency of France, he felt certain that Italy was lost; and Napoleon
was inconsolable. But what possible connection, it was asked, can exist
between this vessel on the Nile and a remote peninsula of Southern
Europe? 'No matter,' replied Napoleon; 'my presentiments never deceive
me. You will see that all is ruined. I am satisfied that my Italy, my
conquest, is lost to France!' So, indeed, it was. All European news had
long been intercepted by the English cruisers; but immediately after the
battle with the Vizier in July 1799, an English admiral first informed
the French army of Egypt that Massena and others had lost all that
Bonaparte had won in 1796. But it is a strange illustration of human
blindness, that this very subject of Napoleon's lamentation--this very
campaign of 1799--it was, with its blunders and its long equipage of
disasters, that paved the way for his own elevation to the Consulship,
just seven calendar months from the receipt of that Egyptian despatch;
since most certainly, in the struggle of Brumaire 1799, doubtful and
critical through every stage, it was the pointed contrast between _his_
Italian campaigns and those of his successors which gave effect to
Napoleon's pretensions with the political combatants, and which procured
them a ratification amongst the people. The loss of Italy was essential
to the full effect of Napoleon's previous conquest. That and the
imbecile characters of Napoleon's chief military opponents were the true
keys to the great revolution of Brumaire. The stone which he rejected
became the keystone of the arch. So that, after all, he valued the omen
falsely; though the very next news from Europe, courteously communicated
by his English enemies, showed that he had interpreted its meaning

These omens, derived from names, are therefore common to the ancient and
the modern world. But perhaps, in strict logic, they ought to have been
classed as one subdivision or variety under a much larger head, viz.
words generally, no matter whether proper names or appellatives, as
operative powers and agencies, having, that is to say, a charmed power
against some party concerned from the moment that they leave the lips.

Homer describes prayers as having a separate life, rising buoyantly upon
wings, and making their way upwards to the throne of Jove. Such, but in
a sense gloomy and terrific, is the force ascribed under a widespread
superstition, ancient and modern, to words uttered on critical
occasions; or to words uttered at any time, which point to critical
occasions. Hence the doctrine of _euphaemismos_, the necessity of
abstaining from strong words or direct words in expressing fatal
contingencies. It was shocking, at all times of paganism, to say of a
third person--'If he should die;' or to suppose the case that he might
be murdered. The very word _death_ was consecrated and forbidden.
_Si quiddam humanum passus fuerit_ was the extreme form to which men
advanced in such cases. And this scrupulous feeling, originally founded
on the supposed efficacy of words, prevails to this day. It is a feeling
undoubtedly supported by good taste, which strongly impresses upon us
all the discordant tone of all impassioned subjects, (death, religion,
&c.,) with the common key of ordinary conversation. But good taste is
not in itself sufficient to account for a scrupulousness so general and
so austere. In the lowest classes there is a shuddering recoil still
felt from uttering coarsely and roundly the anticipation of a
person's death. Suppose a child, heir to some estate, the subject of
conversation--the hypothesis of his death is put cautiously, under such
forms as, 'If anything but good should happen;' 'if any change should
occur;' 'if any of us should chance to miscarry;' and so forth. Always a
modified expression is sought--always an indirect one. And this timidity
arises under the old superstition still lingering amongst men, like
that ancient awe, alluded to by Wordsworth, for the sea and its deep
secrets--feelings that have not, no, nor ever will, utterly decay. No
excess of nautical skill will ever perfectly disenchant the great abyss
from its terrors--no progressive knowledge will ever medicine that dread
misgiving of a mysterious and pathless power given to words of a certain
import, or uttered in certain situations, by a parent, to persecuting or
insulting children; by the victim of horrible oppression, when laboring
in final agonies; and by others, whether cursing or blessing, who stand
central to great passions, to great interests, or to great perplexities.

And here, by way of parenthesis, we may stop to explain the force of
that expression, so common in Scripture, '_Thou hast said it._' It is an
answer often adopted by our Saviour; and the meaning we hold to be this:
Many forms in eastern idioms, as well as in the Greek occasionally,
though meant _interrogatively_, are of a nature to convey a direct
categorical _affirmation_, unless as their meaning is modified by
the cadence and intonation. _Art thou_, detached from this vocal and
accentual modification, is equivalent to _thou art_. Nay, even apart
from this accident, the popular belief authorized the notion, that
simply to have uttered any great thesis, though unconsciously--simply to
have united verbally any two great ideas, though for a purpose the most
different or even opposite, had the mysterious power of realizing them
in act. An exclamation, though in the purest spirit of sport, to a
boy, '_You shall be our imperator_,' was many times supposed to be
the forerunner and fatal mandate for the boy's elevation. Such words
executed themselves. To connect, though but for denial or for mockery,
the ideas of Jesus and the Messiah, furnished an augury that eventually
they would be found to coincide, and to have their coincidence admitted.
It was an _argumentum ad hominem_, and drawn from a popular faith.

But a modern reader will object the want of an accompanying design or
serious meaning on the part of him who utters the words--he never meant
his words to be taken seriously--nay, his purpose was the very opposite.
True: and precisely that is the reason why his words are likely to
operate effectually, and why they should be feared. Here lies the
critical point which most of all distinguishes this faith. Words
took effect, not merely in default of a serious use, but exactly in
consequence of that default. It was the chance word, the stray word,
the word uttered in jest, or in trifling, or in scorn, or unconsciously,
which took effect; whilst ten thousand words, uttered with purpose
and deliberation, were sure to prove inert. One case will illustrate
this:--Alexander of Macedon, in the outset of his great expedition,
consulted the oracle at Delphi. For the sake of his army, had he
been even without personal faith, he desired to have his enterprise
consecrated. No persuasions, however, would move the priestess to enter
upon her painful and agitating duties for the sake of obtaining the
regular answer of the god. Wearied with this, Alexander seized the great
lady by the arm, and using as much violence as was becoming to the two
characters--of a great prince acting and a great priestess suffering--he
pushed her gently backwards to the tripod on which, in her professional
character, she was to seat herself. Upon this, in the hurry and
excitement of the moment, the priestess exclaimed, _O pai, anixaitos
ei--O son, thou art irresistible_; never adverting for an instant to his
martial purposes, but simply to his personal importunities. The person
whom she thought of as incapable of resistance, was herself, and all she
meant _consciously_ was--O son, I can refuse nothing to one so earnest.
But mark what followed: Alexander desisted at once--he asked for no
further oracle--he refused it, and exclaimed joyously:--'Now then, noble
priestess, farewell; I have the oracle--I have your answer, and better
than any which you could deliver from the tripod. I am invincible--so
you have declared, you cannot revoke it. True, you thought not of
Persia--you thought only of my importunity. But that very fact is what
ratifies your answer. In its blindness I recognise its truth. An oracle
from a god might be distorted by political ministers of the god, as
in time past too often has been suspected. The oracle has been said to
_Medize_, and in my own father's time to _Philippize_. But an oracle
delivered unconsciously, indirectly, blindly, that is the oracle
which cannot deceive.' Such was the all-famous oracle which Alexander
accepted--such was the oracle on which he and his army reposing went
forth 'conquering and to conquer.'

Exactly on this principle do the Turks act, in putting so high a value
on the words of idiots. Enlightened Christians have often wondered at
their allowing any weight to people bereft of understanding. But that is
the very reason for allowing them weight: that very defect it is which
makes them capable of being organs for conveying words from higher
intelligences. A fine human intelligence cannot be a passive
instrument--it cannot be a mere tube for conveying the words of
inspiration: such an intelligence will intermingle ideas of its own, or
otherwise modify what is given, and pollute what is sacred.

It is also on this principle that the whole practice and doctrine of
Sortilegy rest. Let us confine ourselves to that mode of sortilegy which
is conducted by throwing open privileged books at random, leaving to
chance the page and the particular line on which the oracular functions
are thrown. The books used have varied with the caprice or the error of
ages. Once the Hebrew Scriptures had the preference. Probably they were
laid aside, not because the reverence for their authority decayed,
but because it increased. In later times Virgil has been the favorite.
Considering the very limited range of ideas to which Virgil was tied
by his theme--a colonizing expedition in a barbarous age, no worse book
could have been selected: [Footnote: '_No worse book could have been
selected._'--The probable reason for making so unhappy a choice seems
to have been that Virgil, in the middle ages, had the character of
a necromancer, a diviner, &c. This we all know from Dante. Now, the
original reason for this strange translation of character and functions
we hold to have arisen from the circumstance of his maternal grandfather
having borne the name of _Magus_. People in those ages held that a
powerful enchanter, exorciser, &c., must have a magician amongst his
_cognati_; the power must run in the blood, which on the maternal side
could be undeniably ascertained. Under this preconception, they took
Magus not for a proper name, but for a professional designation. Amongst
many illustrations of the magical character sustained by Virgil in the
middle ages, we may mention that a writer, about the year 1200, or the
era of our Robin Hood, published by Montfaucon, and cited by Gibbon in
his last volume, says of Virgil,--that '_Captus a Romanis invisibiliter
exiit, ivitque Neapopolim_.'] so little indeed does the AEneid exhibit
of human life in its multiformity, that much tampering with the text
is required to bring real cases of human interest and real situations
within the scope of any Virgilian sentence, though aided by the utmost
latitude of accommodation. A king, a soldier, a sailor, &c., might look
for correspondences to their own circumstances; but not many others.
Accordingly, everybody remembers the remarkable answer which Charles I.
received at Oxford from this Virgilian oracle, about the opening of the
Parliamentary war. But from this limitation in the range of ideas it was
that others, and very pious people too, have not thought it profane to
resume the old reliance on the Scriptures. No case, indeed, can try
so severely, or put upon record so conspicuously, this indestructible
propensity for seeking light out of darkness--this thirst for looking
into the future by the aid of dice, real or figurative, as the fact
of men eminent for piety having yielded to the temptation. We give one
instance--the instance of a person who, in _practical_ theology, has
been, perhaps, more popular than any other in any church. Dr. Doddridge,
in his earlier days, was in a dilemma both of conscience and of taste
as to the election he should make between two situations, one in
possession, both at his command. He was settled at Harborough,
in Leicestershire, and was 'pleasing himself with the view of a
continuance' in that situation. True, he had received an invitation to
Northampton; but the reasons against complying seemed so strong, that
nothing was wanting but the civility of going over to Northampton, and
making an apologetic farewell. On the last Sunday in November of the
year 1729, the doctor went and preached a sermon in conformity with
those purposes. 'But,' says he, 'on the morning of that day an incident
happened, which affected me greatly.' On the night previous, it seems,
he had been urged very importunately by his Northampton friends to
undertake the vacant office. Much personal kindness had concurred with
this public importunity: the good doctor was affected; he had prayed
fervently, alleging in his prayer, as the reason which chiefly weighed
with him to reject the offer, that it was far beyond his forces,
and chiefly because he was too young [Footnote: '_Because he was too
young_'--Dr. Doddridge was born in the summer of 1702; consequently
he was at this era of his life about twenty-seven years old, and
consequently not so obviously entitled to the excuse of youth. But he
pleaded his youth, not with a view to the exertions required, but to
the _auctoritas_ and responsibilities of the situation.] and had no
assistant. He goes on thus:--'As soon as ever this address' (meaning
the prayer) 'was ended, I passed through a room of the house in which
I lodged, where a child was reading to his mother, and the only words
I heard distinctly were these, _And as thy days, so shall thy strength
be_.' This singular coincidence between his own difficulty and a
scriptural line caught at random in passing hastily through a room, (but
observe, a line insulated from the context, and placed in high relief
to his ear,) shook his resolution. Accident co-operated; a promise to
be fulfilled at Northampton, in a certain contingency, fell due at the
instant; the doctor was detained, this detention gave time for further
representations; new motives arose, old difficulties were removed, and
finally the doctor saw, in all this succession of steps, the first of
which, however, lay in the _Sortes Biblicæ_, clear indications of a
providential guidance. With that conviction he took up his abode at
Northampton, and remained there for the next thirty-one years, until he
left it for his grave at Lisbon; in fact, he passed at Northampton the
whole of his public life. It must, therefore, be allowed to stand upon
the records of sortilegy, that in the main direction of his life--not,
indeed, as to its spirit, but as to its form and local connections--a
Protestant divine of much merit, and chiefly in what regards practice,
and of the class most opposed to superstition, took his determining
impulse from a variety of the _Sortes Virgilianæ_.

This variety was known in early times to the Jews--as early, indeed, as
the era of the Grecian Pericles, if we are to believe the Talmud. It
is known familiarly to this day amongst Polish Jews, and is called
_Bathcol_, or the _daughter of a voice_; the meaning of which
appellation is this:--The _Urim and Thummim_, or oracle in the
breast-plate of the high priest, spoke directly from God. It was,
therefore, the original or mother-voice. But about the time of Pericles,
that is, exactly one hundred years before the time of Alexander the
Great, the light of prophecy was quenched in Malachi or Haggai; and
the oracular jewels in the breast-plate became simultaneously dim.
Henceforwards the mother-voice was heard no longer: but to this
succeeded an imperfect or daughter-voice, (_Bathcol_,) which lay in the
first words happening to arrest the attention at a moment of perplexity.
An illustration, which has been often quoted from the Talmud, is to the
following effect:--Rabbi Tochanan, and Rabbi Simeon Ben Lachish, were
anxious about a friend, Rabbi Samuel, six hundred miles distant on
the Euphrates. Whilst talking earnestly together on this subject in
Palestine, they passed a school; they paused to listen: it was a child
reading the first book of Samuel; and the words which they caught were
these--_And Samuel died_. These words they received as a _Bath-col_: and
the next horseman from the Euphrates brought word accordingly that
Rabbi Samuel had been gathered to his fathers at some station on the

Here is the very same case, the same _Bath-col_ substantially, which
we have cited from Orton's _Life of Doddridge_. And Du Cange himself
notices, in his Glossary, the relation which this bore to the Pagan
_Sortes_. 'It was,' says he, 'a fantastical way of divination, invented
by the Jews, not unlike the _Sortes Virgilianæ_ of the heathens. For, as
with them the first words they happened to dip into in the works of that
poet were a kind of oracle whereby they predicted future events,--so,
with the Jews, when they appealed to _Bath-col_, the first words they
heard from any one's mouth were looked upon as a voice from Heaven
directing them in the matter they inquired about.'

If the reader imagines that this ancient form of the practical
miraculous is at all gone out of use, even the example of Dr. Doddridge
may satisfy him to the contrary. Such an example was sure to authorize a
large imitation. But, even apart from that, the superstition is common.
The records of conversion amongst felons and other ignorant persons
might be cited by hundreds upon hundreds to prove that no practice is
more common than that of trying the spiritual fate, and abiding by the
import of any passage in the Scriptures which may first present itself
to the eye. Cowper, the poet, has recorded a case of this sort in his
own experience. It is one to which all the unhappy are prone. But a mode
of questioning the oracles of darkness, far more childish, and, under
some shape or other, equally common amongst those who are prompted by
mere vacancy of mind, without that determination to sacred fountains
which is impressed by misery, may be found in the following extravagant
silliness of Rousseau, which we give in his own words--a case for which
he admits that he himself would have _shut up_ any other man (meaning in
a lunatic hospital) whom he had seen practising the same absurdities:--

'Au milieu de mes études et d'une vie innocente autant qu'on la puisse
mener, et malgré tout ce qu'on m'avoit pu dire, la peur de l'Enfer
m'agitoit encore. Souvent je me demandois--En quel état suis-je? Si je
mourrois à l'instant même, _serois-je damné_? Selon mes Jansénistes, [he
had been reading the books of the Port Royal,] la chose est indubitable:
mais, selon ma conscience, il me paroissoit que non. Toujours craintif
et flottant dans cette cruelle incertitude, j'avois recours (pour en
sortir) aux expédients les plus risibles, et pour lesquels je ferois
volontiers enfermer un homme si je lui en voyois faire autant. ... Un
jour, rêvant à ce triste sujet, je m'exerçois machinalement à lancer
les pierres contre les troncs des arbres; et cela avec mon addresse
ordinaire, c'est-à-dire sans presque jamais en toucher aucun. Tout au
milieu de ce bel exercise, je m'avisai de faire une espèce de pronostic
pour calmer mon inquiétude. Je me dis--je m'en vais jeter cette pierre
contre l'arbre qui est vis-à-vis de moi: si je le touche, signe de
salut: si je le manque, signe de damnation. Tout en disant ainsi, je
jette ma pierre d'une main tremblante, et avec un horrible battement
de coeur, mais si heureusement qu'elle va frapper au beau-milieu de
l'arbre: ce qui véritablement n'étoit pas difficile: car j'avois eu soin
de le choisir fort gros et fort près. _Depuis lors je n'ai plus doubté
de mon salut._ Je ne sais, en me rappelant ce trait, si je dois rire ou
gémir sur moimême.'--_Les Confessions, Partie I. Livre VI._

Now, really, if Rousseau thought fit to try such tremendous appeals
by taking 'a shy' at any random object, he should have governed his
sortilegy (for such it may be called) with something more like equity.
Fair play is a jewel: and in such a case, a man is supposed to play
against an adverse party hid in darkness. To shy at a cow within six
feet distance gives no chance at all to his dark antagonist. A pigeon
rising from a trap at a suitable distance might be thought a _sincere_
staking of the interest at issue: but, as to the massy stem of a tree
'fort gros et fort près'--the sarcasm of a Roman emperor applies, that
to miss under such conditions implied an original genius for stupidity,
and to hit was no trial of the case. After all, the sentimentalist had
youth to plead in apology for this extravagance. He was hypochondriacal;
he was in solitude; and he was possessed by gloomy imaginations from the
works of a society in the highest public credit. But most readers will
be aware of similar appeals to the mysteries of Providence, made in
public by illustrious sectarians, speaking from the solemn station of a
pulpit. We forbear to quote cases of this nature, though really existing
in print, because we feel that the blasphemy of such anecdotes is more
revolting and more painful to pious minds than the absurdity is amusing.
Meantime it must not be forgotten, that the principle concerned,
though it may happen to disgust men when associated with ludicrous
circumstances, is, after all, the very same which has latently governed
very many modes of ordeal, or judicial inquiry; and which has been
adopted, blindly, as a moral rule, or canon, equally by the blindest of
the Pagans, the most fanatical of the Jews, and the most enlightened of
the Christians. It proceeds upon the assumption that man by his actions
puts a question to Heaven; and that Heaven answers by the event. Lucan,
in a well known passage, takes it for granted that the cause of Cæsar
had the approbation of the gods. And why? Simply from the event. It was
notoriously the triumphant cause. It was victorious, (_victrix_ causa
Deis placuit; sed _victa_ Catoni.) It was the '_victrix_ causa;' and,
_as_ such, simply because it was 'victrix,' it had a right in his eyes
to postulate the divine favor as mere matter of necessary interference:
whilst, on the other hand, the _victa causa_, though it seemed to Lucan
sanctioned by human virtue in the person of Cato, stood unappealably
condemned. This mode of reasoning may strike the reader as merely Pagan.
Not at all. In England, at the close of the Parliamentary war, it was
generally argued--that Providence had decided the question against the
Royalists by the mere fact of the issue. Milton himself, with all his
high-toned morality, uses this argument as irrefragable: which is odd,
were it only on this account--that the issue ought necessarily to have
been held for a time as merely hypothetic, and liable to be set aside
by possible counter-issues through one generation at the least. But
the capital argument against such doctrine is to be found in the
New Testament. Strange that Milton should overlook, and strange that
moralists in general have overlooked, the sudden arrest given to this
dangerous but most prevalent mode of reasoning by the Founder of our
faith. He first, he last, taught to his astonished disciples the new
truth--at that time the astounding truth--that no relation exists
between the immediate practical events of things on the one side, and
divine sentences on the other. There was no presumption, he teaches
them, against a man's favor with God, or that of his parents, because he
happened to be afflicted to extremity with bodily disease. There was no
shadow of an argument for believing a party of men criminal objects
of heavenly wrath because upon them, by fatal preference, a tower had
fallen, and because _their_ bodies were exclusively mangled. How little
can it be said that Christianity has yet developed the fulness of its
power, when kings and senates so recently acted under a total oblivion
of this great though novel Christian doctrine, and would do so still,
were it not that religious arguments have been banished by the progress
of manners from the field of political discussion.

But, quitting this province of the ominous, where it is made the object
of a direct personal inquest, whether by private or by national trials,
or the sortilegy of events, let us throw our eyes over the broader field
of omens, as they offer themselves spontaneously to those who do not
seek, or would even willingly evade them. There are few of these,
perhaps none, which are not universal in their authority, though every
land in turn fancies them (like its proverbs) of local prescription and
origin. The death-watch extends from England to Cashmere, and across
India diagonally to the remotest nook of Bengal, over a three thousand
miles' distance from the entrance of the Indian Punjaub. A hare crossing
a man's path on starting in the morning, has been held in all countries
alike to prognosticate evil in the course of that day. Thus, in the
_Confessions of a Thug_, (which is partially built on a real judicial
document, and everywhere conforms to the usages of Hindostan,) the
hero of the horrid narrative [Footnote: '_The hero of the horrid
narrative_.'--Horrid it certainly is; and one incident in every case
gives a demoniacal air of coolness to the hellish atrocities, viz the
regular forwarding of the _bheels_, or grave-diggers. But else the tale
tends too much to monotony; and for a reason which ought to have checked
the author in carrying on the work to three volumes, namely, that
although there is much dramatic variety in the circumstances of the
several cases, there is none in the catastrophes. The brave man and the
coward, the erect spirit fighting to the last, and the poor
creature that despairs from the first,--all are confounded in one
undistinguishing end by sudden strangulation. This was the original
defect of the plan. The sudden surprise, and the scientific noosing as
with a Chilian _lasso_, constituted in fact a main feature of Thuggee.
But still, the gradual theatrical arrangement of each Thug severally by
the side of a victim, must often have roused violent suspicion, and that
in time to intercept the suddenness of the murder. Now, for the sake
of the dramatic effect, this interception ought more often to have been
introduced, else the murders are but so many blind surprises as if in
sleep.] charges some disaster of his own upon having neglected such an
omen of the morning. The same belief operated in Pagan Italy. The same
omen announced to Lord Lindsay's Arab attendants in the desert the
approach of some disaster, which partially happened in the morning. And
a Highlander of the 42d Regiment, in his printed memoirs, notices
the same harbinger of evil as having crossed his own path on a day of
personal disaster in Spain.

Birds are even more familiarly associated with such ominous warnings.
This chapter in the great volume of superstition was indeed cultivated
with unusual solicitude amongst the Pagans--_ornithomancy_ grew into an
elaborate science. But if every rule and distinction upon the number
and the position of birds, whether to the right or the left, had been
collected from our own village matrons amongst ourselves, it would
appear that no more of this Pagan science had gone to wreck than must
naturally follow the difference between a believing and a disbelieving
government. Magpies are still of awful authority in village life,
according to their number, &c.; for a striking illustration of which we
may refer the reader to Sir Walter Scott's _Demonology_, reported not
at second-hand, but from Sir Walter's personal communication with some
seafaring fellow-traveller in a stage-coach.

Among the ancient stories of the same class is one which we shall
repeat--having reference to that Herod Agrippa, grandson of Herod the
Great, before whom St. Paul made his famous apology at Cæsarea. This
Agrippa, overwhelmed by debts, had fled from Palestine to Rome in
the latter years of Tiberius. His mother's interest with the widow of
Germanicus procured him a special recommendation to her son Caligula.
Viewing this child and heir of the popular Germanicus as the rising sun,
Agrippa had been too free in his language. True, the uncle of Germanicus
was the reigning prince; but he was old, and breaking up. True, the
son of Germanicus was not yet on the throne; but he soon would be;
and Agrippa was rash enough to call the Emperor a _superannuated old
fellow_, and even to wish for his death. Sejanus was now dead and gone;
but there was no want of spies: and a certain Macro reported his words
to Tiberius. Agrippa was in consequence arrested; the Emperor himself
condescending to point out the noble Jew to the officer on duty. The
case was a gloomy one, if Tiberius should happen to survive much longer:
and the story of the omen proceeds thus:--'Now Agrippa stood in his
bonds before the Imperial palace, and in his affliction leaned against
a certain tree, upon the boughs of which it happened that a bird
had alighted which the Romans call _bubo_, or the owl. All this was
steadfastly observed by a German prisoner, who asked a soldier what
might be the name and offence of that man habited in purple. Being told
that the man's name was Agrippa, and that he was a Jew of high rank, who
had given a personal offence to the Emperor, the German asked permission
to go near and address him; which being granted, he spoke thus:--"This
disaster, I doubt not, young man, is trying to your heart; and
perhaps you will not believe me when I announce to you beforehand the
providential deliverance which is impending. However, this much I will
say--and for my sincerity let me appeal to my native gods, as well as
to the gods of this Rome, who have brought us both into trouble--that
no selfish objects prompt me to this revelation--for a revelation it
is--and to the following effect:--It is fated that you shall not long
remain in chains. Your deliverance will be speedy; you shall be raised
to the very highest rank and power; you shall be the object of as much
envy as now you are of pity; you shall retain your prosperity till
death; and you shall transmit that prosperity to your children.
But"--and there the German paused. Agrippa was agitated; the bystanders
were attentive; and after a time, the German, pointing solemnly to the
bird, proceeded thus:--"But this remember heedfully--that, when next you
see the bird which now perches above your head, you will have only five
days longer to live! This event will be surely accomplished by that same
mysterious god who has thought fit to send the bird as a warning sign;
and you, when you come to your glory, do not forget me that foreshadowed
it in your humiliation."' The story adds, that Agrippa affected to laugh
when the German concluded; after which it goes on to say, that in a few
weeks, being delivered by the death of Tiberius; being released from
prison by the very prince on whose account he had incurred the risk;
being raised to a tetrarchy, and afterwards to the kingdom of all Judea;
coming into all the prosperity which had been promised to him by the
German; and not losing any part of his interest at Rome through the
assassination of his patron Caligula--he began to look back respectfully
to the words of the German, and forwards with anxiety to the second
coming of the bird. Seven years of sunshine had now slipped away as
silently as a dream. A great festival, shows and vows, was on the point
of being celebrated in honor of Claudius Cæsar, at Strato's Tower,
otherwise called Cæsarea, the Roman metropolis of Palestine. Duty and
policy alike required that the king of the land should go down and unite
in this mode of religious homage to the emperor. He did so; and on the
second morning of the festival, by way of doing more conspicuous honor
to the great solemnity, he assumed a very sumptuous attire of silver
armor, burnished so highly as to throw back a dazzling glare from the
sun's morning beams upon the upturned eyes of the vast multitude around
him. Immediately from the sycophantish part of the crowd, of whom a
vast majority were Pagans, ascended a cry of glorification as to some
manifestation of Deity. Agrippa, gratified by this success of his new
apparel, and by this flattery, not unusual in the case of kings, had not
the firmness (though a Jew, and conscious of the wickedness, greater in
himself than in the heathen crowd,) to reject the blasphemous homage.
Voices of adoration continued to ascend; when suddenly, looking upward
to the vast awnings prepared for screening the audience from the noonday
heats, the king perceived the same ominous bird which he had seen at
Rome in the day of his affliction, seated quietly, and looking down upon
himself. In that same moment an icy pang shot through his intestines.
He was removed into the palace; and at the end of five days, completely
worn out by pain, Agrippa expired in the 54th year of his age, and the
seventh of his sovereign power.

Whether the bird, here described as an owl, was really such, may be
doubted, considering the narrow nomenclature of the Romans for all
zoological purposes, and the total indifference of the Roman mind to
all distinctions in natural history which are not upon the very largest
scale. We should much suspect that the bird was a magpie. Meantime,
speaking of ornithoscopy in relation to Jews, we remember another
story in that subdivision of the subject which it may be worth while
repeating; not merely on its own account, as wearing a fine oriental
air, but also for the correction which it suggests to a very common

In some period of Syrian warfare, a large military detachment was
entering at some point of Syria from the desert of the Euphrates. At
the head of the whole array rode two men of some distinction: one was an
augur of high reputation, the other was a Jew called Mosollam, a man
of admirable beauty, a matchless horseman, an unerring archer, and
accomplished in all martial arts. As they were now first coming within
enclosed grounds, after a long march in the wilderness, the augur was
most anxious to inaugurate the expedition by some considerable omen.
Watching anxiously, therefore, he soon saw a bird of splendid plumage
perching on a low wall. 'Halt!' he said to the advanced guard: and all
drew up in a line. At that moment of silence and expectation, Mosollam,
slightly turning himself in his saddle, drew his bow-string to his ear;
his Jewish hatred of Pagan auguries burned within him; his inevitable
shaft went right to its mark, and the beautiful bird fell dead. The
augur turned round in fury. But the Jew laughed at him. 'This bird, you
say, should have furnished us with omens of our future fortunes. But had
he known anything of his own, he would never have perched where he did,
or have come within the range of Mosollam's archery. How should that
bird know our destiny, who did not know that it was his own to be shot
by Mosollam the Jew?'

Now, this is a most common but a most erroneous way of arguing. In
a case of this kind, the bird was not supposed to have any conscious
acquaintance with futurity, either for his own benefit or that of
others. But even where such a consciousness may be supposed, as in the
case of oneiromancy, or prophecy by means of dreams, it must be
supposed limited, and the more limited in a personal sense as they are
illimitable in a sublime one. Who imagines that, because a Daniel or
Ezekiel foresaw the grand revolutions of the earth, therefore they must
or could have foreseen the little details of their own ordinary life?
And even descending from that perfect inspiration to the more doubtful
power of augury amongst the Pagans, (concerning which the most eminent
of theologians have held very opposite theories,) one thing is certain,
that, so long as we entertain such pretensions, or discuss them at all,
we must take them with the principle of those who professed such arts,
not with principles of our own arbitrary invention.

One example will make this clear:--There are in England [Footnote:
'_There are in England_'--Especially in Somersetshire, and for twenty
miles round Wrington, the birthplace of Locke. Nobody sinks for wells
without their advice. We ourselves knew an amiable and accomplished
Scottish family, who, at an estate called Belmadrothie, in memory of
a similar property in Ross shire, built a house in Somersetshire, and
resolved to find water without help from the jowser. But after sinking
to a greater depth than ever had been known before, and spending nearly
£200, they were finally obliged to consult the jowser, who found water
at once.] a class of men who practise the Pagan rhabdomancy in a limited
sense. They carry a rod or rhabdos (_rhabdos_) of willow: this they
hold horizontally; and by the bending of the rod towards the ground
they discover the favorable places for sinking wells; a matter of
considerable importance in a province so ill-watered as the northern
district of Somersetshire, &c. These people are locally called
_jowsers_; and it is probable, that from the suspicion with which their
art has been usually regarded amongst people of education, as a mere
legerdemain trick of Dousterswivel's, is derived the slang word to
_chouse_ for _swindle_. Meantime, the experimental evidences of a real
practical skill in these men, and the enlarged compass of speculation
in these days, have led many enlightened people to a Stoic _epochey_, or
suspension of judgment, on the reality of this somewhat mysterious art.
Now, in the East, there are men who make the same pretensions in a
more showy branch of the art. It is not water, but treasures which they
profess to find by some hidden kind of rhabdomancy. The very existence
of treasures with us is reasonably considered a thing of improbable
occurrence. But in the unsettled East, and with the low valuation of
human life wherever Mahometanism prevails, insecurity and other causes
must have caused millions of such deposits in every century to have
perished as to any knowledge of survivors. The sword has been moving
backwards and forwards, for instance, like a weaver's shuttle, since
the time of Mahmoud the Ghaznevide, [Footnote: Mahmood of Ghizni, which,
under the European name of Ghaznee, was so recently taken in one hour by
our Indian army under Lord Keane Mahmood was the first Mahometan invader
of Hindostan.] in Anno Domini 1000, in the vast regions between the
Tigris, the Oxus, and the Indus. Regularly as it approached, gold and
jewels must have sunk by whole harvests into the ground. A certain
per centage has been doubtless recovered: a larger per centage has
disappeared for ever. Hence naturally the jealousy of barbarous
Orientals that we Europeans, in groping amongst pyramids, sphynxes, and
tombs, are looking for buried treasures. The wretches are not so wide
astray in what they believe as in what they disbelieve. The treasures do
really exist which they fancy; but then also the other treasures in the
glorious antiquities have that existence for our sense of beauty which
to their brutality is inconceivable. In these circumstances, why should
it surprise us that men will pursue the science of discovery as
a regular trade? Many discoveries of treasure are doubtless made
continually, which, for obvious reasons, are communicated to nobody.
Some proportion there must be between the sowing of such grain as
diamonds or emeralds, and the subsequent reaping, whether by accident or
by art. For, with regard to the last, it is no more impossible, _prima
fronte_, that a substance may exist having an occult sympathy with
subterraneous water or subterraneous gold, than that the magnet should
have a sympathy (as yet occult) with the northern pole of our planet.

The first flash of careless thought applied to such a case will suggest,
that men holding powers of this nature need not offer their services for
hire to others. And this, in fact, is the objection universally urged by
us Europeans as decisive against their pretensions. Their knavery, it
is fancied, stands self-recorded; since, assuredly, they would not be
willing to divide their subterranean treasures, if they knew of any.
But the men are not in such self-contradiction as may seem. Lady
Hester Stanhope, from the better knowledge she had acquired of Oriental
opinions, set Dr. Madden right on this point. The Oriental belief is
that a fatality attends the appropriator of a treasure in any case where
he happens also to be the discoverer. Such a person, it is held, will
die soon, and suddenly--so that he is compelled to seek his remuneration
from the wages or fees of his employers, not from the treasure itself.

Many more secret laws are held sacred amongst the professors of that art
than that which was explained by Lady Hester Stanhope. These we shall
not enter upon at present: but generally we may remark, that the same
practices of subterranean deposits, during our troubled periods in
Europe, led to the same superstitions. And it may be added, that the
same error has arisen in both cases as to some of these superstitions.
How often must it have struck people of liberal feelings, as a
scandalous proof of the preposterous value set upon riches by poor men,
that ghosts should popularly be supposed to rise and wander for the sake
of revealing the situations of buried treasures. For ourselves, we have
been accustomed to view this popular belief in the light of an argument
for pity rather than for contempt towards poor men, as indicating the
extreme pressure of that necessity which could so have demoralized their
natural sense of truth. But certainly, in whatever feelings originating,
such popular superstitions as to motives of ghostly missions did seem to
argue a deplorable misconception of the relation subsisting between the
spiritual world and the perishable treasures of this perishable world.
Yet, when we look into the Eastern explanations of this case, we find
that it is meant to express, not any overvaluation of riches, but
the direct contrary passion. A human spirit is punished--such is the
notion--punished in the spiritual world for excessive attachment to
gold, by degradation to the office of its guardian; and from this office
the tortured spirit can release itself only by revealing the treasure
and transferring the custody. It is a penal martyrdom, not an elective
passion for gold, which is thus exemplified in the wanderings of a

But, in a field where of necessity we are so much limited, we willingly
pass from the consideration of these treasure or _khasne_ phantoms
(which alone sufficiently ensure a swarm of ghostly terrors for all
Oriental ruins of cities,) to the same marvellous apparitions, as they
haunt other solitudes even more awful than those of ruined cities. In
this world there are two mighty forms of perfect solitude--the ocean and
the desert: the wilderness of the barren sands, and the wilderness of
the barren waters. Both are the parents of inevitable superstitions--of
terrors, solemn, ineradicable, eternal. Sailors and the children of the
desert are alike overrun with spiritual hauntings, from accidents of
peril essentially connected with those modes of life, and from the
eternal spectacle of the infinite. Voices seem to blend with the raving
of the sea, which will for ever impress the feeling of beings more than
human: and every chamber of the great wilderness which, with little
interruption, stretches from the Euphrates to the western shores of
Africa, has its own peculiar terrors both as to sights and sounds. In
the wilderness of Zin, between Palestine and the Red Sea, a section of
the desert well known in these days to our own countrymen, bells are
heard daily pealing for matins, or for vespers, from some phantom
convent that no search of Christian or of Bedouin Arab has ever been
able to discover. These bells have sounded since the Crusades. Other
sounds, trumpets, the _Alala_ of armies, &c., are heard in other regions
of the Desert. Forms, also, are seen of more people than have any
right to be walking in human paths: sometimes forms of avowed terror;
sometimes, which is a case of far more danger, appearances that mimic
the shapes of men, and even of friends or comrades. This is a case
much dwelt on by the old travellers, and which throws a gloom over the
spirits of all Bedouins, and of every cafila or caravan. We all know
what a sensation of loneliness or 'eeriness' (to use an expressive term
of the ballad poetry) arises to any small party assembling in a
single room of a vast desolate mansion: how the timid among them fancy
continually that they hear some remote door opening, or trace the sound
of suppressed footsteps from some distant staircase. Such is the feeling
in the desert, even in the midst of the caravan. The mighty solitude is
seen: the dread silence is anticipated which will succeed to this brief
transit of men, camels, and horses. Awe prevails even in the midst of
society: but, if the traveller should loiter behind from fatigue, or
be so imprudent as to ramble aside--should he from any cause once lose
sight of his party, it is held that his chance is small of recovering
their traces. And why? Not chiefly from the want of footmarks where the
wind effaces all impressions in half an hour, or of eyemarks where all
is one blank ocean of sand, but much more from the sounds or the visual
appearances which are supposed to beset and to seduce all insulated

Everybody knows the superstitions of the ancients about the
_Nympholeptoi_, or those who had seen Pan. But far more awful and gloomy
are the existing superstitions, throughout Asia and Africa, as to the
perils of those who are phantom-haunted in the wilderness. The old
Venetian traveller Marco Polo states them well: he speaks, indeed, of
the Eastern or Tartar deserts; the steppes which stretch from European
Russia to the footsteps of the Chinese throne; but exactly the same
creed prevails amongst the Arabs, from Bagdad to Suez and Cairo--from
Rosetta to Tunis--Tunis to Timbuctoo or Mequinez. 'If, during the
daytime,' says he, 'any person should remain behind until the caravan is
no longer in sight, he hears himself unexpectedly called to by name,
and in a voice with which he is familiar. Not doubting that the voice
proceeds from some of his comrades, the unhappy man is beguiled from the
right direction; and soon finding himself utterly confounded as to the
path, he roams about in distraction until he perishes miserably. If,
on the other hand, this perilous separation of himself from the caravan
should happen at night, he is sure to hear the uproar of a great
cavalcade a mile or two to the right or left of the true track. He is
thus seduced on one side: and at break of day finds himself far removed
from man. Nay, even at noon-day, it is well known that grave and
respectable men to all appearance will come up to a particular
traveller, will bear the look of a friend, and will gradually lure him
by earnest conversation to a distance from the caravan; after which the
sounds of men and camels will be heard continually at all points but the
true one; whilst an insensible turning by the tenth of an inch at each
separate step from the true direction will very soon suffice to set the
traveller's face to the opposite point of the compass from that which
his safety requires, and which his fancy represents to him as his
real direction. Marvellous, indeed, and almost passing belief, are the
stories reported of these desert phantoms, which are said at times
to fill the air with choral music from all kinds of instruments, from
drums, and the clash of arms: so that oftentimes a whole caravan are
obliged to close up their open ranks, and to proceed in a compact line
of march.'

Lord Lindsay, in his very interesting travels in Egypt, Edom, &c.,
agrees with Warton in supposing (and probably enough) that from this
account of the desert traditions in Marco Polo was derived Milton's fine
passage in Comus:--

  'Of calling shapes, and beckoning shadows dire,
  And aery tongues that syllable men's names
  On sands, and shores, and desert wildernesses.'

But the most remarkable of these desert superstitions, as suggested by
the mention of Lord Lindsay, is one which that young nobleman, in some
place which we cannot immediately find, has noticed, but which he only
was destined by a severe personal loss immediately to illustrate. Lord
L. quotes from Vincent le Blanc an anecdote of a man in his own caravan,
the companion of an Arab merchant, who disappeared in a mysterious
manner. Four Moors, with a retaining fee of 100 ducats, were sent in
quest of him, but came back _re infecta_. 'And 'tis uncertain,' adds Le
Blanc, 'whether he was swallowed up in the sands, or met his death by
any other misfortune; as it often happens, by the relation of a merchant
then in our company, who told us, that two years before, traversing the
same journey, a comrade of his, going a little aside from the company,
saw three men who called him by his name; and one of them, to his
thinking, favored very much his companion; and, as he was about to
follow them, his real companion calling him to come back to his company,
he found himself deceived by the others, and thus was saved. And all
travellers in these parts hold, that in the deserts are many such
phantasms seen, that strive to seduce the traveller.' Thus far it is
the traveller's own fault, warned as he is continually by the extreme
anxiety of the Arab leaders or guides, with respect to all who stray to
any distance, if he is duped or enticed by these pseudo-men: though,
in the case of Lapland dogs, who ought to have a surer instinct of
detection for counterfeits, we know from Sir Capel de Broke and others,
that they are continually wiled away by the wolves who roam about the
nightly encampments of travellers. But there is a secondary disaster,
according to the Arab superstition, awaiting those whose eyes are once
opened to the discernment of these phantoms. To see them, or to hear
them, even where the traveller is careful to refuse their lures, entails
the certainty of death in no long time. This is another form of that
universal faith which made it impossible for any man to survive a bodily
commerce, by whatever sense, with a spiritual being. We find it in the
Old Testament, where the expression, 'I have seen God and shall die,'
means simply a supernatural being; since no Hebrew believed it possible
for a nature purely human to sustain for a moment the sight of the
Infinite Being. We find the same faith amongst ourselves, in case
of _doppelgänger_ becoming apparent to the sight of those whom they
counterfeit; and in many other varieties. We modern Europeans, of
course, laugh at these superstitions; though, as La Place remarks,
(_Essai sur les Probabilités_,) any case, however apparently incredible,
if it is a recurrent case, is as much entitled to a fair valuation as if
it had been more probable beforehand.[Footnote: _'Is as much entitled
to a fair valuation, under the lans of induction, as if it had been
more probable beforehand'_--One of the cases which La Place notices as
entitled to a grave consideration, but which would most assuredly be
treated as a trivial phenomenon, unworthy of attention, by commonplace
spectators, is--when a run of success, with no apparent cause, takes
place on heads or tails, (_pile ou croix_) Most people dismiss such a
case as pure accident. But La Place insists on its being duly valued
as a fact, however unaccountable as an effect. So again, if in a large
majority of experiences like those of Lord Lindsay's party in the
desert, death should follow, such a phenomenon is as well entitled
to its separate valuation as any other.] This being premised, we who
connect superstition with the personal result, are more impressed by the
disaster which happened to Lord Lindsay, than his lordship, who either
failed to notice the _nexus_ between the events, or possibly declined to
put the case too forward in his reader's eye, from the solemnity of the
circumstances, and the private interest to himself and his own family,
of the subsequent event. The case was this:--Mr. William Wardlaw Ramsay,
the companion (and we believe relative) of Lord Lindsay, a man whose
honorable character, and whose intellectual accomplishments speak for
themselves, in the posthumus memorabilia of his travels published
by Lord L., had seen an array of objects in the desert, which facts
immediately succeeding demonstrated to have been a mere ocular _lusus_,
or (according to Arab notions) phantoms. During the absence from home of
an Arab sheikh, who had been hired as conductor of Lord Lindsay's party,
a hostile tribe (bearing the name of Tellaheens) had assaulted and
pillaged his tents. Report of this had reached the English travelling
party; it was known that the Tellaheens were still in motion, and a
hostile rencounter was looked for for some days. At length, in crossing
the well known valley of the _Wady Araba_, that most ancient channel of
communication between the Red Sea and Judea, &c., Mr. Ramsay saw, to his
own entire conviction, a party of horse moving amongst some sand-hills.
Afterwards it became certain, from accurate information, that this must
have been a delusion. It was established, that no horseman _could_ have
been in that neighborhood at that time. Lord Lindsay records the case
as an illustration of 'that spiritualized tone the imagination naturally
assumes, in scenes presenting so little sympathy with the ordinary
feelings of humanity;' and he reports the case in these pointed
terms:--'Mr. Ramsay, a man of remarkably strong sight, and by no means
disposed to superstitious credulity, distinctly saw a party of horse
moving among the sand-hills; and I do not believe he was ever able
to divest himself of that impression.' No--and, according to Arab
interpretation, very naturally so; for, according to their faith, he
really _had_ seen the horsemen; phantom horseman certainly, but
still objects of sight. The sequel remains to be told--by the Arabian
hypothesis, Mr. Ramsay had but a short time to live--he was under a
secret summons to the next world. And accordingly, in a few weeks after
this, whilst Lord Lindsay had gone to visit Palmyra, Mr. Ramsay died at

This was a case exactly corresponding to the Pagan _nympholepsis_--he
had seen the beings whom it is not lawful to see and live. Another case
of Eastern superstition, not less determined, and not less remarkably
fulfilled, occurred some years before to Dr. Madden, who travelled
pretty much in the same route as Lord Lindsay. The doctor, as a
phrenologist, had been struck with the very singular conformation of
a skull which he saw amongst many others on an altar in some Syrian
convent. He offered a considerable sum in gold for it; but it was by
repute the skull of a saint; and the monk with whom Dr. M. attempted to
negotiate, not only refused his offers, but protested that even for the
doctor's sake, apart from the interests of the convent, he could not
venture on such a transfer: for that, by the tradition attached to it,
the skull would endanger any vessel carrying it from the Syrian shore:
the vessel might escape; but it would never succeed in reaching any but
a Syrian harbor. After this, for the credit of our country, which
stands so high in the East, and should be so punctiliously tended by all
Englishmen, we are sorry to record that Dr. Madden (though otherwise a
man of scrupulous honor) yielded to the temptation of substituting for
the saint's skull another less remarkable from his own collection. With
this saintly relic he embarked on board a Grecian ship; was alternately
pursued and met by storms the most violent; larboard and starboard, on
every quarter, he was buffeted; the wind blew from every point of the
compass; the doctor honestly confesses that he often wished this baleful
skull back in safety on the quiet altar from which he took it; and
finally, after many days of anxiety, he was too happy in finding himself
again restored to some oriental port, from which he secretly vowed
never again to sail with a saint's skull, or with any skull, however
remarkable phrenologically, not purchased in an open market.

Thus we have pursued, through many of its most memorable sections,
the spirit of the miraculous as it moulded and gathered itself in
the superstitions of Paganism; and we have shown that, in the modern
superstitions of Christianity, or of Mahometanism, (often enough
borrowed from Christian sources,) there is a pretty regular
correspondence. Speaking with a reference to the strictly popular
belief, it cannot be pretended for a moment, that miraculous agencies
are slumbering in modern ages. For one superstition of that nature which
the Pagans had, we can produce twenty. And if, from the collation of
numbers, we should pass to that of quality, it is a matter of notoriety,
that from the very philosophy of Paganism, and its slight root in the
terrors or profounder mysteries of spiritual nature, no comparison
could be sustained for a moment between the true religion and any mode
whatever of the false. Ghosts we have purposely omitted, because that
idea is so peculiarly Christian [Footnote: '_Because that idea is so
peculiarly Christian_'--One reason, additional to the main one, why the
idea of a ghost could not be conceived or reproduced by Paganism,
lies in the fourfold resolution of the human nature at death, viz.--1.
_corpus_; 2. _manes_; 3. _spiritus_; 4. _anima_. No reversionary
consciousness, no restitution of the total nature, sentient and active,
was thus possible. Pliny has a story which looks like a ghost story; but
it is all moonshine--a mere _simulacrum_.] as to reject all counterparts
or affinities from other modes of the supernatural. The Christian ghost
is too awful a presence, and with too large a substratum of the real,
the impassioned, the human, for our present purposes. We deal chiefly
with the wilder and more ærial forms of superstition; not so far off
from fleshly nature as the purely allegoric--not so near as the penal,
the purgatorial, the penitential. In this middle class, 'Gabriel's
hounds'--the 'phantom ship'--the gloomy legends of the charcoal burners
in the German forests--and the local or epichorial superstitions from
every district of Europe, come forward by thousands, attesting the high
activity of the miraculous and the hyperphysical instincts, even in this
generation, wheresoever the voice of the people makes itself heard.

But in Pagan times, it will be objected, the popular superstitions
blended themselves with the highest political functions, gave a sanction
to national counsels, and oftentimes gave their starting point to the
very primary movements of the state. Prophecies, omens, miracles, all
worked concurrently with senates or princes. Whereas in our days,
says Charles Lamb, the witch who takes her pleasure with the moon, and
summons Beelzebub to her sabbaths, nevertheless trembles before the
beadle, and hides herself from the overseer. Now, as to the witch, even
the horrid Canidia of Horace, or the more dreadful Erichtho of Lucan,
seems hardly to have been much respected in any era. But for the
other modes of the supernatural, they have entered into more frequent
combinations with state functions and state movements in our modern ages
than in the classical age of Paganism. Look at prophecies, for example:
the Romans had a few obscure oracles afloat, and they had the Sibylline
books under the state seal. These books, in fact, had been kept so long,
that, like port wine superannuated, they had lost their flavor and body.
[Footnote: '_Like port wine superannuated, the Sibylline books had lost
their flavor and their body_.'--There is an allegoric description in
verse, by Mr. Rogers, of an ice-house, in which winter is described as
a captive, &c., which is memorable on this account, that a brother
poet, on reading the passage, mistook it, (from not understanding
the allegorical expressions,) either sincerely or maliciously, for a
description of the house-dog. Now, this little anecdote seems to embody
the poor Sibyl's history,--from a stern icy sovereign, with a petrific
mace, she lapsed into an old toothless mastiff. She continued to snore
in her ancient kennel for above a thousand years. The last person who
attempted to stir her up with a long pole, and to extract from her
paralytic dreaming some growls or snarls against Christianity, was
Aurelian, in a moment of public panic. But the thing was past all
tampering. The poor creature could neither be kicked nor coaxed into
vitality.] On the other hand, look at France. Henry the historian,
speaking of the fifteenth century, describes it as a national infirmity
of the English to be prophecy-ridden. Perhaps there never was any
foundation for this as an exclusive remark; but assuredly not in the
next century. There had been with us British, from the twelfth century,
Thomas of Ercildoune in the north, and many monkish local prophets for
every part of the island; but latterly England had no terrific prophet,
unless, indeed Nixon of the Vale Royal in Cheshire, who uttered his
dark oracles sometimes with a merely Cestrian, sometimes with a national
reference. Whereas in France, throughout the sixteenth century, every
principal event was foretold successively, with an accuracy that still
shocks and confounds us. Francis the First, who opens the century, (and
by many is held to open the book of _modern history_, as distinguished
from the middle or _feudal_ history,) had the battle of Pavia
foreshown to him, not by name, but in its results--by his own Spanish
captivity--by the exchange for his own children upon a frontier river
of Spain--finally, by his own disgraceful death, through an infamous
disease conveyed to him under a deadly circuit of revenge. This king's
son, Henry the Second, read some years _before_ the event a description
of that tournament, on the marriage of the Scottish Queen with his
eldest son, Francis II., which proved fatal to himself, through the
awkwardness of the Compte de Montgomery and his own obstinacy. After
this, and we believe a little after the brief reign of Francis II.,
arose Nostradamus, the great prophet of the age. All the children of
Henry II. and of Catharine de Medici, one after the other, died in
circumstances of suffering and horror, and Nostradamus pursued the
whole with ominous allusions. Charles IX., though the authorizer of the
Bartholomew massacre, was the least guilty of his party, and the only
one who manifested a dreadful remorse. Henry III., the last of the
brothers, died, as the reader will remember, by assassination. And all
these tragic successions of events are still to be read more or less
dimly prefigured in verses of which we will not here discuss the dates.
Suffice it, that many authentic historians attest the good faith of the
prophets; and finally, with respect to the first of the Bourbon dynasty,
Henry IV., who succeeded upon the assassination of his brother-in-law,
we have the peremptory assurance of Sully and other Protestants,
countersigned by writers both historical and controversial, that not
only was he prepared, by many warnings, for his own tragical death--not
only was the day, the hour prefixed--not only was an almanac sent to
him, in which the bloody summer's day of 1610 was pointed out to his
attention in bloody colors; but the mere record of the king's last
afternoon shows beyond a doubt the extent and the punctual limitation of
his anxieties. In fact, it is to this attitude of listening expectation
in the king, and breathless waiting for the blow, that Schiller alludes
in that fine speech of Wallenstein to his sister, where he notices the
funeral knells that sounded continually in Henry's ears, and, above all,
his prophetic instinct, that caught the sound from a far distance of his
murderer's motions, and could distinguish, amidst all the tumult of a
mighty capital, those stealthy steps

  ----'Which even then were seeking him
  Throughout the streets of Paris.'

We profess not to admire Henry the Fourth of France, whose secret
character we shall, on some other occasion, attempt to expose. But his
resignation to the appointments of Heaven, in dismissing his guards, as
feeling that against a danger so domestic and so mysterious, all fleshly
arms were vain, has always struck us as the most like magnanimity of
anything in his very theatrical life.

Passing to our own country, and to the times immediately in succession,
we fall upon some striking prophecies, not verbal but symbolic, if we
turn from the broad highway of public histories, to the by-paths of
private memories. Either Clarendon it is, in his Life (not his public
history), or else Laud, who mentions an anecdote connected with the
coronation of Charles I., (the son-in-law of the murdered Bourbon,)
which threw a gloom upon the spirits of the royal friends, already
saddened by the dreadful pestilence which inaugurated the reign of this
ill-fated prince, levying a tribute of one life in sixteen from the
population of the English metropolis. At the coronation of Charles, it
was discovered that all London would not furnish the quantity of purple
velvet required for the royal robes and the furniture of the throne.
What was to be done? Decorum required that the furniture should be
all _en suite_. Nearer than Genoa no considerable addition could
be expected. That would impose a delay of 150 days. Upon mature
consideration, and chiefly of the many private interests that would
suffer amongst the multitudes whom such a solemnity had called up from
the country, it was resolved to robe the King in _white_ velvet. But
this, as it afterwards occurred, was the color in which victims were
arrayed. And thus, it was alleged, did the King's council establish an
augury of evil. Three other ill omens, of some celebrity, occurred to
Charles I., viz., on occasion of creating his son Charles a knight of
the Bath, at Oxford some years after; and at the bar of that tribunal
which sat in judgment upon him.

The reign of his second son, James II., the next reign that could be
considered an unfortunate reign, was inaugurated by the same evil omens.
The day selected for the coronation (in 1685) was a day memorable for
England--it was St. George's day, the 23d of April, and entitled,
even on a separate account, to be held a sacred day as the birthday of
Shakspeare in 1564, and his deathday in 1616. The King saved a sum of
sixty thousand pounds by cutting off the ordinary cavalcade from the
Tower of London to Westminster. Even this was imprudent. It is well
known that, amongst the lowest class of the English, there is an
obstinate prejudice (though unsanctioned by law) with respect to the
obligation imposed by the ceremony of coronation. So long as this
ceremony is delayed, or mutilated, they fancy that their obedience is
a matter of mere prudence, liable to be enforced by arms, but not
consecrated either by law or by religion. The change made by James was,
therefore, highly imprudent; shorn of its antique traditionary usages,
the yoke of conscience was lightened at a moment when it required a
double ratification. Neither was it called for on motives of economy,
for James was unusually rich. This voluntary arrangement was, therefore,
a bad beginning; but the accidental omens were worse. They are thus
reported by Blennerhassett, (History of England to the end of George
I., Vol. iv., p. 1760, printed at Newcastle-upon-Tyne: 1751.) 'The
crown being too little for the King's head, was often in a tottering
condition, and like to fall off.' Even this was observed attentively
by spectators of the most opposite feelings. But there was another
simultaneous omen, which affected the Protestant enthusiasts, and the
superstitious, whether Catholic or Protestant, still more alarmingly.
'The same day the king's arms, pompously painted in the great altar
window of a London church, suddenly fell down without apparent cause,
and broke to pieces, whilst the rest of the window remained standing.
Blennerhassett mutters the dark terrors which possessed himself and
others.' 'These,' says he, 'were reckoned ill omens to the king.'

In France, as the dreadful criminality of the French sovereigns through
the 17th century began to tell powerfully, and reproduce itself in the
miseries and tumults of the French populace through the 18th century, it
is interesting to note the omens which unfolded themselves at intervals.
A volume might be written upon them. The French Bourbons renewed the
picture of that fatal house which in Thebes offered to the Grecian
observers the spectacle of dire auguries, emerging from darkness through
three generations, _à plusieurs reprises_. Everybody knows the fatal
pollution of the marriage pomps on the reception of Marie Antoinette in
Paris; the numbers who perished are still spoken of obscurely as to the
amount, and with shuddering awe for the unparalleled horrors standing in
the background of the fatal reign--horrors

  'That hush'd in grim repose, await their evening prey.'

But in the life of Goethe is mentioned a still more portentous (though
more shadowy) omen in the pictorial decorations of the arras which
adorned the pavilion on the French frontier; the first objects which met
the Austrian Archduchess on being hailed as Dauphiness, was a succession
of the most tragic groups from the most awful section of the Grecian
theatre. The next alliance of the same kind between the same great
empires, in the persons of Napoleon and the Archduchess Marie Louisa,
was overshadowed by the same unhappy omens, and, as we all remember,
with the same unhappy results, within a brief period of five years.

Or, if we should resort to the fixed and monumental rather than to these
auguries of great nations--such, for instance, as were embodied in those
_Palladia_, or protesting talismans, which capital cities, whether Pagan
or Christian, glorified through a period of twenty-five hundred years,
we shall find a long succession of these enchanted pledges, from the
earliest precedent of Troy (whose palladium was undoubtedly a talisman)
down to that equally memorable, and bearing the same name, at Western
Rome. We may pass, by a vast transition of two and a half millennia,
to that great talisman of Constantinople, the triple serpent, (having
perhaps an original reference to the Mosaic serpent of the wilderness,
which healed the infected by the simple act of looking upon it, as the
symbol of the Redeemer, held aloft upon the Cross for the deliverance
from moral contagion.) This great consecrated talisman, venerated
equally by Christian, by Pagan, and by Mahometan, was struck on the head
by Mahomet the Second, on that same day, May 29th of 1453, in which
he mastered by storm this glorious city, the bulwark of eastern
Christendom, and the immediate rival of his own European throne at
Adrianople. But mark the superfetation of omens--omen supervening
upon omen, augury engrafted upon augury. The hour was a sad one for
Christianity; just 720 years before the western horn of Islam had been
rebutted in France by the Germans, chiefly under Charles Martel. But now
it seemed as though another horn, even more vigorous, was preparing
to assault Christendom and its hopes from the eastern quarter. At this
epoch, in the very hour of triumph, when the last of the Cæsars had
glorified his station, and sealed his testimony by martyrdom, the
fanatical Sultan, riding to his stirrups in blood, and wielding that
iron mace which had been his sole weapon, as well as cognizance, through
the battle, advanced to the column, round which the triple serpent
roared spirally upwards. He smote the brazen talisman; he shattered one
head; he left it mutilated as the record of his great revolution; but
crush it, destroy it, he did not--as a symbol prefiguring the fortunes
of Mahometanism, his people noticed, that in the critical hour of fate,
which stamped the Sultan's acts with efficacy through ages, he had been
prompted by his secret genius only to 'scotch the snake,' not to crush
it. Afterwards the fatal hour was gone by; and this imperfect augury has
since concurred traditionally with the Mahometan prophecies about the
Adrianople gate of Constantinople, to depress the ultimate hopes of
Islam in the midst of all its insolence. The very haughtiest of the
Mussulmans believe that the gate is already in existence, through which
the red Giaours (the _Russi_) shall pass to the conquest of Stamboul;
and that everywhere, in Europe at least, the hat of Frangistan is
destined to surmount the turban--the crescent must go down before the


What is the deadest of things earthly? It is, says the world, ever
forward and rash--'a door-nail!' But the world is wrong. There is a
thing deader than a door-nail, viz., Gillman's Coleridge, Vol. I. Dead,
more dead, most dead, is Gillman's Coleridge, Vol. I.; and this
upon more arguments than one. The book has clearly not completed its
elementary act of respiration; the _systole_ of Vol. I. is absolutely
useless and lost without the _diastole_ of that Vol. II., which is never
to exist. That is one argument, and perhaps this second argument is
stronger. Gillman's Coleridge, Vol. I., deals rashly, unjustly, and
almost maliciously, with some of our own particular friends; and yet,
until late in this summer, _Anno Domini_ 1844, we--that is, neither
ourselves nor our friends--ever heard of its existence. Now a sloth,
even without the benefit of Mr. Waterton's evidence to his character,
will travel faster than that. But malice, which travels fastest of
all things, must be dead and cold at starting, when it can thus have
lingered in the rear for six years; and therefore, though the world
was so far right, that people _do_ say, 'Dead as a door-nail,' yet,
henceforward, the weakest of these people will see the propriety of
saying--'Dead as Gillman's Coleridge.'

The reader of experience, on sliding over the surface of this opening
paragraph, begins to think there's mischief singing in the upper air.
'No, reader, not at all. We never were cooler in our days. And this we
protest, that, were it not for the excellence of the subject, _Coleridge
and Opium-Eating_, Mr. Gillman would have been dismissed by us
unnoticed. Indeed, we not only forgive Mr. Gillman, but we have
a kindness for him; and on this account, that he was good, he was
generous, he was most forbearing, through twenty years, to poor
Coleridge, when thrown upon his hospitality. An excellent thing _that_,
Mr. Gillman, till, noticing the theme suggested by this unhappy Vol.
I., we are forced at times to notice its author, Nor is this to be
regretted. We remember a line of Horace never yet properly translated,

  'Nec scutica dignum horribili sectere flagello.'

The true translation of which, as we assure the unlearned reader,
is--'Nor must you pursue with the horrid knout of Christopher that man
who merits only a switching.' Very true. We protest against all attempts
to invoke the exterminating knout; for _that_ sends a man to the
hospital for two months; but you see that the same judicious poet, who
dissuades an appeal to the knout, indirectly recommends the switch,
which, indeed, is rather pleasant than otherwise, amiably playful
in some of its little caprices, and in its worst, suggesting only a
pennyworth of diachylon.

We begin by professing, with hearty sincerity, our fervent admiration
of the extraordinary man who furnishes the theme for Mr. Gillman's
_coup-d'essai_ in biography. He was, in a literary sense, our
brother--for he also was amongst the contributors to _Blackwood_--and
will, we presume, take his station in that Blackwood gallery of
portraits, which, in a century hence, will possess more interest for
intellectual Europe than any merely martial series of portraits, or any
gallery of statesmen assembled in congress, except as regards one or two
leaders; for defunct major-generals, and secondary diplomatists,
when their date is past, awake no more emotion than last year's
advertisements, or obsolete directories; whereas those who, in a stormy
age, have swept the harps of passion, of genial wit, or of the wrestling
and gladiatorial reason, become more interesting to men when they can no
longer be seen as bodily agents, than even in the middle chorus of that
intellectual music over which, living, they presided.

Of this great camp Coleridge was a leader, and fought amongst the
_primipili_; yet, comparatively, he is still unknown. Heavy, indeed, are
the arrears still due to philosophic curiosity on the real merits,
and on the separate merits, of Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Coleridge as a
poet--Coleridge as a philosopher! How extensive are those questions,
if those were all! and upon neither question have we yet any
investigation--such as, by compass of views, by research, or even by
earnestness of sympathy with the subject, can, or ought to satisfy, a
philosophic demand. Blind is that man who can persuade himself that the
interest in Coleridge, taken as a total object, is becoming an obsolete
interest. We are of opinion that even Milton, now viewed from a distance
of two centuries, is still inadequately judged or appreciated in
his character of poet, of patriot and partisan, or, finally, in his
character of accomplished scholar. But, if so, how much less can it
be pretended that satisfaction has been rendered to the claims of
Coleridge? for, upon Milton, libraries have been written. There has been
time for the malice of men, for the jealousy of men, for the enthusiasm,
the scepticism, the adoring admiration of men, to expand themselves!
There has been room for a Bentley, for an Addison, for a Johnson, for a
wicked Lauder, for an avenging Douglas, for an idolizing Chateaubriand;
and yet, after all, little enough has been done towards any
comprehensive estimate of the mighty being concerned. Piles of materials
have been gathered to the ground; but, for the monument which should
have risen from these materials, neither the first stone has been laid,
nor has a qualified architect yet presented his credentials. On the
other hand, upon Coleridge little, comparatively, has yet been written,
whilst the separate characters on which the judgment is awaited, are
more by one than those which Milton sustained. Coleridge, also, is a
poet; Coleridge, also, was mixed up with the fervent politics of his
age--an age how memorably reflecting the revolutionary agitations of
Milton's age. Coleridge, also, was an extensive and brilliant scholar.
Whatever might be the separate proportions of the two men in each
particular department of the three here noticed, think as the reader
will upon that point, sure we are that either subject is ample enough to
make a strain upon the amplest faculties. How alarming, therefore,
for any _honest_ critic, who should undertake this later subject of
Coleridge, to recollect that, after pursuing him through a zodiac of
splendors corresponding to those of Milton in kind, however different in
degree--after weighing him as a poet, as a philosophic politician, as
a scholar, he will have to wheel after him into another orbit, into
the unfathomable _nimbus_ of transcendental metaphysics. Weigh him the
critic must in the golden balance of philosophy the most abstruse--a
balance which even itself requires weighing previously, or he will
have done nothing that can be received for an estimate of the composite
Coleridge. This astonishing man, be it again remembered, besides being
an exquisite poet, a profound political speculator, a philosophic
student of literature through all its chambers and recesses, was also
a circumnavigator on the most pathless waters of scholasticism and
metaphysics. He had sounded, without guiding charts, the secret deeps
of Proclus and Plotinus; he had laid down buoys on the twilight, or
moonlight, ocean of Jacob Boehmen; [Footnote: 'JACOB BOEHMEN.' We
ourselves had the honor of presenting to Mr. Coleridge, Law's English
version of Jacob--a set of huge quartos. Some months afterwards we saw
this work lying open, and one volume at least overflowing, in parts,
with the commentaries and the _corollaries_ of Coleridge. Whither has
this work, and so many others swathed about with Coleridge's MS. notes,
vanished from the world?] he had cruised over the broad Atlantic of Kant
and Schelling, of Fichte and Oken. Where is the man who shall be equal
to these things? We at least make no such adventurous effort; or, if
ever we should presume to do so, not at present. Here we design only
to make a coasting voyage of survey round the headlands and most
conspicuous seamarks of our subject, as they are brought forward by
Mr. Gillman, or collaterally suggested by our own reflections; and
especially we wish to say a word or two on Coleridge as an opium-eater.

Naturally the first point to which we direct our attention, is the
history and personal relations of Coleridge. Living with Mr. Gillman for
nineteen years as a domesticated friend, Coleridge ought to have
been known intimately. And it is reasonable to expect, from so much
intercourse, some additions to our slender knowledge of Coleridge's
adventures, (if we may use so coarse a word,) and of the secret springs
at work in those early struggles of Coleridge at Cambridge, London,
Bristol, which have been rudely told to the world, and repeatedly told,
as showy romances, but never rationally explained.

The anecdotes, however, which Mr. Gillman has added to the personal
history of Coleridge, are as little advantageous to the effect of his
own book as they are to the interest of the memorable character which he
seeks to illustrate. Always they are told without grace, and generally
are suspicious in their details. Mr. Gillman we believe to be too
upright a man for countenancing any untruth. He has been deceived. For
example, will any man believe this? A certain 'excellent equestrian'
falling in with Coleridge on horseback, thus accosted him--'Pray, Sir,
did you meet a tailor along the road?' '_A tailor_!' answered Coleridge;
'_I did meet a person answering such a description, who told me he had
dropped his goose; that if I rode a little further I should find it; and
I guess he must have meant you._' In Joe Miller this story would
read, perhaps, sufferably. Joe has a privilege; and we do not look too
narrowly into the mouth of a Joe-Millerism. But Mr. Gillman, writing
the life of a philosopher, and no jest-book, is under a different law of
decorum. That retort, however, which silences the jester, it may seem,
must be a good one. And we are desired to believe that, in this case,
the baffled assailant rode off in a spirit of benign candor, saying
aloud to himself, like the excellent philosopher that he evidently was,
'Caught a Tartar!'

But another story of a sporting baronet, who was besides a Member of
Parliament, is much worse, and altogether degrading to Coleridge.
This gentleman, by way of showing off before a party of ladies, is
represented as insulting Coleridge by putting questions to him on the
qualities of his horse, so as to draw the animal's miserable defects
into public notice, and then closing his display by demanding what he
would take for the horse 'including the rider.' The supposed reply
of Coleridge might seem good to those who understand nothing of true
dignity; for, as an _impromptu_, it was smart and even caustic. The
baronet, it seems, was reputed to have been bought by the minister; and
the reader will at once divine that the retort took advantage of that
current belief, so as to throw back the sarcasm, by proclaiming that
neither horse nor rider had a price placarded in the market at which any
man could become their purchaser. But this was not the temper in which
Coleridge either did reply, or could have replied. Coleridge showed, in
the _spirit_ of his manner, a profound sensibility to the nature of
a gentleman; and he felt too justly what it became a self-respecting
person to say, ever to have aped the sort of flashy fencing which might
seem fine to a theatrical blood.

Another story is self-refuted: 'A hired partisan' had come to one of
Coleridge's political lectures with the express purpose of bringing the
lecturer into trouble; and most preposterously he laid himself open
to his own snare by refusing to pay for admission. Spies must be poor
artists who proceed thus. Upon which Coleridge remarked--'That, before
the gentleman kicked up a dust, surely he would down with the dust.'
So far the story will not do. But what follows is possible enough.
The _same_ 'hired' gentleman, by way of giving unity to the tale, is
described as having hissed. Upon this a cry arose of 'Turn him out!' But
Coleridge interfered to protect him; he insisted on the man's right to
hiss if he thought fit; it was legal to hiss; it was natural to hiss;
'for what is to be expected, gentlemen, when the cool waters of reason
come in contact with red-hot aristocracy, but a hiss?' _Euge!_

Amongst all the anecdotes, however of this splendid man, often trivial,
often incoherent, often unauthenticated, there is one which strikes us
as both true and interesting; and we are grateful to Mr. Gillman for
preserving it. We find it introduced, and partially authenticated, by
the following sentence from Coleridge himself:--'From eight to fourteen
I was a playless day-dreamer, a _helluo librorum_; my appetite for which
was indulged by a singular incident. A stranger, who was struck by my
conversation, made me free of a circulating library in King's Street,
Cheapside.' The more circumstantial explanation of Mr. Gillman is this:
`The incident indeed was singular. Going down the Strand, in one of his
day-dreams, fancying himself swimming across the Hellespont, thrusting
his hands before him as in the act of swimming, his hand came in contact
with a gentleman's pocket. The gentleman seized his hand, turning round,
and looking at him with some anger--"What! so young, and yet so wicked?"
at the same time accused him of an attempt to pick his pocket. The
frightened boy sobbed out his denial of the intention, and explained to
him how he thought himself Leander swimming across the Hellespont. The
gentleman was so struck and delighted with the novelty of the thing, and
with the simplicity and intelligence of the boy, that he subscribed,
as before stated, to the library; in consequence of which Coleridge was
further enabled to indulge his love of reading.'

We fear that this slovenly narrative is the very perfection of bad
story-telling. But the story itself is striking, and, by the very
oddness of the incidents, not likely to have been invented. The effect,
from the position of the two parties--on the one side, a simple child
from Devonshire, dreaming in the Strand that he was swimming over from
Sestos to Abydos, and, on the other, the experienced man, dreaming
only of this world, its knaves and its thieves, but still kind and
generous--is beautiful and picturesque. _Oh! si sic omnia!_

But the most interesting to us of the _personalities_ connected with
Coleridge are his feuds and his personal dislikes. Incomprehensible to
us is the war of extermination which Coleridge made upon the political
economists. Did Sir James Steuart, in speaking of vine-dressers, (not
_as_ vine-dressers, but generally as cultivators,) tell his readers,
that, if such a man simply replaced his own consumption, having no
surplus whatever or increment for the public capital, he could not be
considered a useful citizen? Not the beast in the Revelation is held up
by Coleridge as more hateful to the spirit of truth than the Jacobite
baronet. And yet we know of an author--viz., one S. T. Coleridge--who
repeated that same doctrine without finding any evil in it. Look at the
first part of the _Wallenstein_, where Count Isolani having said, 'Pooh!
we are _all_ his subjects,' _i. e._, soldiers, (though unproductive
laborers,) not less than productive peasants, the emperor's envoy
replies--'Yet with a difference, general;' and the difference implies
Sir James's scale, his vine-dresser being the equatorial case between
the two extremes of the envoy. Malthus again, in his population-book,
contends for a mathematic difference between animal and vegetable life,
in respect to the law of increase, as though the first increased by
geometrical ratios, the last by arithmetical! No proposition more
worthy of laughter; since both, when permitted to expand, increase
by geometrical ratios, and the latter by much higher ratios. Whereas,
Malthus persuaded himself of his crotchet simply by refusing the
requisite condition in the vegetable case, and granting it in the
other. If you take a few grains of wheat, and are required to plant all
successive generations of their produce in the same flower-pot for ever,
of course you neutralize its expansion by your own act of arbitrary
limitation. [Footnote: Malthus would have rejoined by saying--that the
flowerpot limitation was the actual limitation of nature in our present
circumstances. In America it is otherwise, he would say, but England
is the very flowerpot you suppose; she is a flowerpot which cannot be
multiplied, and cannot even be enlarged. Very well, so be it (which we
say in order to waive irrelevant disputes). But then the true inference
will be--not that vegetable increase proceeds under a different law from
that which governs animal increase, but that, through an accident of
position, the experiment cannot be tried in England. Surely the levers
of Archimedes, with submission to Sir Edward B. Lytton, were not the
less levers because he wanted the _locum standi_. It is proper, by the
way, that we should inform the reader of this generation where to look
for Coleridge's skirmishings with Malthus. They are to be found chiefly
in the late Mr. William Hazlitt's work on that subject: a work which
Coleridge so far claimed as to assert that it had been substantially
made up from his own conversation.] But so you would do, if you tried
the case of _animal_ increase by still exterminating all but one
replacing couple of parents. This is not to try, but merely a pretence
of trying, one order of powers against another. That was folly. But
Coleridge combated this idea in a manner so obscure, that nobody
understood it. And leaving these speculative conundrums, in coming to
the great practical interests afloat in the Poor Laws, Coleridge did so
little real work, that he left, as a _res integra_, to Dr. Alison,
the capital argument that legal and _adequate_ provision for the poor,
whether impotent poor or poor accidentally out of work, does not extend
pauperism--no, but is the one great resource for putting it down. Dr.
Alison's overwhelming and _experimental_ manifestations of that truth
have prostrated Malthus and his generation for ever. This comes of not
attending to the Latin maxim--'_Hoc_ age'--mind the object before you.
Dr. Alison, a wise man, '_hoc_ egit:' Coleridge '_aliud_ egit.' And we
see the result. In a case which suited him, by interesting his peculiar
feeling, Coleridge could command

  'Attention full ten times as much as there needs.'

But search documents, value evidence, or thresh out bushels of
statistical tables, Coleridge could not, any more than he could ride
with Elliot's dragoons.

Another instance of Coleridge's inaptitude for such studies as political
economy is found in his fancy, by no means 'rich and rare,' but meagre
and trite, that taxes can never injure public prosperity by mere excess
of quantity; if they injure, we are to conclude that it must be by their
quality and mode of operation, or by their false appropriation, (as,
for instance, if they are sent out of the country and spent abroad.)
Because, says Coleridge, if the taxes are exhaled from the country as
vapors, back they come in drenching showers. Twenty pounds ascend in a
Scotch mist to the Chancellor of the Exchequer from Leeds; but does it
evaporate? Not at all: By return of post down comes an order for twenty
pounds' worth of Leeds cloth, on account of Government, seeing that
the poor men of the ----th regiment want new gaiters. True; but of this
return twenty pounds, not more than four will be profit, _i.e._, surplus
accruing to the public capital; whereas, of the original twenty pounds,
every shilling was surplus. The same unsound fancy has been many times
brought forward; often in England, often in France. But it is curious,
that its first appearance upon any stage was precisely two centuries
ago, when as yet political economy slept with the pre-Adamites, viz., in
the Long Parliament. In a quarto volume of the debates during 1644-45,
printed as an independent work, will be found the same identical
doctrine, supported very sonorously by the same little love of an
illustration from the see-saw of mist and rain.

Political economy was not Coleridge's forte. In politics he was happier.
In mere personal politics, he (like every man when reviewed from a
station distant by forty years) will often appear to have erred; nay,
he will be detected and nailed in error. But this is the necessity of us
all. Keen are the refutations of time. And absolute results to posterity
are the fatal touchstone of opinions in the past. It is undeniable,
besides, that Coleridge had strong personal antipathies, for instance,
to Messrs. Pitt and Dundas. Yet _why_, we never could understand. We
once heard him tell a story upon Windermere, to the late Mr. Curwen,
then M. P. for Workington, which was meant, apparently, to account
for this feeling. The story amounted to this; that, when a freshman at
Cambridge, Mr. Pitt had wantonly amused himself at a dinner party
in Trinity, in smashing with filberts (discharged in showers like
grape-shot) a most costly dessert set of cut glass, from which
Samuel Taylor Coleridge argued a principle of destructiveness in his
_cerebellum_. Now, if this dessert set belonged to some poor suffering
Trinitarian, and not to himself, we are of opinion that he was faulty,
and ought, upon his own great subsequent maxim, to have been coerced
into 'indemnity for the past, and security for the future.' But, besides
that this glassy _mythus_ belongs to an æra fifteen years earlier than
Coleridge's so as to justify a shadow of scepticism, we really cannot
find, in such an _escapade_ under the boiling blood of youth, any
sufficient justification of that withering malignity towards the name
of Pitt, which runs through Coleridge's famous _Fire, Famine,
and Slaughter_. As this little viperous _jeu-d'esprit_ (published
anonymously) subsequently became the subject of a celebrated
after-dinner discussion in London, at which Coleridge (_comme de
raison_) was the chief speaker, the reader of this generation may wish
to know the question at issue; and in order to judge of _that_, he must
know the outline of this devil's squib. The writer brings upon the scene
three pleasant young ladies, viz., Miss Fire, Miss Famine, and Miss
Slaughter. 'What are you up to? What's the row?'--we may suppose to
be the introductory question of the poet. And the answer of the ladies
makes us aware that they are fresh from larking in Ireland, and
in France. A glorious spree they had; lots of fun; and laughter _a
discretion_. At all times _gratus puellæ risus ab angulo_; so that we
listen to their little gossip with interest. They had been setting
men, it seems, by the ears; and the drollest little atrocities they do
certainly report. Not but we have seen better in the Nenagh paper, so
far as Ireland is concerned. But the pet little joke was in La Vendee.
Miss Famine, who is the girl for our money, raises the question--whether
any of them can tell the name of the leader and prompter to these high
jinks of hell--if so, let her whisper it.

  'Whisper it, sister, so and so,
  In a dark hint--distinct and low.'

Upon which the playful Miss Slaughter replies:--

  'Letters _four_ do form his name.
  *     *     *     *     *
  He came by stealth and unlock'd my den;
  And I have drunk the blood since then
  Of thrice three hundred thousand men.'

Good: but the sting of the hornet lies in the conclusion. If this
quadriliteral man had done so much for _them_, (though really, we think,
6s. 8d. might have settled his claim,) what, says Fire, setting her arms
a-kimbo, would they do for _him_? Slaughter replies, rather crustily,
that, as far as a good kicking would go--or (says Famine) a little
matter of tearing to pieces by the mob--they would be glad to take
tickets at his benefit. 'How, you bitches!' says Fire, 'is that all?

  'I alone am faithful; I
  _Cling to him everlastingly_.'

The sentiment is diabolical. And the question argued at the London
dinner-table was--Could the writer have been other than a devil? The
dinner was at the late excellent Mr. Sotheby's, known advantageously in
those days as the translator of Wieland's _Oberon_. Several of the great
guns amongst the literary body were present; in particular, Sir
Walter Scott; and he, we believe, with his usual good-nature, took the
apologetic side of the dispute. In fact, he was in the secret. Nobody
else, barring the author, knew at first whose good name was at stake.
The scene must have been high. The company kicked about the poor
diabolic writer's head as if it had been a tennis-ball. Coleridge, the
yet unknown criminal, absolutely perspired and fumed in pleading for the
defendant; the company demurred; the orator grew urgent; wits began to
_smoke_ the case, as active verbs; the advocate to _smoke_, as a neuter
verb; the 'fun grew fast and furious;' until at length _delinquent
arose_, burning tears in his eyes, and confessed to an audience, (now
bursting with stifled laughter, but whom he supposed to be bursting with
fiery indignation,) 'Lo! I am he that wrote it.'

For our own parts, we side with Coleridge. Malice is not always of the
heart. There is a malice of the understanding and the fancy. Neither do
we think the worse of a man for having invented the most horrible and
old-woman-troubling curse that demons ever listened to. We are too apt
to swear horribly ourselves; and often have we frightened the cat, to
say nothing of the kettle, by our shocking [far too shocking!] oaths.

There were other celebrated men whom Coleridge detested, or seemed
to detest--Paley, Sir Sidney Smith, Lord Hutchinson, (the last Lord
Donoughmore,) and Cuvier. To Paley it might seem as if his antipathy had
been purely philosophic; but we believe that partly it was personal;
and it tallies with this belief, that, in his earliest political tracts,
Coleridge charged the archdeacon repeatedly with his own joke, as if
it had been a serious saying, viz.--'That he could not afford to keep
a conscience;' such luxuries, like a carriage, for instance, being
obviously beyond the finances of poor men.

With respect to the philosophic question between the parties, as to the
grounds of moral election, we hope it is no treason to suggest that both
were perhaps in error. Against Paley, it occurs at once that he himself
would not have made consequences the _practical_ test in valuing the
morality of an act, since these can very seldom be traced at all up to
the final stages, and in the earliest stages are exceedingly different
under different circumstances; so that the same act, tried by its
consequences, would bear a fluctuating appreciation. This could not have
been Paley's _revised_ meaning. Consequently, had he been pressed
by opposition, it would have come out, that by _test_ he meant only
_speculative_ test: a very harmless doctrine certainly, but useless
and impertinent to any purpose of his system. The reader may catch our
meaning in the following illustration. It is a matter of general belief,
that happiness, upon the whole, follows in a higher degree from constant
integrity, than from the closest attention to self-interest. Now
happiness is one of those consequences which Paley meant by final or
remotest. But we could never use this idea as an exponent of integrity,
or interchangeable criterion, because happiness cannot be ascertained or
appreciated except upon long tracts of time, whereas the particular act
of integrity depends continually upon the election of the moment. No
man, therefore, could venture to lay down as a rule, Do what makes you
happy; use this as your test of actions, satisfied that in that case
always you will do the thing which is right. For he cannot discern
independently what _will_ make him happy; and he must decide on the
spot. The use of the _nexus_ between morality and happiness must
therefore be inverted; it is not practical or prospective, but simply
retrospective; and in that form it says no more than the good old rules
hallowed in every cottage. But this furnishes no practical guide for
moral election which a man had not, before he ever thought of this
_nexus_. In the sense in which it is true, we need not go to the
professor's chair for this maxim; in the sense in which it would serve
Paley, it is absolutely false.

On the other hand, as against Coleridge, it is certain that many acts
could be mentioned which are judged to be good or bad only because their
consequences are known to be so, whilst the great catholic acts of life
are entirely (and, if we may so phrase it, haughtily) independent of
consequences. For instance, fidelity to a trust is a law of immutable
morality subject to no casuistry whatever. You have been left executor
to a friend--you are to pay over his last legacy to X, though a
dissolute scoundrel; and you are to give no shilling of it to the
poor brother of X, though a good man, and a wise man, struggling
with adversity. You are absolutely excluded from all contemplation of
results. It was your deceased friend's right to make the will; it is
yours simply to see it executed. Now, in opposition to this primary
class of actions stands another, such as the habit of intoxication,
which are known to be wrong only by observing the consequences. If
drunkenness did not terminate, after some years, in producing bodily
weakness, irritability in the temper, and so forth, it would _not_ be a
vicious act. And accordingly, if a transcendent motive should arise in
favor of drunkenness, as that it would enable you to face a degree of
cold, or contagion, else menacing to life, a duty would arise, _pro hac
vice_, of getting drunk. We had an amiable friend who suffered under
the infirmity of cowardice; an awful coward he was when sober; but,
when very drunk, he had courage enough for the Seven Champions of
Christendom, Therefore, in an emergency, where he knew himself suddenly
loaded with the responsibility of defending a family, we approved highly
of his getting drunk. But to violate a trust could never become right
under any change of circumstances. Coleridge, however, altogether
overlooked this distinction: which, on the other hand, stirring in
Paley's mind, but never brought out to distinct consciousness, nor ever
investigated, nor limited, has undermined his system. Perhaps it is not
very important how a man _theorizes_ upon morality; happily for us all,
God has left no man in such questions practically to the guidance of his
understanding; but still, considering that academic bodies _are_
partly instituted for the support of speculative truth as well as truth
practical, we must think it a blot upon the splendor of Oxford and
Cambridge that both of them, in a Christian land, make Paley the
foundation of their ethics; the alternative being Aristotle. And, in
our mind, though far inferior as a moralist to the Stoics, Aristotle is
often less of a pagan than Paley.

Coleridge's dislike to Sir Sidney Smith and the Egyptian Lord Hutchinson
fell under the category of Martial's case.

  'Non amo te, Sabidi, nec possum dicere quare,
  Hoc solum novi--non amo te, Sabidi.'

Against Lord Hutchinson, we never heard him plead anything of moment,
except that he was finically Frenchified in his diction; of which he
gave this instance--that having occasion to notice a brick wall, (which
was literally _that_, not more and not less,) when reconnoitring the
French defences, he called it a _revêtement_. And we ourselves remember
his using the French word _gloriole_ rather ostentatiously; that is,
when no particular emphasis attached to the case. But every man has his
foibles; and few, perhaps, are less conspicuously annoying than this of
Lord Hutchinson's. Sir Sidney's crimes were less distinctly revealed
to our mind. As to Cuvier, Coleridge's hatred of _him_ was more to our
taste; for (though quite unreasonable, we fear) it took the shape of
patriotism. He insisted on it, that our British John Hunter was the
genuine article, and that Cuvier was a humbug. Now, speaking privately
to the public, we cannot go quite so far as _that_. But, when publicly
we address that most respectable character, _en grand costume_,
we always mean to back Coleridge. For we are a horrible John Bull
ourselves. As Joseph Hume observes, it makes no difference to us--right
or wrong, black or white--when our countrymen are concerned. And John
Hunter, notwithstanding he had a bee in his bonnet, [Footnote: _Vide_,
in particular, for the most exquisite specimen of pigheadedness that the
world can furnish, his perverse evidence on the once famous case at the
Warwick assizes, of Captain Donelan for poisoning his brother-in-law,
Sir Theodosius Boughton.] was really a great man; though it will not
follow that Cuvier must, therefore, have been a little one. We do not
pretend to be acquainted with the tenth part of Cuvier's performances;
but we suspect that Coleridge's range in that respect was not much
greater than our own.

Other cases of monomaniac antipathy we might revive from our
recollections of Coleridge, had we a sufficient motive. But in
compensation, and by way of redressing the balance, he had many strange
likings--equally monomaniac--and, unaccountably, he chose to exhibit his
whimsical partialities by dressing up, as it were, in his own clothes,
such a set of scarecrows as eye has not beheld. Heavens! what an ark
of unclean beasts would have been Coleridge's private _menagerie_
of departed philosophers, could they all have been trotted out in
succession! But did the reader feel them to be the awful bores which,
in fact, they were? No; because Coleridge had blown upon these withered
anatomies, through the blowpipe of his own creative genius, a stream of
gas that swelled the tissue of their antediluvian wrinkles, forced color
upon their cheeks, and splendor upon their sodden eyes. Such a process
of ventriloquism never _has_ existed. He spoke by their organs. They
were the tubes; and he forced through their wooden machinery his own
Beethoven harmonies.

First came Dr. Andrew Bell. We knew him. Was he dull? Is a wooden spoon
dull? Fishy were his eyes; torpedinous was his manner; and his main
idea, out of two which he really had, related to the moon--from which
you infer, perhaps, that he was lunatic. By no means. It was no craze,
under the influence of the moon, which possessed him; it was an idea of
mere hostility to the moon. The Madras people, like many others, had an
idea that she influenced the weather. Subsequently the Herschels,
senior and junior, systematized this idea; and then the wrath of Andrew,
previously in a crescent state, actually dilated to a plenilunar orb.
The Westmoreland people (for at the lakes it was we knew him) expounded
his condition to us by saying that he was 'maffled;' which word means
'perplexed in the extreme.' His wrath did not pass into lunacy; it
produced simple distraction; an uneasy fumbling with the idea; like that
of an old superannuated dog who longs to worry, but cannot for want of
teeth. In this condition you will judge that he was rather tedious. And
in this condition Coleridge took him up. Andrew's other idea, because he
_had_ two, related to education. Perhaps six-sevenths of that also came
from Madras. No matter, Coleridge took _that_ up; Southey also; but
Southey with his usual temperate fervor. Coleridge, on the other
hand, found celestial marvels both in the scheme and in the man. Then
commenced the apotheosis of Andrew Bell: and because it happened that
his opponent, Lancaster, between ourselves, really _had_ stolen his
ideas from Bell, what between the sad wickedness of Lancaster and the
celestial transfiguration of Bell, gradually Coleridge heated himself to
such an extent, that people, when referring to that subject, asked each
other, 'Have you heard Coleridge lecture on _Bel and the Dragon_?'

The next man glorified by Coleridge was John Woolman, the Quaker. Him,
though we once possessed his works, it cannot be truly affirmed that
we ever read. Try to read John, we often did; but read John we did not.
This, however, you say, might be our fault, and not John's. Very likely.
And we have a notion that now, with our wiser thoughts, we _should_ read
John, if he were here on this table. It is certain that he was a good
man, and one of the earliest in America, if not in Christendom, who
lifted up his hand to protest against the slave-trade. But still, we
suspect, that had John been all that Coleridge represented, he would
not have repelled us from reading his travels in the fearful way that he
did. But, again, we beg pardon, and entreat the earth of Virginia to lie
light upon the remains of John Woolman; for he was an Israelite, indeed,
in whom there was no guile.

The third person raised to divine honors by Coleridge was Bowyer, the
master of Christ's Hospital, London--a man whose name rises into
the nostrils of all who knew him with the gracious odor of a
tallow-chandler's melting-house upon melting day, and whose memory
is embalmed in the hearty detestation of all his pupils. Coleridge
describes this man as a profound critic. Our idea of him is different.
We are of opinion that Bowyer was the greatest villain of the eighteenth
century. We may be wrong; but we cannot be _far_ wrong. Talk of
knouting indeed! which we did at the beginning of this paper in the
mere playfulness of our hearts--and which the great master of the knout,
Christopher, who visited men's trespasses like the Eumenides, never
resorted to but in love for some great idea which had been outraged;
why, this man knouted his way through life, from bloody youth up to
truculent old age. Grim idol! whose altars reeked with children's blood,
and whose dreadful eyes never smiled except as the stern goddess of the
Thugs smiles, when the sound of human lamentations inhabits her ears.
So much had the monster fed upon this great idea of 'flogging,' and
transmuted it into the very nutriment of his heart, that he seems to
have conceived the gigantic project of flogging all mankind; nay
worse, for Mr. Gillman, on Coleridge's authority, tells us (p. 24) the
following anecdote:--'"_Sirrah, I'll flog you_," were words so familiar
to him, that on one occasion some _female_ friend of one of the boys,'
(who had come on an errand of intercession,) 'still lingering at the
door, after having been abruptly told to go, Bowyer exclaimed--"Bring
that woman here, and I'll flog her."'

To this horrid incarnation of whips and scourges, Coleridge, in his
_Biographia Literaria_, ascribes ideas upon criticism and taste, which
every man will recognise as the intense peculiarities of Coleridge.
Could these notions really have belonged to Bowyer, then how do we know
but he wrote _The Ancient Mariner_? Yet, on consideration, no. For even
Coleridge admitted that, spite of his fine theorizing upon composition,
Mr. Bowyer did not prosper in the practice. Of which he gave us this
illustration; and as it is supposed to be the only specimen of the
Bowyeriana which now survives in this sublunary world, we are glad to
extend its glory. It is the most curious example extant of the melodious
in sound:--

  ''Twas thou that smooth'd'st the rough-rugg'd bed of pain.'

'Smooth'd'st!' Would the teeth of a crocodile not splinter under that
word? It seems to us as if Mr. Bowyer's verses ought to be boiled before
they can be read. And when he says, 'Twas thou, what is the wretch
talking to? Can he be apostrophizing the knout? We very much fear it.
If so, then, you see (reader!) that, even when incapacitated by illness
from operating, he still adores the image of his holy scourge, and
invokes it as alone able to smooth 'his rough-rugg'd bed.' Oh,
thou infernal Bowyer! upon whom even Trollope (_History of Christ's
Hospital_) charges 'a discipline _tinctured_ with more than due
severity;'--can there be any partners found for thee in a quadrille,
except Draco, the bloody lawgiver, Bishop Bonner, and Mrs. Brownrigg?

The next pet was Sir Alexander Ball. Concerning Bowyer, Coleridge did
not talk much, but chiefly wrote; concerning Bell, he did not write
much, but chiefly talked. Concerning Ball, however, he both wrote
and talked. It was in vain to muse upon any plan for having Ball
blackballed, or for rebelling against Bell. Think of a man, who had
fallen into one pit called Bell; secondly, falling into another pit
called Ball. This was too much. We were obliged to quote poetry against

  'Letters four do form his name;
  He came by stealth and unlock'd my den;
  And the nightmare I have felt since then
  Of thrice three hundred thousand men.'

Not that we insinuate any disrespect to Sir Alexander Ball. He was
about the foremost, we believe, in all good qualities, amongst Nelson's
admirable captains at the Nile. He commanded a seventy-four most
effectually in that battle; he governed Malta as well as Sancho governed
Barataria; and he was a true practical philosopher--as, indeed, was
Sancho. But still, by all that we could ever learn, Sir Alexander had
no taste for the abstract upon any subject; and would have read, as
mere delirious wanderings, those philosophic opinions which Coleridge
fastened like wings upon his respectable, but astounded, shoulders.

We really beg pardon for having laughed a little at these crazes of
Coleridge. But laugh we did, of mere necessity, in those days, at
Bell and Ball, whenever we did not groan. And, as the same precise
alternative offered itself now, viz., that, in recalling the case, we
must reverberate either the groaning or the laughter, we presumed the
reader would vote for the last. Coleridge, we are well convinced, owed
all these wandering and exaggerated estimates of men--these diseased
impulses, that, like the _mirage_, showed lakes and fountains where
in reality there were only arid deserts, to the derangements worked by
opium. But now, for the sake of change, let us pass to another topic.
Suppose we say a word or two on Coleridge's accomplishments as a
scholar. We are not going to enter on so large a field as that of his
scholarship in connection with his philosophic labors, scholarship in
the result; not this, but scholarship in the means and machinery, range
of _verbal_ scholarship, is what we propose for a moment's review.

For instance, what sort of a German scholar was Coleridge? We dare
say that, because in his version of the _Wallenstein_ there are some
inaccuracies, those who may have noticed them will hold him cheap in
this particular pretension. But, to a certain degree, they will be
wrong. Coleridge was not _very_ accurate in anything but in the use of
logic. All his philological attainments were imperfect. He did not
talk German; or so obscurely--and, if he attempted to speak fast, so
erroneously--that in his second sentence, when conversing with a German
lady of rank, he contrived to assure her that in his humble opinion she
was a ----. Hard it is to fill up the hiatus decorously; but, in fact,
the word very coarsely expressed that she was no better than she should
be. Which reminds us of a parallel misadventure to a German, whose
colloquial English had been equally neglected. Having obtained an
interview with an English lady, he opened his business (whatever it
might be) thus--'High-born madam, since your husband have kicked de
bucket'----'Sir!' interrupted the lady, astonished and displeased. 'Oh,
pardon!--nine, ten thousand pardon! Now, I make new beginning--quite
oder beginning. Madam, since your husband have cut his stick'----It may
be supposed that this did not mend matters; and, reading that in the
lady's countenance, the German drew out an octavo dictionary, and said,
perspiring with shame at having a second time missed fire,--'Madam,
since your husband have gone to kingdom come'----This he said
beseechingly; but the lady was past propitiation by this time, and
rapidly moved towards the door. Things had now reached a crisis; and, if
something were not done quickly, the game was up. Now, therefore, taking
a last hurried look at his dictionary, the German flew after the lady,
crying out in a voice of despair--'Madam, since your husband, your most
respected husband, have hopped de twig'----This was his sheet-anchor;
and, as this also _came home_, of course the poor man was totally
wrecked. It turned out that the dictionary he had used (Arnold's, we
think,)--a work of a hundred years back, and, from mere ignorance,
giving slang translations from Tom Brown, L'Estrange, and other jocular
writers--had put down the verb _sterben (to die)_ with the following
worshipful series of equivalents--1. To kick the bucket; 2. To cut one's
stick; 3. To go to kingdom come; 4. To hop the twig.

But, though Coleridge did not pretend to any fluent command of
conversational German, he read it with great ease. His knowledge
of German literature was, indeed, too much limited by his rare
opportunities for commanding anything like a well-mounted library. And
particularly it surprised us that Coleridge knew little or nothing of
John Paul (Richter). But his acquaintance with the German philosophic
masters was extensive. And his valuation of many individual German words
or phrases was delicate and sometimes profound.

As a Grecian, Coleridge must be estimated with a reference to the state
and standard of Greek literature at that time and in this country.
Porson had not yet raised our ideal. The earliest laurels of Coleridge
were gathered, however, in that field. Yet no man will, at this day,
pretend that the Greek of his prize ode is sufferable. Neither did
Coleridge ever become an accurate Grecian in later times, when better
models of scholarship, and better aids to scholarship, had begun
to multiply. But still we must assert this point of superiority for
Coleridge, that, whilst he never was what may be called a well-mounted
scholar in any department of verbal scholarship, he yet displayed
sometimes a brilliancy of conjectural sagacity, and a felicity of
philosophic investigation, even in this path, such as better scholars do
not often attain, and of a kind which cannot be learned from books. But,
as respects his accuracy, again we must recall to the reader the state
of Greek literature in England during Coleridge's youth; and, in all
equity, as a means of placing Coleridge in the balances, specifically we
must recall the state of Greek metrical composition at that period.

To measure the condition of Greek literature even in Cambridge, about
the initial period of Coleridge, we need only look back to the several
translations of Gray's _Elegy_ by three (if not four) of the reverend
gentlemen at that time attached to Eton College. Mathias, no very great
scholar himself in this particular field, made himself merry, in his
_Pursuits of Literature_, with these Eton translations. In that he was
right. But he was _not_ right in praising a contemporary translation by
Cook, who (we believe) was the immediate predecessor of Porson in
the Greek chair. As a specimen of this translation, [Footnote: It was
printed at the end of Aristotle's _Poetics_, which Dr. Cook edited.] we
cite one stanza; and we cannot be supposed to select unfairly, because
it is the stanza which Mathias praises in extravagant terms. "Here,"
says he, "Gray, Cook, and Nature, do seem to contend for the mastery."
The English quatrain must be familiar to every body:--

  "The boast of heraldry, the pomp of pow'r,
    And all that beauty, all that wealth e'er gave,
  Await alike the inevitable hour:
    The paths of glory lead but to the grave."

And the following, we believe, though quoting from a thirty-three years'
recollection of it, is the exact Greek version of Cook:--

  'A charis eugenon, charis a basilaeidos achas
  Lora tuchaes chryseaes, Aphroditaes kala ta dora,
  Paith ama tauta tethiake, kai eiden morsimon amar
  Proon kle olole, kai ocheto xunon es Adaen.'

Now really these verses, by force of a little mosaic tesselation from
genuine Greek sources, pass fluently over the tongue; but can they be
considered other than a _cento_? Swarms of English schoolboys, at this
day, would not feel very proud to adopt them. In fact, we remember (at a
period say twelve years later than this) some iambic verses, which were
really composed by a boy, viz., a son of Dr. Prettyman, (afterwards
Tomline,) Bishop of Winchester, and, in earlier times, private tutor to
Mr. Pitt; they were published by Middleton, first Bishop of Calcutta,
in the preface to his work on the Greek article; and for racy idiomatic
Greek, self-originated, and not a mere mocking-bird's iteration of alien
notes, are so much superior to all the attempts of these sexagenarian
doctors, as distinctly to mark the growth of a new era and a new
generation in this difficult accomplishment, within the first decennium
of this century. It is singular that only one blemish is suggested by
any of the contemporary critics in Dr. Cook's verses, viz., in the
word _xunon_, for which this critic proposes to substitute _ooinon_,
to prevent, as he observes, the last syllable of _ocheto_ from being
lengthened by the _x_. Such considerations as these are necessary to the
_trutinæ castigatio_, before we can value Coleridge's place on the scale
of his own day; which day, _quoad hoc_, be it remembered, was 1790.

As to French, Coleridge read it with too little freedom to find pleasure
in French literature. Accordingly, we never recollect his referring for
any purpose, either of argument or illustration, to a French classic.
Latin, from his regular scholastic training, naturally he read with a
scholar's fluency; and indeed, he read constantly in authors, such as
Petrarch, Erasmus, Calvin, &c., whom he could not then have found in
translations. But Coleridge had not cultivated an acquaintance with the
delicacies of classic Latinity. And it is remarkable that Wordsworth,
educated most negligently at Hawkshead school, subsequently by reading
the lyric poetry of Horace, simply for his own delight as a student of
composition, made himself a master of Latinity in its most difficult
form; whilst Coleridge, trained regularly in a great Southern school,
never carried his Latin to any classical polish.

There is another accomplishment of Coleridge's, less broadly open to
the judgment of this generation, and not at all of the next--viz., his
splendid art of conversation, on which it will be interesting to say a
word. Ten years ago, when the music of this rare performance had not yet
ceased to vibrate in men's ears, what a sensation was gathering amongst
the educated classes on this particular subject! What a tumult of
anxiety prevailed to 'hear Mr. Coleridge'--or even to talk with a man
who _had_ heard him! Had he lived till this day, not Paganini would have
been so much sought after. That sensation is now decaying; because a new
generation has emerged during the ten years since his death. But many
still remain whose sympathy (whether of curiosity in those who did _not_
know him, or of admiration in those who _did_) still reflects as in a
mirror the great stir upon this subject which then was moving in the
world. To these, if they should inquire for the great distinguishing
principle of Coleridge's conversation, we might say that it was the
power of vast combination 'in linked sweetness long drawn out.'
He gathered into focal concentration the largest body of objects,
_apparently_ disconnected, that any man ever yet, by any magic, could
assemble, or, _having_ assembled, could manage. His great fault was,
that, by not opening sufficient spaces for reply or suggestion, or
collateral notice, he not only narrowed his own field, but he grievously
injured the final impression. For when men's minds are purely passive,
when they are not allowed to re-act, then it is that they collapse most,
and that their sense of what is said must ever be feeblest. Doubtless
there must have been great conversational masters elsewhere, and at many
periods; but in this lay Coleridge's characteristic advantage, that he
was a great natural power, and also a great artist. He was a power in
the art, and he carried a new art into the power.

But now, finally--having left ourselves little room for more--one or two
words on Coleridge as an opium-eater.

We have not often read a sentence falling from a wise man with
astonishment so profound, as that particular one in a letter of
Coleridge's to Mr. Gillman, which speaks of the effort to wean
one's-self from opium as a trivial task. There are, we believe, several
such passages. But we refer to that one in particular which assumes
that a single 'week' will suffice for the whole process of so mighty a
revolution. Is indeed leviathan _so_ tamed? In that case the quarantine
of the opium-eater might be finished within Coleridge's time, and
with Coleridge's romantic ease. But mark the contradictions of this
extraordinary man. Not long ago we were domesticated with a venerable
rustic, strong-headed, but incurably obstinate in his prejudices, who
treated the whole body of medical men as ignorant pretenders, knowing
absolutely nothing of the system which they professed to superintend.
This, you will remark, is no very singular case. No; nor, as we believe,
is the antagonist case of ascribing to such men magical powers. Nor,
what is worse still, the co-existence of both cases in the same mind,
as in fact happened here. For this same obstinate friend of ours, who
treated all medical pretensions as the mere jest of the universe, every
'third day was exacting from his own medical attendants some exquisite
_tour-de-force_, as that they should know or should do something,
which, if they _had_ known or done, all men would have suspected them
reasonably of magic. He rated the whole medical body as infants; and
yet what he exacted from them every third day as a matter of course,
virtually presumed them to be the only giants within the whole range of
science. Parallel and equal is the contradiction of Coleridge. He speaks
of opium excess, his own excess, we mean--the excess of twenty-five
years--as a thing to be laid aside easily and for ever within seven
days; and yet, on the other hand, he describes it pathetically,
sometimes with a frantic pathos, as the scourge, the curse, the one
almighty blight which had desolated his life.

This shocking contradiction we need not press. All readers will see
_that_. But some will ask--Was Mr. Coleridge right in either view?
Being so atrociously wrong in the first notion, (viz., that the opium
of twenty-five years was a thing easily to be forsworn,) where a child
could know that he was wrong, was he even altogether right, secondly,
in believing that his own life, root and branch, had been withered by
opium? For it will not follow, because, with a relation to happiness and
tranquillity, a man may have found opium his curse, that therefore, as
a creature of energies and great purposes, he must have been the wreck
which he seems to suppose. Opium gives and takes away. It defeats the
_steady_ habit of exertion, but it creates spasms of irregular exertion;
it ruins the natural power of life, but it develops preternatural
paroxysms of intermitting power. Let us ask of any man who holds that
not Coleridge himself but the world, as interested in Coleridge's
usefulness, has suffered by his addiction to opium; whether he is aware
of the way in which opium affected Coleridge; and secondly, whether
he is aware of the actual contributions to literature--how large they
were--which Coleridge made _in spite_ of opium. All who were intimate
with Coleridge must remember the fits of genial animation which were
created continually in his manner and in his buoyancy of thought by a
recent or by an _extra_ dose of the omnipotent drug. A lady, who knew
nothing experimentally of opium, once told us, that she 'could tell when
Mr. Coleridge had taken too much opium by his shining countenance.' She
was right; we know that mark of opium excesses well, and the cause of
it; or at least we believe the cause to lie in the quickening of the
insensible perspiration which accumulates and glistens on the face. Be
that as it may, a criterion it was that could not deceive us as to the
condition of Coleridge. And uniformly in that condition he made his most
effective intellectual displays. It is true that he might not be happy
under this fiery animation, and we fully believe that he was not. Nobody
is happy under laudanum except for a very short term of years. But in
what way did that operate upon his exertions as a writer? We are of
opinion that it killed Coleridge as a poet. 'The harp of Quantock' was
silenced for ever by the torment of opium. But proportionably it roused
and stung by misery his metaphysical instincts into more spasmodic life.
Poetry can flourish only in the atmosphere of happiness. But subtle and
perplexed investigations of difficult problems are amongst the commonest
resources for beguiling the sense of misery. And for this we have the
direct authority of Coleridge himself speculating on his own case.
In the beautiful though unequal ode entitled _Dejection_, stanza six,
occurs the following passage:

  'For not to think of what I needs must feel,
  But to be still and patient all I can;
  _And haply by abstruse research to steal
  From my own nature all the natural man_--
  This was my sole resource, my only plan;
  Till that, which suits a part, infects the whole,
  And now is almost grown the habit of my soul.'

Considering the exquisite quality of some poems which Coleridge has
composed, nobody can grieve (or _has_ grieved) more than ourselves, at
seeing so beautiful a fountain choked up with weeds. But had Coleridge
been a happier man, it is our fixed belief that we should have had far
less of his philosophy, and perhaps, but not certainly, might have
had more of his general literature. In the estimate of the public,
doubtless, _that_ will seem a bad exchange. Every man to his taste.
Meantime, what we wish to show is, that the loss was not absolute,
but merely relative.

It is urged, however, that, even on his philosophic speculations, opium
operated unfavorably in one respect, by often causing him to leave them
unfinished. This is true. Whenever Coleridge (being highly charged,
or saturated, with opium) had written with distempered vigor upon any
question, there occurred soon after a recoil of intense disgust, not
from his own paper only, but even from the subject. All opium-eaters are
tainted with the infirmity of leaving works unfinished, and suffering
reactions of disgust. But Coleridge taxed himself with that infirmity in
verse before he could at all have commenced opium-eating. Besides, it is
too much assumed by Coleridge and by his biographer, that to leave off
opium was of course to regain juvenile health. But all opium-eaters make
the mistake of supposing every pain or irritation which they suffer to
be the product of opium. Whereas a wise man will say, suppose you _do_
leave off opium, that will not deliver you from the load of years (say
sixty-three) which you carry on your back. Charles Lamb, another man of
true genius, and another head belonging to the Blackwood Gallery, made
that mistake in his _Confessions of a Drunkard_. 'I looked back,' says
he, 'to the time when always, on waking in the morning, I had a song
rising to my lips.' At present, it seems, being a drunkard, he has no
such song. Ay, dear Lamb, but note this, that the drunkard was fifty-six
years old, the songster was twenty-three. Take twenty-three from
fifty-six, and we have some reason to believe that thirty-three will
remain; which period of thirty-three years is a pretty good reason for
not singing in the morning, even if brandy has been out of the question.

It is singular, as respects Coleridge, that Mr. Gillman never says one
word upon the event of the great Highgate experiment for leaving off
laudanum, though Coleridge came to Mr. Gillman's for no other purpose;
and in a week, this vast creation of new earth, sea, and all that in
them is, was to have been accomplished. We _rayther_ think, as Bayley
junior observes, that the explosion must have hung fire. But _that_ is
a trifle. We have another pleasing hypothesis on the subject. Mr.
Wordsworth, in his exquisite lines written on a fly-leaf of his own
_Castle of Indolence_, having described Coleridge as 'a noticeable man
with large grey eyes,' goes on to say, 'He' (viz., Coleridge) 'did that
other man entice' to view his imagery. Now we are sadly afraid that 'the
noticeable man with large grey eyes' did entice 'that other man,' viz.,
Gillman, to commence opium-eating. This is droll; and it makes us laugh
horribly. Gillman should have reformed _him_; and lo! _he_ corrupts
Gillman. S. T. Coleridge visited Highgate by way of being converted
from the heresy of opium; and the issue is--that, in two months' time,
various grave men, amongst whom our friend Gillman marches first in
great pomp, are found to have faces shining and glorious as that of
AEsculapius; a fact of which we have already explained the secret
meaning. And scandal says (but then what will not scandal say?) that
a hogshead of opium goes up daily through Highgate tunnel. Surely one
corroboration of our hypothesis may be found in the fact, that Vol. I.
of Gillman's Coleridge is for ever to stand unpropped by Vol. II. For we
have already observed, that opium-eaters, though good fellows upon the
whole, never finish anything.

What then? A man has a right never to finish anything. Certainly he has;
and by Magna Charta. But he has no right, by Magna Charta or by Parva
Charta, to slander decent men, like ourselves and our friend the author
of the _Opium Confessions_. Here it is that our complaint arises against
Mr. Gillman. If he has taken to opium-eating, can we help _that_? If
_his_ face shines, must our faces be blackened? He has very improperly
published some intemperate passages from Coleridge's letters, which
ought to have been considered confidential, unless Coleridge had
left them for publication, charging upon the author of the _Opium
Confessions_ a reckless disregard of the temptations which, in that
work, he was scattering abroad amongst men. Now this author is connected
with ourselves, and we cannot neglect his defence, unless in the case
that he undertakes it himself.

We complain, also, that Coleridge raises (and is backed by Mr. Gillman
in raising) a distinction perfectly perplexing to us, between himself
and the author of the _Opium Confessions_ upon the question--Why they
severally began the practice of opium-eating? In himself, it seems, this
motive was to relieve pain, whereas the Confessor was surreptitiously
seeking for pleasure. Ay, indeed--where did he learn _that_? We have no
copy of the _Confessions_ here, so we cannot quote chapter and verse;
but we distinctly remember, that toothache is recorded in that book
as the particular occasion which first introduced the author to the
knowledge of opium. Whether afterwards, having been thus initiated
by the demon of pain, the opium confessor did not apply powers thus
discovered to purposes of mere pleasure, is a question for himself; and
the same question applies with the same cogency to Coleridge. Coleridge
began in rheumatic pains. What then? This is no proof that he did not
end in voluptuousness. For our parts, we are slow to believe that ever
any man did, or could, learn the somewhat awful truth, that in a certain
ruby-colored elixir, there lurked a divine power to chase away the
genius of ennui, without subsequently abusing this power. To taste but
once from the tree of knowledge, is fatal to the subsequent power
of abstinence. True it is, that generations have used laudanum as an
anodyne, (for instance, hospital patients,) who have not afterwards
courted its powers as a voluptuous stimulant; but that, be sure, has
arisen from no abstinence in _them_. There are, in fact, two classes of
temperaments as to this terrific drug--those which are, and those which
are not, preconformed to its power; those which genially expand to its
temptations, and those which frostily exclude them. Not in the energies
of the will, but in the qualities of the nervous organization, lies
the dread arbitration of--Fall or stand: doomed thou art to yield; or,
strengthened constitutionally, to resist. Most of those who have but a
low sense of the spells lying couchant in opium, have practically none
at all. For the initial fascination is for _them_ effectually defeated
by the sickness which nature has associated with the first stages of
opium-eating. But to that other class, whose nervous sensibilities
vibrate to their profoundest depths under the first touch of the angelic
poison, even as a lover's ear thrills on hearing unexpectedly the voice
of her whom he loves, opium is the Amreeta cup of beatitude. You know
the _Paradise Lost_? and you remember, from the eleventh book, in its
earlier part, that laudanum already existed in Eden--nay, that it was
used medicinally by an archangel; for, after Michael had 'purged with
euphrasy and rue' the eyes of Adam, lest he should be unequal to the
mere _sight_ of the great visions about to unfold their draperies before
him, next he fortifies his fleshly spirits against the _affliction_ of
these visions, of which visions the first was death. And how?

  'He from the well of life three drops instill'd.'

What was their operation?

  'So deep the power of these ingredients pierced,
  _Even to the inmost seat of mental sight_,
  That Adam, now enforced to close his eyes,
  Sank down, and all his spirits became entranced.
  But him the gentle angel by the hand
  Soon raised'----

The second of these lines it is which betrays the presence of laudanum.
It is in the faculty of mental vision, it is in the increased power of
dealing with the shadowy and the dark, that the characteristic virtue
of opium lies. Now, in the original higher sensibility is found some
palliation for the _practice_ of opium-eating; in the greater temptation
is a greater excuse. And in this faculty of self-revelation is found
some palliation for _reporting_ the case to the world, which both
Coleridge and his biographer have overlooked.


The most remarkable instance of a combined movement in society, which
history, perhaps, will be summoned to notice, is that which, in our own
days, has applied itself to the abatement of intemperance. Naturally,
or by any _direct_ process, the machinery set in motion would seem
irrelevant to the object: if one hundred men unite to elevate
the standard of temperance, they can do this with effect only by
improvements in their own separate cases: each individual, for such an
effort of self-conquest, can draw upon no resources but his own. One
member in a combination of one hundred, when running a race, can hope
for no cooperation from his ninety-nine associates. And yet, by a
secondary action, such combinations are found eminently successful.
Having obtained from every confederate a pledge, in some shape or
other, that he will give them his support, thenceforwards they bring the
passions of shame and self-esteem to bear upon each member's personal
perseverance. Not only they keep alive and continually refresh in his
thoughts the general purpose, which else might fade; but they also point
the action of public contempt and of self-contempt at any defaulter much
more potently, and with more acknowledged right to do so, when they use
this influence under a license, volunteered, and signed, and sealed, by
the man's own hand. They first conciliate his countenance through his
intellectual perceptions of what is right; and next they sustain it
through his conscience, (the strongest of his internal forces,) and
even through the weakest of his human sensibilities. That revolution,
therefore, which no combination of men can further by abating the
original impulse of temptations, they often accomplish happily by
maturing the secondary energies of resistance.

Already in their earliest stage, these temperance movements had
obtained, both at home and abroad, a _national_ range of grandeur. More
than ten years ago, when M. de Tocqueville was resident in the United
States, the principal American society counted two hundred and seventy
thousand members: and in one single state (Pennsylvania) the annual
diminution in the use of spirits had very soon reached half a million of
gallons. Now a machinery must be so far good which accomplishes its end:
the means are meritorious for so much as they effect. Even to strengthen
a feeble resolution by the aid of other infirmities, such as shame or
the very servility and cowardice of deference to public opinion, becomes
prudent and laudable in the service of so great a cause. Nay, sometimes
to make public profession of self-distrust by assuming the coercion of
public pledges, may become an expression of frank courage, or even of
noble principle, not fearing the shame of confession when it can aid the
powers of victorious resistance. Yet still, so far as it is possible,
every man sighs for a still higher victory over himself: a victory not
tainted by bribes, and won from no impulses but those inspired by his
own higher nature, and his own mysterious force of will; powers that in
no man were fully developed.

This being so, it is well that from time to time every man should throw
out any hints that have occurred to his experience,--suggesting such as
may be new, renewing such as may be old, towards the encouragement
or the information of persons engaged in so great a struggle. My own
experience had never travelled in that course which could much instruct
me in the miseries from wine, or in the resources for struggling with
it. I had repeatedly been obliged indeed to lay it aside altogether; but
in this I never found room for more than seven or ten days' struggle:
excesses I had never practised in the use of wine; simply the habit of
using it, and the collateral habits formed by excessive use of opium,
had produced any difficulty at all in resigning it even on an hour's
notice. From opium I derive my right of offering hints at all upon the
subjects of abstinence in other forms. But the modes of suffering
from the evil, and the separate modes of suffering from the effort of
self-conquest, together with errors of judgment incident to such states
of transitional torment, are all nearly allied, practically analogous
as regards the remedies, even if characteristically distinguished to the
inner consciousness. I make no scruple, therefore, of speaking as from
a station of high experience and of most watchful attention, which never
remitted even under sufferings that were at times absolutely frantic.

I. The first hint is one that has been often offered; viz., the
diminution of the particular liquor used, by the introduction into
each glass of some inert substance, ascertained in bulk, and equally
increasing in amount from day to day. But this plan has often been
intercepted by an accident: shot, or sometimes bullets, were the
substances nearest at hand; an objection arose from too scrupulous a
caution of chemistry as to the action upon lead of the vinous acid. Yet
all objection of this kind might be removed at once, by using beads in a
case where small decrements were wanted, and marbles, if it were thought
advisable to use larger. Once for all, however, in cases deeply rooted,
no advances ought ever to be made but by small stages: for the effect,
which is insensible at first, by the tenth, twelfth, or fifteenth day,
generally accumulates unendurably under any bolder deductions. I must
not stop to illustrate this point; but certain it is, that by an error
of this nature at the outset, most natural to human impatience under
exquisite suffering, too generally the trial is abruptly brought to an
end through the crisis of a passionate relapse.

II. Another object, and one to which the gladiator matched in single
duel with intemperance, must direct a religious vigilance, is the
_digestibility_ of his food: it must be digestible not only by its
original qualities, but also by its culinary preparation. In this last
point we are all of us Manichæans: all of us yield a cordial assent to
that Manichæan proverb, which refers the meats and the cooks of this
world to two opposite fountains of light and of darkness. Oromasdes it
is, or the good principle, that sends the food; Ahrimanes, or the evil
principle, that everywhere sends the cooks. Man has been repeatedly
described or even defined, as by differential privilege of his nature,
'A cooking animal.' Brutes, it is said, have faces,--man only has a
countenance; brutes are as well able to eat as man,--man only is able
to cook what he eats. Such are the romances of self-flattery. I, on the
contrary, maintain, that six thousand years have not availed, in this
point, to raise our race generally to the level of ingenious savages.
The natives of the Society and the Friendly Isles, or of New Zealand,
and other favored spots, had, and still have, an _art_ of cookery,
though very limited in its range: the French [Footnote: But judge not,
reader, of French skill by the attempts of fourth-rate artists; and
understand me to speak with respect of this skill, not as it is the tool
of luxury, but as it is the handmaid of health.] have an art, and
more extensive; but we English are about upon a level (as regards this
science) with the ape, to whom an instinct whispers that chestnuts may
be roasted; or with the aboriginal Chinese of Charles Lamb's story, to
whom the experience of many centuries had revealed thus much, viz., that
a dish very much beyond the raw flesh of their ancestors, might be had
by burning down the family mansion, and thus roasting the pig-stye.
Rudest of barbarous devices is English cookery, and not much in advance
of this primitive Chinese step; a fact which it would not be worth while
to lament, were it not for the sake of the poor trembling deserter from
the banners of intoxication, who is thus, and by no other cause, so
often thrown back beneath the yoke which he had abjured. Past counting
are the victims of alcohol, that, having by vast efforts emancipated
themselves for a season, are violently forced into relapsing by the
nervous irritations of demoniac cookery. Unhappily for _them_, the
horrors of indigestion are relieved for the moment, however ultimately
strengthened, by strong liquors; the relief is immediate, and cannot
fail to be perceived; but the aggravation, being removed to a distance,
is not always referred to its proper cause. This is the capital rock and
stumbling-block in the path of him who is hurrying back to the camps of
temperance; and many a reader is likely to misapprehend the case through
the habit he has acquired of supposing indigestion to lurk chiefly
amongst _luxurious_ dishes. But, on the contrary, it is amongst the
plainest, simplest, and commonest dishes that such misery lurks, in
England. Let us glance at three articles of diet, beyond all comparison
of most ordinary occurrence, viz., potatoes, bread, and butcher's meat.
The art of preparing potatoes for _human_ use is utterly unknown, except
in certain provinces of our empire, and amongst certain sections of the
laboring class. In our great cities,--London, Edinburgh, &c.--the sort
of things which you see offered at table under the name and reputation
of potatoes, are such that, if you could suppose the company to be
composed of Centaurs and Lapithæ, or any other quarrelsome people, it
would become necessary for the police to interfere. The potato of cities
is a very dangerous missile; and, if thrown with an accurate aim by an
angry hand, will fracture any known skull. In volume and consistency, it
is very like a paving-stone; only that, I should say, the paving-stone
had the advantage in point of tenderness. And upon this horrid basis,
which youthful ostriches would repent of swallowing, the trembling,
palpitating invalid, fresh from the scourging of alcohol, is requested
to build the superstructure of his dinner. The proverb says, that three
flittings are as bad as a fire; and on that model I conceive that three
potatoes, as they are found at many British dinner-tables, would be
equal, in principle of ruin, to two glasses of vitriol. The same savage
ignorance appears, and only not so often, in the bread of this island.
Myriads of families eat it in that early stage of sponge which bread
assumes during the process of baking; but less than sixty hours will not
fit this dangerous article of human diet to be eaten. And those who are
acquainted with the works of Parmentier, or other learned investigators
of bread and of the baker's art, must be aware that this quality of
sponginess (though quite equal to the ruin of the digestive organs) is
but one in a legion of vices to which the article is liable. A German of
much research wrote a book on the conceivable faults in a pair of shoes,
which he found to be about six hundred and sixty-six, many of them, as
he observed, requiring a very delicate process of study to find out;
whereas the possible faults in bread, which are not less in number,
require no study at all for the defection; they publish themselves
through all varieties of misery. But the perfection of barbarism, as
regards our island cookery, is reserved for animal food; and the two
poles of Oromasdes and Ahrimanes are nowhere so conspicuously exhibited.
Our insular sheep, for instance, are so far superior to any which the
continent produces, that the present Prussian minister at our court is
in the habit of questioning a man's right to talk of mutton as anything
beyond a great idea, unless he can prove a residence in Great Britain.
One sole case he cites of a dinner on the Elbe, when a particular leg of
mutton really struck him as rivalling any which he had known in England.
The mystery seemed inexplicable; but, upon inquiry, it turned out to
be an importation from Leith. Yet this incomparable article, to produce
which the skill of the feeder must co-operate with the peculiar bounty
of nature, calls forth the most dangerous refinements of barbarism in
its cookery. A Frenchman requires, as the primary qualification of flesh
meat, that it should be tender. We English universally, but especially
the Scots, treat that quality with indifference, or with bare
toleration. What we require is, that it should be fresh, that is,
recently killed, (in which state it cannot be digestible except by a
crocodile;) and we present it at table in a transition state of leather,
demanding the teeth of a tiger to rend it in pieces, and the stomach of
a tiger to digest it.

With these habits amongst our countrymen, exemplified daily in
the articles of widest use, it is evident that the sufferer from
intemperance has a harder quarantine, in this island, to support
during the effort of restoration, than he could have anywhere else in
Christendom. In Persia, and, perhaps, there only on this terraqueous
planet, matters might be even worse: for, whilst we English neglect the
machinery of digestion, as a matter entitled to little consideration,
the people of Teheran seem unaware that there _is_ any such machinery.
So, at least, one might presume, from cases on record, and especially
from the reckless folly, under severe illness, from indigestion, of
the three Persian princes, who visited this country, as stated by their
official _mehmander_, Mr. Fraser. With us, the excess of ignorance, upon
this subject, betrays itself oftenest in that vain-glorious answer made
by the people, who at any time are admonished of the sufferings which
they are preparing for themselves by these outrages upon the most
delicate of human organs. They, for _their_ parts, 'know not if they
_have_ a stomach; they know not what it is that dyspepsy means;'
forgetting that, in thus vaunting their _strength_ of stomach, they are,
at the same time, proclaiming its coarseness; and showing themselves
unaware that precisely those, whom such coarseness of organization
reprieves from immediate and seasonable reaction of suffering, are the
favorite subjects of that heavier reaction which takes the shape of
_delirium tremens_, of palsy, and of lunacy. It is but a fanciful
advantage which _they_ enjoy, for whom the immediate impunity avails
only to hide the final horrors which are gathering upon them from the
gloomy rear. Better, by far, that more of immediate discomfort had
guaranteed to them less of reversionary anguish. It may be safely
asserted, that few, indeed, are the suicides amongst us to which the
miseries of indigestion have not been a large concurring cause; and even
where nothing so dreadful as _that_ occurs, always these miseries are
the chief hinderance of the self-reforming drunkard, and the commonest
cause of his relapse. It is certain, also, that misanthropic gloom
and bad temper besiege that class, by preference, to whom peculiar
coarseness or obtuse sensibility of organization has denied the salutary
warnings and early prelibations of punishment which, happily for most
men, besiege the more direct and obvious frailties of the digestive

The whole process and elaborate machinery of digestion are felt to be
mean and humiliating when viewed in relation to our mere animal economy.
But they rise into dignity, and assert their own supreme importance,
when they arc studied from another station, viz., in relation to the
intellect and temper; no man dares, _then_, to despise them: it is then
seen that these functions of the human system form the essential basis
upon which the strength and health of our higher nature repose; and
that upon these functions, chiefly, the general happiness of life is
dependent. All the rules of prudence, or gifts of experience that life
can accumulate, will never do as much for human comfort and welfare as
would be done by a stricter attention, and a wiser science, directed
to the digestive system; in this attention lies the key to any perfect
restoration for the victim of intemperance: and, considering the
peculiar hostility to the digestive health which exists in the dietetic
habits of our own country, it may be feared that nowhere upon earth has
the reclaimed martyr to intemperance so difficult a combat to sustain;
nowhere, therefore, is it so important to direct the attention upon
an _artificial_ culture of those resources which naturally, and by the
established habits of the land, are surest to be neglected. The sheet
anchor for the storm-beaten sufferer, who is laboring to recover a haven
of rest from the agonies of intemperance, and who has had the fortitude
to abjure the poison which ruined, but which also, for brief intervals,
offered him his only consolation, lies, beyond all doubt, in a most
anxious regard to everything connected with this supreme function of
our animal economy. And, as few men that are not regularly trained to
medical studies can have the complex knowledge requisite for such a
duty, some printed guide should be sought of a regular professional
order. Twenty years ago, Dr. Wilson Philip published a valuable book of
this class, which united a wide range of practical directions as to the
choice of diet, and as to the qualities and tendencies of all esculent
articles likely to be found at British tables, with some ingenious
speculations upon the still mysterious theory of digestion. These were
derived from experiments made upon rabbits, and had originally been
communicated by him to the Royal Society of London, who judged them
worthy of publication in their Transactions. I notice them chiefly
for the sake of remarking, that the rationale of digestion, as here
suggested, explains the reason of a fact, which merely _as_ a fact, had
not been known until modern times, viz., the injuriousness to enfeebled
stomachs of all fluid. Fifty years ago--and still lingering inveterately
amongst nurses, and other ignorant persons--there prevailed a notion
that 'slops' must be the proper resource of the valetudinarian; and
the same erroneous notion appears in the common expression of ignorant
wonder at the sort of breakfasts usual amongst women of rank in the
times of Queen Elizabeth. 'What robust stomachs they must have had,
to support such solid meals!' As to the question of fact, whether the
stomachs were more or less robust in those days than at the present,
there is no need to offer an opinion. But the question of principle
concerned in scientific dietetics points in the very opposite direction.
By how much the organs of digestion are feebler, by so much is it the
more indispensable that solid food and animal food should be adopted.
A robust stomach may be equal to the trying task of supporting a fluid,
such as tea for breakfast; but for a feeble stomach, and still more for
a stomach _enfeebled_ by bad habits, broiled beef, or something equally
solid and animal, but not too much subjected to the action of fire, is
the only tolerable diet. This, indeed, is the one capital rule for a
sufferer from habitual intoxication, who must inevitably labor under
an impaired digestion; that as little as possible he should use of any
liquid diet, and as little as possible of vegetable diet. Beef, and a
little bread, (at the least sixty hours old,) compose the privileged
bill of fare for his breakfast. But precisely it is, by the way, in
relation to this earliest meal, that human folly has in one or two
instances shown itself most ruinously inventive. The less variety there
is at that meal, the more is the danger from any single luxury; and
there is one, known by the name of 'muffins,' which has repeatedly
manifested itself to be a plain and direct bounty upon suicide. Darwin,
in his 'Zoonomia,' reports a case where an officer, holding the rank of
lieutenant-colonel, could not tolerate a breakfast in which this odious
article was wanting; but, as a savage retribution invariably supervened
within an hour or two upon this act of insane sensuality, he came to
a resolution that life was intolerable _with_ muffins, but still more
intolerable _without_ muffins. He would stand the nuisance no longer;
but yet, being a just man, he would give nature one final chance of
reforming her dyspeptic atrocities. Muffins, therefore, being laid at
one angle of the breakfast-table, and loaded pistols at another, with
rigid equity the Colonel awaited the result. This was naturally pretty
much as usual: and then, the poor man, incapable of retreating from his
word of honor, committed suicide,--having previously left a line for
posterity to the effect (though I forget the expression), 'That a
muffinless world was no world for him: better no life at all than a life
dismantled of muffins.'--Dr. Darwin was a showy philosopher, and fond of
producing effect, so that some allowance must be made in construing the
affair. Strictly speaking, it is probable that not the especial want
of muffins, but the general torment of indigestion, was the curse from
which the unhappy sufferer sought relief by suicide. And the Colonel was
not the first by many a million, that has fled from the very same form
of wretchedness, or from its effects upon the genial spirits, to the
same gloomy refuge. It should never be forgotten that, although some
other more overt vexation is generally assigned as the proximate cause
of suicide, and often may be so as regards the immediate occasion, too
generally this vexation borrowed its whole power to annoy, from the
habitual atmosphere of irritation in which the system had been kept by
indigestion. So that indirectly, and virtually, perhaps, all suicides
may be traced to mismanaged digestion. Meantime, in alluding at all to
so dreadful a subject as suicide, I do so only by way of giving deeper
effect to the opinion expressed above, upon the chief cause of relapse
into habits of intemperance amongst those who have once accomplished
their deliverance. Errors of digestion, either from impaired powers, or
from powers not so much enfeebled as deranged, is the one immeasurable
source both of disease and of secret wretchedness to the human race.
Life is laid waste by the eternal fretting of the vital forces,
emanating from this one cause. And it may well be conceived, that if
cases so endless, even of suicide, in every generation, are virtually
traceable to this main root, much more must it be able to shake
and undermine the yet palpitating frame of the poor fugitive from
intemperance; since indigestion in every mode and variety of its changes
irresistibly upholds the temptation to that form of excitement which,
though one foremost cause of indigestion, is yet unhappily its sole
immediate palliation.

III. Next, after the most vigorous attention, and a scientific attention
to the digestive system, in power of operation, stands _exercise_. Here,
however, most people have their own separate habits, with respect to
the time of exercise, the duration, and the particular mode, on which a
stranger cannot venture to intrude with his advice. Some will not endure
the steady patience required for walking exercise; many benefit most by
riding on horseback; and in days when roads were more rugged, and the
springs of carriages less improved, I have known people who found
most advantage in the vibrations communicated to the frame by a heavy
rumbling carriage. For myself, under the ravages of opium, I have found
walking the most beneficial exercise; besides that, it requires no
previous notice or preparation of any kind; and this is a capital
advantage in a state of drooping energies, or of impatient and unresting
agitation. I may mention, as possibly an accident of my individual
temperament, but possibly, also, no accident at all, that the relief
obtained by walking was always most sensibly brought home to my
consciousness, when some part of it (at least a mile and a half) has
been performed before breakfast. In this there soon ceased to be any
difficulty; for, whilst under the full oppression of opium, it was
impossible for me to rise at any hour that could, by the most indulgent
courtesy, be described as within the pale of morning, no sooner had
there been established any considerable relief from this oppression,
than the tendency was in the opposite direction; the difficulty became
continually greater of sleeping even to a reasonable hour. Having once
accomplished the feat of walking at nine A. M., I backed, in a space of
seven or eight months, to eight o'clock, to seven, to six, five, four,
three; until at this point a metaphysical fear fell upon me that I was
actually backing into 'yesterday,' and should soon have no sleep at all.
Below three, however, I did not descend; and, for a couple of years,
three and a half hours' sleep was all that I could obtain in the
twenty-four hours. From this no particular suffering arose, except
the nervous impatience of lying in bed for one moment after awaking.
Consequently, the habit of walking before breakfast became at length
troublesome no longer as a most odious duty, but, on the contrary, as a
temptation that could hardly be resisted on the wettest mornings. As to
the quantity of the exercise, I found that six miles a day formed the
_minimum_ which would support permanently a particular standard of
animal spirits, evidenced to myself by certain apparent symptoms. I
averaged about nine and a half miles a day; but ascended on particular
days to fifteen or sixteen, and more rarely to twenty-three or
twenty-four; a quantity which did not produce fatigue, on the contrary
it spread a sense of improvement through almost the whole week that
followed; but usually, in the night immediately succeeding to such
an exertion, I lost much of my sleep; a privation that, under the
circumstances explained, deterred me from trying the experiment too
often. For one or two years, I accomplished more than I have here
claimed, viz., from six to seven thousand miles in the twelve months.
Let me add to this slight abstract of my own experience, in a point
where it is really difficult to offer any useful advice, (the tastes
and habits of men varying so much in this chapter of exercise,) that
one caution seems applicable to the case of all persons suffering from
nervous irritability, viz., that a secluded space should be measured off
accurately, in some private grounds not liable to the interruption or
notice of chance intruders; for these annoyances are unendurable to the
restless invalid; to be questioned upon trivial things is death to
him; and the perpetual anticipation of such annoyances is little less
distressing. Some plan must also be adopted for registering the number
of rounds performed. I once walked for eighteen months in a circuit so
confined that forty revolutions were needed to complete a mile. These
I counted, at one time, by a rosary of beads; every tenth round being
marked by drawing a blue bead, the other nine by drawing white beads.
But this plan, I found in practice, more troublesome and inaccurate than
that of using ten detached counters, stones, or anything else that was
large enough and solid. These were applied to the separate bars of a
garden chair; the first bar indicating of itself the first decade, the
second bar the second decade, and so on. In fact, I used the chair in
some measure as a Roman abacus, but on a still simpler plan; and as the
chair offered sixteen bars, it followed, that on covering the last bar
of the series with the ten markers, I perceived without any trouble of
calculation the accomplishment of my fourth mile.

A necessity, more painful to me by far than that of taking continued
exercise, arose out of a cause which applies, perhaps, with the same
intensity only to opium cases, but must also apply in some degree to all
cases of debilitation from morbid stimulation of the nerves, whether
by means of wine, or opium, or distilled liquors. In travelling on the
outside of mails, during my youthful days, for I could not endure the
inside, occasionally, during the night-time, I suffered naturally from
cold: no cloaks, &c. were always sufficient to relieve this; and I then
made the discovery that opium, after an hour or so, diffuses a warmth
deeper and far more permanent than could be had from any other known
source. I mention this, to explain, in some measure, the awful passion
of cold which for some years haunted the inverse process of laying aside
the opium. It was a perfect frenzy of misery; cold was a sensation which
then first, as a mode of torment, seemed to have been revealed. In
the months of July and August, and not at all the less during the very
middle watch of the day, I sate in the closest proximity to a blazing
fire; cloaks, blankets, counterpanes, hearthrugs, horse-cloths, were
piled upon my shoulders, but with hardly a glimmering of relief. At
night, and after taking coffee, I felt a little warmer, and could
sometimes afford to smile at the resemblance of my own case to that of
Harry Gill. [Footnote: 'Harry Gill:'--Many readers, in this generation,
may not be aware of this ballad as one amongst the early poems of
Wordsworth. Thirty or forty years ago, it was the object of some insipid
ridicule, which ought, perhaps, in another place, to be noticed. And,
doubtless, this ridicule was heightened by the false impression that
the story had been some old woman's superstitious fiction, meant to
illustrate a supernatural judgment on hard-heartedness. But the story
was a physiologic fact; and, originally, it had been brought forward in
a philosophic work, by Darwin, who had the reputation of an irreligious
man, and even of an infidel. A bold freethinker he certainly was: a
Deist, and, by public repute, something more.] But, secretly, I was
struck with awe at the revelation of powers so unsearchably new, lurking
within old affections so familiarly known as cold. Upon the analogy of
this case, it might be thought that nothing whatever had yet been
truly and seriously felt by man; nothing searched or probed by human
sensibilities, to a depth below the surface. If cold could give out
mysteries of suffering so novel, all things in the world might be yet
unvisited by the truth of human sensations. All experience, worthy of
the name, was yet to begin. Meantime, the external phenomenon, by which
the cold expressed itself, was a sense (but with little reality) of
eternal freezing perspiration. From this I was never free; and at
length, from finding one general ablution sufficient for one day, I was
thrown upon the irritating necessity of repeating it more frequently
than would seem credible, if stated. At this time, I used always hot
water; and a thought occurred to me very seriously that it would be best
to live constantly, and, perhaps, to sleep in a bath. What caused me to
renounce this plan, was an accident that compelled me for one day to use
cold water. This, first of all, communicated any lasting warmth; so that
ever afterwards I used none _but_ cold water. Now, to live in a _cold_
bath, in our climate, and in my own state of preternatural sensibility
to cold, was not an idea to dally with. I wish to mention, however, for
the information of other sufferers in the same way, one change in the
mode of applying the water, which led to a considerable and a sudden
improvement in the condition of my feelings. I had endeavored to procure
a child's battledore, as an easy means (when clothed with sponge) of
reaching the interspace between the shoulders; which interspace, by the
way, is a sort of Bokhara, so provokingly situated, that it will neither
suffer itself to be reached from the north, in which direction even the
Czar, with his long arms, has only singed his own fingers, and lost six
thousand camels; nor at all better from the south, upon which line
of approach the greatest potentate in Southern Asia, viz., No.--, in
Leadenhall Street, has found it the best policy to pocket the little
Khan's murderous defiances and persevering insults. There is no
battledore long enough to reach him in either way. In my own difficulty,
I felt almost as perplexed as the Honorable East India Company, when I
found that no battledore was to be had; for no town was near at hand.
In default of a battledore, therefore, my necessity threw my experiment
upon a long hair-brush; and this, eventually, proved of much greater
service than any sponge or any battledore; for, the friction of the
brush caused an irritation on the surface of the skin, which, more than
anything else, has gradually diminished the once continual misery of
unrelenting frost; although even yet it renews itself most distressingly
at uncertain intervals.

IV. I counsel the patient not to make the mistake of supposing that his
amendment will necessarily proceed continuously, or by equal increments;
because this, which is a common notion, will certainly lead to dangerous
disappointments. How frequently I have heard people encouraging a
self-reformer by such language as this:--'When you have got over the
fourth day of abstinence, which suppose to be Sunday, then Monday will
find you a trifle better; Tuesday better still,--though still it should
be only by a trifle; and so on. You may, at least, rely on never going
back; you may assure yourself of having seen the worst; and the positive
improvements, if trifles separately, must soon gather into a sensible
magnitude.' This may be true in a case of short standing: but, as a
general rule, it is perilously delusive. On the contrary, the line of
progress, if exhibited in a geometrical construction, would describe
an ascending path upon the whole, but with frequent retrocessions into
descending curves, which, compared with the point of ascent that had
been previously gained and so vexatiously interrupted, would sometimes
seem deeper than the original point of starting. This mortifying
tendency I can report from experience many times repeated with regard
to opium; and so unaccountably, as regarded all the previous grounds of
expectation, that I am compelled to suppose it a tendency inherent in
the very nature of all self-restorations for animal systems. They
move perhaps necessarily _per saltum_, by, intermitting spasms, and
pulsations of unequal energy.

V. I counsel the patient frequently to call back before his
thoughts--when suffering sorrowful collapses, that seem unmerited by
anything done or neglected--that such, and far worse, perhaps, must
have been his experience, and with no reversion of hope behind, had he
persisted in his intemperate indulgencies; _these_ also suffer their own
collapses, and (so far as things not co-present can be compared) by many
degrees more shocking to the genial instincts.

VI. I exhort him to believe, that no movement on his own part, not the
smallest conceivable, towards the restoration of his healthy state, can
by possibility perish. Nothing in this direction is finally lost; but
often it disappears and hides itself; suddenly, however, to reappear,
and in unexpected strength, and much more hopefully; because such
minute elements of improvement, by reappearing at a remoter stage, show
themselves to have combined with other elements of the same kind: so
that equally by their gathering tendency and their duration through
intervals of apparent darkness, and below the current of what seemed
absolute interruption, they argue themselves to be settled in the
system. There is no good gift that does not come from God: almost his
greatest is health, with the peace which it inherits; and man must reap
_this_ on the same terms as he was told to reap God's earliest gift, the
fruits of the earth, viz.: 'in the sweat of his brow,' through labor,
often through sorrow, through disappointment, but still through
imperishable perseverance, and hoping under clouds, when all hope seems

VII. It is difficult, in selecting from many memoranda of warning and
encouragement, to know which to prefer when the space disposable is
limited. But it seems to me important not to omit this particular
caution: The patient will be naturally anxious, as he goes on,
frequently to test the amount of his advance, and its rate, if that
were possible. But this he will see no mode of doing, except through
tentative balancings of his feelings, and generally of the moral
atmosphere around him, as to pleasure and hope, against the
corresponding states, so far as he can recall them from his periods of
intemperance. But these comparisons, I warn him, are fallacious, when
made in this way; the two states are incommensurable on any plan of
_direct_ comparison. Some common measure must be found, and, _out of
himself_; some positive fact, that will not bend to his own delusive
feeling at the moment; as, for instance, in what degree he finds
tolerable what heretofore was _not_ so--the effort of writing letters,
or transacting business, or undertaking a journey, or overtaking the
arrears of labor, that had been once thrown off to a distance. If
in these things he finds himself improved, by tests that cannot be
disputed, he may safely disregard any sceptical whispers from a wayward
sensibility which cannot yet, perhaps, have recovered its normal health,
however much improved. His inner feelings may not yet point steadily
to the truth, though they may vibrate in that direction. Besides, it is
certain that sometimes very manifest advances, such as any medical man
would perceive at a glance, carry a man through stages of agitation and
discomfort. A far worse condition might happen to be less agitated,
and so far more bearable. Now, when a man is positively suffering
discomfort, when he is below the line of pleasurable feeling, he is
no proper judge of his own condition, which he neither will nor can
appreciate. Tooth-ache extorts more groans than dropsy.

VIII. Another important caution is, not to confound with the effects of
intemperance any other natural effects of debility from advanced years.
Many a man, having begun to be intemperate at thirty, enters at sixty
or upwards upon a career of self-restoration. And by self-restoration he
understands a renewal of that state in which he was when first swerving
from temperance. But that state, for his memory, is coincident with his
state of youth. The two states are coadunated. In his recollections they
are intertwisted too closely. But life, without any intemperance at
all, would soon have untwisted them. Charles Lamb, for instance, at
forty-five, and Coleridge at sixty, measured their several conditions
by such tests as the loss of all disposition to involuntary murmuring of
musical airs or fragments when rising from bed. Once they had sung
when rising in the morning light; now they sang no more. The _vocal_
utterance of joy, for _them_, was silenced for ever. But these are
amongst the changes that life, stern power, inflicts at any rate;
these would have happened, and above all, to men worn by the unequal
irritations of too much thinking, and by those modes of care

  That kill the bloom before its time,
  And blanch without the owner's crime
  The most resplendent hair,

not at all the less had the one drunk no brandy, nor the other any
laudanum. A man must submit to the conditions of humanity, and not
quarrel with a cure as incomplete, because in his climacteric year of
sixty-three, he cannot recover, entirely, the vivacities of thirty-five.
If, by dipping seven times in Jordan, he had cleansed his whole leprosy
of intemperance; if, by going down into Bethesda, he were able to mount
again upon the pinions of his youth,--even then he might querulously
say,--'But, after all these marvels in my favor, I suppose that one
of these fine mornings I, like other people, shall have to bespeak
a coffin.' Why, yes, undoubtedly he will, or somebody _for_ him. But
privileges so especial were not promised even by the mysterious waters
of Palestine. Die he must. And counsels tendered to the intemperate do
not hope to accomplish what might have been beyond the baths of Jordan
or Bethesda. They do enough, if, being executed by efforts in the spirit
of earnest sincerity, they make a life of _growing_ misery moderately
happy for the patient; and, through that great change, perhaps, more
than moderately useful for others.

IX. One final remark I will make:--pointed to the case, not of the yet
struggling patient, but of him who is fully re-established; and the more
so, because I (who am no hypocrite, but, rather, frank to an infirmity)
acknowledge, in myself, the trembling tendency at intervals, which
would, if permitted, sweep round into currents that might be hard to
overrule. After the absolute restoration to health, a man is very apt to
say,--'Now, then, how shall I use my health? To what delightful purpose
shall I apply it? Surely it is idle to carry a fine jewel in one's
watch-pocket, and never to astonish the weak minds of this world,
by wearing it and flashing it in their eyes.' 'But how?' retorts his
philosophic friend; 'my good fellow, are you not using it at this
moment? Breathing, for instance, talking to me, (though rather
absurdly,) and airing your legs at a glowing fire?' 'Why, yes,' the
other confesses, 'that is all true; but I am dull; and, if you will
pardon my rudeness, even in spite of your too philosophic presence. It
is painful to say so, but sincerely, if I had the power, at this moment,
to turn you, by magic, into a bottle of old port wine, so corrupt is
my nature, that really I fear lest the exchange might, for the moment,
strike me as agreeable.' Such a mood, I apprehend, is apt to revolve
upon many of us, at intervals, however firmly married to temperance. And
the propensity to it has a root in certain analogies running through
our nature. If the reader will permit me for a moment the use of what,
without such an apology, might seem pedantic, I would call it the
instinct of _focalizing_, which prompts such random desires. Feeling is
diffused over the whole surface of the body; but light is focalized in
the eye; sound in the ear. The organization of a sense or a pleasure
seems diluted and imperfect, unless it is gathered by some machinery
into one focus, or local centre. And thus it is that a general state of
pleasurable feeling sometimes seems too superficially diffused, and one
has a craving to intensify or brighten it by concentration through some
sufficient stimulant. I, for my part, have tried every thing in this
world except '_bang_,' which, I believe, is obtained from hemp. There
are other preparations of hemp which have been found to give great
relief from _ennui_; not ropes, but something lately introduced, which
acts upon the system as the laughing gas (nitrous oxide) acts at times.
One farmer in Mid-Lothian was mentioned to me, eight months ago, as
having taken it, and ever since annoyed his neighbors by immoderate
fits of laughter; so that in January it was agreed to present him to the
sheriff as a nuisance. But, for some reason, the plan was laid aside;
and now, eight months later, I hear that the farmer is laughing more
rapturously than ever, continues in the happiest frame of mind, the
kindest of creatures, and the general torment of his neighborhood. Now,
I confess to having had a lurking interest in this extract of hemp, when
first I heard of it: and at intervals a desire will continue to make
itself felt for some deeper compression or centralization of the genial
feelings than ordinary life affords. But old things will not avail, and
new things I am now able to resist. Still, as the occasional craving
does really arise in most men, it is well to notice it; and chiefly for
the purpose of saying, that this dangerous feeling wears off by degrees;
and oftentimes for long periods it intermits so entirely as to be even
displaced by a profound disgust to all modes of artificial stimulation.
At those times I have remarked that the pleasurable condition of health
does _not_ seem weakened by its want of centralization. It seems to form
a thousand centres. This it is well to know; because there are many who
would resist effectually, if they were aware of any natural change going
on silently in favor of their own efforts, such as would finally ratify
the success. Towards such a result they would gladly contribute by
waiting and forbearing; whilst, under despondency as to this result,
they might more easily yield to some chance temptation.

Finally, there is something to interest us in the _time_ at which this
temperance movement has begun to stir. Let me close with a slight notice
of what chiefly impresses myself in the relation between this time and
the other circumstances of the case. In reviewing history, we may see
something more than mere convenience in distributing it into three
chambers; ancient history, ending in the space between the Western
Empire falling and Mahomet arising; modern history, from that time to
this; and a new modern history arising at present, or from the
French Revolution. Two great races of men, our own in a two-headed
form--British and American, and secondly, the Russian, are those which,
like rising deluges, already reveal their mission to overflow the earth.
Both these races, partly through climate, or through derivation of
blood, and partly through the contagion of habits inevitable to brothers
of the same nation, are tainted carnally with the appetite for brandy,
for slings, for juleps. And no fire racing through the forests of Nova
Scotia for three hundred miles in the direction of some doomed city,
ever moved so fiercely as the infection of habits amongst the dense and
fiery populations of republican North America.

But it is remarkable, that the whole _ancient_ system of civilization,
all the miracles of Greece and Rome, Persia and Egypt, moved by the
machinery of races that were _not_ tainted with any such popular
_marasmus_. The taste was slightly sowed, as an _artificial_ taste,
amongst luxurious individuals, but never ran through the laboring
classes, through armies, through cities The blood and the climate
forbade it. In this earliest era of history, all the great races,
consequently all the great empires, threw themselves, by accumulation,
upon the genial climates of the south,--having, in fact, the magnificent
lake of the Mediterranean for their general centre of evolutions. Round
this lake, in a zone of varying depth, towered the whole grandeurs of
the Pagan earth. But, in such climates, man is naturally temperate.
He is so by physical coercion, and for the necessities of rest and
coolness. The Spaniard, the Moor, or the Arab, has no merit in his
temperance. The effort, for _him_, would be to form the taste for
alcohol. He has a vast foreground of disgust to traverse before he can
reach a taste so remote and alien. No need for resistance in his will
where nature resists on his behalf. Sherbet, shaddocks, grapes,
these were innocent applications to thirst. And the great republic of
antiquity said to her legionary sons:--'Soldier, if you thirst, there
is the river;--Nile, suppose, or Ebro. Better drink there cannot be.
Of this you may take "at discretion." Or, if you wait till the
_impedimenta_ come up, you may draw your ration of _Posca_' What was
_posca_? It was, in fact, acidulated water; three parts of superfine
water to one part of the very best vinegar. Nothing stronger did Rome,
that awful mother, allow to her dearest children, _i. e._, her legions.
Truest of blessings, that veiling itself in seeming sternness, drove
away the wicked phantoms that haunt the couches of yet greater nations.
'The blessings of the evil genii,' says an Eastern proverb, 'these are
curses.' And the stern refusals of wisely loving mothers,--these are the
mightiest of gifts.

Now, on the other hand, our northern climates have universally the
taste, latent if not developed, for powerful liquors. And through their
blood, as also through the natural tendency of the imitative principle
amongst compatriots, from these high latitudes the greatest of our
modern nations propagate the contagion to their brothers, though
colonizing warm climates. And it is remarkable that our modern
preparations of liquors, even when harmless in their earliest stages,
are fitted, like stepping-stones, for making the transition to higher
stages that are _not_ harmless. The weakest preparations from malt,
lead, by graduated steps, to the strongest; until we arrive at
the intoxicating porter of London, which, under its local name (so
insidiously delusive) of '_beer_,' diffuses the most extensive ravages.

Under these marked circumstances of difference between the ruling races
of antiquity and of our modern times, it now happens that the greatest
era by far of human expansion is opening upon us. Two vast movements are
hurrying into action by velocities continually accelerated--the great
revolutionary movement from political causes concurring with the
great physical movement in locomotion and social intercourse, from the
gigantic (though still infant) powers of steam. No such Titan resources
for modifying each other were ever before dreamed of by nations: and
the next hundred years will have changed the face of the world. At the
opening of such a crisis, had no third movement arisen of resistance to
intemperate habits, there would have been ground for despondency as to
the amelioration of the human race. But, as the case stands, the new
principle of resistance nationally to bad habits, has arisen almost
concurrently with the new powers of national intercourse; and
henceforward by a change equally sudden and unlooked for, that new
machinery, which would else most surely have multiplied the ruins
of intoxication, has become the strongest agency for hastening its


Few people need to be told--that associations exist up and down
Christendom, having the ambitious object of abolishing war. Some go so
far as to believe that this evil of war, so ubiquitous, so ancient and
apparently so inalienable from man's position upon earth, is already
doomed; that not the private associations only, but the prevailing
voice of races the most highly civilized, may be looked on as tending to
confederation against it; that sentence of extermination has virtually
gone forth, and that all which remains is gradually to execute that
sentence. Conscientiously I find myself unable to join in these views.
The project seems to me the most romantic of all romances in the course
of publication. Consequently, when asked to become a member in any such
association, I have always thought it most respectful, because most
sincere, to decline. Yet, as it is painful to refuse all marks of
sympathy with persons whose motives one honors, I design at my death to
bequeath half-a-crown to the chief association for extinguishing war;
the said half-crown to be improved in all time coming for the benefit of
the association, under the trusteeship of Europe, Asia, and America,
but not of Africa. I really dare not trust Africa with money, she is not
able as yet to take care of herself. This half-crown, a fund that will
overshadow the earth before it comes to be wanted under the provisions
of my will, is to be improved at any interest whatever--no matter what;
for the vast period of the accumulations will easily make good any
tardiness of advance, long before the time comes for its commencing
payment; a point which will be soon understood from the following
explanation, by any gentleman that hopes to draw upon it.

There is in Ceylon a granite _cippus_, or monumental pillar, of
immemorial antiquity; and to this pillar a remarkable legend is
attached. The pillar measures six feet by six, _i. e._ thirty-six
square feet, on the flat tablet of its horizontal surface; and in height
several _riyanas_, (which arc Ceylonese cubits of eighteen inches each,)
but of these cubits, there are either eight or twelve; excuse me for
having forgotten which. At first, perhaps, you will be angry, viz.,
when you hear that this simple difference of four cubits, or six feet,
measures a difference for your expectations, whether you count your
expectations in kicks or halfpence, that absolutely strikes horror into
arithmetic. The singularity of the case is, that the very solemnity of
the legend and the wealth of the human race in time, depend upon the
cubical contents of the monument, so that a loss of one granite chip is
a loss of a frightful infinity; yet, again, for that very reason, the
loss of all _but_ a chip, leaves behind riches so appallingly too rich,
that everybody is careless about the four cubits. Enough is as good as
a feast. Two bottomless abysses take as much time for the diver as ten;
and five eternities are as frightful to look down as four-and-twenty. In
the Ceylon legend all turns upon the inexhaustible series of ages which
this pillar guarantees. But, as one inexhaustible is quite enough for
one race of men, and you are sure of more by ineffable excess than you
can use in any private consumption of your own, you become generous;
'and between friends,' you say, in accepting my apologies for the
doubtful error as to the four cubits, 'what signifies an infinity more
or less?'

For the Ceylonese legend is this, that once in every hundred years
an angel visits this granite pillar. He is dressed in a robe of
white muslin, muslin of that kind which the Romans called _aura
textilis_--woven, as might seem, from zephyrs or from pulses of the air,
such in its transparency, such in its gossamer lightness. Does the angel
touch the pillar with his foot? Oh no! Even _that_ would be something,
but even _that_ is not allowed. In his soundless flight across it, he
suffers the hem of his impalpable robe to sweep the surface as softly
as a moon-beam. So much and no more of pollution he endures from contact
with earthly objects. The lowest extremity of his dress, but with the
delicacy of light, grazes the granite surface. And _that_ is all the
attrition which the sacred granite receives in the course of any one
century, and this is all the progress which we, the poor children of
earth, in any one century make towards the exhaustion of our earthly
imprisonment. But, argues the subtle legend, even _that_ attrition,
when weighed in metaphysical scales, cannot be denied its value; it
has detached from the pillar an atom (no matter that it is an invisible
atom) of granite dust, the ratio of which atom to a grain avoirdupois,
if expressed as a fraction of unity, would by its denominator stretch
from the Accountant-General's office in London to the Milky Way. Now
the total mass of the granite represents, on this scheme of payment, the
total funded debt of man's race to Father Time and earthly corruption;
all this intolerable score, chalked up to our debit, we by ourselves and
our representatives have to rub off, before the granite will be rubbed
away by the muslin robe of the proud flying angel, (who, if he were a
good fellow, might just as well give a sly kick with his heel to
the granite,) before time will be at an end, and the burden of flesh
accomplished. But you hear it expressed in terms that will astonish
Baron Rothschild, what is the progress in liquidation which we make
for each particular century. A billion of centuries pays off a quantity
equal to a pinch of snuff. Despair seizes a man in contemplating a
single _coupon_, no bigger than a visiting card, of such a stock as
this; and behold we have to keep on paying away until the total granite
is reduced to a level with a grain of mustard-seed. But when that is
accomplished, thank heaven, our last generation of descendants will
be entitled to leave at Master Time's door a visiting card, which the
meagre shadow cannot refuse to take, though he will sicken at seeing it;
viz., a P. P. C. card, upon seeing which, the old thief is bound to give
receipt in full for all debts and pretended arrears.

The reader perhaps knows of debts on both sides the Atlantic that have
no great prospect of being paid off sooner than this in Ceylon.

And naturally, to match this order of debts, moving off so slowly, there
are funds that accumulate as slowly. My own funded half-crown is an
illustration. The half-crown will travel in the inverse order of the
granite pillar. The pillar and the half-crown move upon opposite tacks;
and there _is_ a point of time (which it is for Algebra to investigate)
when they will cross each other in the exact moment of their several
bisections--my aspiring half-crown tending gradually towards the fixed
stars, so that perhaps it might be right to make the man in the moon
trustee for that part of the accumulations which rises above the optics
of sublunary bankers; whilst the Ceylon pillar is constantly unweaving
its own granite texture, and dwindling earthwards. It is probable that
each of the parties will have reached its consummation about the same
time. What is to be done with the mustard-seed, Ceylon has forgotten to
say. But what is to be done with the half-crown and its surplus, nobody
can doubt after reading my last will and testament. After reciting a few
inconsiderable legacies to the three continents, and to the man in the
moon, for any trouble they may have had in managing the hyperbolical
accumulations, I go on to observe, that, when war is reported to have
taken itself off for ever, 'and no mistake,' (because I foresee many
false alarms of a perpetual peace,) a variety of inconveniences will
arise to all branches of the United Service, including the Horse
Marines. Clearly there can be no more half-pay; and even more clearly,
there is an end to full-pay. Pensions are at an end for 'good service.'
Allowances for wounds cannot be thought of, when all wounds shall have
ceased except those from female eyes--for which the Horse Guards is too
little advanced in civilization to make any allowance at all. Bargains
there will be no more amongst auctions of old Government stores.
Birmingham will be ruined, or so much of it as depended on rifles. And
the great Scotch works on the river Carron will be hungering for beef,
so far as Carron depended for beef upon carronades. Other arrears of
evil will stretch after the extinction of war.

Now upon my half-crown fund (which will be equal to anything by the time
it is wanted) I charge once and for ever the general relief of all these
arrears--of the poverty, the loss, the bankruptcy, arising by reason
of this _quietus_ of final extinction applied to war. I charge the fund
with a perpetual allowance of half-pay to all the armies of earth;
or indeed, whilst my hand is in, I charge it with _full_ pay. And I
strictly enjoin upon my trustees and executors, but especially upon
the man in the moon, if his unsocial lip has left him one spark
of gentlemanly feeling, that he and they shall construe all claims
liberally; nay, with that riotous liberality which is safe and becoming,
when applied to a fund so inexhaustible. Yes, reader, my fund will be
inexhaustible, because the period of its growth will be measured by the
concurrent deposition of the Ceylon mustard-seed from the everlasting

Yet why, or on what principle? It is because I see, or imagine that
I see, a twofold necessity for war--necessity in two different
senses--1st, a physical necessity arising out of man's nature when
combined with man's situation; a necessity under which war may be
regarded, if you please, as a nuisance, but as a nuisance inalienable
from circumstances essential to human frailty. 2dly, a moral necessity
connected with benefits of compensation, such as continually lurk in
evils acknowledged to be such--a necessity under which it becomes lawful
to say, that war _ought_ to exist as a balance to opposite tendencies of
a still more evil character. War is the mother of wrong and spoliation:
war is a scourge of God--granted; but, like other scourges in the
divine economy, war purifies and redeems itself in its character of a
counterforce to greater evils that could not otherwise be intercepted or
redressed. In two different meanings we say that a thing is necessary;
either in that case where it is inexorably forced on by some sad
overruling principle which it is vain to fight against, though all good
men mourn over its existence and view it as an unconditional evil; or
secondly, in that case, where an instrument of sorrowful consequences
to man is nevertheless invoked and postulated by man's highest moral
interests, is nevertheless clamorously indicated as a blessing when
looked at in relation to some antagonist cause of evil for which it
offers the one only remedy or principle of palliation. The very evil
and woe of man's condition upon earth may be oftentimes detected in
the necessity of looking to some other woe as the pledge of its
purification; so that what separately would have been hateful for
itself, passes mysteriously into an object of toleration, of hope, or
even of prayer, as a counter-venom to the taint of some more mortal
poison. Poverty, for instance, is in both senses necessary for man.
It is necessary in the same sense as thirst is necessary (_i. e._
inevitable) in a fever--necessary as one corollary amongst many others,
from the eternal hollowness of all human efforts for organizing any
perfect model of society--a corollary which, how gladly would all of us
unite to cancel, but which our hearts suggest, which Scripture solemnly
proclaims, to be ineradicable from the land. In this sense, poverty is a
necessity over which we _mourn_,--as one of the dark phases that
sadden the vision of human life. But far differently, and with a stern
gratitude, we recognize another mode of necessity for this gloomy
distinction--a call for poverty, when seen in relation to the manifold
agencies by which it developes human energies, in relation to the trials
by which it searches the power of patience and religion, in relation to
the struggles by which it evokes the nobilities of fortitude; or again,
amongst those who are not sharers in these trials and struggles, but
sympathizing spectators, in relation to the stimulation by which it
quickens wisdom that watches over the causes of this evil, or by which
it vivifies the spirit of love that labors for its mitigation. War
stands, or seems to stand, upon the same double basis of necessity; a
primary necessity that belongs to our human degradations, a secondary
one that towers by means of its moral relations into the region of our
impassioned exaltations. The two propositions on which I take my stand
are these. _First_, that there are nowhere latent in society any powers
by which it can effectually operate on war for its extermination. The
machinery is not there. The game is not within the compass of the cards.
_Secondly_, that this defect of power is, though sincerely I grieve in
avowing such a sentiment, and perhaps (if an infirm reader had his eye
upon me) I might seem, in sympathy with his weakness, to blush--not
a curse, no not at all, but on the whole a blessing from century to
century, if it is an inconvenience from year to year. The Abolition
Committees, it is to be feared, will be very angry at both propositions.
Yet, Gentlemen, hear me--strike, but hear me. I believe that's a sort of
plagiarism from Themistocles. But never mind. I have as good a right to
the words, until translated back into Greek, as that most classical of
yellow admirals. '_Pereant qui ante nos nostra dixerunt!_'

The first proposition is, that war _cannot_ be abolished. The second,
and more offensive--that war ought not to be abolished. First,
therefore, concerning the first. One at a time. Sufficient for the page
is the evil thereof! How came it into any man's heart, first of all,
to conceive so audacious an idea as that of a conspiracy against war?
Whence could he draw any vapor of hope to sustain his preliminary steps?
And in framing his plot, which way did he set his face to look out
for accomplices? Revolving this question in times past, I came to the
conclusion--that, perhaps, this colossal project of a war against war,
had been first put in motion under a misconception (natural enough, and
countenanced by innumerable books) as to the true historical origin
of wars in many notorious instances. If these had arisen on trivial
impulses, a trivial resistance might have intercepted them. If a man has
once persuaded himself, that long, costly, and bloody wars had arisen
upon a point of ceremony, upon a personal pique, upon a hasty word, upon
some explosion of momentary caprice; it is a natural inference, that
strength of national will and public combinations for resistance,
supposing such forces to have been trained, organized, and, from the
circumstances of the particular nation, to be permanently disposable for
action, might prove redundantly effective, when pointed against a few
personal authors of war, so presumably weak, and so flexible to any
stern counter-volition as those _must_ be supposed, whose wars argued
so much of vicious levity. The inference is unexceptionable: it is the
premises that are unsound. Anecdotes of war as having emanated from a
lady's tea-table or toilette, would authorize such inference as to the
facilities of controlling them. But the anecdotes themselves are false,
or false substantially. _All_ anecdotes, I fear, are false. I am sorry
to say so, but my duty to the reader extorts from me the disagreeable
confession, as upon a matter specially investigated by myself, that all
dealers in anecdotes are tainted with mendacity. Where is the Scotchman,
said Dr. Johnson, who does not prefer Scotland to truth? but, however
this may be, rarer than such a Scotchman, rarer than the phoenix, is
that virtuous man, a monster he is, nay, he is an impossible man, who
will consent to lose a prosperous anecdote on the consideration that
it happens to be a lie. All history, therefore, being built partly, and
some of it altogether, upon anecdotage, must be a tissue of lies. Such,
for the most part, is the history of Suetonius, who may be esteemed the
father of anecdotage; and being such, he (and not Herodotus) should
have been honored with the title, _Father of Lies_. Such is the Augustan
history, which is all that remains of the Roman empire; such is the vast
series of French memoirs, now stretching through more than three entire
centuries. Are these works, then, to be held cheap, because their truths
to their falsehoods are in the ratio of one to five hundred? On the
contrary, they are better, and more to be esteemed on that account;
because, _now_ they are admirable reading on a winter's night; whereas,
written on the principle of sticking to the truth, they would have been
as dull as ditch water. Generally, therefore, the dealers in anecdotage
are to be viewed with admiration, as patriotic citizens, willing to
sacrifice their own characters, lest their countrymen should find
themselves short of amusement. I esteem them as equal to Codrus,
Timoleon, William Tell, or to Milton, as regards the liberty of
unlicensed printing. And I object to them only in the exceptional case
of their being cited as authorities for an inference, or as vouchers
for a fact. Universally, it may be received as a rule of unlimited
application,--that when an anecdote involves a stinging repartee, or
collision of ideas, fancifully and brilliantly related to each other
by resemblance or contrast, then you may challenge it as false to
a certainty. One illustration of which is--that pretty nearly every
memorable _propos_, or pointed repartee, or striking _mot_, circulating
at this moment in Paris or London, as the undoubted property of
Talleyrand, (that eminent knave,) was ascribed at Vienna, ninety years
ago, to the Prince de Ligne, and thirty years previously, to Voltaire,
and so on, regressively, to many other wits (knaves or not); until, at
length, if you persist in backing far enough, you find yourself amongst
Pagans, with the very same repartee, &c., doing duty in pretty good
Greek; [Footnote: This is _literally_ true, more frequently than would
be supposed. For instance, a jest often ascribed to Voltaire, and of
late pointedly reclaimed for him by Lord Brougham, as being one that
he (Lord B.) could swear to for _his_, so characteristic seemed the
impression of Voltaire's mind upon the _tournure_ of the sarcasm,
unhappily for this waste of sagacity, may be found recorded by Fabricius
in the _Bibliotheca Græca_, as the jest of a Greek who has been dead for
about seventeen centuries. The man certainly _did_ utter the jest;
and 1750 years ago. But who it was that he stole it from is another
question. To all appearance, and according to Lord Brougham's opinion,
the party robbed must have been M. de Voltaire. I notice the case,
however, of the Greek thefts and frauds committed upon so many of our
excellent wits belonging to the 18th and 19th centuries, chiefly with a
view to M. de Talleyrand--that rather middling bishop, but very eminent
knave. He also has been extensively robbed by the Greeks of the 2d and
3d centuries. How else can you account for so many of his sayings being
found amongst _their_ pages? A thing you may ascertain in a moment, at
any police office, by having the Greeks searched: for surely you would
never think of searching a bishop. Most of the Talleyrand jewels will be
found concealed amongst the goods of these unprincipled Greeks. But one,
and the most famous in the whole jewel-case, sorry am I to confess,
was nearly stolen from the Bishop, not by any Greek, but by an English
writer, viz., Goldsmith, who must have been dying about the time that
his Excellency, the diplomatist, had the goodness to be born. That
famous _mot_ about language, as a gift made to man for the purpose of
_concealing_ his thoughts, is lurking in Goldsmith's Essays. Think of
_that!_ Already, in his innocent childhood, whilst the Bishop was in
petticoats, and almost before he had begun to curse and to swear plainly
in French, an Irish vagabond had attempted to swindle him out of that
famous witticism which has since been as good as a life-annuity to the
venerable knave's literary fame.] sometimes, for instance in Hierocles,
sometimes in Diogenes Lærtius, in Plutarch, or in Athenæus. Now the
thing you know claimed by so many people, could not belong to all of
them: _all_ of them could not be the inventors. Logic and common sense
unite in showing us that it must have belonged to the moderns, who had
clearly been hustled and robbed by the ancients, so much more
likely to commit a robbery than Christians, they being all
Gentiles--Pagans--Heathen dogs. What do I infer from this? Why, that
upon _any_ solution of the case, hardly one worthy saying can be
mentioned, hardly one jest, pun, or sarcasm, which has not been the
occasion and subject of many falsehoods--as having been _au-(and
men)-daciously_ transferred from generation to generation, sworn to in
every age as this man's property, or that man's, by people that must
have known they were lying, until you retire from the investigation with
a conviction, that under any system of chronology, the science of lying
is the only one that has never drooped. Date from _Anno Domini_, or
from the Julian era, patronize Olympiads, or patronize (as _I_ do, from
misanthropy, because nobody else _will_) the era of Nabonassar,--no
matter, upon every road, thicker than mile-stones, you see records
of human mendacity, or (which is much worse, in my opinion,) of human
sympathy with other people's mendacity.

This digression, now, on anecdotes,[Footnote: The word 'Anecdotes,'
first, I believe, came into currency about the middle of the 6th
century, from the use made of it by Procopius. _Literally_ it indicated
nothing that could interest either public malice or public favor; it
promised only _unpublished_ notices of the Emperor Justinian, his wife
Theodora, Narses, Belisarius, &c. But _why_ had they been unpublished?
Simply because scandalous and defamatory: and hence, from the interest
which invested the case of an imperial court so remarkable, this
oblique, secondary and purely accidental modification of the word came
to influence its _general_ acceptation. Simply to have been previously
unpublished, no longer raised any statement into an anecdote: it
now received a new integration it must be some fresh publication of
_personal_ memorabilia; and these having reference to _human_ creatures,
must always be presumed to involve more evil than good--much defamation
true or false--much doubtful insinuation--much suggestion of things
worse than could be openly affirmed. So arose the word: but the _thing_
arose with Suetonius, that dear, excellent and hard-working 'father of
lies.'] is what the learned call an _excursus_, and, I am afraid, too
long by half; not strictly in proportion. But don't mind _that_. I'll
make it all right by being too short upon something else, at the next
opportunity; and then nobody can complain. Meantime, I argue, that as
all brilliant or epigrammatic anecdotes are probably false, (a thing
that hereafter I shall have much pleasure in making out to the angry
reader's satisfaction,) but to a dead certainty those anecdotes, in
particular, which bear marks in their construction that a rhetorical
effect of art had been contemplated by the narrator,--we may take for
granted, that the current stories ascribing modern wars (French and
English) to accidents the most inconsiderable, are false even in
a literal sense; but at all events they are so when valued
philosophically, and brought out into their circumstantial relations.
For instance, we have a French anecdote, from the latter part of the
seventeenth century, which ascribes one bloody war to the accident of a
little 'miff,' arising between the king and his minister upon some such
trifle as the situation of a palace window. Again, from the early
part of the eighteenth century, we have an English anecdote, ascribing
consequences no less bloody to a sudden feud between two ladies, and
that feud, (if I remember,) tracing itself up to a pair of gloves;
so that, in effect, the war and the gloves form the two poles of
the transaction. Harlequin throws a pair of Limerick gloves into a
corn-mill; and the spectator is astonished to see the gloves immediately
issuing from the hopper, well ground into seven armies of one hundred
thousand men each, and with parks of artillery to correspond. In these
two anecdotes, we recognize at once the able and industrious artist
arranging his materials with a pious regard to theatrical effect. This
man knows how to group his figures; well he understands where to plant
his masses of light and shade; and what impertinence it would be in us
spectators, the reader suppose and myself, to go behind the scenes for
critical inquiry into daylight realities. All reasonable men see that,
the less of such realities our artist had to work with, the more was his
merit. I am one of those that detest all insidious attempts to rob
men situated as this artist of their fair fame, by going about and
whispering that perhaps the thing is true. Far from it! I sympathize
with the poor trembling artist, and agree most cordially that the whole
story is a lie; and he may rely upon my support at all times to
the extent of denying that any vestige of truth probably lay at the
foundations of his ingenious apologue. And what I say of the English
fable, I am willing to say of the French one. Both, I dare say, were the
rankest fictions. But next, what, after all, if they were _not?_ For, in
the rear of all discussion upon anecdotes, considered simply as true
or _not_ true, comes finally a _valuation_ of those anecdotes in their
moral relation, and as to the inferences which they will sustain. The
story, for example, of the French minister Louvois, and the adroitness
with which he fastened upon great foreign potentates, in the shape of
war, that irritability of temper in his royal master which threatened
to consume himself; the diplomatic address with which he transmuted
suddenly a task so delicate as that of skirmishing daily in a
Council Chamber with his own sovereign, into that far jollier mode of
disputation where one replies to all objections of the very keenest
logician, either with round shot or with grape; here is an anecdote,
which (for my own part) I am inclined to view as pure gasconade. But
suppose the story true, still it may happen that a better valuation
of it may disturb the whole edifice of logical inferences by which it
seemed to favor the speculations of the war abolitionists. Let us see.
What _was_ the logic through which such a tale as this could lend any
countenance to the schemes of these abolitionists? That logic travelled
in the following channel. Such a tale, or the English tale of the
gloves, being supposed true, it would seem to follow, that war and the
purposes of war were phenomena of chance growth, not attached to any
instinct so ancient, and apparently so grooved into the dark necessities
of our nature, as we had all taken for granted. Usually, we rank war
with hunger, with cold, with sorrow, with death, afflictions of our
human state that spring up as inevitably without separate culture and
in defiance of all hostile culture, as verdure, as weeds, and as flowers
that overspread in spring time a fertile soil without needing to be
sown or watered--awful is the necessity, as it seems, of all such
afflictions. Yet, again, if (as these anecdote simply) war could by
possibility depend frequently on accidents of personal temperament,
irritability in a sensual king, wounded sensibilities of pride between
two sensitive ladies, there in a moment shone forth a light of hope upon
the crusade against war.

If _personal_ accidents could, to any serious extent, be amongst the
causes of war, then it would become a hopeful duty to combine personal
influences that should take an opposite direction. If casual causes
could be supposed chiefly to have promoted war, how easy for a nation to
arrange permanent and determinate causes against it! The logic of these
anecdotes seemed to argue that the whole fountains of war were left to
the government of chance and the windiest of levities; that war was not
in reality roused into activity by the evil that resides in the human
will, but on the contrary, by the simple defect of any will energetic
enough or steady enough to merit that name. Multitudes of evils exist in
our social system, simply because no steadiness of attention, nor action
of combined will, has been converged upon them. War, by the silent
evidence of these anecdotes, seemed to lie amongst that class of evils.
A new era might be expected to commence in new views upon war; and the
evil would be half conquered from the moment that it should be traced to
a trivial or a personal origin.

All this was plausible, but false. The anecdotes, and all similar
anecdotes, might be true, but were delusive. The logical vice in them
was--that they substituted an occasion for a cause. The king's ill
temper for instance, acting through the levity and impatience of the
minister, might be the _causa occasionalis_ of the war, but not its true
_causa efficiens_. What _was?_ Where do the true permanent causes
of war, as distinguished from its proximate excitements, find their
lodgment and abiding ground? They lie in the system of national
competitions; in the common political system to which all individual
nations are unavoidably parties; in the system of public forces
distributed amongst a number of adjacent nations, with no internal
principle for adjusting the equilibrium of these forces, and no supreme
_Areopagus_, or court of appeal, for deciding disputes. Here lies the
_matrix_ of war, because an eternal _matrix_ of disputes lies in a
system of interests that are continually the same, and therefore the
parents of rivalships too close, that are continually different, and
so far the parents of alienation too wide. All war is an instinctive
_nisus_ for redressing the errors of equilibrium in the relative
position of nations amongst nations. Every nation's duty, first, midst,
and last, is to itself. No nation can be safe from continual (because
insensible) losses of ground, but by continual jealousies, watchings,
and ambitious strivings to mend its own position. Civilities and
high-bred courtesies pass and ought to pass between nations; that is
the graceful drapery which shrouds their natural, fierce, and tiger-like
relations to each other. But the glaring eyes, which express this
deep and inalienable ferocity, look out at intervals from below these
gorgeous draperies; and sad it is to think that at intervals the acts
and the temper suitable to those glaring eyes _must_ come forward. Mr.
Carter was on terms of the most exquisite dissimulation with his lions
and tigers; but, as often as he trusted his person amongst them, if,
in the midst of infinite politeness exchanged on all sides, he saw a
certain portentous expression of mutiny kindling in the eyeball of any
discontented tiger, all was lost, unless he came down instantly
upon that tiger's skull with a blow from an iron bar, that suggested
something like apoplexy. On such terms do nations meet in diplomacy;
high consideration for each other does not conceal the basis of enmity
on which they rest; not an enmity that belongs to their feelings, but to
the necessities of their position. Every nation in negotiating has
its right hand upon the hilt of its sword, and at intervals playfully
unsheaths a little of its gleaming blade. As things stand at present,
war and peace are bound together like the vicissitudes of day and night,
of Castor and Pollux. It matters little which bucket of the two is
going up at the moment, which going down. Both are steadfastly tied by a
system of alternations to a revolving wheel; and a new war as certainly
becomes due during the evolutions of a tedious peace, as a new peace
may be relied on during the throes of a bloody war, to tranquillize its
wounds. Consequently, when the arrogant Louvois carried a war to the
credit of his own little account on the national leger of France,
this coxcomb well knew that a war was at any rate due about that
time. Really, says he, I must find out some little war to exhaust the
_surplus_ irritability of this person, or he'll be the death of me. But
irritable or not irritable, with a puppy for his minister or not, the
French king would naturally have been carried headlong into war by the
mere system of Europe, within a very few months. So much had the causes
of complaint reciprocally accumulated. The account must be cleansed, the
court roll of grievances must be purged. With respect to the two English
ladies again, it is still more evident that they could not have _caused_
a war by pulling caps with each other, since the grounds of every war,
what had caused it, and prolonged it, was sure to be angrily reviewed by
Parliament at each annual exposition of the Finance Minister's Budget.
These ladies, and the French coxcomb, could at the utmost have claimed a
distinction--such as that which belonged to a particular Turkish gunner,
the captain of a gun at Navarino, viz., that he, by firing the first
shot without orders, did (as a matter of fact) let loose and unmuzzle
the whole of that dreadful iron hurricane from four nations which
instantly followed, but which (be it known to the gunner) could not
have been delayed for fifty minutes longer, whether he had fired the
unauthorized gun or not.

But now, let me speak to the second proposition of my two-headed thesis,
viz., that war _ought_ not to be abolished, if such an abolition were
even possible. _Prima facie_, it seems a dreadful doctrine to claim
a place for war as amongst the evils that are salutary to man; but
conscientiously I hold it to be such. I hold with Wordsworth, but
for reasons which may or may not be the same, since he has not stated

  'That God's most dreaded instrument,
  In working out a pure intent,
  Is man--array'd for mutual slaughter:
  Yea, Carnage is his daughter.'

I am obliged to hold, that supposing so romantic a condition realized
as the cessation of war, this change, unless other evils were previously
abolished, or neutralized in a way still more romantic to suppose, would
not be for the welfare of human nature, but would tend to its rapid

One, in fact, of the earliest aspects under which this moral necessity
for war forces itself upon our notice, is its physical necessity. I mean
to say that one of the earliest reasons why war _ought_ to exist, is
because under any mode of suppressing war, virtually it _will_ exist.
Banish war as now administered, and it will revolve upon us in a worse
shape, that is, in a shape of predatory and ruffian war, more and more
licentious, as it enjoys no privilege or sufferance, by the supposition,
under the national laws. Will the causes of war die away because war is
forbidden? Certainly not; and the only result of the prohibition would
be to throw back the exercise of war from national into private and
mercenary hands; and _that_ is precisely the retrograde or inverse
course of civilization; for, in the natural order of civilization, war
passes from the hands of knights, barons, insulated cities, into those
of the universal community. If, again, it is attempted to put down this
lawless _guerilla_ state by national forces, then the result will be to
have established an interminable warfare of a mixed character, private
and public, civil and foreign, infesting the frontiers of all states
like a fever, and in substitution for the occasional and intermitting
wars of high national police, administered with the dignified
responsibility that belongs to supreme rank, with the humanity that
belongs to conscious power, and with the diminishing havoc that belongs
to increasing skill in the arts of destruction. Even as to this last
feature in warfare, which in the war of brigands and _condottieri_ would
for many reasons instantly decay, no reader can fail to be aware of the
marvels effected by the forces of inventive science that run along
side by side with the advances of civilization; look back even to the
grandest period of the humane Roman warfare, listen to the noblest and
most merciful of all Roman captains, saying on the day of Pharsalia,
(and saying of necessity,) 'Strike at their faces, cavalry,'--yes,
absolutely directing his own troopers to plough up with their sabres the
blooming faces of the young Roman nobility; and then pass to a modern
field of battle, where all is finished by musquetry and artillery amidst
clouds of smoke, no soldier recognizing his own desolations, or the
ghastly ruin of his own right arm, so that war, by losing all its
brutality, is losing half of its demoralization.

War, so far from ending, because war was forbidden and nationally
renounced, on the contrary would transmigrate into a more fearful
shape. As things are at present, (and, observe, they are always growing
better,) what numbers of noble-minded men, in the persons of our
officers (yes, and often of non-commissioned officers,) do we British,
for example, disperse over battle-fields, that could not dishonor their
glorious uniform by any countenance to an act of cruelty! They are eyes
delegated from the charities of our domestic life, to overlook and
curb the license of war. I remember, in Xenophon, some passage where
he describes a class of Persian gentlemen, who were called the
_ophthalmoi_, or _eyes_ of the king; but for a very different purpose.
These British officers may be called the _opthalmoi_, or eyes of
our Sovereign Lady, that into every corner of the battle carry their
scrutiny, lest any cruelty should be committed on the helpless, or any
advantage taken of a dying enemy. But mark, such officers would be rare
in the irregular troops succeeding to the official armies. And through
this channel, amongst others, war, when cried down by act of Parliament,
and precisely _because_ it was cried down, would become more perilously
effective for the degradation of human nature. Being itself dishonored,
war would become the more effective as an instrument for the dishonoring
of its agents. However, at length, we will suppose the impossible
problem solved--war, we will assume, is at last put down.

At length there is no more war. Though by the way, let me whisper in
your ear, (supposing you to be a Christian,) this would be a prelibation
drawn prematurely from the cup of millennial happiness; and, strictly
speaking, there is no great homage to religion, even thus far--in
figuring _that_ to be the purchase of man for himself, and through his
own efforts, which is viewed by Scripture as a glory removed to the
infinite and starry distance of a millennium, and as the _teleutaion
epigeinaema_, the last crowning attainment of Christian truth, no
longer _militant_ on earth. Christianity it is, but Christianity when
_triumphant_, and no longer in conflict with adverse, or thwarting, or
limiting influences, which only can be equal to a revolution so mighty.
But all this, for the sake of pursuing the assumption, let us agree to
waive. In reality, there are two separate stations taken up by the war
denouncers. One class hold, that an influence derived from political
economy is quite equal to the flying leap by which man is to clear this
unfathomable gulph of war, and to land his race for ever on the opposite
shore of a self-sustaining peace. Simply, the contemplation of national
debts, (as a burthen which never would have existed without war,) and
a computation of the waste, havoc, unproductive labor, &c., attached to
any single campaign--these, they imagine, might suffice, _per se_,
for the extinction of war. But the other class cannot go along with
a speculation so infirm. Reasons there are, in the opposite scale,
tempting man into war,--which are far mightier than any motives
addressed to his self-interest. Even straining her energies to the
utmost, they regard all policy of the _purse_ as adequate: anything
short of religion, they are satisfied, must be incommensurate to a
result so vast.

I myself certainly agree with this last class; but upon this arises
a delusion, which I shall have some trouble in making the reader
understand: and of this I am confident-that a majority, perhaps, in
every given amount of readers, will share in the delusion; will part
from me in the persuasion that the error I attempt to expose is no error
at all, but that it is myself who am in the wrong. The delusion which
I challenge as such, respects the very meaning and value of a sacrifice
made to Christianity. What is it? what do we properly mean, by
a concession or a sacrifice made to a spiritual power, such as
Christianity? If a king and his people, impressed by the unchristian
character of war, were to say, in some solemn act--'We, the parties
undersigned, for the reasons stated in the body of this document,
proclaim to all nations, that from and after Midsummer eve of the year
1850, this being the eve of St. John the Baptist, (who was the herald of
Christ,) we will no more prosecute any interest of ours, unless the one
sole interest of national defence, by means of war,--and this sacrifice
we make as a concession and act of homage to Christianity,--would
_that_ vow, I ask, sincerely offered, and steadily observed, really be a
sacrifice made to Christianity? Not at all. A sacrifice, that was truly
such, to a spiritual religion, must be a sacrifice not verbally (though
sincerely) dedicating itself to the religion, but a sacrifice wrought
and accomplished by that religion, through and by its own spirit.
Midsummer eve of 1850 could clearly make no spiritual change in the king
or his people--such they would be on the morning after St. John's day,
as on the morning before it--_i. e._, filled with all elements (though
possibly undeveloped) of strife, feud, pernicious ambition.

The delusion, therefore, which I charge upon this religious class of
war denouncers is, that whilst they see and recognize this infinite
imperfection of any influence which Christianity yet exercises upon
the world, they nevertheless rely upon that acknowledged shadow for the
accomplishment of what would, in such circumstances, be a real miracle;
they rely upon that shadow, as truly and entirely as if it were already
that substance which, in a vast revolution of ages, it will finally
become. And they rely upon this mockery in _two_ senses; first, for the
_endurance_ of the frail human resolution that would thaw in an hour
before a great outrage, or provocation suited to the nobler infirmities
of man. Secondly, which is the point I mainly aim at, assuming, for a
moment, that the resolution _could_ endure, amongst all mankind, we are
all equally convinced, that an evil so vast is not likely to be checked
or controlled, except by some very extraordinary power. Well, where
_is_ it? Show me that power. I know of none but Christianity. _There_,
undoubtedly, is hope. But, in order that the hope may become rational,
the power must become practical. And practical it is not in the extent
required, until this Christianity, from being dimly appreciated by a
section [Footnote _What_ section, if you please? I, for my part, do not
agree with those that geographically degrade Christianity as occupying
but a trifle on the area of our earth. Mark this; all Eastern
populations have dwindled upon better acquaintance. Persia that _ought_
to have, at least, two hundred and fifty millions of people, and _would_
have them under English government, and once was supposed to have at
least one hundred millions, how many millions has she? _Eight!_ This
was ascertained by Napoleon's emissary in 1808, General Gardanne.
Afghanistan has very little more, though some falsely count fourteen
millions. There go two vast chambers of Mahometanism; not twenty
millions between them. Hindostan may _really_ have one hundred and
twenty millions claimed for her. As to the Burman Empire, I, nor anybody
else knows the truth. But, as to China, I have never for a moment been
moved by those ridiculous estimates of the flowery people, which our
simple countrymen copy. Instead of three hundred and fifty millions, a
third of the human race upon the most exaggerated estimate, read eighty
or one hundred millions at most. Africa, as it regards religion, counts
for a cipher. Europe, America, and the half of Asia, as to space, are
Christian. Consequently, the total _facit_, as regards Christianity, is
not what many amiable infidels make it to be. My dears, your wish was
father to that thought.] of this world, shall have been the law that
overrides the whole. That consummation is not immeasurably distant. Even
now, from considerations connected with China, with New Zealand, Borneo,
Australia, we may say, that already the fields are white for harvest.
But alas! the interval is brief between Christianity small, and
Christianity great, as regards space or terraqueous importance, compared
with that interval which separates Christianity formally professed,
from Christianity thankfully acknowledged by universal man in beauty and

Here, therefore, is one spoke in the wheel for so vast a change as war
dethroned, viz., that you see no cause, though you should travel round
the whole horizon, adequate to so prodigious an effect. What could
do it? Why, Christianity could do it. Aye, true; but man disarms
Christianity. And no mock Christianity, no lip homage to Christianity,
will answer.

But is war, then, to go on for ever? Are we never to improve? Are
nations to conduct their intercourse eternally under the secret
understanding that an unchristian solution of all irreconcileable feuds
stands in the rear as the ultimate appeal? I answer that war, going on
even for ever, may still be for ever amending its modes and its results
upon human happiness; secondly, that we not only are under no fatal
arrest in our process of improvement, but that, as regards war, history
shows how steadily we _have_ been improving; and, thirdly, that although
war may be irreversible as the last resource, this last resource may
constantly be retiring further into the rear. Let us speak to this
last point. War is the last resource only, because other and more
intellectual resources for solving disputes are not available. And
_why_ are they not? Simply, because the knowledge, and the logic, which
ultimately will govern the case, and the very circumstances of the case
itself in its details, as the basis on which this knowledge and logic
are to operate, happen not to have been sufficiently developed. A code
of law is not a spasmodic effort of gigantic talent in any one man
or any one generation; it is a slow growth of accidents and occasions
expanding with civilization; dependent upon time as a multiform element
in its development; and presupposing often a concurrent growth of
_analogous_ cases towards the completion of its system. For instance,
the law which regulates the rights of shipping, seafaring men, and
maritime commerce--how slow was its development! Before such works as
the _Consolato del Mare_ had been matured, how wide must have been the
experience, and how slow its accumulation! During that long period of
infancy for law, how many must have been the openings for ignorant
and unintentional injustice! How differently, again, will the several
parties to any transaction construe the rights of the case! Discussion,
without rules for guiding it, will but embitter the dispute. And in the
absence of all guidance from the intellect, gradually weaving a _common_
standard of international appeal, it is clear that nations _must_ fight,
and _ought_ to fight. Not being convinced, it is base to pretend that
you _are_ convinced; and failing to be convinced by your neighbor's
arguments, you confess yourself a poltroon (and moreover you _invite_
injuries from every neighbor) if you pocket your wrongs. The only course
in such a case is to thump your neighbor, and to thump him soundly
for the present. This treatment is very serviceable to your neighbor's
optics; he sees things in a new light after a sufficient course of so
distressing a regimen. But mark, even in this case, war has no tendency
to propagate war, but tends to the very opposite result. To thump is as
costly, and in other ways as painful, as to _be_ thumped. The evil to
both sides arises in an undeveloped state of law. If rights were defined
by a well considered code growing out of long experience, each party
sees that this scourge of war would continually tend to limit itself.
Consequently the very necessity of war becomes the strongest invitation
to that system of judicial logic which forms its sole limitation. But
all war whatsoever stands in these circumstances. It follows that all
war whatever, unless on the brutal principle of a Spartan warfare, that
made war its own sufficient object and self-justification, operates as
a perpetual bounty offered to men upon the investigation and final
adjudication of those disputed cases through which war prospers. Hence
it is, viz., because the true boundaries of reciprocal rights are for
ever ascertaining themselves more clearly, that war is growing less
frequent. The fields open to injustice (which originally from pure
ignorance are so vast) continually (through deeper and more expansive
surveys by man's intellect--searching--reflecting--comparing) are
narrowing themselves; narrowing themselves in this sense, that all
nations under a common centre of religious civilization, as Christendom
suppose, or Islamism, would not fight--no, and would not (by the
national sense of wrong and right) be permitted to fight--in a cause
_confessedly_ condemned by equity as now developed. The causes of war
that still remain, are causes on which international law is silent--that
large arrear of cases as yet unsettled; or else they are cases in which
though law speaks with an authentic voice, it speaks in vain, because
the circumstances are doubtful; so that, if the law is fixed as a lamp
nailed to a wall, yet the _incidence_ of the law on the particular
circumstances, becomes as doubtful as the light of the lamp upon objects
that are capriciously moving. We see all this illustrated in a class of
cases that powerfully illustrate the good and the bad in war, the why
and the wherefore, as likewise the why _not_, and therefore I presume
the wherefore _not_; and this class of cases belongs to the _lex
vicinitatis_. In the Roman law this section makes a great figure. And
speaking accurately, it makes a greater in our own. But the reason why
this _law of neighborhood_ seems to fill so much smaller a section in
ours, is because in English law, being _positively_ a longer section,
_negatively_ to the whole compass of our law, it is less. The Roman law
would have paved a road to the moon. And what is _that_ expressed in
time? Let us see: a railway train, worked at the speed of the Great
Western Express, accomplishes easily a thousand miles in twenty-four
hours; consequently in two hundred and forty days or eight months it
would run into the moon with its buffers, and break up the quarters of
that Robinson Crusoe who (and without any Friday) is the only policeman
that parades that little pensive appendage or tender to our fuming
engine of an earth. But the English law--oh frightful reader, don't even
think of such a question as its relation in space and time to the Roman
law. That it would stretch to the fixed stars is plain, but to which
of them,--don't now, dear persecuting reader, unsettle our brains by
asking. Enough it is that both in Roman and English law the rights of
neighborhood are past measuring. Has a man a right to play the German
flute, where the partitions are slender, all day long in the house
adjoining to yours? Or, supposing a beneficent jury (beneficent to
_him_) finds this to be no legal nuisance, has he a right to play it
ill? Or, because juries, when tipsy, will wink at anything, does the
privilege extend to the jew's-harp? to the poker and tongs? to the
marrowbones and cleavers? Or, without ranging through the whole of the
_Spectator's_ culinary music, will the bagpipes be found within benefit
of jury law? _War to the knife_ I say, before we'll submit to _that_.
And if the law won't protect us against it, then we'll turn rebels.

Now this law of neighborhood, this _lex vicinitatis_, amongst the
Romans, righted itself and settled itself, as amongst ourselves it
continues to do, by means of actions or legal suits. If a man poisons us
with smoke, we compel him by an action to eat his own smoke, or (if he
chooses) to make his chimneys eat it. Here you see is a transmuted war;
in a barbarous state, fire and sword would have avenged this invasion of
smoke; but amongst civilized men, paper bullets in the form of _Qui
tam_ and _Scire facias_, beat off the enemy. And on the same principle,
exactly as the law of international rights clears up its dark places,
war gradually narrows its grounds, and the _jus gentium_ defines itself
through national attorneys, _i. e._, diplomatists.

For instance, now I have myself seen a case where a man cultivating a
flower-garden, and distressed for some deliverance from his rubbish of
dead leaves, litter, straw, stones, took the desperate resolution of
projecting the whole upon his neighbor's flower-garden. I, a chance
spectator of the outrage, knew too much of this world to lodge any
protest against it, on the principle of mere abstract justice; so it
would have passed unnoticed, but for the accident that his injured
neighbor unexpectedly raised up his head above the dividing wall, and
reproached the aggressor with his unprincipled conduct. This aggressor,
adding evil to evil, suggested as the natural remedy for his own wrong,
that the sufferer should pass the nuisance onwards to the garden next
beyond him; from which it might be posted forward on the same principle.
The aggrieved man, however, preferred passing it back, without any
discount to the original proprietor. Here now, is a ripe case, a _causa
teterrima_, for war between the parties, and for a national war had
the parties been nations. In fact, the very same injury, in a more
aggravated shape, is perpetrated from time to time by Jersey upon
ourselves, and would, upon a larger scale, right itself by war. Convicts
are costly to maintain; and Jersey, whose national revenue is limited,
being too well aware of this, does us the favor to land upon the coasts
of Hampshire, Dorset, &c., all the criminals whom she cannot summarily
send back to self-support, at each jail-delivery. 'What are we to do in
England?' is the natural question propounded by the injured scoundrels,
when taking leave of their Jersey escort. 'Anything you please,' is
the answer: 'rise if you can, to be dukes: only never come back hither;
since, dukes or _no_ dukes, to the rest of Christendom, to _us_ of
the Channel Islands you will always be transported felons.' There is
therefore a good right of action, _i.e._, a good ground of war, against
Jersey, on the part of Great Britain, since, besides the atrocious
injury inflicted, this unprincipled little island has the audacity to
regard our England, (all Europe looking on,) as existing only for the
purposes of a sewer or cess-pool to receive _her_ impurities. Some time
back I remember a Scottish newspaper holding up the case as a newly
discovered horror in the social system. But, in a quiet way Jersey has
always been engaged in this branch of exportation, and rarely fails to
'run' a cargo of rogues upon our shore, once or so in the season. What
amuses one besides, in this Scottish denunciation of the villany, is,
that Scotland [Footnote: To banish them 'forth of the kingdom,' was the
_euphuismus_; but the reality understood was--to carry the knaves, like
foxes in a bag, to the English soil, and there unbag them for English
use.] of old, pursued the very same mode of jail-delivery as to knaves
that were not thought ripe enough for hanging: she carted them to
the English border, unchained them, and hurried them adrift into the
wilderness, saying--Now, boys, shift for yourselves, and henceforth
plunder none but Englishmen.

What I deduce from all this is, that as the feuds arising between
individuals under the relation of neighbors, are so far from tending to
a hostile result, that, on the contrary, as coming under a rule of
law already ascertained, or furnishing the basis for a new rule, they
gradually tighten the cords which exclude all opening for quarrel; not
otherwise is the result, and therefore the usefulness, of war amongst
nations. All the causes of war, the occasions upon which it is likely to
arise, the true and the ostensible motives, are gradually evolved, are
examined, searched, valued, by publicists; and by such means, in the
further progress of men, a comprehensive law of nations will finally be
accumulated, not such as now passes for international law, (a worthless
code that _has_ no weight in the practice of nations, nor deserves any,)
but one which will exhaust the great body of cases under which wars have
arisen under the Christian era, and gradually collect a public opinion
of Christendom upon the nature of each particular case. The causes that
_have_ existed for war are the causes that _will_ exist; or, at least,
they are the same under modifications that will simply vary the rule,
as our law cases in the courts are every day circumstantiating the
particular statute concerned. At this stage of advance, and when a true
European opinion has been created, a '_sensus communis_,' or community
of feeling on the main classifications of wars, it will become possible
to erect a real Areopagus, or central congress for all Christendom, not
with any commission to suppress wars,--a policy which would neutralize
itself by reacting as a fresh cause of war, since high-spirited nations
would arm for the purpose of resisting such decrees; but with the
purpose and the effect of oftentimes healing local or momentary
animosities, and also by publishing the opinion of Europe, assembled in
council, with the effect of taking away the shadow of dishonor from the
act of retiring from war. Not to mention that the mere delay, involved
in the waiting for the solemn opinion of congress, would always be
friendly to pacific councils. But _would_ the belligerents wait? That
concession might be secured by general exchange of treaties, in the
same way that the cooperation of so many nations has been secured to the
suppression of the trade in slaves. And one thing is clear, that when
all the causes of war, involving _manifest_ injustice, are banished by
the force of European opinion, focally converged upon the subject, the
range of war will be prodigiously circumscribed. The costliness of war,
which, for various reasons has been continually increasing since the
feudal period, will operate as another limitation upon its field,
concurring powerfully with the public declaration from a council of
collective Christendom.

There is, besides, a distinct and separate cause of war, more fatal to
the possibilities of peace in Europe than open injustice; and this cause
being certainly in the hands of nations to deal with as they please,
there is a tolerable certainty that a congress _sincerely_ pacific would
cut it up by the roots. It is a cause noticed by Kant in his Essay on
Perpetual Peace, and with great sagacity, though otherwise that little
work is not free from visionary self-delusions: and this cause lies in
the diplomacy of Europe. Treaties of peace are so constructed, as almost
always to sow the seeds of future wars. This seems to the inexperienced
reader a matter of carelessness or laxity in the choice of expression;
and sometimes it may have been so; but more often it has been done under
the secret dictation of powerful courts--making peaces only as truces,
anxious only for time to nurse their energies, and to keep open some
plausible call for war. This is not only amongst the most extensive
causes of war, but the very worst: because it gives a colorable air of
justice, and almost of necessity to a war, which is, in fact, the most
outrageously unjust, as being derived from a pretext silently prepared
in former years, with mere subtlety of malice: it is a war growing out
of occasions, forged beforehand, lest no occasions should spontaneously
arise. Now, this cause of war could and would be healed by a congress,
and through an easy reform in European diplomacy.[Footnote: One great
_nidus_ of this insidious preparation for war under the very masque of
peace, which Kant, from brevity, has failed to particularize, lies in
the neglecting to make any provision for cases that are likely enough to
arise. A, B, C, D, are all equally possible, but the treaty provides a
specific course of action only for A, suppose. Then upon B or C arising,
the high contracting parties, though desperately and equally pacific,
find themselves committed to war actually by a treaty of lasting peace.
Their pacific majesties sigh, and say--Alas! that it should be so, but
really fight we must, for what says the treaty?]

It is the strongest confirmation of the power inherent in growing
civilization, to amend war, and to narrow the field of war, if we look
back for the records of the changes in this direction which have already
arisen in generations before our own.

The most careless reviewer of history can hardly fail to read a rude
outline of progress made by men in the rights, and consequently in the
duties of war through the last twenty-five centuries. It is a happy
circumstance for man--that oftentimes he is led by pure selfishness into
reforms, the very same as high principle would have prompted; and in the
next stage of his advance, when once habituated to an improved code of
usages, he begins to find a gratification to his sensibilities, (partly
luxurious sensibilities, but partly moral,) in what originally had been
a mere movement of self-interest. Then comes a third stage, in which
having thoroughly reconciled himself to a better order of things, and
made it even necessary to his own comfort, at length he begins in
his reflecting moments to perceive a moral beauty and a fitness in
arrangements that had emanated from accidents of convenience, so that
finally he generates a sublime pleasure of conscientiousness out of
that which originally commenced in the meanest forms of mercenary
convenience. A Roman lady of rank, out of mere voluptuous regard to her
own comfort, revolted from the harsh clamors of eternal chastisements
inflicted on her numerous slaves; she forbade them; the grateful slaves
showed their love for her; gradually and unintentionally she trained
her feelings, when thus liberated from a continual temptation to the
sympathies with cruelty, into a demand for gentler and purer excitement.
Her purpose had been one of luxury; but, by the benignity of nature
still watching for ennobling opportunities, the actual result was a
development given to the higher capacities of her heart. In the same
way, when the brutal right (and in many circumstances the brutal duty)
of inflicting death upon prisoners taken in battle, had exchanged
itself for the profits of ransom or slavery, this relaxation of ferocity
(though commencing in selfishness) gradually exalted itself into a habit
of mildness, and some dim perception of a sanctity in human life. The
very vice of avarice ministered to the purification of barbarism;
and the very evil of slavery in its earliest form was applied to the
mitigation of another evil--war conducted in the spirit of piratical
outrage. The commercial instincts of men having worked one set of
changes in war, a second set of changes was prompted by instincts
derived from the arts of ornament and pomp. Splendor of arms, of
banners, of equipages, of ceremonies, and the elaborate forms of
intercourse with enemies through conferences, armistices, treaties of
peace, &c., having tamed the savagery of war into connection with
modes of intellectual grandeur, and with the endless restraints of
superstition or scrupulous religion,--a permanent light of civilization
began to steal over the bloody shambles of buccaneering warfare. Other
modes of harmonizing influences arose more directly from the bosom of
war itself. Gradually the mere practice of war, and the culture of
war though merely viewed as a rude trade of bloodshed, ripened into an
intellectual art. Were it merely with a view to more effectual carnage,
this art (however simple and gross at first) opened at length into wide
scientific arts, into strategies, into tactics, into castrametation,
into poliorcetics, and all the processes through which the first rude
efforts of martial cunning finally connect themselves with the exquisite
resources of science. War, being a game in which each side forces the
other into the instant adoption of all improvements through the mere
necessities of self-preservation, became continually more intellectual.

It is interesting to observe the steps by which, were it only through
impulses of self-conservation, and when searching with a view to more
effectual destructiveness, war did and must refine itself from a horrid
trade of butchery into a magnificent and enlightened science. Starting
from no higher impulse or question than how to cut throats most rapidly,
most safely, and on the largest scale, it has issued even at our own
stage of advance into a science, magnificent, oftentimes ennobling, and
cleansed from all horrors except those which (not being within man's
power utterly to divorce from it) no longer stand out as reproaches to
his humanity.

Meantime a more circumstantial review of war, in relation to its motives
and the causes assigned for its justification, would expose a series
of changes greater perhaps than the reader is aware of. Such a review,
which would too much lengthen a single paper, may or may not form the
subject of a second. And I will content myself with saying, as a closing
remark, that this review will detect a principle of steady advance in
the purification and elevation of war--such as must offer hope to those
who believe in the possibility of its absolute extermination, and must
offer consolation to those who (like myself) deny it.


I take it for granted that every person of education will acknowledge
some interest in the personal history of Immanuel Kant. A great man,
though in an unpopular path, must always be an object of liberal
curiosity. To suppose a reader thoroughly indifferent to Kant, is to
suppose him thoroughly unintellectual; and, therefore, though in reality
he should happen _not_ to regard him with interest, it is one of the
fictions of courtesy to presume that he does. On this principle I make
no apology to the reader for detaining him upon a short sketch of
Kant's life and domestic habits, drawn from the authentic records of his
friends and pupils. It is true, that, without any illiberality on the
part of the public in this country, the _works_ of Kant are not regarded
with the same interest which has gathered about his _name_; and this may
be attributed to three causes--first, to the language in which they are
written; secondly, to the supposed obscurity of the philosophy which
they teach, whether intrinsic or due to Kant's particular mode
of expounding it; thirdly, to the unpopularity of all speculative
philosophy, no matter how treated, in a country where the structure and
tendency of society impress upon the whole activities of the nation
a direction exclusively practical. But, whatever may be the immediate
fortunes of his writings, no man of enlightened curiosity will regard
the author himself without something of a profounder interest. Measured
by one test of power, viz., by the number of books written directly
for or against himself, to say nothing of those which he has indirectly
modified, there is no philosophic writer whatsoever, if we except
Aristotle, who can pretend to approach Kant in the extent of the
influence which he has exercised over the minds of men. Such being his
claims upon our notice, I repeat that it is no more than a reasonable
act of respect to the reader--to presume in him so much interest about
Kant as will justify a sketch of his life.

Immanuel Kant, [Footnote: By the paternal side, the family of Kant was
of Scotch derivation; and hence it is that the name was written by Kant
the father--_Cant_, that being a Scotch name, and still to be found in
Scotland. But Immanuel, though he always cherished his Scotch descent,
substituted a _K_ for a _C_, in order to adapt it better to the
analogies of the German language.] the second of six children, was born
at Königsberg, in Prussia, a city at that time containing about fifty
thousand inhabitants, on the 22d of April, 1724. His parents were people
of humble rank, and not rich even for their own station, but able (with
some assistance from a near relative, and a trifle in addition from a
gentleman, who esteemed them for their piety and domestic virtues,) to
give their son Immanuel a liberal education. He was sent when a child
to a charity school; and, in the year 1732, removed to the Royal (or
Frederician) Academy. Here he studied the Greek and Latin classics,
and formed an intimacy with one of his schoolfellows, David Ruhnken,
(afterwards so well known to scholars under his Latin name of
Ruhn-kenius,) which lasted until the death of the latter. In 1737, Kant
lost his mother, a woman of excellent character, and of accomplishments
and knowledge beyond her rank, who contributed to the future eminence
of her illustrious son by the direction which she gave to his youthful
thoughts, and by the elevated morals to which she trained him. Kant
never spoke of her to the end of his life without the utmost tenderness,
and acknowledgment of his great obligations to her maternal care. In
1740, at Michælmas, he entered the University of Königsberg. In 1746,
when about twenty-two years old, he printed his first work, upon a
question partly mathematical and partly philosophic, viz., the valuation
of living forces. The question had been first moved by Leibnitz, in
opposition to the Cartesians, and was here finally settled, after having
occupied most of the great mathematicians of Europe for more than half
a century. It was dedicated to the King of Prussia, but never reached
him--having, in fact, never been published. [Footnote: To this
circumstance we must attribute its being so little known amongst the
philosophers and mathematicians of foreign countries, and also the fact
that D'Alembert, whose philosophy was miserably below his mathematics,
many years afterwards still continued to represent the dispute as
a verbal one.] From this time until 1770, he supported himself as a
private tutor in different families, or by giving private lectures in
Königsberg, especially to military men on the art of fortification. In
1770, he was appointed to the Chair of Mathematics, which he exchanged
soon after for that of Logic and Metaphysics. On this occasion,
he delivered an inaugural disputation--[_De Mundi Sensibilis atque
Intelligibilis Forma et Principiis_]--which is remarkable for containing
the first germs of the Transcendental Philosophy. In 1781, he published
his great work, the _Critik der Reinen Vernunft,_ or _Investigation of
the Pure Reason_. On February 12, 1804, he died.

These are the great epochs of Kant's life. But his was a life remarkable
not so much for its incidents, as for the purity and philosophic dignity
of its daily tenor; and of this the best impression will be obtained
from Wasianski's account of his last years, checked and supported by
the collateral testimonies of Jachmann, Rink, Borowski, and other
biographers. We see him here struggling with the misery of decaying
faculties, and with the pain, depression, and agitation of two different
complaints, one affecting his stomach, and the other his head; over
all which the benignity and nobility of his mind are seen victoriously
eminent to the last. The principal defect of this and all other
memoirs of Kant is, that they report too little of his conversation and
opinions. And perhaps the reader will be disposed to complain, that some
of the notices are too minute and circumstantial, so as to be at one
time undignified, and at another unfeeling. As to the first objection,
it may be answered, that biographical gossip of this sort, and
ungentlemanly scrutiny into a man's private life, though not what a man
of honor would choose to write, may be read without blame; and, where a
great man is the subject, sometimes with advantage. With respect to the
other objection, I know not how to excuse Mr. Wasianski for kneeling
at the bed-side of his dying friend, to record, with the accuracy of a
short-hand reporter, the last flutter of his pulse and the struggles of
expiring nature, except by supposing that the idea of Kant, as a person
belonging to all ages, in his mind transcended and extinguished
the ordinary restraints of human sensibility, and that, under this
impression, he gave _that_ to his sense of a public duty which, it may
be hoped, he would willingly have declined on the impulse of his private

_The following paper on The Last Days of Kant, is gathered from the
German of Wasianski, Jachmann, Borowski, and others._

My knowledge of Professor Kant began long before the period to which
this little memorial of him chiefly refers. In the year 1773, or 1774,
I cannot exactly remember which, I attended his lectures. Afterwards, I
acted as his amanuensis; and in that office was naturally brought into
a closer connection with him than any other of his pupils; so that,
without any request on my part, he granted me a general privilege of
free admission to his class-room. In 1780 I took orders, and withdrew
myself from all connection with the university. I still continued,
however, to reside in Königsberg; but wholly forgotten, or wholly
unnoticed at least, by Kant. Ten years afterwards, (that is to say,
in 1790,) I met him by accident at a party given on occasion of the
marriage of one of the professors. At table, Kant distributed
his conversation and attentions pretty generally; but after the
entertainment, when the company broke up into parties, he came and
seated himself very obligingly by my side. I was at that time a
florist--an amateur, I mean, from the passion I had for flowers;
upon learning which, he talked of my favorite pursuit, and with
very extensive information. In the course of our conversation, I
was surprised to find that he was perfectly acquainted with all
the circumstances of my situation. He reminded me of our previous
connection; expressed his satisfaction at finding that I was happy; and
was so good as to desire that, if my engagements allowed me, I would now
and then come and dine with him. Soon after this, he rose to take his
leave; and, as our road lay the same way, he proposed to me that I
should accompany him home. I did so, and received an invitation for
the next week, with a general invitation for every week after, and
permission to name my own day. At first I was unable to explain the
distinction with which Kant had treated me; and I conjectured that
some obliging friend had spoken of me in his hearing, somewhat more
advantageously than I could pretend to deserve; but more intimate
experience has convinced me that he was in the habit of making continual
inquiries after the welfare of his former pupils, and was heartily
rejoiced to hear of their prosperity. So that it appeared I was wrong in
thinking he had forgotten me.

This revival of my intimacy with Professor Kant, coincided pretty
nearly, in point of time, with a complete change in his domestic
arrangements. Up to this period it had been his custom to eat at a
_table d'hôte_. But he now began to keep house himself, and every day
invited two friends to dine with him, and upon any little festival from
five to eight; for he was a punctual observer of Lord Chesterfield's
rule--that his dinner party, himself included, should not fall below the
number of the Graces--nor exceed that of the Muses. In the whole economy
of his household arrangements, and especially of his dinner parties,
there was something peculiar and amusingly opposed to the usual
conventional restraints of society; not, however, that there was any
neglect of decorum, such as sometimes occurs in houses where there are
no ladies to impress a better tone upon the manners. The invariable
routine was this: The moment that dinner was ready, Lampe, the
professor's old footman, stepped into the study with a certain measured
air, and announced it. This summons was obeyed at the pace of double
quick time--Kant talking all the way to the eating-room about the state
of the weather [Footnote: His reason for which was, that he considered
the weather one of the principal forces which act upon the health;
and his own frame was exquisitely sensible to all atmospheric
influences.]--a subject which he usually pursued during the earlier part
of the dinner. Graver themes, such as the political events of the day,
were never introduced before dinner, or at all in his study. The moment
that Kant had taken his seat, and unfolded his napkin, he opened the
business of dinner with a particular formula--'_Now, then, gentlemen!_'
and the tone and air with which he uttered these words, proclaimed, in
a way which nobody could mistake, relaxation from the toils of the
morning, and determinate abandonment of himself to social enjoyment.
The table was hospitably spread; three dishes, wine, &c., with a small
second course, composed the dinner. Every person helped himself; and all
delays of ceremony were so disagreeable to Kant, that he seldom failed
to express his displeasure with anything of that sort, though not
angrily. He was displeased also if people ate little; and treated it as
affectation. The first man to help himself was in his eyes the politest
guest; for so much the sooner came his own turn. For this hatred of
delay, Kant had a special excuse, having always worked hard from an
early hour in the morning, and eaten nothing until dinner. Hence it was,
that in the latter period of his life, though less perhaps from actual
hunger than from some uneasy sensation of habit or periodical irritation
of stomach, he could hardly wait with patience for the arrival of the
last person invited.

There was no friend of Kant's but considered the day on which he was to
dine with him as a day of pleasure. Without giving himself the air of
an instructor, Kant really was so in the very highest degree. The whole
entertainment was seasoned with the overflow of his enlightened mind,
poured out naturally and unaffectedly upon every topic, as the chances
of conversation suggested it; and the time flew rapidly away, from one
o'clock to four, five, or even later, profitably and delightfully. Kant
tolerated no _calms_, which was the name he gave to the momentary pauses
in conversation, or periods when its animation languished. Some means or
other he always devised for restoring its tone of interest, in which he
was much assisted by the tact with which he drew from every guest his
peculiar tastes, or the particular direction of his pursuits; and on
these, be they what they might, he was never unprepared to speak with
knowledge, and the interest of an original observer. The local affairs
of Königsberg must have been interesting indeed, before they could be
allowed to occupy the attention at _his_ table. And, what may seem still
more singular, it was rarely or never that he directed the conversation
to any branch of the philosophy founded by himself. Indeed he was
perfectly free from the fault which besets so many _savans_ and
_literati_, of intolerance towards those whose pursuits had disqualified
them for any particular sympathy with his own. His style of conversation
was popular in the highest degree, and unscholastic; so much so, that
any stranger who should have studied his works, and been unacquainted
with his person, would have found it difficult to believe, that in this
delightful companion he saw the profound author of the Transcendental

The subjects of conversation at Kant's table were drawn chiefly from
natural philosophy, chemistry, meteorology, natural history, and above
all, from politics. The news of the day, as reported in the public
journals, was discussed with a peculiar vigilance of examination. With
regard to any narrative that wanted dates of time and place, however
otherwise plausible, he was uniformly an inexorable sceptic, and held it
unworthy of repetition. So keen was his penetration into the interior of
political events, and the secret policy under which they moved, that he
talked rather with the authority of a diplomatic person who had access
to cabinet intelligence, than as a simple spectator of the great scenes
which were unfolding in Europe. At the time of the French Revolution,
he threw out many conjectures, and what were then accounted paradoxical
anticipations, especially in regard to military operations, which were
as punctually fulfilled as his own memorable conjecture in regard to the
hiatus in the planetary system between Mars and Jupiter,[Footnote: To
which the author should have added--and in regard to the hiatus between
the planetary and cometary systems, which was pointed out by Kant
several years before his conjecture was established by the good
telescope of Dr. Herschel. Vesta and Juno, further confirmations of
Kant's conjecture, were discovered in June 1804, when Wasianski wrote.]
the entire confirmation of which he lived to witness on the discovery
of Ceres by Piazzi, in Palermo, and of Pallas, by Dr. Olbers, at
Bremen. These two discoveries, by the way, impressed him much; and
they furnished a topic on which he always talked with pleasure; though,
according to his usual modesty, he never said a word of his own
sagacity in having upon _à priori_ grounds shown the probability of such
discoveries many years before.

It was not only in the character of a companion that Kant shone, but
also as a most courteous and liberal host, who had no greater pleasure
than in seeing his guests happy and jovial, and rising with exhilarated
spirits from the mixed pleasures--intellectual and liberally sensual--of
his Platonic banquets. Chiefly, perhaps, with a view to the sustaining
of this tone of genial hilarity, he showed himself somewhat of an artist
in the composition of his dinner parties. Two rules there were which he
obviously observed, and I may say invariably: the first was, that
the company should be miscellaneous; this for the sake of securing
sufficient variety to the conversation: and accordingly his parties
presented as much variety as the world of Königsberg afforded, being
drawn from all the modes of life, men in office, professors, physicians,
clergymen, and enlightened merchants. His second rule was, to have a due
balance of _young_ men, frequently of _very_ young men, selected from
the students of the university, in order to impress a movement of gaiety
and juvenile playfulness on the conversation; an additional motive for
which, as I have reason to believe, was, that in this way he withdrew
his mind from the sadness which sometimes overshadowed it, for the early
deaths of some young friends whom he loved.

And this leads me to mention a singular feature in Kant's way of
expressing his sympathy with his friends in sickness. So long as the
danger was imminent, he testified a restless anxiety, made perpetual
inquiries, waited with patience for the crisis, and sometimes could not
pursue his customary labors from agitation of mind. But no sooner was
the patient's death announced, than he recovered his composure, and
assumed an air of stern tranquillity--almost of indifference. The reason
was, that he viewed life in general, and therefore, that particular
affection of life which we call sickness, as a state of oscillation and
perpetual change, between which and the fluctuating sympathies of hope
and fear, there was a natural proportion that justified them to the
reason; whereas death, as a permanent state that admitted of no _more_
or _less_, that terminated all anxiety, and for ever extinguished the
agitation of suspense, he would not allow to be fitted to any state of
feeling, but one of the same enduring and unchanging character. However,
all this philosophic heroism gave way on one occasion; for many persons
will remember the tumultuous grief which he manifested upon the death
of Mr. Ehrenboth, a young man of very fine understanding and extensive
attainments, for whom he had the greatest affection. And naturally it
happened, in so long a life as his, in spite of his provident rule for
selecting his social companions as much as possible amongst the young,
that he had to mourn for many a heavy loss that could never be supplied
to him.

To return, however, to the course of his day, immediately after the
termination of his dinner party, Kant walked out for exercise; but on
this occasion he never took any companion, partly, perhaps, because he
thought it right, after so much convivial and colloquial relaxation, to
pursue his meditations,[Footnote: Mr. Wasianski is wrong. To pursue his
meditations under these circumstances, might perhaps be an inclination
of Kant's to which he yielded, but not one which he would justify or
erect into a maxim. He disapproved of eating alone, or _solipsismus
convictorii_, as he calls it, on the principle, that a man would be apt,
if not called off by the business and pleasure of a social party, to
think too much or too closely, an exercise which he considered very
injurious to the stomach during the first process of digestion. On the
same principle he disapproved of walking or riding alone; the double
exercise of thinking and bodily agitation, carried on at the same time,
being likely, as he conceived, to press too hard upon the stomach.] and
partly (as I happen to know) for a very peculiar reason, viz., that he
wished to breathe exclusively through his nostrils, which he could not
do if he were obliged continually to open his mouth in conversation. His
reason for this was, that the atmospheric air, being thus carried round
by a longer circuit, and reaching the lungs, therefore, in a state of
less rawness, and at a temperature somewhat higher, would be less apt
to irritate them. By a steady perseverance in this practice, which he
constantly recommended to his friends, he flattered himself with a long
immunity from coughs, colds, hoarseness, and every mode of defluxion;
and the fact really was, that these troublesome affections attacked him
very rarely. Indeed I myself, by only occasionally adopting his rule,
have found my chest not so liable as formerly to such attacks.

At six o'clock he sat down to his library table, which was a plain
ordinary piece of furniture, and read till dusk. During this period of
dubious light, so friendly to thought, he rested in tranquil meditation
on what he had been reading, provided the book were worth it; if not, he
sketched his lecture for the next day, or some part of any book he
might then be composing. During this state of repose he took his station
winter and summer by the stove, looking through the window at the old
tower of Lobenicht; not that he could be said properly to see it, but
the tower rested upon his eye,--obscurely, or but half revealed to his
consciousness. No words seemed forcible enough to express his sense of
the gratification which he derived from this old tower, when seen under
these circumstances of twilight and quiet reverie. The sequel, indeed,
showed how important it was to his comfort; for at length some poplars
in a neighboring garden shot up to such a height as to obscure the
tower, upon which Kant became very uneasy and restless, and at length
found himself positively unable to pursue his evening meditations.
Fortunately, the proprietor of the garden was a very considerate
and obliging person, who had, besides, a high regard for Kant; and,
accordingly, upon a representation of the case being made to him, he
gave orders that the poplars should be cropped. This was done, the
old tower of Lobenicht was again unveiled, and Kant recovered his
equanimity, and pursued his twilight meditations as before.

After the candles were brought, Kant prosecuted his studies till nearly
ten o'clock. A quarter of an hour before retiring for the night, he
withdrew his mind as much as possible from every class of thoughts which
demanded any exertion or energy of attention, on the principle, that
by stimulating and exciting him too much, such thoughts would be apt
to cause wakefulness; and the slightest interference with his customary
hour of falling asleep, was in the highest degree unpleasant to him.
Happily, this was with him a very rare occurrence. He undressed himself
without his servant's assistance, but in such an order, and with such a
Roman regard to decorum and the _to prepon_, that he was always ready
at a moment's warning to make his appearance without embarrassment to
himself or to others. This done, he lay down on a mattress, and wrapped
himself up in a quilt, which in summer was always of cotton,--in autumn,
of wool; at the setting-in of winter he used both--and against very
severe cold, he protected himself by one of eider-down, of which the
part which covered his shoulders was not stuffed with feathers, but
padded, or rather wadded closely with layers of wool. Long practice had
taught him a very dexterous mode of _nesting_ himself, as it were, in
the bed-clothes. First of all, he sat down on the bedside; then with an
agile motion he vaulted obliquely into his lair; next he drew one corner
of the bedclothes under his left shoulder, and passing it below his
back, brought it round so as to rest under his right shoulder; fourthly,
by a particular _tour d'adresse_, he treated the other corner in the
same way, and finally contrived to roll it round his whole person. Thus
swathed like a mummy, or (as I used to tell him) self-involved like
the silk-worm in its cocoon, he awaited the approach of sleep, which
generally came on immediately. For Kant's health was exquisite; not
mere negative health, or the absence of pain, but a state of positive
pleasurable sensation, and a genial sense of the entire possession of
all his activities. Accordingly, when packed up for the night in the
way I have described, he would often ejaculate to himself (as he used to
tell us at dinner)--'Is it possible to conceive a human being with more
perfect health than myself?' In fact, such was the innocence of his
life, and such the happy condition of his situation, that no uneasy
passion ever arose to excite him--nor care to harass--nor pain to awake
him. Even in the severest winter his sleeping-room was without a fire;
only in his latter years he yielded so far to the entreaties of his
friends as to allow of a very small one. All nursing or self-indulgence
found no quarter with Kant. In fact, five minutes, in the coldest
weather, sufficed to supersede the first chill of the bed, by the
diffusion of a general glow over his person. If he had any occasion to
leave his room in the night-time, (for it was always kept dark day and
night, summer and winter,) he guided himself by a rope, which was duly
attached to his bed-post every night, and carried into the adjoining

Kant never perspired, [Footnote: This appears less extraordinary,
considering the description of Kant's person, given originally by
Reichardt, about eight years after his death. 'Kant,' says this writer,
'was drier than dust both in body and mind. His person was small; and
possibly a more meagre, arid, parched anatomy of a man, has not appeared
upon this earth. The upper part of his face was grand; forehead lofty
and serene, nose elegantly turned, eyes brilliant and penetrating; but
below it expressed powerfully the coarsest sensuality, which in him
displayed itself by immoderate addiction to eating and drinking.' This
last feature of his temperament is here expressed much too harshly.]
night or day. Yet it was astonishing how much heat he supported
habitually in his study, and in fact was not easy if it wanted but
one degree of this heat. Seventy-five degrees of Fahrenheit was the
invariable temperature of this room in which he chiefly lived; and if it
fell below that point, no matter at what season of the year, he had it
raised artificially to the usual standard. In the heats of summer he
went thinly dressed, and invariably in silk stockings; yet, as even this
dress could not always secure him against perspiring when engaged in
active exercise, he had a singular remedy in reserve. Retiring to some
shady place, he stood still and motionless--with the air and attitude
of a person listening, or in suspense--until his usual _aridity_ was
restored. Even in the most sultry summer night, if the slightest
trace of perspiration had sullied his night-dress, he spoke of it with
emphasis, as of an accident that perfectly shocked him.

On this occasion, whilst illustrating Kant's notions of the animal
economy, it may be as well to add one other particular, which is, that
for fear of obstructing the circulation of the blood, he never would
wear garters; yet, as he found it difficult to keep up his stockings
without them, he had invented for himself a most elaborate substitute,
which I shall describe. In a little pocket, somewhat smaller than
a watch-pocket, but occupying pretty nearly the same situation as a
watch-pocket on each thigh, there was placed a small box, something like
a watch-case, but smaller; into this box was introduced a watch-spring
in a wheel, round about which wheel was wound an elastic cord, for
regulating the force of which there was a separate contrivance. To the
two ends of this cord were attached hooks, which hooks were carried
through a small aperture in the pockets, and so passing down the inner
and the outer side of the thigh, caught hold of two loops which were
fixed on the off side and the near side of each stocking. As might be
expected, so complex an apparatus was liable, like the Ptolemaic system
of the heavens, to occasional derangements; however, by good luck, I
was able to apply an easy remedy to these disorders which sometimes
threatened to disturb the comfort, and even the serenity, of the great

Precisely at five minutes before five o'clock, winter or summer, Lampe,
Kant's servant, who had formerly served in the army, marched into his
master's room with the air of a sentinel on duty, and cried aloud in
a military tone,--'Mr. Professor, the time is come.' This summons Kant
invariably obeyed without one moment's delay, as a soldier does the word
of command--never, under any circumstances, allowing himself a respite,
not even under the rare accident of having passed a sleepless night. As
the clock struck five, Kant was seated at the breakfast-table, where he
drank what he called _one_ cup of tea; and no doubt he thought it such;
but the fact was, that in part from his habit of reverie, and in part
also for the purpose of refreshing its warmth, he filled up his cup so
often, that in general he is supposed to have drunk two, three, or some
unknown number. Immediately after he smoked a pipe of tobacco, (the only
one which he allowed himself through the entire day,) but so rapidly,
that a pile of glowing embers remained unsmoked. During this operation
he thought over his arrangements for the day, as he had done the
evening before during the twilight. About seven he usually went to his
lecture-room, and from that he returned to his writing-table. Precisely
at three quarters before one he rose from his chair, and called aloud to
the cook,--'It has struck three quarters.' The meaning of which summons
was this:--Immediately after taking soup, it was his constant practice
to swallow what he called a dram, which consisted either of Hungarian
wine, of Rhenish, of a cordial, or (in default of these) of Bishop.
A flask of this was brought up by the cook on the proclamation of the
three quarters. Kant hurried with it to the eating-room, poured out his
_quantum_, left it standing in readiness, covered, however, with paper,
to prevent its becoming vapid, and then went back to his study, and
awaited the arrival of his guests, whom to the latest period of his life
he never received but in full dress.

Thus we come round again to dinner, and the reader has now an accurate
picture of the course of Kant's day; the rigid monotony of which was not
burthensome to him; and probably contributed, with the uniformity of his
diet, and other habits of the same regularity, to lengthen his life. On
this consideration, indeed, he had come to regard his health and his old
age as in a great measure the product of his own exertions. He spoke of
himself often under the figure of a gymnastic artist, who had continued
for nearly fourscore years to support his balance upon the slack-rope
of life, without once swerving to the right or to the left. In spite of
every illness to which his constitutional tendencies had exposed him,
he still kept his position in life triumphantly. However, he would
sometimes observe sportively, that it was really absurd, and a sort of
insult to the next generation for a man to live so long, because he thus
interfered with the prospects of younger people.

This anxious attention to his health accounts for the great interest
which he attached to all new discoveries in medicine, or to new ways
of theorizing on the old ones. As a work of great pretension in
both classes, he set the highest value upon the theory of the Scotch
physician Brown, or (as it is usually called, from the Latin name of its
author,) the Brunonian Theory. No sooner had Weikard adopted [Footnote:
This theory was afterwards greatly modified in Germany; and, judging
from the random glances which I throw on these subjects, I believe that
in this recast it still keeps its ground in that country.] and made it
known in Germany, than Kant became familiar with it. He considered it
not only as a great step taken for medicine, but even for the general
interests of man, and fancied that in this he saw something analogous
to the course which human nature has held in still more important
inquiries, viz.: first of all, a continual ascent towards the more and
more elaborately complex, and then a treading back, on its own steps,
towards the simple and elementary. Dr. Beddoes's Essays, also, for
producing by art and curing pulmonary consumption, and the method of
Reich for curing fevers, made a powerful impression upon him; which,
however, declined as those novelties (especially the last) began to
sink in credit. As to Dr. Jenner's discovery of vaccination, he was less
favorably disposed to it; he apprehended dangerous consequences from the
absorption of a brutal miasma into the human blood, or at least into
the lymph; and at any rate he thought, that, as a guarantee against the
variolous infection, it required a much longer probation. Groundless
as all these views were, it was exceedingly entertaining to hear the
fertility of argument and analogy which he brought forward to support
them. One of the subjects which occupied him at the latter end of his
life, was the theory and phenomena of galvanism, which, however, he
never satisfactorily mastered. Augustin's book upon this subject was
about the last that he read, and his copy still retains on the margin
his, pencil-marks of doubts, queries and suggestions.

The infirmities of age now began to steal upon Kant, and betrayed
themselves in more shapes than one. Connected with Kant's prodigious
memory for all things that had any intellectual bearings, he had from
youth labored under an unusual weakness of this faculty in relation to
the common affairs of daily life. Some remarkable instances of this
are on record, from the period of his childish days; and now, when his
second childhood was commencing, this infirmity increased upon him very
sensibly. One of the first signs was, that he began to repeat the same
stories more than once on the same day. Indeed, the decay of his memory
was too palpable to escape his own notice; and, to provide against it,
and secure himself from all apprehension of inflicting tedium upon his
guests, he began to write a syllabus, or list of themes, for each day's
conversation, on cards, or the covers of letters, or any chance scrap
of paper. But these memoranda accumulated so fast upon him, and were so
easily lost, or not forthcoming at the proper moment, that I prevailed
on him to substitute a blank-paper book, which I had directed to be
made, and which still remains, with some affecting memorials of his own
conscious weakness. As often happens, however, in such cases, he had a
perfect memory for the remote events of his life, and could repeat with
great readiness, and without once stumbling, very long passages from
German or Latin poems, especially from the AEneid, whilst the very
words that had been uttered but a moment before dropped away from his
remembrance. The past came forward with the distinctness and liveliness
of an immediate existence, whilst the present faded away into the
obscurity of infinite distance.

Another sign of his mental decay was the weakness with which he now
began to theorize. He accounted for everything by electricity. A
singular mortality at this time prevailed amongst the cats of Vienna,
Basle, Copenhagen, and other places. Cats being so eminently an electric
animal, of course he attributed this epizootic to electricity. During
the same period, he persuaded himself that a peculiar configuration of
clouds prevailed; this he took as a collateral proof of his electrical
hypothesis. His own headaches, too, which in all probability were a mere
remote effect of old age, and a direct one of an inability [Footnote:
Mr. Wasianski is quite in the wrong here. If the hindrances which nature
presented to the act of thinking were now on the increase, on the other
hand, the disposition to think, by his own acknowledgment, was on the
wane. The power and the habit altering in proportion, there is no case
made out of that disturbed equilibrium to which apparently he would
attribute the headaches. But the fact is, that, if he had been as well
acquainted with Kant's writings as with Kant personally, he would
have known, that some affection of the head of a spasmodic kind was
complained of by Kant at a time when nobody could suspect him of being
in a decaying state.] to think as easily and as severely as formerly,
he explained upon the same principle. And this was a notion of which his
friends were not anxious to disabuse him, because, as something of
the same character of weather (and therefore probably the same general
tendency of the electric power) is found to prevail for whole cycles
of years, entrance upon another cycle held out to him some prospect of
relief. A delusion which secured the comforts of hope was the next best
thing to an actual remedy; and a man who, in such circumstances, is
cured of his delusion, '_cui demptus per vim mentis gratissimus error_,'
might reasonably have exclaimed, '_Pol, me occidistis, amici._'

Possibly the reader may suppose, that, in this particular instance
of charging his own decays upon the state of the atmosphere, Kant was
actuated by the weakness of vanity, or some unwillingness to face the
real fact that his powers were decaying. But this was not the case.
He was perfectly aware of his own condition, and, as early as 1799, he
said, in my presence, to a party of his friends--'Gentlemen, I am old,
and weak, and childish, and you must treat me as a child.' Or perhaps it
may be thought that he shrank from the contemplation of death, which,
as apoplexy seemed to be threatened by the pains in his head, might
have happened any day. But neither was this the case. He now lived in a
continual state of resignation, and prepared to meet any dispensation of
Providence. 'Gentlemen,' said he one day to his guests, 'I do not fear
to die. I assure you, as in the presence of God, that if I were this
night to be made suddenly aware that I was on the point of being
summoned, I would raise my hands to heaven, fold them, and say, Blessed
be God! If indeed it were possible that a whisper such as this could
reach my ear--Fourscore years thou hast lived, in which time thou hast
inflicted much evil upon thy fellow-men, the case would be otherwise.'
Whosoever has heard Kant speak of his own death, will bear witness
to the tone of earnest sincerity which, on such occasions, marked his
manner and utterance.

A third sign of his decaying faculties was, that he now lost all
accurate measure of time. One minute, nay, without exaggeration, a much
less space of time, stretched out in his apprehension of things to a
wearisome duration. Of this I can give one rather amusing instance,
which was of constant recurrence. At the beginning of the last year of
his life, he fell into a custom of taking immediately after dinner a cup
of coffee, especially on those days when it happened that I was of his
party. And such was the importance he attached to this little pleasure,
that he would even make a memorandum beforehand, in the blank-paper
book I had given him, that on the next day I was to dine with him, and
consequently that there was to be coffee. Sometimes it would happen,
that the interest of conversation carried him past the time at which
he felt the craving for it; and this I was not sorry to observe, as I
feared that coffee, which he had never been accustomed to, [Footnote:
How this happened to be the case in Germany, Mr. Wasianski has not
explained. Perhaps the English merchants at Königsberg, being amongst
Kant's oldest and most intimate friends, had early familiarized him
to the practice of drinking tea, and to other English tastes. However,
Jachmann tells us, (p. 164,) that Kant was extravagantly fond of coffee,
but forced himself to abstain from it under a notion that it was very
unwholesome.] might disturb his rest at night. But, if this did not
happen, then commenced a scene of some interest. Coffee must be brought
'upon the spot,' (a word he had constantly in his mouth during his
latter days,) 'in a moment.' And the expressions of his impatience,
though from old habit still gentle, were so lively, and had so much of
infantine naïveté about them, that none of us could forbear smiling.
Knowing what would happen, I had taken care that all the preparations
should be made beforehand; the coffee was ground; the water was boiling;
and the very moment the word was given, his servant shot in like
an arrow, and plunged the coffee into the water. All that remained,
therefore, was to give it time to boil up. But this trifling delay
seemed unendurable to Kant. All consolations were thrown away upon him:
vary the formula as we might, he was never at a loss for a reply. If
it was said--'Dear Professor, the coffee will be brought up in a
moment.'--'_Will_ be!' he would say, 'but there's the rub, that it only
_will_ be:

  Man never _is_, but always _to be_ blest.'

If another cried out--'The coffee is coming immediately.'--'Yes,' he
would retort, 'and so is the next hour: and, by the way, it's about that
length of time that I have waited for it.' Then he would collect himself
with a stoical air, and say--'Well, one can die after all: it is but
dying; and in the next world, thank God! there is no drinking of coffee,
and consequently no--waiting for it.' Sometimes he would rise from his
chair, open the door, and cry out with a feeble querulousness--'Coffee!
coffee!' And when at length he heard the servant's step upon the stairs,
he would turn round to us, and, as joyfully as ever sailor from the
mast-head, he would call out--'Land, land! my dear friends, I see land.'

This general decline in Kant's powers, active and passive, gradually
brought about a revolution in his habits of life. Heretofore, as I have
already mentioned, he went to bed at ten, and rose a little before five.
The latter practice he still observed, but not the other. In 1802 he
retired as early as nine, and afterwards still earlier. He found himself
so much refreshed by this addition to his rest, that at first he was
disposed to utter a _Euraeka_, as over some great discovery in the
art of restoring exhausted nature: but afterwards, on pushing it still
farther, he did not find the success answer his expectations. His walks
he now limited to a few turns in the King's gardens, which were at no
great distance from his own house. In order to walk more firmly, he
adopted a peculiar method of stepping; he carried his foot to the
ground, not forward, and obliquely, but perpendicularly, and with a kind
of stamp, so as to secure a larger basis, by setting down the entire
sole at once. Notwithstanding this precaution, upon one occasion he
fell in the street. He was quite unable to raise himself; and two young
ladies, who saw the accident, ran to his assistance. With his usual
graciousness of manner he thanked them fervently for their assistance,
and presented one of them with a rose which he happened to have in his
hand. This lady was not personally known to Kant; but she was greatly
delighted with his little present, and still keeps the rose as a frail
memorial of her transitory interview with the great philosopher.

This accident, as I have reason to think, was the cause of his
henceforth renouncing exercise altogether. All labors, even that of
reading, were now performed slowly, and with manifest effort; and those
which cost him any bodily exertion became very exhausting to him. His
feet refused to do their office more and more; he fell continually, both
when moving across the room, and even when standing still: yet he
seldom suffered from these falls; and he constantly laughed at them,
maintaining that it was impossible he could hurt himself, from the
extreme lightness of his person, which was indeed by this time the
merest skeleton. Very often, especially in the morning, he dropped
asleep in his chair from pure weariness: on these occasions he fell
forward upon the floor, and lay there unable to raise himself up, until
accident brought one of his servants or his friends into the room.
Afterwards these falls were prevented, by substituting a chair with
circular supports, that met and clasped in front.

These unseasonable dozings exposed him to another danger. He fell
repeatedly, whilst reading, with his head into the candles; a cotton
night-cap which he wore was instantly in a blaze, and flaming about his
head. Whenever this happened, Kant behaved with great presence of mind.
Disregarding the pain, he seized the blazing cap, drew it from his head,
laid it quietly on the floor, and trod out the flames with his feet.
Yet, as this last act brought his dressing-gown into a dangerous
neighborhood to the flames, I changed the form of his cap, persuaded him
to arrange the candles differently, and had a decanter of water placed
constantly by his side; and in this way I applied a remedy to a danger,
which would else probably have been fatal to him.

From the sallies of impatience, which I have described in the case
of the coffee, there was reason to fear that, with the increasing
infirmities of Kant, would grow up a general waywardness and obstinacy
of temper. For my own sake, therefore, and not less for his, I now laid
down one rule for my future conduct in his house; which was, that I
would, on no occasion, allow my reverence for him to interfere with the
firmest expression of my opinion on subjects relating to his own health;
and in cases of great importance, that I would make no compromise with
his particular humors, but insist, not only on my view of the case, but
also on the practical adoption of my views; or, if this were refused me,
that I would take my departure at once, and not be made responsible
for the comfort of a person whom I had no power to influence. And this
behavior on my part it was that won Kant's confidence; for there was
nothing which disgusted him so much as any approach to fawning or
sycophancy. As his imbecility increased, he became daily more liable
to mental delusions; and, in particular, he fell into many fantastic
notions about the conduct of his servants, and, in consequence, into a
peevish mode of treating them. Upon these occasions I generally observed
a deep silence. But sometimes he would ask me for my opinion; and
when this happened, I did not scruple to say, 'Ingenuously, then, Mr.
Professor, I think that you are in the wrong.'--'You think so?' he would
reply calmly, at the same time asking for my reasons, which he would
listen to with great patience, and openness to conviction. Indeed,
it was evident that the firmest opposition, so long as it rested upon
assignable grounds and principles, won upon his regard; whilst his own
nobleness of character still moved him to habitual contempt for timorous
and partial acquiescence in his opinions, even when his infirmities made
him most anxious for such acquiescence.

Earlier in life Kant had been little used to contradiction. His superb
understanding, his brilliancy in conversation, founded in part upon his
ready and sometimes rather caustic wit, and in part upon his prodigious
command of knowledge--the air of noble self-confidence which the
consciousness of these advantages impressed upon his manners--and the
general knowledge of the severe innocence of his life--all combined to
give him a station of superiority to others, which generally secured
him from open contradiction. And if it sometimes happened that he met a
noisy and intemperate opposition, supported by any pretences to wit, he
usually withdrew himself from that sort of unprofitable altercation with
dignity, by contriving to give such a turn to the conversation as won
the general favor of the company to himself, and impressed, silence, or
modesty at least, upon the boldest disputant. From a person so little
familiar with opposition, it could scarcely have been anticipated that
he should daily surrender his wishes to mine--if not without discussion,
yet always without displeasure. So, however, it was. No habit, of
whatever long standing, could be objected to as injurious to his health,
but he would generally renounce it. And he had this excellent custom in
such cases, that either he would resolutely and at once decide for his
own opinion, or, if he professed to follow his friend's, he would follow
it sincerely, and not try it unfairly by trying it imperfectly. Any
plan, however trifling, which he had once consented to adopt on the
suggestion of another, was never afterwards defeated or embarrassed
by unseasonable interposition from his own humors. And thus, the
very period of his decay drew forth so many fresh expressions of his
character, in its amiable or noble features, as daily increased my
affection and reverence for his person.

Having mentioned his servants, I shall here take occasion to give some
account of his man-servant Lampe. It was a great misfortune for Kant, in
his old age and infirmities, that this man also became old, and subject
to a different sort of infirmities. This Lampe had originally served in
the Prussian army; on quitting which he entered the service of Kant. In
this situation he had lived about forty years; and, though always dull
and stupid, had, in the early part of this period, discharged his
duties with tolerable fidelity. But latterly, presuming upon his own
indispensableness, from his perfect knowledge of all the domestic
arrangements, and upon his master's weakness, he had fallen into
great irregularities and neglect of his duties. Kant had been obliged,
therefore, of late, to threaten repeatedly that he would discharge him.
I, who knew that Kant, though one of the kindest-hearted men, was also
one of the firmest, foresaw that this discharge, once given, would be
irrevocable: for the word of Kant was as sacred as other men's oaths.
Consequently, upon every opportunity, I remonstrated with Lampe on the
folly of his conduct, and his wife joined me on these occasions. Indeed,
it was high time that a change should be made in some quarter; for it
now became dangerous to leave Kant, who was constantly falling from
weakness, to the care of an old ruffian, who was himself apt to fall
from intoxication. The fact was, that from the moment I undertook the
management of Kant's affairs, Lampe saw there was an end to his old
system of abusing his master's confidence in pecuniary affairs, and the
other advantages which he took of his helpless situation. This made
him desperate, and he behaved worse and worse; until one morning,
in January, 1802, Kant told me, that, humiliating as he felt such a
confession, the fact was, that Lampe had just treated him in a way which
he was ashamed to repeat. I was too much shocked to distress him by
inquiring into the particulars. But the result was, that Kant now
insisted, temperately but firmly, on Lampe's dismissal. Accordingly, a
new servant, of the name of Kaufmann, was immediately engaged; and on
the next day Lampe was discharged with a handsome pension for life.

Here I must mention a little circumstance which does honor to Kant's
benevolence. In his last will, on the assumption that Lampe would
continue with him to his death, he had made a very liberal provision
for him; but upon this new arrangement of the pension, which was to take
effect immediately, it became necessary to revoke that part of his will,
which he did in a separate codicil, that began thus:--'In consequence of
the ill behavior of my servant Lampe, I think fit,' &c. But soon after,
considering that such a record of Lampe's misconduct might be seriously
injurious to his interests, he cancelled the passage, and expressed it
in such a way, that no trace remained behind of his just displeasure.
And his benign nature was gratified with knowing, that, this one
sentence blotted out, there remained no other in all his numerous
writings, published or confidential, which spoke the language of anger,
or could leave any ground for doubting that he died in charity with all
the world. Upon Lampe's calling to demand a written character, he was,
however, a good deal embarrassed; his stern reverence for truth being,
in this instance, armed against the first impulses of his kindness. Long
and anxiously he sat, with the certificate lying before him, debating
how he should fill up the blanks. I was present, but in such a matter I
did not take the liberty of suggesting any advice. At last, he took
his pen, and filled up the blank as follows:--'--has served me long and
faithfully,'--(for Kant was not aware that he had robbed him,)--'but did
not display those particular qualifications which fitted him for waiting
on an old and infirm man like myself.'

This scene of disturbance over, which to Kant, a lover of peace and
tranquillity, caused a shock that he would gladly have been spared; it
was fortunate that no other of that nature occurred during the rest
of his life. Kaufmann, the successor of Lampe, turned out to be a
respectable and upright man, and soon conceived a great attachment to
his master's person. Things now put on a new face in Kant's family: by
the removal of one of the belligerents, peace was once more restored
amongst his servants; for hitherto there had been eternal wars between
Lampe and the cook. Sometimes it was Lampe that carried a war of
aggression into the cook's territory of the kitchen; sometimes it was
the cook that revenged these insults, by sallying out upon Lampe in the
neutral ground of the hall, or invaded him even in his own sanctuary of
the butler's pantry. The uproars were everlasting; and thus far it was
fortunate for the peace of the philosopher, that his hearing had begun
to fail; by which means he was spared many an exhibition of hateful
passions and ruffian violence, which annoyed his guests and friends.
But now all things had changed: deep silence reigned in the pantry; the
kitchen rang no more with martial alarums; and the hall was unvexed with
skirmish or pursuit. Yet it may be readily supposed that to Kant, at the
age of seventy-eight, changes, even for the better, were not welcome: so
intense had been the uniformity of his life and habits, that the least
innovation in the arrangement of articles as trifling as a penknife, or
a pair of scissors, disturbed him; and not merely if they were pushed
two or three inches out of their customary position, but even if they
were laid a little awry; and as to larger objects, such as chairs,
&c., any dislocation of their usual arrangement, any trans position, or
addition to their number, perfectly confounded him; and his eye appeared
restlessly to haunt the seat of the mal-arrangement, until the ancient
order was restored. With such habits the reader may conceive how
distressing it must have been to him, at this period of decaying powers,
to adapt himself to a new servant, a new voice, a new step, &c.

Aware of this, I had on the day before he entered upon his duties,
written down for the new servant upon a sheet of paper the entire
routine of Kant's daily life, down to the minutest and most trivial
circumstances; all which he mastered with the greatest rapidity. To
make sure, however, we went through a rehearsal of the whole ritual;
he performing the manoeuvres, I looking on and giving the word. Still I
felt uneasy at the idea of his being left entirely to his own discretion
on his first _debut_ in good earnest, and therefore I made a point of
attending on this important day; and in the few instances where the new
recruit missed the accurate manoeuvre, a glance or a nod from me easily
made him comprehend his failure.

One part only there was of the daily ceremonial, where all of us were
at a loss, as it was a part which no mortal eyes had ever witnessed but
those of Lampe: this was breakfast. However, that we might do all in
our power, I myself attended at four o'clock in the morning. The day
happened, as I remember, to be the 1st of February, 1802. Precisely at
five, Kant made his appearance; and nothing could equal his astonishment
on finding me in the room. Fresh from the confusion of dreaming, and
bewildered alike by the sight of his new servant, by Lampe's absence,
and by my presence, he could with difficulty be made to comprehend the
purpose of my visit. A friend in need is a friend indeed; and we
would now have given any money to that learned person who could have
instructed us in the arrangement of the breakfast table. But this was a
mystery revealed to none but Lampe. At length Kant took this task upon
himself; and apparently all was now settled to his satisfaction. Yet
still it struck me that he was under some embarrassment or constraint.
Upon this I said--that, with his permission, I would take a cup of tea,
and afterwards smoke a pipe with him. He accepted my offer with his
usual courteous demeanor; but seemed unable to familiarize himself
with the novelty of his situation. I was at this time sitting directly
opposite to him; and at last he frankly told me, but with the kindest
and most apologetic air, that he was really under the necessity of
begging that I would sit out of his sight; for that, having sat alone at
the breakfast table for considerably more than half a century, he could
not abruptly adapt his mind to a change in this respect; and he found
his thoughts very sensibly disturbed. I did as he desired; the servant
retired into an antiroom, where he waited within call; and Kant
recovered his wonted composure. Just the same scene passed over again,
when I called at the same hour on a fine summer morning some months

Henceforth all went right: or, if occasionally some little mistake
occurred, Kant showed himself very considerate and indulgent, and would
remark of his own accord, that a new servant could not be expected to
know all his peculiar ways and humors. In one respect, indeed, this man
adapted himself to Kant's scholarlike taste, in a way which Lampe
was incapable of doing. Kant was somewhat fastidious in matters of
pronunciation; and this man had a great facility in catching the true
sound of Latin words, the titles of books, and the names or designations
of Kant's friends: not one of which accomplishments could Lampe, the
most insufferable of blockheads, ever attain to. In particular, I have
been told by Kant's old friends, that for the space of more than thirty
years, during which he had been in the habit of reading the newspaper
published by Hartung, Lampe delivered it with the same identical blunder
on every day of publication.--'Mr. Professor, here is Hart_mann's_
journal.' Upon which Kant would reply--'Eh! what?--What's that you say?
Hartmann's journal? I tell you, it is not Hartmann, but Hartung: now,
repeat it after me--not Hartmann, but Hartung.' Then Lampe, looking
sulky, and drawing himself up with the stiff air of a soldier on guard,
and in the very same monotonous tone with which he had been used to sing
out his challenge of--_Who goes there?_ would roar--'not Hartmann, but
Hartung.' 'Now again!' Kant would say: on which again Lampe roared--'not
Hartmann, but Hartung.' 'Now a third time,' cried Kant: on which for
a third time the unhappy Lampe would howl out--'not Hartmann, but
Hartung.' And this whimsical scene of parade duty was continually
repeated: duly as the day of publication came, the irreclaimable old
dunce was put through the same manoeuvres, which were as invariably
followed by the same blunder on the next. In spite, however, of this
advantage, in the new servant, and his general superiority to his
predecessor, Kant's nature was too kind and good, and too indulgent to
all people's infirmities but his own, not to miss the voice and the 'old
familiar face' that he had been accustomed to for forty years. And I met
with what struck me as an affecting instance of Kant's yearning after
his old good-for-nothing servant in his memorandum-book: other people
record what they wish to remember; but Kant had here recorded what he
was to forget. 'Mem.: February, 1802, the name of Lampe must now be
remembered no more.'

In the spring of this year, 1802, I advised Kant to take the air. It
was very long since he had been out of doors, [Footnote: Wasianski here
returns thanks to some unknown person, who, having observed that Kant in
his latter walks took pleasure in leaning against a particular wall to
view the prospect, had caused a seat to be fixed at that point for his
use.] and walking was now out of the question. But I thought the motion
of a carriage and the air would be likely to revive him. On the power of
vernal sights and sounds I did not much rely; for these had long ceased
to affect him. Of all the changes that spring brings with it, there
was one only that now interested Kant; and he longed for it with an
eagerness and intensity of expectation, that it was almost painful to
witness: this was the return of a hedge sparrow that sang in his garden,
and before his window. This bird, either the same, or one of the next
generation, had sung for years in the same situation; and Kant grew
uneasy when the cold weather, lasting longer than usual, retarded its
return. Like Lord Bacon, indeed, he had a childlike love for birds in
general, and in particular, took pains to encourage the sparrows to
build above the windows of his study; and when this happened, (as it
often did, from the silence which prevailed in his study,) he watched
their proceedings with the delight and the tenderness which others give
to a human interest. To return to the point I was speaking of, Kant was
at first very unwilling to accede to my proposal of going abroad. 'I
shall sink down in the carriage,' said he, 'and fall together like a
heap of old rags.' But I persisted with a gentle importunity in urging
him to the attempt, assuring him that we would return immediately if he
found the effort too much for him. Accordingly, upon a tolerably warm
day of early [Footnote: Mr. Wasianski says--_late_ in summer: but, as
he elsewhere describes by the same expression of 'late in summer,' a day
which was confessedly _before_ the longest day, and as the multitude
of birds which continued to sing will not allow us to suppose that
the summer could be very far advanced, I have translated accordingly.]
summer, I, and an old friend of Kant's, accompanied him to a little
place which I rented in the country. As we drove through the streets,
Kant was delighted to find that he could sit upright, and bear the
motion of the carriage, and seemed to draw youthful pleasure from the
sight of the towers and other public buildings, which he had not seen
for years. We reached the place of our destination in high spirits. Kant
drank a cup of coffee, and attempted to smoke a little. After this, he
sat and sunned himself, listening with delight to the warbling of birds,
which congregated in great numbers about this spot. He distinguished
every bird by its song, and called it by its right name. After staying
about half an hour, we set off on our homeward journey, Kant still
cheerful, but apparently satiated with his day's enjoyment.

I had on this occasion purposely avoided taking him to any public
gardens, that I might not disturb his pleasure by exposing him to
the distressing gaze of public curiosity. However, it was known in
Königsberg that Kant had gone out; and accordingly, as the carriage
moved through the streets which led to his residence, there was a
general rush from all quarters in that direction, and, when we turned
into the street where the house stood, we found it already choked up
with people. As we slowly drew up to the door, a lane was formed in the
crowd, through which Kant was led, I and my friend supporting him on
our arms. Looking at the crowd, I observed the faces of many persons
of rank, and distinguished strangers, some of whom now saw Kant for the
first time, and many of them for the last.

As the winter of 1802-3 approached, he complained more than ever of
an affection of the stomach, which no medical man had been able to
mitigate, or even to explain. The winter passed over in a complaining
way; he was weary of life, and longed for the hour of dismission. 'I
can be of service to the world no more,' said he, 'and am a burden
to myself.' Often I endeavored to cheer him by the anticipation of
excursions that we would make together when summer came again. On these
he calculated with so much earnestness, that he had made a regular scale
or classification of them--l. Airings; 2. Journeys; 3. Travels. And
nothing could equal the yearning impatience expressed for the coming of
spring and summer, not so much for their own peculiar attractions, as
because they were the seasons for travelling. In his memorandum-book,
he made this note:--'The three summer months are June, July, and
August'--meaning that they were the three months for travelling. And
in conversation he expressed the feverish strength of his wishes so
plaintively and affectingly, that everybody was drawn into powerful
sympathy with him, and wished for some magical means of ante-dating the
course of the seasons.

In this winter his bed-room was often warmed. This was the room in which
he kept his little collection of books, of about four hundred and fifty
volumes, chiefly presentation-copies from the authors. It may seem
singular that Kant, who read so extensively, should have no larger
library; but he had less need of one than most scholars, having in his
earlier years been librarian at the Royal Library of the Castle;
and since then having enjoyed from the liberality of Hartknoch, his
publisher, (who, in his turn, had profited by the liberal terms on which
Kant had made over to him the copyright of his own works,) the first
sight of every new book that appeared.

At the close of this winter, that is in 1803, Kant first began to
complain of unpleasant dreams, sometimes of very terrific ones, which
awakened him in great agitation. Oftentimes melodies, which he had heard
in earliest youth sung in the streets of Königsberg, resounded painfully
in his ears, and dwelt upon them in a way from which no efforts of
abstraction could release him. These kept him awake to unseasonable
hours; and often when, after long watching, he had fallen asleep,
however deep his sleep might be, it was suddenly broken up by terrific
dreams, which alarmed him beyond description. Almost every night, the
bell-rope, which communicated with a bell in the room above his own,
where his servant slept, was pulled violently, and with the utmost
agitation. No matter how fast the servant might hurry down, he was
almost always too late, and was pretty sure to find his master out of
bed, and often making his way in terror to some other part of the house.
The weakness of his feet exposed him to such dreadful falls on these
occasions, that at length (but with much difficulty) I persuaded him to
let his servant sleep in the same room with himself.

The morbid affection of the stomach began now to be more and more
distressing; and he tried various applications, which he had formerly
been loud in condemning, such as a few drops of rum upon a piece of
sugar, naphtha, [Footnote: For Kant's particular complaint, as described
by other biographers, a quarter of a grain of opium, every twelve hours,
would have been the best remedy, perhaps a perfect remedy.] &c. But all
these were only palliatives; for his advanced age precluded the hope of
a radical cure. His dreadful dreams became continually more appalling:
single scenes, or passages in these dreams, were sufficient to compose
the whole course of mighty tragedies, the impression from which was
so profound as to stretch far into his waking hours. Amongst other
phantasmata more shocking and indescribable, his dreams constantly
represented to him the forms of murderers advancing to his bedside; and
so agitated was he by the awful trains of phantoms that swept past him
nightly, that in the first confusion of awaking he generally mistook
his servant, who was hastening to his assistance, for a murderer. In the
day-time we often conversed upon these shadowy illusions; and Kant, with
his usual spirit of stoical contempt for nervous weakness of every sort,
laughed at them; and, to fortify his own resolution to contend against
them, he wrote down in his memorandum-book, 'There must be no yielding
to panics of darkness.' At my suggestion, however, he now burned a light
in his chamber, so placed as that the rays might be shaded from his
face. At first he was very averse to this, though gradually he became
reconciled to it. But that he could bear it at all, was to me an
expression of the great revolution accomplished by the terrific agency
of his dreams. Heretofore, darkness and utter silence were the two
pillars on which his sleep rested: no step must approach his room;
and as to light, if he saw but a moonbeam penetrating a crevice of
the shutters, it made him unhappy; and, in fact, the windows of his
bed-chamber were barricadoed night and day. But now darkness was a
terror to him, and silence an oppression. In addition to his lamp,
therefore, he had now a repeater in his room; the sound was at first too
loud, but, after muffling the hammer with cloth, both the ticking and
the striking became companionable sounds to him.

At this time (spring of 1803) his appetite began to fail, which I
thought no good sign. Many persons insist that Kant was in the habit of
eating too much for health. [Footnote: Who these worthy people were
that criticised Kant's eating, is not mentioned. They could have had no
opportunity of exercising their abilities on this question, except
as hosts, guests, or fellow-guests; and in any of those characters, a
gentleman, one would suppose, must feel himself degraded by directing
his attention to a point of that nature. However, the merits of the
case stand thus between the parlies: Kant, it is agreed by all his
biographers, ate only once a day; for as to his breakfast, it was
nothing more than a very weak infusion of tea, (vide Jachmann's Letters,
p. 163,) with no bread, or eatable of any kind. Now, his critics, by
general confession, ate their way, from 'morn to dewy eve,' through
the following course of meals: 1. Breakfast early in the morning; 2.
Breakfast _à la fourchette_ about ten, A.M.; 3. Dinner at one or two;
4. Vesper Brod; 5. Abend Brod; all which does really seem a very fair
allowance for a man who means to lecture upon abstinence at night. But
I shall cut this matter short by stating one plain fact; there were two
things, and no more, for which Kant had an inordinate craving during
his whole life; these were tobacco and coffee; and from both these
he abstained almost altogether, merely under a sense of duty, resting
probably upon erroneous grounds. Of the first he allowed himself a very
small quantity, (and everybody knows that temperance is a more difficult
virtue than abstinence;) of the other none at all, until the labors of
his life were accomplished.] I, however, cannot assent to this opinion;
for he ate but once a day, and drank no beer. Of this liquor, (I mean
the strong black beer,) he was, indeed, the most determined enemy. If
ever a man died prematurely, Kant would say--'He has been drinking beer,
I presume.' Or, if another were indisposed, you might be sure he would
ask, 'But does he drink beer?' And, according to the answer on this
point, he regulated his anticipations for the patient. Strong beer, in
short, he uniformly maintained to be a slow poison. Voltaire, by the
way, had said to a young physician who denounced coffee under the same
bad name of a 'slow poison,' 'You're right there, my friend, however;
slow it is, and horribly slow; for I have been drinking it these seventy
years, and it has not killed me yet;' but this was an answer which, in
the case of beer, Kant would not allow of.

On the 22d of April, 1803, his birth-day, the last which he lived to
see, was celebrated in a full assembly of his friends. This festival he
had long looked forward to with great expectation, and delighted even
to hear the progress made in the preparations for it. But when the day
came, the over-excitement and tension of expectation seemed to have
defeated itself. He tried to appear happy; but the bustle of a numerous
company confounded and distressed him; and his spirits were manifestly
forced. He seemed first to revive to any real sense of pleasure at
night, when the company had departed, and he was undressing in his
study. He then talked with much pleasure about the presents which, as
usual, would be made to his servants on this occasion; for Kant was
never happy himself, unless he saw all around him happy. He was a great
maker of presents; but at the same time he had no toleration for the
studied theatrical effect, the accompaniment of formal congratulations,
and the sentimental pathos with which birth-day presents are made in
Germany. [Footnote: In this, as in many other things, the taste of Kant
was entirely English and Roman; as, on the other hand, some eminent
Englishmen, I am sorry to say, have, on this very point, shown the
effeminacy and _falsetto_ taste of the Germans. In particular, Mr.
Coleridge, describing, in The Friend, the custom amongst German children
of making presents to their parents on Christmas Eve, (a custom which
he unaccountably supposes to be peculiar to Ratzeburg,) represents the
mother as 'weeping aloud for joy'--the old idiot of a father with 'tears
running down his face,' &c. &c., and all for what? For a snuff-box, a
pencil-case, or some article of jewellery. Now, we English agree with
Kant on such maudlin display of stage sentimentality, and are prone to
suspect that papa's tears are the product of rum-punch. Tenderness
let us have by all means, and the deepest you can imagine, but upon
proportionate occasions, and with causes fitted to justify it and
sustain its dignity.] In all this, his masculine taste gave him a sense
of something fade and ludicrous.

The summer of 1803 was now come, and, visiting Kant one day, I was
thunderstruck to hear him direct me, in the most serious tone, to
provide the funds necessary for an extensive foreign tour. I made
no opposition, but asked his reasons for such a plan; he alleged
the miserable sensations he had in his stomach, which were no longer
endurable. Knowing what power over Kant a quotation from a Roman poet
had always had, I simply replied--'Post equitem sedet atra cura,'
and for the present he said no more. But the touching and pathetic
earnestness with which he was continually ejaculating prayers for warmer
weather, made it doubtful to me whether his wishes on this point ought
not, partially at least, to be gratified; and I therefore proposed to
him a little excursion to the cottage we had visited the year before.
'Anywhere,' said he, 'no matter whither, provided it be far enough.'
Towards the latter end of June, therefore, we executed this scheme;
on getting into the carriage, the order of the day with Kant was,
'Distance, distance. Only let us go far enough,' said he: but scarcely
had we reached the city-gates before the journey seemed already to have
lasted too long. On reaching the cottage we found coffee waiting for
us; but he would scarcely allow himself time for drinking it, before
he ordered the carriage to the door; and the journey back seemed
insupportably long to him, though it was performed in something less
than twenty minutes. 'Is this never to have an end?' was his continual
exclamation; and great was his joy when he found himself once more in
his study, undressed, and in bed. And for this night he slept in peace,
and once again was liberated from the persecution of dreams.

Soon after he began again to talk of journeys, of travels in remote
countries, &c., and, in consequence, we repeated our former excursion
several times; and though the circumstances were pretty nearly the same
on every occasion, and always terminating in disappointment as to the
immediate pleasure anticipated, yet, undoubtedly, they were, on the
whole, salutary to his spirits. In particular, the cottage itself,
standing under the shelter of tall alders, with a valley stretched
beneath it, through which a little brook meandered, broken by a
water-fall, whose pealing sound dwelt pleasantly on the ear, sometimes,
on a quiet sunny day, gave a lively delight to Kant: and once, under
accidental circumstances of summer clouds and sun-lights, the little
pastoral landscape suddenly awakened a lively remembrance which had been
long laid asleep, of a heavenly summer morning in youth, which he had
passed in a bower upon the banks of a rivulet that ran through the
grounds of a dear and early friend, Gen. Von Lossow. The strength of
the impression was such, that he seemed actually to be living over that
morning again, thinking as he then thought, and conversing with those
that were no more.

His very last excursion was in August of this year, (1803,) not to my
cottage, but to the garden of a friend. But on this day he manifested
great impatience. It had been arranged that he was to meet an old
friend at the gardens; and I, with two other gentlemen, attended him. It
happened that _out_ party arrived first; and such was Kant's weakness,
and total loss of power to estimate the duration of time, that, after
waiting a few moments, he insisted that some hours had elapsed--that
his friend could not be expected--and went away in great discomposure of
mind. And so ended Kant's travelling in this world.

In the beginning of autumn the sight of his right eye began to fail him;
the left he had long lost the use of. This earliest of his losses,
by the way, he discovered by mere accident, and without any previous
warning. Sitting down one day to rest himself in the course of a walk,
it occurred to him that he would try the comparative strength of his
eyes; but on taking out a newspaper which he had in his pocket, he was
surprised to find that with his left eye he could not distinguish a
letter. In earlier life he had two remarkable affections of the eyes:
once, on returning from a walk, he saw objects double for a long space
of time; and twice he became stone-blind. Whether these accidents are to
be considered as uncommon, I leave to the decision of oculists. Certain
it is, they gave very little disturbance to Kant; who, until old age had
reduced his powers, lived in a constant state of stoical preparation
for the worst that could befall him. I was now shocked to think of the
degree in which his burthensome sense of dependence would be aggravated,
if he should totally lose the power of sight. As it was, he read and
wrote with great difficulty: in fact, his writing was little better than
that which most people can produce as a trial of skill with their eyes
shut. From old habits of solitary study, he had no pleasure in
hearing others read to him; and he daily distressed me by the pathetic
earnestness of his entreaties that I would have a reading-glass devised
for him. Whatever my own optical skill could suggest, I tried; and
the best opticians were sent for to bring their glasses, and take his
directions for altering them; but all was to no purpose.

In this last year of his life Kant very unwillingly received the
visits of strangers; and, unless under particular circumstances, wholly
declined them. Yet, when travellers had come a very great way out of
their road to see him, I confess that I was at a loss how to conduct
myself. To have refused too pertinaciously, could not but give me the
air of wishing to make myself of importance. And I must acknowledge,
that, amongst some instances of importunity and coarse expressions of
low-bred curiosity, I witnessed, on the part of many people of rank,
a most delicate sensibility to the condition of the aged recluse. On
sending in their cards, they would generally accompany them by some
message, expressive of their unwillingness to gratify their wish to see
him at any risk of distressing him. The fact was, that such visits _did_
distress him much; for he felt it a degradation to be exhibited in his
helpless state, when he was aware of his own incapacity to meet properly
the attention that was paid to him. Some, however, were admitted,
[Footnote: To whom it appears that Kant would generally reply, upon
their expressing the pleasure it gave them to see him, 'In me you behold
a poor superannuated, weak, old man.'] according to the circumstances of
the case, and the state of Kant's spirits at the moment. Amongst these,
I remember that we were particularly pleased with M. Otto, the same who
signed the treaty of peace between France and England with the present
Lord Liverpool, (then Lord Hawkesbury.) A young Russian also rises to my
recollection at this moment, from the excessive (and I think unaffected)
enthusiasm which he displayed. On being introduced to Kant, he advanced
hastily, took both his hands, and kissed them. Kant, who, from living
so much amongst his English friends, had a good deal of the English
dignified reserve about him, and hated anything like _scenes_, appeared
to shrink a little from this mode of salutation, and was rather
embarrassed. However, the young man's manner, I believe, was not at all
beyond his genuine feelings; for next day he called again, made some
inquiries about Kant's health, was very anxious to know whether his old
age were burthensome to him, and above all things entreated for some
little memorial of the great man to carry away with him. By accident
the servant had found a small cancelled fragment of the original MS. of
Kant's 'Anthropologie:' this, with my sanction, he gave to the Russian;
who received it with rapture, kissed it, and then gave him in return the
only dollar he had about him; and, thinking that not enough, actually
pulled off his coat and waistcoat and forced them upon the man. Kant,
whose native simplicity of character very much indisposed him to
sympathy with any extravagances of feeling, could not, however, forbear
smiling good-humoredly on being made acquainted with this instance of
_naïveté_ and enthusiasm in his young admirer.

I now come to an event in Kant's life, which ushered in its closing
stage. On the 8th of October, 1803, for the first time since his youth,
he was seriously ill. When a student at the University, he had once
suffered from an ague, which, however, gave way to pedestrian exercise;
and in later years, he had endured some pain from a contusion on his
head; but, with these two exceptions, (if they can be considered such,)
he had never (properly speaking) been ill. The cause of his illness was
this: his appetite had latterly been irregular, or rather I should
say depraved; and he no longer took pleasure in anything but bread
and butter, and English cheese.[Footnote: Mr. W. here falls into the
ordinary mistake of confounding the cause and the occasion, and would
leave the impression, that Kant (who from his youth up had been a model
of temperance) died of sensual indulgence. The cause of Kant's death
was clearly the general decay of the vital powers, and in particular the
atony of the digestive organs, which must soon have destroyed him under
any care or abstinence whatever. This was the cause. The accidental
occasion, which made that cause operative on the 7th of October, might
or might not be what Mr. W. says. But in Kant's burthensome state of
existence, it could not be a question of much importance whether his
illness were to commence in an October or a November.] On the 7th of
October, at dinner, he ate little else, in spite of everything that I
and another friend then dining with him, could urge to dissuade him.
And for the first time I fancied that he seemed displeased with my
importunity, as though I were overstepping the just line of my duties.
He insisted that the cheese never had done him any harm, nor would now.
I had no course left me but to hold my tongue; and he did as he pleased.
The consequence was what might have been anticipated--a restless night,
succeeded by a day of memorable illness. The next morning all went on
as usual, till nine o'clock, when Kant, who was then leaning on his
sister's arm, suddenly fell senseless to the ground. A messenger was
immediately despatched for me; and I hurried down to his house, where I
found him lying in his bed, which had now been removed into his study,
speechless and insensible. I had already summoned his physician; but,
before he arrived, nature put forth efforts which brought Kant a little
to himself. In about an hour he opened his eyes, and continued to mutter
unintelligibly till towards the evening, when he rallied a little, and
began to talk rationally. For the first time in his life, he was now,
for a few days, confined to his bed, and ate nothing. On the 12th
October, he again took some refreshment, and would have had his favorite
food; but I was now resolved, at any risk of his displeasure, to oppose
him firmly. I therefore stated to him the whole consequences of his last
indulgence, of all which he manifestly had no recollection. He listened
to what I said very attentively, and calmly expressed his conviction
that I was perfectly in the wrong; but for the present he submitted.
However, some days after, I found that he had offered a florin for a
little bread and cheese, and then a dollar, and even more. Being again
refused, he complained heavily; but gradually he weaned himself from
asking for it, though at times he betrayed involuntarily how much he
desired it.

On the 13th of October, his usual dinner parties were resumed, and he
was considered convalescent; but it was seldom indeed that he recovered
the tone of tranquil spirits which he had preserved until his late
attack. Hitherto he had always loved to prolong this meal, the only one
he took--or, as he expressed it in classical phrase, 'coenam _ducere_;'
but now it was difficult to hurry it over fast enough for his wishes.
From dinner, which terminated about two o'clock, he went straight to
bed, and at intervals fell into slumbers; from which, however, he was
regularly awoke by phantasmata or terrific dreams. At seven in the
evening came on duly a period of great agitation, which lasted till five
or six in the morning--sometimes later; and he continued through the
night alternately to walk about and lie down, occasionally tranquil,
but more often in great distress. It now became necessary that somebody
should sit up with him, his man-servant being wearied out with the toils
of the day. No person seemed to be so proper for this office as his
sister, both as having long received a very liberal pension from him,
and also as his nearest relative, who would be the best witness to the
fact that her illustrious brother had wanted no comforts or attention
in his last hours, which his situation admitted of. Accordingly she was
applied to, and undertook to watch him alternately with his footman--a
separate table being kept for her, and a very handsome addition made
to her allowance. She turned out to be a quiet gentle-minded woman, who
raised no disturbances amongst the servants, and soon won her brother's
regard by the modest and retiring style of her manners; I may add, also,
by the truly sisterly affection which she displayed towards him to the

The 8th of October had grievously affected Kant's faculties, but had
not wholly destroyed them. For short intervals the clouds seemed to roll
away that had settled upon his majestic intellect, and it shone forth
as heretofore. During these moments of brief self-possession, his
wonted benignity returned to him; and he expressed his gratitude for
the exertions of those about him, and his sense of the trouble they
underwent, in a very affecting way. With regard to his man-servant in
particular, he was very anxious that he should be rewarded by liberal
presents; and he pressed me earnestly on no account to be parsimonious.
Indeed Kant was nothing less than princely in his use of money; and
there was no occasion on which he was known to express the passion of
scorn very powerfully, but when he was commenting on mean and penurious
acts or habits. Those who knew him only in the streets, fancied that he
was not liberal; for he steadily refused, upon principle, to relieve
all common beggars. But, on the other hand, he was liberal to the public
charitable institutions; he secretly assisted his own poor relations in
a much ampler way than could reasonably have been expected of him; and
it now appeared that he had many other deserving pensioners upon
his bounty; a fact that was utterly unknown to any of us, until his
increasing blindness and other infirmities devolved the duty of paying
these pensions upon myself. It must be recollected, also, that Kant's
whole fortune, which amounted to about twenty thousand dollars, was the
product of his own honorable toils for nearly threescore years; and
that he had himself suffered all the hardships of poverty in his youth,
though he never once ran into any man's debt,--circumstances in his
history, which, as they express how fully he must have been acquainted
with the value of money, greatly enhance the merit of his munificence.

In December, 1803, he became incapable of signing his name. His sight,
indeed, had for some time failed him so much, that at dinner he could
not find his spoon without assistance; and, when I happened to dine with
him, I first cut in pieces whatever was on his plate, next put it into a
spoon, and then guided his hand to find the spoon. But his inability to
sign his name did not arise merely from blindness: the fact was, that,
from irretention of memory, he could not recollect the letters which
composed his name; and, when they were repeated to him, he could not
represent the figure of the letters in his imagination. At the latter
end of November, I had remarked that these incapacities were rapidly
growing upon him, and in consequence I prevailed on him to sign
beforehand all the receipts, &c., which would be wanted at the end
of the year; and, afterwards, on my representation, to prevent all
disputes, he gave me a regular legal power to sign on his behalf.

Much as Kant was now reduced, yet he had occasionally moods of social
hilarity. His birth-day was always an agreeable subject to him: some
weeks before his death, I was calculating the time which it still
wanted of that anniversary, and cheering him with the prospect of the
rejoicings which would then take place: 'All your old friends,' said
I, 'will meet together, and drink a glass of champagne to your health.'
'That,' said he, 'must be done upon the spot:' and he was not satisfied
till the party was actually assembled. He drank a glass of wine with
them, and with great elevation of spirits celebrated this birth-day
which he was destined never to see.

In the latter weeks of his life, however, a great change took place in
the tone of his spirits. At his dinner-table, where heretofore such a
cloudless spirit of joviality had reigned, there was now a melancholy
silence. It disturbed him to see his two dinner companions conversing
privately together, whilst he himself sat like a mute on the stage with
no part to perform. Yet to have engaged him in the conversation
would have been still more distressing; for his hearing was now very
imperfect; the effort to hear was itself painful to him; and his
expressions, even when his thoughts were accurate enough, became nearly
unintelligible. It is remarkable, however, that at the very lowest point
of his depression, when he became perfectly incapable of conversing with
any rational meaning on the ordinary affairs of life, he was still
able to answer correctly and distinctly, in a degree that was perfectly
astonishing, upon any question of philosophy or of science, especially
of physical geography, [Footnote: _Physical_ Geography, in opposition to
_Political_.] chemistry, or natural history. He talked satisfactorily,
in his very worst state, of the gases, and stated very accurately
different propositions of Kepler's, especially the law of the planetary
motions. And I remember in particular, that upon the very last Monday
of his life, when the extremity of his weakness moved a circle of his
friends to tears, and he sat amongst us insensible to all we could say
to him, cowering down, or rather I might say collapsing into a shapeless
heap upon his chair, deaf, blind, torpid, motionless,--even then I
whispered to the others that I would engage that Kant should take his
part in conversation with propriety and animation. This they found it
difficult to believe. Upon which I drew close to his ear, and put a
question to him about the Moors of Barbary. To the surprise of everybody
but myself, he immediately gave us a summary account of their habits
and customs; and told us by the way, that in the word _Algiers_, the _g_
ought to be pronounced hard (as in the English word _gear_).

During the last fortnight of Kant's life, he busied himself unceasingly
in a way that seemed not merely purposeless but self-contradictory.
Twenty times in a minute he would unloose and tie his neck
handkerchief--so also with a sort of belt which he wore about his
dressing-gown, the moment it was clasped, he unclasped it with
impatience, and was then equally impatient to have it clasped again.
But no description can convey an adequate impression of the weary
restlessness with which from morning to night he pursued these labors of
Sisyphus--doing and undoing--fretting that he could not do it, fretting
that he had done it.

By this time he seldom knew any of us who were about him, but took us
all for strangers. This happened first with his sister, then with me,
and finally with his servant. Such an alienation distressed me more than
any other instance of his decay: though I knew that he had not really
withdrawn his affection from me, yet his air and mode of addressing me
gave me constantly that feeling. So much the more affecting was it, when
the sanity of his perceptions and his remembrances returned; but these
intervals were of slower and slower occurrence. In this condition,
silent or babbling childishly, self-involved and torpidly abstracted, or
else busy with self-created phantoms and delusions, what a contrast did
he offer to _that_ Kant who had once been the brilliant centre of
the most brilliant circles for rank, wit, or knowledge, that Prussia
afforded! A distinguished person from Berlin, who had called upon him
during the preceding summer, was greatly shocked at his appearance, and
said, 'This is not Kant that I have seen, but the shell of Kant!' How
much more would he have said this, if he had seen him now!

Now came February, 1804, which was the last month that Kant was destined
to see. It is remarkable that, in the memorandum book which I have
before mentioned, I found a fragment of an old song, (inserted by Kant,
and dated in the summer about six months before the time of his death,)
which expressed that February was the month in which people had the
least weight to carry, for the obvious reason that it was shorter by two
and by three days than the others; and the concluding sentiment was in
a tone of fanciful pathos to this effect--'Oh, happy February! in which
man has least to bear--least pain, least sorrow, least self-reproach!'
Even of this short month, however, Kant had not twelve entire days to
bear; for it was on the 12th that he died; and in fact he may be said to
have been dying from the 1st. He now barely vegetated; though there were
still transitory gleams flashing by fits from the embers of his ancient

On the 3d of February the springs of life seemed to be ceasing from
their play, for, from this day, strictly speaking, he ate nothing more.
His existence henceforward seemed to be the mere prolongation of an
impetus derived from an eighty years' life, after the moving power of
the mechanism was withdrawn. His physician visited him every day at a
particular hour; and it was settled that I should always be there to
meet him. Nine days before his death, on paying his usual visit, the
following little circumstance occurred, which affected us both, by
recalling forcibly to our minds the ineradicable courtesy and goodness
of Kant's nature. When the physician was announced, I went up to Kant
and said to him, 'Here is Dr. A----.' Kant rose from his chair, and,
offering his hand to the Doctor, murmured something in which the word
'posts' was frequently repeated, but with an air as though he wished
to be helped out with the rest of the sentence. Dr. A----, who thought
that, by _posts_, he meant the stations for relays of post-horses, and
therefore that his mind was wandering, replied that all the horses were
engaged, and begged him to compose himself. But Kant went on, with
great effort to himself, and added--'Many posts, heavy posts--then
much goodness--then much gratitude.' All this he said with apparent
incoherence, but with great warmth, and increasing self-possession. I
meantime perfectly divined what it was that Kant, under his cloud of
imbecility, wished to say, and I interpreted accordingly. 'What the
Professor wishes to say, Dr. A----, is this, that, considering the many
and weighty offices which you fill in the city and in the university,
it argues great goodness on your part to give up so much of your time to
him,' (for Dr. A---- would never take any fees from Kant;) 'and that he
has the deepest sense of this goodness.' 'Right,' said Kant, earnestly,
'right!' But he still continued to stand, and was nearly sinking to
the ground. Upon which I remarked to the physician, that I was so
well acquainted with Kant, that I was satisfied he would not sit down,
however much he suffered from standing, until he knew that his visitors
were seated. The Doctor seemed to doubt this--but Kant, who heard what
I said, by a prodigious effort confirmed my construction of his conduct,
and spoke distinctly these words--'God forbid I should be sunk so low as
to forget the offices of humanity.'

When dinner was announced, Dr. A---- took his leave. Another guest had
now arrived, and I was in hopes, from the animation which Kant had so
recently displayed, that we should to-day have a pleasant party, but
my hopes were vain--Kant was more than usually exhausted, and though
he raised a spoon to his mouth, he swallowed nothing. For some time
everything had been tasteless to him; and I had endeavored, but with
little success, to stimulate the organs of taste by nutmeg, cinnamon,
&c. To-day all failed, and I could not even prevail upon him to taste a
biscuit, rusk, or anything of that sort. I had once heard him say that
several of his friends, who had died of _marasmus_, had closed their
illness by four or five days of entire freedom from pain, but totally
without appetite, and then slumbered tranquilly away. Through this state
I apprehended that he was himself now passing.

Saturday, the 4th of February, I heard his guests loudly expressing
their fears that they should never meet him again; and I could not but
share these fears myself. However, on

Sunday, the 5th, I dined at his table in company with his particular
friend Mr. R. R. V. Kant was still present, but so weak that his head
drooped upon his knees, and he sank down against the right side of the
chair. I went and arranged his pillows so as to raise and support his
head; and, having done this, I said--'Now, my dear Sir, you are again in
right order.' Great was our astonishment when he answered clearly and
audibly in the Roman military phrase--'Yes, _testudine et facie;_' and
immediately after added, 'Ready for the enemy, and in battle array.' His
powers of mind were (if I may be allowed that expression) smouldering
away in their ashes; but every now and then some lambent flame, or grand
emanation of light, shot forth to make it evident that the ancient fire
still slumbered below.

Monday, the 6th, he was much weaker and more torpid: he spoke not
a word, except on the occasion of my question about the Moors, as
previously stated, and sate with sightless eyes, lost in himself, and
manifesting no sense of our presence, so that we had the feeling of some
mighty shade or phantom from some forgotten century being seated amongst

About this time, Kant had become much more tranquil and composed. In
the earlier periods of his illness, when his yet unbroken strength was
brought into active contest with the first attacks of decay, he was
apt to be peevish, and sometimes spoke roughly or even harshly to his
servants. This, though very opposite to his natural disposition, was
altogether excusable under the circumstances. He could not make himself
understood: things were therefore brought to him continually which he
had not asked for; and often it happened that what he really wanted
he could not obtain, because all his efforts to name it were
unintelligible. A violent nervous irritation, besides, affected him
from the unsettling of the equilibrium in the different functions of
his nature; weakness in one organ being made more palpable to him by
disproportionate strength in another. But now the strife was over;
the whole system was at length undermined, and in rapid and harmonious
progress to dissolution. And from this time forward, no movement of
impatience, or expression of fretfulness, ever escaped him.

I now visited him three times a-day; and on

Tuesday, Feb. 7th, going about dinner-time, I found the usual party of
friends sitting down alone; for Kant was in bed. This was a new scene
in his house, and increased our fears that his end was now at hand.
However, having seen him rally so often, I would not run the risk of
leaving him without a dinner-party for the next day; and accordingly, at
the customary hour of one, we assembled in his house on

Wednesday, Feb. 8th. I paid my respects to him as cheerfully as
possible, and ordered dinner to be served up. Kant sat at the table with
us; and, taking a spoon with a little soup in it, put it to his lips;
but immediately put it down again, and retired to bed, from which he
never rose again, except during the few minutes when it was re-arranged.

Thursday, the 9th, he had sunk into the weakness of a dying person,
and the corpse-like appearance had already taken possession of him. I
visited him frequently through the day; and, going at ten o'clock at
night, I found him in a state of insensibility. I could not draw any
sign from him that he knew me, and I left him to the care of his sister
and his servant.

Friday, the 10th, I went to see him at six o'clock in the morning. It
was very stormy, and a deep snow had fallen in the night-time. And, by
the way, I remember that a gang of house-breakers had forced their way
through the premises in order to reach Kant's next neighbor, who was a
goldsmith. As I drew near to his bed-side, I said, 'Good morning.' He
returned my salutation by saying, 'Good morning,' but in so feeble and
faltering a voice that it was hardly articulate. I was rejoiced to find
him sensible, and I asked him if he knew me:--'Yes,' he replied; and,
stretching out his hand, touched me gently upon the cheek. Through the
rest of the day, whenever I visited him, he seemed to have relapsed into
a state of insensibility.

Saturday, the 11th, he lay with fixed and rayless eyes; but to all
appearance in perfect peace. I asked him again, on this day, if he knew
me. He was speechless, but he turned his face towards me and made signs
that I should kiss him. Deep emotion thrilled me, as I stooped down to
kiss his pallid lips; for I knew that in this solemn act of tenderness
he meant to express his thankfulness for our long friendship, and to
signify his affection and his last farewell. I had never seen him confer
this mark of his love upon anybody, except once, and that was a few
weeks before his death, when he drew his sister to him and kissed her.
The kiss which he now gave to me was the last memorial that he knew me.

Whatever fluid was now offered to him passed the oesophagus with a
rattling sound, as often happens with dying people; and there were all
the signs of death being close at hand.

I wished to stay with him till all was over; and as I had been witness
of his life, to be witness also of his departure; and therefore I never
quitted him except when I was called off for a few minutes to attend
some private business. The whole of this night I spent at his bed-side.
Though he had passed the day in a state of insensibility, yet in the
evening he made intelligible signs that he wished to have his bed put in
order; he was therefore lifted out in our arms, and the bed-clothes and
pillows being hastily arranged, he was carried back again. He did not
sleep; and a spoonful of liquid, which was sometimes put to his lips, he
usually pushed aside; but about one o'clock in the night he himself made
a motion towards the spoon, from which I collected that he was thirsty;
and I gave him a small quantity of wine and water sweetened; but the
muscles of his mouth had not strength enough to retain it, so that to
prevent its flowing back he raised his hand to his lips, until with
a rattling sound it was swallowed. He seemed to wish for more; and I
continued to give him more, until he said, in a way that I was just
able to understand,--'It is enough.' And these were his last words.
At intervals he pushed away the bed-clothes, and exposed his person; I
constantly restored the clothes to their situation, and on one of these
occasions I found that the whole body and extremities were already
growing cold, and the pulse intermitting.

At a quarter after three o'clock on Sunday morning, February 12, Kant
stretched himself out as if taking a position for his final act, and
settled into the precise posture which he preserved to the moment of
death. The pulse was now no longer perceptible to the touch in his
hands, feet or neck. I tried every part where a pulse beats, and found
none anywhere but in the left hip, where it beat with violence, but
often intermitted.

About ten o'clock in the forenoon he suffered a remarkable change; his
eye was rigid and his face and lips became discolored by a cadaverous
pallor. Still, such was the effect of his previous habits, that no trace
appeared of the cold sweat which naturally accompanies the last mortal

It was near eleven o'clock when the moment of dissolution approached.
His sister was standing at the foot of the bed, his sister's son at
the head. I, for the purpose of still observing the fluctuations of the
pulse in his hip, was kneeling at the bed-side; and I called his servant
to come and witness the death of his good master. Now began the last
agony, if to him it could be called an agony, where there seemed to be
no struggle. And precisely at this moment, his distinguished friend, Mr.
R. R. V., whom I had summoned by a messenger, entered the room. First of
all, the breath grew feebler; then it missed its regularity of return;
then it wholly intermitted, and the upper lip was slightly convulsed;
after this there followed one slight respiration or sigh; and after that
no more; but the pulse still beat for a few seconds--slower and fainter,
till it ceased altogether; the mechanism stopped; the last motion was at
an end; and exactly at that moment the clock struck eleven.

Soon after his death the head of Kant was shaved; and, under the
direction of Professor Knorr, a plaster cast was taken, not a masque
merely, but a cast of the whole bead, designed (I believe) to enrich the
craniological collection of Dr. Gall.

The corpse being laid out and properly attired, immense numbers of
people of every rank, from the highest to the lowest, flocked to see it.
Everybody was anxious to make use of the last opportunity he would have
for entitling himself to say--'I too have seen Kant.' This went on for
many days--during which, from morning to night, the house was thronged
with the public. Great was the astonishment of all people at the
meagreness of Kant's appearance; and it was universally agreed that a
corpse so wasted and fleshless had never been beheld. His head rested
upon the same cushion on which once the gentlemen of the university had
presented an address to him; and I thought that I could not apply it to
a more honorable purpose than by placing it in the coffin, as the final
pillow of that immortal head.

Upon the style and mode of his funeral, Kant had expressed his wishes in
earlier years in a separate memorandum. He there desired that it should
take place early in the morning, with as little noise and disturbance
as possible, and attended only by a few of his most intimate friends.
Happening to meet with this memorandum, whilst I was engaged at his
request in arranging his papers, I very frankly gave him my opinion,
that such an injunction would lay me, as the executor of his will, under
great embarrassments; for that circumstances might very probably arise
under which it would be next to impossible to carry it into effect. Upon
this Kant tore the paper, and left the whole to my own discretion. The
fact was, I foresaw that the students of the University would never
allow themselves to be robbed of this occasion for expressing their
veneration by a public funeral. The event showed that I was right; for
a funeral such as Kant's, one so solemn and so magnificent, the city of
Königsberg has never witnessed before or since. The public journals, and
separate accounts in pamphlets, etc., have given so minute an account of
its details, that I shall here notice only the heads of the ceremony.

On the 28th of February, at two o'clock in the afternoon, all the
dignitaries of church and state, not only those resident in Königsberg,
but from the remotest parts of Prussia, assembled in the church of the
Castle. Hence they were escorted by the whole body of the University,
splendidly dressed for the occasion, and by many military officers of
rank, with whom Kant had always been a great favorite, to the house
of the deceased Professor; from which the corpse was carried by
torch-light, the bells of every church in Königsberg tolling, to the
Cathedral which was lit up by innumerable wax-lights. A never-ending
train of many thousand persons followed it on foot. In the Cathedral,
after the usual burial rites, accompanied with every possible expression
of national veneration to the deceased, there was a grand musical
service, most admirably performed, at the close of which Kant's mortal
remains were lowered into the academic vault, where he now rests among
the ancient patriarchs of the University. PEACE BE TO HIS DUST, AND


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